LDS Women and the Priesthood

Examining Equality, Women, and the Priesthood

Women & the Priesthood

A concern many advocates of female ordination have is that because men “have” the priesthood and women “don’t,” the blessings of the priesthood are being withheld from women. This worry is unfounded. As Elder Oaks explained, “Priesthood power blesses all of us. Priesthood keys direct women as well as men, and priesthood ordinances and priesthood authority pertain to women as well as men.” Another important distinction he outlines is that “men are not ‘the priesthood.’ Men hold the priesthood, with a sacred duty to use it for the blessing of all the children of God.”

Another teaching from Elder M. Russell Ballard adds this insight: “When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which is priesthood power. … Access to the power and the blessings of the priesthood is available to all of God’s children.”

And in her new book, Women and the Priesthood, former Relief Society General Presidency second counselor Sheri Dew shares this invaluable insight about the difference between priesthood keys, authority, and power: “Priesthood keys authorize saving ordinances. Priesthood authority is required to perform those ordinances. Priesthood power is available to all who receive those ordinances.” Thus, anyone, regardless of gender, who has successfully received a saving ordinance has the privilege of having direct access to priesthood power for their own life and responsibilities.

Equality & Women in the Church

The basis for the question about why LDS women don’t hold the priesthood is rooted in the larger concern that inequalities exist between men and women in the Church, and the feeling that women are treated like “second-class citizens.” Some women in the church do feel this way, and when broaching this subject, it is important never to belittle how a person feels. But instead of focusing on what women “don’t get,” consider the following statements from authoritative figures about what women do get in the LDS church:

President Hinckley said it this way: “People wonder what we do for our women. I will tell you what we do: we get out of their way and look with wonder at what they are accomplishing.”

Sheri Dew explains this concept further in this now-viral clip taken from a Time Out For Women talk she gave in Salt Lake City:

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