not in Primary anymore

who are the 90%? : lds women’s feelings on ordination

In a 2006 American Grace study and late 2011 Pew Research study, they both found that about 10% of LDS women support other women holding the priesthood. While each study is slightly different, they both showed more support for women’s ordination from MEN rather than WOMEN. The American Grace study shows a large discrepancy between ordination support, about half of men supported it, while 10% of women did, the Pew study shows a significantly smaller gap.

Who are these women, the 90%? We have all come across them in our families, online forums or through friends. Through my online readings I have found several themes from the 90%. All of these can be found on the Deseret News Article “The LDS church responds to priesthood meeting request by activists”

You are just plain wrong!

You are just plain wrong!

Women have God-given roles

Women have God-given roles

That's just the way it is

That’s just the way it is

It's too much work!

It’s too much work!

These women are "attention-seeking"...and like Nazis.

These women are “attention-seeking”…and Nazis.

While I am being facetious with my commentary, the women making these arguments truly mean them and in most cases they come from a righteous, well-meaning place, like the arguments from supporters of Ordain Women.

What I find more interesting than these arguments from women against ordination, are the arguments from men for women’s ordination. Jana Reiss’s excellent “Why do Mormon men to have the priesthood more than women want it for themselves?” summarizes some of these arguments:

  1. Men would like help sharing the load of church administration and time-intensive callings
  2. It’s easier for men to be politically correct and support women’s ordination than women, they aren’t considered “selfish” for doing so.
  3. Men have feminist sympathies and truly believe women should be ordained
  4. Men really don’t see what the big deal about having the priesthood is anyways!

If Ordain Women is truly to succeed, that 10% number of support needs to rise, and the men who support women’s ordination need to voice their opinions. In addition, supporters of Ordain Women need to understand the 90% and their arguments.

What are YOUR arguments for or against women’s ordination? And why do YOU feel men support ordination more than women do?

18 Responses to “who are the 90%? : lds women’s feelings on ordination”

  1. AllyGriggles

    I think part of the reason why women are so angrily against female ordination – in some cases, at least – is because they feel like it is a threat to their current way of life. If you believe in the motherhood/priesthood dichotomy, having the priesthood would somehow lessen your capacity for motherhood, I guess. These women are proud of their role as mothers, and rightfully so. Though I don’t see how being ordained would take away from that at all, I think they might see it that way.

    That’s just my theory based on these random Internet ladies who try to throw the Proc at you when you support female ordination.

  2. Jennifer LM

    I have been a member my entire 45 years of life. Most of my friends are active, LDS women. We have grown up with the idea of Priesthood=Motherhood instead of Fatherhood =Motherhood. I think to most women it’s like asking them to be a man. Since men can’t be mothers, it follows that women can’t hold the priesthood. Most women also think priesthood=men. We’re taught that the priesthood is the power of God. Well, God’s a man so priesthood must only be for a man.

    When women are taught to honor the priesthood, they spend their time talking about men; how to help men have clean thoughts, asking men for blessings, ordinances administered by men, etc. I don’t think we spend enough (if any) time talking about how women use the priesthood. Anytime God intervenes in our lives, through prayers being answered, the Spirit prompting us, etc. we are using and honoring the priesthood.

    We are also taught obedience and sustaining church leaders. For most women this also means not questioning; like it makes you more righteous. Many believe that questioning and asking for change demonstrates that you don’t have a testimony. And who wants that label?

    • Sophia Mason

      I think you explained a few of the 90%’s thought processes really really well. Now it’s a lot clearer how a lot of these women really are not intentionally being difficult or hateful of the ordain women movement, but they have a perfectly honest logic from what they’ve seen in the church, that frankly church culture has not taught them to reason with, though I’d say the gospel should have. Joseph was willing to question authority, to even his own loss of respect by some in his community, but he stuck to what he knew was true.

