'Be of good courage,' Pres. Monson counsels during Saturday sessions of general conference
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said he is grateful his priesthood session talk was broadcast and will be published for all church members because it was about how priesthood keys direct women as well as men and how priesthood ordinances and authority pertain to women as well as men.
Even though presiding authorities of the church — the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — "hold and exercise all of the keys delegated to men in this dispensation," he said, "they are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.”
But, he said, "church work done by women or men, whether in the temple or in the ward or branches, is done under the direction of those who hold priesthood keys.”
He also said "men are not 'the priesthood,' " a distinction he and other church leaders have emphasized. Instead, LDS women regularly act with authority of the priesthood.
“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?" Elder Oaks asked. "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 th 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.”
Ultimately, he said, “Unlike priesthood keys and priesthood ordinations, the blessings of the priesthood are available to women and to men on the same terms. The gift of the Holy Ghost and the blessings of the temple are familiar illustrations of this truth."
Women and men who exercise priesthood authority "should forget about their rights and concentrate on their responsibilities," he added.
"Latter-day Saints surely recognize that qualifying for exaltation is not a matter of asserting rights, but a matter of fulfilling responsibilities."
Other speakers included Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy; Elder Carlos H. Amado, Elder Claudio D. Zivic and Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy; and Brother Randall L. Ridd of the Young Men general presidency.
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