Barbara Morgan Gardner, associate professor of church history and doctrine at BYU, has written a powerful and insightful book called The Priesthood Power of Women, published by Deseret Book. We highly recommend it as a stocking stuffer for the women (and men) in your life.
In the book, Dr. Gardner points out how our lack of understanding of Priesthood has limited its power in our lives.
She carefully lays out the difference between what she calls the “eternal familial priesthood” in which women and men are full partners, and the more temporary “hierarchical priesthood” concerned with church administration. She argues that our tendency to focus on the latter when talking about priesthood has been the cause of some confusion and has kept women from experiencing and realizing their own priesthood power and authority.
She points out how top church leaders have moved to clarify this in recent years, and have invited women to begin claiming their spiritual inheritance as priestesses of God.
Aubrey: Alright, tonight our guest is Barbara Morgan Gardner. And she is the author of “The Priesthood Power of Women.” She is, and correct me if I miss any of this, but she is an associate professor of church history and doctrine and BYU. She has a master’s in educational leadership and foundation, and a PhD in instructional psychology with postdoc work at Harvard University. So we are here to talk about her book tonight. We’re going to let her kind of give an overview of what you’ll find in her book, and then we’ll do a little Q&A together, and then we’ll open it up to questions from everybody who’s here. So thank you so much for being here.
Barbara: Thank you.
Aubrey: We are so excited to talk about your book.
Barbara: Thanks [Aubrey 00:00:58]. It’s exciting to be here, it’s exciting to be with all of you guys. We were just talking about some of those things that I could share. And I recognize that the topic of women in priesthood is a very misunderstood topic. And it can be a very divisive topic. It’s caused frustration for a lot of people. It’s also been a topic that empowers a lot of women and unifies a lot of people if they can understand it correctly. So I’m going to start with some of the reasons perhaps that people misunderstand it, and maybe help overcome some of those obstacles of unification and things.
Barbara: So one of the things that I’ve noticed is I often use the parable of the elephant and the blind men of Indostan. And in the story The Blind Men of Indostan, you have these six blind men and they’re all touching the elephant differently, and I think that most of us are aware of this little story. But one will be touching the leg and they think that it’s a snake, or somebody will be touching the ear and think it’s a fan, and somebody will be touching the tusk and think it’s a sword, or something of that nature.
Barbara: And with the priesthood, it’s the same way. So in this case with the elephant, all the blind men are touching different parts and they’re all saying what they think is right, and they’re all right, but as it says, but they’re also all wrong. And they’re wrong only in that they don’t understand that there’s much more to the elephant than the simple part that they’re holding on to. So with the priesthood, it’s very similar. When I talk about the priesthood, I’m not just meaning when the priesthood is understood or when priesthood is understood. We often talk about what I would say is the definition of the priesthood, which is the power and authority of God given to men on the earth. That is the one that we hear a lot. But we’re missing the greater and perhaps the more holistic definition or priesthood, which is the power of God. So the priesthood is God’s power.
Barbara: Elder Renlund in his book Melchizedek Priesthood actually talks about how, let me give this, Elder Renlund talks about how we can define priesthood in two ways as well. But I like his analogy. I was trying to figure out a way to explain it, and he explains it very well. He talks about how there are two definitions of Earth. There’s the big Earth, the globe, and that’s Earth, and then there’s the earth, or the dirt earth that we hold in our hand. And so we need to understand, when we talk about Earth, we need to say which Earth we’re talking about. And it’s the same thing with priesthood. When we’re talking about priesthood, there are really two definitions of priesthood. There’s the power of God, and then there’s the power and authority of God delegated to man on the Earth.
Barbara: One of the biggest problems that we have is that power and authority delegated to man on the Earth is perhaps the tusk of the elephant, but it’s in the church, historically, we’re constantly talking about just the tusk, and very rarely are we talking about the entire elephant. And so it’s caused a lot of confusion where some women will be saying, “I know that I have authority, I know that I have power because I go to the temple and I’m hearing this terminology in the temple, and I’m hearing power and authority and endowment and things like that, but yet I go to church and people are telling me that I don’t have priesthood power or authority.” And so it doesn’t make sense, and so people are talking out of two different sides of their mouth or two different sides of the elephant, and they’re confusing a lot of things.
Barbara: So one of the things that I’ve really tried to work on is distinguishing which priesthood we’re talking about, the complete power, or just this power and authority given to man. So if we understand this, most of the time we’re talking publicly, and this is a public conversation we have, we’re talking hierarchical structure of the church. First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, State Presidents and Bishops and everything else. That’s the more comfortable conversation, it’s the more public conversation.
Barbara: What we often don’t talk about is the familiar of of the temple, because frankly, many people are uncomfortable talking about the temple because they don’t know what they can say. And my experience with things, when you don’t know things, we often don’t talk about them. It’s just like the classroom. With John here, now I know John’s name, I’m going to bug him over and over and over again. But if I didn’t know John’s name, I’m likely not going to keep calling on him. It’s the same thing with talking about the temple. If we don’t know what we can and can’t talk about, usually we shy away, especially when we know that something’s been sacred and traditionally we are just not confident in talking about it.
Barbara: So part of the book, what I’m saying here, is I’m talking about the two different structures of priesthood, and I’m trying to help us understand a little bit more about the family, or the patriarchal structure of the priesthood and have a more open conversation, and then of course help women and men be more unified as they try to understand the synergy that takes place when both men and women use the power and authority of the priesthood in the church and in the home and in the temple and in society to be able to raise and help people come into Christ. Recognizing again that the whole purpose of the priesthood is to save souls. There’s no competition. I’ve heard it sometimes, some men will say, “So what do we have? What makes us so different?” Well that probably isn’t the best question. The question perhaps is, “Well then how can we better work together to save our brothers and sisters?” And that’s the whole purpose of the priesthood. It’s to save souls in the process of serving God.
Aubrey: Okay, you’ve got to talk about, I love, maybe my favorite part of the book was where you talk about ministering angels and you’re teaching a class, and you ask the class, “Raise your hand if you feel like you have the privilege of ministering angels,” and not one woman raised her hand.
Aubrey: So will you explain that? Because I think that class was probably a pretty good sample.
Barbara: Yeah. So this is… Yes. And I’ve been so happy over the last couple of years, I actually have seen some changes. It makes me giddy to see men and women understanding this better, but especially when I see the women understanding it better. Every young man who was ordained to the Aaronic priesthood receives the key of the ministering of angels. And for culturally and traditionally, young men especially are told, “You have the key to the ministering of angels, it’s so important that you’re pure and you’re blessing all these people with this and how important it is, and this is what that means,” and men are taught a lot about, even if they don’t remember it, but looking through curriculum, men are actually taught a lot about, in their youth especially, about the key to ministering of angels.
