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Are there any scriptures where God says only men can be ordained to the Priesthood?





Hi Chuck,

There  are no specific scriptures that explicitly say this. If there were it would be less of a controversial subject, of course. However, there are no scriptures that set detailed standards for a lot of things. There are a variety of things that we rely on the guidance of our living prophets and apostles for. It is a fallacy to presume that if something is not in the scriptures, then it must not be doctrinal, or that we should not believe or follow it.

That being said, there are a variety of scriptures that indicate that men are to be ordained to the priesthood, rather than women. The first, and most obvious, is that when Christ chose his apostles he chose men. One might think that if Christ intended women to be part of that then he would have done so. This precedent alone should be sufficient. But, of course, for some it is not.

Here are some other indications of the priesthood rights belonging to men:

First the Aaronic Priesthood. In Numbers 3:3 we read:

“These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest’s office.”

And verse 10:

“And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office…”

There are several other reference to Aaron and his sons in the scriptures related to the Aaronic priesthood rights. Nothing there about his daughters.

As to the higher priesthood, we can also look at Abraham 1:3:

“It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.”

And verse 31:

“But the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs, concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands; therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.”

In verse 26 of that chapter it speaks of how Pharoah sought to IMITATE the priesthood:

“Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.”

There are no scriptures where it speaks of the priesthood in terms of daughters or mothers. The Priesthood has always been a Patriarchal order, even in the beginning with Adam.

Then in D&C 20:38 we read…

“The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ—An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize;”

Also in vs. 48 and 49:

“And he may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons.


“And he is to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present;”

It also specifically says “he” in vs. 50, 56, 60 and 64, 76 and 78.

Contrasting this in the same chapter, in verse 73-74 we read:

“The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”


“Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water.”

Seeing in Section 20 how baptism is described – including “himself or herself”/”him or her” – and the performances of ordinances are specified as “he”, “his”, or “him”, it seems fairly straightforward.

It also must be noted that all interactions related to the priesthood were males. Christ himself, Adam Melchizedek, Abraham, Noah, Elijah, Elisha, Moses, Aaron, Peter, James, and John, John the Baptist… All told, not a single reference to women when the priesthood was explicitly given or received. There are arguments made because of references to women by usage of the word “prophetess” (Anna, Miriam and Deborah), but the criteria for becoming a prophetess is that one is able to prophesy (a gift of the Spirit), not the holding of the priesthood, (see 1 Cor 12:10) so that is not very compelling to me. Then there’s reference to Phoebe who was a “servant” of the church, and Priscilla and Aquila, “fellow workers in Christ Jesus”. Not very compelling either as it certainly does not require the priesthood to serve or work in the gospel.

You won’t find a scripture anywhere that says, “Women may not hold the priesthood.” But when the scriptures given above, the example set by the Savior in organizing His church, the continuing precedent set by the latter-day church, and the frank recent statements given by our leaders, we can safely assume that the organization and order of God’s kingdom on the earth is as it should be.

An example of this latter-day clarification comes from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“Women do not hold the priesthood because the Lord has put it that way. It is part of His program. Women have a very prominent place in this Church. Men hold the priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this Church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women’s organization in the world… They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world…


“The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.”

In the same interview he also said that the Lord could change it if He wanted to. And this is the most important point, I think. We leave the running of the Lord’s church to the Lord.






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