Tag Archives: Priesthood

A few thoughts on Relief Society & Priesthood (from Chapter 8)


President Spencer W. Kimball, the twelfth President of the Church, said, “There is a power in this organization [of Relief Society] that has not yet been fully exercised to strengthen the homes of Zion and build the Kingdom of God—nor will it until both the sisters and the priesthood catch the vision of Relief Society.”

Priesthood quorums organize men in a brotherhood to give service, to learn and carry out their duties, and to study the doctrines of the gospel. Relief Society accomplishes these same purposes for the women of the Church.

It hadn’t quite dawned on me to ask why priesthood-holding men were organized into groups; I just knew they were according to the scriptures. But yes, why? Well, to organize service, to teach each other, to study, to counsel. And yes, that is exactly what the Relief Society does as well. We are an organized, authorized, energized group of women ready to do the work of the gospel.


Search results for “Blood” and “Garments”


Tonight at study group we are studying some places in the Book of Mormon where a priest says that if they don’t teach the people, the sins of the people will be on their garments. (Jacob 1:19 and Mosiah 2:28 particularly, though also Mormon 9:35 and Ether 12:38)

So I thought I’d do a search for “Blood” and “Garments” first, just to see what interesting results there might be.

So far I am seeing these categories:

  1. Aaron being sprinkled with blood in order to sanctify his clothes, the temple, etc.
  2. Blood on garments because there was just a war, or saying there will be blood on garments because a war coming soon
  3. (Similar to #2) Someone is unclean because they have touched blood
  4. (interesting: Women with issue of blood touches garment
  5. Garments made white through Christ’s blood
  6. Blood of another’s sins upon priest’s garments
  7. Garments made clean from the blood of this generation (D&C 88)

Talks by Elder Oaks on Priesthood (just collecting them in a list)


There’s more, certainly, but these are a few I want to refer to often:

2005: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/priesthood-authority-in-the-family-and-the-church?lang=eng

2010: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/two-lines-of-communication?lang=eng

2014: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/power-in-the-priesthood?lang=eng

I also found this 1992 talk on the Relief Society, quoting a lot from the early minutes. Here are a few passages which either highlight how I see it anticipates his later talk in 2014, or that I just find intriguing:

“To save souls opens the whole field of human activity and development,” Elder John A. Widtsoe later declared. “Relief of poverty, relief of illness; relief of doubt, relief of ignorance—relief of all that hinders the joy and progress of woman. What a magnificent commission!” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987, p. 308.)

Here the Prophet declared that the Relief Society was to receive instruction and direction from the priesthood leaders who presided over their activities. Like the quorums of priesthood holders in the Church, the Relief Society was to be self-governing, but it was not to be an independent organization. It was an integral part of the Church, not a separate church for women.

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, … that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority. Authority and Priesthood are two different things. A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord.” (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1959, p. 4.)

No priesthood keys were delivered to the Relief Society. Keys are conferred on individuals, not organizations. The same is true of priesthood authority and of the related authority exercised under priesthood direction. Organizations may channel the exercise of such authority, but they do not embody it. Thus, the priesthood keys were delivered to the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, not to any organizations. (See Topical Guide, “Priesthood, keys of.”)

Under the priesthood authority of the bishop, the president of a ward Relief Society presides over and directs the activities of the Relief Society in the ward. A stake Relief Society president presides and exercises authority over the function to which she has been called. The same is true for the other auxiliaries. Similarly, women called as missionaries are set apart to go forth with authority to teach the everlasting gospel, and women called to work in a temple are given authority for the sacred functions to which they have been called. All function under the direction of the priesthood leader who has been given the priesthood keys to direct those who labor in his area of responsibility.

In considering the Prophet’s instructions to the first Relief Society, we should remember that in those earliest days in Church history more revelation was to come. Thus, when he spoke to the sisters about the appropriateness of their laying on hands to bless one another, the Prophet cautioned “that the time had not been before that these things could be in their proper order—that the Church is not now organized in its proper order, and cannot be until the Temple is completed.” (Minutes, 28 Apr. 1842, p. 36.) During the century that followed, as temples became accessible to most members, “proper order” required that these and other sacred practices be confined within those temples.

Some leaders at various levels of the Church have neglected to apply these basic principles. Some have failed to have the regular consultation with auxiliary leaders that is specified in our Church handbooks of instruction. President Spencer W. Kimball taught the governing principle to the priesthood leaders of the Church when he said: “Our sisters do not wish to be indulged or to be treated condescendingly; they desire to be respected and revered as our sisters and our equals. I mention all these things, my brethren, not because the doctrines or the teachings of the Church regarding women are in any doubt, but because in some situations our behavior is of doubtful quality.” (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 49.)


“Priest unto”


I just want to think about that phrasing. What does it meant to be a priest “unto” someone or something?

