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Throughout the ages, the treatment of women has led many to experience mortal life as one in which Satan “had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.” [1] One of the most glorious truths that has been restored in this fullness of times is the knowledge that men and women are meant to be equal partners, uniting with Christ in our complementary differences to fulfill the measure of our creation. [2] As we strive to achieve that partnership in our homes, nations, and Church, there can be frustration because women’s authority has not been clearly defined in terms that demonstrate and communicate equality with men. But it can be defined in this way, because women’s authority was established in the beginning, has been reaffirmed throughout scripture, and was most clearly taught by Jesus Christ.

Section 1: The Matriarchal Order

Section 2: The Ordinances of the Flesh

Section 3: Signs, Tokens, Covenants, and Keys

Section 4: What Is Essential

Section 5: The Priesthood/Motherhood Connection

Conclusion


Section 1: The Matriarchal Order

Birth and Baptism

The nighttime instruction that the ruler Nicodemus received from the Savior is well known for teaching the essential nature of the ordinance of baptism. But this account illuminates more than baptism’s symbolism as another birth:

“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit … Ye must be born again.” [3]

Like so many of the Savior’s teachings, this has layers of meaning. The lesser-noticed layer in this teaching is the necessity of receiving a body to enter the kingdom of God.

This teaching is anathema today as Neoplatonism reigns. The spirit is of greater value and purpose than the body, say most religions and dogmas of the world. The prevailing belief is that “the material shell within which humans dwell during their lifetime is nothing other than clay or ashes into which God has breathed the breath of life.” [4] Even within Christianity, Christ’s bodily resurrection, and ours, is not considered secure doctrine. [5] But the restored gospel of Jesus Christ reveals the true nature of the body: it is essential to becoming like God, for God has a body.

God Himself condescended to be embodied with us here on earth. [6] And upon His resurrection, He showed that a physical body of flesh and bone is a treasured part of eternal identity. [7] It was only when He possessed a resurrected body, in fact, that Christ referred to Himself as “perfect.” [8] In a veil-rending vision, the Prophet Joseph Smith saw that God indeed did have a Father, also embodied in flesh and bone. [9] Joseph subsequently learned and validated the teaching that, for a Heavenly Father to become such, there must also be an embodied Heavenly Mother. [10] The scriptures testify that our male and female bodies are made in Their image, and that our purpose in coming to earth is to prove our willingness to keep God’s commandments while embodied. [11] Our bodies are an essential gift of the Plan of Happiness, for our souls can only receive a fulness of joy through the eternal, inseparable connection of our body and spirit. [12] The purpose of our body is to help us learn, serve, progress, and glorify God by assisting to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of humankind. [13] This can be accomplished whether we are children or adults, male or female, ill or healthy, single or married, parents or childless.

With this understanding, let us allow Jesus Christ Himself to define women’s authority. First, Jesus taught Nicodemus, we each must receive birth, when our flesh is born of water as we emerge from total immersion in amniotic fluid, and the blood our mothers all shed to deliver us. Then, when we have reached the age of accountability, we must be born of the Spirit, as we are baptized by immersion for the remission of our sins, which comes through the shedding of Christ’s blood. All must be born so that all can be reborn, and unless we receive both kinds of birth we cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

The second kind of birth, baptism, is an ordinance administered through the authority of the Priesthood. This authority is necessary to administer any sacred, formal act in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [14] The essential ordinances of the Church, called saving ordinances, are baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing. [15] Though all men, women, and children are blessed by receiving ordinances of the Priesthood, only men are ordained to administer them. Obviously, birth is not administered by the men of the Priesthood. But if we acknowledge that our physical birth is in fact a sacred, formal act, and that God has given women responsibility for performing it, then we will call birth an ordinance, for that is the gospel definition. [16] And if—as Christ teaches—birth is just as essential to our eternal salvation as baptism, then it must belong to another class of ordinances: ordinances of the flesh.

Ordination

Without exception, every human who has ever lived has received their body from a woman. Of course, no woman has ever been ordained to an office of the Priesthood. So, by what authority is the ordinance of birth administered?

Our 5th Article of Faith explains how men are ordained to the Priesthood:

“We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.”

We can assume if women are divinely appointed to perform the ordinances of the flesh, then they must also receive physical ordination by one in authority. Men do not possess the relevant heavenly authority to ordain any woman to this task. Looking closely at female anatomy and development reveals women’s ordination takes place while they are still in the womb of one with the necessary authority over the ordinances of the flesh, and this ordination is confirmed at their birth.

Babies are born with their sex organs in a state of latency. If a boy survives to puberty, then testosterone and other hormones will flood his system, causing his testes to produce sperm (among other changes). After a time, he will be physically capable of becoming a father.

Girls are different. “Like Russian dolls that stack inside each other,” describes Felice Austin, “female fetuses have a uterus, ovaries, and all of their eggs before they are born.” [17] While a girl also experiences hormone-induced changes at puberty, and cannot conceive a child until then, she will not produce any new egg cells in her lifetime. If sometime after maturity she becomes pregnant, it is because sperm reached an egg that had been given to her while she was still wrapped within her mother’s internal embrace. In a literal sense, then, mothers confer upon their daughters the ability and right to become mothers themselves in the divinely-established process of creation. This authority of the flesh, then, is matriarchal, and all mothers ordain their daughters to it. [18] Note how radically decentralized this matriarchal authority is, in contrast to the patriarchal priesthood: regardless of age, ethnicity, religious affiliation, marital status, reproductive choices and opportunities, or biological anomalies—all women are ordained to it.

We see this universal female ordination beautifully confirmed in the Mosaic law, which requires a woman who gives birth to a daughter to perform twice the number of days of ritual purification as one who has a son. [19] Throughout time, many interpretations have attempted to explain this commandment. An oft-cited one is that the extra time for cleansing impurities atoned for the sin of Eve, who introduced death through her choice to partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. [20] But if we understand that girls arrive on earth with authority over ordinances of the flesh, we see that these extra days of maternal purification are in place to isolate the newborn daughter from the outside world. “In fact,” Dr. V.H. Cassler explains, “the extra time is precisely the same length of time that Aaron and his sons must isolate themselves before being ordained to the priesthood. The priestess is set apart at birth.” [21]


Section 2: The Ordinances of the Flesh

Each ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ is calculated to reveal to us something about Him and our relationship to God. [22] If the matriarchal order is a Priestesshood, and a true authority of God, then its saving ordinances will conform to this pattern. The correlation between the first Priesthood ordinance and birth is clear, and was revealed by Christ Himself. We will now examine the remaining saving ordinances administered by the Priesthood, as well as the first principles of the gospel, to determine the existence of other complementary ordinances of the flesh that are administered and presided over by the women of the Priestesshood.

