Priesthood of the Relief Society

Relief-Society-Symbol_Two-Tone_WhiteThe Relief Society was organized on March 17th, 1842 and on March 17th 2013 it will have its 170th Anniversary. This women’s organization was originally called the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Before the first meeting began, there was found a scrap of paper laying on an open Bible. On this paper was written the words:

“O, Lord! help our widows, and fatherless children! So mote it be. Amen. With the sword, and the word of truth, defend thou them. So mote it be. Amen.”

This prayer is one of many clues to understand the purpose and structure of the Relief Society. There is a key phrase that is repeated twice, “So mote it be.” This phrase is an archaic form of “So may/might it be.” It comes from Freemasonry. The idea of helping the widows and fatherless children is also strongly connected to Masonry. The phrase “defend thou them” comes from Psalms 5:11. There are probably other scriptural connections that could be made.

It is also important to note that the Relief Society’s first meeting was in the Masonic Hall where Joseph Smith became a Master mason the night before. I suggest that Joseph Smith left the Bible there, and wrote this prayer on the scrap of paper and placed it on the open Bible. It was all prepared for them to find it that day. There may even be some Masonic connection associated with that act. However I don’t know enough about masonry to try and make a connection. Nevertheless, before the first meeting even starts we can see the intense connections to Freemasonry.

In my piece Understanding Priesthood Keys, I attempted to clarify Joseph Smith’s understanding of Priesthood Keys. I demonstrated that, even from the early years, Joseph’s concept of priesthood and keys was tied to Freemasonry. The association that Mormonism has to Freemasonry was not a Nauvoo innovation, but has been there since before the church was founded. It is no surprise to find the Relief Society organized following the same model.

But wait, isn’t Masonry only for men? It’s not. In about 1740 a branch of Masonry was developed in France. It was called ” Maçonnerie d’Adoption” or “Adopted Masonry.” It was developed to allow women to participate in a female branch of Masonry. Its is apparent that the highest rank in Adoptive Masonry is that of “Elect Lady.” In July 1830 a revelation was given, which became Section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Emma is referred to by this title. In our modern editions of the scriptures it is written thus:

3 Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called.

It could just be a coincidence. Since “elect lady” is not capitalized it is probably not referring to a title. However, I looked up the original revelation in my Facsimile Edition. In the original revelation it is written this way:

Behold thy sins are for given thee & thou art an Elect Lady whom I have called

Elect Lady is capitalized in the original revelation. Being capitalized it is far more likely referring to a title and calling. In addition to Emma Smith being referred to as an Elect Lady, some Relief Society Presidents after her were referred to as Elect Lady.

emma-smith-mormonDuring the first meeting of the Relief Society Joseph Smith initially Presided and suggested that they elect a presiding officer. That officer would then choose two councilors. Joseph Smith then said he, “would ordain them to preside over the Society.” Joseph also instructed them that the Presidency of the Relief Society would preside “just as the Presidency, preside over the church.” I suppose this could be interpreted as meaning that the Relief Society Presidency was to preside in the same manner as the First Presidency. However, those are very powerful words to use. I think it puts the Relief Society Presidency on a much more powerful footing than simply being in charge of the girls club.

Emma Smith was elected unanimously to be the President of the Relief Society. The “Presidentess Elect” then chose Sarah M. Cleveland and Elizabeth Ann Whitney to be her Counselors. Joseph then read the revelation to Emma Smith which had been received twelve years earlier. He then “stated that she was ordain[e]d at the time, the Revelation was given, to expound the scriptures to all; and to teach the female part of community; and that not she alone, but others, may attain to the same blessings.”

I searched the word “expound” on and found that every entry in the Doctrine and Covenants was associated with some ordination, calling, or priesthood office/responsibility.

Joseph Smith further hits his point home about Emma’s position by reading the first verse of 2nd John which also refers to an elect lady. Emma was not simply called an elect lady because she was a special person. She was an Elect Lady because that referred to her office as a President. After Emma’s election John Taylor then ordained the two women* to be councilors to “the Elect Lady.” President Emma Smith and her two councilors then took charge of the meeting only deferring to Joseph when they needed instruction on how to conduct the meeting.

We can see further Masonic connections in the 3rd Meeting of the Relief Society on March 30th. Joseph Smith was in attendance and was worried that they were growing too fast. He instructed them that they should, ”grow up by degrees.”

