I wanted to highlight a great talk by Relief Society President Linda K. Burton that was published in the June Ensign “Priesthood Power: Available to All.” The talk was originally given on May 2 at the Women’s Conference at BYU.
Anybody who wants to understand the true nature of the priesthood should read this talk and and the April Conference talk by Elder Oaks.
It does not seem accidental to me that Church leaders are making clear for members and those who have ears to hear exactly what the priesthood is and is not.
Some key highlights from Sis. Burton’s talk:
What is the Priesthood?
The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God by which He blesses, redeems, and exalts His children. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the priesthood this way: “Priesthood is the means whereby the Lord acts through men to save souls. … A priesthood holder is expected to exercise this sacred authority in accordance with God’s holy mind, will, and purposes. Nothing about the priesthood is self-centered. The priesthood always is used to serve, to bless, and to strengthen other people.”
Why is the Priesthood so important?
We know that “the divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”5 As Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “Priesthood authority has been restored so that families can be sealed eternally.”6
“Priesthood authority is required to perform the ordinances of the gospel. … Each ordinance opens the door to rich spiritual blessings.”7 Jesus bestowed the sacred keys of the kingdom on Peter with the charge that “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
Who holds the keys to the Priesthood?
“Jesus Christ holds all the keys of the priesthood pertaining to His Church. He has conferred upon each of His Apostles all the keys that pertain to the kingdom of God on earth. The senior living Apostle, the President of the Church, is the only person on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys (see D&C 107:91–92). … [He then] delegates priesthood keys to other priesthood leaders so they can preside in their areas of responsibility. … Auxiliary presidents and their counselors do not receive keys. They receive delegated authority to function in their callings.”9
There is a difference between priesthood power and priesthood authority:
There is a difference, however, between priesthood authority and priesthood power. Priesthood authority is conferred by ordination, but priesthood power is available to all. Since priesthood power is something we all desire to have in our families and homes, what do we need to do to invite that power into our lives? Personal righteousness is imperative to having priesthood power.
Men alone are not the priesthood:
In a recent general conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife.”
As I say, the Church is making a special effort right now to help members understand the important role of the priesthood in our lives. I hope members take the time to consider the words of Church leaders on these issues rather than concentrating on the words of members criticizing Church leaders. The former have your best interests at heart and the latter do not.