Ordain Women: Some thoughts and encouragement

If you read this blog, you probably know my story. You know I’m something of a feminist, that I believe women should be ordained, that I attend a church that ordains women, and that I began studying the Mormon church at age 16.

You may or may not know that 16 year-old me actually felt pretty drawn to the LDS church’s system of prophets, apostles, elders, and deacons. That I liked the idea of things like blessings of healing and parents participating in their children’s dedications and baptisms. And that finding out that I would never, ever get to do any of those things if I became Mormon because WOMAN was a lot like finding out that there really is a Santa Claus, but he only brings presents to boys. [*]

You probably don’t know that, had a movement like Ordain Women existed back when I was a teenager, I probably would have come a lot closer to joining the church than I did.
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Kicking the missionaries out

The missionaries tried to stop by a week or two ago. I was home with just my two children, wearing a strappy nursing tank top, and probably covered in baby spit. These were male missionaries, so of course they couldn’t come in. They said they were looking for my husband, I said he was at work, and they said they’d come back some other time.

Come Sunday afternoon, my husband said to me, “Oh, the missionaries are coming over tonight.” “What do they want?” I asked warily. “To share a message,” he replied. “Don’t worry, I warned them that this ‘message’ better not be an attempt to convert you.” “Thanks,” I said, and relaxed a bit.

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You’re doing it wrong

You're Doing It WrongThe Right Way to Win the “Mormons Aren’t Christians” Argument

Like this:

“Mormons, we think you are not Christians and say you are not Christians in the same sense that your church says and teaches that other churches that hold to the teachings of Joseph Smith are ‘not Mormon.’ When it comes to, for example, The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other groups that follow the teachings of Joseph Smith and practice polygamy, your church dogmatically asserts that these groups are ‘not Mormon’ and should not be known as ‘Mormon’ churches, even though these groups ‘strenuously object‘ to your efforts to label them as not-Mormon. You do this because their theology and teachings are different enough from your own to cause you concern, and you want to disassociate that from the ‘Mormon’ name. Likewise, your theology and teachings are different enough from our own to cause us concern, and we want to disassociate you from the ‘Christian’ name.” [1]

Not like this.

Any questions?

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[1] This argument does not represent my own personal position on whether or not Mormons are Christians. It is just one argument that a person could use. But that person would win.

You’re welcome, Mormon women!

In the fall of 2010, I published an article in Mutuality that critiqued the opportunities available to women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In that article, I said (emphases new to this post):

On the ecclesiastical level, where Mormons practice a lay ministry and church responsibilities are shared among all members, the male headship pattern continues. LDS men are ordained to the lower priesthood starting at age twelve and the higher priesthood at age eighteen, but women are restricted from ordination altogether. Because of their non-ordained status, women cannot serve in a large variety of leadership callings including: apostles, prophets, bishops, stake presidents, and adult Sunday School directors. Similarly to complementarian church structures, most of the callings available to women revolve around leadership of other women and children. Church disciplinary councils are entirely handled by men, and men oversee almost all of the clerical work and management of church finances. Males perform virtually all of the ritual ordinances including baptisms, blessings of healing, and administration of the LDS version of the Eucharist. The only ordinance women are permitted to perform is a washing and anointing ritual on other women as part of temple worship, and even that is restricted to women who have no minor children living at home. Finally, missions work is considered a primarily male responsibility, with all capable men being expected to serve a two-year mission, typically at the age of nineteen. Women are allowed to serve an optional eighteen-month mission, but the minimum age required is twenty-one. In 1997, the president of the Mormon church plainly stated that the age limit is held higher for women for the purpose of decreasing the number of women who serve. [1]
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This pattern of androcentrism surfaces again in the church’s official Sunday School manuals, where female speakers and leaders are rarely cited, even when the topics concern women specifically. Twice a year, Mormon leaders gather to broadcast a series of messages meant as counsel for the entire church, but out of the twenty-nine to thirty talks that are usually given, only two of the speakers are women. Likewise, women are not invited to give the opening or closing prayer for these sessions. In the LDS church, women clearly have far fewer opportunities than men to offer spiritual guidance and admonishment to adults of both genders at the church-wide level.

In the past six months, the bolded things have been changed in favor of women. Women may serve missions at age 19 now, thus the number of women going on missions has increased dramatically, and a woman just offered a closing prayer in General Conference. Here’s hoping one will offer an opening prayer soon.

Obviously, church leaders are working through my list and gradually amending the inequalities that I was kind enough to point out to them.

You’re welcome, Mormon women!

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[1] The source I cited in my article was Gordon B. Hinckley, “Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service,” Ensign, November 1997, 52.

“Our Marriage Works Because We Have a Mutual Respect for Each Other”

Interfaith “I’m a Mormon” ad:


Love it.

I do think this couple is interfaith-lite in that the wife seems fairly agnostic. She acknowledges not going to church or being interested in church and at one point says, “If there’s a God up there…” At the end she says that she’s married to a Mormon and “has a family full of them,” so I assume that means she consented to raising the children LDS or letting the children convert to it. Those factors can take a lot of the tension out of an interfaith relationship, as opposed to a marriage between two practicing people of different faiths where each partner would like to see the children become members of his or her own religion.

I don’t entertain any delusions of the LDS church showing up on our door and asking to do a Mormon ad on my husband, but I would have difficulty doing what the wife does at the end of the video—saying, “I’m [name] and I’m not a Mormon.” I dislike identifying as a “not-a-Mormon.” I’d insist on being identified by what I am, not what I’m not.

Still, it is a great message of tolerance and respect for what one’s family members “believe or don’t believe,” and I’m pleased to see the LDS church running it. Kudos to Kenneth Barber and Christine Raldon (sp?) for appearing in it. You two have a beautiful family and I wish you nothing but the best.

Will we ever see an “I’m a Mormon” ad about a couple wherein one spouse has left the church and the other remains in it? I’d like to.

An emerging choice

“NO!” Our daughter screamed. “I . . . don’t . . . WANT to go to your church!” She tilted her chin downward, crooked her hands into her armpits (like she was trying to put them on her hips, but was way too high—much funnier and cuter), looked up with her most defiant glare, and stamped her foot.

That was our household this past Sunday morning. The person she was yelling at was her father. The church she didn’t want to go to was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It was my Sunday to visit her father’s church, so I wasn’t going to my church, either.

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Amen, Robert Kirby

Here’s the thing: She doesn’t leave you or her church. What now? Do you focus on the difference or on the things you still love about her? Do you still try to be worthy of her love in every other respect?

Lots of people in this situation don’t. She nags you about the church. You sneer at her beliefs. Eventually religion isn’t the problem anymore. It’s just the battlefield where you fight over everything else.

Eventually your spouse is not the person you thought you married. But if you’re willing to abandon the person you swore to love forever over a shift in belief, then neither are you.

You don’t end up getting divorced because of religion. More than likely you divorce because one or both of you couldn’t tell the difference between control and love.

Whole thing here.