Welcome to Tween Talk 7 for Latter-day Saints! This week’s episode is about the Priesthood.
Tween Talk Episode #7
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Elder M. Russell Ballard talk at BYU Education week (April 2014 New Era)
Tween Talk Transcript
Have you ever wondered why women don’t hold the priesthood? Or what the difference is between priesthood power and priesthood keys?
Hey everyone! I’m really excited to be back with you today!
Last week, we talked about the importance of following the prophet. That led to some of you asking questions like, “Why can’t women have the priesthood and be a prophet?” or “What exactly are priesthood keys, anyways?”
I’ve got some answers for you!
As always, let’s first start with the doctrine. What is the priesthood?
According to the Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders’ Guidebook, “The priesthood is the power and authority of God. Through it, He accomplishes His work and glory, which is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Jesus Christ permits worthy male members of the Church to hold His priesthood.”
So the priesthood is God’s power.
It’s what He used to create the world.
It’s the what Christ used to perform miracles and resurrect from the dead.
When a new convert steps from the waters of baptism, feeling clean and forgiven, that is by the power of the priesthood.
It’s what will bind us together for eternity as families.
Again, the priesthood is God’s power.
And He gives that power to men AND WOMEN on the earth to be used for the salvation of man.
Yes, that’s right, I said it.
But before I jump too far ahead, let’s get some definitions down first.
I think the biggest problem we have as members of the Church with regards to the Priesthood is that we kind of just use the term “the priesthood” to refer to EVERYTHING related to it!
We say “the sacrament is blessed by the Priesthood” or “the Priesthood is responsibility for stacking the chairs after church today.”
God’s power is not going to stack the chairs.
HOLDERS of the Priesthood are going to stack the chairs.
So, let’s go over a few terms that may all sound similar, but they are actually VERY very different.
Priesthood ORDINATION, or ORDAINED to the priesthood
By the way, a LOT of today’s podcast is going to be based on the talk “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.
First: priesthood POWER. That’s the power of God. It’s what we use to do, well, basically everything. That power emanates from God and Jesus Christ.
The Priesthood is kind of like sunlight coming from the sun. We can feel God’s power, see its effects, but we can’t control it.
Now, Jesus personally gave the Priesthood power to Peter, James, John, and the other apostles when He laid His hands on their heads.
The 12 apostles were now Priesthood HOLDERS.
Then came the biggest part of being a Priesthood holder: the Priesthood holder canNOT use the Priesthood power on or for himself. He can only use it for others and their benefit.
That’s why Satan tempting Jesus to turn the rocks into bread after fasting for 40 days was a big deal.
He was trying to get Him to use His power for His OWN gain, not to help someone else.
There are two different types of the Priesthood. We call them the Aaronic and Melchezidek Priesthoods.
Within the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood are different Priesthood offices. You’re familiar with some of those titles and their jobs! Deacons pass the sacrament. Priests can bless the sacrament and perform baptisms. Then Elders, High Priests, Patriarchs, Seventies, Apostles, and the Prophet for the Melchizedek Priesthood all have different jobs as well.
We’re not going to get into those jobs today in this podcast. There’s not enough time, and that’s not what we’re trying to do! You can read more about the different Priesthood offices and their responsibilities on the Church’s website in Chapter 14 of the Gospel Principles Manual.
Okay, let’s review, shall we?
The Priesthood Power is God’s power, just like sunlight coming from the sun. Everyone can use the sunlight to stay warm, but they can’t possess it or own it.
When you get your hands placed on your head, you are given a Priesthood ORDINATION (or you are ordained to the Priesthood), and then you are assigned to a specific Priesthood OFFICE, like deacon or elder. That laying on of hands, that ORDINATION, turns you into a Priesthood HOLDER.
Now, let’s pause a quick second: priesthood ORDINATION is different than Priesthood ORDINANCES.
Priesthood ORDINATION is when you get ordained to an office in the priesthood.
Priesthood ORDINANCES are sacred acts given by the Lord and performed by the authority of the Priesthood. These include baby blessings, baptism, confirmation (or getting the gift of the Holy Ghost), the sacrament, blessings, dedicating graves, ordinances done in the temple, and more. Basically, if it is something that has a ritual tied to it (like having to have exact wording), then it’s probably an ordinance.
Okay, let’s go back to when a priesthood holder is given an OFFICE. You can’t just be Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood; that’s a little too vague. After all, the Priesthood power can only be used to bless others.
Now, God’s kingdom is a kingdom of order. D&C 132:8 says, “Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” We can’t have a bunch of Priesthood holders running around trying to help bless others. That would get confusing on who has what responsibilities.
Each of those Priesthood OFFICES can do different things and have different responsibilities.
Some of those reponsibilities include Priesthood ORDINANCES, like giving baptisms.
But who decides who gets the Priesthood? Can one Priesthood holder just give it to someone else?
Nope, they can’t.
Can anyone just walk up to a priest and say, “Hey, I want to be baptized,” and the priest says, “Sure, let’s go get baptized.”
