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“Truth is the only holy thing,” Elder John A. Widtsoe taught, “and if it is violated or changed, those who teach it become corrupt and abominable.” [1] The restoration of Christ’s church necessarily included a restoration of the Priesthood which has the authority to administer the ordinances essential for exaltation. But what exactly was so untrue in the religious teachings of Joseph Smith’s day—a time culturally brimming with religious morality compared to now—that caused the Savior to declare their creeds “an abomination in his sight”? [2] It is logical to postulate that at least part of the reason Christ declared the various creeds abominably corrupt was that they perverted the very nature of God, for “Eloheim,” Joseph Smith taught, “ought to be in the plural all the way through—Gods.” [3] Thus, the creeds of Joseph’s day denied essentially half of God’s true nature as they rejected the concept of a divine Mother in whose image all women are made. One of the many revelatory doctrines restored by Joseph was the truth that “men and women cannot be exalted without each other.” [4] This fundamental equality of the sexes reframed women’s position in God’s plan and brought clarity to the Hebrew plural Elohim used ubiquitously in scripture, making it inclusive of not only God the Father, but also God the Mother.

Since these truths were restored, Latter-day Saints have wandered five times longer than the children of Israel did in Sinai, awaiting our opportunity to enter the promised land of Zion as we continuously seek to learn and implement the true implications of this revealed doctrine. By implication, understanding Elohim consists of Father and Mother means the Order of Heaven is not one which is ruled by the authority of men, or the Priesthood, alone. The Priesthood is patterned after its order. [5] It also means the Order of Heaven is not one which is ruled by the authority of women, which will be referred to as “Priestesshood,” alone. The Priestesshood is patterned after its order.

In the temple we are taught that we must enter into a specific order to claim our divine inheritance: the Holy Order of Matrimony. Might this be the holiest Order of God, the one which Priest- and Priestesshood are patterned after? Heaven would then be governed by an order which consists of Priestesshood and Priesthood unified; an order in which complementary physical and spiritual ordinances of birth, awakening, attachment, and oneness are the means by which progression occurs. If the Holy Order of Matrimony is God’s order, then the order of heaven is not solely Patriarchal, nor solely Matriarchal—it would be Matrimonial, a diarchal governing by the joint rule of the divine Masculine and divine Feminine. [6] And if heaven is a Matrimonial Order, then our establishment of Zion must be founded upon it.

Power in the Priestesshood

The power and authority of the Priesthood has continued to be ever-better defined and understood thanks to the teachings of our church leaders and the Holy Spirit. [7] But if we are to emulate the Matrimonial order of heaven, it is essential to understand women’s divinely-ordained authority as well, including the power that comes from faithful obedience to the ordinances and covenants associated with that authority. As we will see, comprehending the Priestesshood provides a clarity and depth of understanding to the Priesthood that is impossible to achieve otherwise.

The ordinances of the flesh that women are ordained to perform and preside over—birth, touch which awakens the Light of Christ, attachment, and lactation—are the foreshadowing complement to the ordinances of baptism, laying on of hands, the temple endowment, and sealing performed by those ordained to the Priesthood. [8] While women preside over these ordinances and their teachings, all who receive them and are obedient to their covenants receive power in the flesh. This physical power includes health, strength, and the ability to endure. The literal fact of physical life and power is a testament to the reality of our Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement, for all ordinances and covenants of the flesh, like those of the spirit, point to Him.

The organization, mathematics, and artistry of our bodies are literal symbols meant to teach us about God’s Plan of Salvation. Our bodies teach us that the Plan is one centered upon love. In depictions of the human form in classical works of art, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s L'uomo vitruviano, Vitruvian Man, the symmetry of an encircled body displays the navel as its center. “God so loved the world,” John entreats us to comprehend, “that he gave his only begotten Son…” [9] Our naval mark symbolizes a type of this, a permanent sign that we accepted the grace-drenched Plan of Salvation, as enabled by Christ and our mothers. It testifies that our earthly creator loved us enough to sacrifice her blood, and was willing to sacrifice even her own life, so that we could come into physical existence and have the opportunity for joy. Without the constant nourishment in utero and sacrificial deliverance from bondage provided by our mothers—who each acted as a type of Christ in birthing us—we could not live.

If we change our perspective and view the Vitruvian Man within a square, we see a different centerpoint. The center of our body now becomes the loins, and a new symbolic teaching emerges: God’s Plan of Salvation is centered upon family and progression. It is through and because of our mother and father’s loins that we exist, and through and because of our own that we have the potential to become parents ourselves. [10] We see this symbolism of procreation stretching back through eternity, to the unity of our Heavenly Mother and Father, the supreme One-ness in Whose Son’s footsteps we follow. The symbolic unity of our loins reminds us that the family is “God’s laboratory to love and serve,” and it is through our family relationships that we may qualify for the highest state of happiness and glory. [11]

The symbolism of our bodies teaches us that God’s Plan is one structured around opposition. This is clear in our muscular system, in which tension, stress, and damage prompt muscle growth. But even the marrow of our bones testifies to it. In addition to other benefits, bone marrow contributes to the constant and necessary state of reconstruction that occurs within our bones. Osteoclast cells dissolve bone while osteoblast cells build up new bone. This balanced resorption and formation is what causes bone density. [12] Nicole Woodbury’s sculpture, “The Necessity of Opposition,” artistically celebrates the beauty and growth these cells in our marrow enable. “This continuous opposition,” Woodbury explains, “allows bone to be one of the strongest materials in the world while still maintaining a light weight and relative flexibility.” [13] Light, strength, flexibility—these are qualities that describe a living being, and indeed the One we seek to emulate is called the Living God. The necessity of opposition in our journey back to God cannot be overstated, then: “For it must needs be,” Lehi taught, “that there is an opposition in all things. If not so… righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” [14]

Beginning in utero, we are endowed with physical power by women who have been authorized by God to preside over our development. Acknowledging and praising the essential gifts of physical power that foreshadow and enable spiritual growth lies at the very heart of our most sacred worship in the temple. Since we know we cannot be saved in ignorance, one of the truths our temple worship should teach us is that we must understand women and men’s equal presiding authorities before we enter God’s presence.

