(This is the 2nd in a series of posts that looks at questions in theology that should be answered by a Prophet, but to date have not. These are questions that the lack of answers causes harm to members. Last time I talked about children born with mental and physical disabilities, and what that means about their pre-earth life, and for their salvation.)

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I did my regularly scheduled post, but it was not related to Mother’s Day in anyway. One woman commented to my post and thanked me for NOT talking about mothers and not bringing up mothers in my post. This got me to thinking about why Mother’s Day is so triggering for some women and brought me back to when I was bishop and had to plan “Mother’s Day” sacrament meetings. It was a no-win situation. Whatever I did would please some and disappoint others.  

This problem of Mother’s Day seems to be worse in an LDS setting. Why is that? I believe the main reason is that since women are not given the Priesthood, they have been told that motherhood and its accompanying responsibilities (i.e. child-rearing) are the equivalent to priesthood. Women have other roles just as important as the priesthood. While this is not canonized doctrine, it is nonetheless commonly taught in church.

(Is there anybody reading this that has NOT heard this reason for women not getting the priesthood?)

If this is indeed the reason women do not have the priesthood, then there are quite a few unanswered questions about how this is applied to:

  1. Women that are infertile: “I’ve always wanted to be a mom, that’s my whole identity. What am I if I’m not a mom?”
  2. Women that are empty nesters, and are not “active” moms anymore: They don’t feel like mothers anymore. [1]
  3. Women that expect motherhood but have aspirations beyond that: They can feel unfulfilled as full-time stay-at-homes mothers. This leads to guilt for not valuing the role of motherhood.
  4. Women that dislike kids and don’t want to be mothers.
  5. Women that had a horrible relationship with their own mothers.
  6. The most ironic of all: Women that want to be a mother, and marry a faithful priesthood holder, only to find out later that her husband is infertile!

Men have the Priesthood, regardless of their fertility or desires to be a father. If there is an equivalent responsibility for women, what is it?

The problem is no one (Q15 included) actually understands and can articulate how women have responsibilities equal to what men have with the priesthood. To make up for this lack of understanding, our leaders overcompensate by accentuating the role as mother. This causes hurt feelings in the women that can’t/won’t have children. The leadership picks up on the hurt feelings but does not understand where they come from, so they double down on the Mother’s Day celebration thinking that will help, thus starting a vicious cycle.

What is the reason woman can’t have the Priesthood in the LDS Church? There is no answer. There is “no agitation” for women to hold the priesthood, according to President Hinckley, so the Prophets have never asked. This is an unanswered question that hurts women, and the men that love them.

Is it time to just say “We don’t know why women don’t have the priesthood, but it has nothing to do with women being mothers”?

[1] If a woman has a life of say 80 years, and she has her first child at 20 and her last at 30, then she is an “active” mom for maybe 30 years (less if she only has 2 children quickly), then she isn’t an “active” mom for most of her life.

Photo by William Fortunato