  3. depizan

    I don’t know about American Grace’s survey demographic; however Pew’s demographics for their study is easily accessible. They interviewed just over 1000 people; the vast majority from western states (half from Utah), who were over 50 years old, about 53% were female, and almost 2/3 identified as Republican/conservative. Based on that kind of demographic, it’s not really surprising that it would come up as not in favor. If they had gotten a broader age range sample and from a broader array of states, I wonder if it would differ.

  4. Shannon

    Oh, the black hole of internet comments. I’ve read so many comments to the tune of “OH! Well if you want the priesthood, then get ready to fold chairs every week!” which is so frustrating as suddenly the priesthood is only a burden.

    Because of this shared attitude, I feel that women who don’t want the priesthood don’t want it because they are worried about adding more to their schedules. These are extremely valid concerns–the most hardworking members of my wards were always the sisters.

    Perhaps men see ordination for women as a chance to lighten everyone’s workload–more hands to help with blessings, leadership, etc.

    With that in mind though, maybe women are hesitant because they can see themselves fulfilling new roles but can’t see men picking up where they’ll need help. For me, it conjures up the image of my mother shooing my father away from the kitchen when he “does the dishes” so she doesn’t have to re-do them later.

  5. Starla

    Those are some good insights, unlike the (as Shannon says) “black hole” of internet comments. I was feeling quite depressed as I waded through many of them for this article!

    I do wonder what the new statistics will be after the Ordain Women movement. These studies were done before then and there wasn’t as much commentary in the bloggernacle about it. So who knows if that 10% will be more?

  6. curtispenfold

    I think the reason men are more likely to support female ordination than women are is because men are taught that the priesthood is the power of God running through our veins. We feel this amazing force as we baptize and bless the lives of others, like God is working through us.

    Why wouldn’t we want our sisters to have the priesthood?

    But what are women taught the priesthood is? Just a bunch of responsibility?

  7. EmmaH

    I actually don’t feel strongly either way but it does really annoy me when I see people argue against it when their arguments just don’t stand up to scrutiny. I saw a blogpost doing the rounds on facebook, saying it’s not our ‘gender role’ to have the priesthood, the female gender can have children,’ etc. etc.

    They clearly have no idea what gender is; it’s a social construct, not God-given. Like I said, I don’t feel strongly enough to fight for female ordination but when people just regurgitate what has been told to them by uneducated people it really annoys me.

    • Anonymous

      How do you reconcile your thoughts with this sentence form the Proclamation to the World- “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

    • kel

      Ouch! Gender is a social construct? Can’t believe in the church then, because we believe our personal gender was established in heaven before coming to earth. It’s a doctrinal point.

      As far as the “uneducated” stereotype comment, it’s a worldly view and insult to call others who do disagree as uneducated – especially in left leaning circles.

      • curtispenfold

        Is it a doctrine? I mean, when President Packer called the Family Proclamation a revelation he had to change it in the printed edition to a “guide.”

        I don’t think we accept the Proclamation as canonized or scriptural or anything like that. Maybe some do, but not all of us.

  8. LiliKate

    Why should women be ordained? Because all humans are imperfect and as much as our men dry with full intention, they can never truly replace our perspective in bishoprics, the Seventy and up the leadership. Because why not? The idea that this policy will stay frozen seems weak to me, based on the change in policy regarding the priesthood and race. I think for these reasons it has always been an important issue. In theory, this inclusion could be done without the priesthood, but it seems 100% unlikely that it will happen without being first granted the priesthood.
    Spiritually, I trust that the Lord will one day need us, and when he needs us, we will be called.

    • curtispenfold

      Penis envy is a misogynistic idea that has been proven wrong (thank goodness).

      Most women that want the priesthood don’t want a penis. They just want the ability to bless and baptize their friends and children, as well as the ability to see their sisters lead congregations of both men and women.

  9. Anonymous

    You really think getting more women to support female ordination is going to get God to change his mind? The church isn’t some social club that follows majority vote. God is the leader of the church and He isn’t just going to hand you the priesthood when you get enough followers.

