"Do you mean we should understand that Deity consists of man and woman?" he responded, "most certainly I do. If I believe anything that God has ever said about himself...I must believe that Deity consists of man and woman...There can be no God except he is composed of the man and the woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way.
That great hymn 'O my Father' puts it correctly when Eliza R. Snow wrote, 'In the heavn's are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I've a mother there.' Born of Heavenly Mother, sired by a Heavenly Father, we knew Him, we were in His house.
Glenn L. Pace: "When you stand in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and you look into Her eyes and behold Her countenance, any question you ever had about the role of women in the kingdom will evaporate into the rich celestial air, because at that moment you will see standing directly in front of you, your diving nature and destiny."
Robert Millet: "The patriarchal order was established by God and predates mortal institutions. Our God is also our Father, our Father in Heaven. He is a man, a glorified, resurrected man, a Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57)...God lives in the family unit...In the premortal existence-our first estate-we lived under the patriarchal order, the family order. It was an order consisting of Father, Mother, and children, an order presided over by our Parents and directed by love, kindness, gentleness, and godly persuasion. We are thus children of God, members of the royal family. Our souls are eternally attuned and acclimated to family things.
Talmage taught: "In the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and co-operating to the full in the government of their family kingdom...Then shall woman reign by Divine right, a queen in the resplendent realm of her glorified state, even as exalted man shall stand, priest and king unto the Most High God. Mortal eye cannot see nor mind comprehend the beauty, glory, and majesty of a righteous woman made perfect in the celestial kingdom of God."
In fact, it is perhaps ironic that the priesthood government structure names patriarchal was absolutely dependent equally on both men as patriarchs and women as matriarchs. Adam Held the priesthood, and Eve served in matriarchal partnership with the patriarchal priesthood.
Bruce R. McConkie related: "I think Rebekah is on of the greatest patterns in all the revelations of what a woman can do to influence a family in righteousness. Women are appointed, like Rebekah, to be guides and lights in righteousness in the family unit, and to engineer and arrange so that things are done in the way that will result in the salvation of more of our fathers' children. It was to Rebekah, not Isaac, Elder McConkie explained, that the Lord revealed "the destiny of nations that are to be born that are yet in your womb."
Bruce R. McConkie taught: "this theocratic system, patterned after the order and system that prevailed in heaven, was the government of God. He himself, though dwelling in heaven, was the Lawgiver, Judge, and King. He gave direction in all things both civil and ecclesiastical; there was no separation of church and state as we now know it. All governmental affairs were directed, controlled, and regulated from on high. The Lord's legal administrators on earth served by virtue of their callings and ordinations in the Holy Priesthood and as they were guided by the power of the Holy Ghost.
It is crucial to note that although no one on the earth held these priesthood keys during this time of apostasy, either in the patriarchal or hierarchical priesthood, the larger priesthood, or the power and authority of God, was still available. Elder and Sister Renlund explained: "Even after the Great Apostasy, God was not 'snoozing' until the priesthood was conferred on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on May 15, 1829 (D&C 13).
Finally on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple, Jesus Christ returned as promised, and Moses, Elias, and Elijah came to reveal additional priesthood responsibilities that would fulfill Moroni's promise. Moses delivered the keys of the gathering of Israel, Elias the keys of the Abrahamic covenant, and Elijah, the keys of the sealing authority.
...Melchizedek Priesthood, which gives him the power to perform all the ordinances in the Church and to enter the temple, that ordination does not give him the authority to perform ordinances that pertain only to the temple, including the initiatory, endowment, and sealing. Thus, only men are authorized to perform priesthood ordinances outside of the temple, but both men and women are authorized to perform certain ordinances in the temple.
"Every law and principle and power, every belief, every ordinance and ordination, every covenant, every sermon and every sacrament, every counsel and correction, the sealings, the calls, the releases, the service," according to President Boyd K. Packer, "have as their ultimate purpose the perfection of the individual and the family.
Pres. Marion G. Romney: "...when determining if a revelation is from God: First, "Does it purport to originate in the wisdom of men, or was it revealed from heaven?" Second, "Does the teaching bear the proper label?" Third, "The teaching must not only come under the proper label, but it must also conform to the other teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Fourth, "Does it come through the proper channel?"
Our marriages will grow as we as couples put Christ in the center of all we do. As we grow closer to Christ, we cannot help but grow closer to each other in love, in character, in humor, in light, in glory, and in joy because it is Christ who, through His grace, makes it happen. We have entered into an order of the priesthood that allows Him to do so.
