Women and the Priesthood: What One Mormon Woman Believes By Sheri Dew

summary Women and the Priesthood: What One Mormon Woman Believes

The fact that women are not ordained to the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is for some a sticking point, a hot topic, even a potential media controversy. Others aren't troubled by the issue at all. But wherever you fall on that spectrum, you'll be fascinated by this doctrinal exploration of a topic that is crucial for both women and men to understand.

In Women and the Priesthood, Sheri Dew discusses the varying responsibilities of men and women in the context of key doctrine of the Church, including the eternal truths that women are vital to the success of the Lord's church, that God expects women to receive revelation, and that both men and women have access to God's highest spiritual blessings.

This enlightening book shows how studying the doctrine of the priesthood will help you find the answers you seek about women and the priesthood, about women in the Church, and about the vital influence righteous women can have in the world. Women and the Priesthood: What One Mormon Woman Believes

As we swing into a new year, I began the navel gazing that always comes with that and decided that the bottom line is, I need to be closer to God. I've spent a couple or three years maybe moving along in parallel with him. He wasn't TOO far away, but I certainly wasn't making any effort to connect. But I felt strongly that this could be a focus of my 2014 and, honestly, it HAD to be the focus if I want to be happy.

And so, I got this book for Christmas from my mother. As the inflammatory title suggests, it's about the 'ordain women' issue that's getting some attention in the LDS church these days. I really like that the subtitle is 'What One Woman Believes' just to clear up any confusion. She does not represent the church, nor does she have any authority to make policy statements. HOWEVER, if there is anyone in the world whose opinion I would like to hear on this subject, it's hers. Here's why:

* She's a faithful woman. She's strong in the church and remains so to this day.
* She has held really visible callings in the general auxiliaries in the church. She has worked with more church leaders than a lot of members of the church ever will.
* She has held really visible callings in the Relief Society which have sent her around the world to speak with, train, listen to, and counsel with women from every background and nationality you can think of. She's actually been there with us. I myself have heard her speak in person on a couple different occasions.
* She is SINGLE and has never been married. If there is anyone in the church who might have the right to feel marginalized by the actual doctrine, it's her (and ME). She has given her life to service in the church and, according to the doctrine which she lays out in no uncertain terms in this book, she cannot achieve the highest form of exaltation because she is single. She could be seriously bitter about that, and for some reason, that makes me more inclined to listen to her. Plus, of course I myself feel a kinship.
* She studies and reads and studies and reads. This book is full of so many end notes that I actually went through them all at the end and made another reading list of talks, poems, and books just for myself.

Anyway, this is such a worthwhile read. It took me a few weeks to get through it simply because I kind of had to chew on each chapter for a few days (sometimes a week!) after reading it. However, her order of operations is brilliant. She begins by laying the issue down and, in my opinion, includes enough of both sides of the argument to make it clear what is being discussed. And then she moves into talking about our own personal relationships with God. Before she even gets into the men/women thing, she talks about being faithful and cultivating our own worthiness and spirituality. And THEN she hits it with chapter three, which is about receiving personal revelation. Yowza, that was a good one. It laid me out for a couple weeks.

After a few chapters that focus your attention on yourself, she then turns the spotlight onto the issue at hand. She claims several times in the book that she's studied this so thoroughly herself because she has also had so many questions, and it shows. She also claims that she's only laying out what is WRITTEN in the scriptures and by prophets and apostles. And man, she lays it out. I learned a lot and honestly, the depth of some of the topics (motherhood, priesthood, marriage) was pretty astounding. It's all so much heavier than I acknowledge that it is in my day to day life. And thank heavens Sister Dew is a single woman. I don't think I could have stomached this coming from someone happily married. Call me petty, but there you go.

Of course, if you don't believe that prophets are prophets or that Joseph Smith was the real deal, this book won't mean much to you. She relies heavily on modern revelation to teach the topics in each chapter. And I can imagine if a woman has been badly treated by men in the church (it totally happens, I know it) and made to feel
like less because of her gender, this is a rough topic anyway. I would hope that the loving and practical way that Sister Dew shares her thoughts would at least invite more folks to listen to her than normally would, but I will never know. I do know that I'm really glad that I read it. English 3.5 stars

I find myself in a peculiar situation as a Moderate Mormon Feminist against advocating for the priesthood, in reality I find peace in waiting patiently for the further revelation regarding what it means to be a priestess etc. So I really don't feel like I have a dog in the actual fighting going on around the Ordain Women movement, and obviously this book is in response to that.

