Walking with Ordain Women … and the Church

Suzette Smith 2013I read the letter from the Church’s PR Department early this morning. It asks me to “reconsider”, so that is what I’ve done all day – reconsidered. I’ve thought and prayed and pondered.

I’ll be walking with the sisters of Ordain Women on April 5th; not because I want to pit myself against the church, but because I am part of the church – with divine nature and individual worth. The letter called me “extreme” and that made me feel that “I don’t belong”. But I do belong. I go to church every Sunday and the temple every month. I love the gospel. I teach it in my ward. I love worshiping with the Saints. I love the Lord. I am a believer.

I take my faith seriously and I take the question of women and ordination seriously. The church’s letter seemed to say that because I’m in the minority they don’t take me seriously. My concerns felt dismissed by the letter – and yet they are of eternal importance. I’m talking about WOMEN – half of God’s Children. I’m asking hard questions about Daughters and those questions matter. I believe the church is true – and that makes it a living, growing, changing church. (See Article of Faith 9) I am a truth seeker and I love the LDS faith because it is a truth seeking religion.

I’m walking with Ordain Women because I want to attend the meeting of the General Conference of my church (of Latter-day Saints – that’s me) – I want to be seen as a seeker. In the early days of the church, the Saints went to the Red Brick Store to discuss with the Prophet Joseph, who counseled with the Lord. This is the closest thing to a Red Brick Store I know of in 2014 – the door where I know the prophet is.

I do not wish to make enemies by disregarding the request to stay away from temple square but I do not think my walk will be disruptive to the spirit of light and knowledge. I can not stand in the free speech zone and align myself with anti-Mormons because I am not one of them. I am a Mormon.

(I’m also going the General Woman’s Meeting – with just as much passion – and I’ll be wearing my purple dress.)

Suzette

Suzette lives in the Washington DC area and works as a Professional Organizer. She enjoys blogging and serving on the Exponent II Board. Her Mormon roots run deep and she loves her big Mormon family which includes 20 nieces and nephews, 6 sisters, 5 brother in laws, 2 parents - and dozens of cousins. Her favorite things about church are the great Alexandria wards, temple worship, and all things Visiting Teaching.

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97 Responses

  1. Alisa says:

    I’m a Mormon, too. I’ll be there with you.

    • Aimee says:

      Your sincerity and purity of heart are undeniable, Suzette. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, prayerfulness, seeking, and courage. I’m proud to be a Mormon with you.

  2. Jessawhy says:

    I love this, Suzette! When I read your words, I feel the love you have for the church and the honesty with which you are asking this question.

    This is an important conversation and I hope that church members and leaders are willing to engage honestly with us to further the dialogue.

  3. Lori says:

    That was really beautifully written. Thank you for allowing yourself to be both so vulnerable and brave at the same time. I hope so much that the women of OW will be treated with respect and veneration.

  4. Jasmine says:

    I do not understand. I do not understand why you say you are such a faithful member, but you do not have faith in The Lord and His plan for the priesthood. Who knows what he intends for the future, but for right now it appears that his plan is NOT to ordain women. You are faithful but do not have faith enough in our prophet to believe that he is bringing up this topic to The Lord. There is no way they are just brushing this aside without thought and consideration. Somehow I don’t think that The Lord is going to change His plan just because a group of women, no matter how large or small, decide they want to stand around Temple Square, make a bunch men and boys uncomfortable (none of which can do anything to meet your demands), and disobey what the church has asked of you, which is to at least protest in the areas designated for such. I do not understand your faithlessness.

    • Caroline says:

      ADMIN NOTE: It is a violation of The Exponent’s comment policy to question a person’s righteousness or to attack people for “faithlessness.” Please see comment policy above.

      New commenters, this is a place for sharing your personal experiences. Disagreement is fine, but stick to your own insights and stories, and leave off the mudslinging.

      • josh says:

        But her comment didn’t question her righteousness in anyway. Now it did question her faith, which I do think is necessary because whether the statement comes from a bureaucrat of the church or the prophet himself doesn’t change anything.

    • EmilyCC says:

      I love reading your testimony, Suzette, and your soul-searching.