Laying on of Hands

Once we have repented and are baptized, the Lord promises “the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost … And whoso having faith you shall confirm in my church, by the laying on of the hands, and I will bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost upon them.” [23]

Is there a corresponding ordinance of the flesh here?

Humans are born with all our miraculous functions in place, but we are also completely helpless. No other creature requires the amount of time and care to reach maturation that we do. Starting when we are caught at birth, we simply cannot survive without hands regularly being laid upon us. And for babies, the hands that provide the greatest benefit are a mother’s. [24] As author Maia Szalavitz noted, “Babies’ brains expect that they will experience nearly constant physical touch, rocking and cuddling: without it, they just don’t grow. [25] The converse is also true: there have been documented instances of stillborn babies returning to life after time spent in their mother’s arms. [26]

There is even more to our mothers’ touch than its life-giving properties. This ordinance of the flesh is Light-giving as well, for it awakens within each of us the Light of Christ. The Light of Christ is distinct and different from the Holy Ghost, though it is sometimes described in scripture with the same words. [27] The influence of the Light of Christ is preliminary and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. [28] The Light of Christ is the divine energy, power, or influence that gives life and light to all things. [29] Scriptures and prophets testify that the Light of Christ is given to every person who chooses to come to earth and receive their body from a woman. [30]

The Light of Christ is awakened in each of us as we experience the pure love of our mothers. [31] A mother’s love foreshadows that of Christ: we are able to love, and comprehend love, because she first loved us. [32] How often does a mother gather us in her arms, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings? [33] Often enough that we learn the true nature of love: that it is not self-interested, but is completely invested in our well-being, and willing to sacrifice so we might live joyfully. The love that we experience at our mothers’ hands teaches us what “good” really is, and we experience it with all of our senses. [34] Living in this immersive goodness when we are in our infancy fills us with the Light of Christ, allows us to enter the years of accountability able to determine good from evil, and points us to all that is good forever. [35]

A small percentage of people, known as sociopaths and psychopaths, are said to be born without a conscience. Experts in the field of psychology have yet to figure out what causes this tragic, and curious, phenomena. [36] There is speculation that perhaps it is due to altered functioning of the cerebral cortex, which controls the body’s voluntary muscle movement and is the site of higher-level processes like consciousness. However, a pivotal study of children born without a cerebral cortex found that in a familiar environment, supported by family, these children interacted socially and seemed capable of both joy and suffering. [37] Sociopaths and psychopaths, however, overwhelmingly tend to not grow up in such an environment; their childhoods are often characterized by a chaotic family environment, lack of parental attention and guidance, parental substance abuse and antisocial behavior, poor relationships, and divorce. [38] While the presence of consistent physical touch and affection has not been studied as it relates to conscience, it does not take an intellectual leap to see how an unloving environment—one in which life- and Light-giving touch has been neglected—could dull a child’s conscience.

Clearly, love is inseparably connected to the Light of Christ. [39] Mothers earn an added measure of love for their children through the time, effort, work, and pain involved in pregnancy and childbirth. But mothers are not the only ones—everyone knows women and girls who have not experienced pregnancy or childbirth but are incandescent with love because of the mother-like service they regularly render. [40]

There is much to learn about how this ordinance of the flesh affects children, and the women and men that children eventually grow into. “The more we know about the Light of Christ,” taught President Boyd K. Packer, “the more we will understand about life and the more we will have a deep love for all mankind.” [41]

Endowed with Power

To endow is to enrich, to give to another something long-lasting and of much worth. [42] When we are endowed in the Holy Temple, we receive power and knowledge of who we are, why we are here, and what our eternal destiny is to be through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. A type of this is found in the “sacred hour” that follows a child’s birth, in what is the child’s first earthly experience in attachment. [43] Based on decades of evidence, the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund recommend that all healthy mothers and babies, regardless of feeding preference and method of birth, have uninterrupted skin-to-skin care beginning immediately after birth for at least an hour, and until after the first feeding, for breastfeeding women. [44] This time is sacred because it is when the newborn and mother are biologically primed to bond.

Immediately after birth, the mother picks her baby up and begins to stroke his face with her fingertips. At this the baby quietens. Soon she moves on to touching his head and body with the palm of her hand. [45] The newborn has grown into consciousness listening to her from the inside, and now, gazing at the source of her familiar voice, he memorizes her features so she cannot be forgotten or lost. His purpose is inextricably connected to her, for his very life is in her hands. He recognizes her as his secure base, from which he will make sorties into the outside world and to which he can return knowing for sure that he will be welcomed when he gets there, nourished physically and emotionally, comforted if distressed, and reassured if frightened. [46] This unique time with her supports optimal brain development, promotes the infant’s self-regulation over time, and protects the newborn from the well-documented negative effects of separation. [47]

These negative effects are often referred to as “failure to thrive,” and we know that in human infants it results from lack of individualized, nurturing, physically affectionate parental care. [48] “When a baby is not the center of someone's world, he or she misses out on many other types of stimulation and experience as well,” Ms. Szalavitz explains. “No one has yet documented how this affects other brain and body systems but we know that the stress system affects virtually every cell in the body.” [49]

The covenant path that passes through the temple includes initiatory ordinances which are also easily seen in their flesh counterparts. As part of our endowment, we are washed, anointed, and clothed in the robes of the Holy Priesthood, then given a new name. Likewise, soon after infants are born, they are washed, anointed, [50] clothed, and given a name. Each element of the endowment of the flesh which helps us attach us to our family hearkens to the repetitive instruction of the temple, which lovingly and patiently teaches us our purpose here on earth, and how we should act as precious members of God’s family.

