Sisters Speak: Do Women Hold Some Form of Priesthood?

Posted by on June 5, 2013 in priesthood, temple | 45 comments

“Holy Woman” by Brian Kershisnik

Last Sunday in Relief Society, I was privileged to witness a wonderfully brave and honest testimony. After a lesson on women and priesthood reaffirming the currently popular understanding — that women don’t hold the priesthood, but that they share in all of its blessings — this woman arose to bravely and honestly grapple with the issue of women and priesthood. She spoke of a moment that pierced her heart, a moment when her five year old granddaughter realized she would not be able to pass the sacrament like her little brother, and how that little girl turned to her grandmother and said, “But aren’t I special too?” She spoke of how women in the LDS church need to be women of supreme faith since there is no reason they should not hold priesthood. She spoke of a time when she was walking alone in the dark and knew a man was following her. Frightened, she turned, raised her hand, and said to him, “By the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood which I hold with my husband, I order you to leave me alone.” Which he did.

This woman in brave and raw honesty honored questions of women and priesthood, questions that are too often swept aside and dismissed. I left that Relief Society with my heart wanting to burst from my chest — it meant that much to me to see these questions honored and to witness this woman’s courage.  

Our Sisters Speak column for the upcoming issue of the Exponent II magazine, an issue devoted to the theme of the temple, centers around these questions of women and priesthood. Judy Curtis of Phoenix, AZ wrote:

“Historically, women serving and participating in the temple ordinances were referred to as priestesses in the present tense, not just the future tense as they are now. We are told that women share in the priesthood that their husbands hold, but we are not told exactly what that means. 

Do you believe that the endowment conferred some form of priesthood on you? Why or why not? Have your perceptions of the priesthood with regard to women changed over time as a result of temple attendance and service? What experiences have you had in conversation with other Mormons on this topic?”

Please share your thoughts about the temple and priesthood and whether you feel it has conferred on you a form of priesthood. I will contact some of you privately by email to ask whether I may quote you in the magazine.

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45 Comments

  1. As a young woman, the idea that I would share in the priesthood of my future husband was a key component of my daydreams – not because of greater access to God’s power or authority, but because that kind of spiritual unity is something that I yearn for.

    I am not endowed, and I think those temple ordinances increase our spiritual mantle, but I don’t know about priesthood keys. For me, the complications aren’t doctrinal – I see no reason that women could not hold priesthood keys – but organisational and cultural (with so many more options, how will we decide who will do which jobs, what would we do with RS/Priesthood, etc.). Not being ordained right now doesn’t mean I am less spiritual or able to appeal to Heavenly Father for miracles, only that I don’t have authority to perform ordinances. I would like that, but I won’t get that from being sealed in the temple.

    So: if by “priesthood” you mean “ability to access the power of God”, then yes, I hope my future husband and I work to share that aspect of ourselves with each other – and I think that through temple sealing, that’s possible in a way it wouldn’t otherwise be. If you mean “authority to perform ordinances”, I pretty clearly won’t be sharing the priesthood with my husband.

  2. This is a beautiful post. It is somewhat problematic for me, unfortunately, because although I will answer, “Yes” to the question that I believe actual priesthood power is given women by virtue of the endowment, I’m not comfortable sharing personal details about that in a public setting.

    I spent the weekend with an incredible group of like-minded, feminist, LDS women. A good portion of the Rocky Mountain Retreat was spent discussing women and their relationship to the current model of priesthood power/authority/administration within the church. The opinions and ideas differed from woman to woman, but the over-riding feeling was that we were endowed with power from on high as a result of our temple covenants. How that should translate to public practice within the church was a topic that didn’t get enough attention.

    I like that you’re opening it up here. I’m just not sure how to do it in a way that honors the power that comes from private, personal revelation – kept to oneself, which creates a unique and beautiful power in and of itself – and the need for public discourse about the issue of women and authority within the church. I’ll think about this. . . Thanks again for this post. I love it.

