Monday, October 4, 2010

The Supporting Role

The home in which I grew up consisted of my mom, my dad, my three brothers, my sister, and me.  I was the middle child and, hopefully, not too much trouble.  I feel intensely grateful for the loving marriage that my parents share.  I was always confident of their devotion to each other, and to us kids.  I saw them disagree and find a compromise.  I saw them laugh, and cry, together.  I saw them sneak a kiss in the kitchen -- or kiss in front of us to make us all squeal in mock disgust.  I also watched as my father exercised his priesthood, placing his hands on a sick sibling, or on my own head, and my mother would sit beside us and bow her own head in reverence as a blessing was pronounced.  She also didn't hesitate to ask us if we would like my dad to give us a blessing.

Likewise, I have witnessed by dad treating my mother with great respect.  He opens the door for her, praises her dinners, hugs her and tells her how beautiful she is, willingly goes along with outings she plans, and not just once has soundly scolded my brothers for being rude to their mother.

I see the partnership of priesthood and womanhood in their relationship.  Neither one being above the other.  Both playing a supporting role.  Neither being complete without the other.

It is true that the priesthood in the LDS Church is passed down through the male line.  It is true that the priesthood claims the responsibility of directing the Church.  And it is true that women will not be called to be bishops, apostles or prophets.

But it has never bothered me.

I have never felt left out, belittled, restrained, withheld from achieving my potential, or labeled second-rate for not being able to hold the priesthood because I am a woman.  I have always seen myself as being as capable to achieve any dream I might have as any other girl or boy.  I see that, in the religious setting, I am being beckoned by the Savior to follow Him, as much as any other girl or boy, man or woman.  He wants me to succeed as much as He wants every other human being to succeed.  I will not inherit less in the world to come if I have been true and faithful in all the covenants that I make, just because I am a woman.  Not being able to hold the priesthood does not mean I will become less perfect or less like the Savior.  I am ordained to become a joint-heir with Christ, through faithfulness to temple covenants.  Because I am a woman, I can achieve this!

The scriptures NEVER say that women will not inherit eternal life or live with God in great joy and glory or that we are less than men.  

"... and he ainviteth them ball to ccome unto him and partake of his goodness; and he ddenieth none that come unto him, black and white, ebond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the fheathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile (2 Ne. 26: 33).

"And for this cause ye shall have afulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy" (3 Ne. 28: 10).

"The Spirit itself beareth awitness with our bspirit, that we are the cchildren of God:  And if children, then heirs; aheirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we bsuffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:16-17).
"Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the aprophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the bkingdom of God" (Mosiah 15:11).

 Also, when observing the prophets and apostles, I am always struck with their humility and deference to their callings.  They absolutely take their jobs seriously and solemnly.  They do not boast about being priesthood holders or talk down to women in any way.  There have been numerous talks in General Conference by prophets and apostles about the divine role of women, with such titles as;
The Honored Place of Woman,
Womanhood: The Highest Place of Honor,
An Elect Lady,
How Near to the Angels,
Instruments in the Hands of God, etc.

Neal A. Maxwell said:
We know so little, brothers and sisters, about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place. We are accustomed to focusing on the men of God because theirs is the priesthood and leadership line. But paralleling that authority line is a stream of righteous influence reflecting the remarkable women of God who have existed in all ages and dispensations, including our own. Greatness is not measured by coverage in column inches, either in newspapers or in the scriptures. The story of the women of God, therefore, is, for now, an untold drama within a drama.

We men know the women of God as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, associates, and friends. You seem to tame us and to gentle us, and, yes, to teach us and to inspire us. For you, we have admiration as well as affection, because righteousness is not a matter of role, nor goodness a matter of gender. In the work of the Kingdom, men and women are not without each other, but do not envy each other, lest by reversals and renunciations of role we make a wasteland of both womanhood and manhood.
...  I, along with my brethren of the priesthood, express undying gratitude to our eternal partners. We know that we can go no place that matters without you, nor would we have it otherwise. When we kneel to pray, we kneel together. When we kneel at the altar of the holy temple, we kneel together. When we approach the final gate where Jesus Himself is the gatekeeper, we will, if faithful, pass through that gate together.
(Neal A. Maxwell, “The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, 10)

When women of the Church complain about not being able to hold the priesthood, I hear jealousy in their tone, not humility.  When women conspire to change the Church, I hear disaffection, not faith.  At the very bottom of it all, do we believe that God has a plan for us?  Do we believe that He gives commandments and that He rewards His faithful children?  Do we believe that His ways are higher than our ways?  Do we presume to know better than Him how to organize His children so that all may come unto Him?  Do we thank God for our prophets, and sustain them as the mouthpiece of the Lord?  Do we not believe that because of the infinite and eternal nature of the atonement of Christ that all things will be made right in the end?  No matter the circumstance, whatever it may be that a person has lacked or missed out on in this life, it will be made up to them.  We will never be without the opportunity to become like Christ and rejoice eternally with Him, and to have compensation where deserved.

We, faithful women, do not need to worry about whether we may hold the priesthood or not.  We have every blessing and covenant available to us in order to return with triumph to our Father in Heaven.  We have a need to support the priesthood.  Our covenants are made possible through this power.  If we form our own version of the church in order to get what we want, we instantly lose access to that saving power.  Men, likewise, support the priesthood by keeping it sacred.  They support women by treating us with respect and dignity, honoring us for our unique role, realizing that our partnership is essential.

And women must support womanhood with humility and reverence by rejoicing in our divine nature and seeking to prepare our children to make their own temple covenants, and thereby, qualify for the Kingdom of God.  Both womanhood and priesthood inherently serve others and magnify the cause of Jesus Christ, supporting His great work and adding to His glory.
Submitted by Michelle Cox, Texas


Anonymous said...

Michelle, I think this blog is a fantastic idea. There are so many sources of reading material in the world, much of it not worth the paper it's printed on. The same goes for reading material on the internet. But there are also many positive, uplifting, inspiring, and worth-while things to read...and this is most definitely one of them. Way to go Michelle! - Valerie :)

Julia said...

And... What a great example you are of this kind of educated womanhood. Great sources too. I'm such a fan of Maxwell & Hafen. Have you read, "Covenant Hearts?" (By Bruce Hafen). It talks about how the pendulum of Rights has been swung too far & now devalues what the great women & mothers of the ages have done in raising children. It is such a fallacy to believe that a woman's worth is quantified or measured by the things she does that receive glory in life.