In an Epistle sent on March 30, 1842, Church leadership was going to disclose some confidential information to the Relief Society but they weren’t sure that the Relief Society could ensure it’s confidentiality. They are worried that “there may be some among you who are not sufficiently skill’d in Masonry as to keep a secret.” They then close the epistle with, “Let this Epistle be had as a private matter in your Society, and then we shall learn whether you are good masons.”

Masonry is very closely tied to the nature of the Relief Society. The Endowment was an Appended Body to the Blue Lodge degrees of Masonry. It was often called “Celestial Masonry.” Emma Smith was ordained to a Masonic title in 1830; and the parallel women’s organization, which was established in 1842, has definite Masonic ties. It would actually be very surprising to find that it didn’t have those ties.

Women and Gifts of the Spirit

Gifts of the Spirit are those acts which are fruits of the Holy Ghost. They come through the Spirit to be a proof that the a person is a true believer. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 these gifts are listed as: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. These gifts were abundant in the Relief Society. On April 19, 1842 during their fifth meeting, Sarah Cleveland said that she felt things in her heart that she could not express in our language; so she powerfully spoke in tongues. Another women then gave the interpretation of what had been spoken. During that meeting it was recorded that, “The meeting was very interesting, nearly all present arose & spoke, and the spirit of the Lord like a purifying stream, refreshed every heart.”

At another meeting later in the year “Mrs. Chase” prophesied that if the sisters are faithful the gifts of the spirit would be with them. Thus showing that the gift of prophecy was also present among the women.

During the sixth meeting on April 28, 1842 Joseph Smith spoke to them. He had heard that members of the Relief Society were saying that women shouldn’t be laying their hands on the sick and healing them. Joseph addressed this concern saying that people should rejoice that the sick could be healed. He went on to say that the Gifts of the Spirit should follow all who believe whether male or female; and that “if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let every thing roll on.”

Joseph gave further approval of women laying on their hands to heal the sick by saying that if God gave his sanction, in that the person was healed then, “there could be no devils in it.” Dealing the final blow to settle the matter concerning whether women should heal the sick he said, “there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water— that it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be heal[e]d by the administration.”

It is important to remember that there is a distinction between laying on hands to heal the sick and laying on hands for a priesthood blessing. They are two different things.(D&C 42:43, 44)

Even though some members of the Relief Society, and probably the church in general, doubted that women should be able to exhibit these spiritual gifts; Joseph corrected this misconception. If women are believers in Christ they too should exhibit the gifts that follow believers. The Relief Society in these years was filled with the exhibition of these spiritual gifts. Women were healing and being healed, they were speaking in tongues, and they were prophesying.

Women and the Priesthood

There is a strong correlation between Joseph Smith’s views on priesthood and Masonry. With the Relief Society’s close ties with to Masonry could it be possible that priesthood plays into this? This is actually exactly what we find. During the very first meeting of the Relief Society Joseph Smith instructed them that officers should “be appointed and set apart, as Deacons, Teachers, &c. are among [the church].”

During the meeting on March 30, 1842 Joseph Smith said that “the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood” He also said that he “was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day— as in Pauls day.”

Sarah Kimball recalled Joseph Smith’s invitation to the first assembly of women. She recalled his description that the Relief Society would operate “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood.”

Later, on April 28, 1842 Joseph visited the Relief Society and spoke to them, “respecting the Priesthood, and give instructions for the benefit of the Society.” It is recorded that his instructions were intended only for the Relief Society. Later during this meeting he read from the twelfth chapter of 1st Corinthians and instructed them concerning the different offices. Thus seeming to indicate that those offices were to be present in the Relief Society

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

It seems that the climax of Joseph Smith’s discourse to the Relief Society was when he most clearly “spoke of delivering the keys to this Society and to the church.” He continued by stating “that the keys of the kingdom are about to be given to them, that they may be able to detect every thing false— as well as to the Elders.” Not only was Joseph Smith going to give the Keys of the Priesthood to the Quorum of the Twelve(Elders) but also to the Relief Society. Following those statements he reaffirmed, for a third time, his intent of giving the keys by saying “I now turn the key to you in the name of God and this Society shall rejoice and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time.”