  3. Does endowment bestow PH on sister? No. Why not? Because if it did, I believe the people in charge of the ceremony (FP/Q12/Temple Presidency) would clearly say so. Because the temple ceremonies have been around a long time, and though they’ve changed, the basics have not. If women (or men) believed it gave sisters the priesthood, I can’t imagine that doctrine would not have been expressed in numerous church writings, journals, articles, conference talks, and so forth. The fact that it hasn’t tells me, despite warm fuzzy feelings and stories and so forth, that the bestowal of the priesthood vis-a-vis the endowment ceremony is not doctrinally supported.
    WOMEN HOLD PRIESTHOOD IN CONNECTION WITH THEIR HUSBANDS.—Some of the sisters have thought that these sisters mentioned [sisters present when the Relief Society was formed], were, in this ordination, ordained to the priesthood. And for the information of all interested in this subject, I will say, it is not the calling of these sisters to hold the priesthood, only in connection with their husbands, they being one with their husbands. Sister Emma was elected to expound the scriptures, and to preside over the Relief Society; then Sisters Whitney and Cleveland were ordained to the same office, and I think Sister Eliza R. Snow to be secretary. A short time ago I attended a meeting in Salt Lake City, where Sister Snow and Sister Whitney were set apart. I happened to be the only member of the twelve in town at the time, the other members of the quorum being unavoidably absent. I went to this meeting and set apart Sister Whitney and Sister Snow who were two of those I set apart some forty years ago, in Nauvoo. And after I had done so, they reminded me of the coincidence. At this meeting, however, Sister Snow was set apart to preside over the Relief Societies in the land of Zion, and Sister Whitney, her counselor, with Sister Zina D. Young, her other counselor. I speak of this for the information of the sisters, although I presume they may have read of it in their paper, The Exponent.
    Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p.286
    There is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the higher Priesthood, than that of the father. The authority is time honored, and among the people of God in all dispensations it has been highly respected and often emphasized by the teachings of the prophets who were inspired of God. The patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity. There is, then, a particular reason why men, women and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of his children. In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount.

    • NAH, how do you reconcile that with the older temple wording that specifically called women priestesses?

      • I can’t. And, because I don’t know the specific wording that may have existed prior to the time I first went through the temple (1980), I’m not sure how to respond. But, whatever the wording, we would have to allege some grand conspiracy on the part of leaders and members alike over a period of roughly 150 years since, to my knowledge, there’s been no consistent conversation about women recieving the priesthood by participating in the endowment. Don’t read my position as something negative. I wouldn’t care if President Monson changed the wording of the endowment tomorrow or proclaimed that, in fact, women do/should/could hold the priesthood. I’m just saying that as things stand today, it is not our doctrine. Although not “authoritative,” I think the Newsroom quote applies to these kinds of issues:
        With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.

  4. The priesthood is the power of God. I understand the identity of God to be Elohim – a Hebrew plural word – and that the word designates a Divine Couple. Different aspects of Priesthood are accessed through Office, but Office is NOT priesthood, as spelled out in D&C 107:5. The power of God is a creative power, and the creation of life, the creation of family, the creation of the most powerful and sacred things, are best and most powerfully accomplished when man and woman work together. I believe that with marriage the couple is bestowed with power that an individual cannot possess alone, and that even some church callings – such as mission and temple president – reflect an office held by man and woman together. Women are to become priestesses and though we as women do not receive formal instruction on what that means, I think many women are compelled to use their “endowment of power” and do so often. Personally, I enjoy the fact that I have priesthood without office, since it means I can utilize my priestesshood outside of hierarchy, unlike my husband. God needs both a structured priesthood and a flexible one…and I am happy that I can, in consultation with the Spirit, decide how, when, and where to use mine.

    • Though I like your take on flexible priesthood, your “creation” of life, family, ect. runs too close to the motherhood= priesthood ideology that I know to be false.

    • Liz, I like your take on God as both male and female. That does put priesthood as the power of God (HM and HF) into perspective and does invite women to embrace priesthood on some level. I think your thoughts about women having a more flexible use of priesthood fascinating.

