In response to my testimony about the A.N.N.A call gathering October 7 & 8, 2016, I was asked to clarify my understanding of woman and priesthood. Included below is an edited version my reply.
I do not know of any scriptures which speak of women serving in the priesthood offices as outlined in Section 17:8a-12b, for example. In fact, this is one of the reasons I now attend a Restoration Branch. Back in the mid-80’s I could not support the RLDS church leaders when they imposed women in the priesthood on the church. Neither can I support them now in this change nor in the other changes that they have brought about in the church. With regard to my testimony about the A.N.N.A call gathering October 7 & 8, 2016, remember Mary and how Jesus sent her and other women to His brethren to give them a message of hope and instruction. As I understand it, Jesus sending Mary and the others on such errands as recorded in scripture did not mean our Lord had called them or needed to call them to a priesthood office for them to be messengers for Him – for them to deliver His words to others including the Apostles.
John 20:17,18 – Jesus saith unto her, Hold me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
Matthew 28:7-9 – And as they went to tell his disciples, behold Jesus met them, saying, All hail! And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid; go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Again, I do not see in either of these passages of scripture a call to priesthood for these women or women in general. Rather, I see these verses as examples of our Lord giving instruction to members of His body, the church, and expecting His instructions to be carried out. By obeying His instructions, then, these women were obeying Jesus Christ as the head of the church (Colossians 1:18 with I Corinthians 12:1-31). Said another way, our Lord has the right and prerogative to send anyone on an errand for Him, and that being sent on such an errand does not imply that those so sent hold a priesthood office or need to hold a priesthood office to comply with the will of their Master. Please note also that, as so many scriptures point out, disobeying the Lord does not have favorable consequences.
Because the Book of Mormon contains the plain and precious gospel, even the fullness of the gospel, it is very important to consider what is recorded in it on this and related topics. Note, for example, how the following passage reads that the Lord gives His word (via His messengers) not just to men but to women and little children as well:
Alma 16:144-146 – And now, behold, I say unto you; and I would that ye should remember that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word. And now, he imparteth his word by angels, unto men; yea, not only men, but women also. Now this is not all: little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.
In other words, Jesus can and does send non-priesthood men, women, and children to convey His word to others according to His will and pleasure, e.g. to confound the wise and the learned. Mary and the other women Jesus sent to His brethren are examples of this truth; so also, I have been shown, are the Native American women we met last October in Tahlequah, OK. Again, this does not mean that those so sent must hold priesthood in order for them to share His word in obedience to His command. It means each member of the church must be ready and willing to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands to do His bidding in both word and in deed. Unfortunately, there are many people today who hide behind the excuse that they do not hold a priesthood office and therefore cannot do such things. As many scriptures show, the Lord is not pleased with such unwilling attitudes and excuses.
Note 1: Watching the Native Americans begin to awaken to their calling in Jesus Christ has given me confidence that they will someday soon awaken to the fullness of the gospel according to the Lord’s word. Here’s why I believe this is true:
D&C 83:7d,e – and everyone that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit, cometh unto God, even the Father; and the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world:
When they do awaken to the Lord’s covenants and the very points of His doctrine (cf. I Nephi 4:19), priesthood members will also be raised up among them, and they will flourish under the blessings of the ordinances that true priesthood members are to perform for the edifying of every member of the body of Christ (cf. D&C 50:4a-6b). So, even though they are now in the early stages of being awakened to the fullness of His gospel, the scriptures yet speak of them blossoming as a rose, which could happen quickly.
D&C 49:5a,b – But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness; and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose. Zion shall flourish upon the hills, and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed.
When they do, I believe those so called and gifted by God to hold various priesthood offices will be lawfully ordained of the Lord and will carry out His work even as His true disciples of old have done as recorded in the book of Acts, the Book of Mormon, and the D&C.
