Monday, March 17, 2014

women's ordination in the LDS church

hey guys! so i just did something i have been thinking and pondering about for quite a while. i submitted a profile to Ordain Women. before all my orthodox mormon friends and family who happen to be reading have a heart attack and send emails pleading me away from apostasy or random strangers call heresy, i would like to quote Hugh B. Brown:

"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 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.


Harley said...

this is important and i really needed to read this today.

thanks for being brave and thanks for sharing.

missblaser said...

I love your view on this. I don't think the majority of women are against it either. Not when they really think about it. Up with honesty!

Rachel Marie said...

Kelli, I love this. Thank-you for sharing your thoughts and testimony with me. Thank-you for your bravery.

Julie Hunter said...

I would only like to mention a couple of points.

I wish we could all be aware that people on both sides are being prayerful and thoughtful. Not just those who have reached our opinion as a conclusion. So though you and I have different revelations and observations on this matter, doesn't mean one of us is not earnestly seeking truth. (not that you said that, I just feel like it is a common misconception regarding the subject of ordination as a whole.)

I find it unfortunate that you have categorized the word gender with race and being superfluous, as that word relates to meaning unnecessary and unneeded. It is an essential and core part of my identity as a daughter of Heavenly parents. Perhaps it wasn't your intention to do so...

Which leads me to my final thought. I just hope that through all of this, we don't lose sight of the importance of gender and the role it plays in our eternal promises from heaven! Gender is real and there are eternal temple blessings attached specifically to gender, for which I hope to be forever grateful.

P.s. I love you and miss you!

L J said...

I love you, seriously. You are full of courage and faith and love, and I admire the hell out of that.

Good point about the letters method, I've struggled with the idea of how to go about creating a movement for women in the church. Wearing pants wasn't cutting it, at all. Perhaps Ordain Women is a good venue because they had a response, and they are being spotlighted!

What an absurd conclusion to say that a very large majority of women in the church do not share your advocacy, how do they know this? Have they done proper research?

This is a poor response by the church in my opinion, for several reasons, but mainly because nothing in that document addresses the doctrine of priesthood. I wish it did. That seems to be getting at the core of the issue in my mind. How we interpret actual events, doctrine, reality, has a wide range of consequences attached.

I know women in the church that believe that they already have the priesthood, where is their voice being heard?

Just a couple of thoughts.

P.S. Your complexion! :)

Heidi Quimby said...

Hey Kel,

So I noticed you quoted James 1:5 as Jacob 1:5 so maybe you are reading different scriptures than me? Hehe that might be why we lean different ways...?lol

I would really like all us besties to get together when I come to Utah in May and have a discussion about all these things. You, Liny, Kat, and me. I think it would be a good evening to share thoughts and feelings?

Emily Marvin said...

Thank you for not being scared to comment on the subject!! As a fellow member and friend from serving together in the mission field I support you 100 percent in your views and beliefs way to stand bold and true to yourself.

Mr. and Mrs. James said...

I like this.

katrina said...

hahahahaha amen Heidi! but I'm in for an IRL convo in may.