Women and Priesthood Authority

[Joseph Smith] gave a lecture on the Priesthood showing how the sisters would come in possession of the privileges, blessings, and gifts of the Priesthood, and that the signs should follow them, such as healing the sick, casting out devils, & C., and that they might attain unto these blessings by a virtuous life and conversation and diligence in keeping all the commandments. (Manuscript History of the Church, 28 April 1842, “Words of Joseph Smith”, Ehat/Cook, Religious Studies Center, BYU, Grandin Publishing, 1980. p. 119)

And thou [Emma Smith] shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.  For he shall lay his hands upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost, and thy time shall be given to writing, and to learning much.  (D&C 25:7-8)

He [Joseph Smith] said the reason of these remarks being made was, that some little things was circulating in the [Relief] Society, that some persons were not going right in laying ands on the sic, & C.  Said if he had common sympathies, would rejoice that the sick could be heal’d, that the time had not been before, that these things could be in their proper order—that the Church is not now organiz’d in its proper order, and cannot be until the Temple is completed.  Prest. Smith continued the subject by adverting to the commission given to the ancient apostles “Go ye into all the world” &C.  No matter who believeth; these signs such as healing the sick casting out devils &C. should follow all that believe whether male or female.  He ask’d the [Relief] Society if they could not see by this sweeping stroke that wherein they are ordained, it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority which is conferr’d on them—and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let everything roll on. (Nauvoo Relief Society Minutes, 28 April 1842, “Words of Joseph Smith,” Ehat/Cook, Religious Studies Center, BYU, Grandin Publishing, 1980. p. 115)

Respecting the females laying on hands, he [Joseph Smith] further remark’d, there could be no devil in it if God gave his sanction by healing—that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water.  It is no say for anybody to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be heal’d by the administration. (Nauvoo Relief Society Minutes, 28 April 1842, “Words of Joseph Smith,” Ehat/Cook, Religious Studies Center, BYU, Grandin Publishing, 1980. p. 116)

Prest. S[mith] then offered instruction respecting the propriety of females administering to the sick by the laying on of hands—said it was according to revelation—&C.  (Nauvoo Relief Society Minutes, 28 April 1842, “Words of Joseph Smith,” Ehat/Cook, Religious Studies Center, BYU, Grandin Publishing, 1980. p. 119)

Note:  It is not to be inferred from this section that men and women are to hold the same priesthood authority.  Rather, men and women each hold priesthood keys consistent with their respective stewardships in the Kingdom of God. 

Men have the charge to warn the nations, to teach the people, and to administer in the temporal church in order to rid themselves of the blood and sins of this generation through their faithfulness.  In other words, men have responsibilities outside of their own family kingdoms as well as within, to support, defend, and build the overall Kingdom of God.  Women do not have this same burden outside of their own family kingdoms to deal with the blood and sins of the generation, and therefore are not to serve missions, and do not hold office in the temporal church.  This difference in responsibility between men and women is reflected in the different washing ordinances given to women and men in the endowment initiatory.

Women have the responsibility to bear and to teach their children, and to administer in many capacities within their family kingdoms in support of their matriarchal stewardships.  Women also have responsibilities within the Kingdom of God that may only be administered by women.  This “Matriarchal Priesthood” is the authority of women to administer these stewardships.  Women have different priesthood responsibilities than men, but they are indeed to hold priesthood authority consistent with their stewardships and responsibilities within the Kingdom of God.  This “Matriarchal Priesthood” is held by women who have received a true Endowment.

For example:

Women officiate in certain parts of the endowment, and in the endowment initiatory, which requires authority.

Women also receive the same “keys” in the endowment as do the men, which are priesthood keys.

Endowed women are qualified to pray in the True Order as are the men, which requires the use of these Priesthood keys, and which is therefore a Priesthood ordinance.

Endowed women are anointed to become a “Queen” and a “Priestess,” just as men are anointed to become a “King” and a “Priest.”* Becoming a “Priestess” for a woman certainly implies holding Priesthood.

Women by revelation can also be “ordained” to teach or “expound the scriptures” within the temporal church.  See the example below from D&C 25:7 relating to Emma Smith.

Women are to lay on hands and administer to the sick.

*(Actually becoming a “King and a Priest” or a “Queen and a Priestess” is by the ordinance of “Second anointing and Sealing,” and is intended to be an ordinance for men and women in mortality.  See section on “Calling and Election—Second Anointings”)