Did you catch the RadioWest interview of Ally Isom of the church public affairs office? It was alternately amusing, frustrating, and confusing. My favorite part was the following that begins at approximately 11:25 in that interview (listen to the whole thing here) right after she talked a bunch about keeping the doctrine pure and unadulterated, not making changes to it, the brethren not having the authority to change the doctrine etc etc (pardon my amateur transcription, I’m supposed to be working right now):
Fabrizio: Where does it say in Mormon Doctrine that women can’t [hold?] the priesthood? You say it’s doctrine, where is that?
Isom: The priesthood is defined as, um, as uh – an office… it’s also defined as an authority, and it’s defined as power.
Isom: Sometimes we use the term interchangeably, and we need to be sensitive about that. Throughout the scriptures, in the Doctrine and Covenants, in the restored gospel, we understand what are the different roles of the Priesthood, the oath and the covenant of the priesthood appears there…
Fabrizio: But what I’m trying to ask is very particular, where in the Mormon scriptures, the Doctrine and Covenants or the Book of Mormon or any of those scriptures, does it say that a woman is to be excluded from the priesthood? That she has other roles, very proper and important roles, but that one is not for her?
Isom: I think you wouldn’t find something defined as “not as something,” you’ll find something proactively defined as what it is. We know that the priesthood is defined as the power to act…
Fabrizio: It’s proactively defined as “This is a job that’s defined for a man? Women have other proper roles”?
Isom: The way in which you’re using the definition of the priesthood is in the offices of the priesthood. There is some discernment though, in the application of that priesthood authority and the way it is utilized. We, through our covenants, through our baptismal covenants, through the temple covenants and ordinances in which we participate, women fully engage in the priesthood. In terms of accessing its power, and its blessings.
Fabrizio: No, I understand that.
Isom: As a woman, in no way have I ever been diminished because I’m not a formal office holder of the priesthood. I have full access to every single blessing and power.
Fabrizio: I get that, and let’s stipulate that. But that’s not the question. The question is, where does it say in mormon doctrine that women cannot hold the priesthood?
Isom: It doesn’t.
Fabrizio: Because for Kate Kelly, for any woman… to say she’s trying to change the doctrine, if it’s a doctrine, it has to say somewhere that they can’t.
Isom: Why? Why must it be prohibited?
[Pepper: MY QUESTION EXACTLY!]
Fabrizio: Because why would Kate Kelly be in trouble right now, if it’s not a doctrine? You just conceded that…
Isom: The doctrine as presently proscribed, speaking to the offices of the priesthood, specifies that it is for men. The offices are to be held by men in the services of Father in Heaven’s children upon this earth.
Isom: It doesn’t diminish the blessings and value given to women.
So… if I’m getting this right, the leaders don’t have the authority to change doctrine, but they DO have the authority to say that it’s doctrine in the absence of any doctrinal doctrine that says it’s actually doctrine. They can’t change it, but essentially they can make it up. That’s what she’s saying.
My work here is done.