Confessions from a Mormon Closet-Feminist

by Mrs. Smith on April 6, 2014

I told you Friday I had one more cent to throw in.  I might have saved the best for last… You tell me.

To start off, here’s the piece from the Ordain Women site from which this “third cent” grew:

“Sadly, if we fail to ordain women and provide a more inclusive range of opportunities for women and girls in the LDS Church, a significant number will search elsewhere for a more equitable spiritual community, as many, particularly young and single women, already have.

My heart aches for them. My sisters (or brothers) who feel like the scale is eternally balanced in someone else’s favor.

But the scale, dear friend, is not weighted with priesthood on one side and… priesthood-less, oppressed women on the other side.

Know what?

In my mind, The Eternal Scale is not weighted with men on one side and women on the other.  I don’t see it that way any more and I’ve been able to see a great deal more truth and light since I quit thinking of it that way.

I would gently suggest we all calm down and stop endlessly trying to figure out how to make it balance.  Shift your focus just a little.

Might I suggest an alternative?

It’s all of humanity on one side.  All of our flaws, weaknesses, and outright wickedness.  All our injustices, abuses, and abominations.  It’s all of our pain, sickness, injuries.  Every insult, every cruelty, every horrible thing we’ve ever done to each other.  All of the darkness we bring upon ourselves through disobedience, selfishness, and short-sightedness….

And even (especially!) all of the darkness inflicted upon us by the hurtful actions of others or the harsh reality that is this fallen, mortal world.  Disability. Inadequacy. Death.

And on the other side of the scale?

Our Savior, the Redeemer & Light of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ — His infinite love for every single one of us.  His unfathomable, infinitely painful and infinitely, unspeakably valuable sacrifice for us.

And also with Him, yes, there is HIS priesthood power, restored to the earth again through His personal appearances to the boy prophet, Joseph Smith, and through angelic ministrations from apostles who received their authority directly from Christ.

Because of that divine authority (which again, is His and comes from Him) all of humanity can be blessed by sacred ordinances again as in ancient days. Baptism. The Gift of the Holy Ghost.  Declarations of Abrahamic lineage. Blessings of healing, comfort, and guidance. 

Sisters, we are not “left out” in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are not second-class citizens.

We are God’s crowning creation.  His work was “good” before Eve was made, but it wasn’t “very good” until after He lovingly made her. Adam was powerless to fill the measure of his creation without Eve.

It has never in the history of the world been more clear than it is right this moment that the contribution of WOMEN in God’s work is vital to its success.  The Lord needs us, and He offers spiritual gifts, endowments, and blessings as fast as we are able to receive them — in absolutely equal measure to His sons and daughters, irrespective of nationality, background, native ability, education, gender, or sexual orientation. (But, no, I’m not going there in this post. Maybe next time.)

May I cite your minds back to that story from President Uchtdorf this very morning in his excellent talk about Gratitude.  I loved that story.  Why?  Because I’ve been the ungrateful patron… like, a lot.

In fact,

Detour Alert!  But I’ll come back to that story, I will…

…As a young single adult when the question of the equality of men and women in the church surfaced in my heart, I struggled for a while with gratitude about the specific issue of women and the priesthood.

Oh, I wouldn’t want things changed, necessarily, but I wanted answers.  Answers to questions that nobody around me asked during Relief Society lessons on the Priesthood.

Questions like

Why is it like this?  What do women have that makes us”special,” too?  Clearly there is authority associated with the priesthood — So do we have authority?  Are we second-class citizens at the mercy of the Men In Charge?  How does this work?  Again — WHY?

It started out as a random curiosity but quickly became an honest, sincere, personal query, and any time people talked about equality in the Church, my heart hurt. I knew those answers would be with God, not the world – and definitely not to be found exclusively in my own limited knowledge.  

So I searched.  I prayed.  I listened.   This continued for years, and even followed me into my marriage.  I truly wanted to know and I truly believed there were indeed answers to my questions.  

