I do not have all the answers, but I agree wholeheartedly with the Church's response, found here. It states that:
...We believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form....We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.The same sentiments are espoused in The Family: A Proclamation to the World:
All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.The scriptures teach us that Heavenly Father invites each of His children to come to Him:
For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:33)Like in Old Testament times when only the Levites could hold the Priesthood, there was a time in the Church when Black men could not hold the Priesthood. However, since June 8, 1978, this has not been the case. I am, and many others are, grateful and glad that this restriction is no longer in place.
Who has the Priesthood (or has/has not been allowed to hold it in the past) is not based on racism. It is not based on sexism. All worthy male members of the Church may hold the Priesthood.
As far as women and the Priesthood are concerned, President Gordon B. Hinckley said this:As a faithful, involved, married, female member of the Church, I have no issue with this topic.
Women do not hold the priesthood because the Lord has put it that way. It is part of His program. Women have a very prominent place in this Church. Men hold the priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this Church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women’s organization in the world... They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world...
The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.
This is not to say that faithful members of the Church never have doubts, or times when faith may be tested or shaken. The key here is to resolve doubt. Face it head on; study, pray, ponder, exercise faith and trust if an answer does not come readily. Do not throw away or sacrifice what you DO know because of what you DON'T! If you are struggling, do not be afraid to seek out a testimony, and keep seeking and building and growing! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not encourage "blind following."
For more information about this topic, may I suggest these links:
- Are there restrictions based on race or color concerning who can join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have the priesthood?
- FAIR blog: Dispelling the myth of the "Curse of Cain"
- Why don’t women hold the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How do Mormon women lead in the Church?
- Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church (Dallin H. Oaks)
- Women of the Church (Gordon B. Hinckley)