Friday, June 13, 2014

Women and the Priesthood: Quotes and Resources

With all the controversy that's been going on with women and priesthood recently, I had been a little concerned about the difficult questions that the YW might have as we taught the lessons about the priesthood through the month of June.    Then with everything coming to a head this past week, and our ward being the very epicenter of it all (since the founder of OW has lived in our ward for a number of years), I knew that there was no way to avoid facing the controversy head-on.      This study guide, with quotes and resources, was created by a member of my presidency to be a guide for us to use as we prepare our lessons over the next few weeks.    Click here to see resource pages for other potentially difficult topics (with more to come).

"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." 
Elder Neil L. Andersen, Oct. 2013 General Conference  (This one is my favorite!!)

"Elder Dallin H. Oaks cautions us in our references to the priesthood: 'While we sometimes refer to priesthood holders as "the priesthood," we must never forget that the priesthood is not owned by or embodied in those who hold it. It is held in a sacred trust to be used for the benefit of men, women, and children alike.' 
[Daughters in My Kingdom]" Sister Linda K. Burton, "Priesthood: 'A Sacred Trust to Be Used for the Benefit of Men, Women, and Children,'" 2013 BYU Women's Conference

"Priesthood authority functions in both the family and the Church. The priesthood is the power of God used to bless all of His children, male and female. Some of our abbreviated expressions, like “the women and the priesthood,” convey an erroneous idea. Men are not 'the priesthood.' Priesthood meeting is a meeting of those who hold and exercise the priesthood. The blessings of the priesthood, such as baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, the temple endowment, and eternal marriage, are available to men and women alike." 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church," Oct. 2005 General Conference

"Can you imagine how dark and empty mortality would be if there were no priesthood? If the power of the priesthood were not upon the earth, the adversary would have freedom to roam and reign without restraint. There would be no gift of the Holy Ghost to direct and enlighten us; no prophets to speak in the name of the Lord; no temples where we could make sacred, eternal covenants; no authority to bless or baptize, to heal or comfort…. There would be no light, no hope—only darkness." 
Elder Robert D. Hales, "Blessings of the Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 32–34

"In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife. And as husband and wife, a man and a woman should strive to follow our Heavenly Father." 
Elder M. Russell Ballard, "'This Is My Work and My Glory,'" Apr. 2013 General Conference 
"Do not spend time trying to overhaul or adjust God’s plan. We do not have time for such. It is a pointless exercise to try and determine how to organize the Lord’s Church differently. The Lord is at the head of this Church, and we all follow His direction. Both men and women need increased faith and testimony of the life and the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ and increased knowledge of His teachings and doctrine. We need clear minds so that the Holy Ghost can teach us what to do and what to say. We need to think straight in this world of confusion and disregard for the things of God." 
Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Let Us Think Straight," Campus Education Week Devotional, Aug. 2013

"We know so little...about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place. We are accustomed to focusing on the men of God because theirs is the priesthood and leadership line. But paralleling that authority line is a stream of righteous influence reflecting the remarkable women of God who have existed in all ages and dispensations, including our own." 
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "The Women of God," Apr. 1978 General Conference

“It is the unique responsibility of men to act as God’s agents or legal administrators in representing him on earth. … It is this authority which a woman cannot ‘hold.’ Her ‘priesthood’ callings are not elder, bishop, seventy or apostle—but wife, mother, teacher and comforter. These are at least as important and demanding as any of those exercised by men. In honoring these callings, she becomes a true ‘helpmeet’ of ‘Adam’ in his labors in the field." 
Rodney Turner, Woman and the Priesthood, Deseret Book 1973 

"Wives and mothers possess ‘a function as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself." 
Pres. J. Reuben Clark, as quoted in Rodney Turner, Woman and the Priesthood

“Do they [women] hold the priesthood? Yes, in connection with their husbands and they are one with their husbands, but the husband is the head.”

Pres. John Taylor, as quoted in Rodney Turner,Woman and the Priesthood

By divine design, Heavenly Father gave men and women different gifts and abilities to help them fulfill complementary roles as husband and wife. “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. … Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

As stated in the proclamation, fathers and mothers are equal partners, each with different responsibilities and roles. Therefore “equal” does not mean “same” in this sense. Think of an old fashioned balancing scale, where you place items on either side of the scale until each side is balanced and equal. You could for example put a pound of gold on one side and a pound of jelly beans on the other side. They are equal in weight, but still very different from each other. Such are the God given roles of men and women, equal, but different.

