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Robert Millet on Women and the Priesthood

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First, let me say that Women and the Priesthood is a book that the men of the Church should engage; it is a superb treatment of what the priesthood is and what it is not, what it entitles a person to do and what it does not. My experience is that holders of the priesthood will find it both inspiring and instructive. 

Chapter 6 reinforces strongly several points that are made throughout the book—that God our Heavenly Father loves his daughters as much as he loves his sons; that men are in no way preferred over women in the eyes of God; that the right to divine guidance and heavenly direction, communion with the Infinite, is not gender specific, and that the blessings associated with the priesthood are available to all of us, men and women alike, married and single, divorced and widowed. Indeed, the highest spiritual endowments of our faith—the fullness of the priesthood, administered only in holy temples—are received by a man and a woman together. When I read 1 Corinthians 12, Moroni 10, or D&C 46, I do not see anything within those sacred teachings that suggests that any woman who has been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost and is in the line of her duty, may not enjoy such spiritual gifts as the testimony of Jesus, faith, knowledge, wisdom, the gift to teach wisdom and knowledge, discernment, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, the ministry of angels, the gifts of administration, tongues, the working of miracles, and surely a multitude of other gifts that are readily available but not mentioned specifically.  

Nor do I notice an asterisk alongside the gift of healing with a footnote that explains that this particular gift is in reality a gift reserved for the holders of the priesthood. While in our day the rite of administering to the sick is an ordinance of the priesthood to be undertaken only by those properly ordained, no woman is barred from seeking by faith the gift of healing, the gift to pray or act mightily in behalf of the sick or afflicted or distressed or burdened. In referring to the manner in which each of us is called at some time or another to teach the gospel, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland pointed out that the Lord’s call to us “is for a certain kind of teacher, a teacher who in the process heals. . . . I am not talking about formal use of the priesthood, or administration of the sick, or any such thing as that. . . . But I do believe Christ wants our teaching to lead to healing of the spiritual kind. . . . As with the Master, wouldn’t it be wonderful to measure the success of your teaching by the healing that takes place in the lives of your students? . . . Rather than just giving a lesson, please try a little harder to help that blind basketball star really see, or the deaf homecoming queen really hear, or the privately lame student body president really walk.” (Trusting Jesus, Deseret Book, 2003, 31; emphasis added.)

When John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in May of 1829, he conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood, and with that priesthood came the right to the ministry of angels, as well as the gospel of repentance and baptism (D&C 13). The men of the Church have been taught regularly by the apostles and prophets that holders of that priesthood, when they are worthily in the line of their duty, may enjoy the ministering of angels in their work and daily ministries. But this priesthood opened up such a privilege to men and women alike, as over 180 years of spiritual experience throughout the Church testifies. Mormon explained that angels “are subject unto [Christ], to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith, and a firm mind in every form of godliness” (Moroni 7:30). Note that Mormon’s prerequisite for receiving the ministry of angels is a solid and spiritually mature life, a countenance that reflects the image of Him whom we as Christians represent. 

I am especially appreciative for Sister Dew’s careful emphasis upon what the prophets continue to reinforce—that the priesthood of Almighty God is not a man or a group of men or even male administration. It is God’s own power, delegated, to be sure, to his sons to act in his name, but a source of unspeakable power that is freely available to women and men, girls and boys alike, for our beloved Father in heaven is surely no respecter of persons (Acts 10; Romans 2:11; Colossians 3:25). 


Robert L. Millet is Abraham O. Smoot University Professor and professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. He taught with LDS Seminaries and Institutes before joining the BYU faculty in 1983. He is a popular speaker and prolific writer and coauthor of the landmark volume LDS Beliefs: A Doctrinal Reference.


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In Women and the Priesthood, beloved author Sheri Dew explores the doctrines surrounding a topic that is crucial for both women and men to understand: the role of women in the LDS Church and their relationship with the priesthood.

Key discussions include the varying responsibilities of men and women in the context of key doctrine of the Church and the eternal truths that women are vital to the success of the Lord's church, that God expects women to receive revelation, and that both men and women have access to God's highest spiritual blessings.

This enlightening book shows how studying the doctrine of the priesthood will help you find the answers you seek about women and the priesthood, about women in the Church, and about the vital influence righteous women can have in the world. Get it now Deseret Book

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