Barbara: What they don’t understand, so just making the point that all Aaronic priest holders would have that key regardless of having a key of presidency, so that’s an important distinction. That’s a general priesthood key. So within that, I asked my students, “So what does a key do?” A key turns the door, and a key turns and lock and it allows somebody to open the door. So the Aaronic priesthood has the key of the ministering of angels, but who then receives the key of the ministering of angels? Anybody who makes and keeps sacred covenants associated with that key. So we don’t use beehive anymore, but any young woman who is sitting in sacrament meeting and partakes of that sacrament and is worthy has the ministering of angels. Frankly, any member of the church, and we would say any eight year old, an eight year old who is partaking, worthy of that sacrament, has the ministry of angels. And so she has the blessing of having angels on her right hand and on her left hand and her back and her front. And there’s a long discussion about what this ministry of angels is, but every member of the church has it. Male and female, female and male alike.
Aubrey: I love that.
Barbara: Again, and just to say this, if you think about it, what difference would it make for every young woman in the church, every woman in the church to know that she really has the ministering of angels. That she really, literally, legitimately does have angels walking by her side. And if angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, then that’s part of this whole gospel that we teach. And so help everyone understand that you actually are listening to angels and you really do have angels, and when you’re feeling the Holy Ghost, you’re being guided, and you think maybe your grandma is talking to you, well she probably is. And you have that authority and power to have that. That’s real, that’s doctrinal, we believe in eternal families. And if we could teach that better, it would be very helpful.
Lindsay: I think that that’s so empowering. I love that. And I have some young women currently that really struggle with the priesthood. And so I appreciated your book so much. And we actually sat down with Valerie Hudson a couple months ago, and she said something that really stuck with me. She said, we were talking about Heavenly Mother, and we were talking about coming to know her. And she said, “Until her daughters become producers of knowledge, we might never know her.” And so that’s why-
Barbara: That’s beautiful. Yeah.
Lindsay: … For you and this beautiful work that you’re doing. And so I kind of had that question for you. Like what is your relationship like with Heavenly Mother and how have you come to that?
Barbara: Okay, so like the priesthood, that’s a great question. So like the priesthood, I’m going to say that historically, talking about Heavenly Mother has also been perhaps a little taboo. Can I say that?
Barbara: Is that okay? I know that’s the case. So I’ve done enough research and asked enough questions and read enough on this topic. But especially now for members of the church, we have to be aware of what the brethren are saying today. So 2016, I believe it was, President Ballard, speaking to all the seminary and institute and religion professionals at all the church universities asked the teachers to know the doctrine of Heavenly Mother like the back of their hand. And so if we say we shouldn’t be talking about Heavenly Mother and we have the President of the Quorum of the Twelve asking us to know about her and talk about her, then obviously there’s a gap there. We’re back in the 70s and not in the 2019s. Does that make sense?
Audience: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Barbara: So I say that because I try to explain this even with my students. Your parents were probably raised in a different generation, hopefully. Hopefully there’s a generation’s gap. I hope there is. And what your parents were taught, or what your parents think, or what traditional is whatever surrounding them may not be what the brethren are saying today. And you have to make sure that you’re always right on with what the brethren are saying today.
Barbara: So to this question, I say that first to kind of give you kind of the background because I know, I just want to set the stage that it’s really good to be talking about Heavenly Mother. We just had the young women’s theme to be changed to be talking about I am a daughter of heavenly parents. I have seen more talk about Heavenly Mother and heavenly parents in the last 20 years, but especially the last 10 years than I have… I would say, although I haven’t done complete research on this, but I would say ever in the church.
Barbara: So my relationship with her. The brethren, although this was back in the 70s, this hasn’t changed, have been, 70s and 80s, have been very strong in saying that we should not be praying to Heavenly Mother. So I still say that, and I would say have they given us a reason why? No. It’s the same with, President Hinckley was asked, “Why don’t women hold priesthood offices.” And his answer is, “I don’t know.” Why don’t we pray to Heavenly Mother? I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I would also say, do we believe in Heavenly Mother? Yes. Do we know that she is a co-creator with Heavenly Father? Clearly. Do we know that she is a perfected, immortal being, as our Heavenly Father is? Yes. Do we know that God, our Heavenly Father, cannot be a Heavenly Father without her by his side? Yes. So do we know that they’re equally yoked? Yes. I mean there are so many things that we know and it’s just clear that we know those things.
Barbara: So my mom passed away seven years ago now. And it’s just like we were talking about with angels speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost. I have a random conversation with my mom here and there, and sometimes it makes me cry and sometimes it makes me laugh, and then sometimes I’m like wondering why I’m talking to myself. I would say it’s probably a little similar of a relationship with Heavenly Mother. I know she’s there, I know she cares, I know that my mom cared about her. I know that my mom talked about her. I was raised in a home where Heavenly Mother was really obvious. We never prayed to Heavenly Mother, but she was definitely there, she was definitely part of the creation of mankind, she was definitely our Heavenly Mother. So I would say I think it’s a healthy relationship. I think I have a lot of questions, I know she cares. I know that when I’m praying, she’s listening. I believe that she’s part of the whole scope of receiving answers and I know she’s very involved in the details of our lives. Of course she would be, she’s a mother, right, I mean…
Barbara: And if she’s a perfected mother, I can’t even imagine the detail she is.
Bill: She’s not a perfectionist mother.
Barbara: She’s not a perfectionist and she’s not a worry wart, but I’m sure she has it perfect. I don’t know what that is, but I’m sure it’s pretty dang good. And maybe I shouldn’t laugh about this, but on a serious note, I’m sure she is so full of love that we cannot begin to comprehend that. Just like we can’t comprehend the love of the Father. But a woman loves differently, and they are united.
Bill: I wonder if there’s a way to open ourselves to a relationship with our Heavenly Mother outside of prayer.
Barbara: I think so.
Bill: I think my experience is that there is.
Bill: And that’s become, and I guess I haven’t asked for anybody’s permission to do that. I feel like that’s just become a part of my spiritual life, yeah.
Barbara: I’m always cautious, and you see this in the book I say this. I’m always cautious and careful not to go ahead of the brethren. I don’t want to, I’m very, very clear that I’m quoting them and trying to bring statements together and helping us understand things. The brethren haven’t said that we can’t. The only thing that I’ve seen that we can’t do is pray to her. And so to have a relationship with her… Not only did I say that that wouldn’t be wrong, but why wouldn’t it be right? She is our Heavenly Mother, we’re talking about her. If the young women are memorizing that, clearly the brethren are trying to get the women to understand it better.
Bill: I think one of the strengths of your book is you’re working within our faith, working within our traditional from a very committed, like I think your faith comes through as so potent in this book.
Barbara: I hope so. Because it is.
Bill: And I think you talk about covenants in a way that just like sinks deeply into my heart. And so you’re coming from a place of real authenticity, and within our tradition. You’re not trying to create something new. You’re taking our existing language and saying, “Have we really mined this? We have resources here. Have we foreclosed opportunities because of the way we talk about things?”