The Balance of Powers

Just as divinely-authorized women endow us with physical power, so men may be authorized to endow us with spiritual power through the saving ordinances in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As prophets, apostles, and Church leaders have taught, men do not hold a monopoly on Priesthood power. [15] Clearly, this is also true for women and Priestesshood. In fact, it should give us pause to note that by receiving and obeying the ordinances and the covenants of the flesh, it is men who grow into physical dominance. This fact of superior male strength has been measured in different ways, but the results are consistently the same: in any athletic competition based upon physical dominance, the best man’s score, time, or other winning measurement will always beat the best woman’s. [16]

The physical dominance of male humans, however, is more than an odd quirk. It’s not consistent in nature. In most species on the planet—from insects to frogs to oysters—it’s actually the norm for females to be larger and stronger than males, because they are tasked with carrying hundreds or thousands of eggs inside their bodies at once. Humans are not the only exception to this rule, but we are an exception. [17] We may consider, then, that the biological necessity of women providing the ordinances of the flesh with less physical power than men is part of God’s divine design for mortality.

Many have decided women’s weaker physical frame requires and justifies a patriarchal system of government and society. But we understand God is an equally balanced reign of an exalted Man and Woman. And we can see that the ordinances of flesh and spirit, Priestesshood and Priesthood, have been patterned to give women and men an equal authority on the path back to our heavenly home, for all must receive both classes of ordinances to enter the kingdom of God. [18] The complementary nature of ordinances which exactly mirror each other communicates a divine design of absolute parity between the sexes.

We will now hypothesize what this divine balance of authority suggests about power, at least during mortality. During our mortal existence, women preside over the ordinances and covenants of the flesh, but through obedience to the covenants, men survive and grow to become more physically powerful. A divine balance suggests, then, that mortal women who receive and are obedient to the ordinances and covenants of the Priesthood become as spiritually powerful as mortal men are physically.

This concept is well-considered within our Church culture, and in fact is well-documented within society at large. Women are measurably more religious than men, and measurably less violent. [19] Yet crediting women with greater spirituality has been problematic for a variety of reasons. One of the most common and unfortunate complaints in our day is that it is used as a palliative, as an excuse to not incorporate women into the Priesthood hierarchy of the Church. [20] If we look to understand the purpose of a separation of powers, however, a different theory emerges.

A separation of powers, to the end that there might be a balance of powers, is a well-understood concept in the United States, where it is the foundation of our government. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia discussed it as the real key to the distinctiveness of America, saying:

“I hear Americans…talk about a ‘dysfunctional government’ because there's disagreement. And the Framers would have said, ‘Yes, that's exactly the way we set it up. We wanted this to be power contradicting power…The Framers believed [gridlock] would be the main protection of minorities – the main protection. If a bill is about to pass that really comes down hard on some minority [and] they think it's terribly unfair, it doesn't take much to throw a monkey wrench into this complex system. So, Americans should appreciate that and they should learn to love the gridlock. It's there for a reason -- so that the legislation that gets out will be good legislation.” [21]

In America, then, a balance of powers allows the weak to be protected from the strong. It also creates a system of measured progress, and allows for time to counsel until consensus is reached.

We see a variation on this balance of powers purposely implemented in the Book of Mormon. When reading 1st Nephi, it’s difficult to not wish Laman and Lemuel could stay behind in Jerusalem. They clearly don’t want to leave, and their dissatisfaction with the demands of God and the journey creates significant trouble. Why then would the Lord have this family, with this dynamic, go in its entirety to the promised land? The Lord tells Nephi that his brothers’ posterity “shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me.” [22] Though “scourge” has negative associations, the Lamanites often stirred the Nephites up in remembrance of the Lord through righteous acts, such as the preaching of Samuel the Lamanite. [23] In the Book of Mormon, we see that a balance of powers is intended to hinder headlong pursuit down incorrect paths.

A defining feature of this type of system is that no party has a monopoly on power. We see this reflected in the sexes during mortality as well. Men are able to reach lofty heights of not just physical achievement but also intellectual ability and spirituality, as evidenced throughout history and scripture. Likewise, women have great strength, even physical strength, in ways that men do not. Various scientific analyses have found women to be the more physically robust sex: they dominate the statistics on longevity and show resistance to almost all the major causes of death. [24] Certainly women’s sexual stamina and capacity for sexual pleasure is also well-documented. A balance of powers, then, does not imply impotence on the part of either party.

If God has established a balance of powers between the sexes during mortality, then how should we establish the power of righteous women so that the divinely organized balance of power is operational and reflects the Matrimonial Order—not only in our homes, but in our nations, communities, and the Church? [25] Women have thus far been treated “with admiration, respect, gratitude, love, and awe”—among other less courteous behaviors. [26] But we have not yet been viewed en masse as the strong right arm of righteousness needed to effect a balance of powers system. [27] And yet, a divine balance of power and authority testifies that that is exactly what women of the covenant are.

The Opportunities of Presiding Authority

The presiding authority and power of the Priesthood has been well-taught since the beginning of the Restoration. But without a correct understanding of Priestesshood, we will not be prepared for the Savior’s return, for this feminine complement is essential to establishing Zion. When a woman loses something valuable, Christ taught, she is to “light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it.” [28] In seeking a correct understanding of women’s Priestesshood and its application, then, let us diligently sweep the house of scripture with the light of revealed truth. In beginning with even a cursory sweep, we will find clarification regarding the Creation and events in the Garden of Eden, Priestesshood authority over sexual relations, childbearing and the nurturing of children, as well as joint authority with the Priesthood concerning the verifying of true doctrine, healing, and even war.

