Engaging Gospel Doctrine (Episode 54)

Lesson 25

Priesthood: “The Power of Godliness”

Hook / We talk about the priesthood all the time in Church, but what IS it? And what is the difference between having it, and not?
Goal / Class members should understand the relationship between Priesthood and access to God and the power and authority of God, and appreciate the principles that govern its use.
Overview / ·  What is priesthood?
·  Reasons I am including women in this discussion about priesthood
·  Overview of the readings
·  Quotes about the priesthood
·  The relationship between women and the priesthood
·  Women in early Christianity
·  Women in early Mormonism
·  Priesthood and Relief Society
·  Concluding thoughts
Conclusion / · 

*Role of the priesthood in LDS culture (including calling men “the priesthood”, the idea of every house needing the priesthood, etc)

*What the scriptures teach about priesthood (the fantastic D&C 121 stuff)

*What exactly is the priesthood? 1) access to God; 2) power of god; 3) authority of God (bring up a few scripture stories)

*Women and the priesthood

*historical perspectives on women and the priesthood

*The way women have all three points above (tactfully bring up the temple)

*Ways women can reclaim their power in LDS culture

*Thoughts on the future (including tackling the issue of ordaining women)

What is the priesthood?

Task of the Priesthood: to do what God would do if present


1)  Access to God

2)  Power of God

3)  Authority of God

It may be surprising that I am focusing on women during a priesthood lesson, but I am doing so for three reasons:

1)  We talk about men and the priesthood all the time

2)  We can better understand priesthood by looking at “not priesthood”—how does what men experience with the priesthood differ from what women experience through spiritual gifts, covenants, and other aspects of the gospel?

3)  Women participate in the priesthood or priesthood-like ways that we don’t often appreciate (like how women have given blessings earlier in Church history)

4)  There is no lesson on the Relief Society this year

Nature of the Priesthood

http://www.lds.org/ensign/1993/02/what-every-elder-should-know-and-every-sister-as-well-a-primer-on-principles-of-priesthood-government?lang=eng (good nuts and bolts overview)

Priesthood is the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. (See JST, Gen. 14:28–31.) When we exercise priesthood authority properly, we do what He would do if He were present….

There are keys of the priesthood. While the word key has other meanings, like keys of wisdom or keys of knowledge, the keys of the priesthood are the right to preside and direct the affairs of the Church within a jurisdiction. All priesthood keys are within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and no keys exist outside the Church on earth.

"Because of these facts, and the apparent imperfections of men on whom God confers authority, the question is sometimes asked,–to what extent is obedience to those who hold the Priesthood required? This is a very important question, and one which should be understood by all Saints. In attempting to answer this question, we would repeat, in short, what we have already written, that willing obedience to the laws of God, administered by the Priesthood, is indispensable to salvation; but we would further add, that a proper conservative to this power exists for the benefit of all, and none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the Priesthood. We have heard men who hold the Priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God, who seeks for the redemption of his fellows, would despise the idea of seeing another become his slave, who had an equal right with himself to the favour of God;he would rather see him stand by his side, a sworn enemy to wrong, so long as there was place found for it among men. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty (!) authority, have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their Presidents, they should do it without asking any questions.
"When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience, as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves, and wish to pave the way to accomplish that wrong; or else because they have done wrong, and wish to use the cloak of their authority to cover it with, lest it should be discovered by their superiors, who would require an atonement at their hands." - Millenial Star, vol 14, num 38, 13 Nov 1852, "Priesthood"


Latter-day Saints believe in applying the best available scientific knowledge and techniques. We use nutrition, exercise, and other practices to preserve health, and we enlist the help of healing practitioners, such as physicians and surgeons, to restore health.

The use of medical science is not at odds with our prayers of faith and our reliance on priesthood blessings. When a person requested a priesthood blessing, Brigham Young would ask, “Have you used any remedies?” To those who said no because “we wish the Elders to lay hands upon us, and we have faith that we shall be healed,” President Young replied: “That is very inconsistent according to my faith. If we are sick, and ask the Lord to heal us, and to do all for us that is necessary to be done, according to my understanding of the Gospel of salvation, I might as well ask the Lord to cause my wheat and corn to grow, without my plowing the ground and casting in the seed. It appears consistent to me to apply every remedy that comes within the range of my knowledge, and [then] to ask my Father in Heaven … to sanctify that application to the healing of my body.” 1

Of course we don’t wait until all other methods are exhausted before we pray in faith or give priesthood blessings for healing. In emergencies, prayers and blessings come first. Most often we pursue all efforts simultaneously. This follows the scriptural teachings that we should “pray always” (D&C 90:24) and that all things should be done in wisdom and order. 2

As we exercise the undoubted power of the priesthood of God and as we treasure His promise that He will hear and answer the prayer of faith, we must always remember that faith and the healing power of the priesthood cannot produce a result contrary to the will of Him whose priesthood it is. … even the servants of the Lord, exercising His divine power in a circumstance where there is sufficient faith to be healed, cannot give a priesthood blessing that will cause a person to be healed if that healing is not the will of the Lord.

