Of Women and the Priesthood: Part 1 (What I learned from President Burton and Elder Oaks)

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heavenDoctrine & Covenants 121:45 

This past summer, I was asked to teach a lesson on the priesthood from the Joseph Fielding Smith manual. Two weeks before, we'd studied Elder Oak's talk for RS, and I wanted to connect both materials along with President Linda K. Burton's Ensign article from her 2013 Women's conference address.

I don't usually use so many sources when teaching from a manual, but I thought, President Burton and Elder Oaks have new things to say—so I want this to be updated.

Except, as I started studying, I was shocked with how little I knew about the priesthood in the first place. For example, Why didn't I already know the difference between priesthood power, priesthood authority, priesthood keys, and priesthood offices? That information is something I could have looked up in a simple study.


Before preparing for the lesson, I thought I knew a lot about the priesthood. I mean, I think I thought I knew enough. Things like offices, authority, and keys represented technical information I didn't need to totally understand becuase I had so many other great & interesting questions!

I really believe the ninth article of faith: We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And, I really believe God has more to reveal to us about the priesthood and about women's ministry within that priesthood. I've been praying that the church can receive more from God on that topic.

But, as I studied the lesson and the articles by President Burton and Elder Oaks, I thought: God cannot reveal any more until we care about what we've already been given.

President Burton specifically asks us to learn all we can about the priesthood (she even asks everyone to memorize the priesthood Oath and Covenant):
"We rejoice that we are privileged to live in this season of the history of the Church when questions are being asked about the priesthood. There is great interest and desire to know and understand more about the authority, power, and blessings associated with the priesthood of God. [...] We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood."—Priesthood: “A Sacred Trust to Be Used for the Benefit of Men, Women, and Children” (May 2013)
Elder Oak's quotes her in the beginning of his talk as he introduces the importance of his topic for everyone in the church:
That need [the desire to better understand the priesthood] applies to all of us, and I will pursue it by speaking of the keys and authority of the priesthood. Since these subjects are of equal concern to men and to women, I am pleased that these proceedings are broadcast and published for all members of the Church. Priesthood power blesses all of us. Priesthood keys direct women as well as men, and priesthood ordinances and priesthood authority pertain to women as well as men. 
I also think studying the history of Relief Society and the importance of women's ministry is essential to the study of the priesthood.  Do you remember when President Julie B. Beck begged us to learn about it? Have you read Daughters in My Kingdom? Have you read the Relief Society Minutes yet? (It's so exciting that we have access to the original online!) I've read parts, but not the whole thing.
We study our history because it helps us change. Ultimately, the value of history is not so much in its dates, times, and places. It is valuable because it teaches us the principles, purposes, and patterns we are to follow, it helps us know who we are and what we are to do, and it unites us in strengthening the homes of Zion and building the kingdom of God on the earth. Relief Society, when it operates in an inspired way, can replace fear, doubt, and selfishness with faith, hope, and charity. As we move the Lord’s work forward, the history of Relief Society will continue to be written by faithful sisters throughout the world. The lord is strengthening Relief Society in the living present and preparing a glorious future for his daughters.”—Julie B. Beck "Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society" (October 2010)

So here's my challenge. Read Elder Oak's and President Burton's articles. Read Daughters in My Kingdom. Read the RS Minute Book! Let's read them together :)

What is your favorite part from President Burton and/or Elder Oak's talk? 
       What did you learn?
What did their articles inspire you to do?

Reading List
Linda K. Burton “A Sacred Trust to Be Used for the Benefit of Men, Women, and Children” (May 2013) or the  Ensign abbreviated version here (June 2014)
Her reading list:
Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–46 (Priesthood Oath and Covenant)
Doctrine and Covenants sections: 13,2084107, and 121  Book of Mormon, Alma 13
Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–46  
Dallin H. Oaks "The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood" (April 2014)

Relief Society Minute Book (1842)


  1. By the way, I am currently reading the book A Refuge from the Storm by Boyd K. Packer and I am only partway through it but the whole first chapter is about understanding a lot of the logistical aspects of the Priesthood like ordination and offices and keys. Although I knew most of it because Joseph and I have talked about it extensively, I think most members of the church don't understand a lot of it and I think it would be very helpful reading. The whole first section (several chapters) in the book is actually all about Priesthood and I'm just getting started on reading those as well. They seem like they will be very helpful in understanding the Priesthood further.

    1. Audrey! that is great! so excited to put it on my list!


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