Sealing of Lactation

Celestial marriage is the crowning ordinance of the Gospel and crowning ordinance of the temple. [51] Marriage as instituted by God is to be a total union, Elder Holland famously taught,

“a union of a couple’s hearts, their hopes, their lives, their love, their family, their future, their everything…And the external symbol of that union, the physical manifestation of what is a far deeper spiritual and metaphysical bonding, is the physical blending that is part of—indeed, a most beautiful and gratifying expression of—that larger, more complete union of eternal purpose and promise.” [52]

Lactation foreshadows sexual intimacy and prepares us to rejoice in marriage, for it is the only other naturally occurring physical expression of oneness with another that humans experience. [53] And this intimacy is deeply bonding: “The newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.” [54]

Lactation is an ordinance which also doubles as a sacrament, and does birth and other possible ordinances of the flesh. [55] As Elder Holland taught,

“A sacrament could be any one of a number of gestures or acts or ordinances that unite us with God and his limitless powers … From time to time—indeed, as often as is possible and appropriate—we find ways and go to places and create circumstances where we can unite symbolically with him, and in so doing gain access to his power. Those special moments of union with God are sacramental moments.” [56]

Lactation, then, not only prepares a child to unite with his or her spouse, but it also prepares a child to unite with God. It is truly miraculous that a woman can keep another human being alive using her own body as both food and drink. That miracle recalls Another who taught likewise: “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” [57] Like the sacrament administered by the Priesthood, the sacrament of lactation allows the one receiving it to comprehend grace, as it accepts nourishment and receives strength from a being that seems all-powerful and all-knowing. This sacrament gives us a glimpse into the depths of God’s devotion: “Can a woman forget her sucking child …?” asks the Lord. Women’s anatomy of course makes it literally impossible, as the constant production of milk quickly produces engorged breasts which can be painful, and cause milk to leak on its own. Even still, God teaches, “They may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Uniting with God is not a one-way experience, where God gives and we receive. While breastfeeding, a child must focus and work with his mother to receive her breastmilk. A child who does not make any effort to nurse will be a child who does not survive. Every aspect of lactation teaches a child about what it means to experience oneness with God.

This ordinance of the flesh is deeply fulfilling to both administer and receive. It creates a sacred space of comfort that no one else can replicate. As one mother said, nursing was “one of the most profoundly tender undertakings of my life … I discovered [it] is its own kind of lullaby, a private mother-and-baby song.” [58] Simply put, it is a language of love. [59] When we receive this crowning ordinance of the flesh, it teaches us what it means to receive life-giving, all-consuming love, and prepares us to love, and accept this love from our spouse and, ultimately, Jesus Christ.

Principles of Faith and Repentance

The ordinances are not the only element of the Priesthood foreshadowed by the Priestesshood—here even the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are found.

Faith is believing something enough to take action. For a woman, engaging in sexual intercourse is a multi-layered act of faith. That allowing herself total vulnerability to one who is physically stronger than her will result not just in sexual pleasure but love, bonding, and loyalty is certainly an act of faith. [60] That engaging in sexual intercourse could result in a living child, uniquely precious and bearing the physical and emotional characteristics of its parents—that is also an act of faith. If a woman does not or cannot have faith in her sexual interactions, something is, or has gone, tragically wrong.

Likewise, it took great faith for us to come into this world. There was only a guarantee that we could, not that we would, return to live in the presence of God. We really had to believe that Jesus Christ would perform the atoning sacrifice, down to every jot and tittle. [61] And then, that we would take advantage of its blessings in a world of distractions and temptations. There is actual risk of eternal unhappiness based upon our reactions to what happens to us here. [62] No doubt this risk contributed to a third part of the hosts of heaven rejecting God’s Plan of Salvation. Keeping our first estate meant we would faithfully obey the plan. “The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan,” taught President Packer, “it is the plan of happiness.” [63] Sexual intercourse, then, requires both the mother and the pre-mortal child to exercise faith. [64]

We then come to the principle which foreshadows repentance: pregnancy. In recent years, we have been taught a more complete understanding of repentance. The dictionary definition of the word, asking for forgiveness from sin, does not communicate its broader doctrinal meaning. As then-Elder Russell M. Nelson taught,

“When Jesus said ‘repent,’ His disciples recorded that command in the Greek language with the verb metanoeo. This powerful word has great significance. In this word, the prefix meta means ‘change.’ The suffix relates to four important Greek terms: nous, meaning ‘the mind’; gnosis, meaning ‘knowledge’; pneuma, meaning ‘spirit’; and pnoe, meaning ‘breath.’ Thus, when Jesus said ‘repent,’ He asked us to change—to change our mind, knowledge, and spirit—even our breath.” [65]

The complete change that takes place during pregnancy ranges from the highly visible to the microscopic. In a process called fetal microchimerism, for example, a mother and child exchange cells bidirectionally through the placenta. The cells then migrate to take up residence in many organs of the body, including the lung, thyroid, muscle, liver, heart, kidney, skin—even the brain. [66] These cells don’t disappear when the child is born; the cells from the mother are a permanent part of a child’s body, and the children a mother has carried—even those she has miscarried—will be with her until the day she dies. This is also a type of prenatal sealing, then, of parent and child, one that reinforces what has been revealed in these latter-days of our relationship to God.

As with the principle of faith, the change of pregnancy requires full participation by both mother and child. But again, just as with sexual intercourse, the one most permanently affected is the child. Other than being pregnant oneself, there exists no greater physical change than the one we all experienced in our mother’s womb during her pregnancy. Within months, our physical tabernacle changes from a single cell—the fertilized egg—into “a tiny body … of magnificent complexity … created in the image of [our] earthly father and mother.” [67]


Section 3: Signs, Tokens, Covenants, and Keys

Signs and Tokens

In our physical bodies we find the signs and tokens of the Matriarchal Priestesshood. Signs and tokens are sacred, but because those of the Priestesshood are revealed in the home—comparable in sacredness with the temple—they are known to all of humanity. [68]

The ancient purpose of signs and tokens was masterfully taught by Hugh Nibley:

“As you approach the camp surrounding the temple, you signify your intent with a reassuring sign, a signum, visible from a distance, calling attention to yourself as Adam does in his prayer and demonstrating your peaceful intent. Upon reaching the gate, you present your token, a tangible object. All these serve as a tesserahospitalis [i.e., a symbol of mutual hospitality], admitting one to a closed group or a party, or a club, guild meeting, etc.” [69]

What are the signs of the Priestesshood that call attention to us, and demonstrate our peaceful intent? [70] A sign of humanity is our navel, which is etched into our flesh as a witness that we have received the holy ordinance of birth. This sign also reminds us that we owe our deliverance from our completely dependent prenatal state to our mothers. The holy garments of the Priesthood hearken to this with the navel mark, which is literally woven into them as a symbol of discipleship. [71] Our overall physical characteristics certainly identify us as children of our parents and members of our extended family. Our secondary sex characteristics [72] identify us as female or male. Even “just a patch of flesh” has been scientifically proven to identify us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [73]

As to tokens of the Priestesshood—the tangible objects—certainly menstrual blood and breastmilk are women’s, as sperm is men’s. The shared tokens of saliva and blood have been used in recent years to explosively change the landscape of familial identity thanks to technological developments in DNA analysis. This tangible evidence of our biological progenitors contains “the very secrets of the genetic material curled into chromosomes in the center of our cells.” [74] We use this evidence to correct and validate family trees, which are the records of the Priestesshood.