Bill: And I think you change like… The way you talk about priesthood is different. You say the priesthood that we often talk about is this hierarchical priesthood with just the church. It’s basically the infrastructure. But if you look at where the church leads, it leads to the temple, where you get this full flowering of familiar priesthood. And it leads to the home, where wife and husband as co-presidents, full partners, and then it points to heaven where apparently that’s also the case. But there’s, I feel a great deal of, I would suggest anybody read this book because I think you come away with a new understanding of the power of covenant. Which to me, when we talk about the power of priesthood, it really is in those covenants. It’s in those relationships. We covenant with God, we enter into a relationship with God, we enter a relationship with each other. And that brings this like, you can feel it. You can feel that energy, you can feel that spirit. And yeah. Would you want to say anything…
Barbara: You know, the priesthood really is a manifestation of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Right? I mean if we really understood what we’re talking about here, it is so sacred. And it’s so powerful. And it’s what God has given to us children on this Earth that know so little to be a part of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind. It’s not just some ethereal thing out there. It’s not just some floater. It is real. And it’s possible because Christ sacrificed his life for us and he gave us a perfect example, and he gained the power, as it talks about in the doctrine covenants especially, through being obedient to his father and being willing to give all that he had to us.
Barbara: And so now we have the opportunity to be able to make covenants with our father in heaven in the name of Jesus Christ. The one who was willing to give everything to us. And that power is so sacred, and that authority is so real that yes, it is different. And yes, those covenants empower us. It’s our ability to actually have the permission from our father in heaven, through Jesus Christ’s name to dig deeply and to be able to work in conjunction with him to save the people we love the most. And sometimes we don’t even know who we’re saving, but we will love them in the process of saving them. And then in the process, it’s cyclical. By loving them and serving them, we will become more like Christ, just like Christ, through his atonement was able to love even more.
Barbara: And so yes, I hope that that came across. I’m on this note, and we were laughing a little bit before, but you have so many questions. I have more questions than I have time to ever write a book about. More than I can possibly begin to express. Those questions have led me to a stronger and deeper conversion always. Because I will pay the price until I know what is true, and I will eventually, the Lord will eventually make this truth known to me through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Barbara: And so what you’re saying is yes, I am coming from a very faithful background. The Lord has proven himself to me over and over again, the Spirit has confirmed the truth to me, and I have found in my life if I am giving up, if I am drifting, in a sense, then I’m giving up too soon. Because when I push it all the way to the end, the Lord confirms the truth. If that makes sense.
Barbara: And so that’s partially what this book is. And one of the reasons I wrote this is because I’ve seen people be so confused. And right at the beginning of The Book of Mormon, I think there’s an extremely important principle where you see Laman and Lemuel murmuring. And then Nephi says in there, “They murmur because they knew not the dealings of God.” And I remember as a, literally as a 13 or 14 year old in high school, reading that for the first time, and it dawned on me, “If I’m murmuring, I probably don’t understand God’s will, or is doctrine.” And that doesn’t mean I don’t have reason, I mean of course I’ve, it doesn’t mean I’ve never murmured. If murmured a million times in my life. But when it comes to doctrinal points of the gospel, I have forced myself, if I have a problem, I’m going to study it and study it and study it and never give up. And eventually God will make himself known to me or he’ll make his doctrine known to me. Or if not, he’ll give me the ability to have enough patience and faith to wait.
Barbara: I have been wresting with the gospel my entire like. And I love the wrestle. I mean I really love it. I’m kind of weird about it. This is going to show some stupidity and immaturity on my part. I loved asking, and I know this is so obnoxious and a lot of you have had people like this, and maybe some of you were. I loved asking obnoxious questions on purpose so I could get kicked out of Sunday school so that I could go do a different church so that I could ask a different question, and so then I could tell my parents the reason why I wasn’t in Sunday school was because I got kicked out because I asked a really good question. Like that’s kind of how obnoxious I was.
Barbara: And I don’t even mean that, I mean that in all seriousness. I really did try to ask really hard questions so I would get kicked out, and then I did go to a lot of other churches when I was a teenager. Like I went, in my little area, I’m from Oregon, in my little area we had a Catholic church here and we had a Presbyterian church here, and we had the Mennonites. We had all these different things. And my dad was a state president, so he didn’t know I was getting kicked out. And my mom had 13 children, and there were other 12 to worry about, and I was searching. And I asked questions of other religion leaders and other friends.
Barbara: Having gospel of topic conversations with me in high school was part of my daily walk and talk. I remember being in the eleventh grade and my history teacher saying to me… It was a U.S. history class, and I remember him saying to me, “Barb, they have all these,” I mean I was the only LDS, Latter Day Saint person in that room. And he said, “Barb, it’s so interesting that all of a sudden you don’t have this gold Book of Mormon. What happened do it anyway?” And I remember being in a literature class in high school, and my world lit teacher, again, the only member of the church in that room and saying, “Barb, could you explain the similarities and differences between Dante’s Inferno and the LDS church’s Three Degrees of Glory?” And I remember sitting there thinking, “Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah let me figure that out.” I remember thinking I should know more, but I’m going to do my best. And so I think those questions are really good.
Barbara: There are harder questions though. There are harder questions that are the questions of the soul. Why have I not blessed to be able to have my own children? I don’t know. And that’s painful. Why wasn’t I married until I was 40 years old? Why did my mom pass away at such a young age? Why did my husband lose both of his parents when he was 40? Why do some people lose family members? Those questions are more difficult. And I think when we’re talking about, at least for me those questions are more difficult. I can find a lot of answers, doctrinal answers and priesthood answers in the scriptures.
Barbara: But what I have found in this continual struggle, and I think the struggle is meant, frankly to help us increase our faith in the Lord. Because when I have taken those questions to the Lord, I don’t have an answer to why I have not been able to have children of my own. But I do know that our Heavenly Father, and I’ll say in this case our Heavenly Parents are very aware of that, and it’s for a purpose that I don’t understand. And through asking that question over and over and over again and trying to figure out, not only just why, but what do I learn in this process? I have come to know Jesus Christ. I’ve come to understand adversity. I’ve come to understand the power of the priesthood. Because I was single. And so what questions was I asking? Why don’t I have the priesthood? Why am I not married to a priesthood holder? Why can’t I have the priesthood in my home? Why can’t, all these different things. And so what are the answers? The answers are coming in the doctrine. And so I’m not murmuring because of my personal life. I’m finding greater faith by understanding the doctrine of Christ.
Lindsay: I think that that’s why it’s important in my mind to have more women in the hierarchal structure of the church. Because we do ask different questions.
Barbara: We do.
Lindsay: And we see things and experience things in such a different way. So how do you feel about that?
Bill: Just step aside.
Barbara: What are you doing that for anyway? You invited me. Honestly. What do you think, you’re in charge?
Lindsay: I did have a young woman say, “It’s really hard for me to watch general conference and see eight women up there.”
