There has been a ton of discussion and debate on the topic of ordaining women to the priesthood within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. With my inactivity in the bloggernacle I would normally not add anything to this debate, yet in almost all of the discussions I have observed, there has been little to no attention paid to what I would consider the money scripture on the subject – D&C Section 107, and this has confused me enough to speak up.
In a recent post at FMH, the author gives what they claim are the most common arguments against ordaining women to the priesthood. My opinion is that these reasons are very superficial – which I believe is the point that the author is making. Whether these reasons are superficial because the author intended to create a straw man who could be easily dismissed, or if there are only superficial arguments available – I suppose will be left up to the reader. As near as I could tell section 107 was not mentioned nor referenced in the post or the comments (although I do not read FMH regularly nor carefully).
Another recent post at Peculiar People suggests reasons why ordination will not happen. Reasons include the church being run by old, conservative, white men, bureaucracy, correlation, etc. Again, no mention of section 107.
I realize that some of my more ‘liberal’ friends would say that the reasons most of the arguments go the way they do is because ‘that’ the Mormon Church does not ordain women to the priesthood is not being debated, but ‘why’. And I feel that strikes at the heart of the disagreements we sometimes have. In my view, church leaders can only act on what revelation has been given, and what is currently being given. Questions of why are somewhat academic. They may be interesting, but academic nonetheless.
A recent talk given by Elder Ballard is helpful in reviewing what one of the apostles has to say about some of the ‘why’ questions. Although I suspect those who are committed to their own cause will not find anything new or satisfying for themselves. And I do not remember seeing Elder Ballard reference section 107 either.
Reading section 107 as a whole, with this topic in mind is important in understanding the position church leaders find themselves in. This section addresses ordination to the priesthood at length, and uses terms like ‘man’, ‘men’, and ‘he’ throughout. I know that sometimes ‘man’ might refer to mankind, but I do not feel this can be the case here. The examples given in this section are exclusively male, and the exclusive male pronouns seem to complete the case for a male only priesthood quite powerfully. It seems it would take a significant clarifying revelation to overturn what seems the only reasonable interpretation of this important section.
Again, I am certain some will still demand ‘why?’ And I feel the real answer is that current practice is consistent with the scriptures and revelation received. And why section 107 is not a more significant part of the discussion on either side baffles me.