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Pants, Prayer, Priesthood, Oh My!

At the heart of it we are all feminists. I highly doubt any would choose to return to the days without voting privileges and the like. The nuances of religious feminism are complex. We have questions. We have concerns. It is quite often isolating to feel different, or be different, or think differently than the masses. We hope that the church is mature enough to allow space for the individual while maintaining Christ’s standards. I hear tales of good women leaving the church because we are not kind, and we don’t listen. Because we judge what we don’t understand. And we don’t trust the Lord.

Christ wasn’t afraid of questions. He wasn’t afraid to hear and understand. He wasn’t concerned with pressures and norms. He sought the Father’s will and went forth with faith, diligence, and most of all charity. He stayed in his business and acted in authority when necessary. He listened.

The things for which we share a passion differ, but we all share a desire to be treated with respect, dignity, and equality as our Father in Heaven defines. One could go in circles siting references aplenty about exactly what it means to be equal in the sight of God. In the end, none of us is right or actually knows. We seek those things which edify and enlighten on a personal basis. We engage in dialogue and seek understanding. Hopefully such dialogue is kind as well as informative and we are not on a path to prove another wrong. 

Yippee for pants and their ability to teach about unwritten rules and cultural pressures. Hurrah for recognition that women can indeed pray sufficiently to open or close any meeting. Onward in the search for understanding of God’s will concerning His priesthood. Thank you to all who are more vocal than I. I am grateful that my daughters will reap the benefits of those willing to blaze the trail. Maybe they will become the next generation of blazers. Hopefully they will do it with kindness and respect and leave the sarcasm and name calling out.

There is nothing to fear. If the Lord does indeed run His church through a living Prophet, then how scary can a few questions be?

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Jace April 20, 2013, 10:00 pm

    What if you ask the question female priesthood ordination and the answer comes back no? Will you take that answer and move on, keep “questioning” in futility, or keep questioning until He says “yes” and something bad happens (e.g. Harris & 116 pages). I’m all in for questions, I feel that the female ordination groups are more about trying to mold the Church into what they want rather then the innocent-seeming “I’m just asking questions.”

  • Angie Gardner April 21, 2013, 5:27 am

    I love asking questions. :)

    I think Jace brings up a good point.

    I remember once hearing about the process that led to the 1978 official declaration that all worthy male members could hold the priesthood. People had asked the question, “why not?” for YEARS, and many of these were very faithful people (if I remember correctly among them were names like McKay, Holland, Kimball, and others). You might even say they “agitated” for change, as they saw something that was unfair and based on faulty doctrine and really did need to be changed.

    I think it’s similar with the women today. They see unfairness and inequality. They see that women in the early church did things that women now can’t do. As they study the history and doctrine, they see room in there for change. And so, they ask, “why not?”

    I’m sure to some it sounds like an annoying, high-pitched screeching and nagging. I don’t see it that way in most cases. It’s pointing out simple things that can be done to help women feel more a part of their church.

    LDS women used to be at the forefront of women’s rights. They were revolutionaries, you might say. They pushed for the right to vote, they ran for public office, they educated themselves, they ran their own organizations. They were not shrinking violets, but I see a lot of that now. LDS women seem to be dividing themselves into two camps – the agitators and the pedestal standers.

    I’m more of a middle-of-the-road gal. While I don’t want the priesthood, I do see room for a lot of change. And I think it’s okay to ask the questions, as that is the only way we are really ever going to see it.

    • Alison Moore Smith April 21, 2013, 7:48 am

      Amen. In the case of at least one apostle, Elder Holland, he said he’d been asking and hoping for change since he was a boy. In other words, it’s not only apostles who can ask and hope for change.

      I’m sure to some it sounds like an annoying, high-pitched screeching and nagging.

