Mormon Women and the Priesthood
There has always been a question in the world of how women fit into the Mormon Church. Worthy Mormon men are given the priesthood, but what are the women given? The world seems to look upon Mormon women as not equivalent to the men. Nothing is further from the truth, and there are countless examples and counsels given to the men and women of the church through the apostles and prophets.’In the true Patriarchal Order man holds the priesthood and is the head of the household of faith, but he cannot attain a fullness of joy here or an eternal reward hereafter alone. Woman stands at his side as joint-inheritor with him in the fullness of all things. Exaltation and eternal increase is her lot as well as his. Godhood is not for men only; it is for men and women together.’1
‘The priesthood is…the power of God delegated to man by which man can act in the earth for the salvation of the human family’ (Joseph F. Smith, Mormon prophet).
‘The Lord has assigned to men the chief responsibility for the governing and presiding over the affairs of the Church and the family. They in turn are to use this sacred power to bless and benefit all members of the [Mormon] Church – men, women, and children’ (Brigham Young, Mormon prophet).
The priesthood is used to benefit the entire human family. Men have their work to do and their powers to exercise for the benefit of all the members of the [Mormon] Church…as it is with women. Women have their special gifts and are to be exercised for the benefit of the entire human family. Women in the Church have their own organization, the Relief Society, which blesses their lives, the Church, and all around them. It is the largest women’s group in the world with over five million members in 170 nations.
Men and women have different but equally important responsibilities in the home and the [Mormon] Church. Men have no greater claim than women upon the blessings that come from the priesthood. ‘The man holds the priesthood, performs the priestly duties of the Church, but his wife enjoys with him every other privilege derived from the possession of the priesthood. This is made clear, as an example, in the Temple service of the Church. The ordinances of the Mormon Temple are distinctly of priesthood character, yet women have access to all of them, and the highest blessings of the Temple are conferred only upon a man and his wife jointly.’ Also, in the temple, women have power conferred on them to perform certain ordinances for other women.
Everyone in the [Mormon] Church benefits from the priesthood, so each has a responsibility to honor and sustain the priesthood. In the Book of Mormon in Doctrine and Covenants 121:36 it reads: “…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.” Women are counseled to honor this priesthood, show respect to those that hold it and support it (meaning, to uphold, defend, to promote the interests or cause).
It is the husband’s responsibility to preside and provide leadership in the home. “In the perspective of the gospel, ‘leadership’ does not mean the right to dictate, command, and order. On the contrary, it means to guide, protect, point the way, set the example, make secure, inspire and create a desire to sustain and follow. Literally, the husband is to lead the way.”3
The father is the leader of the home and the wife is his companion and equal partner. They must work together to strengthen the family and teach their children righteous principles. As a woman fulfills her role as a companion/partner to her husband, she reinforces her husband’s position as head of the home and encourages family unity.4
The priesthood is from God to all His children. As each member honors that priesthood and develops Christlike attributes in their relationships with each other, the home and family strengthens.