Revisiting the Lessons of Creation

We begin with Genesis, and immediately see our Mother there as a participant in the creation of the earth, She in whose image all females are made. [29] And, if it is the feminine authority to awaken spirits newly cloaked in flesh to all that is good, then surely it was our Mother who awakened Adam to his physical existence as his first nurturer. Adam himself speaks of Her as such, for what other mother would Adam leave, so that he could cleave to his wife, if not his Heavenly Mother? [30] Additionally, and most importantly, our Eternal Mother as equal partner of the Father is scripturally reinforced literally thousands of times if we acknowledge Her as an essential part of the Hebrew plural noun Elohim, which we know means Gods, but is usually translated and treated as a singular male God in the Old Testament. [31]

An understanding of women’s authority over the flesh also provides further clarity to the oft-misunderstood story of Adam and Eve. In the scriptural accounts in Genesis and Moses, God brings to Adam every living creature on earth. In naming these creatures, we may consider that Adam is in fact seeking to identify the one that is “an help meet for him.” [32] This phrase is translated from the Hebrew words ‘ezer kenegdo, and they have been well-defined: they connote the kind of rescuing and saving help God gives, and note that this particular help has an obvious, opposite, or counterpart quality to it. [33] What is this equal in might and power, life-giving help that Eve gives? Understanding women’s authority easily answers: Adam and his posterity need to reach exaltation, and the path to exaltation requires ordinances of the flesh as well as those of the spirit. Adam has the authority to administer the spiritual ordinances, but not those of the flesh. The record makes it clear that Adam does not find this help among all the creatures of creation, for none of them have the authority to administer ordinances of the flesh to man. Adam only finds the help meet for him when Eve, with her equal stewardship, is embodied. Whether and when to partake of the fruit which began mortality, with its fragile physicality as well as the ongoing option to sin and repent, was under the presiding authority of Eve, for she would be the one administering the ordinances of the flesh. [34] Without those sacred acts, which Eve performed by giving spirits physical life and nurturing them to maturity, there would be no physical bodies, no probationary period, of course no resurrection, and certainly no eternal life. Eve had to partake of the fruit and Adam had to receive it from her to live mortally, for Adam was forbidden, but had to Fall. [35] Following Adam and Eve’s reception of Priestesshood ordinances and obedience to that presiding authority, we see later in scripture that Adam and Eve both exhibit the spiritual power of discernment, prophecy, and revelation that comes from receiving Priesthood ordinances, as they bless God and acknowledge the divine wisdom of the Plan of Salvation. [36]

Sexual Intimacy

In continuing a sweep of scripture as we seek a correct understanding of women’s Priestesshood and its application, we find the women of Jesus Christ’s matriarchal line and notice a theme: Tamar, Bathsheba, and Mary were (or are still) viewed as having committed sexual impropriety. And yet, their presence as honored foremothers of the Savior of the World suggests a closer look. All lived in cultures which often restricted women’s self-determination to the point that they became “acted upon,” and not actors themselves, contrary to the promise guaranteed to all mankind by the Redeemer. [37] Biblical women in such cultures had limited ability to exercise self-determination, and were sometimes forced to move forward when true “good” may have been out of reach. This is not to suggest that women are incapable of sexual immorality and Priestesscraft—they most clearly are—but the stories of these women suggest that the authority of the flesh means that a woman always holds the divinely-appointed final say over engaging in the most important interaction of the flesh and spirit that women and men can have—sexual intercourse—as women are the ones who immediately administer the ordinances to those borne of that act. This means when a woman is placed in unlawful circumstances where her agency has been limited or severely restricted, then she may be justified by heaven for acting according to her survival instincts. The authority of the flesh also means that a man should not ever assert physical power over a woman without her conferring that right upon him (e.g., in sexual intimacy). Additionally, the authority of the flesh makes it clear that men have not been given the divine right to ever assert physical authority over women. [38] We see this confirmed in the story of Mary, when even omnipotent God, represented by the angel Gabriel at the annunciation, waited for Mary’s informed consent to her most consequential responsibility before allowing the Holy Ghost to come upon her, and the power of the Highest to overshadow her body. [39]

That sexual intimacy falls under the authority of the Priestesshood informs our understanding of the painful issue of polygamy as we find Sarah in the first scripturally recorded example of a divinely-sanctioned polygamous relationship. [40] Prior to this, the only polygyny—which is the specific term for a husband having multiple wives—recorded in scripture was that engaged in by wicked Cain’s unrighteous posterity. [41] In fact, in the books of Genesis and Moses, Moses draws attention to the monogamous nature of his righteous foreparents’ marriages during the birth and rebirth of humanity, continuously noting the 1:1 ratio of Adam and Eve, and Noah and his wife. [42] If we believe that only God can justify polygamous marriages, then the fact that the first example of heaven-approved polygamy was introduced through a righteous woman indicates that it falls under the authority of the Priestesshood. Stated differently, if a righteous woman in a polygamous culture believes that sort of marriage is in her best interest and that of her children, the Lord is willing to allow it during mortality.

While polygamy may have been rarely allowed when righteous women initiated or preferred it, the scriptural record is rife with evidence that clearly demonstrates how wives, husbands, and children in such families reaped immediate and generational sorrow from its effects and longed for relief. Incredibly, there are really only two righteous men listed in all of ancient scripture who both clearly engaged in polygamy or concubinage and did so without a hint of divine condemnation: Abraham and Jacob. [43] Significantly, these two men also did not initiate or seek out polygamy, and never gave any indication in the scriptural record that they desired multiple wives or concubines. Their actions and blamelessness in God’s eyes testifies that polygamy falls under the authority of the Priestesshood.

