What is the priesthood?
The Church defines the priesthood as "the power and authority of God" and how "God created and governs the heavens and the earth."
In mortality, it is "power" delegated to "worthy male members of the Church" which "enables them to act in God’s name for the salvation of the human family."
Can women hold the priesthood?
No. Someone who "holds" or "bears" the Priesthood holds an office in the Priesthood, such as Deacon or Apostle, and can perform and officiate in ordinances. These positions and responsibilities are only available to male members of the Church, starting at age 11.
Why can't women hold the priesthood?
It's unclear. President Gordon B. Hinckley[BIO] stated, "It was the Lord who designated that men in His Church should hold the priesthood." In 2014, President M. Russell Ballard[BIO] cited this quote and added that "The Lord has not revealed why He has organized His Church as He has."
Will women ever be allowed to hold the Priesthood?
Possibly, however when asked about women receiving the Priesthood in a 1998 interview, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, "It would take another revelation to bring that about. I don't anticipate it."
Does this mean that women are limited in their opportunities for leadership and service in the Church?
Yes. The Church is "governed by the priesthood," which means that women are limited in their opportunities for leadership and certain types of service, though there are some leadership positions held exclusively by women.
Are there any women involved in the governing councils of the Church?
Yes. Since 2015, each of the following governing councils of the Church has had a permanent appointment of a female general authority: the Family Executive Council, the Missionary Executive Council, and the Temple and Family History Executive Council.
But isn't it true that even though women have some positions of authority and governance in the Church, ultimately, in theory, all final decisions are made by men?
Doesn't that make women "second-class" citizens in the Church?
Prominent Latter-Day Saint Women's Views on Women in the Church.
CEO of Deseret Book
Former counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
Barbara Morgan Gardner[BIO]
Associate professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU
Professor of political science at Texas A&M
Do women in the Church want the priesthood?
In 2011 a national survey conducted by Pew Research indicated that 90% of active Latter-day Saint women do not agree that women should be ordained to the priesthood. There are some Latter-day Saints, such as the "Ordain Women" organization, that have advocated for the ordination of women.
Does the Church teach that men have the priesthood and women can have babies and that is somehow equal?
Kind of. The Church asserts the position that "women and men are equal, with different responsibilities," and that there are "eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood.”
Wasn't there a female apostle in the primitive Church named Junia? Does that mean that she had the priesthood?
However, in the New Testament the Greek word ἀποστόλος (apostolos) can be translated multiple ways: as one of the twelve apostles or as a messenger (or missionary), and was often used interchangeably. It is not always clear which definition Paul had in mind when he was writing Romans and what implications about priesthood roles or duties, if any, he intended to suggest with it.
I heard that things were different in the early days of the Church—that women were ordained and gave blessings. Is that true?
Although Joseph Smith[BIO] used the term "ordain" when referring to Relief Society leadership, there is no historical record indicating that he intended to ordain women to priesthood offices. And shortly after Joseph's death, Brigham Young stated that women can "never hold the keys of the priesthood apart from their husband."
However, women gave non-priesthood blessings of healing by the laying on hands throughout the 19th century and into the early 20th century.
Timeline of Women and Blessings of Healing
The editor of the Juvenile Instructor stated that "all members of the Church have a right to lay hands on the sick. . .even sisters can do this. . ."
Relief Society general board minutes instruct women to "confirm" blessings rather than "seal" them.
In a meeting with the Relief Society general board, a mission president said that women were still performing washings and anointings before blessings in his mission "without any harm having come from it."
In the Improvement Era Joseph Fielding Smith quotes Joseph Smith saying that women may participate in blessings, but that these blessings are done by faith, not the priesthood.
In Joseph Fielding Smith's book, Doctrines of Salvation, it states that blessings from women are not "necessary or wise" and should only be administered by the priesthood.
In the 2020 General Handbook, Latter-day Saints are counseled against seeking spiritual healing outside of properly performed priesthood blessings.
Does a woman receive the priesthood if she receives the second anointing?
Sort of. It depends on how you define "priesthood." Women who receive their second anointing are ordained as queens and priestesses. But receiving the second anointing does not in itself authorize women to administer additional priesthood ordinances in this life.
Do women have the priesthood and perform ordinances in the temple?
Yes and no. Joseph Fielding Smith said, "A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord." Recently this has been echoed by Church leaders and publications in a more general sense, but there have not been any statements about women having the priesthood.
- Barry W.
“Clearly a woman shares the priesthood in her family with her husband through temple marriage. That's the patriarchal priesthood. It's a foolish man who does not actively consult women regarding ecclesiastical decisions”
“I have no problem with women being ordained as long as it comes through a revelation revealed to the Prophet and Apostles. Most men in the church that I know feel the same way. Maybe it happens some day and maybe it doesn't. Either way, I'm ok with it.”
“Although questioning is healthy, faithful members should remember mortal beings are being directed by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If we have confidence in our prophets, even though not understanding the “why’s”, we can feel confident they are obeying a higher power. Are we?”