I Have an Answer

Questions to Gospel Answers

First published in Mormon Women's Forum, vol. 5 no. 4 (1994)

ANSWER: The gospel has been the same in every dispensation. There is no precedent, scriptural or otherwise, for women holding the priesthood.

QUESTIONS: Does the Church still believe in the Sixth Article of Faith ("We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church…")? If so, then how is it that women in the modern church are excluded from positions of ministering authority and leadership? More and more compelling evidence is coming to light that a number of early Christian women among the Gentiles held positions roughly comparable to that of the modern branch president or bishop; that they actively participated in such priesthood ordinances as the administration of the sacrament, baptism and the laying on of hands. The "greetings" found in Paul's epistles mention in passing women who are given the titles of deacon, overseer (or elder), and even apostle (Junia, "of note among the apostles," Romans 16:7). Headstones and inscriptions found in the earliest, Christian burial grounds mention women as priests and elders.

In Old Testament times, what are we to make of Deborah, a prophetess who was the judge in Israel for 40 years? (See Judges 4-5.) Or the prophetess Huldah, to whom the high priest turned for revelation from God during the reign of King Josiah? (See II Kings 22 and II Chronicles 34.) By what power and authority did they act? Where are their counterparts today?

Our own latter-day history is fraught with contradictions and ambiguity vis-a-vis women's relationship to priesthood authority. Women wear the robes of the priesthood in our own temples, and use the same words as men to pass through the veil into the Celestial Room. Surely these are nor empty rituals or words—? Moreover, what are we to make of myriad diary and journal en¬tries that explicitly connect 19th century LDS women with priesthood?

If we still believe in the Sixth Article of Faith, shouldn't we make use of the Ninth Article of Faith (" …we believe that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God") to effectively deal with these inconsistencies?

— Mother of a questioning soon-to-turn-12 daughter