Sub-ordination: Mormon Women’s Historical Relationship with Spiritual Gifts and Priesthood Authority In spite of the work that has been done to chronicle Mormon women’s use of spiritual gifts in early church history, some questions regarding the rise and demise of these gifts remain unanswered. I argue that spiritual gifts were initially available to lay members of the Mormon church in the 1830s under clerical supervision, and limits evolved during the Kirtland period regarding “appropriate” spiritual manifestations. Women exercised some of the same spiritual gifts as male priesthood holders in conjunction with their work in the Nauvoo Female Relief Society in the 1840s and beyond. I further argue that two factors contributed to the demise of women’s spiritual gifts: the gradual clericalization of spiritual gifts and their absorption into priesthood function and the disbanding of the Relief Society in 1844 which had functioned as a nascent parallel to the male priesthood.
Mary Ellen Robertson