The signs and tokens of the Matriarchal Priestesshood cited here are incomplete, for our bodies are rich with symbolism infused by our Heavenly Parents. The purpose of these signs and tokens of the flesh is to help us recognize our kin, and physically seal ourselves to our loved ones.

Covenants

Just as there are many blessings associated with making and keeping covenants in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so there are blessings given to all those who honor the covenants they make through birth, physical affection, attachment, and lactation. The ordinances teach us about the covenants, but they are not the covenants. As we attempt to discern them, the overarching principle to ponder is that the covenants of the flesh provide us with the constant nourishment and strength we need to live abundantly, and endure to the end.

The Keys

Whenever there is Priesthood authority in the Church, there are keys directing it. We understand that Priesthood keys are the right of presidency, and they can only be exercised in their fulness by one man on earth at a time. [75] So are there keys of the Matriarchal Priestesshood, and, if so, who holds them, and how are they conferred? One clue we have is that, unlike the spiritual ordinances which have been taken away from the earth during periods of apostasy, the ordinances of birth, physical affection, attachment, and lactation have never been taken from the earth. The Matriarchal Priestesshood has been passed down from mother to daughter in an unbroken line since it commenced with Eve, who received it from her Heavenly Mother. [76] That each woman born has been divinely given the ability to administer these ordinances of the flesh suggests that every woman who has kept her first estate holds the keys of the Matriarchal Priestesshood, because keys represent authority and access. [77] This may sound like absolute chaos, as we are used to the clear hierarchy of the Patriarchal Order. We expect a president, who is the presiding authority, and this would essentially mean every woman on earth is one. But for the Gospel as administered through the authority of the flesh to be “in the world, until the end thereof,” as was decreed in Adam’s day—and thus survive war, pestilence, apostasy, and every other obliterating obstacle—it must be radically decentralized. [78] Every woman must have keys, else the devil find God’s plan easy to frustrate.

Section 4: What Is Essential

These ordinances of the flesh are what we are referring to when we speak of “nurturing,” and their near-universal receipt can blind us to their value. [79] One of the great ironies of this day is the derision many aim at the very ordinances they themselves have already received, that in fact enable them to think and speak derisively of childcare, and those who provide it out of love. We should be extremely careful to not desecrate nurturing—by belittling it ourselves, or allowing others to—for God has called it sacred and essential. When we honor beliefs that belittle that essential authority, we give the devil power. [80]

Heavenly power comes as we receive the ordinances of flesh and spirit, and live according to their associated covenants. Our authority to teach and administer any one of our gender’s designated ordinances comes through faithfulness—either premortally or in this estate. But our authority does not need to be exercised over all of the ordinances for us to accomplish all that is needful in God’s eyes. We do not force a man who has been baptized to baptize his own children. [81] We do not expect a man who has received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands to be obligated to lay his hands on one recently baptized to administer the same ordinance. And it actually seems ridiculous to imagine a husband, who has been sealed to his wife in the temple, feeling guilt that he is not the sealer at other couples’ weddings.

We can easily understand how the full panoply of Priesthood ordinances do not need to be personally administered by one man for him to fulfill the measure of his Priesthood in this life. This is because the Lord’s plan for us in mortality is that we work together as the body of Christ. [82] The Holy Ghost can and will instruct us as to our duties as individual members—the Lord only requires “the heart and a willing mind.” [83] Generally speaking, then, no woman is required to administer the ordinances of the flesh to reach the full measure of her creation in mortality. However, as in the spiritual ordinances of the Priesthood, if no one is willing to administer the ordinances of the flesh, then no one can enter the kingdom of God, for they must be received. Accordingly:

Everyone must be born, but no woman should ever be coerced to give birth.

Everyone must be touched, but no woman should ever be coerced to give physical affection.

Everyone must eat and drink, but no woman should ever be compelled to provide the sustenance.

Everyone must be clean, but no woman must do the washing.

Everyone must have their wounds and sicknesses treated, but no woman should be required to administer the treatment.

Everyone must clothe their naked body, but no woman should be expected to do the dressing.

Everyone must attach physically [84] and emotionally so they can be free to learn, explore and grow, but no woman should ever be compelled to have anyone attached to her.

No individual woman, then, should be coerced to personally administer the ordinances of the flesh. These ordinances and covenants are presided over by the Priestesshood, and their administration may be delegated to others, including and especially fathers. [85] But all girls and women—along with the boys and men that assist them—who choose to sacrifice so that they may lawfully serve in any of these ways, during any stage of their life, and to any of God’s children, will one day be gathered together, as the Lord’s flock, and they will hear the King say to them, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” These faithful servants will then understand the heavenly floodlight that has surrounded their often-invisible work: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [86]

Infants are the least among us in so many ways. Not only are they powerless to receive the ordinances of the flesh of themselves, but they are unable to be obedient to their covenants without repetitive teaching, over and over, day in and day out, for years.

Of course, this is a purposeful pattern that is meant to help us understand spiritual growth, for the power of an ordinance is not accomplished when we receive it, as if we are marking off a checklist. We receive ordinances at the beginning of the path of discipleship. Once we have received ordinances, we must consistently live according to their covenants so that we can endure to the end. Perpetual obedience to covenants leads to ever-increasing power, like the water which issued from Jerusalem’s temple in Ezekiel’s vision and became deeper the farther it flowed. [87] As Hugh Nibley taught, the ordinances “are mere forms. They do not exalt us; they merely prepare us to be ready in case we ever become eligible.” [88] God’s overarching objective for all ordinances and covenants, flesh and spirit, is to instruct us in how to act so that we can live. Obedience to the covenants of the flesh gives us a long and healthy physical life. [89] Obedience to the covenants of the spirit gives us the ability to endure eternal life.

