Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thoughts on D&C 107

            A few years ago I got to substitute teach seminary (two classes on the same day) on D&C 107 about the priesthood.  It was truly a blessing to have a week to prepare and study that chapter and even to struggle over how to teach it.   I think I lived and breathed it.   I want to share with you some experiences that I had in that process.

            One of the things I noticed in that section was the importance of quorums.  It seemed to me that the Lord must have a purpose for grouping priesthood holders in quorums.   I thought my husband would know, so I asked him if he knew how belonging to a quorum blessed his life.   But he didn’t know.   Interestingly enough, the very day I asked him this, the church had a worldwide leadership broadcast and my husband went to it.  He came home and told me, “They talked about quorums.  Quorums have certain duties to do and they are supposed to help priesthood holders reach their goals.”  This experience strengthened my testimony.  The Lord knew of our conversation and considered it important enough to include something about that in the leadership training.  Heavenly Father wanted my husband and I to know how quorums can be a blessing to the priesthood holders in them.

One of the parts of D&C 107 that had always puzzled me was the middle that diverts from describing priesthood duties to talk about how Adam ordained Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, and Seth ordained Lamech and Methuselah ordained Noah.  I would think to myself, “Why do we care about this?  They are dead!”  My seminary preservice teacher cleared it all up when he said it demonstrated how important it is to know priesthood line of authority.  It’s true.  You can even draw a little chart from verses 42-52.

So I wanted to tell that to the seminary class I was going to teach, and I decided I would find out what my husband’s line of authority was.  I asked my husband if he had it, and he said that he had never gotten a copy of it from his dad.  (gasp)  To give him credit, he got right on the phone with his dad and asked him to email him a copy of his priesthood line of authority, so now he has it.  And it was interesting to see what happened to my husband when he looked at it and studied it.  I watched him get excited about it.  Every five minutes he came to me with a new realization that struck him as he thought about it.  It was plain to me that knowing his priesthood line of authority was a blessing to him.  It also bolstered my confidence in him.

You see?  Even if the high school students I taught didn’t get anything from the lesson, my preparation had already blessed me and my husband in two big ways!

I was struck by the flexibility of priesthood organization—high priests and elders can do all the duties in the Aaronic priesthood.  This ensures that lack of Aaronic priesthood does not get in the way of members receiving the outward ordinances.
Also, any priesthood office can preside over a church meeting if no higher offices are present.  I suppose even a deacon can preside if no other priesthood holders are present.  This increases the accessibility of the priesthood and makes all priesthood holders equally important.  If one priesthood holder is present, there is the authority of God.

In the verses 27-32 about the First Presidency, Apostles, and Seventy quorums, it struck me how often the word “decision” occurred.  Can you believe 8 times?  That indicated that decision-making was very important to these governing bodies.  I was impressed by the importance placed upon reaching decisions unanimously and righteously.   Considering the disagreement that occurs in the highest governing body of our country, I find it both amazing and reassuring that the Lord requires unanimity in the decision-making of the highest quorums of the church.   It teaches me how important unity is and reminds me of the scripture “If ye are not one, ye are not mine.”  (D&C 38:27)  It also gives us reassurance that in the church, decisions are not made by fiat by a single authority without input from anybody else.   The whole of the quorum participates as a council.

I was also struck by the promise extended to them as they make decisions in righteousness.
30 The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity;
31 Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.  (D&C 107:30-31)
The promise “they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord” is in a sort of negative form, so we have to look at it in its positive form “they shall be fruitful in the knowledge of the Lord,” which is essentially about receiving revelation.

I’m sure that every leader in the church trying to make righteous decisions wants to know that their decision is one that the Lord approves of and is exactly what the Lord would do if He were in their place.  I have read stories in which leaders bear testimony that they have that assurance and they know what they are doing is the will of the Lord.  Just one example is when the revelation was received that the priesthood could be given to every worthy male member of the church.  This promise is fulfilled.

In trying to prepare to teach D&C 107 I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I could summarize it or distill it down into a more concentrated form, and I was defeated in every attempt.   This gave me a great respect for how it is presented, and also made me really wonder how I was going to teach it.   I had to obtain inspiration and it came in just enough time for me to make the preparations before I had to go teach it.   (The method was to break the section into units and have each student study a unit and share what they learned from it and why it was important to know.)

I have felt the power of the priesthood in my life and I know that it truly is the power of God.  It is easy to take for granted, yet it is incredible that this power was given again by divine administration through ancient apostles less than 200 years ago!     


Rozy Lass said...

Our family read the Doctrine and Covenants this year and as we read Section 107 I was struck that if the women who think they should be ordained to the priesthood would read this section they would gain a better understanding of the Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God and realized that ordaining women to the priesthood is simply not part of the plan for this life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I always learn from you.

Michaela Stephens said...

Church leaders, when pressed on the issue of women and the priesthood usually come to say, "We don't know why things are as they are." I hope those bothered by the issue can be comforted.

Thanks for commenting, Rozy Lass.