Reproductive Rights

As to reproductive rights, we find Leah, who held off on child-bearing for a time once she had four young children. In our modern world, this suggests women must be free to enact well-informed choices regarding child-bearing, without compulsion or manipulation. This means that women may choose to have children, or not. Women may also choose how many children to have. Understandably, then, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns abortion as “an evil, stark and real and repugnant,” while simultaneously acknowledging that “there may be some few circumstances under which it can occur” and thus does not advocate laws which absolutely forbid it. [44] This also informs our teaching that “the Lord has told us to multiply and replenish the earth that we might have joy in our posterity…But he did not designate the number, nor has the Church.” [45] Practically, then, Latter-day Saints should advocate for health insurance to provide all women access to birth control, regardless of whether they are married or have already birthed a minimum number of children. [46] In seeking to enable righteousness, we may look to the rights of the Priesthood outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants and, rather than attempt to compel women to give birth and nurture children, ask, “How can our society and our men create circumstances under which you would desire to bear, deliver, and nurture a child?” [47] Policy implemented under such principles will be more closely aligned with the powers of heaven and will thus have a far better chance of success—both in terms of children delivered and raised in a loving environment, and in terms of maternal mortality.


Samson’s mother shows us the divine authority given to mothers as parents seek heaven’s assistance in nurturing children. When she was informed by an angel that her barrenness would be brought to an end and that her child would deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, Samson’s mother told her husband and he sought the Lord’s counsel in rearing their special son. [48] The angel appeared again to Samson’s mother when she was alone, and she went and got her husband so they could receive instruction from the angel together. It aligns with our understanding of women’s authority that divine revelation regarding nurturing would come directly to this mother. And it is exemplary, despite their son’s later failings, that Samson’s mother would seek a partnership in this spiritual enlightenment with her husband.

Nations also acknowledge and are blessed by women’s authority as they allow mothers to choose to administer and teach the ordinances and covenants of the flesh to their own children—or delegate those assignments to family members—without being economically penalized for doing so. Currently in the United States, for example, parents who hire others—non-relatives—to take care of their small children while they work can deduct the cost of childcare from their taxes. Parents who choose to do this work themselves, however, bear the full brunt of the cost. [49] Such a “Homemaker Tax” as this and any laws, codes, etc. which financially incentivize women to leave their children to the care of hired help, or economically penalize parents who choose to nurture themselves, should be rooted out of our nations. Notwithstanding abuse, young children do best in the care of their own mothers. [50] If we care about the mental health of our society, we should be looking to allow mothers to keep babies with them as much as possible in the first three years of their lives.

Verifying True Doctrine

In addition to matters over which the Priestesshood presides, there are also important matters over which both the Priesthood and the Priestesshood have joint responsibility, as befits the Matrimonial Order which is diarchic in nature. Consider the first task of verifying true doctrine.

When King Josiah hears the words of the book of the law which has been recovered in the temple, he pleads with the high priest to “go…inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found.” [51] Immediately, the high priest and his companions go and commune with Huldah the prophetess. Huldah is understood by these men to have the ability to authenticate and verify the word of the Lord, and “the power of her words and confidence in her message indicate that Huldah was neither surprised nor uncomfortable with the royal request.” [52] The leadership of this time understood the gift and power of discernment entrusted to women. The result of their faithfulness was clearly manifest as the entire nation reclaimed its scriptural foundation.

During the early days of the Restoration, the Lord explained the necessity of seeking women’s understanding of scripture in order to obtain doctrinal precision. In a revelation which manifests the will of the Lord, Emma Smith was “ordained…to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given [her] by [the Lord’s] Spirit.” [53] By concluding this revelation with the words, “This is my voice unto all,” the Lord invites us to understand that the work of interpreting and explaining scripture is among the responsibilities divinely given to women, or rather, to women and to men jointly in the Matrimonial Order. President Nelson repeated this truth in his talk “Spiritual Treasures,” as he specifically applied this revelation to all the women of the Church and urged them to increase their spiritual power:

“As a righteous, endowed Latter-day Saint woman, you speak and teach with power and authority from God. Whether by exhortation or conversation, we need your voice teaching the doctrine of Christ. We need your input in family, ward, and stake councils. Your participation is essential and never ornamental!” [54]

If we find or are concerned about deviation from divine truth within the teachings of the Church, these scriptural examples of Huldah and Emma teach us something significant: we should consider the degree to which the doctrine taught or policy implemented was one in which sisters’ spiritual power and discernment was relied upon in proportion to the brothers’ authority, or if it was a doctrine or policy that the women were invited to simply sustain.


War does not seem in need of an equal, feminine authority, for righteous men consider it a sacred responsibility to use their dominant physical strength to protect the bodies that the women of their nation have labored to bear and rear. Indeed, while some women now can be found on the front lines of military service, until modern weaponry lessened the necessity of hand-to-hand combat, physical battle was almost exclusively the province of men. However, the scriptures give us clues that partnership with women is essential in decisions of war.

This is most clear in the scriptural account of the Deborah, a prophetess and judge found in the book of Judges. It was through her partnership with Barak—Deborah as military general, Barak as fighting commander—that the children of Israel were delivered from the oppressive rule of Jabin, king of Canaan. There is a great deal to glean from Deborah’s story to inform our understanding of the authority of the flesh. We can observe that marrying and having children in mortality are not essential for a woman to righteously exercise the presiding authority of the Priestesshood. There is no mention of posterity in the record of Deborah, and, in fact, she may not have even been married. The Hebrew words which are translated as “wife of Lapidoth” may be just as easily—and are arguably better—translated as “fiery woman,” “woman with a torchlike spirit,” or “enlightened woman.” [55] Tellingly, though, it is after the victory that Deborah summarizes, “I arose a mother in Israel.” [56] The authority of the flesh—the mothering women are to do—clearly extends beyond administering the ordinances of the flesh to the particular individuals to whom they give birth. Deborah’s testimony communicates true “mothering” is found in jointly exercising our God-given power and authority with men, as we partner to deliver God’s children from sin and, in Deborah’s case, death.

