At the height of the Ordain Women movement, less than a month before October 2014 General Conference, I received a text.
“Hi Alisha, Are you open to giving a talk in Sacrament this coming Sunday the 14th?”
“Awesome, thx! The topic is based on the talk: The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood – Elder Dallin H. Oaks.”
Uhhhhhhh, what? I had purple pants wearing friends that I knew would be in attendance, people who I loved. I did not want to offend anyone with my words or exacerbate any sensitive feelings or push any fence-sitters over the edge. I understood and sympathized with their concerns. But I also felt a responsibility to give this talk, as this was a topic I had studied since childhood, wanting to know and understand my role in the priesthood. Through much study and prayer, I had found great peace and understanding and I knew I needed to share that in this talk.
When I was about 10 years old, one of my friend’s older brothers had just returned from his mission. I thought missionaries knew everything about the gospel and figured returned missionaries must have all the answers. So, I asked him why girls can’t have the priesthood. He became visibly upset and told me never to ask it again. Fortunately, I was not so easily dissuaded from my quest and the Spirit prompted me to keep searching for answers.
The only thing I knew about the Priesthood at my young age was that it was God’s power on earth, given to righteous priesthood holders to use in the service of others. I had received blessings from it that had helped me in my life and so I believed it came from God and that He would help me find answers eventually.
One day, while reading in Doctrine & Covenants 29:36, I gained some great insight. The verse is talking about the devil rebelling against the Lord. He says to the Lord, “Give me thine honor…,” which the Lord then says, “which is my power.” The source of Heavenly Father’s matchless power is His honor. You cannot give someone honor even if you wanted to. You have to become honorable on your own. He has loaned a small portion of that power to righteous priesthood holders here.
I imagine it kind of like Heavenly Father has obtained perfect credit and he gives credit cards to his worthy sons to allow them to build up their own credit. They can only use it to help others and if they use it unrighteously, it will be taken away. In this analogy, they are becoming honorable. They will one day have obtained their own honor and hence, their own power.
Motherhood, Priesthood, and Exaltation
Motherhood does not just pertain to this life. It is an eternal principle. So even those who are unable to be mothers in this life will still be mothers if they live worthy of those blessings. Adam and Heavenly Father both described Eve as the “mother of all living” before she ever had any children.
Elder Matthew Cowley said, “Men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. [They] are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls… and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “The greatest power God has given to His sons cannot be exercised without the companionship of one of His daughters, because only to His daughters has God given the power “to be a creator of bodies … so that God’s design and the Great Plan might meet fruition” (President J. Rueben Clark). He continues: “This is the place of our wives and of our mothers in the Eternal Plan. They are not bearers of the Priesthood; they are not charged with carrying out the duties and functions of the Priesthood; nor are they laden with its responsibilities; they are builders and organizers under its power, and partakers of its blessings, possessing the complement of the Priesthood powers and possessing a function as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.” [emphasis added]
This was the message I shared in that sacrament talk given at the height of the Ordain Women movement. Women carry souls across the veil into mortality, offering those souls the opportunity to obtain the necessary saving ordinances required to return to our Father in Heaven and become like Him. Righteous men who have been ordained to the priesthood perform these ordinances for other mortal souls and seek their own saving ordinances from other righteous priesthood holders. Obtaining the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom requires being endowed and sealed. Men have to have the priesthood in order to obtain these ordinances. Women do not. If women were to be ordained to the priesthood, that would bring about unfairness and inequality.
Our Father’s plan is perfect, as is His love for us. He will help you find the peace and understanding you seek if you ask Him in faith. Sincere questions are never wrong, as I once was told as a child. Ask the Author of our faith for the answers. He is waiting to answer the questions of your heart and guide you closer to Him. I know this to be true through my own experiences.
Author Alisha Merrick met the man of her dreams at BYU-Hawaii. He waited for her to serve a mission in England London South and planned their wedding. They were sealed in the San Diego temple on Dec. 7, 2001. They have 4 beautiful girls, ranging in age from 3 months – 12 years. Alisha is half of the video producing duo Laughing Moms, whose videos have garnered millions of views since their inception. She loves to laugh, loves her family, and above all else, loves the Lord. Her personal blog can be found at LaughingMoms.com.