  5. Yes, I think women are given that power in the endowment and that they exercise it in the temple. I also think that the official word on the matter has been inconsistent. Let’s say you take the Joseph F. Smith quote above as official doctrine. He said they do not hold the priesthood themselves, only in connection with their husbands. But he also said that women and men could lay hands on their children to bless them. I also think it’s important to remember that single women rarely if ever received their endowments at the time JFS said this, so I wonder if “in connection with their husbands” could today refer to any endowed woman? Just a speculative thought. Anyway, if what he said is true, and women gave blessings to children or to other women well into the twentieth century, then why do they not exercise it today? I see no reason women cannot heal–the scriptures seem to make it pretty clear that spiritual gifts are available to any believer–but yet the culture seems to discourage it. Not directly, but I’ve never been to a meeting where a person spoke in tongues or seen a woman heal another person. I’ve heard a couple of modern instances, but they are rare.
    I wonder what would happen if women had official institutional recognition of these gifts? Of course, if someone argued that women need to seek their own spiritual blessings rather than waiting on the church to tell them how to do it, I’d wholeheartedly agree. But I also think that our culture has a sort of taboo on doing things that are outside the handbook stamp of approval framework, which is unfortunate. I wish we’d hear more of these stories about women who exercise the priesthood they have, who make decisions without being told what to do, who receive their own inspiration, and who exercise their spiritual gifts. I think many of us live beneath our privileges because we’re afraid that someone will disapprove of us, and others of us never even think of exercising the priesthood we’ve been given.
    I don’t have time to enumerate them all, but there are plenty of other quotes from church leaders that suggest ideas on both ends of the spectrum–some (like JS) seem to imply that women were supposed to be ordained, while others (like Widtsoe) suggest that women’s role is primarily domestic and that women are supposed to partake from rather than actively exercise their priesthood.
    My other issue is that when these questions are raised, most people respond defensively by saying women have different roles or that they are equally valued or that women don’t want any more responsibility. That’s fine, and I’m glad it works for them, but they still don’t address the questions you have raised. Then what does the temple endowment mean? Why do women exercise priesthood in the temple but not outside it? If healing is supposed to be a priesthood thing, why do the scriptures say otherwise and why did women send for other women to bless them for over a hundred years without huge disruptions in their divine roles? Why are so many things we do in the church, from speaking last to putting away chairs to being financial clerk, deemed to be priesthood responsibilities when there aren’t any scriptural or prophetic implications for this to be so?
    I certainly don’t have the answers, and there may be reasons for this that I’m not aware of, but I wish these questions could be addressed in a thoughtful manner because, right now, the whole “women are different” answer doesn’t even scratch the surface of my real doctrinal questions.

    • ” I wish we’d hear more of these stories about women who exercise the priesthood they have, who make decisions without being told what to do, who receive their own inspiration, and who exercise their spiritual gifts. ”

      Me too!

    • Might I suggest that you separate Priesthood power from priesthood authority and office. Priesthood power is God’s power. It is the force or power by which He ‘makes’ things become. It is the power through which His majesty is manifested. We are all partakers of this. When a ‘miracle’ is performed by anyone, it is by God’s priesthood power that is manifested. YOU NEED NOT BE A LDS OR ENDOWED TO DO THIS.

      Priesthood authority comes by commission. It is, I believe, conferred through ordination by the laying on of hands as stated in our Articles of Faith. I do not know of any other exception to this rule. With this authority comes the responsibility to do certain things which are limited through the office held in the Priesthood.

      So in short, I am not convinced that women hold the priesthood though this depends on what is meant by the priesthood. Authority or power? I speak in terms of authority. I do believe that women and men can use their faith to call on God to effect great outcomes in the lives of His children. This happens every day around the world amongst both Lds and non lds folks.

  6. Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. Olea, like you mention, priesthood means different things to different people. I’ve heard many Mormons say that women hold the power of the priesthood (can access power of God) but that men hold power and authority of the priesthood (which includes ritual authority). I’ve heard others say that women have the priesthood of life and men have the priesthood of administration. Lots of different ways to think about it.

    Melody, you bring up a good question — how do we talk about this important issue, which is central to the identity and power of Mormon women — without violating revelations and insights that have come to us personally? I don’t know the answer, but I know I do tend to feel that conversation is good. And that sharing these insights is often exactly what God would want us to do. But people will definitely fall on different sides of the line of that question.

