I am presently reading the book Adam Bede by George Elliot, which carries as one of its protagonists a lovely Methodist woman named Dinah who, upon much prayer and turning her actions and thoughts toward God is often instructed by Him to look after the poor, tutor wayward souls in the gospel and at times to stand and preach before a makeshift congregation. She is easily my favorite character in the book. She discusses how she came to preach and act as she does, and it arises by acting on the inspiration of heaven, which directs her actions, words and movement.
Many may say then, that God has given her the priesthood and that this is proof that woman ought to have the priesthood today. I must interject and say that she claims no authority of her own and says only that her will is captive to the will of God to be an instrument in His hands. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not at this time give women the priesthood to perform sacred ordinances and rites; that power at this time belongs exclusively to morally worthy men. But I must ask, does a woman, or any human being need authority from God to feel His inspiration, or to teach concepts from the Bible? Hardly. What do I do with this blog if not in some measure preach? What do parents around a dinner table do when they tell their children of the things of God? And within Mormonism, there actually is no continual preacher at the meetings. Members of the congregation, both men and women, take turns standing at the pulpit and teaching. The pastor, or bishop, presides, but he rarely preaches before an audience. But though I may teach according to the best of my understanding and a touch of inspiration either in a blog post or at the pulpit, does that give me the authority from God to perform baptisms? I have not been ordained to that office by someone with the authority to give it me.
Mormonism has an absolutely amazing way of combining the strengths of men and women, teaching each to excel in their own spheres and play to their own strengths. True it is that men perform holy ordinances, but those ordinances are only as acts of service to others and cannot be employed to bless oneself. Women are united under the banner of charity through an organization called the Relief Society, which praises and ennobles women and also gives them a chance to serve others in an extraordinary manner, in sympathy with those abilities most beautifully suited to femininity. I have often thought that with all the service women render, all the love we give to others, all the natural sympathies we have, all the good we do in this world, and all the time we spend on being mothers - the most important job a person can have – it is only fair that the men do their share of the labor of God by formally holding the priesthood so we can have a welcomed respite once in a while!