Note 2: Jesus gives every member of His body (the church) – not just priesthood – gifts and talents, and expects an increase from those talents from them (I Corinthians 12:1-31 with Matthew 25:13-31). In other words, each member of the church is to bear the Lord of the harvest the fruit He desires of them, which includes carrying out work for Him (e.g. John 15:1-8 with Galatians 5:16-26). Further, every member is to regard all other members of the body and the gifts and talents given to them to be of equal worth to the body (I Corinthians 12:1-31). Nevertheless, in the words of Jesus, “he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:8).
I Corinthians 12:17-27 – If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary; And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need; but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked; That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
Note 3: Consider the ministry of women to the Lord during His life on the earth as highlighted by the use of words like ministering and ministered in the scriptures. I believe that such references help reveal to other women their calling in Christ to minister unto Him by ministering unto His body, the church.
Matthew 27:59 – And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him for his burial; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.
Mark 15:45 – There were also women looking on afar off, among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger, and of Joses, and Salome; who also when he was in Galilee, followed him and ministered unto him; and many other women who came with him unto Jerusalem.
Luke 8:3 – And Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who ministered unto him with their substance.
After His ascension into heaven, women in the church, such as Tabitha, continued to minister unto the Lord by ministering to His body, the church.
Acts 9:36-40 – Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas; this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died; whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber; and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes; and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
Uses of the word ministry in scripture verses like those above show that ministry is not exclusively a priesthood responsibility or role. Priesthood members do have certain ordinances they are to administer in the body of Christ. But not all ministries are limited to or appropriate for priesthood members to administer. We know this in part to be true because every member of the body is to contribute to the whole according to their gifts and callings in Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-16 – And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; Till we, in the unity of the faith, all come to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
As noted here, Paul puts the matter in its proper perspective and context by describing how priesthood members are to serve a specific and particular function in the church. If they truly fulfill their calling, then every member of the body of Christ will be encouraged and enabled to contribute to the whole body, not just priesthood.
Note 4: Consider the Mary who had anointed Jesus just prior to His going to the cross. Her work of faith was highly regarded by our Lord, even so much so that Jesus said this anointing by her would be for a memorial of her wherever the gospel was preached:
John 12:3-7 – Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; … Then said Jesus, Let her alone; for she hath preserved this ointment until now, that she might anoint me in token of my burial.
Matthew 26:10 – And in this thing that she hath done, she shall be blessed; for verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, this thing that this woman hath done, shall also be told for a memorial of her.
Mark 14:9 – Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, what she hath done shall be spoken of also for a memorial of her.
It is important to understand that this anointing by Mary, although not a priesthood ordinance, was a service she was to carry out by faith, and did. It most assuredly then is not something which can and should be disregarded or dismissed by us. For Jesus said, “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, what she hath done shall be spoken of also for a memorial of her.” Obviously it was very important to Jesus and to Mary and, according to Jesus’ words, it should be to each of us as well. Thus we see that not all such ministries are or have to be priesthood ordinances, nor do all ministries have to be carried out exclusively by priesthood. Those who contend otherwise are contending against their Lord and will be held accountable accordingly.
NOTE 5: Yes, priesthood members have specific tasks and duties they are to perform. But our Lord does not expect priesthood to do everything in and for His church. As Jesus has said, His sheep know His voice and follow Him; this includes every member doing those things which He has shown them to do (III Nephi 12:34,35 with John 14:12). So it was that the women of old who ministered to their Lord and to others of His church (see previous notes). They served under the headship of Jesus Christ.
Briefly stated, each member of the church has a duty to obey Jesus Christ by keeping His commandments. Being called upon by the Lord to do things for Him is a direct result of being a member of His body, and such commissions come with the authority to carry out His bidding. The promise of signs, for example, is to “whosoever” shall believe on the name of Jesus Christ. That is, we are assured that this promise is to all people. Note also how the word priesthood is absent in this verse of scripture and similar scriptures found elsewhere.
Mormon 4:86-89 – Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; and he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, but he that believeth not, shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover; And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth. And now behold, who can stand against the works of the Lord? Who can deny his sayings?
