Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Notes on Being Mormon: Reluctantly Weighing In About Women and the Priesthood

I didn't want to write this post. There's a chance (a good chance) I won't post it. 

But it wants to be written.

There has been much discussion among Mormon circles over the last few weeks about the Priesthood, the movement to have women ordained to the Priesthood, and the perception by these and many other women that we (Mormon women) are not being validated, not being recognized or listened to. There is a feeling of "we are neglected" or "we aren't equal" or even just a simple "we/our church leaders don't realize our inherent powers/gifts/value" etc." It's become a jumble of blog posts, articles and online commentary. It's a mess. 

Is everything in the church equal all the time? No. Absolutely not. It would be impossible for everything to be equal all the time. But it is balanced, I believe.

Personally, I don't have energy to burn feeling like a victim because the leaders of (what I believe to be) God's church on the Earth are mostly men. I don't feel victimized by the fact that I can't participate in priesthood service, such as blessing the sacrament, setting people apart to callings, or other such duties. I don't care. (I recognize that other women DO care, though. I know. That's fine. I'm telling you how I feel so you understand my perspective.)

The bottom line, as it has always been for me, is FAITH. Simple faith. I believe that Jesus Christ stands at the head of the church. I believe our leaders have been chosen by Him to lead us.

I'm not in a position to tell the leaders of the church what I think ought to be taught, or ought to be focused on or ought to be changed. That's not my place. There are women who meet with the General Authorities and the First Presidency regularly. I believe they have the stewardship over the women of the church (the Relief Society, Young Women presidencies together with the First Presidency). I don't. I'm a Primary Chorister in a ward in rural Utah. I don't consider my stewardship all the women of the church. 

I sincerely hope and pray that the women who have this stewardship prayerfully and carefully seek to know what the Lord wants them to focus on. I trust that they do. I trust that if the Lord wanted women to campaign for Priesthood ordination, these women would be on the front lines, in discussions with the First Presidency about the topic.

You might call what the women who want ordination are doing (quiet, peaceful attention-grabbing demonstrations, etc.) rebellious. You could call it an attempt to "steady the ark". That is what it looks like. You can also declare your sympathy for them, for their "feelings" and their unhappiness. 

I fear I will be labeled insensitive or hypocritical or judgmental, but I do think these women are in the wrong. If the brethren are going to pray about this subject, and receive revelation for the population of the church, they will do so. The subject has been raised, attention drawn to it, now it's time to step back and accept their leadership. When the subject has been addressed in a recent General Conference (which it was just last weekend), and the demonstrating and organizing doesn't stop-- it's no longer an inquiry. It's become a blind demand. Which I feel is wrong.

I am content with what I have. I feel I am blessed, I feel I have full, unhindered access to the priesthood. I fully support a strong brotherhood of men, separate from their association with women. I think it's good for them! Just as I think it would change the dynamic of Relief Society if we began requiring men to sit in our lessons, fill our callings, and take on our duties. 

As I said before, I see balance. Some may see the church as inequal or unfair, but I don't. 

It's God's church. Who am I to tell Him it's going in the wrong direction?

Humility, faith and gratitude. That's what will bring happiness, whether in or out of the church. 
(I totally recognize the danger in claiming personal humility-- generally those who claim to be humble are prideful of their perceived humility. I do not feel degraded, though, by submitting to the will of the Lord regarding His Priesthood.)

I trust God. I trust Jesus. I trust His apostles and His prophet. 

I hope these women make peace with their membership in a church they feel treats them as second-class. I hope they shift that perception and find happiness. If not, I hope they find what they are looking for somewhere on Earth. Take a deep breath. It's okay. 

I'm not saying change is bad or that nothing in the church should or will ever change. I'm just saying, it's okay to accept some things you don't like. That is humility. 

Mostly, I would urge all church members to proceed with caution doing the following:
1- Attempting to direct the affairs of the church without the authority to do so.

2- Criticizing the leadership of the church-- be very careful doing so. They are imperfect, they are human, but they are God's chosen servants to lead the church. Just be careful. I don't want to appear as a sheep following blindly, but... well... Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Just keep that in mind. It's okay to subject yourself to righteous leadership.

3- Thinking you know better than the Prophet of God. Maybe you do. Probably you don't. 


trishcook said...

100% agree!!! Thank you for writing this you are a wonderful writer!!

Anonymous said...

Perfectly written and beautifully stated! Balanced, understanding, and much needed ...

Steph said...

Thanks, ladies. :)