President Jones on women and priesthood — Do you feel diminished?

Editor’s note: This narrative is part of a Church News series titled “Women of Covenant,” in which women of the Church discuss their personal experiences with priesthood power and share what they have learned through following President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel to “labor with the Spirit to understand God’s power — priesthood power” (“Spiritual Treasures,” general conference, October 2019).

I was recently asked a question by a very sincere member of the Church. The question was this: “Sister Jones, do you feel diminished because you don’t hold the priesthood?”

My response was to first ask her a question. “Can you name any blessing that I lack because I don’t hold the priesthood?” She responded by saying, “You can’t preside in a meeting.”

I shared my assurance that I actually have the opportunity to preside in many meetings. I have been given priesthood authority by one who holds priesthood keys. Any Primary, Young Women, or Relief Society presidency member can preside in their respective callings.

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president, hugs a youth member following a devotional in Taitung, Taiwan, where she danced with members during a visit to the Asia Area in August 2019.
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president, hugs a youth member following a devotional in Taitung, Taiwan, where she danced with members during a visit to the Asia Area in August 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

“So again,” I asked, “please help me understand what blessings I am missing out on by not holding the priesthood.”

She said, “Well, you can’t give a blessing.”

I explained, “As a priesthood duty, no, I can’t administer a blessing. But the person who administers a blessing matters little compared to whom the blessing really comes from — our Heavenly Father. And through my covenants I can strive to be a blessing in the lives of others.”

Through that revelatory knowledge and power available to me, I can be guided to know who is in need of my help and love. That is certainly a tender blessing of God’s priesthood power in my life.

President Nelson taught that women have the “right to draw liberally upon the Savior’s power to help [our] family and others [we] love” (“Spiritual Treasures,” October 2019 general conference).

Although I do not bear the priesthood or hold priesthood keys, I frequently witness the blessings of God’s power in my life. Through personal experience, I know that “the heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood” (President Nelson, “Spiritual Treasures,” October 2019 general conference).

As President Dallin H. Oaks stated, “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? Whoever exercises priesthood authority should forget about their rights and concentrate on their responsibilities” (“The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” April 2014 general conference).

I explained to my new friend that, in the past, my husband has held priesthood keys, but he doesn’t currently hold keys. Does he lack any single blessing because of that? No. Not at all. Nor do I as a woman.

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sits with her husband, Robert B. Jones, before speaking during BYU Education Week in Provo on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018.
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sits with her husband, Robert B. Jones, before speaking during BYU Education Week in Provo on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret News, Deseret News

I’ve always loved the quotation from President Brigham Young, which sheds more light on this subject. “Priesthood is to be used for the benefit of the entire human family, for the upbuilding of men, women, and children alike. There is indeed no privileged class or sex within the true Church of Christ. … Men have their work to do and their powers to exercise for the benefit of all the members of the Church. … So with woman: Her special gifts are to be exercised for the benefit and uplift of the race” (quoted by John A. Widtsoe, comp., in Priesthood and Church Government, rev. ed. [1954], 92–93).

Men and women have different but equally important responsibilities in the home and the Church. Priesthood power can help each person perform those responsibilities for the benefit of all.

Because God’s priesthood power is on the earth today, great blessings are available to all worthy Church members, whether they are old or young, male or female, single or married.

Elder John A. Widtsoe explained, “Men have no greater claim than women upon the blessings that issue from the priesthood and accompany its possession.”

Is there any better place to learn that truth than in the Lord’s holy temple? That is where I love contemplating the power of the priesthood of God, now and in the eternities. After all, the temple is a point of connection between heaven and each of us. The temple is where God reveals His ordinances unto all His children.

Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president, interacts with youth during a visit to a member family’s home in Taitung, Taiwan, during a visit to the Asia Area in August 2019.
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president, interacts with youth during a visit to a member family’s home in Taitung, Taiwan, during a visit to the Asia Area in August 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the Relief Society sisters in Nauvoo, “If you live up to your privilege, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates. Females, if they are pure and innocent, can come in the presence of God.”

As it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” (D&C 93:1).

So, in answer to my friend’s question: Do I feel diminished? No. Do I feel blessed? Eternally.