I have a very close friend who has been sealed to her husband after he passed away. My question is, she now feels in light of Pres Nelson’s talk last conference that she “by virtue of her Temple covenants shares in his Priesthood to the point of getting consecrated oil to pronounce blessings on her grand kids. I asked her to counsel with the Bishop and she said “why would I see the Bishop when I have President Nelson’s words right here?
Grams here. First, I commend both you and your friend for desiring to learn more about the priesthood. In recent years, our leaders have been talking more about women and the priesthood to help us live up to our privileges. These things are not new, they are simply being more emphasized now. I would guess that is to clear up misunderstandings.
You are correct that Pres. Nelson did not intend for women to use consecrated oil and pronounce blessings. So what did he mean? Well, he talked about the restoration of the Priesthood and emphasized that this is important for women as well as men. Then he said: “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.” Women who are endowed have priesthood power through their covenants with God, not through their husband (whether or not her husband was active and worthy is not relevant here.)
But what is this priesthood power women have? Pres. Nelson explained: “Sisters, you have the right to draw liberally upon the Savior’s power to help your family and others you love.” We can draw on the Savior’s power. But how do we do that? Not with consecrated oil and laying our hands on someone’s head. Pres. Nelson answered this partially in his talk:
“You won’t find this process spelled out in any manual. The Holy Ghost will be your personal tutor as you seek to understand what the Lord would have you know and do. This process is neither quick nor easy, but it is spiritually invigorating. What could possibly be more exciting than to labor with the Spirit to understand God’s power—priesthood power?”
Here we see that how we use our priesthood power as women is different than men do as priesthood bearers. We will need to prayerfully ask God how He would have us partner with Him to bless His children.
You are right that it would be a good idea for your friend to council with her Bishop to help understand and clarify Pres. Nelson’s words. If her husband had been active in the church, he would have attended classes and counseled with the Bishop to learn how to use his priesthood. There’s no reason it should be any different for her. As Pres. Nelson said, as women our best guide to understanding how to draw on God’s power will be the Holy Ghost, but our Bishops can also help, and there are Ensign articles and books from Deseret on this topic that I have read and recommend;
Connecting Daughters of God with His Priesthood Power by Barbara Morgan Gardner
Spiritual Treasures – Pres. Nelson
The Priesthood Power of Women by Barbara Morgan Gardner
LIve Up to Our Privileges: Women, Power and Priesthood by Wendy Ulrich PhD
Women and the Priesthood: What One Mormon Woman Believes by Sherri Dew