In 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.”