Full and equal partnerships. Men and women joined together in marriage need to work together as a full partnership. However, a full and equal partnership between men and women does not imply the roles played by the two sexes are the same in God’s grand design for His children. As the proclamation clearly states, men and women, though spiritually equal, are entrusted with different but equally significant roles. These roles complement each other. Men are given stewardship over the sacred ordinances of the priesthood. To women, God gives stewardship over bestowing and nurturing mortal life, including providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children and guiding those children toward a knowledge of gospel truths. These stewardships, equally sacred and important, do not involve any false ideas about domination or subordination. Each stewardship is essential for the spiritual progression of all family members, parents and children alike.
Elder M. Russel Ballard

Something to Remember

When in doubt, teach doctrine, bear testimony: "A few years ago, my husband and I were invited to a gathering of many experienced Church leaders. A new presiding officer had recently been called, and at the end of the meeting a very difficult and contentious question was asked. Realizing the difficulty of answering the question, my husband and I immediately offered up our sincere prayers to Heavenly Father for this new leader. As he came to the pulpit to respond to the question, I witnessed a visible change in his countenance as he stood majestically, squared his shoulders and spoke with the power of the Lord. His response was something like this: "Brother, I do not know the answer to your question. But I will tell you what I do know. I know that God is our Eternal Father. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and was the instrument through which the power of the priesthood was restored to the earth. I know the Book of Mormon is true and contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know we have a living prophet today who speaks for the Lord to bless our lives." He then continued, "No, I do not know the answer to your question, but these things I know. The rest I take on faith. I try to live this simple statement of faith I learned years ago from Sister Marjorie Hinckley, who said, ‘First I obey, then I understand.’"
  Linda K. Burton, "Priesthood: 'A Sacred Trust to Be Used for the Benefit of Men, Women, and Children,'" 2013 BYU Women's Conference

Object Lesson  
Bring two objects that are used together to accomplish a common goal (like a pencil and paper or hammer and nail). Invite the young women to explain the differences between the objects and how they are used together. Explain that men and women are given different responsibilities that complement (or “complete”) each other to bring about God’s purposes. Invite the young women to describe some of the ways men and women complement each other.

Blessings of the Priesthood/Priesthood Power and Authority
"Blessings of the Priesthood," Elder Robert D. Hales, Oct. 1995 General Conference,

"'This Is My Work and My Glory,'" Elder M. Russell Ballard, Apr. 2013 General Conference,

"Power in the Priesthood," Elder Neal L. Andersen, Oct. 2013 General Conference,

Priesthood: "A Sacred Trust to Be Used for the Benefit of Men, Women, and Children," Sister Linda K. Burton, 2013 BYU Women's Conference,

"The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood," Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apr. 2014 General Conference,

2013 Worldwide Leadership Training: Strengthening the Family and the Church through the Priesthood,

Women and the Priesthood
"Let Us Think Straight," Elder M. Russell Ballard, Campus Education Week Devotional, Aug. 2013,

"Young Women and the Blessings of the Priesthood," Diane L. Mangum, New Era, May 1993,

"Why don’t women hold the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How do Mormon women lead in the Church?" question forum,

Lesson 13: "Women and the Priesthood," The Latter-Day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A

Roles of Women
"The Moral Force of Women," Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Oct. 2013 General Conference,

"The Women of God," Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Apr. 1978 General Conference,

"To the Women of the Church," Pres. Howard W. Hunter, Oct. 1992 General Conference,

"A Woman's Perspective on the Priesthood," Sister Patricia T. Holland, 1980 BYU Women's Conference,


Charlene said...

Hey Lara!
I want to be able to pin this to my pinterest board, but I don't know if I can or just don't know how to??

Lara said...

Here's the link to the "pin" on Pinterest:

andrea said...

Excellent resource! Thanks for putting this together.

Anne Marie said...

Thanks for posting this Lara. Much needed right now. With so much controversy going on right now, it seems a little sad to me that it seems that women aren't understanding our worth and value right now. I love the quote "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."

We as women have the opportunity to birth and raise children. I appreciate that men respect that and aren't complaining about the fact that they can't get pregnant. I'm glad that the men in the church have the opportunity to hold the priesthood. Men need to be respected just as women do. They are different roles because men and women are inherently different. I'm happy with my role, and it'd be nice to see women being grateful for their very divine role as mothers. Let's let the men have something to live up to. Why should we rob them of that???

JLH said...

While I so appreciate the effort that good people have put into addressing this issue with kindness (too often things turn nasty on controversial topics) I just want to throw out there that I feel there is a great deal of misunderstanding on both sides. While I certainly do not agree with the OW approach or most of their arguments, I certainly can see how there could be more opportunities for women in the church that have yet to be realized. We have already seen the church make many advancements towards that, such as women praying in General Conference or the women general presidencies having their pictures up in the conference centre (both of which seemed to be silly things that should have been done long before). In a world plagued by definitions of equality being 'sameness' the church really needs to support both genders to be strong in their roles in order to show those inside the church as well as outside that equality in the Lord's eyes. There has long been a slightly 'invisible' aspect to women in the church that needs to come to light. I'm not suggesting this means we need to bow to extreme feminist views but I am suggesting that there needs to be greater effort to love the diverse strengths inherent in the incredible women in this church.

As for that curtain quote; even when I first heard it, I knew that it would do little to quench curious young women growing up in this debate. The question then becomes - "but why can't I just open the curtains myself? Am I inept?". Trust me, I've already encountered that discussion more than once.

My heart aches to see the public argument on this matter. I am sure that there is still so much that many of us (including those in leadership) do not understand.

I really applaud all the work you did to grasp for more information for your yw just remember to be open (and prepared) to engage in open dialogue with them as they learn to navigate the insane amount of information out there about this (from both sides!).

Valerie said...

Thanks for sharing so much!