Lyndon Cook: "...in the temple women would with oil and by the laying on of hands confer on their sisters blessings." Thus, as President Ballard taught, women both receive and perform sacred priesthood ordinances in the temple-ordinances necessary for exaltation-starting with the initiatory.
In the endowment, members covenant and promise to be obedient and chaste and, according to Elder James E. Talmage, "to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the human race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth nay be made ready to receive Jesus Christ."
Pres. Nelson : "We need women...who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment." As women, therefore, it is not good enough to know that the power of God exists, or even to have a testimony of it, but we must understand the doctrine of it, access it, and use it.
John A. Widtsoe: "Once only may a person receive the temple endowment for himself, but innumerable times may he receive it for those gone from the earth. Whenever he does so, he performs an unselfish act for which no earthly recompense is available. He tastes in part the sweet joy of saviorhood. He rises toward the stature of the Lord Jesus Christ who died for all.
President Nelson invited all those who have received temple ordinances to labor together to bring these blessings to all members. "For members to fall short of that objective would be like paying for a banquet and then leaving after salad has been served. The sublime feast at the banquet table of opportunity in the Church is experienced in the temple. The ordinances therein constitute the ultimate reason for our membership in the Church."
Wilford W. Anderson: "...the greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement." The opposite, I believe is also true: the closer we are to the Lord and His servants, the more grateful we are the more willing we are to listen to and obey their counsel.
Elder J Ballard Washburn : "We go to the temple to make covenants, but we go home to keep the covenants that we have made. The home is the testing ground. The home is the place where we learn to be more Christlike. The home is the place where we learn to over come selfishness and give ourselves in service to others."
What does this power received in the temple do for women? What kind of power do women have? Women who make and keep covenants in the temple have "the power of enlightenment, of testimony, and of understanding." They can pray, receiving guidance from the Lord at an even greater level because of the endowment they have received in the temple. Women have the "power to thwart the forces of evil," or, in other words, to contend and win against the power of Satan in their own lives, in their homes, or while they travel. They have the "power...to use their gifts and capabilities with greater intelligence and increased effectiveness" than they would have otherwise been able to. Women have the "power to overcome the sins of the world," are "better qualified to teach," and can protect and "strengthen their earthly families."
It seems that in the relationships that thrived, there was no competition between the husband and wife. Neither was "in charge" of the other-neither "wore the pants" in the relationship-but each recognized the importance of each of their divine roles and of loving and serving and being selfless together.
Pres. Nelson: "Priesthood authority has been restored so that families can be sealed eternally. So brethren, your foremost priesthood duty is to nurture your marriage-to are for, respect, honor, and love your wife. Be a blessing to her an your children." In other words, if men preside correctly in their families, their families will come first and Church callings second. In setting those priorities, men are actually putting God first, then their wives, and children, followed by their Church callings. A correct understanding and application of priesthood responsibilities for men will naturally lead to an improved home-centered and Church supported organization.
Helping clarify the priesthood role of women in our heavenly father's plan, sister Julie B. Beck, former RS General Pres. stated: "The priesthood role of fathers is to preside and pass priesthood ordinances to the next generation. The priesthood role of mothers ins to influence. These are essential, complementary, and interdependent responsibilities." ..."the priesthood duty of sisters is to create life, to nurture it, to prepare it for covenants of the Lord."...In fact John A. Widstoe proclaimed, "Motherhood is an eternal part of the Priesthood."
For some women, the term nurture feels demeaning. It has almost the exact opposite connotation from the word preside. According to the Lord, however, motherhood, and thus nurturing, is divine. I fact, President Hugh B. Brown taught that "jesus honored womanhood when he came to this earth as a little child through the sacred and glorious agency of motherhood; thus motherhood became akin to Godhood." The first presidency called motherhood "the highest holiest service...assumed by mankind."
So many worldly things are noticed because awards are given, accolades are shown, speeches are visible, books are buyable, performances are watched, money is made, and raises are given. Most worldly reinforcement is visible, seemingly valued, verifiable, and often immediate. Mothering, by contrast, is often quiet, individua, gentle, frequently anonymous, selfless, and with no accolades. It is in the later years, and especially in the eternities, when we will come to understand the full worth of mothers. The leaders of the Church, and especially the Lord, already know.
