Guest Post: We Fixed the Problem!
By Angie P.
I recently returned from attending a joint funeral for my grandparents, who were married for sixty years and passed away within two weeks of each other. One of my favorite stories from my grandmother’s life sketch was a journal entry read from their time serving a mission to the Philippines in 1988-1989. My grandparents’ role was to help build and support the church organization, as opposed to proselytizing. One week, they attended a particular branch. When the time came for the sacrament to be blessed and passed, several brothers and sisters stood up and helped performed the ordinance and helped pass the bread and water. So my grandparents informed the branch leadership that only those with the priesthood should bless and pass the sacrament. Their next visit to that branch, they once again noticed that several sisters assisted with the sacrament blessing and distribution. So they approached the branch leadership again. “Oh we fixed the problem,” my grandparents were told. “We gave the sisters the priesthood.”
Most of the family and friends in attendance chuckled from the story. How absurd, I imagine they probably thought, that women were allowed to recite the sacrament prayer and help distribute the trays of bread and water from the sacrament table to the pews (instead of just passing them down the pews)! How absurd that the Filipino leadership thought the solution was to ordain women to the priesthood instead of properly forbidding them from assisting with the sacrament! Don’t they know the proper way?
I, on the other hand, thought it was a simple and beautiful solution.
But a solution that I feel is more and more like a dream fading away. I have read President Hinckley quoted on blogs and comments as saying that a revelation permitting women to be ordained may happen, but “there’s no agitation for that.” So I read the full transcript of the interview President Hinckley did with David Ransom which aired in 1997. The portion of the interview regarding women and the priesthood is as follows :
David Ransom: At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church. Why is that?
Gordon B. Hinckley: That’s right, because the Lord has put it that way. Now women have a very prominent place in this Church. They have their own organization [sic]. Probably the largest women’s organisation in the world of 3.7 million members. And the women of that organization sit on boards. Our Board of Education, things of that kind. They counsel with us. We counsel together. They bring in insight that we very much appreciate and they have this tremendous organization of the world where they grow and if you ask them they’ll say we’re happy and we’re satisfied.
DR: They all say that?
GBH: Yes. All except a oh you’ll find a little handful one or two here and there, but in 10 million members you expect that.
DR: You say the Lord has put it that way. What do you mean by that?
GBH: I mean that’s a part of His program. Of course it is, yes.
DR: Is it possible that the rules could change in the future as the rules are on Blacks?
GBH: He could change them yes. If He were to change them that’s the only way it would happen.
DR: So you’d have to get a revelation?
Gordon B. 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.
“If you ask them they’ll say we’re happy and we’re satisfied.” Except not all. Not me. But my dissatisfaction has been slowly turning into apathy. Although I did not join Ordain Women, I felt hope at the time that changes would happen and that the Lord and the church hierarchy would finally hear the agitation necessary for a revelation and a policy/doctrine change like in 1978. That they would hear the heartache and frustration of so many of God’s daughters. So many blog posts and debates about the role of women in the church and the priesthood. So much drama.
And yet, several years later, a few token administrative changes, a few very public excommunications and many voluntary membership resignations or members simply becoming “inactive,” and it is business as usual.
This issue no longer causes me to rise up. I have placed “Women and the Priesthood” on my proverbial shelf alongside “Polygamy,” “LGBTQ Rights,” etc. And I feel myself sliding further away from the church and “full activity.”
When I first heard the story from my grandparents’ mission of such a simple and beautiful solution that seemed obvious to the Filipino members, my initial response was to inwardly cheer and shout “Yes!” Sadly, upon further reflection, my reaction has become: “Cool, story, Bro.”
I was born and raised on a farm in Idaho, married a California city boy and followed him home. I have two children, love baking, and live and work in the East Bay as a paralegal. My ten year goals are to learn to play the cello, travel to Thailand, and get my children to sleep through the night.