In every Relief Society lesson I can remember, a lesson on the Priesthood only went as far as discussing the offices. Being women, we never seemed to get straight who received keys, what order the offices were in, or what exactly was the responsibility given to the men.
The Priesthood session of the April 1972 conference, clearly geared toward all men and boys, focused much on duty, obedience, and responsibility. So, it was interesting for me to compare how the messages were delivered differently in 2016 from 1972. The doctrine remains the same as always, but today, women should wisely understand how the priesthood isn’t just for men. The priesthood is here to bless, and enhance, the lives of all men, women, and children.
During our recent General Conference (April 2016), I was struck by how many of our leaders spoke on the power of the priesthood during the general session. That it should be used more frequently, that we can all benefit from it more, and that life wouldn’t be what it is without this mighty power from God. All of us, both male and female, were encouraged to use the priesthood more in our lives each day.
The doctrine of the priesthood was spoken clearly back in April of 1972. As I have come to understand the priesthood better, and seen ways that I can tap into its power more regularly, I feel personal responsibility to use the priesthood more effectively in my own life. I’ve captured three ways we might look at the messages to strengthen our testimonies of priesthood power.
THE PRIESTHOOD IS THE POWER OF GOD ADMINISTERED BY HIS SERVANT, THE PROPHET
President Joseph Fielding Smith, our prophet in 1972, said,
“Now, brethren, I think there is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord.”
Elder Marion G. Romney said,
“You always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he tells you to do something wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. … You don’t need to worry, however; the Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead his people astray.”
We have a prophet on the earth today who speaks for Jesus Christ, whose church this is. This past conference, we again heard contrary votes amongst the congregation who “proudly” refused to sustain the prophet and apostles. This is a fundamental point in the doctrine of the priesthood. If we truly believe the priesthood is power from God then surely we believe that he has organized His church on the earth with a spokesman to set all things in order.
THE PRIESTHOOD ENCOURAGES CHOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Women understand the great responsibility the men have in bearing the priesthood, but likewise, we are under similar condemnation if we refuse to respond to, respect, and represent this power of authority.
Pres. N. Eldon Tanner, of the 1972 First Presidency said, “Your actions may be keeping people out of the Church, and I am sure you wouldn’t be happy about that.” I’m continually amazed at the many stories of how non-Mormons view Mormons; that there is often a high regard and expectation of conduct, but many members ruin the church’s reputation because of faulty representation on their part. He further stated:
“We are having come into the Church now many people of various nationalities. We in the Church must remember that we have a history of persecution, discrimination against our civil rights, and our constitutional privileges being withheld from us. These who are members of the Church, regardless of their color, their national origin, are members of the church and kingdom of God. Some of them have told us that they are being shunned. There are snide remarks. We are withdrawing ourselves from them in some cases. Now we must extend the hand of fellowship to men [and women] everywhere, and to all who are truly converted and who wish to join the church and partake of the many rewarding opportunities to be found therein. To those who may not now have the priesthood, we pray that the blessings of Jesus Christ may be given to them to the full extent that it is possible for us to give them. Meanwhile, we ask the Church members to strive to emulate the example of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, who gave us the new commandment that we should love one another. I wish we could remember that.”
This plea brings to mind the new Church initiative: “I am a Stranger.” We women have power and authority to save souls and reach out to those who are lost. It is by this power that we can use the priesthood to initiate worldwide change, because God is with us as we fill the world with goodness, good choices, and genuine love.
THE PRIESTHOOD BRINGS US SAFETY
Eldon Tanner’s address could have been given in our latest conference.
“Some seem to think that with the looseness and trends in the world today affecting the thinking of some of our youth and even some of our bishops and stake presidents, we are altogether too strict in the teaching of morals when we see what is going on all around us. In fact, we are accused of being prigs, which to me means narrow-minded persons who assume superior virtue and wisdom Judged by the ways of the world, probably we are prigs.
“Are we going to lose faith, deny modern revelation, modernize our way of life to be like the world? Or are we going to be a peculiar people and honor and magnify our priesthood and do our duty?”
It’s frankly a little shocking to hear Pres. Tanner use the term “prigs,” however, there is no mistaking his point. We should be proud of that distinction of being odd, or different; unlike what the world is becoming.
Pres. Harold B. Lee was also quite frank when he reminded fathers of their responsibility to safeguard their families:
“We are discovering that the only way to get home teaching over, or to get family home evening going, or attendance at sacrament meeting, or to have more temple marriages or temple attendance, is to make sure that the holder of the priesthood in the home magnifies his priesthood; and until he can realize the importance of the priesthood of God, which gives him the power of Almighty God to act through him, that home is not going to be secure. We must impress upon every father that he will be held responsible for the eternal welfare of his family.”
“As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in ‘the ideal of the man who puts his family first.’ We believe that “by divine design, 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.” We believe that in their complementary family duties, ‘fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.’ We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.”
As life on mortal earth begins to wind down, do we choose to listen more carefully to our prophets, set a better example of righteousness around us, and keep our families safe? This is what we were taught 44 years ago, and still taught last week during conference. Our leaders are inspired by our God. We are subject to those who want the very best for us as we all strive to find happiness and joy.
The Position of the Church Nathaniel Givens
The Power of God Resting upon the Leaders of this Church Daniel Ortner
Remembering the Stranger Walker Wright
We Are a Peculiar People Chastity Wilson
A Woman-centered Church SilverRain