Women and the Priesthood 3: Fire in the Galley

Any community is something like a ship. It's got a bridge for setting the course and keeping order, an engine room for keeping the ship in motion, and a galley for keeping everybody fed. Nowadays we expect to see males and females at all three stations. It's the age of equality and if an opportunity is reserved for one gender and denied to the other, a lot of us get upset.

For reasons which are not entirely clear, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one community that doesn't allow women on the bridge. They can work in the galley and the engine room, but they're banned from the captain's chair, the helm and the chart table. And they can only be in charge in the galley.

It's common in the Church to say that men and women are equal but not the same. It's safe to say that the genders are equally blessed by the Atonement, the Spirit, the Scriptures, the Commandments, the Priesthood and the Programs, and that some of the differences are cause for celebration on both sides. But the equality does not extend to leadership of Church units at any level. Women cannot preside in ward or branch, stake or district, or the general body of the Church except in the women's, young women's and children's auxiliaries--the galley, so to speak.

Women cannot preside outside of the female and preadolescent auxiliaries because they cannot receive the Priesthood. The Priesthood is usually defined as the power and authority of God: the power by which God creates and the authority by which he governs and guides. This power and authority is conferred only on men and boys, and allows them to preside, if called to, in Priesthood quorums, in the Sunday School, and in Church units at any level: ward or branch, stake or district, and the general body of the Church.

If you cannot preside, you are not equal. Apparently, few woman in the Church are concerned about this fact, but some are--and I believe they are right to question the inequality. I also believe that the issue should be addressed at the highest level of the Church's earthly leadership--in direct consultation with the Church's very highest leadership (not in obedience to demands by individuals or groups among the membership).

There's a fire in the galley. It cannot be put out by excommunications or by reassurances that women partake of the Priesthood when they serve under Priesthood leadership.  It requires a definitive answer--not precedent or speculation, but Revelation.

In a series of posts, linked to below, I will discuss the ins and outs and nuts and bolts of this issue as I see them. If you wish to respond, please join me on Facebook.