In considering whether war is under the joint authority of the Matrimonial Order—that is, an equal partnership of Priesthood and Priestesshood—it is interesting to note that there is only one time in recorded history when righteous men, all together, chose not to fight to protect their wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. In the Book of Mormon account of the people of Anti-Lehi Nephi, a generation of fathers covenanted that they would not take up their weapons of war against their brethren to shed blood. As a result, thousands of innocent people were slaughtered. But, for that unique situation, the Book of Mormon also provides a record that this decision was authorized by the women, as the sons testified years later. [57] Aggression and violence, as well as passive surrender, must have the authorization of righteous women if we hope for those actions to receive Heaven’s blessing.

It is illogical to make the case that nations should conscript women to fight in war, for not only are they physically vulnerable to the strength of men, but they already give their bodies so that we can have ours. [58] But as the presiding authority over the flesh, righteous women should have an authoritative seat at the tables of diplomacy and war. We see this almost playing out in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, where large numbers of Ukrainian women from all walks of life have stepped forward and volunteered to serve on the front lines. Many of these women are again offering their bodies, this time to protect the bodies they have created. Even though these women are not the decision-makers, it is still having an effect: “Women on the front lines, both in and out of uniform, have confronted Russian soldiers, forcing them to call their mothers and explain why they are fighting…These simple acts of humanizing conflict, involving mothers, may prove profoundly valuable to the war effort.” [59] Elder Christofferson has referred to this capacity women have to effect spiritual change as “the moral force of women.” [60]

A prophetic scripture foretells an interesting detail about the Zion that is the New Jerusalem: “And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.” [61] As we ponder how this prophesy may be fulfilled, spiritually and temporally, we may consider it in light of the Matrimonial Order, and Priestesshood’s equal authority to Priesthood. It may be that the wicked will not be able to stand against Zion because the women of Zion will be Priestesses in every sense, including as joint authorities in war.


In our sweep of scripture to find a correct understanding of women’s Priestesshood and its application we cannot help but notice themes of healing. In the New Testament, we find the woman with the issue of blood, who believed in the Messiah and said, “If I may touch but touch his garment, I shall be whole,” and it was so. [62] This woman’s healing experience is the only record in scripture of one calling down healing themselves through the power of Jesus Christ, but without the initiation or even knowledge of one holding the Priesthood. Additionally, in the ultimate and final healing, the Resurrection, we see Christ choosing a woman to act as the first witness. [63]

We seek further back, find the records of the Ancients and ask, “Why did they live so long?” There was a reason Adam, Eve, and many of their descendants lived hundreds of years in mortality. [64] It has not yet been revealed. [65] But it is certainly possible that the Priestesshood Eve and her daughters exercised was essential to the prolonged life they enjoyed. Scriptures testify that Adam received the ordinances of the flesh, as we see in the book of Moses,

“And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.” [66]

The only ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which have been in the world from the time of Adam until now, and will be until the end of the world, are the ordinances of the flesh. The extent to which those ordinances contributed to our First Parents’ longevity will not be understood until we understand the fullness of the Priestesshood, and its blessings.

In the Doctrine and Covenants we find the Word of Wisdom, which teaches the principles of physical health, and recall it was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith after he hearkened to a woman, his wife, and pondered upon the matter, then inquired of the Lord concerning it. [67] But while the authority of the flesh seems to imply that women should participate in blessings of physical healing, Doctrine and Covenants 42, known as the law of the Church, admonishes that for the sick, “the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them” in the name of Christ. [68] Additionally, female ritual healing was instituted at the beginning of the Restoration, and after a time it was rescinded. [69] The exact reason for this was not stated; many have assumed that women’s right to administer these blessings was simply correlated away, rather than divinely withdrawn for a time. But Zenos’ allegory of the olive trees, taught by Jacob in the Book of Mormon, must be considered in light of where we were, and where we now are, as a Church. [70] The Lord will not let the loftiness of the vineyard—in this example, further light and knowledge—overcome the roots. The ongoing Restoration can only unfold at the pace we, as a worldwide people, are prepared to receive.

A full understanding and implementation of women’s divine authority has not yet been found, but we can see its gleam in the sunlight, and we are close. And the Lord has promised we will find it. [71] If we desire the further light and knowledge which will bring us the full measure of the blessings of the Priestesshood, it seems logical for us to first tend to our individual roots, and those of our family, as well as those we minister to, and serve in our callings. In continuing to analyze and consider scripture as it relates to women’s authority, we should not be surprised if women find different lessons from scripture. Covenant women have specifically been blessed to have the companionship of ministering angels, and have been endowed with the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. [72] As Latter-day Saints more fully and clearly comprehend our divinely-ordained authorities, one can see how President Nelson could prophesy that “the Church will have an unprecedented, unparalleled future. ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, … the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’” [73]


The devil seeks to divide us—the Greek diabolos is a word of division and separation. It is a good strategy, one that has worked well over millennia. But we live in the time in which Paul prophesied Christ will gather all things together in one, and the truth of that oneness is bursting through the veil. [74] Implicit in Paul’s prophesy is the truth that the times without Priesthood on the earth were not barren, for the Gospel of Jesus Christ—as administered through the Priestesshood ordinances of birth, touch, attachment, and lactation—has been on the earth since the creation of Eve. We live in the long-awaited dispensation of the fulness of times in which the Priesthood will also permanently take root, and with that promise we also have a sure hope that a true understanding and establishment of women’s proper authority will take place. And, because we are guided by a Priesthood that will not apostatize—and has even recently reaffirmed their refusal to “go beyond the word of the Lord”— we can know that a correct establishment of women’s authority will refine and ensure that our worship is correct in God’s sight. [75] We will not separate, idolize, or pervert worship of our Mother, as has been the human tendency throughout time. [76] We will be able to learn who She is, and who They are, that we may seek to be like Them. As we seek to become like our heavenly Parents in the Matrimonial Order, we will do all things in the name of their Son, our Savior, and follow Him in the strait and narrow way. [77]

Moses said, “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” [78] We may cry the same today, encouraging our girls and women to become priestesses and prophetesses as we celebrate and nurture their Priestesshood from birth, showing them that whether they preside or partner, they are essential for the establishment of Zion. If there ever was a time for such women to be raised up, it is now, for the devil cannot be bound with only one strong arm. [79]


[1] “Joseph Smith—The Significance of the First Vision,” The Annual Joseph Smith Memorial Sermons, vol. 1, Logan, Utah: Institute of Religion, 1966, p. 28.
[Back to manuscript].

[2] Joseph Smith—History 1: 19, italics added. [Back to manuscript].

[3] "History, 1838–1856, volume F-1 [1 May 1844–8 August 1844]," p. 103, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed February 11, 2022,
Joseph Smith’s Hebrew instructor at the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Joshua/James Seixas, taught Sephardic Hebrew, and spelled this word eloheem. This pronunciation became the eloheim that is sometimes used in LDS writings. Later LDS writings followed the Ashkenazic pronunciation style, which spells this word as elohim. See “Elohim and Jehovah in Mormonism,” FAIR: Faithful Answers, Informed Response. Accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[4] Gospel Topics Essays: Mother in Heaven. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, Chapter 2: A Personal Witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “We are indebted, or obligated at least, to the Prophet Joseph Smith, as the instrument in the hands of God, for the knowledge we now possess that a man cannot be exalted into the presence of God and the full enjoyment of his glory, alone.”
[Back to manuscript].

[5] Many scriptures affirm that Priesthood is not the order of God. Doctrine and Covenants 84: 18: “The Lord confirmed a priesthood … which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.” Doctrine and Covenants 107: 3: “Before [Melchizedek’s] day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.” [Back to manuscript].

[6] This concept is discussed at length in Dr. V.H. Cassler’s article, "Understanding the PPriesthood," SquareTwo, Vol. 13 No. 2 (Summer 2020), --- [Back to manuscript].

[7] See, for example, Dallin H. Oaks’ statement in “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” in the April 2014 General Conference: “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?” [Back to manuscript].

[8] These ordinances presided over by the Priestesshood are discussed in depth in this author’s article, "The Matriarchal Order and the Ordinances of the Flesh," SquareTwo, Vol. 15 No. 1 (Spring 2022),
Dr. V.H. Cassler describes these as “earthly ordinances of entering mortality” and “ordinances of the First Tree.” See Cassler, V.H. (2016) "The Two Trees," SquareTwo, Vol. 9 No. 1 (Spring 2016), [Back to manuscript].

[9] John 3:16. [Back to manuscript].

[10] Though it is a blessing we should strive for, we know it is not essential for each of us to become biological parents during mortality because there are many who, for a variety of reasons, simply cannot. “In unfair situations, Elder Dale G. Renlund taught, “one of our tasks is to trust that ‘all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.’… When it comes to how and when, we need to recognize and accept, as did Alma, that ‘it mattereth not; for God knoweth all these things; and it sufficeth me to know that this is the case’” (“Infuriating Unfairness,” April 2021 General Conference). [Back to manuscript].

[11] President Russell M. Nelson at an evening devotional in Quito, Ecuador, quoted in the Church Newsroom, August 26, 2019, --- [Back to manuscript].

[12] Chen, X., Wang, Z., Duan, N., Zhu, G., Schwarz, E. M., & Xie, C. (2018). Osteoblast-osteoclast interactions. Connective tissue research, 59(2), 99–107. --- [Back to manuscript].

[13] The image and description are found on the sculptor’s website, Another of her sculptures, Within the Marrow of Our Bones, is featured in the 12th International Art Competition which is on display at the Church History Museum through April1, 2023. [Back to manuscript].

[14] 2 Nephi 2:11 [Back to manuscript].

[15] “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.” Russell M. Nelson, “Spiritual Treasures,” October 2019 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].

[16] This article’s analysis of Olympic records in running and swimming found women’s records in marquee events stand at about 90% of men’s. Meyer, Robinson, “The 'Golden' Ratio: The One Number That Describes How Men's World Records Compare With Women's.” The Atlantic, August 7, 2012. Accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[17] The majority of terrestrial vertebrates, including humans, are the exception to this rule. Nuwer, Rachel, “What if women were physically stronger than men?“ BBC Future, October 29, 2017. Accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[18] John 3: 5: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water [birth] and of the Spirit [baptism], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” [Back to manuscript].

[19] While the ordinances of the Priesthood are only administered through the authority of God as restored in His Church, all may adhere to the covenants, which in large part align with the commandments that have been known throughout time, and thus gain power through their obedience. As measured by a 2014 Pew Research Center Survey. See “The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World,” March 22, 2016, Pew Research Center. Accessed at:
Men account for nearly 75% of violent crime arrests in the latest FBI analysis. See “FBI 10-year violent crime arrest trends by sex,” 2010-2019. Accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[20] Kline, Caroline, “Women Are More Spiritual than Men? The Mormon Conception by Caroline Kline,” Feminism and Religion, December 19, 2011. Accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[21] Opening statement on American Exceptionalism to a Senate Judiciary Committee delivered October 5, 2011 in Washington D.C. [Back to manuscript].

[22] 2 Nephi 5: 25 [Back to manuscript].

[23] As recounted in Helaman 13-16. [Back to manuscript].

[24] “According to a tally maintained by the global Gerontology Research Group, today, 43 people around the world are known to be living past the age of 110. Of these supercentenarians, 42 are women.” Saini, Angela, “The weaker sex? Science that shows women are stronger than men,” The Guardian: The Observer: Gender, June 11, 2017. Accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[25] It should be clear that one does not need to be married in order to be a fully contributing partner in a Matrimonial society. In a diarchy such as this, the sexes would rule jointly, and women and men’s participation, contribution, and consent would be equally sought and valued. [Back to manuscript].

[26] Gaskill, Alonzo L. The Lost Teachings of Jesus Christ of the Sacred Place of Women. 2014: 3. [Back to manuscript].

