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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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Mormon-Mason Similarities/Differences (Part 3 of 3)

Many people know that there are similarities between Mormon temple ceremonies and Masonic ceremonies.  What are the similarities and differences?  Cheryl Bruno will answer these questions.

GT:  I just had a conversation with somebody, and he says, “Do you know why they made these changes in 1990?”   I know there was some big differences there. It sounds like there are different beliefs in that.  My response was, “Well, it was due to The Godmakers,[1] and that the church has tried to kind of sever some of the Masonic elements to make it more different.  Is that is that a fair characterization?

Cheryl:  I have a little different view and I am a believing Mormon, so that’s where I’m coming from. But I feel that the changes that they make in the temple ceremony make them more meaningful for people today.  Symbolism is really important to me and sometimes I think it’s a real shame that some of those symbols are lost, but when it no longer means the same thing to people that are going through the temple, it needs to be removed. One of these [symbols] is women veiling their faces.  That used to have a very different meaning to women than it does today. Today, it’s very oppressive. So it needs to be taken out of the ceremony, because it’s seen by women now as being oppressive. That’s not what the symbol was meant to convey, so it’s appropriate to change things so that the ritual now conveys something that it’s meant to convey. Because society has changed, and because people change, we need to also keep up with that in our [ceremonies].

GT:  That’s interesting that you mentioned that. Tell me if this is a true statement. I believe in Joseph Smith’s day, in order to be a Mason, you had to be a man, you could not be a woman. So I’ve heard that when Joseph introduced the endowment ceremony, and he allowed women to participate, that that made a lot of Masons angry because women weren’t supposed to be part of this. Is that true?

Cheryl:  No, and I wonder where that comes from, because I’ve tried to track down where that idea is coming from. First of all, there were women Masons in Joseph Smith’s time.

GT:  Oh, really?

Cheryl:  There were and we believe that some of the women in Nauvoo actually were part of, maybe the Heroines of Jericho. There’s a little bit of evidence there, which will be in my book, but I don’t think it had a lot to do with anything. But the Grand Lodge of Illinois had a lot of different problems with things that Joseph Smith was doing or that Masons were doing in Nauvoo. They come out with it quite clearly. “We’re having a problem with this or we’re having a problem with that,” and never was it ever said contemporaneously, that they had a problem with women being brought into ritual.

[1] The Godmakers was a movie put together by former Mormon Ed Decker that tried to make temple endowment ceremonies look strange.  It was very popular among evangelicals and anti-Mormons in the late 1980s. Jerald Tanner, a critic of Mormonism, was equally critical of the movie as an exaggeration of Mormon temple ceremonies.

Check out our conversation….

What are the Masonic-Mormon similarities and differences with LDS temple ceremonies?
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Joseph Smith’s Masonic Connections (Part 2 of 3)

When did Joseph Smith learn about masonry?  Was it in Nauvoo or Kirtland?  And when did he become a mason?  Historian Cheryl Bruno will tell us more about Joseph’s Masonic connections and his involvement with Masonry.

Cheryl:  Some people believe that Joseph may have been a Mason earlier than Nauvoo, but I don’t believe that. I believe that he knew quite a bit about Masonry. It was in his family. His brother-in-laws, his uncles, his father and his brother were Masons. With the Morgan affair, there were many books written, exposes written about it, so I’m sure that he knew a lot about it. In fact, there used to be traveling companies that would go around and give shows, showing what the Masonic ritual looked like. So he could have attended those and seen the actual ritual being played out. But I do not believe he was a Mason before Nauvoo.

GT:  Okay, so it was really the Nauvoo period when he got into that.

Cheryl:  Right.

GT:  So as I understand it, I believe that he was–I don’t know the right language, but he was like commissioned as a Mason on sight or something?  Can you tell us about that?

Cheryl:  This is another thing I sort of don’t agree with the common wisdom.  They believe that he was made a Mason at sight.  Abraham Jonas was the Grand Master in Illinois. He had the ability to just make someone a Mason, instead of the person learning about Masonry and learning all the ritual and then becoming [a Mason.] It usually took quite a period of time between the Entered Apprentice and the Fellow Craft and the Master Mason. They could just make you Master Mason right away. But I don’t believe that that particular thing happened, that he was made a Mason on sight, because there were certain things that had to happen.  You had to open up a certain kind of a lodge in order for that to happen. Those things were not done exactly the way they needed to be done. I also write about that in the book.  But it is true that he was made a Mason, a Fellow Craft and then a Master Mason, quickly within the period of two days, an Apprentice and a Fellow Craft and a Master Mason very quickly.

We will also talk about the Morgan Affair and how that started the anti-Masonic movement in the United States, as well as the involvement in masonry by Joseph’s family.  Check out our conversation….

How did Joseph Smith become acquainted with masonry?

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Cheryl!

Masonry from Solomon to Kirtland (Part 1 of 3)