A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Sunday, May 17, 2020

On "Not Wanting to Be Bishop"

One of the book clubs I'm in recently read the book "The Priesthood Power of Women: In The Temple, Church, and Family" by Barbara Gardner, a BYU professor. During our (Zoom) book club meeting, we discussed whether we think women would ever hold the priesthood. One of the women made the comment "I don't want to be Bishop." It's a comment I've heard many times from female members of the Church.

Well, ANY member of the church, male or female, who *wants* to be a Bishop probably shouldn't be. Wanting power is pretty antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ, in my opinion - leadership is about service, not seeking for a particular office or calling.

As someone who personally believes that women will someday hold the priesthood, I really want to engage with this "I don't want to be Bishop" sentiment. Wanting women to have the priesthood isn't about "taking away" something from men. It's not about a power grab where I want women to have control over others' lives. It's about wanting women to have ability to grow spiritually and exercise all their spiritual gifts.

It's not about ME wanting to be Bishop (I've had administrative callings enough to know I'd be a terrible Bishop) - it's about looking at women who are phenomenal Relief Society presidents and YW Presidents and Sunday School teachers, and saying THEY should be bishops. Wards would be blessed by women serving in priesthood roles.

Saying "I don't want to be Bishop" I think fails to engage in the fundamental questions: if God loves men and women equally (and I hope/pray that most Church members agree that He does), why do we have a leadership structure that relies heavily on male members of the church? Aren't we missing the wisdom and experiences of many of our members by having a gender-specific priesthood? If the goal is for men and women to achieve exaltation and become like God, aren't women going to exercise the power of God (i.e. the priesthood)?

That actually leads back to my main beef with Gardner's book. While it had some good insights, I think fundamentally the book an exercise in the mental gymnastics required to reconcile an unequal power structure with equality amongst the sexes. Essentially it felt to me like we are trying to come up with a justification for a system rather than engaging with the fact that the system is unequal and asking God if that's really what he wants. Does God really not want women to be Bishops? If so, why?

Anyway, it's been on my mind and thought I'd get this down while I was thinking about it.

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