Barbara: Yeah. For sure. So I’m going to do a couple, maybe I’ll explain a couple things. I’m going to go back to the other thing that you were saying, Bill, about the church structure and the family structure. When we see today President Nelson clearly making a stronger emphasis than ever on the family, and then we see President Eyring saying to the women of the church, he’s defining nurturing. And one of the things he says for nurturing is, “The woman’s primary responsibility for nurturing is to be the primary gospel instructor in the family.” That’s a huge change that many people did not recognize, and I think if more women understood that, he is saying, “In the home, women, you need to be stepping up to the plate.” It’s very hard to be the primary gospel instructor in your home if you don’t know the gospel.
Barbara: So he’s asking the women of the church to step it up. And does that mean that men also are not? No. And I’m going to say this until I’m blue in the face. It is not a competition. We are working together, men and women always, and the more men and women work together with the Spirit, the more synergy there is, and the more we’re going to be able to create a sin resistant and a strong covenant people. Right?
Barbara: Eventually as Elder [Powers 00:25:10] says, and I say it in this book, I quote him in this book, he says that the church is the framework that is eventually going to fall. And in the eternities, in the next life, what we will have is families. And so I know that it’s hard right now for a lot of people because they see this public structure of the church. But what is most significant, and again if we could focus on the temple, if we could focus on the family, it would be women, your responsibility as mothers, I don’t just mean mothers who have children. I consider myself a mother and I have no children. But you consider myself and I have considered my self a mother for a long time because I care about the gospel and I care about nurturing people and I care about saving souls. So I’m a mother. And I try to mother, and I try to nurture.
Barbara: So one thing we can do, I think is help the young women go against the natural culture of our day and the natural world and say, “Okay, first of all, let’s really focus on family and let’s focus on temple and let’s focus on your responsibility, and let’s make that awesome. Let’s make that so amazing.” Right, so I think that’s one. But then I also say the Lord structured his hierarchal structure of the church in that way, and I don’t know why. But there have been a number of changes recently that have allowed women to be more visible, more vocal, more validated. We see women on the stand, we see women speaking more, we see women praying, we see women as witnesses and things of that nature, and you know what, it took Moses how many years to cross the wilderness? And I’m not saying that it’s ever going to change and that women will be ordained a priesthood office, I have no idea. For me, it’s a leaf on the tree. But what I do know is that we have a prophet today, and we’ve had prophets for years who have loved, adored, and really tried to help women reach their own potential.
Barbara: It’s like you were saying with Heavenly Mother I think a little bit, with Heavenly Mother wants the women to be able to gain that knowledge to become like her. If we haven’t noticed as sisters, I’ll speak to you for a second. The brethren are pleading with the sisters, literally using that word to figure it out. And the sisters are waiting for the brethren to figure it out, but the brethren are pleading with the sisters to do it. So sisters, if you’re not doing it, whose fault is it? And I don’t mean to be mean to the sisters by saying that, but I’m going to put ownership a little bit where it needs to be. If you’re waiting for the men to figure everything out and change everything, I’m not saying that you should be writing to the prophet and say, “This is what needs to change.” But if you’re not studying the priesthood like he’s asking us to do, and if you’re not taking that role as a primary religious educator, or whatever I just said, in your home, and if you’re not taking the role that the brethren are pleading with the women to take, then the Lord can’t give us more than we’re willing to accept. And so we have to accept more
Barbara: So I’m just throwing that out there. I personally believe in my many conversations with many women, when women get together and talk about the priesthood, the Lord reveals truth to women in magnificent, incredible, amazing ways. And they’re not getting ahead of the brethren. The brethren, if you haven’t noticed, President Nelson is just right there. And the women are following along. But I’ve also noticed, women are understanding the priesthood in some ways better than they ever have before and are having conversations in new ways and are actually using the priesthood and teaching it differently than they have before. But it is difficult for these young women, there’s no question. And I will say this too. I’m blabbing a lot, but I guess I’m supposed to be.
Bill: It’s okay to ask them questions too.
Barbara: Okay, good.
Barbara: Yes. We need to also be authentic with the young women and say, “It’s hard.” To just say, “No, don’t worry about it, don’t think about it. You’ll figure it out someday.” No. Young women, it is hard. We don’t live in that society. We live in a different society. We live in a society where women are supposed to be doing everything and have everything, and it seems unfair, and yes, right now, I don’t have all the answers, but I understand that it’s hard and I understand, and can we talk about it more and can you help me understand more of how you’re feeling and see if I can help. Or if nothing else, I may not have any answers at all, but let me walk beside you. Let me be a part of this and let me understand and let me help you to know that it’s a struggle and it’s real for some sisters. And although I don’t have the answers, I’m right here with you. And feel free to cry on your pillow all you want. I’ll cry with you too. You know what I mean? But it’s all true and the church is still true. I don’t have all the answers, but I love you.
Bill: So we’re in this interesting transitional phase, it seems to me. Like we’re struggling with our language a little bit. You’ve brought, and you stated in the book even I think, Brother and Sister Renlund brought out that we’re confused about what priesthood means. Like genuinely confused. This is going to be an interesting transition-
Barbara: It is. I agree.
Bill: [crosstalk 00:29:34] we have a native language that we’ve inherited, and it gets a little confusing, but I love, I think one thing that you’ve really done in this book is you’ve said there’s like, so this priesthood, this covenantal priesthood, this family priesthood, that’s the eternal one.
Bill: The one that we talk about all of the time is the hierarchical one that relates to the church, which is temporary. The church itself is temporary.
Barbara: Yeah, it is.
Bill: And by the way, I’ve noticed that we should have all noticed by now that we’re de-emphasizing church in favor of temple and family now.
Bill: We’re cutting back.
Barbara: More and more.
Bill: Right? Sooner or later-
Barbara: One hour church, baby.
Bill: Can we get a show of hands?
Barbara: Just saying. Come to our house. I’m just kidding, we don’t even go to church. No, I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Sorry Gus. Sorry sweetie. Sorry.
Bill: Now I lost my train of thought.
Barbara: I’m really sorry.
Bill: She’ll be here all night.
Barbara: Yeah. Sorry.
Bill: Yeah, but I think it’s important. So we have, by the way, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but we have a distinctly male way of talking about priesthood.
Barbara: Yes, I noticed.
Bill: We talk about holding it, using it, like it’s a tool we pick up off the shelf.
Barbara: Yes, yes.
Bill: So we’ve made priesthood like an object instead of like this covenantal relationship, we’ve made it an object that we grab, we can use and put it back on the shelf, okay. So I think the way it’s ingrained into our conversation, I think one of the things your book does is start to shift, challenge our vocabulary, and say, “Some of this is just cultural baggage that we have brought to these eternal concepts. We need to kind of maybe start separating that a little bit and see what the deep reality is behind it.” So yeah.
