Category Archives: Priesthood

Men and Women Have Equal Access to the Blessings of the Priesthood

Rocket at takeoffIn his recent General Conference talk entitled, “The Priesthood and the Savior’s Atoning Power,” Elder Renlund uses an analogy wherein he compares the priesthood to a rocket. The rocket is used to deliver cargo, or payload, which in this case is the opportunity to benefit from the Savior’s atoning power. The rocket of the priesthood delivers this cargo to all worthy members of the Church who desire it, regardless of gender, age, economic status, or any other factor. The Savior’s atoning power is made available to all, and all are invited to receive it.

What is the purpose of the priesthood?

Elder Renlund describes the purpose of the priesthood in this way: “For Heavenly Father’s purposes to be accomplished, Christ’s atoning power needs to be made available to God’s children. The priesthood delivers these opportunities. It is the rocket. Priesthood is essential because necessary ordinances and covenants on earth are administered only by its authority.”

The opportunities delivered through the priesthood include baptism, confirmation, partaking of the sacrament, healing of the sick, blessings of comfort, setting apart when receiving a calling to serve, and the opportunity to make covenants in the temple. Each of these opportunities are available to men and women alike. We, as women, miss out on nothing even though we are not the ones to administer these ordinances. The sacrament is meaningful to me because of the covenants I make as I partake each week. Those covenants have no greater importance to those who administer the ordinance. The priesthood holders who bless the bread and water and pass the trays to members of the congregation simply make it possible for us to make these covenants, and for that I am truly grateful.

It is true that there are great blessings associated with being a worthy priesthood holder, but those blessings come because they keep themselves worthy to administer these opportunities to other members of the Church. The priesthood is used in the service of others; for example, priesthood holders cannot give themselves blessings or set themselves apart for a calling. Similarly, women and young women also receive great blessings from maintaining their worthiness and devotion to the Savior’s work and the service of those around them.

What comparable blessings do women receive?

Elder Renlund also stated, “I have come to realize that the purpose of . . . using the priesthood of God in any way, is to assist Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in Their work—to provide the opportunity for redemption and exaltation to each of God’s children. Like the rocket whose purpose is to deliver a payload, the priesthood delivers the gospel of Jesus Christ, enabling all to make covenants and receive the associated ordinances.”

Some young women wonder if they are less important than those who hold the priesthood and administer the ordinances of salvation. Indeed, exercise of the priesthood is very visible in the Church. It is easy to see that our wards and stakes are led by men who have this authority. Women often seem to have roles that are less prominent. However, prominence is not synonymous with importance. We need to help young women understand that they, too, have a role in bringing about the salvation and exaltation of God’s children.

When young women turn twelve years old, they have the opportunity to go to the temple and perform baptisms and confirmations for deceased ancestors. They have the opportunity to do research and find those ancestors who need these saving ordinances performed. In fact, our female ancestors can only be saved by the work of other women and young women in the temple. They need us, and we need them. Our twelve-year-old girls also enter the Young Women’s program and begin their Personal Progress. This program is designed to help them become women of faith and virtue. Each value and characteristic they develop will prepare them for future service in the Church, and especially for their role as mothers.

Motherhood is another area where prominence does not equal importance. The world often demeans motherhood and puts forward the idea that women should be equal to men in the workplace and not be relegated to the burdens of home and children. In high contrast to this view, the First Presidency has said: “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.” What powerful words are used to describe this holy calling! When we honor our role as mothers and give it our full devotion, we grow in harmony with our Father in Heaven. Our work becomes His work, which is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). This is what we need to teach our young women. They need to understand the principle stated in the Family Proclamation, that the “family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” Women have an essential role to play in the eternal destiny of mankind. We cannot let the world’s definition of equality drown out what the Lord has stated. Men and women are equal in His sight. We are not identical, but we are equal. We each have our own role to play, but the purposes of God cannot be accomplished without these roles working in harmony together.

Certainly, it is understood that not all women reach the eternal ideal of marriage and family in this life. Lessons of patience and waiting are found in one form or another in all of our lives, but it is incumbent upon us to magnify the circumstances we’ve been given and do all we can to further the work of the Lord.

In a General Conference address, Sister Sheri Dew taught of the essential role all women have as mothers. She said, “We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality. Few of us will reach our potential without the nurturing of both the mother who bore us and the mothers who bear with us.” She discussed how our youth need each one of us to be an example of a righteous woman. Aunts, grandmothers, friends, primary teachers, youth leaders, and Relief Society members all have the opportunity to impact children and youth and help guide them along the path which leads back to our Father in Heaven. Women have been given the role to nurture, and this responsibility extends beyond the walls of our own home.

Women are essential to building the Kingdom of God on earth. Women are essential to leading God’s children along the path to salvation and exaltation. Women are called upon to defend the family in a world which is rapidly increasing in wickedness and moving further away from the laws of God. May we help our fellow sisters in the gospel, including our young women, to embrace and magnify their eternal role as Daughters of God. May we focus on the Lord’s definition of equality and importance and not the world’s. By doing so, we take our place alongside the priesthood in assisting Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as they “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Guest Post: Standing for the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood

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?”

