In My Mind and In My Heart

Posted by on July 6, 2013 in feminism, Mormon Life, women | 14 comments

One thing I’ve always loved about Mormon theology is the idea that we can to know in our minds and in our hearts if something is right. We can trust our feelings, but they don’t have to rule over our logic. We can trust our intelligence, but we don’t have to ignore how we feel. That balance still gives me comfort in making decisions, even though I’m in a place where much of church doctrine no longer feels right or makes sense to me. We were given brains and feelings; it makes sense that we should use both. And that is what I have done as I made the decision to support female ordination.

There have been many articles on focusing on the intellectual reasons why women should be ordained to the priesthood. There is historical precedent, scriptural sources, logical arguments, etc. I love there articles and I’ve thought through those discussions; I know in my mind that it makes sense for women to be ordained to the priesthood. But what started me on my path towards supporting female ordination was not the intellectual side of it. It was an emotional experience I had several years ago.

I was sitting in Sacrament meeting one Sunday when the bishopric in our ward was changing. The stand was full of men; the new bishopric, the old bishopric, the stake presidency. It was very apparent that day where the power lies in the church. I was angry at the inequality of power and positions of authority in the church as I looked at all those men. But more than being angry, I was terrified that God saw me as a second-class citizen, unworthy of authority, incapable of making decisions and destined for a life I did not want. If the church saw me that way, did that mean that’s how God saw me too? Was I “less than” to Him? I was so scared that my belief that I was just as capable and just as important as all those men was unfounded, and that one day I would came face to face with God and be told that patriarchy was divine and that I would be living it for eternity. And since I would already be dead, there would be no way to escape the feeling of being second-class. I’d be less valued forever, with no way out. What if they way I defined myself, the way I saw myself and the women around me, was all a delusion, a sin I needed to repent of? What if my whole purpose was to accept that I was not supposed to have authority rather than to fight for it. The thought made me physically ill. In desperation, I started to pray. I begged God to tell me that what I saw on the stand was not how things would always be; men leading and women following.

As I prayed, I felt as though I could see a veil behind those men on the stand. Their authority suddenly felt very temporary and mortal. I could sense greater things behind that veil that made the authority they had small in comparison. I felt something telling my soul that the system I was seeing in front of me was not eternal, not permanent. There was so much more to be given, and so much that we didn’t understand. I felt that the patriarchy was not the end of the plan, that it was not how things would be structured in eternity and not how things would always be structured in mortality. The system that caused me such inner turmoil was temporary, and in many ways not of eternal significance. I knew that I was loved, but more than that I knew I was just as important as the men on the stand. I knew my desire that women have more authority and more ability to make decisions in the church was a righteous one. My prayer was answered in a profound way, and that answer has sustained me in my decisions to support women and their desire for a voice and authority in the church.

This experience speaks for no one but me. But I know in my mind and in my heart that supporting female ordination is the right thing for me to do.

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14 Comments

  1. I have had a similar spiritual revelation. This revelation came in a dream, and I know that what God revealed to me will come to pass. And it won’t be about ordaining women for the sake of ordaining women. It will be about blessing the lives of His children and relieving their children.

    Because of this, I focus whole-heartedly on my devotion to Jesus Christ, even if the people and authority at church feel threatened by me. It’s not easy, because I know that I am some LDS members’ worst nightmare – I am a devoted, active member of the LDS church who does not fit their idea of what church member “should” be. I do not feel emotionally or spiritually safe at church, but I keep going because I promised God I would. And more than anything, I want to be used by God to help His children.

    • I meant to say “relieving His children”

      But I’m thinking about what “relieving their children” could possibly mean…

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I admire your ability to stay and continue to share your truth. That is incredibly difficult, but very important!

  2. Just yesterday I was thinking about eternal families and wondering whether it meant eternal pregnancy producing billions of spirit children. How could that possibly be heaven for anyone? But then I thought it was laughable. An earthly process is not necessarily (or even likely) to be a divine process. We heal those with vision problems with lasers and knives and drugs and funny shaped glass and weird things we stick to the eyeball. Jesus Christ healed by blind by anointing the eyes. There are probably other divine ways of doing something. We are limited by mortality. We cannot create through the priesthood, we create biologically. But in the hereafter, it won’t be like that.

    it was just a little example of the sort of thing you’re talking about. But I think we’re wrong when we create the hereafter in the image of the present.

  3. This is beautiful, DefyGravity. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and personal revelation. My revelation for this is more subtle, but I feel I had one none the less. For me, it is about service. I do not see any practical or spiritual reason for women to not have the ability to serve in blessing, ordination, ordination for the dead, or otherwise. More of the work of Christ would be accomplished should women be ordained; to limit Christ’s influence based on gender smacks of anti-Christian behaviour in my mind. I cannot comprehend it, and though I have a testimony of the Church in general, that testimony does not include the current administrative structure which is so heavily based on the mortal, physical, reproductive body.

    Thanks again, DefyGravity, for sharing your testimony. It is beautiful.

  4. For someone like me who has a sure knowledge that women aren’t second class citizens, it is sometimes hard to see that the current system could really fool people into thinking that.

    • There are many places that can help you understand why some women feel like second-class citizens, including posts on this blog. If you care enough about those women, you can learn to understand them and their feelings, even if you don’t share them.

    • JKS, you must be trying to understand why many women (and our nieces, daughters, and little girl neighbors) feel unequal. If you read only one thing, ever, about how many women feel unequal in the LDS church, please read this: http://www.ldswave.org/?p=402. It’s an answer to just the type of confusion/quandary you pose, and respectfully and truthfully answered.

  5. I read some stories of Pioneers on LDS.org this morning. (Sorry, I don’t have the link) If you all get the chance to read them, what do you think of them? Especially the stories about the Saints who went years without support from church officials? I think we women are in a similar situation. While we wait for the opinions of men to catch up, we can devotedly serve God as He directs us.

    • I haven’t read the stories yet, but I think you make an apt analogy. In some ways it may even give us a certain kind of freedom. (Though I long for greater support and sustenance.)

  6. Today at church was an especially brutal one for me…. Lots of comments I am appalled by….. Like women need to know there place….. Wow really. My beliefs are far from orthodox and I constantly feel like I do not belong at church. I make a point to comment as much as I can to show others it’s ok to think for yourselves. That Mormons can come in all shapes and sizes and believe different things. Today the relief society teacher literally was yelling at me for saying something she didn’t agree with.

    So after this kinda of Sunday, hearing this from you gives me hope. It’s gonna be ok, I’m not the only one that feels this way, even though I feel so alone here in rural Utah. I can keep going, because without people like us, things will not change, and they have too.

    Thank you all!

    • You are not alone. (And I had a little bit of a hard Sunday today too. But only in Sunday School.) I also try to raise my voice, because that is one thing I can do.

  7. Wow, do I relate to what MO and Rachel said. I feel very alone at church, because of my perspective of and engagement with the Gospel. Interestingly, my family is moving to Mumbai, India, in two weeks for jobs. I am really looking forward to experiencing the Church in a branch of 40 people, in a city of 20 million! You can read about it in our blog:

    http://www.dandacrowther.com

  8. And just to let you know, I’ve had a confrontation with the teacher during Relief Society, too. And with a member of the stake presidency during his guest presentation at a weekly Relief Society meeting. I try to be as respectful as possible, but it is not right to let some untruths go un-challenged.

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