[27] Though there is ample evidence that the Brethren are continuously attempting to rectify this both in understanding and practice. See, for example, Sister and Elder Holland’s recent interview with Sheri Dew in which Elder Holland said, “If I could have my way, every time, every time after I am through speaking [as an apostle] and the meeting is to close, I would wish that a woman was giving the prayer.” Elder Holland stressed that he was not hoping to impose a rule, but that women’s spiritual capacity and perception as expressed through prayer would enable him to know if he had adequately communicated his message through the Spirit. Church News Podcast, Episode 85: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Sister Patricia Holland, with guest host Sheri Dew, “Part 2 – Becoming disciples of Jesus Christ,” May 26, 2022. [Back to manuscript].

[28] Luke 15: 8 [Back to manuscript].

[29] Genesis 1: 26-27. See also Abraham 4: 26-27 and Moses 2: 26-27.
[Back to manuscript].

[30] Genesis 2: 24. See also Abraham 5: 18 and Moses 3: 24. [Back to manuscript].

[31] "History, 1838–1856, volume F-1 [1 May 1844–8 August 1844]," p. 103, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed February 11, 2022,
For a wonderful exposition on this concept, see Larsen, Val, "Hidden in Plain View: Mother in Heaven in Scripture," SquareTwo, Vol. 8 No.21 (Spring 2015),
--- [Back to manuscript].

[32] Genesis 2: 18, Moses 3: 18, and Abraham 5: 14. In the Abraham account, Adam names the living creatures following the creation of his wife, identifying her in the process as the help who is meet for him, and authoritatively witnessing as a couple the completion of Creation. [Back to manuscript].

[33] See Olson, Camille Fronk, with Elspeth Young. Women of the Old Testament: Deseret Book, 2009: 9. See also Parry, Donald W. “Eve’s Role As a ‘Help’ (‘ezer) Revisited,” in Seek Ye Words of Wisdom: Studies of the Book of Mormon, Bible, and Temple in honor of Stephen D. Ricks: The Interpreter Foundation, 2020. [Back to manuscript].

[34] “I believe it was just and proper that women be given the right to open the door to the Plan of Happiness. Surely in the premortal existence women began to understand what would happen to them in the fallen world—rape, forced marriage, domestic violence, sex trafficking, treated almost as slaves throughout much of human history. If no daughter of God was willing to open the door to mortal life, it would not be opened—and that would only be just.” Cassler, V.H. (2016) "The Two Trees," SquareTwo, Vol. 9 No. 1 (Spring 2016),
--- [Back to manuscript].

[35] 2 Nephi 2:25 “Adam fell that men might be; and men care, that they might have joy.” [Back to manuscript].

[36] Moses 5: 10-11. In the following chapter Adam’s previous reception of baptism and other Priesthood ordinances is recorded (see Moses 6: 51-68). [Back to manuscript].

[37] 2 Nephi 2:26 [Back to manuscript].

[38] President David O. McKay explained it this way: “Let us instruct young people who come to us, first, young men throughout the Church, to know that a woman should be queen of her own body. The marriage covenant does not give the man the right to enslave her, or to abuse her, or to use her merely for the gratification of his passion. Your marriage ceremony does not give you that right,” A Parent’s Guide, Chapter 6: “Mature Intimacy: Courtship and Marriage,” by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[39] Luke 1: 38 “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” [Back to manuscript].

[40] It can be argued that Abraham was not actually married to Hagar and thus did not have more than one wife simultaneously. Genesis 16: 3 singularly says Sarah “gave [Hagar] to her husband Abram to be his wife,” but every subsequent reference to her following Ishmael’s conception and birth is as “the bondwoman” whose “mistress” is Sarah (see Genesis 16: 4, and Genesis 21: 10, 13). Thus, we may postulate that the term “wife” in Genesis 16: 3 may be describing the act of marriage that Hagar and Abraham engage in to produce Ishmael, making Hagar’s position closer to concubine for the conception of only one child, a surrogate of ancient times. The first Priestesshood-sanctioned polygamous marriage, then, was Jacob, who was tricked into unknowingly marrying Leah before he was allowed to marry his chosen bride, Rachel. Though it was Jacob’s uncle Laban—Leah and Rachel’s father—who is blamed for orchestrating the dishonest wife swap, it is difficult to comprehend how this could have taken place without some measure of compliance on Leah and Rachel’s part. Later, at Rachel and Leah’s behest, Jacob engaged in concubinage with their female servants. Jacob’s polygamy, then, was also under the direction of women. [Back to manuscript].

[41] See Genesis 4: 17-19. [Back to manuscript].

[42] See, for example, Moses 8: 12, in which Moses includes the detail that Noah’s second son was by the same mother as the first, lest any assume the 40-year gap in his children’s ages imply a polygamous union. [Back to manuscript].

[43] Doctrine and Covenants 132:1 lists Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon as being justified in having many wives and concubines. The Book of Mormon, however, offers unequivocal condemnation of David and Solomon (Jacob 2:24). Moses’ polygamy is contested as there is strong chronological and Hebrew root word evidence that Moses was monogamous, and that the single evidence in favor of his polygamy--“the Ethiopian woman” mentioned in Numbers 12:1--was in fact just a reference to Zipporah (See, for example, Michelle Stone’s “Was Moses A Polygamist?: Episode 10,” 132 Problems YouTube channel, March 26, 2022). And there is no scriptural evidence that Isaac had multiple wives or concubines. These seeming contradictions indicate that this verse in the Doctrine and Covenants listing “justified [polygamist] servants” is more likely a restatement of the question asked, rather than revealed truth that Moses and Isaac were polygamists. [Back to manuscript].

[44] President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Walking in the Light of the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 99. See also the Church’s most recent statement on abortion, accessed at
--- [Back to manuscript].

[45] President Gordon B. Hinckley, Cornerstones of a Happy Home, 6.
[Back to manuscript].

