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There he was again, left on the outside looking into his home where his wife and children were. However, he wasn’t allowed to enter. He had come home intoxicated yet again and this time, he was afraid, his wife really meant what she said when she said she was leaving him. He looked on through the Washington rain and his face was wet, but more from his tears than from the rain. He had to do something quickly…
Fortunately, for my friend, Milt, this story has a happy ending. It is with his permission that I write this article. I feel it a blessing to have been a witness to God’s gracious hand in the life of my friend, Milton Bridges.
The story from my perspective starts in early 2013 when the Mormon sister missionaries met Milt’s wife and started teaching her. I participated frequently in teaching her. She always had a very kind and sincere heart, but it wasn’t until she began seriously studying the Book of Mormon that her heart fully turned to the Savior and she converted to the gospel in May. She had a desire to give away the ways of the world completely and follow Jesus and she was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ.
She was very happy with her new faith and what it could mean to her family. The only problem was that her husband, Milt, wasn’t ready to give up his addiction to alcohol. It was in later that summer that Milt came home intoxicated for the last time.
Milt had become a friend of mine through the process of getting to know April and also as he would come and play basketball with us at the church. All of us who played ball grew to love Milt and looked forward to him coming. Sometimes, he would be a little inebriated and we could definitely smell the alcohol, but he was always welcome to come and play and we loved him.
When I received the phone call after Milt had broken down and been kicked out of his home for what he feared was the last time to see them, my heart was sad for him, but I was very happy that he had hit the bottom. This meant he was truly ready to change. He was humble and yearned for a miracle. It is at this point, in my experience, that God can work miracles in our lives. Milt asked me to come over and give him a priesthood blessing.
For those of you who are not familiar with priesthood blessings, I’ll describe it as best I can.
In the Mormon church, men are given the priesthood authority to act as a mouthpiece of God when called upon when giving a blessing. It is like in the Bible in James 5:14 when he asks if there is anyone who is sick and that if so, they should call upon the elders of the church, who will come and anoint them with oil and pray over them. There are other examples in the Bible of elders coming and “laying their hands” on people to heal them.
When I arrived to Milt’s location, he was a very broken man, but he had slim glimmer of hope. This is all that God needed. As I laid my hands on his head, the Holy Spirit moved me on what to say. I can’t remember the exact words, but the feeling I had was that if Milt spent time coming closer to God and studying his word and praying, he would be healed from his addiction.
After I gave him the blessing, he thanked me and went to a alcohol rehab center for a month.
We (those of us who were his friends in the Church) all prayed for him every day and occasionally heard from him through limited text messages.
He came out of the center and was clean and didn’t want to touch alcohol and hasn’t since. It was a miracle!
A few months later he began meeting with the missionaries and decided to be baptized. When I was getting ready to baptize him, he told me that when he was given the blessing a few months earlier, that he felt something come over him and the desire to drink was removed.
The first step in Milt’s conversion story was the healing of his alcohol addiction. The next miracle was the healing of his heart and the conversion of his soul to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had been reading and praying for a few months when he realized that he had a testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and wanted to be baptized. He recognized all the blessings his family had received since his wife had joined the Church and he had seen miracles in his own personal life as well.
I considered it an honor when he asked if I could baptize him. I had seen everything he had to go through to get to that point and the new man that he was as he embraced the gospel was indeed a miracle.
The picture I’ve included is of me, Milt, and the Elders who taught him the lessons prior to his baptism. This is right before I baptized him.
When I see Milt with his two cute little kids and his wife at church, and when I see him passing the sacrament, I am amazed at the miracles that each and every one of us can receive if we open our hearts in humility to the Lord.
Once we are converted, we then help strengthen our brothers. Milt did exactly this and his brother, was also baptized a few weeks later. Below is a picture of Milt, his wife, kids and his brother.
When I see this, the song that comes to mind is one I’ve heard at other Christian churches “Our God is an Awesome God“!
I teach a class at our local Mormon church called Gospel Principles. It is a course designed for people who are not familiar with the Mormon faith who are wanting to learn more, or for those who need a “refresher” course. This week’s lesson is on the Priesthood.
According to the lesson manual, the definition of priesthood is: the eternal power and authority of God. The lesson continues by sharing that God has a certain order and delegates this power and authority for people to act in his name. It also goes on to share the in God’s church only those who have been ordained to the priesthood by the laying on of hands can lead God’s church.
As I read through the lesson, I became distracted by a certain phrase that kept popping up in various ways. I’ll highlight some of them:
Our Heavenly Father delegates His priesthood power to worthy male members of the Church.
If a man does not have the priesthood, even though he may be sincere, the Lord will not recognize ordinances he performs
Men need the priesthood to preside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
A worthy male member of the Church receives the priesthood “by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority..”
Men cannot buy and sell the power and authority of the priesthood.
When a man uses the priesthood “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (D&C 121:41), he can do many wonderful things for his family and others.
Men use priesthood authority to preside in the Church in such callings as branch president, bishop, quorum president, stake president, and mission president.
…every man who uses the priesthood in righteousness that he “will find his life sweetened, his discernment sharpened to decide quickly between right and wrong, his feelings tender and compassionate…”
As you can probably see, the word “man” or “men” was mentioned with almost every paragraph. There was one mention of women in the whole lesson, which is:
Men and women who hold positions in the Church as officers and teachers work under the direction of priesthood leaders and under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Women Still hold the Priesthood
Mormon Heretic points out that the original intention of Priesthood (the power to act in God’s name) was that men and women have a share in the priesthood. Priesthood has evolved into meaning hierarchical positions in the church, but that wasn’t it’s original intention. As pointed out in the article, women received the priesthood when they received their endowment in the temple.
Today, women still receive endowments in the temple and they perform priesthood ordinances, so they have the priesthood but only use it in the temples (to my knowledge).
Is that enough?
Although technically, Mormon women have the priesthood, they do not use it to give blessings, perform ordinances, and function in leadership positions such as pastor for a congregation.
As a Mormon male, I can not speak in behalf of Mormon women. I just know that if I were a Mormon woman, I’d have a lot of questions about why men run everything and how it evolved from leaders talking about both men and women sharing the priesthood to where it is now discussed that only men have the priesthood (although that is technically not true). It appears that many women from the Mormon Woman Project feel that way as pointed out in a recent Salt Lake News Tribune article, in that they want to see greater equality in the church.
If you are a Mormon woman, please share your thoughts about the priesthood. If you are fine with how things are, please explain why. If you would like some changes, why and what would you change?