A quick search shows that (I think) these are the references that have the exact words “priest unto”:

  • Judges 18:19

    19 And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?

  • 1 Kings 2:27

    27 So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord; that he might fulfil the word of the Lord, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.

  • Ezekiel 44:13

    13 And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed.

 

This quick (and not conclusive) search has two uses of “unto.” Two results seem to use “unto” to refer to who you are under, who you serve, what order you are apart of, etc. But one result seems to use “unto” to refer to which group you are over. I suppose these aren’t mutually exclusive uses here:

God

Priest (serves God) (serves people)

People

But I still want to think about what the difference really is by saying a priest serves unto God or a priest serves unto a people.

More to think about…


Priestess in my family


I’m a sloppy blog writer, so apologizes as always —

There are so many ways in which my role as a mom (parent) over my children is similar to the role of the priest over a group of people. The Book of Mormon’s priests considered the sins of the people to be their fault unless the priests taught the people sufficiently. D&C 68 states that if parents do not teach their children to understand the gospel by age 8, the sins of the children will be on the heads of their parents. That’s a striking similarity, I believe. And a serious one. I never want to just write about these things to say “hey look women are cool too” — I want to seriously think through what work God has given me.

In addition, the temple gives certain roles, gifts, powers, and knowledge  to me that certainly give me a responsibility. It may be that these are not exercised fully outside of the temple, or family, or callings within a priesthood structure, but they are certainly still serious.

In addition to those thoughts, I am so struck, maybe even convinced, that the Book of Moses sets up Eve and Adam as a two-person priesthood pair that presides over their family. It is only after there is a righteous son and grandson, in a sea of wicked family members, that the word “priesthood” actually appears. This priesthood seems to be a structure set up to induce preaching in each generation, by those called of God and with authority to perform ordinances. But within each family, there is potentially a mother and a father with the same roles and rights and responsibilities that Eve and Adam had.

That is, I think it is fair to say that each woman is a priestess within her own family, and this is especially the case if she has been to the temple to be initiated and endowed.

Recently I reviewed this Primary song. You’re familiar with it. It says, “Mine is a home where ev’ry hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood pow’r, With father and mother leading the way.” Mine is a home where every hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood power. That is your responsibility, sisters, to help your home be a home that is blessed every hour by priesthood power. It isn’t just when Dad is there. It’s not just when Mom is there. It’s not just when a priesthood ordinance or blessing is being performed. It’s every hour as covenants are kept. –Julie Beck

 

 


Priesthood lineage


I’ve thought a lot about D&C 107’s claim that the Melchizedek Priesthood was originally designed to be passed from father and son to the chosen seed. I’ve wondered how this is or isn’t connected to other promises about a chosen seed, such as ones to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Joseph. Lehi tells his son Joseph that Joseph of old was promised that his seed would never die out, and would be alive to the end of the earth. Not only that, he was promised that his see would be the  seed which was promised to be alive to the end of the earth.

D&C 107 says that the Melchizedek Priesthood — well, the keys of it — “rightly belongs” to the chosen seed. It’s stated something like “it should go to them, and belongs to them, but since they aren’t around right now, we’re going to let you guys help out too.” It sounds similar to the way thing work with the Aaronic priesthood keys. It rightly belongs to the descendants of Aaron, but in the meanwhile, anyone with the Melchizedek priesthood can fill in.

Today I found again that D&C 86 describes Joseph Smith of being in the chosen lineage. That is so very, very fascinating and I have to do some more thinking about that. If things work as it sounds like, that would mean he would be a part of the one, chosen, special line promised to prophets of old. It could also be that there are many many chosen lines, since Abraham was promised seed as numerous as the sands of the sea.

Either way, the promise of this chosen seed is that they have the responsibility to preach the gospel, administer ordinances, and bless all the families of the earth. Which is certainly what Joseph Smith did.

 


 Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers—

 For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—

 10 Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.

 11 Therefore, blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel. The Lord hath said it. Amen.


Study updates/summaries


  1. I reviewed Moses 4-5 and other related scriptures, and I’m quite convinced that there’s some really interesting and real and important stuff going on there.
  2. Kylie pointed out to me that Gen 4:26 has similar language, and fits in well with what I’ve been thinking about priesthood
  3. We had a study group night on the connections between Moses 4:22 and Moses 5:23 (both talking about desires and rule). I gained a lot from that.
  4. The Book of Mormon is soooo clear about the Abrahamic Covenant. As I’m rereading 3rd Nephi with my daughter, I’m struck by how clearly Christ is teaching them — sometimes repeating the same thing over and over in the same 2 or 3 chapter block.
  5. Today I just looked up “Gentiles” in the D&C out of curiosity, just to learn a bit. I noticed a few places that sound a lot like The Book of Mormon, a few places that just use “Jew and Gentile” as a way of saying everyone, but then a few interesting ones that I’m just starting to think about. Like D&C 86:11.