In today's world, it is so easy to get trapped in a society that is telling women what is most important and forgetting God. It is so easy and enticing to believe that something, anything, is more important than the home. The irony of the situation is that if families, as they are ordained of God, fail, society will fail, economies will fail, and governments will fail.
Joseph F. Smith: "Men and women often seek to substitute some other life for that of the home; they would make themselves believe that the home means restraint; that the highest liberty is the fullest opportunity to move about at will. There is no happiness without service, and there is no service greater than that which converts the home into a divine institution, and which promotes and preserves family life."
Mother Teresa: "If you judge people, you have not time to love them." After quoting the Savior's admonition that we "love one another, as I have loved you," President Monson asked, "can we love on another, as the Savior has commanded, if we judge each other?" He answered, "No, we cannot."
Thomas S. Monson: "Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weakness and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others."
Although I am grateful for those young men, the idea of "the young women need to learn to do it by themselves" still haunts me. As sisters in the Relief Society, I believe we should be running to the aid of those young women, ever watchful to give a hand as well as to accept their help. We all need each other. In this world of confusion, why would we stand back and watch them struggle? There is a difference between doing it from the (creating a sense of entitlement) and walking beside them, helping them, lifting them when they fall. I'm grateful that in this case we had worthy young men to help, but if they weren't there, ready to step in, who would have stepped in instead, in our place as mothers, aunts and leaders? It was a "women's pull."
I am concerned at times with the "spiritual Twinkies" being offered to our young women. Our young women do not need more quotes from Facebook or insights coming from popular social media sites or Google-they need truth from scriptures testified of through experience. Our young women do not need to be entertained; they need to built up in their faith. They need mentors grounded in the teachings and experiences provided by God, teachers who understand their priesthood privileges and use them.
Linda S. Reeves: "When you ask the sisters to read the scriptures and pray more, it stresses them out. They already feel like they have too much to do." Sister Reeves responded: "Brothers and sisters, because I know from my own experiences, and those of my husband, I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes."
Imagine the strength of a husband and wife, sealed together in the temple, when the two of them realize that together they have entered into the patriarchal order of the priesthood (the new and everlasting covenant of marriage), that each of them is a contributing partner in the creation of an eternal family, as co-equals, without one being the boss over the other.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie instructed: This doctrine of the priesthood-unknown in the world and but little known even the Church-cannot be learned out of the scriptures alone. It is not set forth in the sermons and teachings of the prophets and Apostles, except in small measure. The doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation. It comes, line upon line and precept upon precept, by the power of the Holy Ghost to those who love and serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength.
She (Jule B. Beck) declared, "We need to never confuse the idea of those who hold the priesthood in trust, with the priesthood. The priesthood is God's power. It is His power to create, to bless, to lead, to serve as He does...Don't confuse the power with the keys and the offices of the priesthood. God's power is limitless and it is shared with those who make and keep covenants. Too much is said and misunderstood about what the brothers have and the sisters don't have. This is Satan's way of confusing both men and women so neither understands what they really have.
Elder Neil L. Andersen: "A man may open the drapes, so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings. The blessings of the priesthood are infinitely greater than the one who is asked to administer the gift."
In fact, Joseph Smith stated that the women of the Church were organized after the organization that existed in Christ's Church anciently. He then visited Relief Society frequently and at least six times taught the women the doctrine of the gospel, focusing particularly on priesthood, to prepare them to receive their endowment in the house of the Lord.
President Nelson recently reminded us that Israel cannot be gathered without the women of the Church. And President Boyd K. Packer declared, "However much priesthood power and authority the men may possess-however much wisdom and experience they may accumulate-the safety of the family, the integrity of the doctrine, the ordinances, the covenants, indeed the future of the Church, rests equally upon the women.
M. Russell Ballard : "All who enter the house of the Lord officiate in the ordinances of the priesthood. This applies to men and women alike." Interestingly enough, although men must be ordained to the priesthood in order to enter the temple and perform these ordinances, women do not.
President M. Russel Ballard taught, "Not only is the priesthood the power by which the heavens and the earth were created, but it is also the power the Savior used in His mortal ministry to perform miracles, to bless and heal the sick, to bring the dead to life, and, as our Father's Only Begotten Son, to endure the unbearable pin of Gethsemane and Calvary-thus fulfilling the laws of justice with mercy and providing an infinite Atonement and overcoming physical death through the Resurrection.
