First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Releases Statement on Priesthood, Questioning, and Apostasy

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Today the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a joint statement concerning Priesthood, Questioning, and Apostasy.

https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/june-first-presidency-statement?lang=eng

In God’s plan for the happiness and eternal progression of His children, the blessings of His priesthood are equally available to men and women. Only men are ordained to serve in priesthood offices. All service in the Church has equal merit in the eyes of God. We express profound gratitude for the millions of Latter-day Saint women and men who willingly and effectively serve God and His children. Because of their faith and service, they have discovered that the Church is a place of spiritual nourishment and growth.

We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding. We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from Church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them.

Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy. Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine.

25 thoughts on “First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Releases Statement on Priesthood, Questioning, and Apostasy

  1. “We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding. We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from Church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them.”

    “Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy. Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine.“

    You have to wonder what excuse the doubters will come up with now. The Church has made its position perfectly clear in a statement directly from the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles. This is, of course, the same position that the PR department has had and the same position that the disciplinary councils adopted. The First Presidency has spoken.

  2. Ooo – subtle this:

    Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders…

    So right there we have the answer about whether an unrighteous and coercive leader can command obedience.

    It’s been fascinating writing this week’s “Faithful Joseph” post about Carthage. Lots of apostasy going on there in Nauvoo 1844.

  3. The awesome thing about this statement is that it leaves the door open to the possibility of women resuming the practice of giving blessings by the power of their faith in Jesus Christ.

  4. It’s a good statement.

    Unfortunately, both sides will pick and choose what message to take from it.

  5. Tim, the message is what it is. It is pretty short and to the point. There is not much to “take from it” other than what the First Presidency said. Given recent events, and the many, many prevarications and excuses that doubters have come up with for not following the First Presidency, there is really only one honest approach, which is to decide whether or not you are on the side of the Brethren. That is the only “side” that matters.

  6. Have you read what Kate Kelly thinks of this statement in the Salt Lake Tribune? She actually thinks it exonerates her. Seriously.

  7. Kelly is obviously playing media games. In order to continue her claims of innocence, she must continue the facade that she was faithful through all of the events.
    Sadly, she’s damning herself with the politics she is willing to play. Mark Twain said there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. So far, she’s pretty much used all of them in her attempt to overthrow the priesthood of God.
    I have many liberal friends. Most are intellectuals. Sadly, many of them are in serious mourning over what the Church “did” to her. They are unable to unwrap their emotions and look at both sides objectively. Trying to kindly defend the Brethren can get one’s head bitten off in their emotional state.
    Kelly is an apostate. Period. I pray she will repent and return. That she insists she is a victim of an evil patriarchal society only shows that, while there is some work we need to do in the Church, she has the greater sin of pride.

  8. Hi Meg,

    I only found this forum a few weeks ago while researching why one of my nieces told her mother after the last General Conference that she could no longer go to the temple. It because she was excommunicated or under a disciplinary council but because she fell into the OW web. It’s a long story so I won’t tell it here.

    I thoroughly enjoy your posts and comments as I do many of the other M* Editors and other contributors on this forum.

    You said:

    “The awesome thing about this statement is that it leaves the door open to the possibility of women resuming the practice of giving blessings by the power of their faith in Jesus Christ.”

    (Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am neither trying to make doctrine here nor be contentious so please don’t be offended and please correct me if I am wrong or have misspoken.)

    It is my understanding that under extraordinary circumstances a woman can lay her hands on the head of a downed victim and pronounce a blessing. I don’t know about whether they can claim authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood even if they are endowed in the temple or even married in the covenant.

    An example of extraordinary circumstances would be when the saints were being shot at, maimed, burned out of their homes, and driven out of Missouri (or Nauvoo for that matter). Many men, women, and children died or were unconscious and in need of blessing as well as medical attention.

    My comment is that the magnitude of the faith of the blessing giver isn’t as important as is the faith in Jesus Christ of the blessing receiver and the will of God. So it seems that under these extraordinary circumstances women of our faith could just as well pronounce a blessing. The will of God determines if the life in jeopardy is saved or not, regardless of who spoke the blessing.

    Just my (possibly uninformed) opinion.

    Yours in the Gospel,
    Herb Ruth

  9. Hi Herb Ruth,

    I’ve written a post about this – I think my comments were mostly associated with the Critique of Discussion Two.

    Anyway, there is a rich tradition of women giving blessings. However with the end of polygamy, the death of the women who had known Joseph Smith, and the Church’s tactical alignments in the early 1900s, the women were no longer encouraged to give blessings.

    The last bastion of these blessings was the washing and anointing of pregnant women, something that was rather similar to ordinances performed in the temple. As one could infer from something referred to as a “washing,” this was not a blessing that was appropriately performed by a man. In 1946 Joseph Fielding Smith responded to the then-new Relief Society President, Belle Spafford. Joseph Fielding Smith confirmed that such washings and anointings were permissible, but that the sisters were strongly encouraged to see blessings from men holding the Melchizedek Priesthood.

    When I was a young missionary-in-training, I was taught that women could give blessings by the power of their faith in Jesus Christ. After that I have acted in a couple of cases in accordance with that instruction. I have mentioned this in Sunday School, and at the time I mentioned it, my Bishop agreed that such blessings were proper.

    However since that time, actually as a result of that discussion, I can see that the instruction I received was based on historical practices, not on current Church policy. So I likely wouldn’t bless someone in the future unless the brethren formally approved this practice for the sisters.

