Should LDS Women be Allowed to Hold the Priesthood?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me whether I think LDS women will someday be allowed to hold the priesthood. My response to this question is “What would the priesthood give them that they can’t already have? —the power to act in God’s name is not found in the priesthood!”

Just because LDS leaders claim that the priesthood is the power to act in God’s name does not make it so. The truth, as revealed by Jesus Himself, is that the power and authority to act in God’s name comes directly from the Holy Ghost. And, women receive it the same exact way men do!

I haven’t always believed this truth. When I was LDS I never questioned that God’s authority came from the Priesthood. In the Church it is always simply stated as a fact: “What is the priesthood? (The power and authority given by our Heavenly Father to all of his sons who accept and live the gospel.)” (Young Women Lesson 10 “The Priesthood: A Great Blessing”) When you are told all your life that this is where God’s power and authority is dispensed, it’s hard to even comprehend that another possibility exists.

It wasn’t until I did a thorough Bible study on “authority” and “power” that I discovered the truth! Scripture declares that God alone determines who is given His power and how they receive it: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). During Old Testament times, God gave certain facets of His power and authority to Priests who acted in His name. After Christ was resurrected, this line of authority was abolished.

Today, it is not through the priesthood that God dispenses His power and authority. God’s power is given to every person the Holy Spirit brings to faith—women as well as men! We read about this truth from the words of Jesus Himself. After Jesus was resurrected, He ministered to His followers for forty days—one instance over 500 men saw Him. Despite the fact that Jesus had already given His Apostles “power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases;” after His resurrection He promised them something even more!

He testified that they would be given a new kind of power: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” According to Jesus, the Apostles did not yet have “power from on high”. Just prior to Jesus’ ascension he testified: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Luke 24:49 & Acts 1:8a).

Just as Jesus had promised, on the day of Pentecost “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The Apostle Peter declared that this power fulfilled the prophesy:

“that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2)

The power that Jesus promised “would come upon you” is the power of the Holy Ghost! As the prophet Joel prophesied during Old Testament times, this power would be given to “sons and daughters” and “on my handmaidens”. This power is given to men and women of all nationality! This power is the Holy Ghost and He actually dwells inside of all who have been given faith in Jesus.

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21)

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2010 LDS Curriculum: Comparing the Words of Prophets & Apostles

I was born into a devout Mormon family where I learned to dedicate my life to following the words of my prophets and apostles. My fifth generation grandfather, John Patten, was the first member of my family to become Mormon. He converted his brother David W. Patten, who became one of the original twelve apostles under Joseph Smith. The year before I was born, my Dad was ordained as Stake President of the Missoula Montana Stake by Apostles Spencer W. Kimball and Mark E. Peterson. Over the next ten years one of the Apostles or a member of the Seventy would visit our home during each Stake Conference.

My earliest memory of an Apostle is of one who visited our home. This experience is what really taught me the folly of not trusting the words of the prophets. I had a loose tooth and the Apostle (I don’t remember who it was) offered to give me a dollar if I would let him pull it out. Even though He promised that my tooth was very loose and that he would be very gentle, I still didn’t believe him. To encourage my trust, he let me take the dollar until I was ready for him to pull it out. I remember holding that bill in my little hands all through Conference as I tried to muster up enough courage. But I just couldn’t do it. After Conference I had to give him back the dollar as we said goodbye. Then, the worst thing happened. On the way home from Church—my tooth was so loose it fell out! I was so upset that I hadn’t been able to trust him. My father used that experience as an opportunity to teach me the importance of always trusting in and following the words of the Apostles.

Looking back, I realize what a blessing it was to have believed in absolute adherence to the words of my prophets and apostles. Because I believed their words, I poured over the pages of LDS scripture and literature looking for help. Because of their words, I trusted that the only way to gain forgiveness was through my works. It was my complete failure at following their requirements for repentance that caused me to give up. If I had not failed over and over again for so many years, I would not have found the truth that their words are false. And, most importantly, I might never have opened my heart to the truth. I might never have heard that all my sins were forgiven through Christ’s shed blood. I might never have known the joy that I now live daily—serving my Lord Jesus out of gratitude for what He has done for me.

Amazingly, I once again believe in absolute adherence to the words of prophets and apostles. But this time my trust is placed in God’s prophets and apostles—not false ones. Because of all I have found, I desire to share my joy with others. Over the next few days I will be posting five or six new “Pages” which will follow along with various Lessons being taught in the 2010 LDS Curriculum. These pages will provide a few direct quotes from the Lessons as well as links to each Lesson on lds.org. The main purpose of these pages is to provide reference material for many of the Posts I will be writing.

