Priesthood Offices in a Tribal Setting

Church ordinations

During the time of Christ, one of the qualifications for priesthood was that men had to be married.  (See 1 Tim. 3: 2, 12 and Titus 1: 6.)  During the time of Joseph Smith, adult men were ordained to both Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods.  Later, during brother Brigham’s time the Aaronic priesthood began to be conferred upon young men.

Currently, in the modern church, if men and boys are worthy and are sustained by the congregation, they are ordained to these offices in the following way: deacons are ordained when 12 years old, teachers when 14, priests when 16 and boys become eligible for the office of an elder when they turn 18 (prospective elders.)  The Aaronic priesthood is now, essentially, a youth program, to prepare boys to receive the Melchizedek priesthood.

Grown men entering the priesthood may be given the office of a priest, becoming a prospective elder and then later ordained an elder, or may merely be ordained an elder from the start.

The following are the duties of an elder, priest, teacher and deacon in the church.  (E=Elder; P=Priest; T=Teacher; and D=Deacon.)

Duties of the Priesthood (for the church)

.P..          Preach
EP..         Baptize
E…          Confirm baptized church members by the laying on of hands
E…          Administer the sacrament
.P..          Administer the sacrament (when no elder is present)
E…          Take the lead in all church meetings
.P..         Take the lead in church meetings (when no elder is present)
..T.         Take the lead in church meetings (in the absence of the elder or priest)
E…          Conduct church meetings as led by the Holy Ghost
.P..          Assist elder (if occasion requires)
E…          Ordain elders
EP..        Ordain priests
EP..        Ordain teachers
EP..        Ordain deacons
EPTD      Teach
EPTD      Expound
EPTD      Exhort
E.TD       Watch over the church
.P..         Visit the house of each church member (exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties)
..T.         Be with and strengthen church
..T.        See that there is no iniquity in the church
..T.        See that there is no hardness in the church with each other
..T.        See that there is no lying in the church
..T.        See that there is backbiting in the church
..T.        See that there is no evil speaking in the church
..T.        See that all the church members do their duty
..T.        See that the church meet together often
..TD      Warn
..TD      Invite all to come to Christ
..TD      Be a standing minister to the church
…D       Assist teachers in their duties (if occasion requires)

Now let’s look at these same duties and offices of the priesthood in a tribal setting.

Duties of the Priesthood (for the tribe)

.P..          Preach
EP..         Baptize
E…          Confirm baptized tribal members by the laying on of hands
E…          Administer the sacrament
.P..          Administer the sacrament (when no elder is present)
E…          Take the lead in all tribal gatherings
.P..         Take the lead in tribal gatherings (when no elder is present)
..T.         Take the lead in tribal gatherings (in the absence of the elder or priest)
E…          Conduct tribal gatherings as led by the Holy Ghost
.P..          Assist elder (if occasion requires)
E…          Ordain elders
EP..        Ordain priests
EP..        Ordain teachers
EP..        Ordain deacons
EPTD      Teach
EPTD      Expound
EPTD      Exhort
E.TD       Watch over the tribe
.P..         Visit the house of each tribal member (exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties)
..T.         Be with and strengthen tribe
..T.        See that there is no iniquity in the tribe
..T.        See that there is no hardness in the tribe with each other
..T.        See that there is no lying in the tribe
..T.        See that there is backbiting in the tribe
..T.        See that there is no evil speaking in the tribe
..T.        See that all the tribal members do their duty
..T.        See that the tribe gather together often
..TD      Warn
..TD      Invite all to come to Christ
..TD      Be a standing minister to the tribe
…D       Assist teachers in their duties (if occasion requires)

Tribal ordinations

Obviously, a tribe can do what it wants, meaning it can organize itself using the priesthood however it wants.  So, a tribe can opt to duplicate the modern church model and ordain boys to the Aaronic priesthood.  But it can also follow the New Testament/Early Mormonism models and ordain only married men to either priesthood.

Let me give an example of how a tribe can develop its own “priesthood qualifications” for ordination to its tribal priesthoods.

