Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ordain Women and the Powers of Heaven

Last Sunday, for the first time in several months, I had to get up and leave Relief Society. It wasn't because I was upset, it was because I was angry. The well-meaning woman in the front of the room, addressing the concept of woman's ordination, chose to mock the entire idea. Met with laughter from other sisters in the room, she declared, "Who wants the priesthood? I have enough to do!" She went on to suggest that the OW movement was stupid, faithless, and foolish. I finally left when she started listing all the "access" that single women have to the priesthood.

It would probably take some who only know me online by surprise that it bothered me as much as it did. Others are probably convinced I'm a sympathizer and agree with Ordain Women, though previous posts of mine should make it clear that I'm not. But while I am no sympathizer to the Ordain Women movement, I am an empathizer. Many of the same things that have led these women to "supplication" at the doors of the Tabernacle are things that I have felt.

As a single woman, I've experienced cradling a sick child in the middle of the night with no one to ask to give her a blessing. As a married woman, I experienced asking someone to offer a blessing only to be refused. I've been summarily overridden, my perspective and revelation in my stewardship discounted because I was not one of the ultimate decision makers. As a sister missionary, I've been subjected to ever-increasingly creative verses of "Sisters are Stupid," a song set to the tune of "I Often Go Walking" because the prevailing opinion was that sisters shouldn't bother themselves with priesthood duties such as sharing the Gospel. I've been judged and rejected for not being enough of an appendage. While none of these things SHOULD have happened under a priesthood organized as it is, they all did at least partly BECAUSE of how it is organized, giving those so inclined to interpret women as less-than.

I know the sting of possessing no organized authority in the Church of my Savior.

Recently, I listened to Kate Kelly's podcast where people were invited to "ask her anything." Listening to it, I changed some of my opinions about Kate Kelly and the movement, and others were confirmed. I may have nothing more to add to the discussion that has been going on around her and the Ordain Women movement. But I have felt the Spirit prompting me to write. Even as I type these words, I'm not sure what exactly I'm going to say.

As I have listened to the podcast, and other discussions about Ordain Women, there are some things that are clear to me. Kate Kelly is an activist by profession. She sees a problem and works on it the only way she knows how, with the tools she uses best. She earnestly, genuinely believes she is doing good. She earnestly believes that her behavior demonstrates her faith. She wants what is best for the Church and feels a drive to do something about it. She believes that she can open the windows of heaven wider for the Church leadership. She believes she has a part to play in ushering the Church closer to the Lord's vision for it. I think I can understand the urges she (and others like her) feels.

But I also know it isn't her place to determine what the Church needs. When I served as a missionary, and again later when I became a single member, I saw a need and passionately tried to communicate that need to my leadership. As a missionary, it almost got me sent home early (out of "concern for [my] emotional health.") I've learned a little since then. As a single member, the needs I see for singles with families are something I've been discussing with my leadership for nearly four years. It has been a slow, laborious, and sometimes frustrating process. But things are being done.

That being said, it totally IS her place to communicate to leadership what she needs. The trick is that it must be done with patience, humility, long-suffering, meekness, and without guile. In fact, communicating to leadership in the Church effectively can only be done by accessing the powers of heaven in righteousness. ANYthing that is to be accomplished in the work of the Lord can only be done by accessing the powers of heaven. Those exact powers of heaven are "inseparably connected" to the very rights of the priesthood the OW movement seeks. It is quite clear to me that the methods Ordain Women are using are intrinsically antithetical to the very thing they seek.

Anyone who truly seeks the power of God in righteousness accepts it with humility. Those times when the Spirit has moved through me, I have been left humbled and astounded by the grace and power of God. I have seen how subtly and inexorably the will of the Lord moves through the leaders of the Church. I have seen how there is no need for linear escalation of problems, that the Lord is more than capable of preparing His servants to hear my supplication when the time is right.

Hubris makes someone in Kate Kelly's position determine that she needs to go straight to the top to get anything done. Ignorance keeps such people from participating in the actions going on before and without her to seek revelation regarding women in the Church. I found it telling when she revealed that it was not her idea to demonstrate a second time, but that she was overruled. While people, like her, participating in the Ordain Women movement may believe they are "merely asking," this clearly shows how they are allowing others in the organization set them up as a media spectacle. Despite feeling she is in power within the organization, and feeling that her demonstrations display courage and initiative, she has only swapped one master for another.