Women and Blessings

“someone apparently reported to Joseph that the women were laying their hands on the sick and blessing them. His reply to the question of the propriety of such acts was simple. He told the women in the next meeting “there could be no evil in it, if God gave his sanction by healing.., there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water.” He also indicated that there were sisters who were ordained to heal the sick and it was their privilege to do so. “If the sisters should have faith to heal,” he said, “let all hold their tongues.”6

“It is the privilege of a mother to have faith and to administer to her child; this she can do herself, as well as sending for the Elders to have the benefit of their faith.”(Brigham Young)

In October of that year, Taylor sent a letter reaffirming a woman’s right to lay hands on the sick.

It is the privilege of all faithful women and lay members of the Church, who believe in Christ, to administer to all the sick or afflicted in their respective families, either by the laying on of hands, or by the anointing with oil in the name of the Lord: but they should administer in these sacred ordinances, not by virtue and authority of the priesthood, but by virtue of their faith in Christ, and the promises made to believers: and thus they should do in all their ministrations.13

President Joseph Fielding Smith, in his book Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3 wrote,
"Does a wife hold the priesthood with her husband, and may she lay hands on the sick with him, with authority? A wife does not hold the priesthood with her husband, butshe enjoys the benefits thereof with him; and if she is requested to lay hands on the sick with him, or with any other officer holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, she may do so with perfect propriety. It is no uncommon thing for a man and wife unitedly to administer to their children."
When this is done the wife is adding her faith to the administration of her husband. The wife would lay on hands just as would a member of the Aaronic Priesthood, or a faithful brother without the priesthood, she in this manner giving support by faith to the ordinance performed by her husband. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "Respecting females administering for the healing of the sick, . . . there could be no evil in it, if God gave his sanction by healing; that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on and praying for the sick, than in wetting the face with water; it is no sin for anybody to administer that has faith, or if the sick have faith to be healed by their administration." Such an administration would not be by virtue of the priesthood, but a manifestation of faith.

Stapley and Wright do note, however, an intriguing exception from 1979.

Then-President Spencer W. Kimball was recovering from brain surgery and asked for a blessing. Bruce R. McConkie, an apostle, and Marion D. Hanks, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, arrived to give it to him. Hanks anointed the ailing prophet's head, while McConkie invited Kimball's son, Edward, to join in. The apostle also invited the prophet's wife, Camilla, to place her hands on her husband's head.

"That was unusual," Edward Kimball later wrote. "It seemed right to me, but I would not have felt free to suggest it on my own because of an ingrained sense that the ordinance is a priesthood ordinance."

Though the LDS Church no longer authorizes women to administer healing rituals, Stapley and Wright conclude, "the heritage of female healing in the LDS Church is an essential facet of Mormon history and testament to the faith, power, and community of Mormon women."


Women and Spiritual Gifts in the Early Church

(Daughters of Light passage)

The Priesthood and Women


In these foundational sermons, Joseph Smith instructed women regarding “the order of the priesthood.” including the keys, offices, ordinances, gifts, and blessings of the priesthood. He thereby prepared them to participate in the sacred ordinances to be administered in the Nauvoo Temple at its completion. He also encouraged the sisters in their important charitable work and expounded at length upon the broader meaning of charity.

He announced that “the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood.” This, he declared, required “a select Society separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuous and holy.”[15] This was the beginning of the Society’s understanding of his repeated references to the “ancient Priesthood.”

The “ancient Priesthood” to which he alluded is the patriarchal order of the Melchizedek Priesthood and its ordinances, with the covenant of marriage and the family unit at its center. President Ezra Taft Benson explained: “The order of the priesthood spoken of in the scriptures is sometimes referred to as the patriarchal order because it came down from father to son. But his order is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government where a man and a woman enter into a covenant with God—just as did Adam and Eve—to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God through their mortality.”[16] The ancient priesthood was governed by keys representing God’s authority, which “open God’s greatest blessings, including the ‘privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, . . . [and] the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus’” (D&C 107:19).[17] A revelation to Joseph Smith identified “the mysteries of the kingdom” as “the key to the knowledge of God,” as manifest in the temple ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood (D&C 84:19–20). Thus, when the Prophet declared that Relief Society sisters “should move according to the ancient Priesthood,” he invited them to prepare for the sacred ordinances to be administered in the temple. One by one through the holy endowment, these women would come to understand “the mysteries of the kingdom.” As they were sealed with their husbands in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, they could enter the patriarchal order of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Bring up women and leadership in early Christianity!!

The gospels agree that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene and told her to tell his apostles about his resurrection. She has thus been called “apostle to the apostles”