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6 Counterpoints to Women & Priesthood Essay (Part 8 of 9)

Dr. Margaret Toscano gives a summary of her essay in the “Gospel Topics Series” book edited by Dr. Matt Harris & Dr. Newell Bringhurst.  Toscano outlines 6 counterpoints to the Women and Priesthood essay.

Margaret:  I’ll quickly do my six areas where I think Joseph did confer Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood to women through their endowments. The first body of evidence I talked about are the contemporary statements he makes, where he gives a context for what he meant by those Relief Society speeches. That would include, also, women’s reactions to what he said. That’s where I bring in these statements by Bathsheba Smith, Eliza Snow and Sarah Kimball, where they say, “Joseph gave us all everything.  He gave us every order of priesthood through the temple.” So, that’s the first body [of evidence] and so I have a lot of quotes from that. The second is if you look at the complete discourses to the Relief Society, the most startling thing where he says, “You’re going to have been the order of the priesthood, just like in Enoch’s day, in Paul’s day,” referring to these other dispensations. But, if you look at the whole speeches, I think there’s, not just picking something out, proof-texting, either for or against, I think you can see that he really meant priesthood.

And again, he felt that he was giving them keys, and that the Relief Society should be this priesthood organization. So, the first one are contemporary statements by him and other women. The second thing is the complete text of the whole speeches to the to the Nauvoo Relief Society. The third one, and here is again, maybe where Jonathan and I really disagree. I think that Joseph Smith felt that when Elijah came to restore priesthood, it was not just about sealings, in the sense of sealings of families and couples and so forth to each other, but that he meant the sealing powers that were part of the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood. I think it’s really interesting that Joseph Smith made a statement where he said that the Church and the priesthood were not organized correctly until Elijah came. I think he saw, and I guess I have a quote here that I could read in a minute, if we want to come back to it, that the keys of Elijah, were really about the fullness of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood, not just about sealing.  So, that’s the third body [of evidence.]

Check out our conversation to hear her other points….

Dr. Margaret Toscano outlines 6 counterpoints to the Women & Priesthood essay.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Margaret!

550:  Women’s Spiritual vs Ecclesiastical Priesthood

549:  Priest or Priestesses?

548: Quorum of the Anointed

547:  Keys of the Priesthood

546: Joseph’s Statements on Women & Priesthood

545: Critiqing Women & Priesthood Essay

544:  Strengths of Women & Priesthood Essay

 

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Women’s Spiritual vs Ecclesiastical Priesthood (Part 7 of 9)

LDS Priesthood encompasses both spiritual and ecclesiastical aspects.  Dr. Margaret Toscano compares and contrasts her position on female priesthood with that of Dr. Jonathan Stapley.  Where are they similar and where do they converge?

Margaret:  Both Jonathan and I say, yes, if you look at 19th century views on the priesthood, not just women in priesthood, but even the larger issue of priesthood, I think we agree on two things. The 19th century did view it differently than we do now. They had a different view. I think both Jonathan and I really like to focus on the spiritual dimension of priesthood, the notion of how people use the priesthood in kind of a private way. Jonathan emphasizes that a lot with looking at blessing rituals, and so forth. Those are the two areas where we agree that current views are different. Maybe the way I could say that is that I think that when people think of the priesthood in the Church now, they think of it as the priesthood offices that men hold, and then their callings, how they function within the church ecclesiastical structure. Most people think of the priesthood in those terms. So, even if you think of that definition that’s used in the Church of what is the priesthood? It’s the power of God. Right? I think all of us have heard of that.

Where we disagree, and maybe it comes from a different focus, is that I think that if you look at Jonathan’s book, he uses a lot of documents from the 19th century Utah period, to look at how did people think and use priesthood in the 19th century, again, not so much in the ecclesiastical sense, but kind of on a private level? So, that’s his focus.

