In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, what do men get? That’s a pretty good question. What do we get? I was thinking about that question a month or so ago, when I had occasion to be interviewed by a reporter representing a major magazine in Europe, and this reporter was very, very fun to talk to. I liked her immensely. But I was just waiting and ticking off in my head, I wonder when she asks me how it feels to be an oppressed Mormon man, and like on cue, she said, “Now, in most of the major talks from your leaders directed at LDS church membership I hear about how incredible Mormon women are, while men are mostly chastised for their shortcomings. I’m assuming you feel oppressed about that, so how do you deal with that?” And I said, “Well, would you like to learn a little something about the men of the church?” and what is she going to say, she is there interviewing me, right? And so I said, “Let me tell you about some of my personal experiences,” and I told her about serving in both local and general callings in the church and what that had meant, and that because of it I had actually met millions of our brethren in maybe 50 or 60 countries. Then I told her about writing the biographies of two presidents of the church and happened to slip in the little detail that all presidents of the church since its founding have been men. Then I talked to her about my experience as the president of an organization owned by the church for about a decade, and mentioned that the majority of organizations owned by the the church are lead by men.
And I said to her, “Does it sound to you like the church is holding me back?” And she shook her head, and I said, “Would you like to know more?” And before she could really nod, I just started going. And I said, “I think I can kind of understand why you would draw the conclusion that because men are generally chastised in our meetings that somehow we have been given less. And I said, but let me tell you some other things.” And I didn’t even go into doctrinal issues with her because I just didn’t think that was going to work with her, I only went into practical statements and I said, “Because all worthy men in our church are ordained to the priesthood, we actually have privileges and opportunities and expectations of us that would require us to be members of the clergy in many other churches. We speak and expound scripture, we teach the doctrine, we do it all the time, we do it from the time we are little. Men make up the vast majority of the speakers at our General Conferences held twice a year, and, in most cases, make up the majority of the speakers in Ward Conference and Stake Conference as well. We are even the concluding speakers at the general meetings for the women and girls of the church. Furthermore, while women lead the organization for all the women, all the young women of the church, and all the children of the church, we preside over all of these organization and, with the exception of Primary, lead all the organizations of the church that include both men and women.” I said, “We teach the gospel on prosteletizing missions and make up the vast majority of mission leadership.”
I said, “In the temple, and there’s not much I can tell you about the temple because it’s very sacred to us, but I can tell you that except for specific ordinances that women administer to other women under the direction of the temple president, men officiate over all of ordinances performed there. Additionally, men also administer priesthood ordinances in all of our congregations since the time we are young men and perform ordinances within our own homes. There’s nothing held back from us no matter where we are.” I said, “In fact I have to tell you that I have made a study of this and for a good 20 years I have tried to find any organization anywhere in the world where as many men had as much bonafide leadership and teaching responsibilities and perform as many sacred ordinances as in the church. I can’t find one, not anywhere, it may exist somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find one.” And then I said, “Would you like to hear more?” I’m sure she felt like she was drinking out of a firehose, and before she nodded I said, “Let me tell you something else. Even though currently women lead both men and women in many secular and even religious organizations and make major decisions for these organizations, we still reserve the vast majority of leadership roles and decision making ability for men. This is not backward thinking on the part of the church, it is prophetic, and it is a exact representation of how the owner of the organization feels about us, the owner being the Lord.”
And then, I finally said, “Does this sound to you like an organization that doesn’t value men?” She said, “Wow, that’s different than I thought.” I think she said “wow” just to get me to stop. She said, “That’s different than I thought,” and I said, “Listen, let me tell you about these men that I know.” I said, “Blindfold me, drop me from a helicopter, any place in the world. Lead me in, and I won’t even look, I’ll just point at 20 men, 20 of our brethren, and I would hold them up to any 20 men in the world in terms of their faith, and their devotion. And I mean it, I mean it, it’s true.” I said, “This is actually a church that loves men and that values them, and that teaches them, and that trains them and counts on them.” What do we get brethren? What do we get? This is what Elder John Groberg said in April 2001,
Fellow bearers of the priesthood everywhere: I hope we appreciate the priceless privilege of holding the priesthood of God. Its value is unfathomable. Through its power, worlds—even universes—have, are, and will be created or organized. Through its power, ordinances are performed which, when accompanied by righteousness, allow families to be together forever, sins to be forgiven, the sick to be healed, the blind to see, and even life to be restored. God wants us, His sons, to hold His priesthood and learn to use it properly.
What do we get? The power to act in the name of God on the earth. The privilege of receiving revelation for our families, for our local congregations, and for the church body as a whole. We get the privilege of receiving our endowment and the priesthood. A priesthood of what? Of knowledge, and of power, God’s power. We have the privilege of receiving and exercising spiritual gifts. And from my point of view and from what I have observed of our brethren around the world, they include the gifts of healing. They include the gifts of pronouncing the words of Lord to the people we love through blessings, which I see in abundance. We have the privilege of fathering and raising children. Think about it, every soul who leaves premortality and comes to this earth has to do so through the parentage of a man. Men are at the very center of the plan of salvation, the Lord has given us that privilege. He has given us that honor. We have the privilege of receiving all the blessings and fruits of the priesthood of God. What do we get, brethren? Actually we get everything. We get everything our Father is willing to give those who qualify to be joint heirs with His Son.