I have steered clear of the Ordain Women issue, mostly because I don’t feel the same way as that group of women do about the need for women to hold the priesthood in the LDS Church. So I say do your own thing and I’ll do mine and there’s really no need to get into a whole screaming match over who is the most fantastic feminist female out there.
But, after reading the coverage of the group from this week’s General conference in Salt Lake, I decided it was time to speak up. A passage from the Salt Lake Tribune in particular grabbed my attention, telling of one of the women in the Ordain Women group who “said she is following the prescribed path for Mormon women: She has three children and ‘never met a craft I didn’t like.’ She had knitting in her bag Saturday evening.”
Hold on. She had knitting in her purse? Why didn’t you say so?!?! Give that woman the priesthood because she is doing everything right!
I’m sorry, since when did crafting become a church expectation for women? Did I miss the ‘prescribed path’ memo?
I think in the LDS church – as in any organization – there is a tendency to confuse culture with doctrine. There is no doctrinal expectation of scrapbooking or knitting in the church. Just as the church has never officially mandated that LDS women own at least one chevron maxi skirt and eat at Café Rio on a weekly basis. These are cultural norms, not doctrinal truths.
So, I want to weigh in with my thoughts on how I have been treated as a woman raised in the LDS faith. And while there may be lots of cultural phenomenon that have irked me through the years, I have never felt marginalized because of the church or the actual gospel.
Everyone’s experience will be different, of course, but here’s what I know:
I am just as worthy and valuable as men. I was taught since I was a child that I am entitled to every blessing God has to offer. I am beloved, worthy and strong. I was taught virtue is a value worth holding onto and that I was smart enough to make my own choices. I also knew that when I did make mistakes, a loving Heavenly Father had prepared a way for me to repent, pick myself up and continue doing my best.
I can be whatever I want. I have never felt shortchanged or overlooked in the church because I am a woman. I have always been encouraged by church leaders and by gospel principles to be educated, work hard and be successful. Brigham Young University gave me a full-ride scholarship to do just that. I was also the editor-in-chief of the BYU’s newspaper, which was largely run by female students at the time. I went on to wok as a government reporter at The Deseret News, where I never felt second-class as a woman.
My gender has never held me back in the church from doing what I want to do. The church does encourage LDS women to make decisions that will ultimately strengthen their home and families. For me, that meant giving up my full-time career to stay home with my children, though I continue to work part-time as a freelancer and professor. I have never felt like a “better Mormon” for giving up my career, or a “bad Mormon” for continuing to work part-time.
All I ever feel is grateful for doctrine and guidance from church leaders who encouraged me to prioritize my life based on what I know to be true. That guidance has brought me nothing but happiness as I have made decisions for my family and for my life.
I am loved. Issues of “ecclesiastical equality” don’t really matter to me. It’s just not something I care about because I have never felt less than men. For those who do care about it, go for it. If this church has taught me anything, it’s that every man and woman has the right to ask God questions and expect answers. Just do it respectfully and realize that just because I don’t feel the same way doesn’t mean I’m less informed, less empowered or less happy.
I’m not, and here’s why — all I needed to know about my role in this church (and in this life), I learned when I was 12 years old in the Young Women program. In fact, we recited this timeless tidbit each week: “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love him.”
What else do I need to know?
What has been your experience as a woman in the LDS Church?