      I also wanted to post this quote that has stuck with me today, “In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth…Come and add your talents, gifts, and energies to ours. We will all become better as a result.”-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

      I know that my Church, my prophet and my leaders can handle my questions and probing. I hope my fellow Saints will come to believe that and not question my and others’ faithfulness and worthiness.

      • Caroline says:

        I love that Uchtdorf quote, Emily. What a great model to us all on how to respond with love to people who are questioning and searching for truth.

    • Jasmine says:

      I would like to retract my earlier statement and I feel humbled by my own reflections. My opinion has not changed, but by rereading my statement I see just how it was not written with Christ like love I have to work for everyday. In the heat of the moment, I took offense and should have waited to calm down and then respond. I apologize.

      Here is what should have been should have been said: while I sympathize and agree with several of the OW’s points, I do not feel that standing out outside the conference would be productive, loving, or conducive to the spirit of the meeting. Because of my faith and trust in The Lord and His plan, I know that even if I do not have the priesthood, I am equal to the men in my life. Because of my faith and trust in the prophet and apostles, I trust that they are aware of our concerns as women in the church, that they are discussing it, and that they do approach The Lord with these concerns.

      Again, I apologize for my unChristlike words.

  5. C. Rider says:

    Respectfully Suzette, I think OW is seeking creation of photo ops and incidents to film to get media coverage to publicly humiliate the Prophet and the Church. Protesting and public demonstrations are not the way to go IMO and the OW movement in particular, while it has some sincere members like yourself, it’s no surprise that it’s main body is anti and former Mormons interested in bringing down the Church at any cost unless it conforms to their demands.

    • Amy says:

      C. Rider, I am a faithful Mormon woman who is a member of Ordain Women. I, too, will be standing with Suzette. I love my Church, love the gospel, and believe in the power of the priesthood. If you spend much time perusing the OW profiles, you will find that most are faithful women devoted to their church.

    • Emily U says:

      C. Rider, this is not a photo op. OW does not want to protest the Priesthood Session, they want to attend it. Can you see the difference?

      By asking to attend the Priesthood Session, women are showing their willingness to take on the responsibility of priesthood ordination. We hope for new revelation on this, and are willing to say it publicly, person-to-person.

    • Ziff says:

      Wow, C. Rider! It’s impressive that you’ve managed to call OW both evil and stupid in the same comment. You really think their goal is to bring down the Church? Really? Don’t you think that if that were their goal, there would be far better ways to go about it than to ask the Church to be more inclusive?

  6. Daniel says:

    I agrees with the faithlessness comment. I know for a fact that th brethren have prayed about it, and The Lord has said no. So accept that, obviously The Lord knows the position if Ordain Women, and if he wants women to hold the priesthood them so be it. It will happen, but to say that the Church dismisses you because you are an minority is ridiculous. The Church itself is the minority. This has been at the forefront of the brethren’s concerns for a while, and we have our answer, no. The question is not whether women should be ordained to the priesthood it’s, do I have faith to accept that the answer is no? The Lord will not customize his doctorine because of petitions during conference. They will come to His prophet in His due time.

    • Caroline says:

      ADMIN NOTE: It is a violation of The Exponent’s comment policy to question a person’s righteousness, to attack people for “faithlessness,” or to call people’s thoughts and feelings “ridiculous.” Please see comment policy above.

      New commenters, this is a place for sharing your personal experiences. Disagreement is fine, but stick to your own insights and stories, and leave off the mudslinging.

    • Braeden says:

      Daniel, I’m curious how you “know” that the Brethren have prayed and received this answer, when Elder Andersen, just in last conference, said that we don’t know why women don’t have the Priesthood.

      If the prophet has received revelation, I say let him proclaim it from the rooftops with his own voice, as is his prophetic duty. He shouldn’t be passing the ball of revelation down to the shills in the Newsroom.

    • Emily U says:

      Daniel, did you read the Church’s press release? The letter clearly dismisses OW because they are a minority:

      http://www.deseretnews.com/media/pdf/1317612.pdf

      • KJ says:

        The church’s reply clearly states that ordaining women is not in the Lord’s doctrine. Ordain Women, you have your answer. Continued refusal to accept this answer puts your movement squarely with the anti-Mormon demonstrators. On April 5, stand where you belong, off Temple Square, with others who do not accept the prophetic guidance of this church.