Even though I don't believe in advocating for the priesthood, I'm still a feminist who wants to be a part of positive change regarding policies in the procedures of the church to eliminate gender inequality. Men and women are not the same and shouldn't be treated equally, but they should be treated equitably.

I will attempt to summarize the whole of Sheri Dew's book in a paragraph: She doesn't understand why people think women don't have anything to do in the church: LOOK! We pray and speak and lead our own organizations! The doctrine of Jesus Christ holds equality in women and men, but quit trying to be treated the same! If you understand who you are as a daughter of God you will stop being confused!! Be rooted in the gospel and quit worrying about these things, or else your roots will be weak! If you understand the plan of Salvation, you understand that women are to have children and men are to have the priesthood. We don't know why, we accept it with faith. We have our gender roles and that's what we're supposed to do. And Christ is at the head of the Church so STOP questioning it! I will provide no discussion at all about the mistakes and infallibility of human leaders of our church. Quit asking for the priesthood, we are already doing a lot: we are praying and leading organizations and teaching and stuff - and some churches don't let you even do that. So why are we complaining again? We are so vital to the work. We have all the access to every blessing the Lord has promised us. She has access to priesthood power as a single, endowed woman in her home, please stop telling her she doesn't. As for women having power in the early days of the church to lay on of hands, well, it's likely it all could have just been a mistake - or we were doing it wrong until we locked that practice up exclusively in the temple. She explains in a really awesome way the difference between keys, authority, and the power of the priesthood. We don't talk about Mother in Heaven because we're protecting her. Motherhood is a doctrine and you don't need kids to be a mother. If you just immerse yourself in the Gospel, you can change the world and be saved.

Now here is my response: Wow, what a mixed bag for me. I actually did learn a lot about the priesthood. In fact most of the book was very uplifting to me. She had some pretty insightful discussions about how women's path in life are ambiguous in the Church while men's paths are set. About how our goal in finding out our purposes in life may not include the Sunday School answers. But near the end I felt like she was really negative about people who disagreed with her, regardless of her earlier quotes of it being okay to have different opinions. She implied if you don't understand it her way you won't qualify for the celestial kingdom, that if you are confused you are ridiculous and 'absurd'. The main reasons women have questions about ordination are quickly dismissed or not even discussed at all. I disagree that if someone has a different opinion that they don't understand the plan of salvation. I very much don't agree with her opinion about celestial silence being necessary for Heavenly Mother, especially since it's not based in scripture or any leader ever of this church. It's a myth debunked. BUT I respect her with all of my heart. Her beliefs and interpretations are the product of her life and experiences - just as mine are.

I have a much more in depth Summary of my notes on the book and my responses to points made over at my blog. All in all I'd say there is insight to be gained in this book, but by in large it reflects the traditional beliefs in the Church about gender roles and our places in the organization. I certainly understand this perspective. She stuck to her own script about how to explain away Ordain Women, but I wish she would have spent some more time on their actual concerns and questions - and not just why she thinks they are wrong doctrinally. I spend a lot of my time defending OW as not being apostate against really mean people - and this book doesn't help my case, because in a round about way she implies that herself. I'm not sure if this does anything to help the dialog about women and the priesthood than to reinforce people's already held opinions and interpretations. There just doesn't seem to be any attempt at understanding that it is possible to be a mormon feminist and faithful at the same time. And if you are, well - you're just all caught up in Satan's distracting influence.

I actually am grateful for the OW movement, even though I disagree with them because I think they are prompting a conversation we should be having. A real and hard look at gender and the church and the priesthood. I know I've been more sincere and earnest in my study this year regarding this topic, especially inside the temple, because of it - and I'm grateful for it. I don't want to focus on what we're doing wrong, but what could we be doing better?