Barbara: I agree, and frankly, that’s part of the plea I think for President Nelson. Men talk differently than women do. I mean there’s just, I know there are so many studies and gender studies, and I did a lot of this when my post graduate work and things, but I’m still just going to say men talk about the priesthood differently than women do. I’ve talked to so many men and so many women. Women are embracing priesthood, men are holding priesthood. I mean it’s just, it’s kind of a, it’s just…
Bill: For women, it’s something almost like flows through you, and for men it is a tool.
Barbara: Yes. Yes.
Bill: But it does make sense because we do, like in the hierarchical priesthood, if that’s what we’re talking about, there are keys. That is like something you-
Barbara: Yeah, there’s a terminology. Exactly.
Bill: Yeah, there is a terminology.
Barbara: But there really isn’t. But there is. Right, I mean-
Barbara: That’s what we’ve made it to be even though…
Barbara: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:32:01]
Bill: But you hold callings or you…
Barbara: But the key of knowledge is a temple thing, and you don’t…
Barbara: You know what I mean? So that’s why it’s, you know when you think about Section 84, which President Nelson has just asked all of the sisters the study. In there, we have the key of knowledge, and that’s something every sister of the church can have, and you don’t, that’s not, it’s different. It’s a different way of using a key. Sorry, I totally interrupted you.
Bill: Just give us our tools. All we want is our tools. We just do.
Barbara: Exactly. Exactly. Yes. And are trying to become it.
Lindsay: Yeah, well I was asked to give a talk in church about the priesthood and women, which was really hard for me. And so I wrote it up, I really labored over it, and I went over to my dad’s house and kind of read it to him, and he was so kind and gracious, but he said-
Bill: I’m her dad, by the way.
Barbara: You’re so kind and gracious.
Lindsay: But he did say, “You’re talking about the priesthood the way a man would talk about the priesthood.” And he kind of pointed that out and he said, he challenged me, he said, “You need to create your own vocabulary for what you experience.”
Barbara: That’s good.
Lindsay: And it was like 8:00 at night, and I started crying.
Barbara: Don’t we all.
Lindsay: And I got home and prayed and prayed, and I think that that was a real turning point in my life.
Barbara: That’s great.
Lindsay: Because I was able to put words to it, and it was something that I saw as I was more of a vessel for that power. And I feel like I used to pray and it was like I would pray to God, and then hope that he would bless whatever I was praying for.
Lindsay: And it kind of, I had like this shift of I’m actually part of the process of God’s power flowing through me to my child or to the food that I’m busing, or whatever it is. And it has been significant for me, and I’ve had really cool experiences with that.
Barbara: What experiences have you had?
Lindsay: Well I mean just the other day, my son was having night terrors. And so he was shaking and he was tense, and he came and he just, “I can’t sleep.” So I had him kneel down by me and I held his little hands, and I just started praying for him in my mind. But I started like in his crown and it just kind of came to me what he was feeling. So I asked God to take away the fear and the anxiousness, and I went to his throat, and I could actually like, it was like inspiration, I knew what he needed. And asked for God to bless him with the things that he needed. And it was probably like a 10 minute prayer, which is kind of long, and it was just like this vibration that I could feel. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I could feel energy rushing through me, and he could feel it. And at the end of the prayer, he just like fell into my arms and he was limp and just, his heart wasn’t beating so fast, and I knew that it was God’s power.
Lindsay: And I think before, like when I was on my mission, it was like, almost like this anxiety, like, “God, please bless this person to show up to church.” And it was like I didn’t feel part of the process. It was just kind of like a plea, and I didn’t feel connected to it, but I feel like I’m kind of feeling that now of like, if I am a pure vessel, I can be that kind of conduit for his power.
Barbara: So okay, that was awesome.
Barbara: So April 2018 general conference, President Nelson talked to the men, and he asked to men to live up to their priesthood privileges. And he said, “Too many men are giving blessings.” Right? Too many men are giving prayers, offering prayers, and they’re not giving blessings. And in that same talk, he quotes Section 84, 19, 18 through 21 I think on that one, or maybe it’s 18 to 23. And then he says, “And women are not receiving their priesthood privileges either.” And what you just explained is almost to the tee what President Nelson was telling the men that they were not doing. And then he’s also in that same talking saying, “Women, you also are not doing it.” It’s kind of an interesting, it’s interesting to hear you express exactly what he told the men that they weren’t getting in your world, and now in 2019, he’s saying to the women, “Women, you need to understand,” and he actually says, “You need to study the priesthood power that you have been endowed with.” And then he says, “And as you do so, it will change your life.”
Barbara: So the prophet of the church this year is asking you to do what you have already learned. And how he’s actually saying, “Do it more.” Figure it out more and it will change your life, and it will change the world. The prophecies have been there. President Kimball was prophesying about the women in our day back in the 1970s, then President Nelson has said, “Now we need to be doing this.” And what you’re exactly describing is true. And if more women were thinking about it in those terms and trying to, I think what President Nelson is trying to do, as you notice, he’s not giving the answers, but he’s asking the questions, and he’s asking women to figure out the answers. And I really do believe that President Nelson is in a sense almost depending on the women to figure it out. He’s not going to give it to us. I really don’t, and I don’t know that the Lord has given it to him necessarily. I don’t mean to in any way demean him. I think the Lord is giving him as a prophet the responsibility to get the women to figure it out and to use it. So yes, I think that that answer is spot on. And it’s beautiful, and I think we can all be doing that better.
Aubrey: So I have a question kind of about that. We have a really beautiful family history story about a grandmother who was blessed by women who came and put, she was like dying, and she writes that these women came and they blessed her, and she could feel herself being healed. And she did, she went on to live. And it’s just, I feel something when I read that, like I love that story. Like I feel like that was really true for her. She really was healed by these women. So can you talk about that? What authority were they using to perform these blessings and when did that change and is that a policy thing? And I don’t know everything about women in the early church performing blessings…
Aubrey: Yes. I wanted a chapter about that.
Barbara: There will be one coming.
Aubrey: What happened? Why exactly is it not okay anymore?
Barbara: Okay. I can’t give you an exactly why it isn’t okay anymore, but I can give you some historical context that may be helpful.
Barbara: So as I said, in the early days of the church, Joseph Smith was receiving both the hierarchal and patriarchal priesthood. Or familial, sorry, my bad.
Bill: There you go.
Aubrey: [crosstalk 00:38:57]
Barbara: The whole church minister is calling it familial, and I know, it’s because of Bill. When the relief society was restored originally, and I say restored because we have been told that the church isn’t restored, but relief society is, and frankly we’re only continuing restoration. So I am big on making sure that when we’re talking restoration, we’re still talking restoration. When the relief society was being restored, Joseph Smith was very clear that the purpose of relief society, the real purpose of relief society was to prepare women to be entering the temple and receiving their endowments and entering the new and everlasting covenant, or the patriarchal, or the familial priesthood that he actually calls the patriarchal, so I have to be careful.
