Monday, March 17, 2014

Why I Will Stand With Ordain Women on April 5th

I have been asked by many (both kindly and unkindly) why I agree with Ordain Women and think that women in the LDS church should hold the priesthood. (Priesthood=power to act in God's name. Reserved only for Mormon men)
   Everyone has different reasons for wanting women's ordination. Everyone has a different background, a different story, and different expectations. Some call the OW crowd selfish, power hungry, nonbelievers, and worse. And perhaps some of them are. Just like within the priesthood (or any group of people), there are selfish ones, and power hungry ones, nonbelievers (or questioners), and worse.
   I could start out with the usual rhetoric why I am for this cause. Separate will never be equal. Motherhood does not equal priesthood. Women are just as capable of leadership and good decisions as men. I could go on, but you are probably here for 1 of 3 reasons.
   1)You have no idea what I'm talking about and are curious.
   2) You disagree with OW and are thinking about which ways you are going to tell me I'm wrong.
   3) You're for or neutral toward OW and want to know more about me.
Whichever you fit, if any, please remember that I am entitled to my feelings and opinions, just as you are yours. It is not acceptable to bash me, my feelings, or trivialize my Mormon experience-no matter how different than your it is.
   So here it is. My story and my reasons.

   I no longer consider myself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Contrary to popular belief, I didn't leave because I was offended, or wanted to sin. I left the church because I was more miserable and depressed attending than I was by not. No matter how much I read the scriptures, fasted, prayed, or went to the temple-every Sunday I was told I wasn't good enough or wasn't trying enough. I was told that God looks on the heart, but called me to conduct music when He should know I can't keep a beat to save my life. I think women should hold the priesthood because they are capable of leading.
   When I was 12, I was told by a bishop that I was unworthy to attend the temple because I admitted feeling attracted to women. I was told these feelings were sinful and I needed to repent. The bishop was at least 30 years older than I was, and a man at that. I think women should hold the priesthood because teenage girls should not have to confess intimate feelings or concerns with men twice their age.
   I was baptized into the church when I was 8. A man baptized me. Another laid his hands on my head and blessed me. 2 other men were official witnesses to the ceremony. My mom, the woman who raised me and knew me better than anyone, baked cookies and sang the musical number. I think women should hold the priesthood because women should share in the ordinances that bless their family.
   I miscarried early in my marriage. My husband and I were devastated, naturally. He gave me many blessings to help me get through that trying time. His father, however, isn't a Mormon, and couldn't do the same for him. His options were either to ask another man-that he doesn't know very well-to speak for God to him, or to go without. He isn't very good at asking, so he went without. I think women should hold the priesthood because they deserve to be able to bless their family.
   I was raised by a single mom. I was taught to be able to provide for myself because there was no guarantee a man would take care of me. Yet at church, I learned that it was my duty-nay, my sacred obligation-to marry a Mormon and have many Mormon children. I was taught that while it's nice to have careers, the most important work a woman can do is raise her children for God. I believe women should hold the priesthood because women are individuals they should not be pigeonholed into a one-size-fits-all role.
   My personality is brash, opinionated, loud, bossy, commanding, charismatic, volatile, blunt, honest, goofy, and strong. I made an excellent manager at work and was very efficient at helping my foster kids to get things done. I don't do well with neediness, tears, or sickness. My husband is patient, gentle, mild, kind, and caring. Yet often when Mormon women are discussed, the term "nurturer" or "meek" is used.  I was ashamed of who I was, because no matter how much I tried, I could never be quiet, passive, or anything other than businesslike. My husband has a hard time making decisions, manage time, think quickly, and planning efficiently. Yet he was supposed to be the head of the home. I believe women should hold the priesthood because my talents and intelligence should matter more to God than my gender.
   Before I left the church, I had asked for a calling. When questioned where I thought I would like to serve, I said "I want to work with teenagers." 3 months later, I was called to conduct music in the women's meeting. Even though I despised that calling and couldn't conduct, I accepted because I had been taught saying "NO" to a calling is rejecting God's will. It is not uncommon for bishops and stake presidents to have 2-6 kids under the age of 18, and yet their callings require long hours and always being on call. Their wives are forced to wrangle all the kids during church, and do without a husband most of the time because he is "serving the Lord". I think women should hold the priesthood because having more people to serve in more demanding callings would allow people the people who do not have time or the capabilities to be able to decline.
   Mormons believe in a Heavenly Mother-God's wife who rules with him. Yet we don't know her name, what she looks like, or anything about her. We are told this is because God loves her so much he wants to protect her from people taking her name in vain. This is how many Mormon men treat women as well. They want to protect, cherish, adore, and pedestal them. At the same time, these men blame women's clothes for their own lustful thoughts. Women are adored and reverenced, but are very rarely respected. In General Conference, when a woman gets up to speak, many men tune out or get up, because they don't feel that this woman would have anything valuable to teach THEM. Women's auxiliary presidencies are under the direction of a man-who OK's everything from the budget to the individual activities itself. Young men and boys are taught to make decisions, to teach, to lead. Young women and girls are taught to serve, to ask, to obey, to honor, to reverence, to listen. I believe women should hold the priesthood because benevolent sexism hurts everyone.

