Thursday, September 26, 2013
Why I am becoming uncomfortable with the Ordain Women Movement
On Tuesday morning, the Church announced its decision regarding the Ordain Women's request. They were denied tickets, but remarkably, our leaders implemented a seminal adjustment: they would allow the General Priesthood session to be broadcast live, and invited these women to watch it, should they choose. For a church that institutes changes at a glacial pace, I was surprised and pleased. I immediately felt the love of our leaders who heard these women's earnest desire and enacted a decision that I think works well as a compromise.
The Ordain Women Movement then, has received an answer to their posed question. However, the response given by Kate Kelly (the movement's founder) made me wince:
"We will be in the line for standby tickets to the priesthood session on Oct. 5 to demonstrate our continued willingness and desire to attend. We are demonstrating our faith by standing at the door and knocking."
Kelly's statement, I believe, now marks her as a protester (a title that she was ironically trying to eschew in the first place.) But what makes me uncomfortable is that she considers flouting our church leaders' decision as a sign of faith. And I cannot stand by that. When our church teaches, "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you," it does not necessarily always mean that we will "receive" the answer that we want. Rather, when auxilary church leaders state their answer (and show a willingness to adjust), I believe that they represent the Lord's voice on earth, giving me reason to hearken. Unfortunately, I don't believe these women's decision to stand in line will help create a spiritual ambiance for an important meeting.
Instead, I believe that the Ordain Women Movement will be more effective if they continue to propagate civil dialogue on this issue. It is obvious that they are smart, faithful women, and I respect their ability to articulate their points. And in return, I pray that disagreeing members will display charitable measures toward their opinions (see my post on toleration). They are, after all, our sisters in the gospel. While I do not support female ordination, I stand behind cultural and institutional changes to help women better understand their divine potential (see this post). I am not sure if all of my envisioned changes will ever be realized. But with the recent lowered mission ages for women, thoughtful conversations on chastity and modesty, and adjustments to the Young Women Program, I believe that I have many reasons to be optimistic.
Perhaps we are not going to have every change we want on our timetable, if ever. But if we believe that this church is led by Christ himself through a prophet and apostles, then let's stand by what they say. And if our received answer to a desire is "no" or "not yet," let us pray for greater faith and understanding--as well as an increased willingness to yield to the Lord's timing.*
*This sentence has been slightly changed to include the phrase "or not yet."
Photo by David McConeghy