The much discussed and disputed Motherhood = Priesthood Argument

In 1946, President J. Reuben Clark Jr. described wives and mothers as “possessing the complement of the Priesthood powers and possessing a function as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.” [90] The complement outlined by President Clark has often been misunderstood as a simple equivalency between Mothering and the Priesthood—meaning, women can be mothers and men can be ordained to the Priesthood. In the years since, that misunderstanding has been easily debunked many times over because, of course, the male complement to motherhood is not priesthood—it’s fatherhood. [91] But perhaps we need to reframe our thinking, and then rethink the terms we are using.

While we tend to equate fatherhood solely with paternity, in the Lord’s language, the word father has layers of meaning. [92] When a man is born again—baptized—he is spiritually begotten of Christ, which means Christ becomes his father. [93] When this man is ordained to an office of the Priesthood, he is then given authority to help others on the path to spiritual life and salvation. He is ordained to help his brothers and sisters become children of Christ. So, it would be more accurate to describe—or at least think of—Priesthood duties as “fathering,” for in God’s language that is what they are. [94] Christ Himself consistently spoke of God as the Father, not the Priest. The Savior’s language shows Father expresses a more complete understanding of what Priesthood accomplishes: Priesthood duties are those which nurture the daughters and sons of God through their spiritual life to exaltation.

Is it possible to accomplish the fathering duties of the Priesthood without the mothering provided by women of the Priestesshood? Of course not. It is no more possible for a man to do this than it is for a lone woman to conceive, bear, and successfully rear a child. [95] Mothers, in mothering the flesh, need fathers to be equally yoked with them; priests, in fathering the spirit, need priestesses to be equally yoked with them.

So, is motherhood the equivalent of the Priesthood? If, when we say, “Men get the Priesthood, women get motherhood,” we mean, “Men preside over our collective spiritual progress in mortality, women preside over our collective physical progress in mortality, and to be successful we must help one another as equal partners,” then yes, we are speaking correctly. We may also correctly say, “Men get the Priesthood, women get the Priestesshood,” or even, as God might describe it: “Men get Fatherhood, women get Motherhood.”

But if we say on one hand, “Every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood,” [96] while on the other, “Some women, through no fault of their own, are not able to bear children[, but] every prophet of God has promised that they will be blessed with children in the eternities and that posterity will not be denied them” [97]—that is a syllogistic fallacy which misrepresents our divinely ordained authorities.

Priestesshood is a woman’s apprenticeship to become a Mother in Heaven. Priesthood is a man’s apprenticeship to become a Father in Heaven. [98] Our responsibilities are to be mothers and fathers to each other’s flesh, and fathers and mothers to each other’s spirit. Our dual authorities are equally essential, and have been designed to only work in interdependence. In the home, a wife presides over the ordinances of the flesh, but must consistently partner with her husband in their execution. The husband presides over the ordinances of the spirit, but must consistently partner with his wife if he hopes those under his stewardship will be able to receive them with joyful comprehension. A home in which a mother presides over the ordinances of the flesh by boxing her husband out of all but the bare necessities of assistance is one in which the children’s relationship to their parents will not reach its full potential. There are many rich blessings which come when fathers are encouraged to develop their Fatherhood through real engagement in child-rearing. [99]

In the Church, as much as the men who have the keys and authority of the Priesthood choose to prayerfully avail themselves of women’s Priestesshood counsel and assistance, the spiritual growth of the Church will flourish and we will hasten Zion. [100] The tide has already turned to one of partnership: Church leaders’ consistent message to wives and husbands is to be equally yoked co-presidents [101]; recent changes in calling responsibilities have the Elders Quorum working shoulder to shoulder with the Relief Society; sisters now sit on many of the highest correlative councils in the Church; girls’ and boys’ programs in the Church are aligning budgets and activities to be equally balanced; in the temples of this dispensation, women have always been assigned to administer the iniatory Priesthood ordinances of washing, anointing and clothing to other women; and the sacred language of the temple already includes a great deal that hearkens to the essential ordinances of the flesh.

Conclusion

“More phenomenal than resurrection is birth. The greater wonder is not that life, having once existed, could come again but that it ever exists at all … How can you believe in extraordinary things such as angels and gold plates and your divine potential? Easy, just look around and believe.” [102]

It seems too easy—too good to be true—to believe women’s equal authority has been here all along, that it is in fact the essential complement to the authority of men. But it is true, and all we have to do to see it is look around: if we don’t receive a body, if we are never touched, if we don’t attach to loved ones, if we won’t accept nourishment from others—we die. There is one who rejoices when we die, but it isn’t Jesus Christ. The Savior taught that “it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” [103] Our Heavenly Parents want us to live, and the only way for us to do so is for women to take our rightful and needful place as true partners in our homes, nations, and in the kingdom of God. [104] Then Priests and the Priestesses can welcome Zion with open arms. And we will make the kingdom of the devil shake. [105]


NOTES:

[1] Moses 7:26 [Back to manuscript].


[2] See, for example, the Institute Eternal Marriage Student Manual, “Equality of Men and Women” lesson. [Back to manuscript].


[3] John 3: 5-7, italics added for emphasis on the equally essential authorities of women and men. [Back to manuscript].


[4] "How the Major Religions View the Afterlife." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. Accessed in 2022 at https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/how-major-religions-view-afterlife --- [Back to manuscript].


[5] Major schisms within Christian denominations have arisen over the doctrine of the Resurrection as literal or figurative (spiritual), such as the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy in the Presbyterian Church. [Back to manuscript].


[6] John 1: 14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
[Back to manuscript].


[7] Luke 24: 39: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” [Back to manuscript].


[8] Compare Christ’s teaching in mortality from Matthew 5: 48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” with the sermon following His resurrection in 3 Nephi 12: 48, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” [Back to manuscript].


[9] Joseph Smith—History, 1: 17: “I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!
[Back to manuscript].


[10] As Joseph Smith taught, “The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through—Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us…” "History, 1838–1856, volume F-1 [1 May 1844–8 August 1844]," p. 103, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed February 11, 2022, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-f-1-1-may-1844-8-august-1844/109. See also, “O My Father,” Hymn 292, text by Eliza R. Snow. [Back to manuscript].


