Bednar: “Priesthood is not Male”

Elder Bednar

Elder and Sister Bednar recently addressed temple workers in Utah County.  I received some notes from the address in which Elder Bednar talked about keys of the priesthood.  I was told he spoke quickly, and often said “put your seatbelts on.”  These notes are from someone trying to write as fast as possible, and some of his comments regarding priesthood were interesting.  In light of the new church essay on Joseph Smith’s Teachings on Priesthood, Temple, and Women, I thought it might be interesting to read some notes of his remarks.  It was interesting that he spoke about priesthood keys, and I learned some things.


It’s an honor to be here.  When I say that, it’s not a trite saying.  It is truly an honor, and I use that word intentionally and with purpose.  I can see all in the overflow section, and I am told that there are people in the chapel across the street.  Think of all the time you voluntarily serve the Lord in the temple.  It’s not hard to understand why opponents see our church as a cult.  They say “what could possibly motivate people to spend this much time in their life?”  What we do not is not rational.  It doesn’t make sense.  This devotion must be an example that you are brain washed.

I do lots of interviews with the press, and they are usually antagonistic.  It’s fun.  They will ask what is the proof of your claim?  What proof do you have that the gospel has been restored to earth.  I should bring bring you as my proof.  Look at you people, you are not paid.  I know that if the Brethren need you, everyone in this room would be ready in an instant.  You would think it was brainwashing.  I love your faith and devotion.  It truly is an honor to be in your presence.  I rest my case.

It is honor to be with you.  Your devotion makes me more devoted.  Weeks ago I had a thought.  I want to teach this principle.  Don’t be afraid of repetitive teaching, Elder Neal Maxwell told me.  We almost always say Moroni visited Joseph Smith and taught the same thing three times.  This is inaccurate.  He didn’t say same thing.  There was something different in each visit.  Go read the Pearl of Great Price, and you will find there was something distinctive each time.  Make big deal.  I have told the Joseph Smith story a zillion times.  Even in the D&C the words are never quite the same.  Sister Bednar is always writing things down that I say.  She is listening for things I’ve never said before.  In every episode just like with Joseph Smith, there is always something new.  This is how the Lord delivers revelation.

In testimony meeting, don’t complain about repetition.  Open your heart by power of the Holy Ghost.  If all you hear is what the teacher said, you haven’t been listening. The Holy Ghost is the teacher, not the person.  Don’t be afraid of repetition.  When Elder Rasband was set apart the title of apostle was conferred on him.  Then he joined us as we ordained Elder Stevenson.  We continued with Elder Renlund until all fifteen apostles were standing.

I’d like to talk about priesthood keys.  I will give you a brief quiz.  Some of you may feel terror because it is a topic you are supposed to know.  Not many know.  Tonight you will know, but listen for what you have never heard before.

Priesthood is the authority to act in name of God in work of salvation of humanity.  When those hold keys have authorized.  Or authority is authorization to act in his name as his representative.  Man may receive authority but not power.  Power comes from righteousness, but we do not have to be perfect.  we become a conduit, vessel, channel for power of godliness.  Preisthood operates in home.  No need for priesthood keys.  Parents in home hold no keys in home.  Keys pertain to church, the kingdom of God..  Apostasy is the loss of keys.  Keys removed at death of apostles.  Restoration was the return of keys.

What is bound on earth is bound in heaven.  What we loose on earth is loosed in heaven.  Priesthood is authority resident in Christ.  Power comes by laying on of hands, and worthiness.  Priesthood is not male, it is the authority to act in goodness. Think Aaronic priesthood. Priesthood is not male.  Come back to this in a minute.

Church add BMD {Notes didn’t make sense…} kingdom of God, need for keys.  Right, responsibility to oversee priesthood. Keys are only given to those who preside over a quorum.  Only a quorum holder can hold keys.  Keys are a channel for revelation.  100% predictable, through priesthood keys.   Sees pattern in stake.  Deacons, even a 12-13 year old boy has responsibility.  Keys are bounded by geography.  Bishop can only exercise his keys through his ward, so in stake.  Bishop has no authority outside ward.

Apostolic, so, bishop.  That’s it.  Alone speaks inspiration heaven Joseph Smith.

In my career, I diagnosed problems in organizations. They spend millions on succession planning but aren’t any more effective than church management.  Restored Church of Jesus Christ has a simple organization and the Fundamental keys: apostolic to bishop.  Each man called and sustained as apostle is ordained to the office of apostle, and given all keys restored in this dispensation.  Surreal reference.  These keys were restored via Peter, James, John, John the Baptist, Elijah, etc.  Within quorum, each man receives all keys.  Pres Monson is the only man that both holds and is authorized to use all priesthood keys.  Can any man confer keys?  Only if Pres Monson says so.

All fifteen are equal.  It has nothing to do with the man, symbol of reference for keys.  I remember a story about students at BYU.  Harold B Lee said we should be loyal to royal within you.

When the prophet enters a room you can often feel tangible keys in room.  You can feel something, it is not an emotion.  You feel the keys, not the man.  There are no geographical limits for the keys of an apostle.  I accompanied Elder Scott as he organized a stake.  He asked me, Elder Bednar, should we divide the stake?  I said I would follow his lead. He responded that if I thought it should it should be divided go ahead and do it.

If he goes the stake, he assesses, and can divide the keys.  A Seventy would be unemployed of he does the same thing. I am asked all these time.  A Stake President holds keys.  I jumped from apostolic keys to Stake president keys. I jumped right over Seventies.  A Seventy holds no priesthood keys.  All keys are held by the Stake President, yet a Seventy presides when stake reorganized.  How can a Seventy confer keys to the stake president when he has no keys?