    NAH, as you mention, the understanding of priesthood has simply changed over time. My understanding is that women were seen to be a part of priesthood in the 19th century in a way that they are not seen to be today. One can find numerous quotes to support women claiming priesthood and men referring to women as having it in some sense. Eliza R. Snow was known as “the High Priestess.” This all changed with increased correlation and the concentration of power and authority in the hands of centralized male priesthood hierarchy. Stapley and Wright’s paper on Mormon female ritual healing goes into this more inclusive conception of priesthood, I believe. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1754069. And Margaret Toscano wrote a paper that talked a lot about this as well. I think it’s “Rise Ye Up, O Daughters of Zion.” Michael Quinn as well in “Mormon Women Have Had Priesthood Since 1843.” People may disagree with their conclusions, but they provide important quotes to support the idea that priesthood was talked about differently then. Like you mention, I don’t think there’s some grand conspiracy to bury the fact that priesthood was conceived of differently. It’s simply evolved, like a lot of other things in the Church.

  7. I think it’s important to be aware of the distinction between priesthood power and priesthood office. I’d define priesthood power as the ability to call down God’s power, influence, and blessings on the earth. I’d define priesthood office as what is given by the laying on of hands to ordain someone, and also the callings that one may qualify for after such ordination. We know it’s possible to have priesthood office without priesthood power (D&C section 121). It’s also possible to have priesthood power without priesthood office.

    I am endowed, and I do not think it gives me any priesthood office. I am a former temple worker, and I still don’t think I ever had a priesthood office. I had hands laid on my head to set me apart as a temple worker, but that setting apart did not mention any ordination to any priesthood.

    That said, the ordinances I performed as a temple worker required Godly power, so I exercised priesthood power. I don’t think that kind of power is at all limited to temples. I think any time anyone, woman, man, child, and of any religious tradition experiences the miracle of God’s influence or intervention in their lives, that is what we call priesthood power.

    I also think a person’s potential for good is most fully realized when that person can have both the power and office of the priesthood, which is why I believe the Church will be so blessed when it decides to ordain women.

    • Emily U,
      That’s a very important distinction. Thanks for pointing that out — very helpful.

    • Emily U – I’ve always wanted to ask a temple worker what authority she’s referring to when she, in the course of administering temple ordinances, says “having authority, I…” But I’ve never known a worker I felt would give me a very satisfactory answer — as a feminist. Maybe you have some insights? Anything specific from your setting apart or training as a temple worker?

      • It’s been more than 10 years, and I don’t remember the exact wording, but my setting apart as a temple worker was very much like being set apart for a calling at church. The temple president laid his hands on my head and gave me a blessing, setting me apart as an ordinance worker. He may have specifically said he gave me authority to perform temple ordinances, but I don’t remember. The kind of authority needed for performing temple ordinances wasn’t ever explained to me, that I can recall, or ever referred to in training. I think it was a kind of priesthood, although not explicitly acknowledged as such. The training I had was all about the mechanics of properly performing ordinances, with very little on the meaning of the ordinances or the source of authority needed to perform them.

      • Quick run down:
        Holding priesthood keys means having the responsibility for overseeing the work being done and authorizing people to do it.
        Priesthood authority means having authority to administer certain, specific ordinances under the direction of the person holding priesthood keys.
        Priesthood power is divine power to bless given by God to his children.

        So, for example, at a baptism in your ward, the bishop holds the priesthood keys, the priest doing the baptism holds the priesthood authority, and the priesthood power is, hopefully, manifest in the whole process of the baptismal ordinance and experienced by everyone involved.

        A temple president holds the priesthood keys for all the work done in the temple for which he is responsible.
        Those keys mean that he is responsible for authorizing priesthood authority that is given to temple workers, both male and female. He can do that himself by the laying on of hands and setting apart or he can authorize his counselors to do that.

        So, when a temple president lays his hands on a new temple worker she will hear the words that she is given authority to administer in ordinances of the temple in that temple as she is called upon to do so.