      • Emily U says:

        KJ, PR statements written by Church bureaucrats are not where I look to find statements on doctrine.

        I have heard nothing from any prophet, past or present, saying women will never be ordained.

      • Rachel says:

        Amen, Emily U. To the contrary, at least one prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, has explicitly stated that it is possible.

  7. Jasmine says:

    Well put Daniel and C . rider!

  8. whoa-man says:

    Thank you for this. I am with you. I stand with you and will walk beside you.

    Its so sad to me that people can’t understand genuine seeking and personal inspiration when they see it. I see it.

  9. Tina says:

    Suzette, you make me proud 🙂

  10. Kelsey says:

    I understand seeking the truth. I do not understand demonstrating at Temple Square against the express wishes of the Church. I think you are making a mistake and agree with the Church that it will “detract from the sacred environment of Temple Square and the spirit of harmony sought at General Conference.”

  11. Tina says:

    One of the reasons I have left the church is their treatment of women. I have many friends who have left for similar reasons and the church should be worried about this as young people, in particular, are one of the top demographics to leave. Here is an article about it:

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-06-17/mormon-lds-ex-mormon/55654242/1

    Additionally, the New York Times reports on the treatment of women in the church.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/07/us/from-mormon-women-a-flood-of-requests-and-questions-on-their-role-in-the-church.html?_r=0

    Kudos for you Suzette – trying to change this while remaining faithful. It is a hard path and I admire you for it.

  12. Jessawhy says:

    Despite their violations of the comment policy, I am glad to see people of differing views who feel comfortable sharing their opinions here at The Exponent.

    We want to practice the Golden Rule by listening and considering the points that you are making and not being dismissive.

    I’m fortunate to be part of a group of friends and family who are supportive or silent when it comes to Ordain Women, so I’m really surprised when I see the tone of negative confidence in these comments. How is it possible that people “know” what God wants for the church? Did I miss a daily memo where Pres. Monson says, “Today I prayed again and God still doesn’t want women ordained.”?
    It seems that a safer position is, “I don’t see the need for women’s ordination, currently.” or “Perhaps it will happen, perhaps it won’t, but I will continue to be a loving Latter-Day Saint.” Some parts of these comments are spiritually violent to my friend, Suzette. This is not what we were taught in church. This is not what Jesus would do. Jesus would love the women who support ordination, because Jesus loved those who wanted to be closer to God.

    Also, please consider that people you love feel this way as well. Suzette, April, and all of the rest of us represent your sisters, wives, daughters, mothers, and friends. It may be the beginning of this movement, but I don’t doubt that someone you love either does support women’s ordination, or soon will. And you should be grateful for that! Many women who don’t feel fulfilled in the church or feel silenced just end up leaving. Wouldn’t you rather your daughter or wife stayed with the hope, the faith that her prayers for ordination would be answered instead of walking away from the church?
    Ordain Women is a lifeline for some women in the church. It gives us hope for a chance to more fully share in God’s love and power. If you see that as faithless, then I don’t know what kind of faith you are talking about.

    • Ziff says:

      Great response, Jess! I appreciate both your points (it’s surprising how many people are sure the Church can never change on this) and your tone. I find it so difficult to engage the nasty people productively; I admire you for doing it.

  13. Caroline says:

    Suzette, you are a model to me of spirituality and grace.

    It makes me sad and disappointed to see people in this forum accusing you of faithlessness. It’s pretty stunning actually. Giving Jasmine and Daniel the benefit of doubt, I suspect that if a beloved friend in their ward told them of their prayers and struggles and surrounding the priesthood ban for women, and told them that the spirit has told them to participate in Ordain Women, they would respond with love. They would say, “I don’t have the answers, and I don’t understand the reasons why things are the way they are. But all I know is that we want you here with us in the church. We need you here. You are our sister, and there’s a place for you here.” Why is it that on an online forum, people who I am sure are kind in other situations, feel free to verbally slap a sister in the gospel with words like “faithless”? We can surely do better than that.