Elder Reynolds Cahoon addressed the Relief Society on August 13, 1843 and said that he was “perfectly satisfied with the order of this society.” He also compared the Relief Society to other organizations in the world by saying, “There are many Benevolent Societies abroad design[e]d to do good but not as this[;] ours is according to the order of God connected with the priesthood.”

We can further see the Relief Society’s role as a parallel priesthood organization in Cahoon’s statement that “the organization of this Society & the Church is similar[,] according to the mind & order of God.” The church leadership(First presidency, Elders, Priest, teachers, Deacons, etc.) are to be mirrored in the Relief Society. Joseph established it this way to be a parallel priesthood organization for women. This follows the Masonic model and also manifests the complimentary male-female duality of humanity. When some people discuss women and the priesthood they expect it to be some androgynous concept with women in the First presidency, and potentially men in the Relief Society Presidency. But this is not the case as it does not preserve the unique qualities of each.

The biggest problem in people’s minds is that they view genders as competitive. They believe that there must be women in the First presidency or else women are not equal with men. This is because they view the Relief Society as lesser than that First Presidency. But they are not. Remember what Joseph Smith stated about the Relief Society Presidency; that they should preside “just as the Presidency, preside over the church.” The Relief Society is the female priesthood counterpart to the male priesthood offices. One is not higher than the other, rather they are complimentary. Just as males and females are complimentary to each other.

The following quote sums up the nature and purpose of both men, women, and their priesthoods. It was given by Bishop Newel K. Whitney in the presence of Joseph Smith during the May 27, 1842 Relief Society meeting:

In the beginning God created man male and female and bestowed upon man certain blessings peculiar to a man of God, of which woman partook, so that without the female all things cannot be restored to the earth. It takes all to restore the Priesthood.

* Cleveland was ordained to be a Counselor to “the Elect Lady”; and Whitney was ordained to be a Counselor to “Mrs. Smith, the Prest. of the Institution.”

Most of these quotes were taken from the Nauvoo Relief Society minute Book which can be found here.

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26 Responses to Priesthood of the Relief Society

  1. rockwaterman1 says:

    It’s interesting that many today would read that statement that the Relief Society would operate “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood” and assume it meant the relief society would operate under the aegis of the men. But that is not what it says, does it? Such an interpretation is only possible in a day like ours when “the priesthood” is presumed to mean “the men.”

  2. zo-ma-rah says:

    Agreed. A lot of these quotes if taken by themselves, and viewed through a modern lens, will seems to support modern ideas. But when looking at them as a whole and in the context of Joseph Smith’s views of the priesthood; an entirely different picture is presented.

  3. Well done Zomarah. Loved it 🙂

  4. JR says:

    Great article! Thank you for this information. So much is going through my mind after reading this. It is depressing that Relief Society does not function the way it did when first established. I am female and I really do not like going to Relief Society.
    I am not good at writing what I think so I hope this makes sense: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was very close to Mary Magdalene and she was the first person to whom He appeared after He was resurrected. There were women who accompanied Christ during His ministry. Women played a prominent role as Christ’s disciples. So it would make sense (to me, anyway)
    that Christ would put women on equal footing with the men in His restored church.

  5. Pallas Athena says:

    This is good, thank you for writing it, I plan on using this for my FHE lesson tomorrow in celebration of 170 years of Relief Society.

    Michael Quinn discusses aspects of this in Maxine Hanks book “Women and Authority”. CH 17 is entitled Mormon Women Have Had the Priesthood Since 1843. You can read it here if you are interested:

    • Pallas Athena,
      I bought that book many years ago and can vouch the entire book is a huge eye opener. It’s a real shame the church has changed so much, and that so much of what was revealed by Joseph Smith has been suppressed since Brigham and the Twelve took the theology in an entirely different direction than that laid out by Joseph. Ever since those guys emphasized the collection of women as essential to salvation, women have been doomed.

  6. LK says:

    Awesome article! Thanks so much for writing about these great truths.

    I don’t believe Masonry is a true or Godly Order, but one that Joseph was just deceived to be involved in, (like he was so often deceived to chose wicked men to be apostles & church leaders) and I also don’t believe the temple ceremonies really came from Joseph nor did he intend for them or even ever hear about them, nor are they true, but that everything done in the temples today, except probably Baptism for the Dead, is false doctrine & false ceremonies that Brigham Young thought up to teach submission of women to men & help justify polygamy and other abominations.