        It is an authority to perform certain priesthood ordinances without being ordained to a specific priesthood office. Rather like Elizabeth Hammond’s description of priesthood power without office. But in this case it’s priesthood authority without priesthood office.

        I’ve worked under the direction of a number of different temple presidents. Some incorporate a lot of theological discussion about the work being done under their direction as they train workers and others don’t.

        My first sense of being “given” the priesthood, however, was not when I was authorized to perform temple ordinances. It was actually as a single woman receiving initiatory ordinances, years before I married.

  8. I’m not really sure what I think about this anymore, but I do have an ancestor whose patriarchal blessing declares that she has a birthright to the Melchizedek priesthood – not by marriage or endowment, but by lineage. I saw a 17-year-old girl cast a spirit out in the name of the Savior and wondered, if we could do that kind of thing ourselves, why we needed designated priesthood holders at girls’ camp at all, and what else we were capable of that no one ever talked about. I joke with my husband that when I rub essential oils on our kids when they’re sick, I’m performing the anointing and laying on of hands (har har) but who knows? I wouldn’t be surprised if we do already have access to some kind of priesthood power beyond just the power of our faith, but I’m starting to think it won’t ever be “officially” recognized or taught within my lifetime, which is a shame.

    • What a great patriarchal blessing! And yes, I think you’re right — it is a shame that women’s priesthood probably won’t be recognized in this life

  9. I believe women have priesthood, or priestesshood, as designated in part in the temple. I think post-world wars I and II, when it became important for culture to re-affirm manhood (because women did men’s jobs when they were off to war and clearly did not “need” men in the sense of traditional roles) and have since hammered in the idea that women “need” men because of this preisthood that “only” men have. I think this is cultural, therefore, worldy, and in direct competition with real doctrine.

    I believe I have the priesthood, and whilst I am forbidden office or title, I see nothing wrong in using my priesthood as necessary to bless mt family and those in whom I come into contact.

    • Spunky,
      I love your masculinity theory application! I think that’s very helpful

  10. I feel I have been given a spiritual power that comes from being an endowed being, but I don’t know if I could call it priesthood or priestesshood. It is linked to all of me, but it isn’t directly tied to the biological functions of my body, nor directly to my sealing to my husband in the temple. It just seems to be a power coming from within that emanates divinity. It seems to me to be more than the Light of Christ or the Gift of the Holy Ghost — it seems to not come externally but from and through me and some higher power within, that I changed somehow when I was anointed to become someone infinitely better than who I was, and endowed with amazing light and a thirst for knowledge. I don’t know how to explain it, but it feels to me every bit as powerful as the priesthood. What is hard is feeling that I’m limited in using it inside the current church. I felt it before I ever became a mother. It was something else.

    • ” It just seems to be a power coming from within that emanates divinity. ” I love that description, Alisa. Beautiful.

  11. I received the priesthood when I was endowed and sealed to my first husband. He left me and the church and our 6 children and was excommunicated. I have continued to use my priesthood in my home with my children in the absence of a righteous male priesthood holder.

    • Honey, thanks for sharing your perspective and experience. I love that you’ve claimed your own spiritual power.

  12. If the Church is going to teach that priesthood is “the authority to act in God’s name,” then I’m a “Priesthood of all Believers” Mormon. According to the sacrament prayers, at baptism, we take Christ’s name upon us. I’ve understood this to mean that we strive to act for and as if we really are Christ, or in other words, in God’s name, since we are walking around with Christ’s name upon us. Accompanying baptism is confirmation and receiving the Holy Ghost. In stories of baptisms in early Mormonism, some people start speaking in tongues or healing others after baptism. I would posit that blessings of healing can and should be done by all baptized members, since healing is a gift of the Spirit and receiving the Holy Ghost is done at baptism. I think our priesthood grows as we go through the temple, but that all people ought to feel comfortable exercising priesthood at any age after the age of accountability.

    • I love your inclusive vision, TopHat!

  13. I believe that I recieved a form of priesthood through the temple ceremonies. Several aspects of the ceremonies make this implication and I now wear the garment of the holy priesthood as a reminder of my priesthood covenants. In a recent interview, General Relief Society President Burton stated that women receive priesthood power, and several other church leaders have made similar statements, not to mention that this fact is clearly stated in the temple ceremony.

