Equating Motherhood and Priesthood

Being of a somewhat feminist leaning, I was a bit taken aback when one of my 11 year old Primary students brought out an axiom he learned from his mother – “Men get the Priesthood and women get the babies”.  I tried to mitigate this a bit, since he was telling it to one of his female classmates, but to me this is a lot more complex than a simple axiom.

Motherhood does not equal Priesthood.  Yes, there are responsibilities that each entail that cannot (at this time) be done by the other, but to me, there is so much more that makes up men and women beyond these two simple tropes that the axiom is too much of an oversimplification, and potentially damaging.  It may be an easy simplification for children, but certainly more teaching would need to be done to expand both things that are bare facets of what makes up men and women.

Not all women can be mothers, at least not in the strict sense of childbearing and breastfeeding.  Similarly, not all men have the Priesthood.  Yes, all worthy males are given the Priesthood in the Church, but the subset of men with Priesthood in the world is much, much smaller than the subset of women who are mothers.  Neither is the “ultimate calling” of men and women, nor are they adequate definitions of what make men, men and women, women.

Trying to compare the two is not even comparing apples and oranges, as there have been times (and likely will be again) when there have been roles now considered only of the Priesthood that have been also done by women, such as prophesying, healing the sick, etc., and it is impossible (without extensive surgery and technology) for men to bear children.  It’s like comparing apples and ostriches.

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  1. #1 by Rozann on 9 February 2012 - 8:52 am

    Motherhood equals Fatherhood; Relief Society equals the Priesthood. When are people going to get it right! Priesthood and Relief Society are both formed and given to SERVE others. Mother and Father are eternal callings that many attain in this life, but all worthy persons will attain in the next.
    Found your blog through another. Keep up the good work.

  2. #2 by megashleymac on 12 February 2012 - 11:22 am

    Amen. In Sunday School when I was about 12 or 13, I was given this equation: Priesthood + Motherhood = Godhood. It was troubling to me even then. I think many people subscribe to this notion because it makes the current organization seem (italics around “seem”) more equitable. But I just can’t stomach this apologetic thinking. It’s too limiting. It denies individual talents, capacities and circumstances.

  3. #3 by Chris_T_Poo on 12 February 2012 - 11:58 pm

    I just want to say that as a man I have always felt limited by this type of thinking. (I should be clear, I don’t mean your thinking. I mean the Priesthood = Motherhood thinking.) I have looked forward to being a father for a long time, and I believe I’d make a good one too. When I’m told that my role as a priesthood bearer is more important than my role as a father would be it makes me feel terrible. Why is my wife supposed to be more important to our future children than me? Why is my only worth wrapped up in my wallet and blessing giving capacity? It is horrible and discriminatory to both women and men to say that this is the only role of value either could fill. Thank you so much for posting this. God bless you.

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