I could go on and on.
   In short, I believe women are as capable as men are to be leaders. I don't think there could be anything but good from allowing women a more equal voice in leadership, decisions, budgeting, and serving others. I think Mormon women are stronger, smarter, more spiritual, and more worthy of leading than they let themselves believe. I think being told that it isn't God's plan for women to lead weakens the church. I think that a church that accepts all of the strengths of it's members, regardless of gender, will be more righteous, compassionate, and prosperous than one that chooses leaders based on-not ability-but sex.
   Even though I'm not a Mormon anymore, I will go to Salt Lake City in April. I will stand with those that still believe. I will support those who are hurting. I will comfort those that stand in need of comfort. And I will love them, even when their hearts are breaking. Because I've been there, and nobody should have to stand alone.

6 comments:

  1. Is there an event going on? If so, please share a link. I have some people who, like me, would wish to stand in solidarity with you and the others of this movement, even if it's from afar. We may not share the faith, but we can support with love and compassion.

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    1. http://ordainwomen.org/

      Mormon women are asking for tickets into the men-only priesthood session. The LDS church has already asked them to stay in the "free-speech" zone, that is usually reserved for picketers and protesters.

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  2. I feel somewhat torn about supporting the OW movement. I admire them. I defend them when I see others tear them down. I'm very interested in their cause and was furious when I read that recent letter from church headquarters. But I think I feel more comfortable cheering them on from the sidelines. For one thing, I have mixed feelings about whether I'd prefer to see the church move forward or just go away altogether. I know that no matter what happens they're not going anywhere anytime soon, but I also know that they're losing a lot of membership over issues like this which means less tithing coming in and less power (and I'm very uncomfortable with the amount of money and power the church has amassed). On the other hand I really feel for those within who feel marginalized so I really can't hope for the movement to fail.

    The other reason I've somewhat kept my distance is that I don't want to discredit them with my ex-mormon status (although I've never officially removed my name from the records so the church doggedly insists that I AM still a member). I worry that people would look past all the faithful, church-going members and focus in on me. All they would see is an ex-mormon with an ax to grind, because Satan.

    Still, I completely get where you're coming from and you may be right. They are getting so little support that I'm sure they will appreciate yours. Either way, I admire you for standing up for your convictions. From the tone of the church's recent letter I strongly suspect that the OW women will be escorted out by security. The church has made it more than clear that they don't intend to listen and that they aren't welcome.

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    1. Yeah. That's why I feel like after I participate in April, then I will be done with it. Because the church clearly isn't going to change, and the women involved are just going to get hurt. And honestly, I'm sure OW has caused (inadvertently) more people to be against equality just because of how LDS, Inc has handled things. "Oh, we're giving you your own meeting. Let's hang some pics of women up in the conference center. How about a letter-from a woman!-explaining how wrong we think you are."
      I know when I'm beat, and since I'm no longer in the church, I feel like it's not really my fight.

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  3. I am not and have never been in with the Mormons... but I think it's so cool that the women are doing this and that you are going with them. You Rock.

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