Something used to open a lock. It is also something that is important or central in importance. A “keystone” is the point in an arch that fits in the center, holding the arch together. Upon it all else rests. Keys are better viewed as a signal or a signpost along a pathway. Instead of “I hold ‘keys,’ and so I hold something of value,” “holding a key” is better viewed as being given a strong guide or route to take. If the word is viewed using these meanings, it suggests that holding a key implies using it in action. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve use their key positions to manage and maintain the worldwide [LDS] church organization. If not for that constant oversight, the organization of the church would lapse into disorganization. Their keys are indispensable to hold the entire structure together. Without them at the center, like a keystone, the building would collapse. Offices belonging to others are their responsibility. For you, there are keys that come to us in our own sphere. Do not be jealous of church positions, they do not matter and are not necessary.1And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God” (T&C 82:12). The word keys is horribly misunderstood. I have made it a practice to not use the word because of all the foolish and vain ideas that have accumulated around it. Joseph used the term in a variety of ways: for example, to mean authority, or opportunity, and in others it refers to a correct idea. This is the most important meaning. The term in the context of priesthood is completely absent from the Book of Mormon, and that book is the keystone of our religion, containing the fullness of the gospel. The only time the word keys is referenced in the Book of Mormon, it refers to a physical set of keys to unlock a door to the treasury controlled by Laban (1 Nephi 1:18). Although Joseph used the term often and meant many things by it, the challenge is to understand priesthood without being distracted by a poorly defined, and often used term. Mormon institutions now use the term most often to connote their exclusive right, license or control. The LDS Handbook of Instructions states the following, “Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood leaders to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on Earth.” This definition is the opposite of the way scripture directs priesthood be used (see T&C 139:5-7). The LDSHandbook approach turns this scripture upside down and backwards: by virtue of priesthood keys they have the right to direct, control and exercise influence over others. Mormon institutions in general all use their preferred meaning of the term keys to denounce anything or anyone they view as a rival. That is nonsense, and I avoid using the term because of widespread abusive practice.2 If a Dispensation was given and the recipient failed to complete the work God assigned, then he acquires no key, no honor, no right, no authority from the Lord and therefore, has nothing to account for. The notion that someone can obtain keys without receiving a Dispensation from the Lord and successfully completing the work of God is a false idea that should be rejected. To be clear, for the foregoing reasons, and because many Mormons misunderstand and misapply the word keys to mean authority to control and direct, I avoid using the term.3

    1 “‘Keys’ as  Challenge,” Sept. 14, 2012,

    2 “The Holy Order,” Oct. 29, 2017, 1, paper.

    3 “The Holy Order,” Oct. 29, 2017, 2., paper.

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