“Sure :)”

“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.

I Want a POWERFUL Man

father 7I quickly weary of all the male bashing from many women in society today. I don’t agree at all that females are demeaned by a gentleman opening a door for them, offering his arm or hand as a means to help steady their steps, or motioning for a lady to enter through a door before he does. To me those things are gallant and show respect. I do believe that women are as capable as men, but not divinely designed equally across the board. There are wonderfully intentional differences.

I tire even more quickly with the few shrill, or low murmuring, female voices from within the ranks of our Church members who feel they are diminished by the role God gave his daughters, not including the holding of His priesthood. The ‘bearing’ of children must be seen by them as somehow lesser than the ‘bearing’ of the priesthood. In this they are misguided at best. Each gender has a divine purpose assigned, as a son or daughter of God, as revealed in ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World.’  As the Creator, God defined the proper and perfect roles for His children.

The ‘bearing’ we each do in our divine roles as women and men, requires the support of the companion and opposite role for its best success. Continue reading

Bubbles, Priesthood, & Keys: You Have to Have Power

sudsIt’s dark at 5:45 in the morning, and teenagers were still sleepy. Very sleepy. Object lessons were one of my favorite attention getters to begin my Seminary lessons with. I knew this one would grab them and lead us into a lively discussion.

I selected a sweet young woman and one of the biggest athletes from our high school to join me behind a long table in front of the class, where  I uncovered two large mixing bowls filled halfway with water, two aprons, two electric hand mixers, and one bottle of liquid dish soap. (Everyone was sitting up now.) I explained that we were going to have a race to see who could produce the most suds in 90 seconds. (Now they were all wide-eyed and giggling).

Both tied on their aprons. With much drama I squeezed dish soap into their bowls, handed each a mixer, and stepped safely out of the ‘wet zone.’ With, “on your marks…..get set…….go!”, I clicked the stopwatch. Each pushed their hand mixer to its top speed. “Help, Sister Packard! Mine isn’t working!” the young man yelled. “What’s the matter,” I asked. “I don’t know,” he yelled again, this time kind of jumping up and down. Meanwhile, right next to him the dainty little lady’s beaters whirred away and her bowl began to fill with white. In his jumping he  noticed the cord of his mixer flinging around. “Sister Packard, it’s not plugged in!” “Well fix it, buddy,” I yelled back. (I had to yell because the class was laughing hysterically at this point).  When he bent down to plug his cord into the electric socket he yelled again, “THERE’S NO PLUG ON THE CORD!”  “What?  You have no way to get power?:” I asked innocently. “What am I going to do?” he exclaimed. “I don’t know; figure something out,” I replied. So he pushed his beaters back into his bowl and began stirring them around as fast as his big football-strengthened arms could go, all the while glancing over at the waves of bubbles pouring over his challenger’s bowl out onto the table and over the table onto the floor. He managed some suds by the time I called, “Time!”  (The class simply couldn’t have laughed any harder.)

(*No Church floors were damaged during this object lesson as I taught Seminary in my home). Continue reading

When You Think You Are Beyond the Gospel’s Light

When You Think You Are Beyond the Gospel’s Light

Want a stronger testimony? You might try to simplify things by just living the basic doctrines of the gospel.

Want a stronger testimony? You might try to simplify things by just living the basic doctrines of the gospel.

I remember the first time I felt like I was in over my head. I had just graduated high school and the bishop of our congregation, or “ward,” had invited me in to his office during Church. As we chatted about my plans for college and other things, he asked if I would accept a “calling,” or in other words, a church assignment. I was expecting him to ask if I would be the ward chorister or something. But instead, he asked me if I would accept the assignment to be the teacher of a group of teenage girls, or “Young Women,” in our congregation.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when a girl graduates from High School or turns 18, she stops attending the teenage girls’ classes, and attends the women’s class, the “Relief Society,” in the ward. I had been really looking forward to attending the women’s classes.

Here Am I, Don’t Send Me!

I was surprised, to say the least. Though I had already graduated, I was still seventeen, which meant that there could technically be a Young Woman in the group of girls who was older than I—the teacher—was. I felt very young and unprepared. I had never taught before. And to make things potentially even more strange, because I had just left the Young Women program, that meant that I was now expected to “teach” the peers and friends I had been in the program with for years! I felt very uncomfortable giving any kind of counsel in such a formal setting to girls that I loved to chat and hang out with. Would they think I was coming off as “holier than thou?” Would it change my friendships?
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Were Women Ordained to Motherhood Before Birth?

Divine MotherhoodMother, mothering, and motherhood: each is a facet of the beautiful and divine nature of every daughter of God. To separate one facet of our eternal role as women is to minimize our divine destiny made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ: eternal motherhood. The Family Proclamation teaches the eternal and absolute doctrinal truth that gender is eternal. Our spirits were created either male or female before our mortal birth. Femaleness is not a social construct but is both biologically and physiologically created and stored in the DNA of every female soul by loving Heavenly Parents.