Barbara: I’ll be true to the sources. So women in the temple are ordained and given authority to perform priesthood functions and ordinances in the temple. Does that make sense? And so when women naturally are doing that in the temple, Joseph smith also says that it is a woman’s duty at that time to be performing priesthood blessings and blessings specifically of healing. So Joseph actually teaches that in the early days of the church, and he teaches it in context specifically of the temple, but it’s very, very difficult for a historian or a person looking at church doctrine or looking at the church scriptures to be able to distinguish, and this is one of the difficult things, unless he specifically says it. And in this case, he clearly is talking about the temple so you can see that it’s there.
Barbara: But he also knows, and then also histories and stories of people performing those ordinances of course outside of the temple, which is where most of those healing blessings are happening. They’re happening in the temple, but they’re also happening outside of the temple.
Barbara: So we go through this period of time with Joseph Smith, and it seems like during the Joseph Smith time, it was fine. But as the church, and we learn line upon line, as the church is becoming more, I should say, I want to say hierarchical, but that’s really not the word I, as the church is becoming organized under a more specific structure, in the scriptures it does specifically talk about how elders should be called upon for healing.
Barbara: And so it starts changing until eventually, I think it was in the early 1900s, I have to get my dates exactly right, where Joseph F. Smith says that when we’re calling upon the elders, those are the ones that should be performing that healing blessing of laying hands upon the head and performing that blessing specifically. But historically, you’re right. It was happening for a long time.
Barbara: And if you look at the temple and the blessings and the promises in the temple, I think women can say, “Okay, so does a woman still have the power to heal? Does a woman still have the power and authority to do these things?” And I would say I will leave that to you, I won’t necessarily leave it to you. The brethren have said a lot about that, and yes, I think many women have patronal blessings and healing through faith and healing through prayers and everything else. But I would say according to what the brethren have taught today, it would not be appropriate for a woman to put her hands on somebody else’s head saying, “By the authority of da da da da da which she holds,” because that would be a hierarchical structure of the priesthood.
Barbara: Then if you were to say, “But what about the next life? Or what about when this church is no longer in existence? What happens to the women? Can they,” I leave that to the Lord. I don’t have an answer, but it seems… [crosstalk 00:41:55] if that makes sense.
Lindsay: But by what you teach, you can hold their hand and pray for them.
Barbara: Absolutely. And maybe I’ll be a little personal here. I’ve had discussions and I’ve had prayers and I’ve been, even with a recent opportunity with my father. He’s 86 old, he is very weak. I don’t know how long he’ll be around and I hope he is not watching this. But I have been with him and held his hand and offered a prayer that I knew what I should be saying. And I knew that it was coming from the Lord. And it was anything me just pleading for something, it was offering a prayer of healing and of faith that was coming from God. Does that make sense? I wasn’t pleading for anything. I was telling. I was talking.
Barbara: So yes, by putting your hands on somebody’s head, according to what the prophets have taught and the hierarchical structure of the priesthood, probably not appropriate if we’re looking at that term. But by no means do I have the monopoly on that. But I would say if we understand the temple and what is happening in the future, of course women are part of that whole healing process.
Lindsay: Yeah. We would love to open it up to everyone else. Are you guys okay with that?
Barbara: Yeah. Yeah.
Lindsay: We would love to have…
Barbara: Can I say something before-
Lindsay: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, sorry.
Barbara: Just [inaudible 00:43:13] that last one, I mean I know you know this, but I’m just going to say to make it clear. That’s my opinion. And a lot of things I can quote the brethren. On this one, I’m not quoting the brethren. That one is totally my opinion on that.
Lindsay: Thanks for your opinion.
Barbara: Happy to share my opinion.
Speaker 6: The outdated language that I had grown up with has [inaudible 00:43:35] many priesthood lessons where they’ve talked about what is the power of the priest and all this kind of stuff. And it gets reduced down to basically the power of the priesthood is to be able to ordain, baptize, and a couple of more little ordinances. But beyond that, men and women have the same access to the power of God to heal, to bless, to invoke angels. To inspire, whatever. And it’s always left me is what does the priest do? What is the priesthood? And I associate it with creativity. God created the Earth with the power of the priesthood. So priesthood is creating. But it’s creating life from birth or Earth, or creating love, creating relationships. So I would appreciate you talking about what is the priesthood relationship to creation? Whatever creation is. In the most expansive definition or narrow, or how are those two related? Because we keep talking about the Earth was created with the power of the priesthood.
Barbara: In this book, there was one thing that I was told that I should take out that I did over and over and over again. But I have to make this extremely clear. In my very humble but experienced opinion, the things that I may be in some ways demeaning as little things that men do are not little things that men do. I have honestly 100% seen God’s hand work through a man who holds the priesthood worthily, put their hands on someone’s head, and save a life. Literally save a life. Physically. I have seen it spiritually. I hope in no way when we’re talking, I know we’re talking about family and we’re trying to make sure that we get the temple and everything else here, but I want to also make it very clear that there is a purpose for men holding the priesthood.
Barbara: I don’t know why it’s just men, but that priesthood and those offices that men hold and the keys and authority that men have, I have been a personal witness to more occasions and sacred experiences than I can talk about to make sure we understand that we’re not minimizing that. I love and appreciate a very worth father, a very worthy husband, and many men in my life that I have witnessed not just perform miracles, but act in God’s name through the power and authority that they have because of the priesthood that they hold. So I want to make sure that’s clear too.
Barbara: So going back then to your creation part, and I think that’s an absolutely beautiful question. I haven’t thought about it in those terms, but I’m just going to throw a few things out to you. One is clearly creation is a part of the priesthood. And I don’t know exactly, I mean it’s kind of difficult to put those terms and define what is the creationist part of priesthood, is the priesthood creation. I don’t want to put any borders on God, so I’m not going to put any borders on the priesthood necessarily.
Barbara: But is creation a part of priesthood? No question. I mean one of the keys that we have been told my a number of the prophets is one of the keys that has not been revealed on the Earth today is the key of creation. That there is not a man on the Earth necessarily who has been given that key. But then if you think about what women do and you think about creation and you think about the temple, then I would say I don’t know if that’s what that’s inferring. I have no idea. But could it be? Yeah. It definitely could be. Do we need men and women together to be full creators of life? Yes we do. So therefore does Heavenly Father then need a wife, and back to the comment that Bill was making before Elder Andersen and Elder Christofferson both have quotes that say that if we understand God, we always understand that it’s Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother together.
Barbara: There are some interesting little parts here. So is priesthood part of creation? Yes. Is creation a part of priesthood? Yes. Is understanding or priesthood going to help us be better creators? No question that’s the case. And if we keep our covenants, will we be more creative? Will we be more artistic? Yes. This is kind of random, but I find it fascinating that when you look at the first presidency in Quorum of the Twelve, the majority, if not all, have forced themselves into a creative atmosphere. Whether it be through medicine, or if you look at President Eyring, if anybody has read his biography, it’s beautiful, but he watercolors in there. He has little pencil drawings.
Bill: He’s an extraordinary painter, actually.
