Why Ordain Women

As I’ve been reading through the various blogs, posts and media reports about the Ordain Women movement, as a result of the church’s letter that came out yesterday, I noticed something:….I’m different.

Kate Kelly told the Salt Lake Tribune April Young Bennett, a spokesperson for Ordain Women, told KUTV News:

“We are not protestors of the church. We are the church. We are members of the church, and we want to attend the priesthood session, not protest it,” Bennett said. “I am a returned missionary. I was married in the temple. I serve in callings in the church. I am raising four children in the church, and my oldest daughter was recently baptized. I have invested a lot into this faith. I want to invest even more. I was to invest fully as a priesthood holder, not as an auxiliary member.”

Other supporters such as Jana Riess followed up on their own blogs with:

There is something deeply symbolic about yesterday’s statement, for it reveals what the Church apparently thinks of the feminists within its fold. We, as faithful and active members of the Church, are being lumped together with the same anti-Mormon protestors who routinely crash General Conference and shout that the Mormon religion is of the devil. These protestors have started fistfights with conference-goers and even stomped on or burned temple garments.

I have little in common with those people. I love my Church and consider myself a believing and active Latter-day Saint. Temple Square is Mecca, my axis mundi.

So how am I different? I was born and raised in the church, married a returned missionary in the temple, served faithfully in various church callings throughout the years as I raised four children BUT I am no longer a member. I resigned my membership last year as a result of a lengthy process over several years of finding myself more and more outside the community as I became an unorthodox, LGBT ally, feminist, mixed faith family member. The isolation and discouragement drove me to go back to the basis of my testimony and determine whether I truly believed the truth claims. After lots of studying and soul searching I determined I didn’t. Since that meant the leaders held no special authority to speak for God I didn’t have to keep forcing myself into the traditional box. I didn’t have to accept everything as coming from God. I realized it was time to let go of my relationship with the church.

And yet I support Ordain Women. I submitted a profile which is on their site. I participate in various Mormon online groups that regularly discuss feminism and the Ordain Women group. I will be driving 7 ½ hours with my hubby to SLC to attend the April 5, 2014 Ordain Women event asking to be let into the Priesthood session. Why do this when I’m not even a member anymore? Why do this when I don’t believe the church truth claims? Why do I care?

I do it because growing up in the church I suffered immense pressure trying to fit into the role that was defined for me as a faithful woman. I struggled to find fulfillment. I noticed the inequality and suffered as a result. I have two active temple married children and a granddaughter. I support them in their decision to believe and be involved in the church and want them to find fulfillment and happiness. I want them to have opportunities and choices that I never had. I want them to grow up in a community of equality where it doesn’t matter what gender you are when determining what callings/leadership/councils you can hold and sit in. I want more for these women who believe and love the church and want it to be their spiritual community.

So I will be standing with these people that I admire and respect. I will link arms with them in working toward something that is worth the effort and will impact so many others in and out of the church. I will hope for the changes for my children and grandchildren. If critics use my participation as ammunition to argue that there is somehow less validity to Ordain Women or what they are trying to accomplish, they really don’t understand the big picture. The supporters in Ordain Women come from all different walks of life, sharing a common Mormon bond and working to respect each other’s choices/beliefs. Together we are working for something bigger than ourselves. I may not fit into the faithful church member definition anymore but my voice still matters and my experiences are valid and I’m here working for a common goal.

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12 Responses

  1. Holly says:

    This is terrific!

    I am so glad to see you blogging, here, Alison, and look forward to reading more from you.

    And I also looking forward to meeting you at the event.

  2. Laurie says:

    This is a wonderful snapshot of many women who will be attending next month. Thank you for speaking for us. <3

  3. Teresa Humphrey says:

    Wow. I am in much the same position you are. I have resisted the urge to write a profile because I was afraid that my status would detract from the movement as a whole. You give valid reasons for being there and supporting them. I am working up my nerve and trying to find a way to say why it matters in my own words. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Alison says:

    Thank you for the kind words and I’m glad it resonated with you. I worry that there are a number of us that would gladly support Ordain Women but fear our level of activity/belief/church membership might detract if we don’t fit the faithful/traditional/actively attending model.

    The church culture of devaluing someone’s perspectives/opinions if they are less active or no longer a member needs to stop! Just because we are in different places doesn’t mean what we have gone through shouldn’t count.

    I’m grateful to the leaders in OW and friends that reached out to me and helped me see it was OK to add my voice. I wouldn’t be detracting. My voice mattered and counted too.

  5. chanson says:

    Thanks for writing a terrific piece for MSP!

    I am in a similar boat. I support Ordain Women, but I haven’t made a profile because I’m a bit farther from being a participating member than you are.

    (Short version: I stopped believing at 17, attended BYU anyway (long story), went to grad school and had little further connection with Mormonism, married a nevermo, moved to Europe, had two kids, and later got into LDS-interest blogging for fun.)

    Personally, I don’t want to attend the Priesthood Session of conference (or any part of conference, for that matter). However, I think the women who want to attend the meeting should be allowed to do so — and they certainly shouldn’t be treated as though they’re a bunch of protesters who want to disrupt the event. So, for myself, I feel more comfortable as an ally than as a participant in this movement.

    Thanks to you and all the others who are out there making the effort to do this! Let’s hope they reconsider and let you all in!! 😀

  6. Lori says:

    Awe, I loved it Alison. It mirror your feelings in supporting OW. I support it not because I believe in the priesthood, but because I know that without ordination, women will never be equally involved and valued in the church. Anything that causes that to happen is something I support

  7. Lori says:

    *I* mirror your fillings. Stupid typing.

  8. Alison says:

    A great article by Andrew mentioned this post today. It’s worth reading if you haven’t already seen it. His questions really resonated with me….I thought/asked/mulled them over a lot….and still have no answers for the first two. 🙂


  9. Jeff Laver says:

    I support Ordain Women even though I am no longer a believer, for the same reason many of you do, because there are women and girls I love who are believers. I sometimes think that it might not only be better for them to leave the Church, but nothing would get Church leaders’ attention like a mass exodus. However, that’s not likely, so I support OW. Plus, leaving the Church might be overly truamatic for the women I love.

    As far as the questions Alison mentions, specifically God’s impotence–I believe she/he either can’t or won’t impose on supposed adherents, and can’t even get through to them, because after all is said and done, they’re not really adherents of God, but are more interested in their own agendas than they are in God’s. Their positions of power are more about control than seeking God.

    I realize nothing I’ve said here is unique, but I wanted to add one male voice.

  10. Holly says:

    after all is said and done, they’re not really adherents of God, but are more interested in their own agendas than they are in God’s. Their positions of power are more about control than seeking God.

    Good point, and I think it’s apparent in the fact that they insist on control and discourage seeking.

  11. chanson says:

    @11 lol.

    So you guys have a new publication? Should I add you to Outer Blogness?

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