A Seventy is an apostolic office, but is not an apostle.  The Twelve serve as especial witnesses of Christ. A  Seventy is not an especial witness.  Difference.  Twelve hold keys, Seventy act under direction of Twelve.  For purposes of assignment, the Twelve delegate keys to fulfill the assignment. When a Seventy sets apart a stake president, he has the keys necessary to do the work.  When he completes the assignment, he is no longer authorized. Many have served as regional representatives, area authority, area seventy.  This is middle management.  Office of Seventy is a conduit for apostolic keys.  One day we will have 100 million members, and still twelve apostles, we will have hundreds of quorums of seventies.  Area seventy, got jipped this time.  Think about that sometimes.  Seventy authorized by apostle.  Too many stakes.  In such a church, it will take 30 years to get apostle in your stake.  Joseph Smith was 29 years old when he recorded D&C 107.  It is a simple plan from God.

If we understand that a Seventy hold no keys, the Stake president directs priesthood in the stake.  Auxiliaries to priesthood are not subservient.  There is no separate Young Women work, just priesthood work.  Activities may be different, but work is the same.  Does Relief Society president hold keys?  No.  Priesthood keys are only given when someone presides over a priesthood quorum.  Does Relief Society president act under direction of priesthood?  Yes.  Counselors of the stake president, can utilize keys if president is indisposed.  By set apart, properly can act in authority of keys, has everything.  Sisters smiling.

Bishop.  Seventy in between.  Elders quorum president is a stake calling, under direction of stake president.  High Priest group leaders have no keys.  That’s why they are groups not a quorum.

Let’s talk about the Elders quorum president.  I am such tired of lame jokes about the elder’s quorum president.  There is a joke that the only requirement for an Elder’s Quorum president is that he must have a truck.  I hate this.  Part of Mormon culture well established.  It makes me fired up.  Elder’s quorum president has responsibility to receive Aaronic boys, aids young men in picking a career, vocation, new husbands, new father.  Do they only help move?  Who hold keys?  Bishop, elder’s quorum pres.  But we don’t treat them that way.  Given elder’s quorum presidents are responsible to do, it is an overwhelming responsibility.


The two remarks that stuck out to me were “Priesthood is not male”, and “Priesthood is not administration.”  While it is interesting to me that key holders are quorum leaders I still have a few questions.

(1) We have 7 presidents of the Quorums of Seventies?  If these are truly priesthood quorums, why don’t these presidents have keys?  (Or are they mainly limited to the Q70?)

(2) If Priesthood is not male, then why are all the leaders male?

(3)  If Priesthood is not administration, why are all administrators male?

(4)  Given the new church essay stating

In organizing the Relief Society, Joseph spoke of “ordain[ing]” women and said that Relief Society officers would “preside over the Society.”23 He also declared, “I now turn the key to you in the name of God.”

why does the essay then go to great pains to state that these are not priesthood keys?

(5)  I have heard some say that the new church essay (and indeed Elder Bednar “priesthood is not male” and Elder Oaks recent conference address) are stepping stones to allowing women to hold the priesthood one day.  Do you agree with this?  Or is this just a way to tell women “silly women–you’ve been exercising priesthood all this time and just didn’t know it.  You’re delegated keys when you perform your callings.  We don’t need to extend priesthood to you when you’ve already been exercising the power of the priesthood.”



2 comments on “Bednar: “Priesthood is not Male”

  1. Good post. Gets me thinking.

    Elder Bednar is often discussed negatively among disaffected LDS for good reason: he acts and believes that he has special authority from God, and that his very utterances are “scripture”, often in ways that seem quite brazen and ruthlessly authoritarian.

    It occurs to me that Elder Bednar may be in this respect more like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young than any other apostle or church leader since the founders.

    Both Elder Bednar and Joseph Smith demonstrate characteristics of narcissistic personality: that they are uniquely special and their very words and deeds are set apart. Joseph truly believed that his insights were revelation, and proclaimed them as such. No LDS leader since then has been so brazen…until Bednar. If he said “I am scripture”, as a rumor alleges, it would not be inconsistent with the idea that his wife writes down his ideas to identify what is new…and the new is revelation. His wife is providing narcissistic supply to him.

    But Joseph Smith was not ruthlessly authoritarian like Elder Bednar seems to be. In this way, Bednar is more like Brigham Young, whose authoritarianism was absolute: whatever he said may not have been prophetic, but it was law. All this talk about keys is a narrative that has its roots in Brigham Young’s apologia and justification to take control of the church after the death of Joseph Smith. Once BY established his “keys” he ruled with absolute authority. In much the same way, in these notes, Elder Bednar speaks of his keys as an apostle that whatever he says to divide a stake or not is absolute and authoritative.

    If we want to see change in the church, we probably do need those who actually believe they have authority from God to make change. Without change agents like David Bednar, the remaining apostles are too set in defending the handed down traditions. They are too self aware to declare that their own words are scripture or their own pronouncements in authority are the Word and Will of the Lord.

    There is deep irony here: Elder Bednar’s personal sense of narcissistic authoritarianism may be exactly what is needed to make changes happen to a church and culture founded on such a perspective.

    The real question is whether those changes will actually be inspired or helpful.

  2. Were Wilford Woodruff, Spencer Kimball, and Joseph F Smith narcissistic authoritarians too? Is that what it takes to get revelation?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: