Sister Craven on women and priesthood — All the spiritual blessings of the Church

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).

In the oath and covenant of the priesthood (Doctrine and Covenants 84), man covenants with God to do certain things, or to meet certain conditions, according to His laws. In turn, God promises through an oath that he will grant unto man certain blessings.

President Nelson testified that “incredible blessings flow from this oath and covenant to worthy men, women and children in all the world” (“Covenants,” Ensign, November 2011).

Admittedly, it wasn’t until well into my adulthood that I began to understand that the promises and blessings of the oath and covenant of the priesthood had application or relevance for me. Frankly, I thought it was something only for my brothers and father to know. After all, they were the ones making priesthood covenants, right?

Sister Becky Craven makes a comment in a joint discussion between the Young Women and Young Men general presidencies on the development of the 2020 youth theme Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.
Sister Becky Craven makes a comment in a joint discussion between the Young Women and Young Men general presidencies on the development of the 2020 youth theme Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

As I matured in the Gospel, I began to more clearly understand how all of God’s children are blessed by the priesthood power and authority held by worthy men. It is through the Lord’s priesthood authority that we access the ordinances and covenants we need to receive Eternal Life.

In April 1970, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that the power of the priesthood is a great blessing to all members of the Church and that those blessings are not solely for men. Although the oath and covenant of the priesthood in D&C 84 is directed specifically for men ordained to the priesthood, many of the promises and blessings given there also apply to covenant keeping women. President Smith explained, “These blessings are also poured out upon … all the faithful women of the Church. … The Lord offers to His daughters every spiritual gift and blessing that can be obtained by His sons.”

But more often than not, we as women forget, or do not fully grasp, the blessings we are entitled to when we keep our covenants — especially those we make in the holy temple. It’s a bold statement to say that we are entitled to blessings, since we know that all blessings we receive come through the grace of God. However, when we begin to understand the meaning of the oath and covenant of the priesthood, we also begin to see how this is possible.

Although women do not hold or receive the priesthood itself, as they make and keep priesthood covenants, magnify their callings, keep the commandments, receive the Lord’s servants and live by every word of God, they will receive the same blessings promised to men who hold and righteously use the priesthood. What are those promised blessings? To be sanctified by the Spirit, to be numbered among the elect of God and to receive all that the Father hath.

What hope, joy and comfort I receive each time I think of the possibility of receiving such blessings from God. Each time I ponder those blessings, however, I also remember that those blessings I long for are dependent on me striving to keep the covenants I made with Him.

From left, Sister Sharon Eubank, Dr. Hafsa Ahmed, Sister Becky Craven and Sister Noeline Odgers pose for a photo together after touring through the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in October 2019.
From left, Sister Sharon Eubank, Dr. Hafsa Ahmed, Sister Becky Craven and Sister Noeline Odgers pose for a photo together after touring through the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in October 2019. Credit: Lincoln Reid

Many years have passed since I received my patriarchal blessing, but I remember the experience vividly. I was 14 years old at the time. Even now I can almost feel the hands of Patriarch Thomas F. Crow resting upon my head as he pronounced a blessing from the Lord. More than just the words he spoke were the impressions that came into my mind. As I saw into my future for a brief moment, I felt an overwhelming sense of love. It was the love of a kind Heavenly Father for one of His (many) daughters. I knew He longed for me to live with Him again.

That experience has molded many decisions I’ve made throughout my life. I knew in order to realize those desired blessings, I would have to do my part.

I now see that there is even more that our Father wants for me to receive, even more than was stated in my patriarchal blessing. I can hardly fathom that “all that my Father hath” can be mine if I keep my covenants.  But I do catch a glimpse as I ponder on my temple covenants.

Can you visualize what it would be like “to be kings and priests and queens and priestesses, possessing the fulness of the blessings of the celestial kingdom?” (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Answers to Gospel questions,” 1971).

Our beloved prophet, Russell M. Nelson, continues to remind us that the profound blessings of the priesthood are available to all of the Father’s faithful children. “Both covenant-keeping women and men have access to ‘all the spiritual blessings of the Church’ or we might say, to all the spiritual treasures the Lord has for His children.”

Eternal life with my family, in the company of Elohim and Jehovah, is the blessing I desire above all. I am grateful for the hope, expectation and even assurance that, if I keep my covenants, our Heavenly Father will fulfill His oath and the blessings I long for most will be realized.

Sister Becky Craven visits with a group of young women in Fiji during a trip to the Pacific Area in October 2019.
Sister Becky Craven visits with a group of young women in Fiji during a trip to the Pacific Area in October 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.