It is important, then, to note here again that this scripture is to every believer, not just priesthood. Unfortunately, Satan has immobilized, even paralyzed many in the church because of errors in understandings about priesthood and believers. Many have become inactive through his intimidating tactics. These include accusing individuals who do not hold priesthood that if they were to bring ministry they would somehow usurping priesthood authority. Another accusation leveled against those who hope to minister for their Lord is that they are somehow wrong to so aspire because they cannot lawfully hold a priesthood office. Tragically, his efforts have been far too effective among church members, especially among those who are weak in the faith.
To overcome Satan, we all must remember that each and every member of the church has the promise that the Lord is with them and intends for each member to be active in His work of building up the kingdom and establishing His righteousness. Just as he went about doing good in His day, everyone who believes on Him will do the same, not just priesthood.
John 14:12 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Acts 10:34-38 – Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ; (he is Lord of all; ) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
III Nephi 12:34,35 – Verily, verily I say unto you, This is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do; For that which ye have seen me do, even that shall ye do; therefore if ye do these things, blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
NOTE 6: It is further my personal observation that there are some non-priesthood members (men and women) who hide behind the excuse that they are not priesthood. Accordingly, they tell themselves and others that they are not supposed to minister for the Lord because that’s the role of priesthood. Their role is simply to sit and listen to priesthood preach and teach. Such a mindset perpetuates priestcraft in the church, a thing which God has commanded must not to be found among us.
II Nephi 11:104-109 – Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden. He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain, and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment, that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity, they were nothing: wherefore, if they should have charity, they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money, they shall perish.
In fact, overemphasizing priesthood authority over and above Jesus Christ’s clear instructions regarding priesthood in the scriptures and via the Holy Ghost leads directly to priestcraft and the related condemnation (see D&C 76:7 and how Telestial glory is filled with those who practice priestcraft). Make no mistake about it, those who look to priesthood instead of Jesus as their guiding light are practicing priestcraft. One symptom of someone or a group of people doing so is that they are inactive in actually doing the Lord’s work. This is a direct result of their lack faith in their Lord’s command to ask in all things what they should do and then do it according to His instruction.
D&C 46:3b,c – but ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally, and that which the Spirit testifies unto you, even so I would that you should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men, for some are of men, and others of devils.
NOTE 7: I further believe that many women do not actually know of their calling in Christ because of the tragic and distracting controversy over women in the priesthood which was brought forward by the First Presidency of the church in the early 1980’s. Since then it has silenced the (non-priesthood) ministry of many woman who have rejected the action taken by church leaders at the time. Such self-inflicted or corporate silencing is simply not scriptural or right before the Lord. Moreover it is wrong to leave the impression that only priesthood can serve valiantly for their Lord through acts of faith and in sharing the words of Jesus Christ (cf. Alma 16:144-146 with Matthew 25:24-31). For any priesthood member to leave such an impression among the members of the church is gross negligence on the part of priesthood members, one which the Lord will not judge favorably.
Recall how, in Matthew 25:1-12, Jesus refers to wise and foolish virgins (a term which is usually used in reference to females). How many women realize that the Lord expects them to have their lamps filled and burning, and to have oil in reserve so they can shine forth His light while He tarries? Are they being taught to be valiant in their testimony of Him on a daily basis by priesthood, in both word and deed? If not, I must ask, why not? For if there are any priesthood members telling the women of the church otherwise, they are in grave error and worthy of many stripes (see Luke 12:56,57). As the scriptures show, including Section 76:6, whoever is not valiant in their testimony or is not found doing the will of the Lord when He comes will inherit Terrestrial (or Telestial glory), not Celestial glory.
Briefly concluded, Satan has gained considerable ground in the lives of many people of the church as a result of the introduction of the false doctrine and the ensuring controversy over woman in the priesthood. However, if everyone would simply answer the Lord when He calls upon them and then go and do His bidding, the church would be healthy again and the work of the restored church would prosper in full force. Simply put, no one can hide from their responsibilities to live by faith and to do what the Lord instructs them to do on a daily basis (cf. Deuteronomy 8:3 with Matthew 6:12). All of us must be willing to receive the word of the Lord and to then go about His service on a daily basis, e.g. by sharing the message of the gospel with others, but most importantly doing unto others as unto the Lord per Matthew 25, etc.
