Saturday, July 15, 2017

Elder Dallin H. Oaks on priesthood authority for men and women

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (b. August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"While addressing a women's conference, Relief Society general president Linda K. Burton said, 'We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood' (BYU Women’s Conference, May 3, 2013). That need applies to all of us...
"President Joseph F. Smith described the priesthood as 'the power of God delegated to man by which man can act in the earth for the salvation of the human family' (Gospel Doctrine p. 139). Other leaders have taught us that the priesthood 'is the consummate power on this earth. It is the power by which the earth was created' (Boyd K. Packer, “Priesthood Power in the Home,” worldwide leadership training meeting, Feb. 2012)....
"We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.
"Whoever exercises priesthood authority should forget about their rights and concentrate on their responsibilities. That is a principle needed in society at large. The famous Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is quoted as saying, 'It is time... to defend not so much human rights as human obligations' (“A World Split Apart,” commencement address, Harvard University, June 8, 1978). Latter-day Saints surely recognize that qualifying for exaltation is not a matter of asserting rights but a matter of fulfilling responsibilities."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood," Ensign, May 2014, pp. 49-52
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This was a very interesting talk by Elder Oaks, as he considered the authority and keys of the priesthood as they relate to all members of the Church. We should all have that "greater desire to better understand the priesthood" described by Sister Burton, and this excerpt gives some excellent material to ponder.

While we often discuss the priesthood as being the power delegated to man to act for the salvation of others, we don't understand the ways in which that "man" is perhaps used in a generic sense and not in a gender-specific way. Elder Oaks helps us understand what it means to act with priesthood authority:

This is a wonderful description of how priesthood authority blesses us all as we function in that authority in our Church service.

The additional key point Elder Oaks shares is the distinction between rights and responsibilities. Sometimes we get so caught up in wanting to clarify and claim our rights, that we forget the obligation and blessing of just focusing on our responsibilities.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

1 comment:

  1. Women temple workers use the the priesthood in their service in the temple.


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