I recently told my husband the reason I am a feminist is because I am a mother and because I cherish that role. Because I care so deeply for my daughter and her experiences in life, I do feel prompted by the Spirit to try to change gender inequalities. And because I am a faithful Mormon feminist, there is nothing any human can do on this earth to take me away from the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know He lives and loves me. I know that all things will be made right in the end. I know I will see my Father and Mother in Heaven face to face and every question I have now will be answered in the next life.

p.s. Can I just say Sheri Dew is my hero, and long for the days of her exhorting and expounding over the pulpit, even if we do disagree sometimes.

p.p.s. I submitted a portion of this review to be published on DeseretBook.com, and can I just say - I guess I'm not surprised they chose not to publish it. Heaven forbid :-)

ppps another excellent review can be found HERE! Seriously, such a great review!! <---


I am almost done, and so far all I can say is: Deseret Book, you have the worst ebook reading app I have ever used in my life. AWWWWFFFUUULLL. Seriously so much info technology in the church that this is embarrassing :-) English About 7 months ago I started writing a manuscript as a gift to my daughters that I titled, Understanding Our Stewardship. When I found out that Sheri Dew was coming out with a book titled Women and the Priesthood, I thought it would make for good source material.

People. It was the same book I endeavored to write. Only more eloquent, more experienced, and all around better.

It confirmed to me what the spirit already had. Doctrinal truths are eternal, and whether they are being written by my simple hand or beautifully expounded by Sheri Dew (I'm an unofficial member of her unofficial fan club) they are the same.

This book was so beautiful. It spoke to my spirit and helped me to understand my nature in a more poignant way. It helped me understand my relationship with God, with my family, and as a willing participant in the plan of happiness. It helped me to articulate my own feelings with my relationship with the priesthood.

If I could purchase this book for every woman I know, I would. As it is, I'll slowly have to collect books and gift them to my family and friends over time. This book is incredible, and I thank Sister Dew for writing and articulating my feelings in a way I never could (though not for lack of trying.)

English I'm feeling the Mormon woman guilt for only giving Sister Sheri two stars! I do like her, but this book just didn't engage me, nor inform me. As a Relief Society lesson, great. However, it just had no new ideas, nor new enlightenment on women and the priesthood. I'm not seeking to hold the priesthood. Quite frankly I'm just too lazy and it seems like a lot of work. I know there are some women that really grapple with this and I don't think this book would satisfy struggling member's concerns. I do feel like she wrote for a pretty broad audience and that perhaps a nonMormon, curious about the LDS woman and her role in the LDS church, might find this interesting. For me, it was nothing I hadn't been told or heard before. For now we don't know why men have the priesthood and women don't. I think it has much to do with a patriarchal society that has existed since Adam and Eve. For now, I'll just count it as one less thing on my to-do list. English I struggle with how much to say in my response to this book. I learned nothing new. It was very disappointing. There is this strong assumption among many Orthodox members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that those who question are just not fully immersed in the gospel. And, if they were, they would immediately change their views and be Orthodox like them. It has been my experience, that those who question are MORE immersed in gospel learning than the average member. These questioners are regular scripture readers, often are regular temple attenders, regular prayers; and they agonize at times over the things with which they struggle. Sheri Dew's book says we as women are expected to seek and receive revelation, and yet, when that personal revelation goes contrary to what Orthodox members believe, the questioners are criticized, belittled, judged. We are told to stand up for what we believe, for the ground we have already won. Does that also apply to those questioners who have diligently studied, pondered, discussed, and prayed about their concerns? Are they also supposed to stand up for what THEY believe?

The author also offers quote after quote from high-ranking church authorities who claim the equality of men and women. I agree that that is what is taught, especially recently. However, in actual practice, the church is FAR from achieving this goal of equality of the genders, and I am not even referring to the priesthood issue. And, I am also not talking about the oft-quoted philosophy of women and men having different, but equal, roles. I don't want to get into the long list of ways in which the practice of the church is inconsistent with its teachings.

