Why Does What the Prophet Taught about Priesthood Matter?

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(This is an excerpt from the book The Beginning of Better Days by Sheri Dew and Virginia Pearce.)

Do I fully understand the doctrine of the priesthood? Of course not. I feel as though I am a doctrinal neophyte. I do know, however, that if we sincerely want to learn about the Lord and His ways, He will lead us along just as He did the Prophet Joseph, here a little and there a little. The Prophet himself taught us that.53

In that spirit, I share an example of being led along. One day, I became curious about a passage in D&C 84, which contains the oath and covenant of the priesthood. There we learn that those who are faithful and who “obtain” the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood and then magnify their callings become “the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham…and the elect of God.”54 These verses seem to apply specifically and solely to men.

Subsequent verses, however, say this: “And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; and he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father.”55

The words also all they and the word receive, used no less than ten times in these verses, struck my curiosity. Also all they seem to imply more than those who are ordained. And though we typically use receive to mean “to acquire” something, the dictionary says that receive also means “to believe” or “to accept as true.”

Interestingly, this secondary definition of receive is used frequently in the scriptures, often by the Lord Himself. For example, He began a revelation to Emma Smith by declaring that “all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom.”56 When the Savior appeared to the Nephites, He lamented, “I came unto my own, and my own received [accepted, believed] me not…. And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God.”57

As I pondered the secondary definition of receive, I found myself wondering if the promises of D&C 84:35—40 might refer not only to those who receive the priesthood through ordination but also to those who receive it (meaning access to its blessings) by believing that the priesthood is the power of God, by accepting the manner in which the Lord has organized His kingdom, by sustaining those who hold priesthood keys, and by honoring priesthood power as the power of God. If so, is it possible that the blessings of the oath and covenant of the priesthood are efficacious in the lives of both men and women?

I do not share these ponderings as doctrine but as reflections of someone engaged in the step-by-step, line-upon-line process of learning and seeking. At the very least, it is clear from the scriptures that women have claim upon all blessings that emanate from priesthood keys, priesthood authority, and priesthood power.

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