[11] Abraham 3: 24–25 [Back to manuscript].


[12] See Moses 6: 9, 57–60; Doctrine & Covenants 88: 15–16; Doctrine & Covenants 93:33; “We know that our physical bodies have a divine origin and that we must experience both a physical birth and a spiritual rebirth to reach the highest realms in God’s celestial kingdom,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “The Moral Force of Women” October 2013 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].


[13] Spangler, Diane L. “The Body, a Sacred Gift,” July 2005 Ensign.
[Back to manuscript].


[14] True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, “Ordinances,” Published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2004 [Back to manuscript].


[15] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[16] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[17] Austin, Felice et al. The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth: Madison & West, 2012: 31. [Back to manuscript].


[18] That a tiny percentage of girls are born without a uterus or ovaries does not change the fact that they are genetic females, created in their mothers’ womb after this pattern. We can observe the spiritual implications of physical creation and anatomy without limiting gendered authority to the mere possession of reproductive organs. [Back to manuscript].


[19] See Leviticus 12: 2, 5. [Back to manuscript].


[20] See Tzeror ha-Mor, Torah Commentary by Rabbi Avraham Saba (1440–1508). Religious thinkers such as Rabbi Ephraim Luntshitz followed that masculine logical thread to explain that perhaps the doubled time of impurity is reflective of the fact that another daughter of Eve by extension increases impurity in the world. See: Leonard Samuel Levin, Seeing with Both Eyes: The Intellectual Formation of Ephraim Luntshitz (Ph.D. diss., Jewish Theological Seminary, 2003). [Back to manuscript].


[21] See Cassler, V. H. (2013) "Ruby Slippers on Her Feet: Reflections on the OrdainWomen Website," SquareTwo, Vol. 6 No. 1, (Spring), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerRubySlippers.html, [Accessed February 2022]. See also Biggerstaff, Michael. "The Anointing of Aaron: The Process by Which He Became Holier than His Sons." Studia Antiqua 7, no. 2 (2009). https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/studiaantiqua/vol7/iss2/5 --- [Back to manuscript].


[22] Sorensen, David E. “Small Temples—Large Blessings,” October 1998 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].


[23] Doctrine & Covenants 33: 11, 15 [Back to manuscript].


[24] “The first three years present a crucial, formative window. There’s substantial research that confirms the more time a woman can devote to the joy and job of mothering during that period, the better the chance her child will be emotionally secure and healthy throughout his life.” Komisar, Erica. Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. TarcherPerigee, 2017. In discussing the value of a mother, the benefits of a father in all the ordinances of the flesh are not to be discounted. As Elder D. Todd Christofferson declared, “We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.” “Fathers,” April 2016 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].


[25] Szalavitz, Maia, “How Orphanages Kill Babies-- and Why No Child Under 5 Should Be in One,” Huffington Post, June 23, 2010. Accessed at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-orphanages-kill-babie_b_549608.
--- [Back to manuscript].


[26] “Miracle mum brings premature baby son back to life with two hours of loving cuddles after doctors pronounce him dead,” August 27, 2021, Daily Mail Online Health Section, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1306283/Miracle-premature-baby-declared-dead-doctors-revived-mothers-touch.html --- [Back to manuscript].


[27] “The Light of Christ” by President Boyd K. Packer, April 2005 Ensign.
[Back to manuscript].


[28] Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Unspeakable Gift,” April 2003 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].


[29] “Light of Christ,” Gospel Topics Manual. Accessed at: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/light-of-christ?lang=eng --- [Back to manuscript].


[30] Doctrine & Covenants 84: 46: “And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” [Back to manuscript].


[31] “No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Behold Thy Mother,” October 2015 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].


[32] 1 John 4: 19: “We love him, because he first loved us.” [Back to manuscript].


[33] See Matthew 23: 37; 3 Nephi 10: 4–6; Doctrine & Covenants 43: 24–25
[Back to manuscript].


[34] And the extent to which mother-love does not reflect divine love negatively impacts a child throughout its life. See, for example: Streep, Peg. Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt. William Morrow Publishing, 2009. [Back to manuscript].


[35] This is why conscience is a manifestation of the Light of Christ. See Light of Christ, Gospel Topics Manual; see also Moroni 7: 16. [Back to manuscript].


[36] Nofziger, Lyn, “The four percent of us who have no conscience,” Washington Times, March 12, 2005. Accessed at: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/mar/12/20050312-100954-5410r/
--- [Back to manuscript].


[37] Andersson, Anna-Karin Margareta, “Are children who are born without a cerebral cortex conscious?” Journal of Medical Ethics Blog, September 27, 2020. Accessed at: https://blogs.bmj.com/medical-ethics/2020/09/27/are-children-who-are-born-without-a-cerebral-cortex-conscious/. --- [Back to manuscript].


[38] Martens W. “The hidden suffering of the psychopath.” Psychiatric Times. 2014: 31(10). Accessed at: https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/hidden-suffering-psychopath. --- [Back to manuscript].


[39] Alma Don Sorensen and Valerie Hudson Cassler, Women in Eternity, Women of Zion, Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2004: 20. [Back to manuscript].


[40] Though examples are countless, worth special mention are a group of women who were inmates at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. During their torturous detainment, Luba Tryszynska-Frederick and the women of her barracks risked their lives to hide and secretly care for 54 abandoned orphans. Upon liberation, these women had successfully helped 52 of the children to survive the camp. See McCann, Michelle R. Luba: The Angel of Bergen-Belsen. Illustrated by Ann Marshall. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press, 2003. [Back to manuscript].


[41] “The Light of Christ” by President Boyd K. Packer, April 2005 Ensign.
[Back to manuscript].


[42] Elder ElRay L. Christiansen, “Some Things You Need to Know about the Temple,” The New Era, June 1971. [Back to manuscript].


[43] See Karen, Robert, Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0195115015. [Back to manuscript].


[44] Crenshaw, Jeannette T. “Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together—It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding,” The Journal of Perinatal Education, Vol 23 Issue 4, DOI: 10.1891/1058-1243.23.4.211 [Back to manuscript].


[45] Kennell JH, Trause MA, Klaus MH. Evidence for a sensitive period in the human mother. Ciba Found Symp. 1975;(33):87-101. doi: 10.1002/9780470720158.ch6. PMID: 1045988. [Back to manuscript].


