What would happen if LDS women get the priesthood?
Women don’t currently have the priesthood in the LDS church (well, some argue that some women have it but can exercise it in the temple endowment). Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past month, you’re probably fully aware of this fact. It was all over the news, blogs, and social media.
I don’t want to hash out any of the related events that have occurred—there are are plenty of others who have done that. What I am interested in doing is exploring what the LDS church would look like if LDS women did receive the priesthood. (I have no idea if they ever will. Presumably, we’ll just have to wait to find out.)
Let’s assume at general conference this fall, President Monson announces that all females 12 and up were eligible to receive the priesthood. Here are some questions that I wonder about regarding such a scenario:
1. Would people fall away from the church?
I presume that there are some people who believe that the priesthood will always be given to males only. It has been a decades-old practice, and decades-old practices often become elevated to the status of doctrine even if there is no scriptural basis for them. As such, these same people might be convinced that women will never receive the priesthood. In our hypothetical example, what effect would such a change have on these people?
2. Would people label Thomas S. Monson a false prophet?
Wilford Woodruff’s Manifesto created a schism in the LDS church, eventually leading to the formation of factions that still supported polygamy. They felt polygamy was instituted of God, and President Woodruff denouncing it made him not of God.
3. Would people accept it?
When Spencer Kimball announced in 1978 that priesthood ordination would no longer be based on race, the majority of the church accepted it. It created no schism like Woodruff’s announcement did. Undoubtedly, some left because of racist attitudes toward priesthood, but statistically, there was no fallout from it.
4. How would it affect sex-based discourse in the church?
If women and older girls received the priesthood, what would it mean for sex-based discussions in the church?
- Motherhood–priesthood parallel
- Fathers presiding vs. women nurturing
- Mission ages and service duration
- Personal Priesthood Interview dynamics
- Motherhood being the noblest calling
- Young Women values
- Home teaching dynamics
- Role of men specifically in the church
- And so forth
There seems to be a lot missing from the current dichotomous discussion online. Rather than talking about whether men should hold the priesthood, perhaps we need to start talking about what things would like like if women held the priesthood.