  14. God says:

    Don’t walk. It’s not time yet. Be happy with all the bounty I have given you.

    • Ziff says:

      I think I love this comment, because it really highlights the difficulty with the issue. The reality is that God *hasn’t* ever said anything (that we know of) about not ordaining women. It totally makes sense that people who hate the idea would prefer to just skip ahead and put words in God’s mouth to try to simplify it. But the fact that they feel the need to just shows all the more clearly that the question is far from resolved.

  15. Violet says:

    “I do not wish to make enemies by disregarding the request to stay away from temple square but I do not think my walk will be disruptive to the spirit of light and knowledge.”

    Perhaps you have not thought of those who do not agree with your position? Perhaps you did not think of the media circus you will be causing? Or perhaps you simply do not understand the true negative impact that this movement has had on the church? We are far past the spirit of light and knowledge being disrupted.

    • Ziff says:

      Perhaps you have not thought of those who do not agree with *your* position? Perhaps you haven’t considered how painful it is for many women to be members of a church in which their perspective is almost completely absent, where they are barred from performing virtually all ordinances, where congregational meetings are all presided over by men, where women are barred from even handling money at a ward level, where scriptures and hymns and talks speak of men primarily and women only as an afterthought. For women to want to attend priesthood session, after all the ways they’ve been excluded and ignored, is not in the same universe in terms of disruptiveness.

  16. C. Rider says:

    Ex-Mormons Margaret Toscano and Holly Welker are major players in the OW leadership, please Google what they’ve written and said about the Church

    • Rachel says:

      Holly Welker is a member of record. The Church proudly claims her every time they share the number of members in General Conference.

    • Holly Welker says:

      Rachel is right: I am indeed a member of record. The church does claim me. It uses the tithing I paid to build its temples and its meeting houses. It also counts the people I baptized as members.

      I’m also a reader of this blog. It’s one of my favorites. Its intellectual rigor and thoughtfulness makes it inspiring even to women like me who no longer attend church. At the same time, its thoughtful guides to the various lessons women are called upon to teach make it useful and relevant even to women who aren’t particularly interested in gender equality. I don’t know if another blog that manages to do that.

      And I am NOT a “major player in the OW leadership,” though I support it very strongly. I am proud to walk and work with women like Suzette.

      Why do I support OW when I don’t go to church? Because this isn’t just about me. It’s about women I love and the context that produced me. It’s about wanting religions to treat their members with more love and respect.

      The church PR letter is right about one thing: OW is a relatively small group. And yet, we have managed to generate a huge dialogue, despite the church’s self-evidently inaccurate claim that we “detract” from discussions the leaders are having about women.

      How have we managed this? Because what we are doing is bigger than any one of us and is about so much more than our own interests.

      And while you are certainly welcome to google me, I’m happy to help people out by providing a link to my OW profile. http://ordainwomen.org/project/hi-im-holly/

      I will also quote it here:

      I am Mormon because I was born Mormon and because I devoted the first 26 years of my life to living as a Mormon. I have devoted the entirety of my to life to understanding how being raised Mormon shaped the person I am now.

      LDS women have every right to the priesthood. There is no valid reason for denying it to them. Moreover, LDS women need the priesthood to recognize their full potential as children of Heavenly Parents. Leading, deciding and governing are divine activities; women need practice in these skills possessed and utilized by their Heavenly Parents.

      But it is also important to the Church itself to ordain women. Any institution that discriminates among God’s children will fail in its goal of helping our Heavenly Parents bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of humanity.

      Until the Church ordains women, it will remain intellectually incoherent, ethically inferior and spiritually immature.

      I believe women should be ordained.

  17. Joe Rawlins says:

    I admire your determination. I think that ultimately the Church will relent in some degree on this issue. Sadly, there are many others who are discriminated against and mistreated who will remain outside the Church’s consideration. In the process, there will be plenty who will fall away because of the Church’s short-sightedness and the question arise, as it has before: Why did it take so long, at all?

    I would encourage you to ask yourself what you believe, truly. In the doctrine? Or in the organization? If the organization – how much do you know about it? Are you brave enough to examine such questions. I am not trying to dissuade you but as someone who has been down this road, I can tell you that the Church requires obedience because we as ex-Mormons started right where you are.

