Author's note . . . when I wrote this a couple years ago, it was according to my best understanding at the time. And although I continue to stand behind most of what is written, I have come to understand since then that women DO have priesthood authority and it is this priesthood authority that allows women as well as men to participate in the work of salvation. I will write more about this at a future date, but for anyone interested now, please check out the talk given at General Conference by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, April 2014, The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood.
In regard to all the chatter about the ordain women movement, there are a few things I hope you will keep in mind.
First—Remember our purpose here on earth. We are here to learn to become like our Heavenly Father so that we can return to live with Him and qualify for all the blessings that He has to give. Our goal truly is to become like God. We do this by following the example of His Son and diligently striving to develop His attributes.
Motherhood and the Relief Society program are both part of a woman’s spiritual tutorial in Godhood. As we selflessly give of ourselves as mothers and learn to love and serve others through the Relief Society program, we are developing godlike attributes—charity, patience, selfless service, sacrifice, kindness, humility, knowledge, just to name a few.
Fatherhood and the Priesthood are the spiritual tutorials for men to help them develop godlike attributes. As they serve as fathers and in their priesthood responsibilities, they too are developing charity, patience, selfless service, humility, knowledge etc. Both the Relief Society program and the Priesthood are separate but equal opportunities for every person to specifically learn to become like our Heavenly Father in ways that best benefit each gender. One is not better, neither is one less. They both have the exact same purpose, and both, if applied in our lives, will help us obtain the exact same blessing—Eternal Life.
Second— The oath and covenant of the priesthood found in D&C 84, not only pertains to priesthood authority, but also to priesthood ordinances. Although women are not ordained to priesthood offices, and therefore do not have priesthood authority, through their righteousness they may receive every blessing available to men—in the exact same way men do—through making and keeping priesthood ordinances and covenants.
Therefore, when the scripture says “whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods . . . “ (D&C 84:34) it not only refers to men who obtain priesthood authority through ordination, but ALL people of BOTH genders who obtain priesthood ordinances.
The ordinance of the Aaronic Priesthood is baptism. This is available freely to men and women equally. The ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood are the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the ordinances available in the temple. All of which are available equally to women as they are to men. The only qualifier is personal righteousness.
The blessings of receiving these priesthood ordinances are exactly the same for men as they are for women—both are promised Eternal Life with our Heavenly Father, or in other words, God’s life—with all power, knowledge and authority that He has.
A man is not promised more or less than a woman, and a woman is not promised more or less than a man. And in fact, Godhood, the crowning blessing on the covenant path, is ONLY available to a man and a woman TOGETHER who have been sealed in the temple, and have honored their covenants through magnifying their callings—as mother and father, and as a woman and a man. No man can obtain it alone, nor can any woman.
Third—A word of caution. Again, remember our purpose here on earth is to learn to become like our Heavenly Father by following Christ’s example. In the pre-mortal world, when Heavenly Father announced His plan for our progression, the Savior willingly submitted to His Father’s will and agreed to be our Savior, with the glory going to the Father. However—by willingly submitting to God’s will, the Savior obtained all the blessings of Heavenly Father, which included glory, power and authority.
Satan on the other hand, was not willing to submit and sought to overthrow God’s will in order to obtain personal power and glory. Yet, in the end he found himself outside the plan of salvation without any power (that we don’t give him over us) and without any glory. When we strive to impose our will on God for our personal glory and gain, we will in the end, like Satan, lose everything.
In conclusion--The ONLY way for any of us to have power, authority and glory, the ONLY way to have happiness in this life and in the next and the ONLY way to have Eternal Life—the greatest of all the gifts of God—is through developing Christlike attributes through the making and keeping of sacred priesthood covenants. And one of the very best ways to keep those covenants, and therefore develop those attributes is through our gender specific God given tutorials—priesthood authority, the Relief Society and parenthood.