Recently, I have been reading through last conference’s talks. One of them has really stood out to me. The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood by Elder Dallin H. Oaks has really helped strengthen my testimony of the priesthood. This talk is especially relevant with the Ordaining Women group that is becoming popular today. Here are a few highlights from the talk that I particularly liked.
The divine nature of the limitations put upon the exercise of priesthood keys explains an essential contrast between decisions on matters of Church administration and decisions affecting the priesthood. The First Presidency and the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who preside over the Church, are empowered to make many decisions affecting Church policies and procedures—matters such as the location of Church buildings and the ages for missionary service. But even though these presiding authorities hold and exercise all of the keys delegated to men in this dispensation, they are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.
As much as people protest and complain, the church leadership has no say in who holds the priesthood. Only Jesus Christ does. So those who are saying that the church is being unfair in only allowing men to hold the priesthood are really saying that Jesus Christ is being unfair. Jesus Christ is the most fair Being to ever walk this planet. I know that questioning him is the most dangerous thing you can do.
How does this apply to women? In an address to the Relief Society, President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said this: “While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, it has not been conferred upon them, that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority. … A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord. They have authority given unto them to do some great and wonderful things, sacred unto the Lord, and binding just as thoroughly as are the blessings that are given by the men who hold the Priesthood.”7
Why do some of the sisters in the church believe we need the priesthood? An apostle of the Lord has said that we have that authority given to us, we do not have the same responsibilities that come with it as men do. We do “great and wonderful things” without having the priesthood conferred upon us.
We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.
We, all of us, act under the priesthood. If you are struggling with wanting to hold the priesthood yourself, as a woman, I would invite you to pray to receive a confirmation of YOUR divine role in this life. We, as women, have great power. We have a moral force that cannot be matched. We are guardians of virtue. We have the divine gift of bringing Heavenly Father’s other children into this world. What greater gift do you need than that?
The Lord has directed that only men will be ordained to offices in the priesthood. But, as various Church leaders have emphasized, men are not “the priesthood.” Men hold the priesthood, with a sacred duty to use it for the blessing of all of the children of God.
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.”
I believe that we need to develop more of a knowledge of the priesthood, though we may never understand it all, and gain a faith that our Father in Heaven knows what he’s doing. He has a plan. Do we trust in His plan, His WHOLE plan? Please, make this a matter of prayer.
I have a testimony of this priesthood: the authority given from God to bless our lives. Satan is trying to twist what we know about this wonderful gift by telling us that it is unfair, and by turning us against our prophets, and our Heavenly Father. I do not hold the priesthood, but I will remain worthy so that I can sustain my future husband who can hold the priesthood and bless me and my children with it.