By Ariel Monson, posted on LDS.org
Starting in my third year of college, I was involved in a lot of conversations around the topic of women in the Church. It can seem as if men are front and center in our organization, and it is sometimes difficult to discern immediately where the voice of women is heard and how we matter in the kingdom of God. I began to wonder: What IS the role of women in the Church? If men have the priesthood, what do we have? Those questions troubled me.
In the years since then, I have wrestled with those questions. It has been an ongoing journey, but a few insights have helped illuminate my understanding.
- God loves all His children equally.
As I’ve sought understanding about the role of women in the Church, the principle that I’ve been reminded of again and again is that God loves all His children, male and female. He doesn’t love one more than the other, and I can trust that He knows me, He loves me, and there is a place and a part for me to play that is wonderful and amazing and fully equal to that of anyone else, regardless of gender. The Book of Mormon states, “[The Lord] inviteth … all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … and all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).
In a moment where I was particularly struggling with some of these questions, I had the thought, “Wait—this is God I’m talking about. Do I really think He doesn’t understand me? Do I really think He loves some of His children more than others?” The thought helped me re-center, and I was reminded that if I begin my journey of understanding with the belief that God loves me and that His entire motivation is love, it helps me see more clearly as I go along.
- I have full access to the power of the priesthood through my own obedience.
What has been key for me in understanding my role as a woman in the Church has been a better understanding of what the priesthood is and what role it plays in my life. In a recent interview, Sister Neill F. Marriott of the Young Women General Presidency said: “Priesthood is not the men of the Church. Priesthood is the power of God, and we all work with that power—not necessarily with keys or even with duties described in the scriptures, but we all have this power as we fulfill our covenant responsibilities. Even saying ‘support the priesthood,’ we’re really saying ‘support the power of God.’ I think we even need to go better and say we support those who work with priesthood power so that priesthood doesn’t take on this human identity. … We need to get out of that habit.”
Priesthood does not = men of the Church. Priesthood = the power of God, and the power of God is available to everyone through obedience to His commandments.