According to how connected one is to the tribe, by the number of covenants

Ordaining to the offices of the priesthood in a tribal setting can depend upon the man’s connectedness to the tribe.  Connectedness can be determined by the number of wives he has and the combined number of husbands his wives have.  Once the required number of wives/husbands is reached, he can be eligible for ordination if the tribe consents to it.  Here is one way to do it:

  • Deacon – Monogamy (1 wife and 1 husband)
  • Teacher – Multi-spouse System (husband has 2 wives and his wives have a combined total of 2 distinct husbands)
  • Priest – Multi-spouse System (husband has 4 wives and his wives have a combined total of 4 distinct husbands)
  • Elder – Multi-spouse System (husband has 8 wives and his wives have a combined total of 8 distinct husbands)

These numbers are, of course, arbitrary.  A tribe can decide how many covenantal connections a man and his wives must have for the man to be ordained to an office of the priesthood.  The principle, though, is that with more connections a man has to the tribe, he has that much more vested interest in it.  Also, as men take on more wives (and their wives covenant with more husbands), they enter into more marriage/family/clan/tribal responsibilities, therefore, their priesthood office should reflect a corresponding increase in duties and responsibility.

Another reason to link the priesthood to marriage is because the Lord has set the husband at the head of the wife, regardless of whether he has the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthoods.  Because of this relationship, priesthood is useful to keep a husband in his proper place, for entrance into the priesthood is designed to be entrance into lifelong service.  All husbands, therefore, should be priesthood servants.

For the other priesthood offices, such as high priest, bishop, seventy, apostle, etc., inter-husband covenants—meaning that two or more husbands enter into a united order for the establishment of Zion by covenanting with each other—can be added as eligibility requirements to the qualifications of an elder.  For the office of high priest, it can follow the scriptural pattern of having it confirmed by the voice of God out of the heavens, etc.

Manner of tribal ordinations

There are three valid methods of priesthood ordination.  The first method comes from the Book of Mormon:

In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest, (or, if he be a teacher) I ordain you to be a teacher, to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen.  (Moroni 3: 3)

The second one is the method used during the time of Joseph Smith:

By authority of the Holy Priesthood and by the laying on of hands, I ordain you an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and confer upon you all the rights, powers, keys and authority pertaining to this office and calling, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The final method is that used from 1919 onward, including today:

To perform a priesthood ordination, one or more authorized priesthood holders place their hands lightly on the person’s head. Then the priesthood holder who performs the ordination:

1. Calls the person by his full name.

2. States the authority by which the ordination is performed (Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood).

3. Confers the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood unless it has already been conferred.

4. Ordains the person to an office in the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood and bestows the rights, powers and authority of that office. (Priesthood keys are not bestowed in conferring the priesthood or ordaining to one of these offices.)

5. Gives a priesthood blessing as the Spirit directs.

6. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

Of the three methods, I would recommend that a tribe use only the first two because the third method creates the perception that priesthood keys are not passed on, even though they are.  This, of course, is a control mechanism to center power in priesthood “leaders” who “hold keys.”  Also, when using the second method, one would not ordain to an office in the church, but to an office in the tribe.

Priesthood re-ordinations

A man that comes into a tribe who has already been ordained an elder in the church may be ordained to an office of the tribal priesthood according to the tribe’s eligibility requirements.  So, let’s say the man is in a monogamous marriage when he enters the tribe and the tribe allows monogamous men to be only ordained tribal deacons.  In this case, the man would be ordained a tribal deacon, despite being an elder of the church.  The tribe then recognizes his priesthood office as that of a deacon, whereas the church recognizes his priesthood office as that of an elder.  The tribe can continue to utilize and recognize validly ordained church elders until such time when the tribe has ordained tribal elders according to its eligibility requirements.  Then it may use the tribal elders (and priests) exclusively to ordain all other tribal offices.

For example, in cases of taking the lead in tribal gatherings, if there are four men in the tribe who are ordained elders in the church but three are tribal deacons and one is a tribal teacher, the tribal teacher would take the lead in the tribal gatherings, for in a tribal setting, tribal priesthood takes precedence over church priesthood.  Nevertheless, if someone needs to be baptized (requiring the office of a priest or elder), any of these four men could do it using church priesthood authorized by the tribe.  At some point, one of these tribal men will hold the tribal office of elder, at which point church priesthood no longer need be relied upon. 