Mine, the focus I’ve always had, is looking at Joseph Smith, and looking at everything that Joseph Smith said and did, and asking, “How did Joseph Smith view the priesthood?”  My work really does focus on Joseph Smith’s views on priesthood. In that sense, I believe that Joseph Smith, and here we’re going from kind of just general how he saw priesthood in general to how he saw it with women. I feel like Joseph Smith’s statements and actions mean that he felt that women not only were they supposed to have priesthood, which he began to give them, but also that he felt like that there was a Church function with that. Because of the priesthood that they received through the endowment, that they had various functions that they can perform within the Church. I think Joseph Smith felt like that the Relief Society was supposed to be women’s priesthood organization. So, that’s really where Jonathan and I very much disagree.  He sees the idea that, “Yeah, they had the spiritual authority and power, but it didn’t give them any justification for functioning within the Church structure.”  I think that’s the big difference. I think there are ways in which he and I overlap in the way we look at it, but I think that’s the kind of central difference.

Do you side with Jonathan or Margaret?  Check out our conversation….

Dr Margaret Toscano compares & contrasts her opinions on early Mormon priesthood with Dr Jonathan Stapley.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Margaret!

549:  Priest or Priestesses?

548: Quorum of the Anointed

547:  Keys of the Priesthood

546: Joseph’s Statements on Women & Priesthood

545: Critiqing Women & Priesthood Essay

544:  Strengths of Women & Priesthood Essa

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Keys of the Priesthood (Part 4 of 9)

The Gospel Topics essay on women and priesthood references a 2014 talk by Elder Dallin Oaks.  Dr. Jonathan Stapley said this talk was groundbreaking by saying that women in the LDS Church exercise priesthood power as they perform their callings.  Does Dr. Margaret Toscano agree with that interpretation?

Margaret:  First of all, the idea that Dallin Oaks emphasizes that– and I’ll quote my own essay here–he emphasizes that “the authority women have is only delegated authority deriving from the priesthood authority of male leaders, and that such delegated priesthood authority has a limited scope, only relating to women’s church callings while they serve in them.” Now, in a way, you could say that same thing holds true for men. But the idea is that [the power] it’s not in you. I think the endowment and Joseph Smith [contradict that]; he was interested in that priesthood power being internal. Now again, yes, you have to have delegated authority in order to serve in an office. You can’t call yourself. I’ve never argued that you should, or that you should ordain yourself or call yourself or anything else, because there has to be a structure of the Church. But I think it’s important that he [Oaks] says, “It’s only delegated authority.” So it comes from male leaders, whereas I think the power of priesthood comes from God, Himself, that the ordinance symbolizes that. So that’s one thing where I don’t see it as groundbreaking. But again, I think it’s really important.

Margaret:  The other thing is that that the Church–they still want to make this really strong distinction between only men have keys, only men have offices. Only men have these outward signs. Women can have authority and power, but they cannot have keys, they cannot have anything else. I think it’s really interesting. The term “keys” is one of the things that the Church essay discusses. So, Joseph Smith said to the women in Nauvoo. He said, “I turn the key to you. I turn the key to you.” I don’t have the full quote with me right now. I could dig it up. But I won’t take the time. “I turn [it],” he said, “to you.” “I turn the key to you.” And “better times are ahead for you women, that you’re now going to enjoy blessings you haven’t before because I turn the key to you.” Interestingly, in 1908, when B. H. Roberts was editing the History of the Church, he changed that phrase, “I turn the key to you.” He changed it to, “I turn the key on your behalf.”

Margaret:  It’s just one little preposition, right? Who cares? But it’s really important. Because I think when Joseph Smith said, and I think I mentioned this before in our other interview, and I actually could dig up the picture here. There was a 1936 Relief Society picture where you have Joseph Smith giving the key. He’s giving the key [to women]. It’s right over there. I could dig this up. He’s giving the key to women. Why did B. H. Roberts change that? Actually, they had been arguing about this before. We think George A. Smith, in the 1850s may have started that, because it says, one is, again, delegated. Okay, I turn the key in your behalf. That’s kind of like Dallin Oaks’ statement, “I turn it in your behalf. But I’m the one that has it.” Because the keys are only in males. Whereas Joseph Smith is saying, “I give you the key. You women can open the doors for yourself now.” I think that’s very significant. It’s interesting that B. H. Roberts also changed another phrase.

Did Joseph give the Relief Society keys?  Check out our conversation….

Did Joseph gives Relief Society keys of priesthood?

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dr. Toscano.

546: Joseph’s Statements on Women & Priesthood

545: Critiqing Women & Priesthood Essay

544:  Strengths of Women & Priesthood Essay