(A couple of weeks ago, Laura spoke openly in Sacrament Meeting about her desire for the ordination of women, for better treatment of gays and lesbians, and for women to have more visibility and leadership within the church. Here is the back story to her talk, which has caused quite a stir. The talk itself will be posted later today or tomorrow on The Exponent.)
I told my bishop way back when I submitted a profile to Ordain Women in a spirit of full disclosure. He was fine with it. He said he didn’t agree with everything I said, but whatever. So he knew I supported women’s ordination. My daughter was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting after the new year and she said she would if I would give one as well. So we got our assignments at the end of February for Sacrament meeting on March 30. I was given a talk by Elder Eyring called “Come Unto Me.” It is a lengthy talk and I looked it over and took a couple of quotes as my inspiration and ran with it. I knew that I was going to tell the ward that I was in favor or ordaining women and it was only a matter of how to do it within the context of the talk. I ended up talking about strangers among us and how we as members of the church so often failed those who didn’t fit into the little boxes provided for each of us. Of course, as a supporter of ordaining women, it was essential to give some background to illustrate how our roles as women have constricted over the course of the 20th century. The talk evolved over several drafts. I knew it was going to be controversial as the first draft began to take shape and I posted on my Facebook feed that I was going to be talking about gays and lesbians and women’s roles in the church in a talk. The first comment was from a TBM sister in law suggesting that I run this by my bishop first. That wasn’t going to happen, of course, and I said so. I got an assignment and wasn’t going to be timidly going to the bishop to ask permission to preach the gospel.
My older daughter asked me if it was okay to publish my post on Reddit. I said sure and got a bit of a (positive) storm of a comments there. It also came to the attention of a podcaster called The Miked Mormon. People asked if they could come and so I published the address and the time. Several people from Reddit showed up as well as certain unorthodox members of my family (yea!!).
We are a pretty big ward and with the extras, it was a full, full house. I stood up and began speaking. My bishop wasn’t there that Sunday and I don’t know if the counselor in charge had any idea what my views were. I heard afterward that there was a great deal of twitching and whispering behind me. Just after I spoke the second sentence after I said that I supported the ordination of women the counselor stood up and whispered to me, “there’s another speaker.” That was obviously my cue to sit down and shut up. I touched on a couple of the paragraphs after that section and then finished with the closing paragraph. I was greeted by my new fans after the service and the Relief Society president was sitting in the front row near the steps down from the podium. I found myself standing near her and so I said, “How are you.” She expressed her utter dismay at what I had said and reiterated that she loved me but could not accept what I said. She was very upset and didn’t want to offend me, but was not going to back down on her views. I told her that it was okay, that we didn’t have to agree.
The Miked Mormon came to our house (which is across the street from the church) and we did an hour long podcast in a sort of afterparty, talking about the things that I had talked about and the reactions of the members.
I knew that my Relief Society president would likely have a hard time over the conference weekend with worrying about whether she had driven me out of the church with what she said on Sunday, so I dropped a note in her mailbox assuring her that although we did not agree, that doesn’t mean we cannot be in fellowship with one another.
I got a private message on Facebook from a ward member saying that although she wasn’t sure about ordaining women, she really appreciated my talk and found it refreshing and interesting. I also got a call later that Sunday from the wife of the counselor — who I happen to visit teach. She said that she recognized that it must have taken courage to give that talk and asked if I would still be her visiting teacher. I said, “of course.” She and her husband are a dozen or so years older than I am and I would really like to know what transpired between them that led that phone call.
I have not heard from my priesthood leaders about this talk yet, but with it being conference last weekend, I didn’t expect to hear anything. I am planning to attend Relief Society on Sunday, mostly because I think that the President needs to know that she hasn’t driven me away (for her peace of mind!) I am truly looking forward to being called on the carpet for this because I welcome any chance to have a conversation about it. I have had a few conversations with relatives on Facebook and each time, I have a confirmation from the Spirit that what I am doing is right and true.
I have a conviction that I have been prepared for this moment all of my life and that many of the experiences and gifts I have been given have been for this purpose.