  10. Abel

    I realize that you really believe that what you are doing is right and for the greater good. But even if you actually are right, which I definitely don’t believe, how you are going about trying to fix it is completely wrong. You are only helping to undermine the religion of which you claim to have such a strong testimony. If you truly believe that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and that Christ is at the head of this church, and that He is leading it in the way that is best for the greatest number of individuals, to help them get back to our Heavenly Fathers kingdom – namely the Celestial Kingdom, where we will all live with Him again in eternal glory, then you should be ashamed that you are simply adding a stumbling block for those members who are teetering on the edge of a testimony. Those members who are still looking for the truth, or even the would be members that are investigating the church – who are so close to finding the light and truth in the gospel, they don’t need to find an internal cancer that you are helping to spread and grow. We are supposed to be missionaries for the gospel truth, and if you spent more time on that, and less time trying to tear apart the fabric of our religion, then you would find yourself filled with greater satisfaction and self-worth. You might even begin to see how wonderful you are the way God made you. If you can bring one soul unto the gospel, how great will be your joy in this life and the next?!? And if you can bring more than one soul, how much greater will be your joy, and the joy of those you helped to find the truth?!? I wonder how great your joy will be when you look back on the part you played in chasing people away, or creating a gap for Satan to place more contention – to disorient and confuse those who might otherwise have found enough strength and testimony to nurture them before the real challenges came? If a man take your coat, give him your cloak also. Love your enemies as yourselves. Pray for those who would despite-fully use you. These are words from the Lord. You are not following them. Even if you truly believe that you are being held back by the men in the church, this is not the way to fix it. If you have faith in the Lord, and if you remember the authority and willingness that the Lord has to succor and protect His people, then you must simply have faith and pray – like Mary Fielding Smith who had the faith to pray for her Oxen, and they were healed. Or faith like the Israelite’s – when they brought down the walls of Jericho with nothing more than some stomping and faith. The whole point of being here is to prove our willingness to be humble, teachable, repentant, patient, full of grace and long-suffering, and willing to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing, and how to lead His church. He set it up this way from the get go. It hasn’t been morphed into some male dominated system that abuses the Lord’s power. The Lord has promised that He would never allow any prophet to lead His church astray, and NONE of our prophets have. That isn’t to say that there haven’t been men in positions of authority – such as bishops and stake presidents, and maybe even a couple of members of the seventy, who have made mistakes and abused their power – but none of our prophets have led this church astray, and all of them have had great respect for women. I believe that many women in the church would find it ridiculous for men to start brow beating them in public because they aren’t allowed into the relief society. Or if we started claiming that we have just as much right to hold the power of creation in our own wombs. Just because one role seems more powerful or desirable here on earth, doesn’t make it true. Our purpose is to learn to appreciate what we are given, use our God given gifts for grace and the benefit of all, and trust that the Lord knows what He is doing – not to tear down things and rebuild them in our own images for our own desires. Maybe women should hold the priesthood, but do you really think that you are proving your worthiness by tearing down the church to get it? Do you really think that the Lord will be bullied into giving the women of His church the priesthood, just because you form a group, and publicly proclaim your desires for it? If you truly believe that you should have those priesthood keys, then pray and have faith that you will receive it, for there is no other way to get it, and you will only continue to defecate on the Lord’s true gospel if you keep trying to get it like this. Just my two cents ladies. I hope you have had an open enough heart to hear the truth of this. We all have our crosses to bear, and maybe this is just one of yours. If the voice in your head is telling you to do this, it is not coming from the Lord, because if the Lord wanted this to happen, He would share it with the prophet, who would then share it with the rest of the members. New revelation happens every year, and our church is better and stronger for it. If what you are preaching is true, then it will come in the Lord’s time, and not when you want it to happen.

  11. Google

    Sooner or later, Google will find all new spam methods.

    These pre-computed numbers, hold on in a very giant information bank for
    millions or URLs on the net. But it seems Memorial Day wasn’t important
    enough to Google.


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