    But I do believe Joseph Smith did intend on women holding & using the Priesthood in equal conjunction with men. There have always been Prophets & Prophetesses, etc. on this earth, probably far more Prophetesses in history than Prophets, each with equal power & authority from God to preach, prophesy, & perform Priesthood acts.

    For prophets have taught that most women since Eve, come to earth with a natural inclination towards Charity/true Christlike love, which is a vital prerequisite in order to possess any Priesthood power & authority.

    I believe there were female Apostles, in Christ’s day, one being Mary, Christ’s wife. But such truths have long been taken out of the record because men, even in the Church, were not ready to accept women’s true equality. Even some, if not all, of the apostles had a hard time understanding & accepting women’s equal station with them and their responsibility to protect, respect & honor all women, especially their wives & honor their equality in all things, in the home, church & society.

    I believe women have actually been given the highest & greatest Priesthood power, authority & responsibility of all, the power to bear children. This highest & holiest calling & Priesthood service gives women supreme rights & power over their children, church and all society, (& anything that influences their children or them).

    Only Christ had a superior Priesthood power & calling then women do, in being our Savior and offering his Atonement.

    Yet amazingly hardly any women ever realize that they not only possess Priesthood power & authority, having been ordained with it, in part or full, in the Pre-Existence, but they also have a far superior Priesthood power than men.

    No wonder the Adversary has influenced men for 6000 years, in almost every religion, to deny women’s, not just equal, but supreme, Priesthood power, authority & calling.

    Only through personal revelation directly from God, can women usually learn of their supreme divine Priesthood power, privilege & authority in all things on this earth.

  7. fancy says:

    I find this to be disheartening.
    just because the phrase ‘so mote it be’ is used in masonics doesn’t necessarily mean that it came from there. chaucer used it. and examples of the phrase’s appearance in christian prayer in the fifteenth century demonstrates that it is not exclusively masonic.
    when you presume that masonry is the source of that (incorrectly) and then extend it to include the endowment, etc. you tend to create ties that give the appearance of binding things together when in reality they are merely window dressing designed to CREATE a tie that may not even exist. more to the point – implicit in this presumption is the idea that the endowment was not revealed to JS by God, and thus not a legitimate restoration of ancient israelite/early christian ordinances.
    quite frankly, when one begins to remove God from any equation the ‘math’ goes wrong. and in reality IF it is God’s preisthood, then a woman certainly does not need to have anyone else’s approval to access it. it’s not about the meetings and the prepared lessons as much as it is about the authority….and THAT is none but GOD’s to give.
    God makes it abundantly clear in His scripture that His priesthood authority is NOT simply a thing open to any, but that HE chooses. you put God in a box when you assume that He cannot choose to bestow knowledge or gifts on any individual (male or female) simply because they don’t necessarily accept or believe or understand. God qualifies those He calls rather than calls those men might consider qualified.
    your thoughts are interesting of course, but they are working under the idea that God is powerless in the face of men…and that is not so. IF the RS was set up to be something different than it is today then God could certainly change that if He so chose. obviously things are working in accordance with the environment He must create to bring us along.
    consider – SLC 1880 john taylor (coincidentally the prophet saved @the attack in carthage by the very association with the masons by williard richards (the reason I believe JS and others were masons @that time but didn’t actively pursue it with the same fervor after carthage)) on the RS…he recalled that “when members of the Relief Society presidency in Nauvoo were ‘ordained,’ they were not ordained to priesthood offices, but received blessings that set them apart for their sacred callings.” AND upon hearing this, both eliza snow and bathsheba smith nodded – indicating their agreement with president taylor’s statement.
    and regardless, we are heare by faith, by choice, by commitment, and by covenant. the Lord loves His daughter just as His sons, and we have also great gifts of spirit to call on. He has never once failed me in years with no priesthood holding man in my life anywhere….not in healing my children, nor in calming my heart, nor in protecting. and I for one recognize that women did not simply receive what was “left over” nor have we been delegated to second class. we are strong, we are warriors, we are different than men….but we are not all the same either. we are individual.
    why would we choose to use HIS gifts to create discord and malcontent?

    • Fancy,
      I don’t question that God revealed the endowment to Joseph Smith, but I do wonder how much of it got masonry mixed up with it through Brigham Young. We don’t know what parts of it were revealed to Joseph, all we have is the assurance of Brigham Young that he got the endowment word for word from Joseph. I’m skeptical.