Tribal records

While a tribe is still in its infancy and consists of but few persons, ordinances can be performed without witnesses or record-keeping.  However, when there is finally a sufficient number of tribal members, the tribe may gather and formally establish itself according to the gospel laws.  The gathered tribe, using its tribal keys and the law of common consent, can then authorize the performing of all the tribal ordinances once more for each of the tribal members, but this time with two or three tribal witnesses (the law of witnesses) and with a tribal recorder appointed among their number to record all the names, dates, ordinances, convenants entered into (including marriage covenants) and ordinations performed, as well as recording the names and certifications of the witnesses, etc., all on a tribal record or book.  Doing this utilizes the priesthood sealing power so that the tribal record becomes “a law on earth and in heaven, [that can] not be annulled”.  This tribal record is all important so that when the time comes for the tribe to be assimilated into the larger tribes of Israel, these tribal ordinances will be accepted as valid and binding both on earth and in heaven.

Working in this way, using the priesthood sealing power to formally establish a tribe, sets the tribe up for permanency both here and in the afterlife.

A mere example

Please don’t take these words as being the only way to organize a tribal priesthood.  I merely write this to get people thinking tribally, to help them conceive of the options available to them and to provide an example of one way to organize a tribal priesthood in righteousness so that Lord will be pleased and pour down His blessings and the tribe’s actions will be justified.  But there are undoubtedly other, valid ways to go about this.

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist


  1. By accident I awoke 3 hour ahead of schedule. I checked the blog and then the new post went up.
    I like it and agree with your saying. I have a suggestion which I feel you may already have thought of. I suggest you place either a significant selection or all your articles in a zip file organized as they are under your “All articles by LDSA” post and make it available for download say on Scribid or someplace.
    Your teachings are significant. They should be preserved and disseminated to help other establish this principles in their own lives. You might want to take only a smaller excerpt of needed and timeless articles. This will enable people to have these principles even if and when the internet goes down.
    And perhaps more importantly it will enable believers to get all they need without having to search all over the tribal half acre to distill the essential knowledge.

    PS I am going back to bed.

  2. Lol. No, I hadn’t thought of that. That is a really good idea and I will look into doing it. Thank you for the suggestion.

    This reminds me of Kent Steadman who did something like that for his site back when he was still alive. He put all the thousands of pages of the site on a CD-Rom and offered it to visitors instead of having to surf everything online.

  3. I found this post interesting b/c I had been working on planning our tribal organization during the Thanksgiving weekend. I had started to read the scriptures by replacing the word “church” for “tribe” [much like I’ve heard others do by exchanging given names in the scriptures with their own given name] to find ways to structure our tribe.

    I had also worked-up a three-tiered organization for persons within our tribe:

    —->Members who have ceased reproducing children and have raised all their children to adulthood.
    —->Members who have reached adulthood and have begun reproducing children.
    —->Members who have not reached sexual maturity or who have yet to form a covenant family.

    Associated duties and priesthood offices would then be attached to each of the three.

  4. Hey that sounds pretty good Justin. But it might be too radical for LDSA he is so conventional. lol.

    Really I don’t think I could drop the use of the same terms the LDS church used for my own tribe but I do agree with the post that the high priest calling should be reserved for only direct revelation callings.

  5. Having thought more about the three-grouped model I outlined above:

    I think that it would relate well with the description of the higher/lower priesthood [Discussed on this site — here].

    The presiding tribal elder [eldest member] would come from the quorum of Elders. He would be ordained in the tribe as a high priest. Other members of the Elders would be ordained in the tribe as elders — as that office is an appendage of the high priesthood office.

    The Parents quorum would be comprised of the priestly offices — with fathers being ordained in the tribe as priest, teacher, or deacon as the tribe sees fit to define those offices.

    Children would not be ordained to priesthood offices as they are not married and do not reproduce children.

  6. For tribal record keeping, something like this can be done:

    Certificate of Marriage

    This document certifies that [name of husband] and [name of wife] entered into a covenant of marriage on [date of covenant] in which [name of husband] covenanted to be a husband of [name of wife] and in which [name of wife] covenanted to be a wife of [name of husband].