This, to me, is nothing to rejoice over. It concerns me. It makes me want to show them some of the things that I have learned, that the illogical path of humility, peace, and long-suffering actually leads more quickly to results previously unimagined.

I have a question that has been a topic of prayer for several years. Over time, I have gone from frantic pleading to anger, from anger to sullen silence, from silence to hesitant pleading and patience. I know what it is to receive no real answer to something that weighs heavily on my heart. But I know more than that. I know the goodness of God. I know that all good things await those who wait upon the Lord and His timing. I know that more good can be done by patient pleading than by all the media power in the world.

My Lord is a loving Lord. I know He is there, and He has Kate Kelly in mind just as He has me in mind. Each and every person who participates in rebelling against the structure and order of the Church is just as loved, just as precious as those who do not. While I believe they are sadly misguided, they do not deserve our mockery or derision. They are our sisters and brothers, even those who have rejected the power of God in their lives. Even those who are desperately seeking the power of God without knowing where or how to look.

If Ordain Women does not have the Spirit of God working for them, neither do those who sit and judge them. I believe equally passionately in the divine direction of the Church through its leadership and in the earnest intentions and genuine pain of those who find themselves opposing it. That might not make me easily categorized. But I find categories to be much less useful than genuine love.


  1. I'm right there with you. While I can't say that I've ever experienced anyone actually making me feel less-than for being a woman in the church I can certainly empathize with those who have and I have much sympathy for the members of Ordain Women. I do think that there's a better way to go about things though. When I was in seminary (this would have been about 1997) I remember a class where another girl asked something about women and the priesthood. Now I have to admit that I cannot recall the teacher's response to her. I'm not even sure what I thought about women holding the priesthood at the time. I do remember asking my teacher where the pictures of our female leaders were, though. I pointed to the pictures of the first presidency and the 12 apostles on the wall and asked him why the General Young Women presidency wasn't up there or the General R.S. presidency. I told him that I had recently listened to each of the Y.W. leaders speak in the Y.W. broadcast and that I had heard them and other sisters speak in conference and then asked him if it wasn't important that we knew their names and faces as well as those of the Brethren. He looked at me very thoughtfully and then responded that I had made a very good point and that he would find out. He actually called someone in Salt Lake (I couldn't tell you exactly who although I would assume he went through CES) and spoke to them about why it wasn't policy to hang the female leaders pictures alongside the male leaders pictures in our Seminary and Institute buildings. He told me about his conversation with them. They told him that he could do it if he wanted to but that it just wasn't standard procedure at the moment. He then told me that he felt I had raised an important point and that he had ordered pictures of those sisters and they would be hung in our seminary building because it was important for us to see these sisters as role models and leaders. I appreciated his efforts and hadn't really thought about that incident until I read about the female leaders portraits being hung in the Conference Centre. I laughed when I read about it and thought, “hey my question from 1997 finally made it up to the top.” Obviously, I don’t imagine that my simple little query was actually the impetus for such a change but I do think the Lord really does work by small and simple means. He has put specific people in specific places to do certain things and ask certain questions at the right time. I can vividly remember the look on my seminary teacher’s face during those conversations with him and I know that the spirit prompted me to ask that question and prompted him to respond in the manner that he did. I think that there are probably hundreds of those types of examples we could compile that ultimately lead to changes in policy and organization. The key is to be patient with those things. The Lord will help those who need to make changes to get to the point where they can be made. I’m sorry to write such a novel on your blog but this post really resonated with me and I do think the Church is headed in the right direction on these issues, even if it isn’t fast enough for some.

  2. Julie Lewis, I love your comment. Don't apologize!

    It is stories like yours that I wish were able to garner the attention they deserve. Like drops of water on sandstone, the form of the Church that can be carved by questions like yours will be far more beautiful than if someone succeeded in taking a hammer to it.

  3. " must be done with patience, humility, long-suffering, meekness, and without guile. In fact, communicating to leadership in the Church effectively can only be done by accessing the powers of heaven in righteousness. ANYthing that is to be accomplished in the work of the Lord can only be done by accessing the powers of heaven. Those exact powers of heaven are "inseparably connected" to the very rights of the priesthood..."
    Amen, sister. Jesus set the example and explained the principles that must be applied. Discipleship to Him is the answer and His ways are the key, whichever side of a question you stand on.
    Thank you.

  4. Oh, I love that imagery! Yes, that would be lovely if we could hear stories similar to mine because I'm sure they're out there.


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