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)