    Signature of Husband
    Signature of Wife

    Said marriage was entered into with consent of all the other wives of [name of husband] and all the other husbands of [name of wife], as attested by the following signatures:

    Signatures of Consenting Wives
    Signatures of Consenting Husbands

    I, [name of tribal recorder], Recorder of the [name of tribe] Tribe, do affirm and witness that the above named persons presented themselves before me and signed the above statements on [date of signatures]. Also, certificates of consent are on record for the following traveling spouses:

    [Names of Consenting Spouses Who Have Certificates of Consent on Record]

    Signature of Tribal Recorder

    In case of the absence of a consenting spouse, in other words, in the case of a spouse who is going to travel outside of the bounds of the tribal lands for a time, a Certificate of Consent can be signed and given to the wife or husband remaining on the tribal lands, as well as a copy for the tribal record. In this way, if the non-traveling spouse desires to take another spouse, he or she must only obtain consenting spouse signatures from spouses who are residing on tribal lands because the spouse(s) that are traveling have already given written consent.

    Copies of the Certificate of Marriage can be given to the husband, the wife, all the consenting spouses, and the tribal recorder (for inclusion in the tribal record). In this way, everyone involved in the covenantal web knows what all the connections are.

  7. dyc4557 (and anyone else who is interested):

    Per your suggestion above in the first comment, I looked around and I came across a downloadable program that will archive entire web sites onto one’s computer (or onto a disk.) The program is free, but I haven’t, yet, figured out how to use it. (I’m so-so on computer literacy.)

    Here is the web site url. If anyone is successful at burning the blog to disk using this program, please let me know how you did it.

    Also, I put up a new blog tab (see the top of each page) listing all the posts in chronological order. It might help people find what they are looking for easier.

  8. I do know that it makes a difference if the blog is yours or if it is hosted by another site [like wordpress or blogger, etc.]. I’ll take a look.

    I checked, and WordPress recommends Fast Pencil to convert a blog into a book.

    Also, there was this site — I’m going to look into though.

  9. LDSA, I’ve found a way to put the posts into a book using the Fast Pencil website — however, it involves using the “Export” option on the “Tools” menu on the main Dashboard page. However, I don’t see that option when I click on “Tools” — is it just me or are you able to see an “Export” option when you look at “Tools”?

    The export feature generates an “.xml” file that can be uploaded at my Fast Pencil account to be turned into book format.

    Let me know.

  10. LDSA: Thanks for the heads up on HTTrack. Downloaded your site. Took a few hours and the log listed a bunch of errors and warnings. A superficial run look okay though.

  11. Thanks, both of you. Justin, I can export an xml file of any of the blog authors to my computer. Did you want me to send you the xml file of all of your own published posts as well as all of mine?

  12. Yes. As long as the files aren’t too large to attach, I would appreciate you sending me that.

  13. LDSA — using the xml file with the Fast Pencil website was very easy. I’ll look forward to your other attachments. Thanks.

  14. Justin, I sent all the files. Let me know if you are missing anything and I’ll resend.

  15. first of all you need to get your facts straight and if you think by mocking the LDS church and parts of it it considers sacred you would be wrong.This is kind of behavior is very childish and serves no purpose .other than to be self serving and base in your attitude and lack of understanding of truth.So perhaps you should get some truth.

  16. Since you commented as an “Anon” — I don’t expect to hear back — but I wanted to ask anyway:

    * Which of the facts presented here are “crooked“, that they would need to be straightened?

    * In what exactly did you feel that the LDS church was being “mocked“?

    * This thought of yours [as written] is incomplete:

    and if you think by mocking the LDS church and parts of it it considers sacred you would be wrong

    if you think by mocking…” implies that our presumed “mocking” is pursuant to some end — that I think “mocking” will get me something. You then said it is wrong to think that — but you never said what you think the end-game is for “mocking”.

    Here — just fill in the blank to make that thought complete, so I can understand what you’re saying:

    and if you think that by mocking the LDS church and the parts of it that it considers sacred [so that ________], then you would be wrong.

    * What is this “truth” that I should get? Do you have it? Could you give it to me, instead of just telling me that I “should get some“?

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s