    When LDS people think of ex-Mormons, I wish that they would consider that each one has a story that didn’t start with “so-n-so offended me” or “I tried alcohol and boy I liked that!” but with something like “why does my son HAVE to be in Boy Scouts to be in the Young Men’s Organization?” or “Why can’t I wear something more comfortable to bed?” or “If none of these controversial things that the Prophets have said are important, why did they say them, at all?”

    And yes, “Why can’t women be priesthood-holders, too? When will this change?”

    Be brave enough to choose for yourself and have the courage of your convictions. Standing up for yourself means being prepared for more than a march – it means knowing you have a heart stout enough to walk away if that’s what made sense to you.

  18. Conner Allred says:

    You ladies are creating a spirit if contention, which we all know is Satan’s tool. That’s something I don’t appreciate when I’m trying to enjoy the temple grounds.

    • Em says:

      Our comment policy allows for disagreement, but does not allow for disparaging remarks about the righteousness of other people. Telling women that they are acting as the tools of Satan falls under the category of inappropriate remarks. Please try to find a kinder way to express your disagreement.

      I am not part of the Ordain Women movement and I was not present at the last conference. From what I have gathered, however, these women stood in line. Many of them cried. But they were not yelling or waving placards or otherwise disrupting the calm. The fact that they were women in a male-dominated space may have made some people uncomfortable but it is not in itself contentious. Rather than thinking in terms of what you feel entitled to on Temple Square, ask yourself what your sisters, who are also temple-recommend holders are entitled to do on Temple Square. Should they not also be able to walk on sacred grounds surrounded by love and fellowship instead of having members be openly hostile? Contention can only exist if both sides are participating.

    • NateCC says:

      Short of physical violence, no one can create a spirit of contention except the person feeling contentious. Claiming that these women are somehow responsible for your feelings of contention is logically dissonant. Take responsibility for your own feelings. Understand these women, love them like your sisters as Christ commanded us to do and your feelings of contention will quickly dissipate. Understand that they are not going to temple square to protest, they are going because they want to see the prophet speak. They want to be where the word of the Lord is spoken, to feel his spirit.

      How can that possibly be called a protest or contentious?

  19. spunky says:

    What a beautiful post, Suzette.

    I don’t live in the US, and won’t be able to attend General Conference, but admire your dedication to serving the Lord. I believe that universal priesthood for all of the members of the church is an admirable, noble and righteous desire for those who hope to serve in the greatest capacity possible. I will be praying for you and standing with you in heart.

    Thank you for so perfectly reflecting Christ-like determination and strength in seeking further light and knowledge of those of us who also seek to serve Christ.

  20. Aimee says:

    Suzette, your post raises the important question of what it means to “sustain” our leaders. For me, the word “sustain” invokes an image of nourishing and replenishing. It is about keeping something alive in the grand seeking tradition of Mormonism you articulated so beautifully.

    I am reminded of what Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from the Birmingham jail about his own efforts to sustain his church, even in the face of deep disappointment in its actions. He wrote: “I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.” His love and devotion to the church was at the heart of his disappointment and propelled his action and critique which helped transform the church (and society at large!) and sustain it for another generation.

    It requires a rich and deep faith to be willing to ask questions and persist through disappointments. I feel that same spirit moving in you and many of the participants of OW and am grateful for the spirit of seeking and discipleship you have shown here.

  21. Emily U says:

    Suzette, thank you for bravely sharing your hopes for the Church. I can’t attend General Conference in Salk Lake City, but you and the other women on Temple Square on April 5 will be in my prayers, as will our priesthood leaders.

  22. Medford says:

    After reading this blog and news stories about the Ordain Woman movement, it obvious they don’t understand what the priesthood really is. Even sadder is that most men in the church don’t understand this either.

  23. Ziff says:

    I love this post, Suzette! Beautiful!

  24. Corrina says:

    Even if I could come to Gen Conf on April 5th, I’m not sure I’d come and walk with OW. I just don’t know if I’m ready. But I am SO grateful for the work that they are doing to promote furthering women’s roles in the church. I will pray and fast for OW on Saturday, April 5th, in support.