This book is just a repetition of the company line again and again. I found myself frustrated with the sameness, and I struggled to slog through until the end. But I did endure. 2 stars. English

I was so excited when I saw the Deseret Book ad for this in my inbox and went out the very next day and bought it. This is an important book that all women should read. Sheri Dew hasn't published anything significant for Mormon women in four years so it's about time.
With the growing media presence of Ordain Women and same sex marriage, I have been yearning for Sister Dew's thoughts on these matters and how they pertain to single, never married women in the church. She almost delivers but there was so much more I was hoping she'd address: Why did she never marry? Now that she's sixty, and most likely the oldest living virgin on earth, how did she deal with menopause? How is she dealing with her recent breast cancer diagnosis? Why did she choose treatment instead of letting it take her life? Who does she ask when she needs a priesthood blessing? Does she hope for dating, courtship and marriage opportunities in the next life? What's her advice to women married to non-members or divorced women who don't have the priesthood in their lives? These are the women clamoring to be treated equally with men, I bet. Why is there only one story about modern day LDS women in Tonga doing something to battle the growing numbers of inactive priesthood holders? (see page 95) How many of her nieces are nearing the traditional age to marry but are growing frustrated over the shrinking number of worthy young men in the dating pool? How are they dealing with the ambiguous flexibility of what the life script of an unmarried Mormon woman should be and what advice does this sage woman have for so many of us who may never have the priesthood in our homes? Inquiring LDS female minds want to know!
Instead we have an older manuscript that Sister Dew admits she put off sending to the publishing house of which she is CEO. There are numerous shout outs to the late President Gordon B. Hinckley (whom I miss just as much as she does) and only two references to any remarks from our modern day prophet. She shares many inspiring stories of pioneer women, many I've already heard before. Her title is a little misleading as half of her thesis is generalized to both men and women leading Christ centered lives. We get a lot of This is what I believe, that's all I got. It's obvious she supports church doctrine on marriage between man and women and the importance of women being mothers over having a career but nothing as to how she herself feels stuck on the outside looking in, as I often do.
There is much to take away from this book. I like the additional blank, lined pages, at the end for readers to jot down their own insights and notes. Over and over, Sheri Dew emphasizes seven key points which can be easily condensed into these three: women matter very much to the Lord and his church, motherhood is our highest privilege (so how does Sheri Dew deal with that?) and in the end the only thing that matters is neither the man without the woman. (1 Cor 11:11) I hope this book stirs up lots of discussion about the role of women, especially single women, in the church and where we fit in as second class citizens.
English Fabulous book!
Highly recommend it. It doesn't answer the question Why don't Women have the Priesthood? as much as it discusses what a woman's role is in the eternal scheme of things. I admire Sister Dew's frankness in admitting things she doesn't understand. She shared wonderful insight into the divine nature of women. I felt better about myself after reading the book and more motivated to become the best woman I can be.

I myself have never wished for the priesthood, but this book does help resolve areas where I have felt not as important as men. Definitely a book to make you proud to be a woman. Our role is not lesser. Our role is not greater. It is different and complimentary to man's role. We are both needed.

Love the discussion on priesthood holders does not equate the priesthood. No more: We thank the Priesthood for setting up the chairs. The Priesthood didn't set up the chairs, but members of the priesthood quorum did. :-)

I laughed several times in the book, especially when she mentioned that Utah was the first state to have a woman in its state legislature. The woman, was a democrat, and beat her husband, the republican for the seat. Ha! I would loved to have heard their dinner time discussions.

Content: Very clean, obviously! English I thought this book would teach me about women and their relationship to the priesthood. And while it certainly covered that, I got that and SO much more.

This book didn't change the way I viewed women and the priesthood as much as it shaped the way I viewed the priesthood, period. I have priesthood power in a very real way, independent of my husband, though only he and I together have the fullness of the priesthood. I learned that from this book.

I learned about personal revelation. I learned more about the temple endowment. I learned to differentiate the keys, authority and power of the priesthood in a way that empowered me and increased my reverence for priesthood bearers.

Read it. You'll love it. It was the perfect companion to my personal study and even shaped the things I chose to study. Any book that leads you back to the scriptures is always a good one, right? English I just started this book so I can not yet give a full review, but one little quote from her book seems to sum up what I think is the most important part of this topic. Here is what she said, Although I can see ways in which the participation of LDS women in the Church could be further enhanced, if nothing changes in my lifetime in this regard, it won't affect my testimony one whit. I've had far too many witnesses that the gospel is true and that the keys, power, and authority of the Savior's kingdom have been restored to let organizational issues discourage me. English There was so much to glean from this wonderful book. What a treasure. I was inspired, learned, and was filled with fresh purpose. English