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.