    I am very discouraged by the Puplic Affairs letter. While I concede there have been some changes (ex. lowering mission age, women praying in church, Priesthood session broadcast online), I feel that many of these are bread crumbs. As a former ward RS president with an awesome Bishop who is very supportive of women, I still had a zero ability to enact certain things I felt were important for my ward sisters without getting his ultimate approval. Sure, my “input” was always heard in Ward Counsel, but when the decision came down to certain issues, men always had the final say. I’m tired of just giving “input.”

    Finally, I remember reading that over 70% of the OW participants last October were active members (meaning, going to church a minimum of 2-3 times a month). Anyone have that data? How can the church relegate its own active members to the anti-zone? This is so hurtful.

  25. EFH says:

    Suzette, I know you in person and I know that you take the gospel and the church very seriously. No matter what you do, your faith and integrity will never be questioned by me. I think that everyone who knows you in person will never question you no matter what.

    I liked your post. I could see that you have really searched for an answer. The answer you got is not agreeable to many. Then so be it. It is your answer and it is about you and God and the relationship you have together through prayer and pondering. No one can judge that.

    I am not a supporter of OW although I am a feminist and agree with the issues OW raises. They have done a great job by putting their faces and names in dangerous. My respect goes to them seeing how much animosity there is around this issue and how easy it is for people to speak evil and hurt those that threaten him or her.

    I do sympathize with the church when they claim they want a different spirit during General Conference. However, asking members of the church who pay tithing to sit by the anti-mormons who are literally ‘crazy’, seems like the church has shut down a line of dialogue and respect.

    In my opinion, I think the church should invite this sisters in a conference and simply let them address their issues in person with high up staff of the church. It is important that OW enters into a direct line of dialogue with the church. As members, we should be entitled to that. Many members write letters to GA and they only receive a general letter written on the behalf of the GA. The majority of letters never make it to the desk of GA. This fact doesn’t leave much room for communication and a dialogue.

    Many members see this as a protest. Although I do sympathize with the boys and the men that might be uncomfortable by the presence of OW, I do think that these women are making their concerns visible. These concerns represents people, people should be taken into consideration. That doesn’t mean the church should do what people ask but with the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood, people should have some kind of platform available to them to discuss doctrine points with the church officials where both groups diverge. Now that would be a great dialogue based on doctrine and not who is righteous and who is faithless.

    There is enough evidence in JS journals and in scriptures that show women had power in decision-making and were integrated through out the hierarchy of the earlier church. These points should be addressed. It should be a discussion.

    Even if feminism and OW is evil and against God’s church, the members and the church community are also failing to provide understanding and love to the fellow members. This movement is definitely showing the weak points in all of us, that of intolerance and hate. We are not protected and immune from such seeds.

  26. KC says:

    Please forgive me if this has been addressed before. My question is how would OW (and others) feel and react if at General Conference President Monson announced that they had sincerely prayed about this issue and received the answer that now is not the time?

    If this has been brought before the Lord as Daniel and others claim, wouldn’t it be easier on all concerned to just make an announcement? It seems to me that this would show OW that the matter was taken seriously and prayed upon and an answer was received.

    I think what this movement is saying is please ask the Lord. I don’t think OW is saying we demand this. I am not sure how I feel about ordination myself. I am all for members “agitating” the leadership to ask the questions, but I doubt I would be first in line if it happened! But everyone has the right to be heard and respected.

    • Em says:

      As someone who hopes for the ordination of women, I can say that I would be saddened but in a way relieved if he actually said that. If the prophet prefaced words with clearly stated “I have received revelation on this” then I would have something concrete to take to the Lord in my own prayers as I seek for understanding. To me it is very nebulous what is church policy, what is tradition, what is doctrine, what has been revealed. Not everything that comes out of church headquarters is revelation, and in recent conferences the Apostles have emphasized that our leaders are human and make mistakes. To me it would be helpful to have it made crystal clear when the prophet is speaking words received by revelation through Jesus Christ and when he is counseling us from a position of human wisdom that may be in error.

  27. JP says:

    As always my friend, articulate and concise.