      To be utterly frank, I think the “some” who characterize it this way are mostly misogynists who like the power they feel by having women subordinate and women who, interestingly, derive their power from playing the subservient role. It’s nothing more than an ad hominem attempt to shut people up and avoid a real discussion.
      Alison Moore Smith recently posted…General Conference – Spring 2013My Profile

  • Amy Lockhart April 21, 2013, 9:04 am

    Jace: “What if you ask the question female priesthood ordination and the answer comes back no? Will you take that answer and move on, keep “questioning” in futility, or keep questioning until He says “yes” ”

    I don’t believe the Lord would say yes if it was a matter of effecting the church/priesthood contrary to its divine principles and mission. You could go waaaaay out on a limb and ask, “What if the Lord means for the church to crumble from the inside out with this being the impetus?” Then all the evil questioners would actually be the heroes.

    I prefer to stay in the place of respectful dialogue without fear of the outcome a question might bring.

    If Joseph Smith would not have questioned we wouldn’t be here having this conversation. Most great things are born out of questioning the status quo. For that matter I suppose you can argue that most miserable things are too. I believe in the church and that it is run by divine revelation. I don’t believe that means members of the church cannot have questions and effect the organization for good. I am along for the ride, whatever the questions and outcome might be.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Flying High and Going NowhereMy Profile

  • Amy Lockhart April 21, 2013, 9:09 am

    Furthermore, if the answer is no, I think the Lord would be much happier if those who posed the question were treated with respect and civility vice ad hominem. And those who question would be much more likely to accept a no and remain active in the church.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Flying High and Going NowhereMy Profile

  • Glenn Thigpen April 21, 2013, 10:44 am

    “Onward in the search for understanding of God’s will concerning His priesthood.”

    I really likethat comment. I t will do none of us any good to importune for something that is not God’s will.

    Glenn

  • Amy Lockhart April 21, 2013, 4:38 pm

    Glenn: I am not sure what you mean. It seems to me you are saying that no one should be asking. Could you clarify please.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Flying High and Going NowhereMy Profile

  • Glenn Thigpen April 21, 2013, 11:45 pm

    Amy, I am not saying that no one should be asking, but that we should be seeking to find what God’s will is on the subject (and any other subject that we feel needs clarification). That is what I liked about the quote. Seeking God’s will on the matter. In my opinion that is the very best way to address the question.

    I am in complete agreement with you that if Joseph Smith had not asked some questions, we would not be having this converstaion. And I fully believe that God will answer the fervent prayers of just one righteous person on the matter, much as He answered the prayers of Cornelius the centurion in Acts chapter 10, and give the prophet a nudge to answer the situation, or the answer, if it is no, or not yet, may come to individuals.

    Glenn

  • Amy Lockhart April 22, 2013, 6:48 am

    Thanks for clarifying Glenn.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Flying High and Going NowhereMy Profile

  • Naismith April 22, 2013, 9:04 am

    If you want to declare yourself a feminist, fine. But it seems a bit much to declare that we are ALL feminists, and that one must be a feminist if you believe that women should vote in civil elections.

    I dunno, many of the feminists that I know would be offended, because it renders their efforts to nothing but mush.

    I was a second-wave feminist. I heartily embrace much of what was in THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE. But the second wave has passed. So I am no longer a feminist. I’m not an anti-feminist, but I am not a feminist either. And there are lots of women like me.

    How do I differ from feminists? Well, one issue that I’ve been told I am not a feminist is regarding the career counseling that young people receive. I serve on the parent’s advisory council of the college that one of my daughters attends, and I was horrified when a speaker at orientation declared that liberal arts majors earn more than nursing majors. Well, this is true if the LA major hustles, works fulltime and has other skills. A nursing degree allows one to work part-time in a very flexible way, and in most places will never have a hard time landing a job.

    I believe that a young woman should consider her career trajectory, and how the job for which she is training will mesh with family life and pregnancy. There are some great options: pharmacy, physical therapy, accounting, and so on. There are opportunities for part-time or seasonal work at a professional rate of pay. (Of course it would be great if men could work part-time as well, but they are not as affected by pregnancy and breastfeeding.)

    But the career counselors insist that every women will be working fulltime, whether or not she has children. And they only prepare students for fulltime work.

    I could go on with various other issues on which I differ, but the bottom line is that I don’t think that every smart, educated woman is a feminist.

    I live in a place where women wear pants to church anyway, not as any kind of protest or striving for equality. And I totally agree with asking questions. Can’t we do all that without needing to slap a label on it?