Ezra Taft Benson explained that "the order of priesthood spoken of in the scriptures is sometimes referred to as the patriarchal order because it came down from father to son. But this order is otherwise described in the modern revelation as an order of family government where a man and women 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 throughout their mortality."
First, priesthood is the term used to describe the total power and authority of God, Second, priesthood is also the term used to describe the power and authority that God gives to ordained priesthood holders on earth to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God's children.
Brigham Young instructed : "After men have got their exaltations and their crowns-have become Gods, even the sons of God- are made kings of kings and Lords of lords, they have the power then of propagating their species in spirit; and that is the first of tehri operations with regard to organizing a world." It is impossible, however, for a man to reign as a God and propagate his species without a wife, a Goddess who, by his side, in their family/patriarchal order, rules and reigns together with him.
President Oaks : "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." Priesthood authority, therefore, is given to both women and men, based on their callings.
These keys of presidency "are the authority God has given to priesthood leaders to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth" for a specific time and over a specific location. "The exercise of priesthood authority is governed by those who hold its keys (D&C 65: 2, 81:2, 124:123)
...partnership in priesthood authority at Church is not the same as partnership in priesthood authority at home. A wife would have no more stewardship over her husband's bishopric calling than he would have over hers if she were the ward Relief Society president and he were a Sunday School teacher.
Henry B. Eyring: "When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope. Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom. In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment. Their hearts are bound to you. Their hope is in your hands."
Bruce R. McConkie: "Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness and which are brought to pass as a result of personal righteousness-in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord."
Whether the structure of priesthood government is hierarchical or patriarchal, the power of heaven available to individuals is dependent upon their righteousness. We know that worthiness is central to performing and receiving priesthood ordinances. Sister Linda K. Burton, former Relief Society General President, correctly taught, "Righteousness is the qualifier...to invite priesthood power into our lives." Therefore, as women, we truly do receive priesthood power as we make and keep temple covenants and live righteously in accordance with those covenants.
James E. Faust: "Everywhere there can be a 'unity of faith.' Each group or person brings special gifts and talents to the table of the Lord. We can all learn much from each other. But each of us should also voluntarily seek to enjoy all of the unifying and saving covenants, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ...Our real strength is not so much in our diversity but in our spiritual and doctrinal unity."
Russel M. Nelson: "To help another human being reach one's celestial potential is part of the divine mission of woman. As mother, teacher, or nurturing saint, she molds living clay to the shape of her hopes. In partnership with God, her divine mission is to help spirits live and souls be lifted. This is the measure of her creation. It is ennobling, edifying, and exalting."
President Boyd K. Packer taught, "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior." Note in this statement that it is not only true doctrine existing, or true doctrine known, but true doctrine understood that changes attitudes and behavior. Understanding true doctrine comes from a combination of hard work and effort with the Spirit testifying of these truths.
Elder and Sister Renlund compare the way we use the term priesthood with the way we use the term earth. Earth can either be the entire globe upon which all of us live, or it can be the dirt that we can pick up with our hands or plant flowers in. If we think of the priesthood solely in terms of the power and authority of God delegated to man-or the dirt in the Renlunds' analogy-we will find that we have been very narrow in our definition, leaving out much of God's power and authority. If we think of priesthood as the power and authority of God-or the entire globe in the Renlund's analogy-we expand our view and include not only that which is commonly focused on but all that God defines as His power and authority.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that "God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make Himself visible, I say, if you were to see Him today, you would see Him like a man in form-lie yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from , and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as on man talks and communes with another.
...the keys of the ministering of angels are available to all Aaronic Priesthood holders by right (D&C 13:1), and all worthy members of the Church may receive the blessings of this right or responsibility. In other words, the Aaronic Priesthood holder has the responsibility by right to turn the key of the ministering of angels, making it possible for all worthy, covenant keeping members to have the ministering angels.
Sheri Dew : "Endowed, covenant-keeping women have direct access to priesthood power for their own lives" (and, I would add, for those within their stewardship). "What does it mean to have access to priesthood power for our own lives?" It means that w e can receive revelation, be blessed and aided by the ministering of angels, learn to part he veil that separates us from our Heavenly Father, be strengthened to resist temptation, be protected, and be enlightened and made smarter than we are-all without any mortal intermediary."
Joan Chittister: "Without the input of women, humanity sees with only one eye, hears with one ear and thinks with only one half of the human mind." It is often easier and faster to counsel with only those with whom we agree, but coming to a consensus is not the reason for counseling-rather, it's to receive inspiration.