On November 9, 1997, then President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) Gordon B. Hinckley gave an interview with Compass, an Australian television program. Within the interview with President Hinckley (who was accompanied by his beloved wife Marjorie), interviewer David Ransom brought up the topic of female ordination, over a decade before the recent, heart breaking debate came to fore recently about the Ordain Women movement among the Church's members and leadership. President Hinckley's reply is revealing in the context of the recent Mormon Feminist Moment the Church is now experiencing and the crisis it has caused many of its members (on both sides of the argument) to go through:
RB: At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church. Why is that?A few very revealing things are contained in the interview which shed a good deal of light on the current crisis:
GBH: That’s right, because the Lord has put it that way. Now women have a very prominent place in this Church. They have there own organisation. Probably the largest women’s organisation in the world of 3.7 million members. And the women of that organisation sit on Boards. Our Board of Education things of that kind. They counsel with us. We counsel together. They bring in insight that we very much appreciate and they have this tremendous organisation of the world where they grow and if you ask them they’ll say we’re happy and we’re satisfied.
RB: They all say that?
GBH: Yes. All except a oh you’ll find a little handful one or two here and there, but in 10 million members you expect that.
RB: You say the Lord has put it that way. What do you mean by that?
GBH: I mean that’s a part of His programme. Of course it is, yes.
RB: Is it possible that the rules could change in the future as the rules are on Blacks ?
GBH: He could change them, yes. If He were to change them that’s the only way it would happen.
RB: So you’d have to get a revelation?
GBH: Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied. These bright, able, wonderful women who administer their own organisation are very happy. Ask them. Ask my wife.
GBH: Are you happy? (to his wife...)
Mrs. H: Very happy! (laughs)
1) President Hinckley says that the policy of ordaining the women to the priesthood could change. He never says "that's not possible," as I've heard some people say, or that it is some sort of eternal principle or doctrine. He said, "[God] could change them, yes." So much of the discussion I've been hearing from the anti-Ordain Women side of things revolve around how that's just not possible, that this is how it's always been in the Church, and how it will always be, falls flat on the floor with that statement from President Hinckley. The possibility exists, he admits, but...
2) ... It would require a revelation. "If He were to change them, that’s the only way it would happen." This, I believe, is the heart of the matter, and what my major focus will be in my thoughts here. The need for revelation from God (not a statement from the PR Department) on this matter. Continuing revelation is one of the key principles of Mormonism. If we feel we cannot ask for it in a time of crisis like this one, then I believe we are living far below the privileges the Gospel affords us. But President Hinckley explained why there was no such revelation on the books. He said...