[46] Children who had a secure relationship to both parents were observed to be more confident and more competent than those who had a secure relationship with only one parent (mother or father). Children who had a secure relationship with neither were least so. Bowlby, John. A secure base: parent-child attachment and healthy human development. New York: Basic Books, 1988: 9-10. [Back to manuscript].


[47] Raylene Phillips, “The Sacred Hour: Uninterrupted Skin-to-Skin Contact Immediately After Birth,” Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews, Volume 13, Issue 2, 2013, Pages 67-72, ISSN 1527-3369, https://doi.org/10.1053/j.nainr.2013.04.001. These principles are why adoption is seen by the Church as the best option in a tragic circumstance. It is always a tragedy when a mother is unable, for whatever reason, to care for her own flesh and blood. With great sacrifice on the part of the biological mother and child, adoption applies the principle that “all things work together for good to them that love God” to the complexities of mortal familial lines. Additionally, parents who adopt and are obedient to the covenants of the flesh, love their adopted children just as much as biological parents love theirs. Love comes through obedience to the covenants and is assisted by, but not dependent upon, biological processes.
[Back to manuscript].


[48] Szalavitz, Maia, HP. [Back to manuscript].


[49] Ibid. [Back to manuscript].


[50] Today, babies are typically given drops of Erythromycin antibiotic ointment in their eyes, among other treatments. [Back to manuscript].


[51] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith, Chapter 15: Eternal Marriage. [Back to manuscript].


[52] Holland, Jeffrey R. “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments,” Delivered on January 12, 1988 at Brigham Young University [Back to manuscript].


[53] That some babies must be bottle-fed in order to be kept alive does not negate the essential pattern of lactation. [Back to manuscript].


[54] Dick-Read, Grantly, Childbirth Without Fear, 1955 [Back to manuscript].


[55] Leonhardt, Analiesa (2010) "The Sacrament of Birth," SquareTwo, Vol. 3 No. 1 (Spring), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleLeonhardtBirth.html, accessed February 2022. [Back to manuscript].


[56] Holland, Jeffrey R. “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments,” Delivered on January 12, 1988 at Brigham Young University [Back to manuscript].


[57] John 6:53 [Back to manuscript].


[58] Shrier, Abigail, Irreversible Damage, p.110 [Back to manuscript].


[59] Penman, Maggie. “Pope Francis Once Again Encourages Mothers to Breastfeed in The Sistine Chapel.” NPR: The Two-Way, January 7, 2018. [Back to manuscript].


[60] And throughout time that faith has been understandably tenuous: many girls and women devastatingly discover that a man’s physical strength gives him the ability not to love her, but simply to use her. [Back to manuscript].


[61] Matthew 5: 18; Alma 34: 13 [Back to manuscript].


[62] Abraham 3: 25–26 “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”
[Back to manuscript].


[63] Boyd K. Packer, “The Plan of Happiness,” April 2015 General Conference.
[Back to manuscript].


[64] Though of course it is possible for a woman to be impregnated without having faith, or giving consent, accepting the Matriarchal Authority of the Priestesshood opens our eyes to more deeply understand how spiritually damning this is to the man who takes by force or coercion what is hers—and only hers—to give.
[Back to manuscript].


[65] Russell M. Nelson, “Repentance and Conversion,” April 2007 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].


[66] Martone, Robert, “Scientists Discover Children’s Cells Living in Mothers’ Brains,” Scientific American: Mind & Brain. December 4, 2012. Accessed at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-discover-childrens-cells-living-in-mothers-brain/. --- [Back to manuscript].


[67] Boyd K. Packer, “The Plan of Happiness,” April 2015 General Conference.
[Back to manuscript].


[68] “Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness,” Bible Dictionary, “Temple.” [Back to manuscript].


[69] Compilation from Nibley, Hugh W. “On the sacred and the symbolic.” In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 535–621. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994. Reprint, Nibley, Hugh W. “On the Sacred and the Symbolic.” In Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, edited by Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 17, 340-419. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008. As quoted in Jeffrey M. Bradshaw’s series of excerpts from his book Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, 5/25/12, https://latterdaysaintmag.com/article-1-10771/. --- [Back to manuscript].


[70] Our ability to quickly identify the signs of the Priestesshood has secularly been dubbed “thin slicing,” and it is a gift of the Priestesshood that, among other blessings, protects us from danger. See Ambady, N., & Rosenthal, R. (1992). Thin slices of expressive behavior as predictors of interpersonal consequences: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 111(2), 256–274. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.111.2.256. --- [Back to manuscript].


[71] See Cassler, V.H. (2012) "Plato's Son, Augustine's Heir: A "Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology"?, SquareTwo, Vol. 5 No. 2 (Summer), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerPlatosSon.html, accessed February 2022.
[Back to manuscript].


[72] Defined as any physical characteristic developing at puberty which distinguishes between the sexes but is not directly involved in reproduction. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. [Back to manuscript].


[73] “What Your Face Really Reveals About You” by Jena E Pincott. Published November 5, 2012 in Psychology Today. Accessed at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/articles/201211/what-your-face-really-reveals-about-you. --- [Back to manuscript].


[74] Copeland, Libby, “The forever family: How the new science of genealogy is helping the lost become found,” Deseret Magazine, Published online Mar 7, 2021 at https://www.deseret.com/indepth/2021/3/7/22315282/the-forever-family-ancestry-genealogy-dna-test-spit-privacy-family-history-mormon-secrets.
--- [Back to manuscript].


[75] McConkie, Bruce R. “The Keys of the Kingdom,” April 1983 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].


[76] Doctrine & Covenants 112: 32 explains how Priesthood keys were passed down: “For verily I say unto you, the keys of the dispensation, which ye have received, have come down from the fathers, and last of all, being sent down from heaven unto you.” Heavenly Mother, in Whose image women are made, must hold the keys to the ordinances of the flesh that Her daughters are ordained to perform. She would have been the One in heaven who conferred them upon Eve. [Back to manuscript].


[77] Not all keys of the Priestesshood are activated upon birth. The commencement of menses, for example, suggests the keys of bodily creation are only activated after a girl has received the ordinances of the flesh, and lived according to certain covenants. To understand how keys may be conferred at ordination but reside latent, see President Gordon B. Hinckley’s description of the process of seniority and succession that begins when a man is called to the Quorum of the Twelve, Ensign, May 1986, 46–47.
[Back to manuscript].