I found little pieces here and there, and then bigger pieces now and then — until today, some 17 years later, I find myself completely at peace with The Way Things Are.

I get it.  I’m still learning — and I soak up every ray light shed on this subject — but through the grace of God, I have peace.

Oh, I still bristle if/when people around me slam those with sincere questions – and especially when I know from experience how tender feelings can be when they’re wrapped up in questions. I hated feeling misunderstood, but I hated even more feeling like someone didn’t care at all about it.  

“Take that, Ordain LDS Women!” — said someone on facebook about Elder Oak’s talk in Priesthood Session last night.
Um, no! Don’t talk like that, please.
Frankly, that kind of shove-it-in-your-face attitude is evil, and I can’t abide it.  I struggled for a moment with being royally offended – so please forgive me, rude commenter.
To me, that comment was far more evil and infinitely more offensive than anything on the OW site.

Handouts?

But can I give that peace to you, dear contributors to the Ordain Women movement?

Heavens, no.  Only God can – and only in His time, in His way, in a manner tailored specifically for you.  It might take years, as it did for me.  It might only take moments, as a grand “lightbulb moment.”  For all we know, it may not even come in this lifetime… But it will come.

<Now, back to that story I mentioned!>

This time let’s think of the patron as someone with a nagging question about (or problem with) The Way Things Are, and the restaurant as the Church of Christ.

“How is it?” asks the waiter.

“Everything was lovely, but there could have been more bread.”

So the next day the waiter brings him <or her> twice as much — 4 pieces instead of 2.  The day after that, 8 pieces.

Still, the patron does not seem satisfied.

Determined to please him <or her>, he finds a 9-foot-long loaf of bread, cuts it in half (lengthwise) and brings it to the table.

“Ah, I see you are back to serving only two pieces.”

In my opinion, as Women of God,

We simply do not have time to spend the resources of our hearts complaining about why the loaf of bread gets cut in half… when in truth, we all get to eat our fill and then some. Seek for answers to questions, but please don’t storm out of the restaurant.

…To whom shall you go?

- John 6:68

-But if you do leave eventually, or if you’ve already left, please know you can always come back.  You can sit with me at my table and I won’t judge you.

We need you!

We need every person with every question they have.  We need every brother who is ignorant of the amazing, deactivated Iron Man suit he stomps around in, and every sister who wants to hit him over the head with it.

But to throw a tantrum and leave the table over this issue… It tells me we need to do a better job reaching out to each other and loving each other. It tells me there’s likely an ocean of pain behind those questions, and that there may be something out of their control hiding the glorious menu of what is really offered here.

My Bottom Line

There is so much work involved in supporting & sustaining the men in their responsibilities as covenant holders of the priesthood, I can’t help but wonder —

If women held the priesthood, too, then who would support us in holding it?

PS:  

More quotes I love that help me on my quest for truth… Because you’re tired of hearing my opinion…

More fabulousness from Sheri Dew:

“My young sisters, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood you have been shortchanged. They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman. We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge “armed” with power. 12The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. Most significantly, the fullness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can only be received by a man and woman together.”

Priesthood Blessings, not based on gender 

“My message to this faithful woman and to all is that we can live every hour “blessed by the strength of priesthood power,” whatever our circumstance. “We sometimes overly associate the power of the priesthood with men in the Church. The priesthood is the power and authority of God given for the salvation and blessing of all—men, women, and children. “A man may open the drapes so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings. The blessings of the priesthood are infinitely greater than the one who is asked to administer the gift. “To receive the blessings, power, and promises of the priesthood in this life and the next is one of the great opportunities and responsibilities of mortality. As we are worthy, the ordinances of the priesthood enrich our lives on earth and prepare us for the magnificent promises of the world ahead. The Lord said, “In the ordinances … the power of godliness is manifest.”3 -

Neal L. Anderson, from this talk in 2013.

PPS: Maybe I’ll add better pictures later.  :)  I’m throwing it out there anyway.  Submissions welcome.  ;)

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