A mother recently asked the Relief Society General Presidency — Sisters Jean B. Bingham, Sharon Eubank and Reyna I. Aburto — several questions about women and the priesthood. Among them were these:
What does it mean for women to be endowed with priesthood power?
Do women access that priesthood power through keeping covenants, through someone else or both?
What is the before-and-after difference of receiving that power?
The Relief Society General Presidency addressed these and other questions during a BYU Women’s Conference session on May 2 called “Endowed with Priesthood Power.”
Sister Bingham answered the first question by saying when a woman is endowed with priesthood power, “it is an infinite source that constantly renews and can never be exhausted.”
However, each woman must qualify for that gift and continue drawing on priesthood power by faithfully keeping covenants she has made. In this way, priesthood power allows her to become more than she was before the gift was given.
The purpose of priesthood power, she continued, is to help people access Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice in order to become more like him, and then to help others progress on that same journey.
“Priesthood power is spiritual power used for priesthood purposes,” she said. “Often we women don’t realize that the powers by which we accomplish much good in our callings and in our home is an expression of priesthood power.”
Sister Aburto then addressed the question of how women access priesthood power, saying every woman receives priesthood power as she participates in priesthood ordinances and keeps the related covenants.
She also said access to priesthood power requires personal attributes such as gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned.
“Each woman has access to priesthood power according to her covenants and her personal righteousness,” Sister Aburto said. “No one can take it from her, but no one can give priesthood power to her outside of the covenants and her individual striving to be true to those covenants.”
She also said it makes her sad when women say they don’t have the priesthood in their homes, because regardless of personal circumstances, and although women need those holding priesthood offices for blessings of health or comfort, “(Women) are nevertheless themselves a source of priesthood power for their own homes.”
Sister Eubank then addressed the question of the before-and-after difference of receiving priesthood power. She said although people can already have a level of power simply through their goodness, that power is “greatly magnified” when they make and keep covenants.
For example, a woman’s knowledge is magnified through what she learns by making covenants; her sense of community is magnified as she joins the “worldwide sisterhood” of Relief Society; and her ability to act in the Lord’s name is magnified through the priesthood power she accesses through her covenants.
She also emphasized that priesthood power is about other people, and cannot be used to control unrighteously.
“It can only be used to love,” she said. “This is the priesthood power we are called to receive: help others with their problems.”
Sister Bingham concluded saying priesthood power is interdependent on both men and women, and the fullness of the priesthood — eternal marriage — is available only to men and women together.
“Each woman is a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents, and in this latter day, they have been given the opportunity to be endowed with priesthood power that will help her achieve all her righteous desires and dreams,” she said.