NOTE 8: As a final note, we must stop practicing priestcraft in our branches (e.g. putting priesthood on a pedestal). Priesthood are called and ordained to be the servants of the body of Christ. They are to edify the whole body so that it functions to its full extent with all members contributing to the whole (Ephesians 4:8-16). It must not be the other way around, with the body serving the ego of a few priesthood members. Jesus Christ must be the center of our worship, not priesthood. Remember further how Zion can only be built up by the Celestial law (D&C 102:2c). It cannot be built up via the Telestial law, which is characterized by its priestcraft structure (which we can see evidence of in various branches today).
D&C 76:7 I,m – And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one, for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world; for these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas; these are they who say they are some of one and some of another, some of Christ, and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias; and some of Esais, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch, but received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets; neither the everlasting covenant;
These statements are in no way meant to denigrate the Lord’s true priesthood. Not living up to the Celestial law is what denigrates the Lord’s priesthood and must be repented of where needed.
In closing, from my understanding of the scriptures, praying always and over all things is the responsibility of each and every member of the body of Christ not just priesthood (e.g. D&C 17:10b,d, etc.). That is why I encourage everyone I meet with to pray in faith according to the words of Jesus, such as found in these verses of scripture:
Luke 21:36 IV – And what I say unto one, I say unto all, Watch ye therefore, and pray always, and keep my commandments, that ye may be counted worthy to escape all these things which shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man when he shall come clothed in the glory of his Father.
III Nephi 8:50 – And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto his disciples, he turned again unto the multitude, and said unto them, Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye must watch and pray always, lest ye enter into temptation;
D&C 90:8d – What I say unto one I say unto all: Pray always, lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place.
Additionally, to pray in faith we must pray in the Spirit of truth, whom Jesus called the Comforter (see Romans 8:26 & Jude 1:21,22 with Hebrews 11:1 & John 14:16-18). Here again I believe the scriptures clearly teach that praying in and as led by the Spirit is the responsibility of every member of the church, not just priesthood members. Another way of saying this is that everyone, not just priesthood, must obey the commandment of the Lord to pray in faith as His Spirit leads them to pray, and then do His bidding in the same Spirit of truth (e.g. John 14:26 & John 16:13).
Hopefully what I have written above will be of help to you. If not, I look forward to your clarifications regarding your concern.
As you prayerfully consider the response posted above, please remember what it means for each of us, male and female, to be a member of Christ’s body, the church (I Corinthians 12:13 & Galatians 3:28 with II Nephi 11:114). We are members in particular, those who have been made partakers of His divine nature and glory to reveal the same with thanksgiving before the world (II Peter 1:4 with Matthew 5:15-18). Jesus Christ, as the head of the body, directs and guides each member according to His will and wisdom through His Holy Spirit. This means that His instructions come with authority, His authority for at least two reasons: 1) everyone who is truly a member of His body, the church, is one with Him (John 17 with John 15), and 2) Jesus has the right to rule and, in so doing, He imparts authority with each instruction He gives to individual and groups of members of His body, e.g. when He sends them on errands in carrying out His will. Briefly comprehended, each and every member is a partaker of His priesthood and is thus a representative of the same. But keep in mind the words of Jesus: without Him we can do nothing (John 15:4,5 with Romans 14:23b). It is good, then, to remember the words of the Apostle Peter who reminds us of our calling in the Lord to be a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
- Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
- As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby;
- If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
- To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
- Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
- Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
- Unto you therefore who believe, he is precious; but unto them who are disobedient, who stumble at the word, through disobedience, whereunto they were appointed, a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.
- For the stone which the builders disallowed, is become the head of the corner.
- But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
- Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.