This is where Priesthood KEYS come into it.
The Lord has the organizations all set up, most of them into different quorums, wards, stakes, etc.
The leaders of these organizations are given Priesthood KEYS.
In addition to holding the Priesthood POWER and having an Priesthood OFFICE, the leaders have a specific priesthood CALLING. When the Priesthood holder is called to be a certain leader, he is given KEYS.
What does a key do in the real world?
It opens doors, right?
That’s what Priesthood KEYS do.
You see, some Priesthood ordinances are called SAVING ordinances.
SAVING ordinances are the ones that are necessary to our SALVATION. (That’s why they’re called SAVING. See the connection?)
Saving ordinances are on that checklist, that grading rubric we talked about, for getting into the Celestial Kingdom.
The saving ordinances are
1 – baptism
2 – Gift of the Holy Ghost
3 – ordination to the Melchezidek Priesthood (for men)
4 – temple endowment
5 – marriage sealing.
(see Doctrinal Mastery Core Document “Ordinances and Covenants”)
We HAVE to do these five things in order to go to the Celestial Kingdom.
They are the door we have to walk through.
Now, can we just let anyone walk through those doors into the Celestial Kingdom?
No, we can’t. Like we talked about, this is about being valiant! It’s about proving ourselves trustworthy.
So those doors are closed. They’re locked. And they can only be opened by a Priesthood holder who also has the KEYS to that door.
Specific Priesthood callings come with specific keys. The Bishop gets the keys for baptism. He can give permission to the priest to perform the baptism after he interviews you and finds you worthy.
He also has the KEYS for repentance and other things we need to stay on the gospel path. If we commit a serious sin (which we will talk about later on in this podcast series), then the Bishop has the ability to help us go through the repentance process and take the sacrament, which is in remembrance of the SAVING ordinance of baptism.
So a Bishop, a Stake President, and even a Deacon’s quorum president all have certain keys. A deacon’s quorum president has the keys to take care of his quorum. He can pray to find out who the counselors should be. He can ask members of the quorum to check on others.
BUT being given keys also comes with the responsibility to take care of them. The Bishop’s job is to help you stay on the right path. His job isn’t to condemn you, but to keep you from condemning yourself through your wrong choices.
A Priesthood leader with keys has STEWARDSHIP. This means that a bishop can pray about his ward and receive revelation for them. The nursery leader can’t go up to a regular member and grant them permission to baptize their child. Only the bishop can do that.
Now, not every set of keys is the same, either. A bishop can’t give a Patriarchal blessing. A deacon’s quorum president can’t go perform sealings in the temple.
And there are SO MANY Priesthood KEYS.
Jesus Christ is the one with ALL the keys.
Over the centuries, in each dispensation, He has given SOME of those keys at different times.
The ability to perform sealings in the temple? That was a key given to Elijah.
The keys to do baptisms and the Aaronic Priesthood? That was John the Baptist.
The keys to lead the Church? Peter, James, and John had those keys.
Not every dispensation had all the keys. After all, baptisms for the dead didn’t even start happening until after Christ’s resurrection!
And there are SO many more! If you want to learn more about keys, read Elder Oaks’s talk “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood.”
So when Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet, all of those past dispensations came and gave their keys to Joseph in blessings by the laying on of hands.
The current prophet is the ONLY one with ALL the keys on earth. Right now, that’s President Nelson. But he has given those keys, passed down through Church organization, to help lead it.
Then when it’s time for a bishop or another key-holder to be released, the CALLING is released, and the KEYS are taken away from them and given to the next person to hold that CALLING.
Is the Priesthood POWER taken away?
No, not if he’s righteous.
And his Priesthood OFFICE stays the same.
If a man with the Melchezidek Priesthood has the office of Elder, and he gets called to be bishop, he must first be ordained to the office of High Priest. And then, once he is released from being high priest, he does NOT go back to being an elder. His office stays as high priest, even though his CALLING changes and he no longer has the KEYS.
Now we need to take a minute to talk about Priesthood AUTHORITY. We often get that confused with Priesthood KEYS or someone having a Priesthood ORDINATION. AUTHORITY means permission, right?
But the Priesthood POWER does not work unless the person has Priesthood AUTHORITY.
Authority has TWO parts. First, you have to have the right office and right keys. A deacon can’t go baptize his little sister. And even a priest can’t unless someone with keys has given him the authority to do so.
But the second part is JUST as important.
D&C 121:34-47 says:
34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
Just like the Priesthood power is symbolized by the sunlight, it can be blocked by putting something in the way and creating a shadow. Similarly, the Priesthood power can be blocked by sin and unrighteousness.
This is why personal worthiness is so important for a priesthood HOLDER.
Now, does this mean you have to be perfect for your priesthood to work?
NO!! Haven’t we learned this by now? NO!
But you have be TRYING. You have to be repenting. The verses we just read say when we undertake to COVER our sins.
It also means that a man cannot exercise UNRIGHTEOUS dominion. That means that a husband canNOT say to his wife, “I’m the priesthood holder in this family, you have to do what I say.”