  28. N says:

    I will not question the claims of some in the OW movement regarding their membership and activity. I will say that continuing with the demonstration after being asked by the Church not to is going to call into question how “active” and “faithful” the demonstrators are in the minds of most average Church members. In my experience, most Church members do not consider the ignoring of a specific request from the Church in a way that puts the Church in a bad light in the media to be the behavior of an “active” and “faithful” member.

    OW may generate some additional cheap media coverage as a result of its event, but this is only going to serve to marginalize and put them further on the fringe in the minds of most Church members. The PA letter clearly referred to current practices regarding ordination as a matter of doctrine. The general membership is now on notice that those continuing the “faithful agitation” are on notice that they are now speaking against the Church and its doctrine.

  29. ssj says:

    Ordination is not my main feminist issue in the church, but I stand by you sisters. If I wasn’t going to be traveling halfway around the world on April 5th, I’d consider flying down to Utah to be with you all. I’m not a member of OW, but I want it to be known that there are more than just a handful of women that find problems with the gender inequalities in the church.

  30. Kevin Kloosterman says:

    Suzette, you have always been an inspiration to me. What you have written is so pure and beautiful and sincere. You are one of the bravest people I know. I don’t think your request and OW’s request to ask the prophet to ask the Lord a question and to receive revelation is in any way inconsistent with ancient or modern scripture. In fact there are specific examples of women doing this with the prophet. I will be there with you in spirit.

  31. Naismith says:

    Huh, it seems to me the fact that the church responded so promptly indicates that they take your views seriously. A lot of people write church headquarters about various things and never hear back, so the response might be seen as some kind of victory.

    There is a story from church history that seems to apply here. According to a church history sunday school manual anyway, Lorenzo Snow received the famous couplet, “As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be,” long before he was a prophet. He went to Brigham Young who said that it may be true but if so, it was revelation only for his family, since only the prophet could receive revelation for the church. Perhaps it was a test to see whether he would comply with that request. Years later, when Pres. Snow was the prophet, he taught it as doctrinal.

    So I can accept the idea that some women may have received revelation that they should have the priesthood. But even if that is exactly the revelation they received, it was only given for their own use, since that is their stewardship. Telling the church what to do is something else again.

    I also know that in my own life, I have received answers to prayer that I thought meant one thing, and it was actually another, very much in the same direction but perhaps with a minor but significant difference.

    Many of us pray for and look forward to a time when women are viewed as equal in every unit of the church. It’s just that not all of us see ordination as a stepping stone to that goal.

    I am also a bit weary of all these clothing choices being co-opted as having political meaning. Women in my ward used to wear pants all the time (including the RS presidency). That has stopped in the last year or so, perhaps because people don’t want to be misunderstood, maybe because they were asked not to by leadership for that reason, I dunno. And now we are not supposed to wear purple dresses unless we support OW? I thought feminism was supposed to be about more choices for women, not fewer choices.

    • Holly says:

      I am also a bit weary of all these clothing choices being co-opted as having political meaning. Women in my ward used to wear pants all the time (including the RS presidency). That has stopped in the last year or so, perhaps because people don’t want to be misunderstood, maybe because they were asked not to by leadership for that reason, I dunno.

      Maybe you should try and find out. Would it really be so difficult to ask some of them? What it would reveal if they had indeed been instructed to dress in a way that is not really comfortable for them? And why, WHY would they fear being “misunderstood”?

      And now we are not supposed to wear purple dresses unless we support OW? I thought feminism was supposed to be about more choices for women, not fewer choices.

      oh dear god in heaven. You cannot possibly imagine that simply because some women in OW choose to wear purple dresses, that in any way, shape of form impinges on your right or ability to do so as well.

      It is astonishing to me that you can suggest 1) that Mormon women are being intimidated into not dressing as they please and 2) that this is somehow the fault of other women who claim that very right rather than the fault of body that would command women not to in the first place, or censure and condemn them if the do it anyway.

      Yes, I realize that the comment policy has already been referenced twice in this thread. But I still must say: This logic could hardly be more nonsensical.

