I have been told by some sisters that just as the men have a problem teaching and studying the yearly lesson on the women of the Church, so to do the women have a problem on the lesson on the priesthood. Hopefully we can remedy that this time.
Here is a quote from the lesson:
The priesthood is here. . . . We know, for we have seen, the power of this priesthood. We have seen the sick healed, the lame made to walk, and the coming of light and knowledge and understanding to those who have been in darkness.
I included this quote because sometimes we limit the priesthood to blessings and healings, but it is so much more. When President Hinckley says that it is because of the priesthood that we experienced the “coming of the light and knowledge and understanding to those who have been in darkness” he is referring to everything that comes because of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
All revelation comes from the Holy Ghost. This is a blessing shared by all in the Church, not just those who have been given priesthood responsibility. We owe everything to this one priesthood blessing shared universally throughout the Church. We have prayers answered, doctrines of salvation, temple covenants, personal daily guidance to bless our lives, and so much more. All of this is available to every member of the Church because we have the priesthood authority to properly baptize.
The whole world had the Bible available to them before Joseph’s First Vision, but only after the priesthood was restored did we receive the fulness of the blessings of the restoration of Christ’s Church. The world was in spiritual darkness until the priesthood returned the light of understanding through the Holy Ghost.
The membership of the Church needs to understand that the blessings of the priesthood are equally shared by all. Only duties within the offices of the priesthood are the responsibility of the men. Women receive all the blessings without having the responsibility in the offices of the priesthood. Those who have responsibilities in the offices of the priesthood are under solemn obligation to bless everyone with the gifts the priesthood brings. The women’s only responsibility is to support the work of the priesthood and uphold and sustain their priesthood leaders, something the men are also charged with.
The power of the priesthood comes directly from God. With the sealing power restored, it is the only power that can have an effect on eternity itself. Any power on earth outside the priesthood power has its end upon death. Only the power of the priesthood can maintain unions and break bonds that stay in affect in the hereafter.
The priesthood is more than just the power given to men to act in God’s name. The priesthood is the organization or structure the Lord uses to govern his people. It is an actual form of a government. As such it can be presented in various forms. In the scriptures we have seen it take the form of a patriarchal order, being passed from father to son. We have also seen it presented as the Law of Moses, a lesser priesthood order used to govern the affairs of God’s covenant people. We also have seen it presented as a Melchizedek order where the people in the Church lived with all things in common.
President Hinckley refers to the priesthood as a “living thing.” This is why. It can be adapted to meet the needs of God’s people and still handle all their physical and spiritual needs. Just as it is important for every person living in a country to know and understand the government under which they live, so too should every member of the Lord’s Church learn about the priesthood government under which the Lord directs His affairs on earth.
The difference between the governments of the earth and the government given to us through the Lord, is that the Lord’s government is divinely created to bless the lives of His people. Through the Lord’s priesthood government structure our needs are not only met physically but spiritually. This is accomplished through the use of the priesthood itself, the auxiliary organizations in the Church, and such programs as home and visiting teaching. No part of our individual and social needs are left unaddressed in the Lord’s kingdom.
One of the secrets of the priesthood that we don’t yet fully understand is that righteous use of the priesthood and its power creates spiritual power that will someday allow our Father to give us dominions over which we will preside, both men and women. And it is our righteous use of His priesthood authority that will allow us to maintain and control our kingdoms/dominions forever, and all without any compulsion. Obedience will be given to us willingly because of our righteousness in the use of God’s priesthood power.
Heaven operates under the patriarchal order, as do the temples. In the patriarchal order women also hold and exercise priesthood responsibilities. It is important to remember that just as the priesthood governs the affairs of God’s covenant children on earth, it also governs His work in the spirit world. The aim and purpose of all His work with the priesthood is the salvation of His children.
Unlike almost any other dispensation in the history of the world, the priesthood of God is universally available to all men everywhere. The only requirement is their personal willingness to obey the commandments of God. This sacred privilege is available regardless of educational background, wealth, or social status. We know of no other time in the history of the world when the priesthood was so universally available to all of God’s children.
It is important that every man who receives the priesthood, and every woman who wants to understand the priesthood, realize that possessing priesthood authority does not bring with it priesthood power. Power in the priesthood can come only through righteous living.
Even though those in authority lay hands upon our heads and we are ordained, we may through our behavior nullify and forfeit any right to exercise this divine authority.
. . . “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (D&C 121:41–42).
Most of us haven’t really considered that the priesthood is to be part of us like being able to see, or to feel with our fingers. It is something that affects us all the time and in all circumstances. Like our senses, the priesthood is not something we can lay aside to be picked up and used later. Through the Holy Ghost, it is a part of us from the moment we first receive the rights to it. It is like a third eye, if you will, allowing us to see what the physical eye cannot see and comprehend what the mind cannot fathom on its own. This is what makes the blessings of the priesthood divine in nature. It requires the use of the Holy Ghost.
President Hinckley defined magnifying our priesthood as being “responsible for the welfare and the growth and development of others.” This includes the sisters, who perform their visiting teaching responsibilities and their Primary/YW/RS responsibilities under the direction of the priesthood.
Home teaching then requires that we are responsible for tending to the growth and development of those we visit. We cannot just visit and assume they will take care of themselves. It becomes our calling and responsibility to actively encourage fruitful change in their lives, changes that will bless them and bring them joy in the gospel of Christ. We will all be held accountable for the execution of our responsibilities in our priesthood callings.
It is a sacred responsibility to hold the authority of God. Priesthood holders should take special care to avoid anything in their lives that will drag them down and invite and entice them to corrupt themselves with sin. It behooves every man and woman of this Church to carefully study section 4 of this lesson in the manual. There is great and important counsel and dire warnings given by the prophet that every man needs to heed, and about which every woman needs to be familiar.
I will close with a great quote from President Hinckley about the power of the priesthood in the marriages of our people.
The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.
There is strength and great capacity in the women of this Church. There is leadership and direction, a certain spirit of independence, and yet great satisfaction in being a part of this, the Lord’s kingdom, and of working hand in hand with [holders of] the priesthood to move it forward.