      In the first place, Brigham Young was not in the company of Joseph Smith as much as we assume; he was away from Nauvoo most of the time. Secondly, I must have gone through the temple about 80 times in my life, and I still don’t recall it word for word. I think Brigham pieced together what he could recall from the endowments given above the brick store, and added a bunch of extras.

      Brigham Young had the official Church History doctored to put words in Joseph Smith’s mouthy that contradicted the things Joseph vigorously declared during his lifetime. I wouldn’t put it past Brigham to add a lot of masonic mumbo jumbo to the temple ceremony; Brigham was absolutely enchanted with all that stuff. My understanding of Joseph’s interest was curiosity.

      • LK says:

        Yes, anything Brigham Young says is highly suspect and should not be believed, especially anything pertaining to Joseph Smith, since we know what kind of man BY really was, abusing & controlling women, committing whoredoms & preaching some of the vilest of evils.

        If he lied that polygamy was started by Joseph Smith, than he probably almost surely lied about the temple endowment being written by Joseph too.

        Not to mention all the abusive language and teachings in the temple regarding women, things that were completely contrary to the teachings of Joseph Smith. So how could anyone think Joseph would have written it, for it was contrary to what he had always taught & more importantly, contrary to the teachings of Christ & ancient prophets.

        It appears that Brigham probably got many of the ideas for his temple ceremonies from the vile document called ‘The Peacemaker’, which Joseph said was ‘evil trash’ that should be totally avoided. The early Church Presidents from Brigham Young on & leaders seemed to believe in & like many of the vile philosophies of ‘The Peacemaker’, despite Joseph’s warnings against it.

        I believe the temple ceremonies are just Brigham’s vile philosophies of men mingled with scriptures, which he then tried to justify by saying it was from Joseph, just like polygamy.

        Even if it it turns out that Joseph wrote much of it, I believe it would still be false, for it is contrary to the scriptures, which Joseph said to judge by, even everything coming from him.

      • zo-ma-rah says:

        I agree that a lot of the modern endowment was altered by Brigham Young. Rock wasn’t it you that said he added the apostles into it? He added the oath of vengeance. He probably added Adam-God. If I recall correctly the earliest account of the endowment is from Brigham Young’s journal.

        But I have to disagree that Joseph Smith’s interest in Masonry was just curiosity. Joseph Smith’s family back several generations were Masons. His close family were Masons. The folk magic practices Joseph Joseph smith was involved in stemmed from Masonry. The model of the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon was Masonic. There are even Masonic themes in the Book of Mormon(both speculative(good and spurious(bad) masonry). The Book of Abraham is filled with Masonic imagery. Even his translation of the Bible parallels the history in the Masonic book: Antiquities of Freemasonry.

        This isn’t just passing fancy, without Masonry Mormonism wouldn’t even exist. All these Masonic teachings were what caused him to get involved in the spiritual practices that led to his visions and other experiences.

      • fancy says:

        there is a distinct difference between the endowment and ANYTHING that has any association with the masons, as the similar things are only part of the repetitious ‘help me remember’ portion of going thru the temple.
        what we know is that GOD revealed HIS endowment to HIS servant JS and we know that as beings bound by this time/space constraint we cannot possibly hope to even see the big picture from here. we have to trust and stop trying to insist that OUR perspective binds what God can and does see.
        you make an awful lot of presumptions to attain ‘your understanding’….what is your proof that BY “doctored” church history…or that his interest in anything was so different than that of JS’s – or john taylors or willard richards or any other man who has also been both mormon and mason?
        I believe (and this is purely IMHO/conjecture) that the reason that JS and others joined organized and were members of the masons was solely to save the life of john taylor @carthage so that he could and would go on to be the prophet later….but I don’t spout it out as absolute because although it can and is supported by the facts it simply is NOT factual on it’s own.

    • Joe Steve Swick III says:

      “just because the phrase ‘so mote it be’ is used in masonics doesn’t necessarily mean that it came from there.”

      The room the Relief Society met in also served as the Lodge Room. The open Bible was the Volume of Sacred Law on a Masonic altar, and the prayer was tucked in that open Bible for the use of the chaplain in closing the Lodge. The Amen, So Mote It Be, was clearly Masonic in character. It may have been previously used by Chaucer or others, but by Joseph Smith’s day, it was an archaic expression used almost exclusively by Freemasons. Given the context, that is in fact its most likely source.