    That said, I am completely unsatisfied with the form of priesthood I received. Throughout my life, I was taught that priesthood is the power and authority of God, yet I was not anointed a priestess unto God, but unto my imperfect human husband. In that same interview, President Burton reminded us that women lack priesthood authority. She implied that power without authority is all most women want. However, priesthood without authority is dead just like faith without works is dead. What works can I do with my priesthood, when women are only authorized to perform priesthood ordinances behind closed doors in the temple when called as ordinance workers, and as an American mother, church policy forbids me even from that? I need a priesthood that comes with authority so that I can actually use priesthood to bless my family, my community and my church. I need priesthood power that is channeled directly from God, not mediated through an imperfect person. I want all of the blessings of the priesthood, including those that come through active priesthood service. Spiritual growth and service opportunities are blessings that are not obtained by passively receiving and never giving.

    • “I need a priesthood that comes with authority so that I can actually use priesthood to bless my family, my community and my church. ”

      I hear you, April. There’s so often discussion of women receiving all the blessing of the priesthood even if they don’t hold it — but blessings often come through the practice of something, through the use of something. You articulated that beautifully.

    • This is quite a fascinating topic and everyone has unique perspectives.

      I fall in the group of those people who believe women have the priesthood but not the authority. And I do sympathize with those who feel frustrated for not having any instructions and opportunities on how to use this power. Yes, we can not use it in our church community. But we can make sure we use it within our family. Mothers should bless their children with the fathers. We all need to have a frank discussion with our husbands and establish this practices within home. We might not have the Melchizedek priesthood but we do have priesthood and we can use what we have to bless the one we have created.

      I do not see any problems with this practice. The church might discourage it but that doesn’t mean it is forbidden and God won’t offer his blessings to the one being blessed. Same for healing, we can start healing our children. We might not feel comfortable using the language that man use but through prayer, we can each find the words for the healing ceremony we are performing.

      It starts in the family, girls and women. The public sphere will reflect the private one sooner or latter. Our empowerment (and education) as priestesses can happen at home and we should all use that opportunity (with our families). As we use it, we will all figure things out a little bit more.

      Psychologically we are constructed to feel that such practices might be wrong and hesitate to do so. But how can God withdraw his power from faithful and righteous people who are trying to bless and serve others in the name of his Son? We do not need any permissions or excuses to do so.

      My vision of Heaven is not a hierarchical place full of categories, labels and so forth. Instead, it will be full of people that through virtue and faith develop their potential by accessing God’s power that is available to all. Therefore, it is a place only for priests and priestesses.

      • Actually, you do need permission.

        Authority is, according to the Church, “the permission granted to men on earth called or ordained to act for and in behalf of God the Father or Jesus Christ in doing God’s work”.

        When that permission is granted, and not by “empowering” yourself with authority, then I think that would be a wonderful and appropriate time to exercise the priesthood in the capacity you desire.

      • Jace, you need to unbundle the priesthood. See D&C 121 for starters. No one here has said a person can be ordained by taking the power to do so upon her or himself. I think all the comments here reflect an understanding that within the Church ordination to the priesthood comes only through recognized channels.

        However, we absolutely can (and should seek to) empower our lives with what I’ll call the power of the priesthood. We do not have widely recognized/agreed upon terminology for this, but there is a Godly power that comes from striving to be holy and humble and faithful, and in seeking God’s help and presence. I’ve heard it called a priesthood of all the faithful, the “little p” priesthood, etc. Whatever you call it, Mary Fielding Smith used this priesthood to raise her oxen up, early Mormon women used it to minister to women in childbirth, modern Mormon women may use it quietly to bless their families, and the woman in Caroline’s Relief Society used it to protect herself from danger. They only “permission” they needed was from the Holy Spirit, who prompted them to use their [insert your term for his kind of priesthood] in whatever way the occasion required.

      • Emily- I can appreciate your point of view and the way you want to word your opinions- I don’t even disagree with most of your comment. EFH’s comments make it seem that she has found a better way to bless her family regardless of the Church’s “permission” and that it is perfectly acceptable because of how she personally envisions God. It’s an emotional appeal to others regarding what she personally feels is best.