[78] Moses 5: 59: “And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.” [Back to manuscript].


[79] Occasionally shocking statistics pop up to confirm this. For example, the reason we no longer have orphanages here in the United States is primarily due to the pioneering work of behavioral scientist Henry D. Chapin, who found that the mortality rate for institutionalized infants under 1 year of age was nearly 100 per cent! Because no one administered the ordinances of the flesh to these children, they were not able to live. (Compare that to the 52/54 children who survived the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in Footnote 37. Clearly, the physical environment was not the determining factor, it was the proper administration and teaching of these ordinances.) Another astonishingly consistent statistic was discovered by criminal profiler Robert Ressler, who found that 100% of known serial killers had been abused as children, either with violence, neglect, or humiliation. While obviously not all children who are neglected grow up to be serial killers, Ressler’s research shows what we intuitively know about neglect and abuse: those who receive but are not properly instructed in the covenants of the flesh experience profound problems that persist throughout their lifetime and always negatively impact others to varying degrees. See Gray, Philip Howard, “Henry Dwight Chapin: Pioneer in the study of institutionalized infants,” Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 1989, 27 (1), 85¬–87. Accessed at: https://spence-chapin.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/ 1989_Gray_Article_HenryDwightChapinPioneerInTheS.pdf. See also DeBecker, Gavin. The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence, 48.
[Back to manuscript].


[80] In Doctrine and Covenants 29: 36 the devil demands, “Give me thine honor, which is my power.” [Back to manuscript].


[81] Though interestingly, understanding how all mothers are divinely created to birth their own children can inform us as to the Church policy that “a bishop may allow a father who is a priest…to baptize his children.” Many have questioned why fathers are given every opportunity to perform this essential ordinance for their children, even if they are “not fully temple worthy” or ordained to higher Priesthood office. The flesh ordinance of birth answers this with great power: it is their divine commission. Church Handbook of Instructions 20.1.2. [Back to manuscript].


[82] See 1 Corinthians 12: 12-26 [Back to manuscript].


[83] 2 Nephi 32: 5 and Doctrine and Covenants 64: 34. It is futile to attempt to discern which of our sisters and brothers are not following the Spirit in discharging their divinely-appointed individual duties; that is for God to decide. [Back to manuscript].


[84] Babies’ inability to move from place to place imprisons them in their bodies, so they need capable caretakers to come to them, as well as carry them around.
[Back to manuscript].


[85] Presiding authority does not presuppose superiority. Because all of God’s children are invited to make and keep covenants of the flesh, it should not be surprising that many in both genders are proficient in such areas of service as those listed above.
[Back to manuscript].


[86] See Matthew 25: 34–40 [Back to manuscript].


[87] Ezekiel 47: 1–8 [Back to manuscript].


[88] Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 12 (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992). [Back to manuscript].


[89] Because “death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator,” we should not expect obedience to the ordinances and covenants of the flesh to give us immortality (2 Nephi 9: 6). But we have been given abundant witnesses that testify to their healthful effect, such as the 5th commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother [which is a covenant associated with the flesh ordinance of attachment]: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
[Back to manuscript].


[90] “Our Wives and Our Mothers in the Eternal Plan,” Relief Society Magazine, Dec. 1946, 801. [Back to manuscript].


[91] For an analysis of this question and other challenges women—especially young women—wrestle with as they seek to reconcile their value with the Church’s patriarchal organization, see Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye’s chapter, “What Ana Said,” from her book Crossings: A Bald Asian American Latter-day Saint Woman Scholar's Ventures through Life, Death, Cancer & Motherhood (Not Necessarily in that Order). Provo: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2019. [Back to manuscript].


[92] The same applies to mother. See Sheri L. Dew, “Are We Not All Mothers?” October 2001 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].


[93] Mosiah 5: 7 “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” [Back to manuscript].


[94] For example, Isaiah—and then Nephi and Jacob, quoting Isaiah--taught, “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers” (Isaiah 49: 22–23). [Back to manuscript].


[95] Elder M. Russell Ballard expressed this doctrine in the following way: “In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman” (“This is My Work and Glory,” April 2013 General Conference). [Back to manuscript].


[96] Letter from the First Presidency to the general and local officers of the Church throughout the world, “Priesthood Extended to All Worthy Males,” June 8, 1978.
[Back to manuscript].


[97] Benson, Ezra Taft, “To the Mothers in Zion,” Fireside for Parents, February 22, 1987. [Back to manuscript].


[98] Cassler, V.H. (2020) "Understanding the PPriesthood," SquareTwo, Vol. 13 No. 2 (Summer 2020), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerPPriesthood.html, accessed March 2022. [Back to manuscript].


[99] See, for example, “Fathers’ Roles in the Care and Development of Their Children: The Role of Pediatricians.” Pediatrics (2016) 138 (1): e20161128. Accessed at: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-1128. --- [Back to manuscript].


[100] Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke to this on the local level: “Any priesthood leader who does not involve his sister leaders with full respect and inclusion is not honoring and magnifying the keys he has been given. His power and influence will be diminished until he learns the ways of the Lord,” BYU Devotional, ““Let Us Think Straight,” August 20, 2013. [Back to manuscript].


[101] Referring to “blunt, unequivocal talks by General Authorities about the equal partnership of men and women, with boatloads of advice about what is considered the proper way for the sons of God to interact with the daughters of God,” Dr. V.H. Cassler said, “I’ve been collecting this material for years, and now my file is literally bursting with talks and quotes. They are coming so fast and furious I can hardly keep up with them.” From Cassler, V. H. (2013) "Ruby Slippers on Her Feet: Reflections on the OrdainWomen Website," SquareTwo, Vol. 6 No. 1, (Spring), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerRubySlippers.html, [Accessed February 2022]. [Back to manuscript].


[102] Corbridge, Lawrence E. “Stand Forever,” BYU Devotional given January 22, 2019. [Back to manuscript].


[103] Matthew 18: 14 [Back to manuscript].


[104] Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters,” October 2015 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].


[105] 2 Nephi 28: 19 [Back to manuscript].



Full Citation for this Article: Wyne, Gwendolyn Stevens (2022) "The Matriarchal Order and the Ordinances of the Flesh," SquareTwo, Vol. 15 No. 1 (Spring 2022), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleWyneMatriarchalOrder.html, accessed <give access date>.

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