Women Should Be Bishops

Imagine how great it would be to have Bishop Reyna Aburto conducting on Sundays and meeting you for your tithing declaration.

I think that women (not just men) should be called as LDS bishops. In fact, I think women should be bishops more often than men. When people argue about whether or not women should or could be ordained in the future it often comes down to the concern, “Do you want a young mom with little kids called as the bishop? That would be impossible for her!” But I disagree. I think it makes sense for women to be bishops at all stages of life, and for a lot of different reasons. I’ll go through a few scenarios in this blog post.


Regarding the question of whether I want young mothers called as bishops, my answer is, “No, of course I don’t. But I don’t want to call a young dad with little kids to be the bishop, either!”

However, if the church is small in an area and the parent of a young family does have to be called into a leadership position, which makes more sense in a traditional family with a stay at home mom and an employed dad? I think it’s the mom!

Imagine a typical weeknight for them. She’s been home all day with young children, or if she’s outside of the house she’s been hauling them around with her while running errands and fulfilling her responsibilities. The dad has been away from home and his kids, dealing with adults and solving problems at work. By dinnertime, the mom is very ready to have a break from childcare and interact with adults, and the dad is very ready to spend time with his kids and unplug from the outside world. But what do we do? We call the dads into bishoprics, pulling them away from home on evenings and Sundays for church duties and meetings, and moms stay at home – isolated and without support from her partner.

Many women I’ve interacted with at church really enjoy callings in the Young Women’s program- not only because they love the teenage girls, but because it gives them a weekly evening outing and summer events like Girl’s Camp and Youth Conference where they can leave their children behind in someone else’s care for a few hours or days. It’s a chance to interact with other adult leaders, plan and carry out activities, and feel useful to others outside of the sometimes drudgery of day-to-day care of babies and toddlers. Because of this, Young Women’s always felt more glamorous than say, nursery or primary callings. Those callings teaching young children usually require fewer hours and less work overall, but they rob the women called of their adult time in Relief Society class or with other leaders in the youth program. 

Yet we continue to call young dad into bishoprics, and their wives into nursery. I propose we swap that trend! Let the dads spend time with the toddlers, and the moms spend time running the ward and helping the grown-ups. 

Dads are great at taking care of their kids while their wife is out of the home doing her church calling!


Other congregations are led successfully by females of all ages and family demographics. Women make great ecclesiastical leaders!



I once overheard someone ask the wife of a new stake president how she’d been doing since her husband was called. She shrugged and said, “Well, I’ve just gotten used to being alone a lot!”. Her husband owned his own business and went to work all day, then in the evenings he’d often go straight to church meetings. They’d see each other for only minutes some days. She was canning and gardening, hanging out with her grandkids, taking institute classes, and passing the time. She wasn’t unhappy, but I do think she was seriously underutilized by the church.

We could stop calling young fathers to be bishops by broadening the pool of possibilities to include older women who have spent decades raising their families but not working outside of the home. Their husbands still go to work because they haven’t reached retirement age, but these women don’t have a career and aren’t planning to start one at age 55. They have a lot of life experience, wisdom, patience and compassion that younger people don’t always have yet. More than anything, these women have time. Unlike young parents or older working men, they have the flexibility in their schedule to meet people when they are available or immediately in need. They could drive to the hospital at 10:00 am or go to a house late at night without disrupting a work schedule.

Older women are too often greatly underutilized in the church. I see very capable women with time to spare called to publish the ward newsletter while a younger, overworked man is put in charge of running the entire ward.


I would argue that both single women AND single men would be great candidates for ward bishop – but for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll focus on single women. 

Recently Exponent blogger Trudy wrote a great post about why she believes LDS singles should be integrated fully into family wards, and I agree! Many girls and young women growing up in the church will not have the opportunity (or desire) to marry when they reach adulthood. The current unintended messaging to young people is that a woman who doesn’t achieve marriage and motherhood is not fulfilling the measure of her creation – and she’s sent away to the singles ward until she can find herself a spouse and then return to the family ward, finally able to serve. What better way to change this false idea than to let young people see single women serving as bishops in their wards as they grow up?

Sometimes people worry about a single person being qualified to counsel families and married members of their wards if they have never been married themselves. However, male bishops currently give advice and counsel on all kinds of things they have zero firsthand experience with. (Single motherhood, divorce, abuse, loss of testimony, etc.) Spiritual leaders in many other religions are single and yet lead and counsel their congregations (for example, a Catholic priest who can’t marry still regularly provides marital counseling to members of his parish). Even Wendy Watson Nelson, wife of the current prophet, was a successful marriage and family therapist for decades as an unmarried woman. There is absolutely no reason to believe that a married man will give better support to families in crisis than a single woman could. 


Have I ever dreamed of being called as a bishop? Nope! It sounds terrible. So many uncompensated hours, plus thankless work and stressful nights. But just because I don’t want to be in charge of a ward doesn’t mean I don’t want any woman to do it anywhere. 