        If the priesthood only comes through recognized channels, as you and I agree, then why would you support that comment to start using the priesthood through unrecognized channels?

        I’ve read, and just re-read D&C 121. Might I respectfully suggest you re-bundle the priesthood. See D&C 107 for starters. :)

      • I love your vision, EFH.

    • Melvin J. Ballard (Quorum of the Twelve) – “Whatever disappointments may come, still be true to Him and I promise you, in the name of the Lord, that if not in time, in eternity, you shall have like honors and glory and privilege. If you are faithful over a few things here, you shall be ruler over many things there, and become kings and priests unto God. And you sisters who have dwelt in reflected glory will shine in your own light, queens and priestesses unto the Lord forever and ever.” (Conference Report, October, 1934, p. 121)

  14. It’s not an instance of “whatever you call it.” There is only one Holy Priesthood, after the order of the Son of God. We typically call it the Melchizidek Priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood is but an appendage to the MPH. All this other talk of priesthood, other priesthood, some priesthood, of feelings, power, or authority make no sense. Either you have the Holy Priesthood or its appendage, or you don’t. The original post asked about having received some kind of priesthood during the endowment ceremony. If no one in authority laid his or her hands upon your head and confered the Holy Priesthood upon you, then you don’t have it. No amount of language or feelings or purported personal revelation will change that. Sisters in the church can perform miracles through faithful prayer, as can non-members. Yes, you wear the garment of the Holy Priesthood. It serves a particular purpose so, as leaders say, you are enjoying the blessings of the Holy Priesthood. You have also been ceremoniously washed and annointed, where wonderful promises were made that are realized in this life, but also the next. I am confident that our doctrine says eventually, women will be priestesses. But there simply is no room in our doctrine, as it exists today, for the comments being made. If you rely on a couple of books to support your position, then okay. One is written by an excommunicated member, the other by someone who is interpreting history. Neither is authorized by God to speak to these issues. If you want to know if you received some form of priesthood during or because of having participated in the endowment, I suggest you ask a general authority, temple president, and so forth.

    • Dear EBEH – I don’t know how old you are, but if you are old enough to remember the temple ceremony with its specific wordage from thirty-or-so years ago, then you know the wordage has changed in several places since then. Both in the endowment and in the initiatory ordinance. Other parts of the ceremonies have changed as well. One of the marked changes was inclusion of Eve’s name when speaking to Adam and Eve together. Prior to that time only Adam was addressed or referred to throughout the ordinances. I won’t detail other changes here.

      For several years prior to all these changes being implemented church-wide, I had felt uncomfortable with wordage and other portions of the ordinances. I let God know via sincere prayer that it didn’t feel right to me and asked for His loving support as I changed the wording in my mind as I attended the temple on a regular basis. At times I felt that I was doing something wrong in the context of “revealed doctrine” or practice. However, over time I came to feel that my own private wordage was, in fact, truer to what God intended for the rites in which I participated.

      When the changes WERE officially made they mirrored EXACTLY the wordage and other practices which I had been using for those years prior.

      I repeat: the changes were exactly as I had made prior to the official changes – which changes were certainly approved by general authorities and communicated, no doubt to temple presidents and matrons prior to being implemented church-wide. When I asked my bishop about this remarkable occurrance, his suggestion to me (I was very young at the time, so I hadn’t figured this out on my own and I relied on leaders to explain it) that the spirit often reveals certain truths to individual members in private, meaningful ways – within their hearts and minds – prior to changes being made that effect the general membership of the church. This is necessary preparation to allow us accept and recognize new doctrine and new practices. And for the body of the church to be ready to move forward with those changes with as little disruption as possible. The Lord prepares us in our hearts. Through what you call “purported personal revelation.” I call it “personal revelation.” We differ there apparently.

      It may be true that sisters are not currently ordained to the priesthood by the laying on of hands because “. . .no one in authority laid his or her hands upon your head and conferred the Holy Priesthood upon you . .” But to suggest that “. . .No amount of language or feelings or purported personal revelation will change that. . .” is naive on your part.