  • Angie Gardner April 22, 2013, 12:04 pm

    I sometimes get frustrated by the feminist movement, and Mormon feminism in particular, because we are all on such different pages. How are our church leaders supposed to even know what to submit to God if we can’t even agree among ourselves?

    Whenever I post any feminist-leaning thing on Facebook, for example, I get so much push back. You wouldn’t believe the comments I got when I linked to the article announcing that women would be praying in conference. I didn’t even make a comment on the article at first, I just linked it. The responses ranged from “The church is true” (who said it isn’t?) to “I feel very valued in the church as a woman” (I’m glad you do but not every woman feels that way) to “I think that the church actually honors women so much that they put us on a pedestal and don’t want us to have the burden of the priesthood” (too much there to opine on but we’ll start with just my personal opinion that a pedestal is the last place I want to be) to “I don’t want the priesthood! Why are all these Mormon women trying to get the priesthood?” (How does being excited about women praying in conference translate to ‘I want the priesthood?’)

    I have a headache.

  • Amy Lockhart April 22, 2013, 3:29 pm

    Naismith: My intent was to highlight the fact that feminism doesn’t mean just one thing, specifically religious feminism. The example I chose, voting, was just the first thing that came to mind. A right that had to be fought for and something that the majority could relate to. I could have used a number of things but it seemed to fit.

    I find the same thing as Angie. If anything is even remotely seen as feminist there is a wall that goes up, and fast. Perhaps using a label to attempt to show the broad range within the label was not the most efficient way to do it. I find people are almost afraid of the word itself and I was attempting to demystify it a bit. I am sure there are those that would be offended by my seemingly simplistic view of feminism. I assure you that my view does not only include the right to vote; but I am very thankful for it!

    Thank you for adding your thoughts.

    Angie: “Whenever I post any feminist-leaning thing on Facebook, for example, I get so much push back.”

    Is there any way to reach neutral ground? It seems that feminist means one thing; screaming fanatical lunatic that doesn’t believe in, or care about, God or the church. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit over the top, but the point is how are we supposed to have discussions if there is such a negative connotation attached to a word with nuance running all through it.

    It seems fear is behind a lot of it. But how can fear exist if we first believe that this is Christ’s church. The only logical path I see for those that truly believe change will be made contrary to the will of the Lord, is a path that begins with doubt in that.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Flying High and Going NowhereMy Profile

  • Amy Lockhart April 22, 2013, 3:35 pm

    And one more thing, why are people so willing to slap their definition of feminist on others for innocent things like wearing pants and praying in meetings. If you are excited that a long standing cultural norm is finally being put to rest, that makes you a feminist that is trying to bring the church down by demanding the priesthood. I don’t get it.

    Where’s the Advil?
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Flying High and Going NowhereMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner April 22, 2013, 3:42 pm

    I don’t get it either. I have never identified myself as a feminist nor even used the word when I’ve posted anything about women’s issues in the church on my Facebook. And yet, you can always guarantee that if you bring up anything that can even be remotely seen as dissatisfaction with the status quo in regards to women in the church, two things will be brought up:
    1. You are a man-hating feminist.
    2. You want the priesthood.

    Which is super sad for me because I do identify as feminist (my own of many versions, I suppose) and I:
    1. Do not hate men in the least.
    2. Do not want the priesthood.

    It’s so frustrating that we as LDS women cannot even have a discussion without our sisters accusing us of such things. I think 10 years from now we’ll probably all laugh about it, but it’s no fun right now as we go through what feels to me like a period of change in the church.

  • Angie Gardner April 22, 2013, 3:45 pm

    Oh, and I will also add…there ARE some Mormon feminists who are those things or want those things. I don’t happen to be one of them, but just for the sake of argument let’s say I am. I’m still entitled to my opinion, right? It seems like we just jump all over each other and I don’t like it. The poor pants ladies (I didn’t participate in that effort but supported their right to do so) were accused of all kinds of awful things, among them apostasy, hating men, seeking priesthood, speaking evil of church leaders – and for most of the women involved none of those things applied at all.

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