Now there would be a fuller meaning of that ordination when the temple was completed and sisters could be washed and annointed and participate in prayers for the sick in the temple. But it was not an ordination to the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood then any more than it is now.
What the priesthood is not: It is not required for someone to have the priesthood for the signs that follow those who believe to be exhibited. Some people may not be familiar with Joseph Smith’s plain teachings about this, but they can be found in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith which was largely compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith. He does state that the gift of the Holy Ghost is required for those signs to be manifest. But those signs will still follow faithful members who do not have the priesthood. Some apostates have trying to twist these teachings to mean that women should be ordained to the priesthood. But the teachings are plain enough. They are that when we read “these signs shall follow them that believe” then we should realize that those signs are intended to follow all of Christ’s true followers whether male or female, as they do not require the priesthood, only the gift of the Holy Ghost.
First, let us have Joseph Smith’s instructions which are perfectly true as they stand, but sometimes twisted by apostates to try to get the church to ordain women. Here they are as found in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith:
He said the reason of these remarks being made was, that some little foolish things were circulating in the society, against some sisters not doing right in laying hands on the sick. Said that if the people had common sympathies they would rejoice that the sick could be healed; that the time had not been before that these things could be in their proper order; that the Church is not fully organized, in its proper order, and cannot be, until the Temple is completed, where places will be provided for the administration of the ordinances of the Priesthood.
President Smith continued the subject, by quoting the commission given to the ancient Apostles in Mark, 16th chapter, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th verses, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
No matter who believeth, these signs, such as healing the sick, casting our devils, etc., should follow all that believe, whether male or female. He asked the Society if they could not see by this sweeping promise, that wherein they are ordained, if it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority, which is conferred on them; and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let everything roll on.
Respecting females administering for the healing of the sick he further remarked, there could be no evil in it, if God gave His sanction by healing; that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on and praying for the sick, than in wetting the face with water; it is no sin for anybody to administer that has faith, or if the sick have faith to be healed by their administration. (TPJS page 224)
Later in the same address we read:
President Smith then gave instruction respecting the propriety of females administering to the sick by the prayer of faith, the laying on of hands, or the anointing with oil; and said it was according to revelation that the sick should be nursed with herbs and mild food, and not by the hand of an enemy. Who are better qualified to administer than our faithful and zealous sisters, whose hearts are full of faith, tenderness, sympathy and compassion. No one. Said he was never placed in similar circumstances before, and never had given the same instruction; and closed his instructions by expressing his heartfelt satisfaction in improving this opportunity. (TPJS page 229)
Having recalled Joseph Smith’s teachings that the signs that follow those that believe do not require the priesthood but are available to both men and women, let us also recall his teachings that those signs DO require the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him. Until he obeyed these ordinances and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands, according to the order of God, he could not have healed the sick or commanded an evil spirit to come out of a man, and it obey him; for the spirits might say unto him, as they did to the sons of Sceva: “Paul we know and Jesus we know, but who are ye?” It mattereth not whether we live long or short on the earth after we come to a knowledge of these principles and obey them unto the end. I know that all men will be damned if they do not come in the way which He hath opened, and this is the way marked out by the word of the Lord. (TPJS page 199)
[Note regarding the twisting of Joseph Smith’s words to argue that women were ordained to the priesthood in his day: We have come to use certain words in very specific ways, but they were not always as settled in their meaning in older days. Joseph Smith said here it was by this sweeping promise that the sister’s were ordained. That is what “wherein” means. “Could they not see by this sweeping promise wherein they were ordained” means “can’t you see by this promise which ordains you”. Using “wherein” means that it was bestowed on them by the promise. And to what does the promise ordain them? To all the signs that follow them that believe. He was saying that promise made by Christ gave them authority to heal in and of itself. But the priesthood is not bestowed by a promise. He was not saying they had been ordained to the priesthood. Now let’s recall the whole sentence: “He asked the Society if they could not see by this sweeping promise, that wherein they are ordained, if it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority, which is conferred on them; and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let everything roll on.” The statement “if it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority, which is conferred on them” refers to the authority bestowed by the Savior’s promise, not to being ordained to the priesthood, as that is the only authority he referred to previous to this in this paragraph. In the authority of the Savior’s promise the sisters found themselves “set apart to administer in that authority, which is conferred on them”. Referring again to the only authority he has mentioned here: the authority of the Savior’s promise. They were set apart from the world along with “all of those that believe” by that promise. That includes even children and indeed Melchizedek had signs follow him while he was still a child. And if, in the authority of that promise, which authority was conferred upon all to whom Christ’s words applied, they had faith to heal the sick, then let all hold their tongues and let everything roll on.
Joseph Smith’s statement that “that the time had not been before that these things could be in their proper order; that the Church is not fully organized, in its proper order, and cannot be, until the Temple is completed, where places will be provided for the administration of the ordinances of the Priesthood” refers to prayers for those on the temple prayer roll which are done by both male and female.]