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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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Priests or Priestesses? (Part 6 of 9)

Given the mixed-gender makeup of the Quorum of the Anointed, if LDS women were granted priesthood office, would they be priests or priestesses?  Should they continue to be segregated by gender or combined into a single quorum?  Dr. Margaret Toscano sees advantages and disadvantages to both structures.

GT:  We talked about priest and priestess, king and queen. I know the Bible even mentions deaconesses and deacons. There’s also the kind of the idea of, the Supreme Court has gotten rid of the idea of “separate but equal.”  We don’t, we don’t refer to actresses anymore. They’re just actors. We try to give them the same name. So, this idea and I know last time you mentioned, you thought it was good to keep the men and the women separate. But is that “separate but equal” if we call them a priestess? Or an elderess or a high priestess? Or should we call them high priests, and elders and deacons? And whatever–

Margaret:  I always like things that are nuanced, so I try to have both. On the one hand, I think that the separate but equal has never led to equal. I mean, that’s just the truth of it, whether we’re talking race or gender. It ends up often, “Oh, we have [the] same schools, but they’re not really equal.” Right? We had [this problem] with race issues. So it’s interesting that Joseph Smith, his actual first statement was that he was going to make the Relief Society, a kingdom of priests. Then later the women connected the language of the temple and talked about a kingdom of priestesses. But I think maybe we have to have similar language in order to have an equality. On the other hand, and I think this is what you’re referring to of what I said before. So I believe, from my perspective, and this is Margaret’s interpretation, I think that the Church, that all of the councils of the Church should have both men and women. I think there should be female apostles, as well as male apostles. I won’t get into [it again]–I mean, it’s interesting, maybe Joseph and Emma were joint presidents of the Quorum of the Anointed. But we get into the problem of single people [in the Church]. I think we should be able to have single Apostles, so that you don’t have to be married to be an Apostle. So I believe that you should have [that]–the Quorum of the Apostles should be both men and women. The High Council should be men and women. So I kind of want both, Rick, but I also think that there’s some power in brotherhood and sisterhood. As I was thinking about this question of the Relief Society being a priesthood quorum, it’s almost like I want to have three different kinds of structures [a central power governed by both men and women, a women’s organization, and a men’s organization]. I want to have the central quorums of the Church to be both men and women, so they all have a vote. But there’s power in a women’s organization where the women maybe are not intimidated by the men, and they can have their own vote [as well]. So if you have the Relief Society, where they had a vote equal to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, now, and then they don’t have to vote where their husbands can see them.

Do you agree?  Check out our conversation….

If women gained priesthood office, would they be in gendered quorums?

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

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