“That women were born into this earth female was determined long before mortal birth, as were the divine differences of males and females. I love the clarity of the teachings of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in the Proclamation on the Family. They state: “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” From that statement we are taught that every girl was feminine and female in spirit long before her mortal birth.” (Margaret D. Nadauld, “What You Are Meant to Be,” New Era, Oct. 2002.)

Divine WomanhoodThe simple, yet glorious truth is that because we are female, we are inherently mothers. The state of motherhood is gender specific and is what compels the acts of mothering in different ways and stages of our lives. For reasons unknown, not every woman here in mortality has the opportunity to give birth. The full glory of our divine nature as females will be when every facet of being a daughter of God is made manifest—having become as our Heavenly Mother: exalted. Continue reading

Teaching Women About the Priesthood

Relief Society gatheringAll year our Stake President, under the direction of L. Tom Perry, has worked with our Area Seventy, Craig B. Terry, to teach about the priesthood to the men in each of the wards in our stake. They’ve taken the two hours after our Sacrament Meeting to talk about better training for the Aaronic Priesthood; allowing our boys to perform more of their responsibility.

These meetings with the men and boys have gone so well, it was suggested they have a similar meeting with all the women in each ward. This too has proven quite successful as women have gathered to learn about the priesthood and its value in all our lives. Plus, it is always a welcome bonus for Primary workers, Young Women workers, and Young Women to gather as an entire Relief Society unit.

I was happy with how the discussion went. First of all, the Stake President stated that priesthood and motherhood go together. I know feminists have argued against this idea before. They hate to think of women being “relegated” to motherhood, but the reality is that God depends on women to give birth to his children. His plan cannot work without us doing this most glorious work. And I truly believe it is mothers who have the most influence in the home to raise these heavenly children. So, as the discussion opened— Continue reading

Mormon Women and Inequality

If you happen to be a feminist outside of the Mormon faith, it’s very likely that you believe one of the strongest critiques levied against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon): that its theology wreaks with gender inequality and the membership dominated by a chauvinistic male hierarchy – the priesthood. I’ll even go one further… I bet the original source of that misguided understanding is a Mormon feminist.

The reason I can say that with such confidence (and no ill-will intended, just a fact) is that the majority of LDS women do not share that misperception or experience; I am among that majority. Not that we don’t see room for improvement in general male/female interaction within the Church, subject to human weakness – we do. But, we don’t confuse occasional abuses with doctrinal teachings — the expectation. Important distinction.

I greatly appreciate section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord straight up exposes the tendency of every man, when given authority, to use unrighteous dominion in its administration. He also warned that to do so would be the end of a man’s priesthood power. Sadly, the natural man, in so many ways, chooses to ignore this admonition, and the tender hearts of the Lord’s daughters are the frequent recipients of such ignorance. However, this is not the way the Lord intended it to be, but rather, knowing full well this was going to be a problem, called it out. Continue reading

Inequality? Not A Chance

fellowshipping-469940-galleryThere has been a swirl of talk in the blogging world about inequality in the LDS Church.  As an LDS woman, this makes me chuckle.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has one of the the largest women’s organizations in the world.  I have served in many callings in the Church, and have only been treated with respect by my counterparts in the priesthood.  All of those callings came with responsibility—some of them with more responsibility than I felt capable of handling.  Inequality in the LDS Church?  No way!

When I was Relief Society President in my ward, I remember making a decision which was extremely unpopular with the sisters under my care.  The Bishop could have told me to back off and stop making waves.  Instead, he met with me, asked me my reasons for making the decision, and then backed me 100 percent.  As a matter of fact, he came into Relief Society and basically reminded the sisters that I was in charge.  He told them that they were going to have to change their ways and listen to my counsel.  The Bishop was a federal prosecuting attorney and when he spoke, people knew he meant business.  It was another year before the sisters began to understand the reasons and wisdom behind the decision. They also came to the understanding that it wasn’t my decision at all, but Heavenly Father’s decision through inspiration.

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No Inequality In Woman’s Role in the Priesthood

Sister Linda K BurtonAt the 2013 BYU Women’s Conference, Sister Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society President, gave a talk about the priesthood.  She states, “We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood. I testify that the Lord is hastening His work, and it is imperative for us to understand how the Lord accomplishes His work so that we may receive the power that comes from be aligned [sic] with His plan and purposes.”

Understanding the priesthood means also comprehending the complimentary role of women, and that inequality does not exist in God’s Church. Understanding the priesthood and its role in the lives of women is important; it helps us to serve better and to sustain our leaders—both male and female—more fully. All organizations have a division of labor and have clearly defined roles for their members; this alleviates confusion, gives everyone a clear purpose, and helps the purposes of the organization to be met in an efficient manner. God’s plan for His children also includes clearly defined roles.  None of these roles is more important than another, but they are different in the tasks required.  They have the same value and privileges.

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