I also don’t want to be the president of the United States, but I’d never say, “I don’t want any woman to be president, because if we’re allowed to I might have to do it!” That’s silly. No woman ever has to be a bishop, simply because it’s permitted. (No man ever has to be one either, for that matter – because it’s a volunteer position and you can decline it.) Permitting women to be called as bishops would allow the entire church community to benefit from women’s distinct leadership skills in positions of authority and decision-making power. This filters up to the men in charge above her, finally able to have female voices directly included in meetings they are absent from now, and filters down below them to those they counsel and lead. Just because an individual woman doesn’t want to be a leader herself should never make her wish to ban all women from ever becoming leaders themselves. 

I also don’t want to be a politician, a brain surgeon, a Navy Seal or a lawyer – but I still want those fields open to as many women as are drawn to them. We all benefit from women writing our laws, doing our medical research, and defending our freedom. 

Why are we so comfortable seeing women in every one of these areas except church leadership?

The church would benefit so much from opening priesthood positions (like bishoprics) up to women. I understand why it didn’t make sense to have women included in church authority in the 1800s when the church was founded, but we are now living in the year 2022. Women are no longer relegated to second class citizenship like they were then. We vote, we own property, we go to law school, we sit in congress – and it’s time we sit on the stand in Sacrament Meeting. There is zero scriptural or doctrinal mandate for a male only clergy, other than it’s just the way things have always been done. We’ve changed and adapted many other things since the 1800s that were fine one way then but aren’t anymore (like polygamy, slavery, Word of Wisdom, temple ceremonies, garments, tithing, etc…). If we can change all of that, why can’t we also change from a male only priesthood? Is the church not a church of continuing revelation?

The first time there’s a female bishop on the stand, I’m sure it will feel strange. It always feels weird when women are allowed to do things they’ve never done before. It felt strange the first time Saudi Arabians saw a woman driving a car! It felt strange to see women in space, voting in elections, doing police work, leading construction crews, or enlisting in the military. But it will only feel strange for a minute, and then it will be normal. Let’s practice making female leaders at church feel ordinary!



  1. Yessss!!! Great post. I was on board from the title, but these scenarios and images really sold it for me. The minister of my UU congregation is a woman, and it’s so refreshing and honestly healing. Give women authority, and watch the entire church improve for it!!

    • I used to occasionally attend a Unitarian Universalist church in Salt Lake (often in the morning, before my ward started at 1 pm). The minister there was a woman, and I loved her so, so much! I didn’t know how healing it would be for my soul to see a woman at the pulpit until I experienced it firsthand. Then I would go back to my ward and see only men on the stand and it was such a stark difference and reminder of what we were missing out on by excluding women from ward leadership.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful post. My wife and I (married 42 years today) have been saying these things for decades. Here’s one of our ideas: How bout a married couple serving as co-bishops. What better way to help a couple become truly one. And this would allow members to meet with, be interviewed by, whichever gender makes them more comfortable.

    • Or maybe an unrelated pair, so as not to exclude single people – kind of like the bishop and RS president work together now but aren’t married? There are lots of solutions that we can come up with other than any man, no matter how busy or unprepared or unqualified he is, over any woman ever. There’s got to be a better way.

    • Matt, there’s a discussion going on over at Mormon Land on “Why Women Should Be Bishops”. I love your idea. Could I share it over there as a complete copy paste giving you credit? Or do you want to go read it and comment?

  3. Also, imagine if a couple served as co-bishops. Yin and yang. When my husband served as bishop, I carrying a heavy load as well. Many would come to our home who needed spiritual succor from me as well.
    I agree about NOT calling young bishops with young children. I was 30 when my husband was called, my youngest was 18 months, in a ward with 850 people. It was a brutal experience!

    • When a friend of mine with little kids has her husband called into a bishopric, I just want to send her a sympathy card and flowers! But they’re supposed to be happy and helpful and supportive, not sad and tired and lonely. It’s really hard on both parents. Letting an older woman step in and be the bishop instead makes so much more sense for everyone.

    • I’m about to be released as a bishop, and my wife might as well have been a co-bishop. Would that it could be formalized.

      When I was asked who the next bishop should be, I said “Terry.” She’s the RS President. The SP said “Agreed, but that is currently out of our pay grade.” I said
      “Currently.” He said “Yes, currently.”

  4. I have wondered for a long time why we require men who serve as bishops, stake presidents or any leadership position higher up the ladder to be married. If it is related to priesthood power gained through marriage, then why are we so entirely underutilizing these women? Why did Wendy Nelson speak about President Nelson receiving revelation with her there and then determine she needed to leave? If the revelation could begin to take place with her sitting right there what made them determine she was somehow not meant to be there? If men need to be married to hold these callings why are we not involving the women? I also agree female bishops would make an astronomical difference in how things are run, and that many women would appreciate the opportunity to serve outside their home while the men have an opportunity to be home. One of many ways we need to reassess how we can find better balance in church leadership and time with family across genders.

    • Men must be woman-adjacent (married) to be called to leadership positions, but women aren’t supposed to actually be in those positions themselves. If women hold priesthood through their husbands, why can’t they serve with them in priesthood callings? It’s so confusing!

