Over at BCC Kris posted on the subject of women healing. She focused on the ritual of healing through the laying on of hands in the post. She writes:
Most members would agree that women are not precluded from receiving or seeking any of the spiritual gifts outlined in Doctrine & Covenants Section 46, “And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed, and to others it is given to heal.” This is not a gendered statement. Yet while it seems that Mormon women are not officially forbidden to heal, they are prohibited from engaging in the rituals of healing. The current Handbook states that, “only brethren who hold the necessary priesthood and are worthy may perform an ordinance or blessing or stand in the circle.” In this system, women become “hidden healers”; often the gift of healing that literally lies at their fingertips is unused, accidentally discovered and sometimes serves as the source of confusion or guilt.
I agree that there is a problem and faithful Mormon women do not heal the sick nearly as often as they could or should. I disagree with the solution that Kris hints at however. She opined that “often the gift of healing that literally lies at their fingertips is unused” and indicated that the problem is that women are currently precluded from modern priesthood healing rituals. My contention is that the healing of the sick has very little to do with the rituals we currently use to begin with.
As Kris points out, healing the sick is a gift of the spirit. The priesthood is not required to heal or receive any of the gifts of the spirit. The current practice of anointing with consecrated oil and sealing that anointing by the authority of the higher priesthood is also not required to heal the sick. The scriptures are full of examples of healing happening apart from the most common practices in the church today. Here are just a few examples:
Elijah telling Naaman to bathe in the Jordan to be healed of leprosy
The woman who was healed by touching the clothes of Jesus
The blind man that was healed by Jesus using some home made mud
What do these examples have in common? — A makeshift ritual of some sort was used in each of them. What can we learn from that? – One thing is that rituals of some kind do seem to help in healing. I believe this is because healing is a result of faith on the side of the person healing or the side of the sick person or both. I believe rituals have the effect of focusing the mind and in my experience focusing the mind is a major part of generating miracle-producing faith. So the Jordan River did not heal Naaman, the clothes of Jesus did not heal the woman, and the mud did not heal the blind man; those were simply tools to increase the faith of the afflicted (and perhaps the healer as well). In each case the sick were healed by faith.
Kris doesn’t explicitly say it, but she does imply that the current church policy precluding women from standing in on priesthood blessing of healing or administering similar blessings of healings themselves hamstrings the ability of Mormon women to heal. While I agree changing current policy would help many women wake up to their rights to call upon healing, I don’t think that Mormon women should wait for such a change or that they need to. Mormon women can heal today with or without standardized priesthood rituals. They just need to realize their rights and use them.
Knowing that you can heal is crucial to the faith of the healer. Any Mormon woman that thinks healing is not her right needs to read the scriptures about the gifts of the spirit again. It is as much her right as it is the right of qualified priesthood holders. As she studies the scriptures her faith as a healer can grow. The second part is the faith of the sick. This might be more difficult with adults who incorrectly believe that women can’t heal, but children know when to have faith their mothers. If mom says she can to talk to God and ask for (and receive) a healing blessing the child will not doubt her mother knows it. If one feels a ritual of some kind would help I liked the example in Kris’s post of a girl holding the hand of her dying father and praying for him (with miraculous results).
Now, sisters, comes the hard part. (Or as the men in the audience are thinking “welcome to our world”.) You need to give an inspired prayer. Not just a prayer, but a prayer that is revealed to you, or at least one where the words are guided by God himself through the Holy Spirit. When God does guide your words you know it (at least I do). See these scriptures about having prayers directed by God (italics mine):
29 And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.
30 But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; (D&C 50:29-30)
5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. (Hel 10:5)
30 He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh. (D&C 46:30)
24 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray (3 Nep 19:24)
The idea seems to be that in order to get real miracles we need to have a dialogue with our heavenly father. That dialogue bolsters our faith and as we pray he lets us know what we can or should request. (No one ever said healing was going to be easy…)
The last scriptures that I think apply to both men and women that wish to exercise the gift of healing are the teachings in D&C 121. After giving us a long set of instructions on what is required for us to be both called and chosen the Lord says this to both the men and women of the church:
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
Did you catch the IF/THEN promise there?
IF we are a) filled with charity and b) let virtue garnish our thought unceasingly…
THEN a) Our confidence will be strong as we pray for miracles b) the doctrines of God’s power (the priesthood) will slowly become clear to us c) we will always have the Spirit to be with us and d) all sorts of other good stuff will happen.
Sounds easy enough right? Happy healing, brothers and sisters.