The human brain does not like chaos. When we see something that does not make sense, we try to find something familiar about it in order to bring it into a safe, comfortable place. That’s why clouds sometimes look like elephants. Our logical brain gets together with our creative brain to solve the puzzle.
We don’t limit this to things we see; we try to make sense of things we hear, things we read, anything in our lives that doesn’t seem to fit neatly into something known or familiar.
When rules, policies, or traditions don’t make sense we search for answers. This is especially true when we see something that seems unfair or out of balance.
For decades the Priesthood was denied to men of African lineage. This was confusing. It seemed unfair and out of sync with what members of the church believed to be just. It was a sky full of clouds and many theories were presented trying to make elephants out of them. Theories varied greatly, but none made sense to everyone; not everyone could see an elephant in that cloud.
Sometimes we can just look at the sky and see it for what it is, a sky full of clouds, but when we feel compelled to find shapes, we will. The Priesthood cloud compelled people to find shape because it wasn’t just an ordinary cloud that could be dismissed as such. Our logical brains were demanding we make sense of it. Theories ranged from the absurd to the offensive. The only theory nearly everyone could accept was this: It’s what God wants.
In the 14th century, logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham in England, developed what has become known as Occam’s (or Ockham’s) razor. It is the idea that when you have several theories for why something is the way it is, the simplest theory is usually the right one. This is what members of the church settled upon. The simple answer to the Priesthood cloud was the better one — God wants it that way.
Fortunately, questions persisted. Questions are the lifeblood of the gospel. Major events leading to the restoration of the gospel all came as a result of someone asking a question. Joseph Smith entered the grove with a question on his mind. In 1978 President Spencer W. Kimball asked the question and the Priesthood cloud took shape.
We have the same situation today with the Priesthood. Women are not ordained. As with the African American situation, all kinds of theories are presented.
1. Men have the Priesthood and women have motherhood.
This cloud has a lot of holes in it and most people, when they really look at it, cannot make sense of it. If we are going to equate motherhood with Priesthood, several irregularities become apparent.
- The equivalent of motherhood is not Priesthood, but fatherhood.
- If we accept that Priesthood is conferred on condition of worthiness, we have to look at its “equivalent”, motherhood in the same way. Therefore, only worthy women should be mothers.
- Men need not be married to receive the Priesthood, but entering into motherhood without marriage is unacceptable.
- Putting Priesthood and motherhood in positions equal to each other, or similar to each other, automatically relegates fatherhood to third place and this makes little sense in the eternal family view.
- Women who never become mothers fall to fourth place behind fathers.
Another reason given for why women do not have the Priesthood is:
2. Women don’t need the Priesthood; they can share in it through their husbands or fathers.
- It’s true that women can share in the blessings of Priesthood, but this is not the same as being bearers of the Priesthood.
- If women, including single women, can share in the priesthood, then men can do the same thing. We would really only need one person holding the Priesthood in the church and everyone else could just share in it.
Because it is a difficult thing to answer logically, Occam’s razor ends up being the final word. God wants it this way. But how accurate is that? When we look at the Priesthood question concerning African Americans, one can make a good argument that God did not want it that way. It took reasonable men, in a time of emerging racial equality to make sense of it, ask God, and get the answer.
Anyone who has studied the gospel, the Bible, and attended the temple knows that Priesthood for men only is not an eternal principle.
In a 1969 address at Brigham Young University, Apostle Hugh B. Brown said:
“Our revealed truth should leave us stricken with knowledge of how little we really know. It should never lead to an emotional arrogance based upon a false assumption that we somehow have all the answers–that we in fact have a corner on truth. For we do not.”
He then went on to say:
“Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and in religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything. In this age of speed there seems to be little time for meditation.”
Things change. Sometimes it can take a while, but things change. One of the great things about the church is that questions are not only acceptable, they are encouraged. There are many things that have changed because of questions being asked and people sitting down and reasoning together.
When seeking change, it’s important to remember what we were taught as children; ask nicely. Good things do not come from bitterness, or hateful dialogue. And although it’s important to remember that God is God and we are not, it’s also good to remember that God is reasonable. The heavens are open and revelation is an on-going blessing in our lives.
TEXT from the D&C: Declaration on the Priesthood (Source – lds.org)