One reason I want to provide quotes from official LDS literature is because I have spoken to many LDS members who don’t seem to know what their prophets and apostles teach. An article in the January Ensign about using the new Gospel Principles Manual in Relief Society and Priesthood gave me some understanding:

“Why the Change in Curriculum? Since we first began using Teachings, millions of people have joined the Church. Many of them have tender testimonies and, with relatively limited experience in the Church, will benefit greatly by a focus on the fundamentals of the gospel. In addition, all Church members will benefit by a return to the basics. A careful study of core doctrines as presented in the new and improved Gospel Principles manual will help members strengthen their understanding of the fundamental teachings of the gospel.”

Another reason for providing the Pages with official LDS quotes is that there are many non-members who don’t understand the teachings of the LDS gospel. Many non-members have LDS friends or family and are genuinely confused as to the differences between LDS and Christian beliefs. As a volunteer with Truth in Love Ministry I have spoken at numerous Christian Seminars across the country. When teaching Mormon doctrine to Christians, I believe it is important to use LDS literature to do so. It is the best way to understand official LDS beliefs. It is also the easiest way to show how the LDS Church uses a different dictionary for many of the words used by Christians.

My favorite reason for following along with the LDS curriculum is to help those who are leaving Mormonism. There are few things more thrilling than interacting with LDS members who have come to trust in free and full forgiveness through the blood of their Savior!! I have the joy of corresponding with LDS members who are at various stages of coming to know the truth. For these new babes in faith, it is so helpful to learn from someone who has already walked the path that they have just begun. Simple explanations showing the differences between Mormonism and Christianity help clear up unnecessary confusion.

But maybe the most important reason for providing “Pages” with the words of LDS apostles and prophets is found in scripture—we are told to “test” their words with God’s already revealed scripture. Even if an angel from heaven preaches a gospel that is different than what has already been taught, we must not believe him:

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)

Did Jesus Create Every Thing Out of Nothing?

I never really had an interest in art until I found a medium I fell in love with—glass. Once I began working with all the delectable colors and textures of glass I was hooked. My passion for creating glass art has been a part of my life for over twenty-three years now. It became such a passion that when I lived in Virginia I converted my bedroom into a work studio. It was the only space I had available so I got rid of my bed and slept on a mattress that could be moved into a closet during the day. My love for working with glass quickly evolved into a business and I began doing commissioned windows and teaching classes. I absolutely love making glass panels that are uniquely my own creations—using my own design as well as picking out which glass to use.

What is interesting is that once I am finished with the piece I have created, I have no more interest in it. In fact, I only have one panel on display in my house and that is one I made for my oldest daughter who doesn’t have any place to keep it.

Reading the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson: “The Creation” caused me to think about the comparisons between how I “create” my glass art with how God “created” our world. I realized that as an artist, the way I “create” art is similar to Joseph Smith’s explanation of how God “created” the earth. When I “create” a piece of glass art I am really just “organizing” already existing materials into an original piece of art. I pick out specific glass, cutting it into the shapes I desire; and then use foil and solder it all together into its final form. According to LDS doctrine, this is exactly how God “created” the world we live on:

“Was the earth created out of nothing? (See Abraham 3:24; 4:1.) The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The word create came from the [Hebrew] word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 350–51).”

When I was LDS I never questioned the LDS belief that God used already existing materials to organize the world—that He didn’t create “every thing” out of “nothing”. At the time, I certainly didn’t realize how this false teaching was merely one of many that diminish the amazing power of our God. Today, I am so thankful that my eyes have been opened to the truth. And, I am especially thrilled with some of the new passions God has given me. My love for creating glass art pales in comparison with my passion for studying God’s Word and sharing His truth with others. My God is the love of my life and every time I read scripture He speaks to me personally. If there is something that God wants me to understand, I trust that I will find the answer in His Word.

What did our loving God reveal to us in scripture about creation? Did Jesus merely “organize” already existing material when our world was created, or did He create “every thing” out of “nothing”? Digging into scripture to find the answer to these questions has thrilled me. Doing so has reminded me of just how amazing and powerful my Lord is.

God’s Word testifies that Jesus created “every thing” out of “nothing”—everything visible and invisible! Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1).

The Apostle John’s testimony verifies Paul’s: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

Just look around you to see a glimpse of the world’s most amazing artist. It is a blessing to know how glorious Jesus is. When He created our world, He did so out of nothing—merely by speaking. When I “create’ a piece of art, I have to use materials that someone else has made; out of materials that were originally created by Jesus.

By far the most comforting aspect of our Savior is that unlike me, He didn’t loose interest in His creation once He was finished. The Apostle John revealed Jesus’ testimony:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Believe it, and receive it!