      ” implicit in this presumption is the idea that the endowment was not revealed to JS by God,”

      Not in the least. Baptism is a practice which is derived from washing in the mikveh, following conversion and circumcision. That fact does not mean that Baptism isn’t inspired. The issue is not one of specific origin, but rather of the power of the priesthood to take a profane element and sacralize it.

      “thus not a legitimate restoration of ancient israelite/early christian ordinances.”

      Again, what legitimizes the ritual is the priesthood, not whether it has a direct correlation to the ancient world. However, Masonry itself has long recognized elements of its rituals to be similar to what may be found in antiquity. So, both may be true: Joseph Smith utilized aspects of Masonic ceremony, which incidentally correspond to ancient elements.

    • LK says:


      I don’t deny that Joseph could have been & maybe probably was involved with Freemasonry, it’s just that I believe if he was then he was just deceived to get involved in such a false thing.

      For despite all the great things Joseph did & produced as a true prophet, he also showed how fallible & easily deceived he was by false things, false philosophies (slavery, etc.) & even calling evil persons (Bennett, etc.) to be in the highest of church callings.

      • Joe Steve Swick III says:

        “I believe if [Joseph Smith was a Freemason] then he was just deceived to get involved in such a false thing.”

        What specifically in Freemasonry do you believe is “false”? Enquiring minds, and all that.

    • fancy says:

      I have no doubt as to his membership, nor of his leadership. I simply do not believe as some do that he used the masonics to come up with the endowment.

  8. JR says:

    Thanks to Pallas Athena for the link to Ch. 17 of Michael Quinn’s book. Today the Second Anointing has become an exclusive club for the members who are privileged (like famous or rich or both) or who have been called to high positions in the church (and not necessarily called by inspiration). There are members who have never had “high” positions but are more worthy to receive the Second Anointing than some who have been “invited” to receive it. This practice really bothers me. The church teaches that we are all equal in God’s eyes, but yet only “special” people are called to receive God’s highest blessing. Not right. It should be extended to all worthy members.

  9. Fusion says:

    Interesting stuff, Zomarah. I enjoy reading your thoughts from time, however, this time I have to ask a question. The one conclusion I have come to is simple: the Book of Mormon, which brought me back to God, is what I hold to be the standard for the rest of the scriptures. It is the only book of scripture that came all at once to us, not in bits and pieces. Furthermore, Joseph was well and truly alive and kicking at this time. These two points cannot be used to support the Bible, which I dearly love, nor the D&C, which blows my mind constantly. Also, both the Seer and his spokesman Sydney considered it perfect, the very Word of God in it’s purity. The Book of Mormon after all boldly states it contains the ‘FULNESS’, which to me means it is complete for our salvation. Even the Lord states it’s majestic importance in the D&C, along with the solemn declaration that we as a people have taken the Book of Mormon lightly and thus are condemned for this.

    In light of these things, there can be many things speculated about so much in church history and doctrine, wordsmiths may be able to twist, turn and coax any phrase to lean towards their direction, but the clarity of the Book of Mormon on all points in regards to the Gospel, remains unparalleled.
    Thus, I am genuinely interested in this speculation in regards to the women and the priesthood. Is there anything clear and direct in the Book of Mormon, the standard of truth, which substantiates your essay above? i would love to know as one way or another, it would be nice to have the Lord’s word on these things instead of man.

    In ‘Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (J. Fielding Smith)’, the Prophet stated to the Relief Society (I believe) in relation to some women who had claimed to be prophetesses in another church:

    ‘…It may be asked, where is there anything in all this that is wrong? First. The church (in question) was organized by women, and God placed in the Church (first apostles, secondarily prophets,) and not first women; but Mr. Irving placed in his church first women (secondarily apostles,) and the church was founded and organized by them. A woman has no right to found or organize a church—God never sent them to do it.’

    With what is contained in the scriptures, the Book of Mormon foremost, followed by the other standard works, and the above quote from the Prophet, I fail to see what you and others seem to propose about women and the priesthood. If you or anyone could use the fulness contained in the Book of Mormon to sway my present feelings, I’d be more than thrilled to embrace it. The more truth, the better 🙂


    • Jen says:

      The BoM is always what I fall back on, when I get confused over who wrote what. There is just so little mention of women there though, it’s hard to know what things would have been like in this regard.