  10. Healing is one of the Gifts of the Spirit, so one does not need to hold the priesthood to heal. One mostly needs the faith to call down that gift from God.

  11. Just as permission must be given for the sacrament to be blessed and passed in situations other tthan sacrament meeting, any performance of an ordinance must be done with proper authority. I fear that the old saying about inches and miles obtains here. God listens to and answers the prayers of all. I have witnessed miracles as the result of the prayers of small children. It is infringement on particular practices that creates the problem. ‘Emergency’ becomes ‘convenience’ all to easily. Various studies support what simple obsevation indicates; women are more likely to attend church, pray, and take religion seriously than are men. Those denominations that ordain women not only tend to fail, but soon much of the leadership positions are filled by women. Personally I prefer to see a very definite border maintained between prayer and ordinance under proper authority.

  12. My own study of the blessing that women can do for the sick, or otherwise, indicates that they are free to give them. Joseph Smith encouraged women to give blessings, chastised those who denied them that opportunity. However, he also said that if there is ever a male Priesthood holder (an Elder as the scriptures say) available, women should hold off and ask them to give the blessings to the sick. The best resource for this is the first meetings of the Relief Society, that can be found at the Church’s Joseph Smith Project website. The problem with KK and her followers is that they are asking for something that is not a woman’s right, but are completely ignorant of the power and responsibility already in their possession. Elder Oak’s talk presented the groundwork and hinted at the full blessings possible.

  13. Hi jettboy,

    As I understand things, there is a rich historical basis for women giving blessings. However current policy does not in any way encourage women to give blessings. It appears to be against policy.

    Obviously the historical documents indicate such blessings were encouraged and performed. That does not mean women are encouraged to perform such blessings now.

  14. “Just as permission must be given for the sacrament to be blessed and passed in situations other tthan sacrament meeting, any performance of an ordinance must be done with proper authority.”

    Are fathers supposed to call their eqp before administering father’s blessings to their families? I don’t think this is correct.

  15. The operative phrase is ‘proper authority’. A blessing for health or comfort or a father’s blessing require the Melchizedek priesthood but can be performed as needed. Other ordinances are situational. As ordinance workers, women perform ordinances in the particular temple for which they are set apart. As far as I am aware, even the father of an eight year old needs permission to baptize that child. I’m not aware of the rules for patriarchs. Are they allowed to give formal patriarchal blessings out of the jurisdiction to which they are called? In some cases ordination confers all the authorization needed, such as for father’s blessings and blessings for health or comfort. In other cases authorization is limited to certain localities or circumstances.

  16. Church ordinances necessitate church approval. Within the family, the patriarch has the presiding right to administer blessings, but not necessarily the ordinances performed by the church unless there is approval.

    Hence you don’t need to ask for permission to bless you child. But I could imagine an instance where a priesthood holder could be told to stop giving blessings to others outside their family if they were aggressively giving blessings to lots of others in their area. They wouldn’t have authority to do this on a large scale as it would start to infringe upon the keys of the presiding authority.

  17. I think the comments have started to conflate “keys” and “authority.”

  18. I lived in a ward where one of the members had a reputation of giving powerful blessings whenever he was asked. At the same time some of the other men were reluctant to give blessings except in dire circumstances. As a result the first man gave a lot of blessings which increased the imbalance. Nowadays, with a couple of worthy sons, a grandson and a son in law living nearby, we usually call on them as needed. It might be more kosher for all of us to make greater use of home teachers. I am currently staying in a home without a priesthood holder and the home teachers have been very generous with their time and blessings.

  19. Yep – I’ve noted a lot of people getting confused, not understanding the difference between keys and authority. A week ago, a lady was insisting that women had priesthood keys, and she had clearly just gotten the terms mixed up.

    As for a patriarch, they are to give a patriarchal blessing to anyone coming to them with a proper recommend. If the individual lives within the stake they support, a Bishop’s recommend is sufficient. If the individual is not within their stake, the individual’s stake president has to sign the recommend. So fun having a good friend who happens to be a patriarch as our home teacher. He will be giving a patriarchal blessing to one of his grandchildren soon, and since that grandchild doesn’t reside in our stake, the stake president had to sign the recommend. It’s not that he pro-actively shared, per se, just that he’s willing to answer when we ask him questions.

  20. In my opinion, whether a sister puts her hands on the head of a person to give them a blessing through the power of the priesthood or if she quietly folds her arms and says a heartfelt prayer of faith and asks Heavenly Father through the power of the priesthood for the person to be healed, I’m not sure if there is any difference. Heavenly Father will hear her prayer of healing.

    In the end, it is through faith in Jesus Christ that miracles come to pass. The miracle might happen through the power of the priesthood, but it’s a womans (and mans) faith (and God’s will) that ultimately bring the miracle to pass.

    At least that’s how I understand it. (and I’ve been known to be wrong :-)

  21. Being a woman and having laid hands on someone to voice a blessing, the difference I noted is between supplication (prayer) and speaking for God (blessing). It’s the difference between subjunctive and indicative.

    Now an intensely righteous person might only allow themselves to pray for things that God wills. But most of us simply pour our hearts out, letting God know our hopes.

    The blessings I have witnessed are blessings where the voice asks the individual being blessed what they seek, and then gives voice to the will of God for that person. Those who bless have shared how God’s love for the person pours through them, sometimes surprising the voice of the blessing. When a voice (my term) is actively seeking to speak God’s will, God will guide their words in a way I don’t see Him do in prayers.

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