      • My wife was YW President when I was called to be a bishop. The letter from the First Presidency said that if my wife was president of an auxiliary she should be released as soon as is practical. It’s not in the handbook.

  5. I would cry if I walked into a sacrament meeting and saw a woman as a bishop because it would be healing. It would be a message that as a woman I truly have a place in this institution instead of the message now which is sure, women are welcome but not really needed. If women could be bishops so many things would be different. As you point out, the church as an organization is missing out on so much from limiting who can serve as bishops.

    As with many areas, there is so much that could be done to move towards this now even if nobody in the first pres is asking the question about ordaining women. Oaks got a lot of criticism at the last general conference for emphasizing that men were still presiding even though the RS was conducting. Why not use this model now for sacrament meeting – delegating conducting to women?

    • Every baby step is one step closer to what I think has to happen to keep the church vital and relevant in the future – that is, including adult women equally at every level of church governance with the men. Women conducting and presiding over a Sacrament Meeting (or geez, even just their own RS meetings) would be a great first small step forward.

  6. You make some really good points about underutilized women. If we’re going to push many women out of careers that creates a force of capable people who are young enough to have energy to lead but old enough not to have small kids to care for.

    • I know! It’s like this amazing untapped human resource that we have right at our fingertips but don’t use because it would mean relinquishing power to women from men. It would solve so many issues, but we’ve always done it one way and we think it can’t change. Of course it can change!

  7. I would love to see this, but i think we will have a generation of completely overwhelmed women. Women already carry a much greater load at home whether or not they work and it would take a generation before LDS men pick up the slack at home that would be needed. There are changes from my boomer generation with dads helping out more but still have a ways to go

    • Maybe a great way to get men to help out more at home is to have their wives leave them home alone with the kids for dinner and bedtime a few times a week while they’re out doing bishop stuff. 🙂

    • Sure, some marriages run that way. SOME women carry a greater load. SOME men need to pick up the slack. But a lot of partnerships are more equal than that. Some women/men are already ready for the change to take place, putting women into bishoprics. And what better way to encourage readiness from those people who aren’t there yet than by making the change now?

  8. Amen! I would love a church run by women. There would be more to stay around and fight for if we had enough authority to make any changes within the church.

    • Yes. It’s so hard to sit there quietly while younger men who haven’t had your experiences and circumstances use their authority to tell you what to do, when you have already prayed about it and received other answers. They go about trying to solve problems I know something about, but nobody cares about what I know. I have no opportunities to share the spiritual things I have learned in my life, that I feel sure could help the church. Eventually, sitting there listening to them… it’s like two hands trying to clap that never make contact.
      It loses meaning and purpose.

  9. Not to get too far ahead of the curve here, but some of the issues involved in calling women as bishops, as well as some of the issues that complicate the lives of many current bishops’ families, could be mitigated if the church were to begin paying bishops, or at least providing an appropriate stipend. There is a precedent for that within the church and is something that could be wise to consider.

    • Let’s start paying our members for certain callings? I’m sure that will go over well. Imagine people vying for certain callings that pay more.

  10. I have wondered about the paid clergy idea as well. It would certainly be one way to address the fact that all of our upper leadership is old affluent men. If you need to leave your employment to serve full time you need to be old enough to retire and be financially established enough to do so. This definitely limits what type of people are in those positions. Only seeing those type of people serving at the highest levels of leadership perpetuates false ideas about prosperity gospel and how the Lord blesses people. Now to just address the men part of those three requirements…

  11. This is a great post! Having women serve as bishops would make such a difference. I think the amount of ecclesiastical abuse that happens in the church would go WAY down with women at the helm… along with the other kinds of abuse that happen.

    I also agree with your point about how irrational it is that young fathers are made bishops, put in bishoprics, and put in high-demand callings after being away from their families all day. It makes more sense for them to be at home with their children during the evenings while their wives are the ones in church leadership during that time. As you said, everyone wins: mothers get the much-needed reprieve from childcare and fathers get to spend more time with their children. Honestly, whoever thought it was a great idea to put mothers with young children in Nursery and/or Primary ought to excommunicated. That also goes for putting single women in those callings as well. I know single women who were put in Nursery and/or Primary after transitioning from the YSA/MSA scene, and they found it so isolating. It really made them feel left out, like they weren’t **truly** apart of the ward, and as though the leaders wanted to hide them away. Now those women no longer go to church. ☹️

    I also like your point about letting single women serve as bishop. They would offer so much wisdom and insight to the rest of the ward, and help girls and young women see that they don’t need to be married in order to have a fulfilling, happy, and successful life. Making people’s ability/opportunity to be exalted so dependent upon the agency of others is WRONG.

  12. I love this article. As an older woman that chose to stay home, I do feel that I am underutilized by the church. Women also make mistakes in leadership, as men do. But I think we should have the same opportunities as men have in the church to learn and grow in this area.

  13. Male TBM here. If I had any influence as to this issue, it would have my whole-hearted support. Kings and Queens; Priests AND Priestesses. Bring it on!

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