Religion Magazine

Women Gave Blessings

By Ldsapologetics
In a sunstone article there is ample proof LDS women used to routinely bless, heal and anoint the sick and afflicted.
"Any and all sisters who honor their holy endowments, not only have the right, but should feel it a duty whenever called upon to administer to our sisters in these ordinances, which God has graciously committed to His daughters as well as to His sons; and we testify that when administered and received in faith and humility they are accompanied with all mighty power." -Eliza R. Snow Women's Exponent 1884
"Eliza Snow, in 1884, then echoed the language of Joseph Smith in his 28 April 1842 instructions to the Relief Society: "thousands can testify that God has sanctioned the administration of these ordinances [of healing the sick] by our sisters with the manifestation of His healing influence." "Brigham Young of all people had this to say about it: "Why do you not live so as to rebuke disease?" he demanded. "It is your privilege to do so without sending for the Elders. "He laid down some practical advice; if the child is ill of a fever or of an upset stomach, treat those symptoms by all means, beware of too much medicine, and remember that prevention is better than cure. He ended by addressing himself specifically to mothers: "It is the privilege of a mother to have faith and to administer to her child; this she can do herself, as well as sending for the Elders to have the benefit of their faith." Having enough faith to heal was clearly, for Brother Brigham, "practical religion" like having enough food on hand."  And finally we have the word from Joseph Smith himself: "There could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water...If the sisters have faith to heal, let all hold their tongues." Women giving blessing, healing and anointing the sick and afflicted was common place in our church from it's inception to the early 20th century. Spiritual gifts are gifts of faith by the spirit and not the same as priesthood authority.  Now if for half the history of the Church women were permitted and even encouraged to minister to and bless and heal and anoint the sick and afflicted what changed?  Why was it ok according to Joseph Smith and not ok later on? Starting in the 1920's church leaders grew increasingly stricter lines between priesthood powers and spiritual gifts.  That is when the modern "understanding" of pretty much any spiritual gift being under the umbrella of "Preisthood powers." Mary Magdalene in Early Christianity was called "The Apostle to the Apostles."  She and other women were also allowed to minister to and bless and heal the sick and afflicted.  Mary was considered a saint in her own right and early on what became known as orthodoxy relied on Peter as the true heir to Christ's church whereas Mary was the true heir according to the gnostics.
So in every era there seems to be a divide or a line drawn between men and women so that clear cut gender roles allow people to find comfort in their routine.  It also convieniently allows for men to always be in a position of power over women rather than men and women being viewed as equal partners or for a husband and wife to be as one.  It is more like a cop and their partner in that they both have authority but one outranks the other and the one who is higher ranking socially is always the man.
Now in scripture spiritual gifts are different from what the priesthood is defined as.  In scripture the Priesthood is a spiritual authority to perform rites and ordinances that require that authority.  But anyone could display spiritual gifts of healing and even miracles if they have the faith necessary.
1 Corinthians 12 is a great example:
12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked.
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
Just because one persons spiritual gifts are different and even in doubt as to whether or not they are in fact of God does not mean that they are false and just because they are not as "impressive" does not mean they are unimportant gifts.
It is a loss if we deny the spiritual gifts of women, half the population, because they are as important as any other demographic of our church and community.
Jesus never talked in terms of demographics, He simply looked at all He met as sons and daughters of God and gave the help needed by each person. 
The church, or body of Christ, is made up by millions of members and we ought to recieve the spiritual gifts of each member as an important contribution.  Women may make larger strides in our community if we return to allowing women to exercise their spiritual gifts and to nourish and strengthen them by exercising them with regularity.  Spiritual gifts should not be confused with being solely the property of the Priesthood.  They are not one and the same.
Spiritual gifts are gifts of the spirit by faith and priesthood authority is something else entirely.  Why was Joseph Smith ok with women using their spiritual gifts yet our modern church is not?  Are women no longer entitled to use their faith to heal and bless?  Why was it ok once but forbidden later?  I'm not alone in saying that if anyone has the faith to heal they ought to be allowed to do so especially if God has granted His approval by granting the healing process.  Joseph Smith said it was good for anyone male or female to heal, Brigham Young said the same.

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