      You may be right that women are not currently ordained by the laying on of hands. But it is very likely that a time will come when the “garment of the holy priesthood” becomes not just a beautiful metaphorical physical gift given to both men and women within the context of rites and ordinances of the holy priesthood via temple work, but an actual representation of joint priesthood authority as it is now understood in administration of ordinances outside the temple.

      I’m willing to be wrong about that. But I’m also willing to accept the possibility that there are things being revealed via personal revelation even now– about a myriad of important issues –to individuals within the body of the church, in preparation for whatever the Lord’s plans are for the future of His people. Indeed, I believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and I believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. And some of those things will be revealed to individuals, in private personal ways, as they are also being revealed to righteous leaders of the kingdom.

      • Thank you for your story and your insight, Melody. Beautiful.

      • The beauty of our church despite its historical problems is that we believe in continuous revelation. What does this mean? It means that we actually believe that what we believe today might completely change tomorrow? Isn’t this crazy and beautiful at the same time? That is why the church appeals to so many people, even to the ones who might not be comfortable with certain things.

        I personally see room in our doctrine for any change to happen. Nothing is set in stone, not even commandments. Christ changed the law of Moses. We as a modern church do not practice polygamy base on this assumption.

        Regarding permission, I have a motto in my life. It is “it is easier to apologize than ask for permission”. If I want to do something and I feel it is right in my heart, I do it. I do not examine books and talk to authorities whether I am allowed. It is between me and God and I am willing to carry the consequences of such actions. I believe that this is the only way for any human to learn from life and to become their own free agent. I do not see any other valid way of developing my spirituality and talents. Religiously, we (Christianity, Judaism, Islam)have created a God of ‘no”s and “don’t”s but I think he is more of a God of “yes”s and “go for it”.

    • “If you want to know if you received some form of priesthood during or because of having participated in the endowment, I suggest you ask a general authority, temple president, and so forth.”

      I asked God, and He said yes.

      But that’s just “purported personal revelation,” right?

    • EBEH, personal revelation is one of the main tenets of Mormonism–the one on which Joseph Smith’s authority depends. The temple ordinances, which demonstrate the necessity of each person to make individual covenants with God, further emphasize that God knows each of us personally and will speak truth to each of us individually.

      To use the phrase “purported personal revelation” is to discount the word of God to individuals, and it comes dangerously close to questioning individual commenters’ commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ and their personal experiences. Please watch your language if you intend to continue commenting at Exponent II.

    • EBEH,
      I have a question for you. Would you mind emailing me at carolinekline1 at gmail dot com?

    • Totally agree. People perform healings through faith and righteous desires daily. It through God’s priesthood power that such mercies are granted. Could such a person be said to be exercising/manifesting God’s Priesthood power? I guess so. Does it mean such a person ‘holds’ priesthood authority? I wouldn’t say so. .

  15. To Emily U June 6, 2013 at 11:59 am. Many of us have heard of the story of Mary Fielding Smith raising her ox with the priesthood. Please provide documentation that she did it herself. Thanks
    I can only find references like the following: Later, during the journey west, young Joseph F. once again saw the power of his mother’s faith demonstrated. Having traveled a good share of the way to Zion, one of their best oxen fell to the ground. “The ox stiffened out spasmodically evidently in the throes of death. The death of this faithful animal would have been fatal to the progress of Widow Smith on the journey to the valley. … Producing a bottle of consecrated oil, Widow Smith asked her brother and James Lawson if they would please administer to the ox just as they would do to a sick person, for it was vital to her interest that the ox be restored that she might pursue her journey. Her earnest plea was complied with. These brethren poured oil on the head of the ox and then laid their hands upon it and rebuked the power of the destroyer just as they would have done if the animal had been a human being. Immediately the ox got up and within a very few moments again pulled in the yoke as if nothing had ever happened. This was a great astonishment to the company. Before the company had proceeded very far another of her oxen fell down as the first, but with the same treatment he also got up, and this was repeated the third time; by administration the oxen were fully healed” (Smith, comp., Life of Joseph F. Smith,‍ 150).

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