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Women Have Priesthood Since 1843! (Part 8)

In 1992, Dr. Michael Quinn published an essay stating that women have priesthood, and have held the priesthood since 1843.  It was one of the reasons church leaders cited in excommunicating him.  This will be an interesting contrast to our conversation with Dr. Jonathan Stapley, who did not endorse the idea that women held priesthood.  Both Stapley agree that women don’t hold priesthood office, but Quinn is bolder in his claims than Stapley.

Michael: Women receive priesthood when it’s conferred on them in the endowment, and I think that men do too, but they’ve already received it. They’ve received it separately as young men as 12-year-olds to prepare them for the endowment. Women don’t need that kind of preparation. They are already spiritually endowed.

GT: At least that is the stereotypical thinking.

Michael: That’s the stereotypical view. And I’m willing to adopt that because it’s convenient to help people understand this issue that women have a preparation that is separate for the endowment than men do.

From my conversation with Stapley,

Jonathan:  there’s no question that men and women have equal access to the power of God. So, women are recognized healers, for example.  They participate in the healing liturgy. Women perform anointings, and they seal anointings and they heal the sick and bless for comfort from the earliest days. Joseph Smith says this is of course, entirely appropriate activity for the Relief Society sisters to participate in, any women. Every church president after that says it’s fine.  So this is a manifestation of God’s power. I would say that women receive liturgical authority to perform those acts, but Joseph Smith never characterizes that as priesthood.

Who do you think is right?

I asked Quinn what he thought about the Ordain Women movement.

GT:  Ok, so what do you think about Kate Kelly’s movement with Ordain Women?

Michael: I understand it. I don’t support it.

GT: You don’t support it?

Michael: No, I understand it and I don’t think it’s necessary for women to be ordained to an appendage.

GT: Why not?

Michael: Women don’t need an appendage to have the priesthood.

GT: They’ve already got the priesthood.

Michael: They’ve got the priesthood.

GT: But what about the idea, why couldn’t a woman become a bishop? Lead a congregation?

Michael: If those who preside over the appendages of these offices, which is what the president of the church does, he’s the president of the high priesthood. He could change that.

This was a fantastic conversation, and I hope you check it out!

Dr. Michael Quinn says women hold priesthood through the temple endowment.
Dr. Michael Quinn says women hold priesthood through the temple endowment.  Women have priesthood since 1843!

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Quinn….

188: Translation by Joseph Smith & James Strang (Quinn)

187: LDS Succession Crisis (Quinn)

186: Quinn on Hofmann (Quinn)

185: “The Church Makes No Distinction Between God & Mammon” (Quinn)

184: Would LDS Church Income Ever Support a Paid Ministry? (Quinn)

183: Are LDS Church Revenues really $50 Billion/Year? (Quinn)

182: Michael Quinn Discusses Deseret Hemp Company (Quinn)

If you would like a transcript of this interview,

  1. Please become a monthly subscriber for just $10/month!  Just click the yellow subscribe button at Gospel  Tangents website, and I will send you a PDF of the interview (and future interviews.)
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Mormon History of Alternative & Folk Medicine

In our next conversation we will talk about alternative medicine, faith healing, and even what has been referred to as magic.  Are there similarities between people like Julie Rowe and early Mormon practices like seer stones?  Dr. Jonathan Stapley compares the similarities!

Jonathan:  In the face of pharmacological a failure or a clinical failure in medicine, Mormons have been open to a blessing from a priesthood officer or an authorized healer, whether they’re male or female throughout our history. So, we’re open to the miraculous. Now, Latter-day Saints, also have been open to other aspects of supernatural cures. So, whether it’s a botanical cure or a special prayer.  In the 20th century, these impulses—so the cunning folk that is no longer battling witches, but instead a botanic healer is manifest in society complementary to alternative medicines. So, Mormons are not in any way holding a monopoly, a complementary and alternative medicines. You can go to the bookshelves of your favorites on Whole Foods Market that’s frequented by the liberal elite, and you can hang out with evangelicals and the south and they are both doing similar things in this area of complementary and alternative medicine. When faced with a challenge, humans want hope.  They find hope in people offering these alternative cures. Now in Mormonism, we have really interesting relationships with these, alternative cures.

Sometimes it’s strictly botanical, but sometimes, for example, there was a popular healer, Julie Rowe, who was part of this Christ-centered energy healing movement.  The Church has spoken out against a little bit recently in the past several years, but there are individuals that function again on the peripheries of society that are willing to provide hope to those that need it. And I won’t say that Julie Rowe has. You can trace her lineage through successive waves of cunning folk thought to the present. I don’t think that that’s necessarily true, although there are remarkable parallels between energy healing and magnetism that was popularized in the 19th century. I don’t think there’s a direct lineal descent from the cunning women to Julie Rowe, but I do think that they serve a similar function in society and by understanding one contextualizes the other.

Check out our previous conversations on women and temple healers, as well as this conversation….

Jonathan Stapley compares early Mormon healings and seers to current alternative and folk medicine with people like Julie Rowe.
Jonathan Stapley compares early Mormon healings and seers to current alternative and folk medicine with people like Julie Rowe.

 

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Elder Oaks Groundbreaking Address on Women & Priesthood (Part 4)

In April 2014, Elder Oaks gave a sermon on women and priesthood.  Dr. Jonathan Stapley said this was no ordinary talk.  He called it theologically groundbreaking!  I was a bit surprised how revolutionary Stapley felt the sermon was.  It seemed to me to be a response to the Ordain Women movement which was asking for women to be allowed to attend the priesthood session of General Conference.  I saw the address under a different light than Jonathan.

GT:  I remember just thinking, “Oh, this is just to placate the Kate Kelly people and to say, ‘Women, you’ve already got priesthood.  You just didn’t know it yet.’”  But you’re saying this is a theological change.

Jonathan:  When Elder Oaks delivered that sermon, I was looking around like, does anyone else [recognize this?]  This is mind-blowing.  I couldn’t believe it. And everyone else was just like, “Oh yeah, this is just Elder Oaks.”  Revolutions happen sometimes a very subtly apparently.

Jonathan: It’s certainly a linguistic shift and language frames our reality. So, it is certainly, for example, an interesting piece from Elder Oaks’ sermon was he was quoting in many parts from a sermon that Joseph Fielding Smith gave to the Relief Society in a general Relief Society meeting.  And in this meeting Joseph Fielding was as I remember, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time, discussed women’s authority in the church and how they were heirs to a great heritage, but also heirs to authority and their capacity of the work in the Relief society and the temple. But he was quick to say, you have authority to do this work. You have authority in the temple, but authority is not the same thing as priesthood.

Jonathan: And Elder Oaks takes this sermon he talks about, he quotes Joseph Fielding Smith, how women have this great authority in the church and this great heritage. And then he stops and says, what else can this authority be except priesthood? Right? So, it’s this really wonderful kind of re-imagining of what these terms mean. At the same time, reaching to our past to grab hold of our past and make sure we’re still connected, but also in very interesting and creative ways, refashioning it in a way that makes more sense for the present.

Do you think Oaks talk was groundbreaking?  Let me know!  Check out our other conversations on women healers, Ordain Women, and click the video below to learn more about this conversation….

Elder Dallin Oaks gave a revolutionary sermon in April 2014 on women & priesthood.
Elder Dallin Oaks gave a revolutionary sermon in April 2014 on women & priesthood.