Barbara: He is. Then you look at Elder Scott, and a recent talk by Elder Gong where Elder Gong says that Elder Scott asked him if he wanted him to teach him how to watercolor, and then you see Packer and his sculpting, that kind of creation, not that that’s the only kind, but that artistic, creative world is something that is clearly important to members of the First Presidency in Quorum of the Twelve who understand the priesthood and understand God. And I would say that that’s the case with their wives as well as you see the creative powers and influences and the things that they’re working on. It’s fascinating to me to hear the brethren talk about what they do on the side, and often it’s usually something creative. Not writing, not reading, but trying to expand.
Barbara: Elder Scott actually talked about that we need to learn in different ways besides the reading and writing, besides what we see and hear, but he talks about feeling and visioning and things of that nature. So I think you’re right on the money on that. I don’t have a perfect answer, but I think it’s definitely something to be considering more understanding. I would say that you’re on very good footing and I think that you’re…
Speaker 6: Well I’m an artist, so of course I’m on good footing.
Barbara: Well I didn’t know you’re an artist, but that, I mean obviously I haven’t met you, but yes.
Speaker 6: [Colby 00:49:24] has got a question.
Barbara: I’m going to throw one thing out before you go, Colby. One of the things that I have my students do, this is random, but it’s actually for this purpose. Dear John had to do this, I’m sure. But at the end of every semester, during the semester I have my students come up with a, they work on a doctrinal project of some sort. But I have them turn in at the end also an artifact of some sort that has to be creative. And I’ve learned that in that artifact, that creative artifact, my students, and if I can get a stick figure out that shows any type of action, it’s probably the wrong action. You know what I mean?
Barbara: So I’ve noticed in them forcing in a sense them to be creative out of what they would ordinarily do, they become more like Christ and have more, they almost always express a connection that they never had before. So there’s something to it.
Lindsay: So interesting.
Barbara: I would like to have you teach me more on that, because that’s an important topic. That’s beautiful.
Bill: From artist to art dealer.
Barbara: Okay, dealer.
Colby: At the very beginning when you were defining priesthood, at the end of it, you said something very quickly about the synergy in the home and defining that very quickly. And then you used the word synergy a couple other times. Not a common word. Can you define what synergy is to you, but then the priesthood in the home, can you explain how do you envision that synergy in the home? What does that look like to you?
Barbara: So I’m getting like whispers from angels. Ministering of angels, alive and dead.
Colby: When I say the home, I also-
Barbara: I should have [crosstalk 00:51:11]
Colby: [crosstalk 00:51:11] wife and I got three kids.
Lindsay: That’s a good question.
Barbara: What was the last thing you said about three kids?
Colby: [crosstalk 00:51:19]
Barbara: Oh you and your wife have three kids.
Colby: We have three kids and so maybe use that for the home in this case.
Barbara: Okay, so I think we all kind of see through the lens of our life. And I see through the lens of my life a lot, clearly, so you’re going to see kind of where I’m coming from. I talk about this a little bit in the book. I have a mom and a dad who are incredible people. Both were raised by either inactive parents or anti-Mormon parents, and a mother in one case that committed suicide. So my parents were very careful in how they raised us. My dad actually said when he was 14 after his mom committed suicide, he pledged to himself and God, and he hadn’t even joined the church yet at this point, that he would raise his family differently and treat his wife differently than his father raised his family and treated his wife.
Barbara: My grandmother committed suicide because my grandfather was trying to force her to have an abortion. And rather than having an abortion, she killed herself and the baby. That was how she resolved it. So obviously we have some issues going on there, right? And my mother was raised by wonderful parents. My grandmother had some mental issues that made things very difficult and a father who really tried to help, but wouldn’t surpass anything on my grandmother’s side. So my parents eloped to the temple because no one would come. To understand a little bit of background of how I was raised.
Barbara: Then my parents, through a lot of wonderful miracles and a lot of determination and everything else had 13 children. And I’m the twelfth of the 13. So I have observed a lot growing up. I have observed 11 other older siblings that got married and had children, and I’ve observed what’s good and not so good, and et cetera et cetera, in my own personal opinion.
Barbara: But I’m going to go back to my parents. My dad and mom, if I were to say something that would maybe describe them, they were equally yoked and they were a total team. Like if someone were to say to me, “Who was in charge of your family?” I would say my parents. It wouldn’t occur to me to separate them. Like it was weird that my mom died because now I’m like, and we all recognize that she’s passed away, and there’s and my dad’s missing his other part, and it would have been the same if my dad had passed away first.
Barbara: When we prayed in family prayer, I don’t think that I ever thought that my mom or my dad had more priesthood power and authority. I don’t think I ever thought that my mom or dad had more faith. They were so equally yoked and they had all the respect in the world together. Did my dad performed people blessings? Yes. Did my dad call my mom or the siblings to pray? Yes. Is that the way it always has to be? I don’t know. I’ve asked that question and I don’t have an answer for that. But did my mom perform miracles? Yes. Did my mom also have her role in the family? Yes.
Barbara: I’ve told a couple of stories in the book where I remember on one occasion, I was coming home from a paper route, I was on my paper route actually, and I was walking around the corner and I was just there with my husband not too long ago, we were just walking around the corner and I pointed out, “This is the spot.” And it was just this white van, you always hear these scary white van stories. I always have these nightmares of white vans and then it happened and now I have even more nightmares about white vans. But it literally was a white van. He came around the corner, it was pitch black, and I was by myself delivering the paper to the [Margocians 00:54:47] and there was a man in the front and he was driving and then another man opened the side door and he just yelled at me to get in the car. And I was in the van and I was I don’t know, 12 of 13, I can’t remember my exact age, and literally I froze. And then my mom and her blue little minivan, she came around that corner so fast and just zoomed around there and no way of knowing, but she pulled in between that white car and me and she just yelled at me to get in. And she had no idea what was going on.
Barbara: And is that power an authority of God? Yeah. I think it is. I know it is. Was she ordained to a priesthood office to make that happen, no, but was she endowed with priesthood power, yes, and could other moms have that? Yes. Other moms of other faiths, other religions, other people, can also have that. And it happens all the time, we see miraculous efforts by moms all the time. But do I think that the power and authority through the temple and that endowment affected my mom and helped her to be even more powerful and strong in my family because she was making and keeping covenants? Yes I do.
Barbara: So I remember just this morning I turned on the garbage disposal, thank you for being for me. I often stare at people when I have nothing to say. I got that from my mom too. I can’t tell you how many times I got stared at growing up. And I’m one of 13. The staring that went on. Anyway, so I remember just this morning I would turn on the garbage disposal and I was putting my hand in just to kind of get the stuff out, and I remembered when I was about 15 I had a cousin that was living with us, and she was one of two children. I don’t think she had a lot of experience doing dishes, and she was on the dish chart just like anybody else that visited. And all of a sudden I heard my mom yell out from the bedroom, “Get your hand out of the garbage disposal.” And my cousin just totally threw her hand out. I wasn’t even paying attention, she was literally the garbage disposal was on and her hand was going on there. And my mom was in a completely different room and she yelled at her to get her hand out of the disposal having no idea of course it was in, but somehow she knew. And do I think that the power of God? Yes I do.