A deacon’s quorum president can’t say to his buddy who is also in the quorum, “Hey, you have to give me that Pokemon card since I’m the president.”
Now, I think we’ve covered all of the words we talked about at the beginning.
Priesthood POWER – God’s power, and everything is done with. Creating the world and our bodies. The Atonement. A blessing.
Priesthood ORDINATION – the laying on of hands to turn you into a Priesthood HOLDER
Priesthood ORDINANCES – actions done with the Priesthood
Priesthood TYPE – Aaronic or Melchezidek
Priesthood OFFICE – level in the priesthood, like deacon or elder or high priest.
Priesthood CALLING – assignment given to use the priesthood
Priesthood KEYS – authority given to go along with certain callings, who then give permission for certain ordinances and come with specific responsibilities, depending on the type of calling.
I know what you’re all thinking.
“That’s great, Sister Thomas, but what about the women?”
In Elder Oaks’s talk I mentioned above (and the link is on the website for this week’s podcast), he quotes President Joseph Fielding Smith, who said, “While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, it has not been conferred upon them, that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority. … 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. They have authority given unto them to do some great and wonderful things, sacred unto the Lord, and binding just as thoroughly as are the blessings that are given by the men who hold the Priesthood.”
(reference Joseph Fielding Smith, “Relief Society—an Aid to the Priesthood,” Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1959, 4.)
Then Elder Oaks goes on to say, “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.”
Basically, women don’t need to be Priesthood HOLDERS in order to participate in Priesthood ORDINANCES.
Elder M. Russell Ballard gave a talk at BYU Education week (and it can be found in the April 2014 New Era), where he said, “Our Church doctrine places women equal to and yet different from men. God does not regard either gender as better or more important than the other. …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.”
Remember that 5th saving ordinance? Temple sealing? A priesthood holder can’t go to the Celestial Kingdom unless he has gone to the temple with his wife and been sealed together.
Men and women have DIFFERENT responsibilities, but we have ALL of the SAME access. And in fact, when you go the temple, you’ll learn about the sacred work that women do in the temple under the keys held by the temple president. It’s incredible.
In fact, in previous dispensations, not all men were Priesthood holders, either. In the time of the Israelites, only the tribe of Levi could hold the Priesthood, and even then it was only the Aaronic Priesthood.
But if you want more resources about women and the Priesthood, I have put several of them up on the website for you to dig more into it.
Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women
Power in the Priesthood by Elder Neil L. Andersen
Blessings of the Priesthood for All: An Inseparable Connection with the Priesthood
“Endowed With Power” BYU Women’s Conference 2019 by the General RS Presidency.
“A Plea to My Sisters” by President Russell M. Nelson
“Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel” by President Russell M. Nelson
The Book “Women and the Priesthood” by Sheri Dew, former General RS president
I hope that this podcast will help you on your own journey in understanding the Priesthood and its role in your life.
It’s hard sometimes, especially when you’re a girl, and you want to know why you can’t have the Priesthood.
But that is SO wrong.
You may not be able to be ordained to Priesthood offices and become a Priesthood holder with Priesthood keys and perform Priesthood ordinances (outside of the temple, at least)
BUT you DO have access to the Priesthood.
It’s NOT denied to you.
Do you really think on Judgment Day, when we sit down with that council, that anyone will care about what keys you held?
No, they won’t.
At least, they’ll only care in the sense that they’ll want to know if you were valiant in your responsibilities about them.
And I’m going to be perfectly honest when I say that I have enough responsibilities to worry about being valiant about.
But when you get given a calling by someone with Priesthood keys, you are given access into that Priesthood Power in the exact same way a man is.
A male Primary teacher isn’t going to be a better teacher than a female teacher just because he has the Priesthood.
And if he says that he is, then you can tell him to go read D&C 121 and point out that he’s using the Priesthood to gratify his own pride!
Similarly, a Priest in the Priesthood isn’t any more or less important than a Deacon. They just have different responsibilities.
At the end of the day (or actually, I guess at the end of this life), all that’s going to matter is: did we complete those saving ordinances, and were we valiant in keeping our covenants and becoming like the Savior?
And we ALL have the SAME access to those Priesthood ordinances.
And MOST importantly, we have access to the Priesthood Power in order to repent of our sins and be forgiven, because that’s how the Atonement was accomplished. Jesus Christ used His power, His Priesthood, to pay the punishment for our sins. And it is His power, His Priesthood, that cleanses us and forgives us and allows us to change.
And having access to THAT is way more important than anything else.
I want to you to know that I know that the Priesthood power is real. I have seen it perform miracles in my life, and I have had direct access to it, both via priesthood holders and on my own. After all, the Priesthood Power is GOD’S power, and we ALL can access it.
Next week, we’re going to get back into commandments. I’ve had a few questions about tithing, so that’s what we’ll talk about. If you have questions you want me to answer, go ahead and ask on the website!
I’ll see y’all then, when we answer the question: “If I get $20 for my birthday, should I pay tithing on it?”