      I am really, REALLY excited to page through the Nauvoo RS Minutes presented here. Thanks for the link, and the post, Z! We’re not in UT, and not ones to sit and watch BYUTV history documentaries, so it’s nice to know that this is now available in the JS Papers. Cool!

  10. jeanikins says:

    When I first joined the Mormon Church back in 1967, I loved Relief Society and it had already lost its autonomy but I didn’t know that. The changes were gradual until correlation really kicked in and the women didn’t even get to run their own society any longer.
    We USED to have cultural refinement, where we learned about other countries, various artists and how to appreciate their works. We had bazaars with home made jams etc. I learned so much at Relief Society for which I will always be grateful and I loved my ‘sister’. Those same sisters jut laid down and let it happen because the ‘brethren’ made it impossible for them to fight back. Sonia Johnson was one of that kind of woman. She loved her sisters and wanted more for them and look what happened to her.
    There is no redress in the church; no way to reach anyone with any ‘real’ authority so the sisters have to resort to wearing pants to church etc. I wish they, as a body would stand up and say, “Enough! We are here to stay, we are not second class citizens or children who need a whole bunch of fathers to tell us what is good for us. We know what we need and what we want. We will no longer serve in any calling or even attend church until you give us equality.” Rant over 😉

  11. Fusion says:

    Hi guys,

    Just a follow up. I noticed that no one has taken my challenge presented above to prove women and the priesthood using the Fulness of the Gospel as contained in the Book of Mormon. This is not a contention I am stirring but rather a very straightforward and sincere challenge. In my observations it seems the Lord is correct-we do take the Book of Mormon lightly and dont use that most correct of all books to back up all these various stumbling blocks we keep speculating on.

    Likewise, we claim we KNOW that Joseph taught the endowment as we have it today. Yet there is ZERO documentation of this. I’ve searched fifteen years for this and found nil. Had I come to the conclusion that Moroni actually knew what he was talking about when he said that the Book of Mormon contained the fulness of the Gospel…and the only endowment spoken of in the scriptures is a SPIRITUAL one, not one based on physical works. Yet we so badly want to believe that the Temple endowment is true. Funnily enough the Kirkland

  12. Fusion says:

    …(continued) The Kirtland Temple was the only time the Saviour approved and accepted a Temple in this dispensation and visited the Saints in this period. Coincidentally, this is concurrent with being the only era where the church was living (at least try their best sincerely) consecration…just as when the early saints did in Nephite and New Testament times. Being the only Temple accepted by the Lord, it is interesting to note that the Endowment that we claim was the awesome new revealing to Joseph, was NOWHERE to be found in Kirtland…there weren’t even telestial, terrestrial and celestial rooms in that Temple! The saints then went thru the apostasy in Kirtland, fail consecration miserably, and and according to the Lord in the D&C are condemned because they ‘practice follies and abominations before me…’ and we are to believe that the Lord came and blessed (!) them with a new, greater, HIGHER Temple understanding???! Like Rock says above, I’m skeptical. I’m sorry, I just do not buy it.

    The Lord’s Gospel is presented in HIS words in 3rd Nephi. Period. Anything more or less than this simple Gospel of Jesus Christ, which ‘burden is light and yoke is easy’ as contained in the Book of Mormon, then those additions ‘cometh of evil’. We can try all day to perform acrobatics of apologetics with scholarship, university departments set up to prove these falsehoods, and other Babylonian approaches, but in the end, if it is not in the Book of Mormon, it is then of man, not of God.


  13. JRSG says:

    I do not know if anyone has any thoughts on what I have to say. While growing up I was told the church leaders advised members not to join secret organizations like the Mason’s/Eastern Star and the teen equivalent DeMolay/Rainbow’s and other such organizations. So today I hear of many, many LDS members who
    have joined these type of organizations. Since becoming an adult I have not heard this warning advice not to join these organizations. Why the warning over 40 years ago and today no warning to stay away? What is the difference? Different thinking with different leaders? Or am I mistaken and the church still would rather members not join secret clubs? Just wondering.
    And if the Masons were alright for members in 1840’s why not today? Because Masons killed Jos. Smith? I never heard why we were to stay away. (I know the BoM mentions secret combinations). Thanks.

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