There has been a lot of media attention in recent days over a small group of Latter-day Saint women who have organized to petition Church leaders that women should be “ordained to the priesthood.” I’d like to point out a few things about the priesthood, particularly in regard to the temple, and the process of revelation in the Church.
First, we are not ordained to the priesthood. We receive the priesthood by conferment; the priesthood is conferred upon us, by those who have authority from God to do so, for the priesthood is His to give. We are ordained to priesthood offices within the priesthood, such as deacon, teacher, priest, etc., again by those who have authority from God to do so.
More importantly, however, is the nature of priesthood as is exercised in 141 temples around the world every day. Today I came across a great article by BYU Professor of Ancient Scripture Dr. D. Kelly Ogden which addresses this well. Here is a quote by Church News writer Marianne Holman, reporting about a recent devotional address by Elder M. Russell Ballard:
When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which is by definition priesthood power. “All who enter the house of the Lord officiate in the ordinances of the priesthood. This applies to men and women alike.”
Br. Ogden then notes:
Along with that final comment by Elder Ballard, I would surmise that if any persons in the Church have an issue with women not receiving the priesthood by ordination, then they are not attending the temple. And if they are attending the temple, they do not really understand what they are hearing and experiencing there. All faithful women, learning and understanding the true, eternal nature of womanhood and the power of God available to them, receive a clear vision of heavenly powers magnified in them beyond their fondest hopes or dreams. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught, “It is within the privilege of the sisters of this Church to receive exaltation in the kingdom of God and receive authority and power as queens and priestesses.”
Ogden then quotes Sister Sheri Dew:
Sisters, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood, you have been shortchanged. They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman. We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge ‘armed’ with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. Most significantly, the fullness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can be received only by a man and woman together.
Sister Dew elaborates on this in a video recorded at a recent conference.
If the Lord wills that priesthood be exercised differently than is currently practiced in the Church, then He will reveal it to his chosen servants. But it is improper for anyone to “agitate” for such a change, for “thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church” (D&C 28:6).
I recommend the article by Br. Ogden, “Women and the Priesthood.”