I have spent much of the past two years trying to become a whole person and to make my way out of the small but remarkably secure box in which I'd awakened one day and found myself. I remember my constant fear that I was never, ever going to be enough as a woman who was on her own, without a man to lead and guide me. I grew up embracing the patriarchal system that comprises up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Within its confines, I felt nothing but safety, warmth, and security as a wife and a mother, and I sought nothing more but those supporting roles. Until one day, the Still Small Voice whispered, “you are so much more.” Then my real spiritual journey began.
I remember coming across a 1997 interview with President Hinckley in which he discussed the possibility of women being granted the priesthood:
David Ransom: Is it possible that the rules could change in the future as the rules are on Blacks?
President Hinckley: He could change them yes. If He were to change them that’s the only way it would happen.
Ransom: So you’d have to get a revelation?
President Hinckley: Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied. These bright, able, wonderful women who administer their own organization are very happy. Ask them. Ask my wife.
For me these words are everything: a direct answer to my prayers. What did President Hinckley say was needed for change regarding the rules of the priesthood? Agitation. Who did he think would need to display this agitation? The bright, able, wonderful women who administer their own organization, women like Kate Kelly and others who contribute to OrdainWomen.org.
Every time I pray to my Heavenly Father for direction in my role in the church, in my family, and in this profoundly complicated world I live in, the answer I receive is that this movement is right. It is good. The desire we have as women in the church to hold the priesthood and the events that are unfolding are uncomfortable and painful, and that is okay. I was honestly unsure about the private promptings I had experienced, as well as the public outcry that I was witnessing, until measures were taken to formally discipline Kate Kelly. I prayed fervently about the looming possibility of Kelly’s excommunication as a result of her efforts, and received my answer in Luke 6:21-22. “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the son of man’s sake.”
I have read over and over the letters she received when notified of her formal probation and the resulting invitation to attend a disciplinary council on her behalf. I believe that the crux of the issue at hand for her and other women who seek to hold the priesthood is beautifully illustrated in that first letter in which her stake president writes, “I hope you have been thinking about the application of the Atonement in your life and I pray that you will take advantage of it. As one who holds the priesthood keys and who has been set apart as a common judge, I can assist you in this process.” And there it is: as one who holds priesthood keys he can help her, for she cannot help herself as a woman in the gospel. She cannot atone for her “sins” without a male figure within the church, or perform any of the ordinances therein herself as so poignantly pointed out by this simple statement.
I have spent most of my life extremely comfortable with this very idea until recently—that as a woman, I am unable to help myself or perform the ordinances of the Gospel in order to help others. I believe that the leaders of the church are men of God and divinely inspired as they lead. However, I also believe in the words of President Hinckley that agitation is needed from the women of the church in order to change things, and now is the time for that change.
Kate Kelly’s stake president also voiced something many members of the church believe regarding the public nature of OrdainWomen.org and the bloggernacle in general when he stated in this same letter, “you are not required to change your thinking or the questions you may have in your own mind regarding the ordination of women, but you need to make it a private matter…” However, if change within the church regarding the priesthood is supposed to come from women themselves, then how on Earth are they supposed to accomplish this if their concerns are never publicly voiced? If we never speak up, how will we ever be heard?
I stand with Kate Kelly, I believe that some day we will look back on this time and see it as an extraordinarily painful but necessary moment in church history. I recently (finally) submitted my own profile on OrdainWomen.org because I want my daughters to know that I loved them and their sisters in Zion enough to become agitated, and to speak my mind, and to stand with those who were cast out. Because I believe women should be ordained.