I quite enjoyed David Holland's thoughts on "Exclusion or God's Plan."
Specifically I liked this contrast, "The idea is that just as men become fathers through a woman’s divinely endowed maternal capacity, so women become endowed with priesthood power through that same divine marriage. Through such a marriage, men and women can both be parents and they can both be priests—and thus through that relationship they both progress toward godliness—even as each retains certain complementary functional distinctions, such as the fact that men are responsible to hold priesthood office. Mormons that make this case recognize that not all humans will have such a marriage in this life, but LDS theology provides for the fulfillment of such a union in the next. Latter-day Saints of this persuasion are inclined to quote St. Paul: "Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord."
There was one little sentence that rubbed me just a little wrong, and I wonder if it's because the thought was not completely developed? "Mormon priesthood isn’t just the right to lead a congregation or officiate over sacramental ceremonies. It's a deeply sacerdotal endowment that empowers its holders to speak, act, and heal in the name of God. It alters one’s relationship to the divine."
I felt a bit like he was saying that priesthood holders get to speak, act, and heal, and it makes them closer to God, and if you don't have it, you can't have those things. I don't know if that's really what he was saying, but that's how I interpreted it as I read. As I mentioned in my recent post on the RS lesson I taught on the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, we DO speak and act for God (under priesthood authority) when we serve in our callings or when we serve missions. Additionally, some of us DO have the ability to heal if it is one of our spiritual gifts. I agree that we don't lead congregations in the same way as priesthood holders, nor do we officiate in sacramental ceremonies, and I'm perfectly okay with that. I also don't feel that by not holding the priesthood am I held back from my relationship with God. Perhaps all Holland was saying, though, was that by having the priesthood, men are more able to do those things mentioned above? I suppose we could look at the flip side of the last sentence and say child bearing and birth alters one's relationship to the divine, which it does, and I don't think men would be jealous. Anyway, I just wanted to put out there, that I don't feel held back by not holding the priesthood, whether that's what he was saying or not.
Update 6/30: You'll never believe who I got an e-mail from this morning, Brother Holland! It just goes to say, someone might actually read what you write! Ha! He expressed concern for the impression I took away and clarified that he meant that men and women share these duties because of the temple endowment, which if you read the first paragraph I posted, it says just that (which said paragraph actually did come AFTER the paragraph I posted second). So, I think my problem was taking the sentence out of context (as it was not yet completely developed yet), and not tying it into the overall message in the particular section of Holland's interview, which is what I did enjoy. So thank you, Brother Holland!