[46] At their introduction in the 1980s, intrauterine devices (IUDs) were only recommended for women who had given birth (medically referred to as parous). Decades of study, however, have determined them to be safe and effective for the majority of women, including those who are nulliparous (have never given birth). Therefore, there is no medical reason for a women to be required to have a minimum number of children in order to have access to an IUD. See Lohr PA, Lyus R, Prager S. “Use of intrauterine devices in nulliparous women.” Contraception. Accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[47] See Doctrine and Covenants 121: 36, 41-42. [Back to manuscript].

[48] See Judges 13, and Wilcox, S. Michael. Daughters of God: Scriptural Portraits: Deseret Book, 1998: 81-82. [Back to manuscript].

[49] This is on top of the Child Tax Credit, which all primary caregivers may claim. A parent is only eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit if they (and spouse, if filing jointly) are employed, actively looking for full-time employment, or are enrolled in school full time, in addition to having earned income to be able to claim the credit. Families which choose to have one parent forgo employment to provide childcare, or use extended family members for such care, are not eligible. See Tax Topic No. 602 Child and Dependent Care Credit, accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[50] “The first three years present a crucial, formative window. There’s substantial research that confirms the more time a woman can devote to the joy and job of mothering during that period, the better the chance her child will be emotionally secure and healthy throughout his life.” Komisar, Erica. Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. 2017. [Back to manuscript].

[51] 2 Kings 22: 13. See also 2 Chronicles 34: 21. [Back to manuscript].

[52] Olson, Camille Fronk, with Elspeth Young. Women of the Old Testament: Deseret Book, 2009: 155. [Back to manuscript].

[53] Doctrine and Covenants 25: 7 [Back to manuscript].

[54] Russell M. Nelson, “Spiritual Treasures,” October 2019 General Conference.
[Back to manuscript].

[55] In Englishman’s Concordance accessed on BibleHub, Lappidoth only occurs once in the Bible. It seems unlikely that it is a place because of the singular reference, and yet it seems equally unlikely for it to be a name, because it has none of the typical markers of a name, such as pairing with the term “son of” to indicate lineage.
See Meneses, Kristine, “Deborah Disclosed: Wife of Lapidoth or Fiery-Lady? A Critical Exploration of the Translation Eshet Lapidoth in Judges 4:4.” This concept is also discussed, citing Alfred Edersheim, in Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler’s “Come Follow Me (May 30 – June 5)” YouTube video, minute 17:00. [Back to manuscript].

[56] Judges 5: 7. [Back to manuscript].

[57] Alma 56: 47-48: “Yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” [Back to manuscript].

[58] “Until men can die in childbirth just like women have for centuries, women should not be drafted and forced to die in battle. Such will simply deepen the existing inequality between the sexes.” Hudson, Valerie, “Opinion: I’m A Feminist. A Mandatory Military Draft Would Be Terrible For Our Women,” Deseret News, August 3, 2021. Accessed at:
--- [Back to manuscript].

[59] Leader, Lauren, “Ukraine's formidable, not-so-secret weapon: Women,” March 4, 2022, MSNBC. Accessed at: --- [Back to manuscript].

[60] Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “The Moral Force of Women,” October 2013 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].

[61] Doctrine and Covenants 45: 70. [Back to manuscript].

[62] Matthew 9: 21 [Back to manuscript].

[63] See John 20: 17; Luke 24: 10. [Back to manuscript].

[64] Adam lived to 930 years (Genesis 5:5), Methuselah 969 (Genesis 5:27), and Noah 950 (Genesis 9:29). Eve and the other Matriarchs’ ages at their deaths are not recorded. [Back to manuscript].

[65] Valletta, Thomas R. “The Length of the Lives of the Ancient Patriarchs,” March 1998 Ensign. Also found in February 1994 Ensign. [Back to manuscript].

[66] Moses 5: 59 [Back to manuscript].

[67] See Doctrine & Covenants Section 89. [Back to manuscript].

[68] Doctrine and Covenants 42: 44. [Back to manuscript].

[69] Stapley, Jonathan A. and Wright, Kristine, Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism (January 1, 2011). Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 37, pp. 1-85, Winter 2011, Available at SSRN: --- [Back to manuscript].

[70] See Jacob 5. [Back to manuscript].

[71] “In His time, the Lord will reveal all things to His people, for He has promised that in this dispensation ‘nothing shall be withheld,’” President Nelson, special devotional broadcast for members in California, February 27, 2022. [Back to manuscript].

[72] See Doctrine and Covenants 107: 18-20; also Doctrine and Covenants 84: 19.
[Back to manuscript].

[73] Russell M. Nelson, “200 Years of Light: 1820–2020: The Future of the Church: Preparing the World for the Savior’s Second Coming,” April 2020 General Conference. [Back to manuscript].

[74] See Ephesians 1: 10. [Back to manuscript].

[75] In his April 2022 General Conference talk, “Your Divine Nature and Eternal Destiny,” Elder Renlund explained this in regards to our collective desire to receive greater understanding of our Heavenly Mother: “Ever since God appointed prophets, they have been authorized to speak on His behalf. But they do not pronounce doctrines fabricated ‘of [their] own mind’ or teach what has not been revealed…Demanding revelation from God is both arrogant and unproductive. Instead, we wait on the Lord and His timetable to reveal His truths through the means that He has established.” [Back to manuscript].

[76] See the many iterations of worship solely directed to the Divine Feminine, such as Asherah, Astarte, and Anath in the Biblical record. [Back to manuscript].

[77] See Matthew 7: 13-14 and Doctrine and Covenants 132: 22. [Back to manuscript].

[78] Numbers 11: 29. [Back to manuscript].

[79] Doctrine & Covenants 43:31. [Back to manuscript].

Full Citation for this Article: Wyne, Gwendolyn Stevens (2022) "Seeking the Matrimonial Order," SquareTwo, Vol. 15 No. 2 (Summer 2022),, accessed <give access date>.

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