Barbara: And so you say, like how do couples work on it? I think couples do everything they can to make covenants with God and to keep their covenants with God and to be unified with God, and I know that, I’ll give you another example. I remember coming home from a volleyball game one day and I was very frustrated with my mom because she had forgotten me, like she often did. I tell you that I had this most amazing mom, and then I tell you all these bad stories. She did, she forgot me a lot. Again, I was the twelfth child and she was older. So I don’t know if we won or lost the game, but we had come home and I remember she was doing dishes. She always was doing. And I let into her. “I can’t believe that you forgot me, what a horrible mom. Nobody else’s mom forgets them,” and all that stuff. And my dad came around the corner, and he got into my face. And my dad was usually gone at work, right, and my mom was a stay at home mom, but she was so involved in community and things that stay at home is kind of a funny word to use with that.
Barbara: But I remember him putting his finger in my face, like literally, and my dad is, he’s a very calm, cool, collected person. Very kind. But he put his finger in my face and he said, “That is my wife.” And that’s all it took for me to like want to bury myself in a grave. Literally, I just ran down the stairs and I shut the door behind me, and a few minutes later he came down, and he told me with his arm around me, “Barb, you just treated the most important person in my life with the most disrespect I have ever seen come out of you. And I want you to know that I love you as a daughter, but she is my wife. And that will never happen in this home again. And I love you and you’re going to be a wonderful wife some day, and I hope your husband is the same way with you.”
Barbara: And is that power from God? Yes, and how is that power? Because it’s a man being extremely humble, protecting his wife, and helping her be a better mom and raise these children. The most powerful thing a man can do for the three children that you have is love your wife. And love is part of the power of God. And the most powerful thing that you can do, I believe as a wife for your children using the priesthood of God, again, is to love your husband. With not just the fake love, the best love that you can. I think just like we’re talking about creation, I believe love is also part of the priesthood.
Barbara: President Packer says that one of the problems that we have in the church is often we try to take the structure of the church and overlay it on the structure of the family as if they’re the same. And he says they are not the same. And so we have a vertical structure here and a horizontal structure here. And so we try to answer family questions by talking about the church, we try to answer church questions by talking about the family, and there are some cases we can, but many times we cannot and should not.
Barbara: So people will say, “Well presiding in the church looks like this, and so therefore it should look like that in the family.” No, if anything what’s in the family shouldn’t look like that in the church. But frankly in this case, they’re not supposed to go over. So a Bishop can preside. He has actual presiding keys that allows him to preside in the ward. A father does not have presiding keys, right? A man doesn’t go to the temple and receive keys of presiding. There are no keys of presiding in the temple, there are no keys of presiding in the family. But a father is told, especially the family proclamation, that is provide, protect, and preside, right?
Barbara: And so what does presiding mean? Again, and what we hear about presiding in the church is defined. In the family, what we hear about presiding is what not to do. Or what presiding is not. So if you look back at the brethren statements about presiding, you often find something like this. President Hinckley. “Some people use the idea in Genesis that men are to rule over their wife as meaning that they’re supposed to be over them.” And he says, “Absolutely not. Any man who thinks that he she be ruling over his wife has lost the authority of the priesthood and the power thereof. That’s a pretty strong statement and saying, “Ruling and presiding are the opposites when it comes to the family.” And then you have statements from Elder Perry, who says, “In the church, there is a president and a counselor. In the family, there is no president and counselor. They are equal.”
Barbara: So presiding doesn’t mean somebody is in charge of, right? And so what you do find though are other statements where you see what is presiding, and they usually will describe it. Presiding usually means, this is President Ballard gave a great one recently. “Presiding means loving. It means serving. It means sacrificing.” Elder Holland says, “A father who presides will to anything he can for the benefit of his wife and family just like Christ gave his life for the church.” You don’t see any type of ruling over or being in charge of. The only other thing we talk about in presiding is Elder Christofferson talks about the father presides, and he says, “Therefore he performs ordinances.”
Barbara: So the only way when we’re talking about presiding in the family is performing ordinances or presiding in that way. But most of the time it’s what they’re not doing, and it’s the sacrifice and the love that they should be doing. Completely a different definition than what the world is giving. So something to think about for a family.
Bill: So I think synergy is build right into the word priesthood. What does hood mean? What does brotherhood mean, what does sisterhood mean, what does neighborhood mean? Like it’s a term that connotes relationship. And we have it like this object, and instead, like there’s synergy built right into the word. That’s one thing women can help us understand actually, because we don’t really-
Barbara: That’s a good point.
Bill: How could we have used this word priesthood for all these years and not understood that it really is about synergy?
Barbara: Yeah. Oh, totally agree. Yes.
Bill: And that’s where the power comes from. And so like women, help us understand that. And you already model it, so I think you can help us redefine that.
Barbara: Can I throw something, one more thing on that? Because I want to get back to that synergy question, and I’ll just do it quickly on this one. One of the last chapters I have, I talk about unity. So we’re talking about a husband and wife being unified. But if you look at Christ and how many times Christ talks about the father and the son being one. And I would say if the father and the son are one, and Elder Christofferson and Elder Andersen and many others are talking about how you cannot have a God unless you have a male and a female, and you’re talking about the power that God has, and then you say, “Okay, what is synergy?” Synergy at its finest is all of God’s power. It’s as it says in Section 84 of Doctrine and Covenants, if you keep this oath and covenant of the priesthood, you will have all that the father has. And I would say with that, all that the mother has. All that they have.
Barbara: So what is the synergy? I believe that as a husband and a wife to everything that they can to be unified, and I don’t mean by unified that they’re supposed to be one. I mean unified in harmony. Each play their part to the best that they can as a unified couple, that the Lord, because of the covenants, will empower and bless and strengthen that couple beyond their personal capacity. So it’s not just they’re using their own capacity, but their capacity with the capacity of our Heavenly Parents and Jesus Christ, however that works, I don’t know, but expands this couple’s ability to raise righteous families and have power and authority, and the world expands exponentially to the point that we don’t understand. And probably that we don’t realize because we’re doing what seems natural because we are keeping our covenants and God is blessing us abundantly as a result. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s kind of where I think I would go with that. I think it’s a fantastic question. But I think you’ll know it when you, I think you’ve probably already seen it, but you’ll continue to know it as you continue to see it, just like I see in my parents, and hopefully that I see with my husband too.
Aubrey: Is that a good place to wrap up?
Bill: Yeah, I think so.
Aubrey: Thank you so much.
Bill: Get this book.
Aubrey: It’s amazing.
Barbara: Thank you.
Aubrey: So interesting.
Lindsay: Yeah, thank you.