"Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts."
i appreciate that each one of you has thoughts. if you have an opinion about female ordination in the church, congratulations. truly. no venom or sarcasm here. that my thoughts happen to swing heterodox of the mormon status quo, is not necessarily evidence that i am estranged from the Holy Ghost or deceived by satan. in fact, it should be evidence that i have pondered the topic and struggled over the question in prayer akin to joseph smith on many accounts. if you have an opinion, whatever it may be, i applaud you. thank you. if you don't, that's okay, too.
when i first heard about the group about a year ago, i thought it sounded a bit extreme. it felt too flashy and grabby and loud and i didn't like it. i told myself that if/when the time came that i wanted to "agitate" for women's ordination, i had the channels i needed through the church. i thought it seemed silly and disempowering to have to ask male leaders for female ordination. if you have to ask for it, do you really have any power? but i've continued to ponder the ordination of women in the church and i realized that the church gives it's members no prescribed avenue to discuss this topic.
there is always the option to send a letter, but isn't that the weakest way to reach leadership? you know, the big VIP's at the top of an organization? i mean anyone who has been upset with an organization and has sent a letter knows the kind of results those efforts receive. they don't receive results. you have no idea if the person to whom you sent the letter ever actually read the letter and chances are, they probably didn't. you don't feel heard. and i realized today that this, for me, is about feeling heard.
so i poked and prodded at Ordain Women until i kind of just couldn't blame them anymore. i just couldn't find a better way to congregate the voices of men and women who desire women's ordination and the gender balance that will come with it. i couldn't find fault with the peaceful and respectful way the group has approached church leaders and sought to attend the priesthood session.
and then a couple months ago i started following Ordain Women on twitter. which sounds random. but every once in a while i would read via twitter the profile of someone who posted their feelings to ordainwomen.org about why they believe women should be ordained. the stories broke my heart for their pain and helped me feel surrounded by others who desire true gender equality in our church.
today, sitting on trax on the way to campus, while doing my usual smartphone routine of instagram, pinterest, and twitter, i read the church's response to the letter sent by Ordain Women requesting tickets to the upcoming april general conference. and i just couldn't have disagreed more with the church's response. and i know it's not signed by "The Brethren" and it could be reduced to a simple PR move, but it was still the church's official response.
particularly, i was inspired to write a profile and join the ranks of people who have posted profiles on Ordain Women, by the comment in the letter that, "Women in the church, by a very large majority, do not share your advocacy for priesthood ordination for women and consider that position to be extreme." without any prescribed avenue to share their opinion on this topic, and the only conversation that is happening formally by the church is happening by higher-ups behind closed doors, i ask, how would leaders know? on what basis does the church's public affairs department claim to know how the large majority of women in the church feel? has there been some large collection of women's (and men's, for that matter) thoughts and feelings of which i have not been aware of or apart?
i came home from school and work and sat down and wrote a profile that i submitted to Ordain Women to be posted on their site. i posted not to ask or beg leaders for ordination, but to let them know, i am out there. the church has not provided me the avenue to share my opinion on this topic with church leaders, and this group is being heard. and i guess when the church says that the overwhelming majority of women do not want ordination, i just need to share that i am not part of that group. and that my experience has been the opposite. i know many women who would gladly accept the opportunity if priesthood ordination was available. i know many women and men who are saddened by the gender imbalance in our beautiful, otherwise respectful and loving church.
i am sad to see my church so defensive about something so important. i look forward to the day that priesthood ordination is fully based on worthiness, and not on anything superfluous like race or gender. i believe that day will come. so on the one year anniversary of Ordain Women, here is my submission:
My name is Kelli Anderson, I am 26 years old and a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am a direct descendent of Wilford Woodruff and his wife Mary Ann Jackson. I served a faithful full-time mission when I turned 21. I married my husband in the Salt Lake temple.
Mormonism has taught me the significance of human life and the divine, eternal potential within each person. I firmly believe in a God who loves and cherishes all people, which I have learned through prayer and scripture study. 2 Nephi 26:33 states, "He denieth none that come unto him...male and female...all are alike unto God". As I practice gender equality in my marriage, and experience the joys of gender equality at school and work, I am disappointed and disheartened by the gender inequality I experience at church.
I support Ordain Women because gender equality in the church matters, and this group is leading that discussion. I want church leaders to know I desire priesthood ordination to be available to all faithful members, regardless of gender. Additionally, as a faithful member, I want church leaders to know that I do not consider this an extreme position. Incremental steps toward equality are terrific and encouraged, but true equality will not exist until all faithful members may be ordained. I add my voice to Ordain Women because I appreciate the avenue this group has provided me to contribute to the conversation surrounding gender equality in the church, which unfortunately has not been available to me in my formal associations at church.
I support Ordain Women because in all my communion with heaven, I have never received the message that God desires male-only ordination. I truly believe a gender balanced church leadership will benefit all current members, as well as strengthen and increase the growth of the church. I hope to see the doors of the Priesthood Session of General Conference open to women and men, parallel to the annual Women's Meeting.
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, which giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5
I believe women should be ordained. I look forward to that day.