    • Holly says:

      just to sum up Naismith’s point more directly: “the audacity and selfishness of MEAN, NASTY WOMEN wearing pants or purple dresses ruins those fashion choices for the nice ones. Which just go to show that they’re ever meaner and nastier than you realized before.”

      Wow.

      • Naismith says:

        Holly, I wish you well in your faith journey. We all have different paths. Just because I do not agree with you does not mean that I am nonsensical. I did not resort to name-calling in my comment and would appreciate the same respect in return. I never called OW proponents any of those things of which I am being accused. But I am glad to be of service if you had a need to skewer someone today.

      • Holly says:

        Naismith, I did not call YOU nonsensical–I called your logic nonsensical. Surely you can acknowledge that there is a difference. Nor did I call you a single name, did I? Identify one place in my comments where I call you a name.

        You are right that the mere fact that you disagree with me doesn’t make you or your logic nonsensical. Similarly, the fact that you hold an opinion does not make it reasonable or sound. What makes your logic nonsensical is the fact that the problems in it can so easily be revealed.

        I understand that you felt a need to–well, honestly, I can scarcely imagine what you thought you might accomplish with the ludicrous suggestion that because members of Ordain Women wear purple dresses, you somehow cannot. I would very much like to see you explain your intentions and defend your logic, if you are able. But whatever your intention, I likewise am very glad that OW could be of service in taking the fall for the limitations other women place on themselves–or allow the leaders to place on them.

        I likewise wish you all the best in your faith journey–and your fashion choices.

  32. Lily says:

    Why so much venom against OW? For the life of me, if you believe this is the Lord’s Gospel and are sure of your position, why get so excited about what these women are doing? Are you really going to stand before the Father some day and explain to Him why you told one of His children to “get out” or called them “faithless” simply because you disagreed with their opinion?

    I don’t believe women will get the Priesthood, but I am following the issue very closely. It doesn’t worry or bother me, or make me think anyone is going to Hell. What saddens and sickens me is the reaction of so-called “good” saints.

    • MDearest says:

      Thank you Lily, for expressing my thoughts so well. I also don’t expect to see women ordained in my lifetime, but I try to understand and have compassion for my sisters who are agitating for it, and admiration for the sensitive but proactive way that they conduct themselves. What a contrast to some of the sisters and brothers who are behaving in such an ugly way towards the OW women, taunting them and asking them to leave our church. It reminds me of mob-behavior, and makes me much more discouraged for us as a membership than anything I have ever read in a feminist forum.

  33. Jeanette says:

    Thanks Suzette. Your faithfulness is an example to me.

  34. hkobeal says:

    I love this, Suzette, and I love you.

  35. Jace says:

    The message from OW is not “Please pray about what is right” but rather “We are right so let us into the meeting…and give women the priesthood”.

    It may not be physically aggressive or vocally loud but it is definitely protesting. It’s clearly an attempt to put large amounts of social pressure on the church. It’s not as sweet and kind as you make it seem.

    The facts presented by the letter state that your position is not doctrinal or supported by anything even close to a majority.

  36. Sally says:

    I am on the fence as far as ordination, but feel a great need for more input from women and especially for more information about HM and our feminine divine destiny. I don’t agree with all the tactics of OW, but as we all applaud the recent changes the church has made in regards to women, none of it probably would have occurred without the impetus of the sisters willing to stand up, so for that I thank you.

    • Howard says:

      I’m not an OW spokesman but the church has no functioning suggestion box and it has taught observers that agitation is a catalyst that helps LDS prophets find their knees! Btw President Hinckley introduced the word agitation to this question.

  37. Olea says:

    Suzette, thank you for this. It fills me with love – that you are seeking answers, that you have decided to belong, that you love your deep, rich faith and want to be where the prophet will speak. It sometimes fills me with despair – that given a concrete opportunity, people decide to ask those that mourn to move out of the way, that the church is categorising this as a resistance movement, a protest, because members are asking for revelation that affects them.

    The “you get what you get and you don’t get upset” idea, at its core, is about reducing independence and denying the possibility of growth. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that people would have this attitude to revelation absolutely flummoxes me. Just like last time, it makes me wonder: does the Prophet know that this is how you’re treating people? Does he care? Does he approve? When women approached the saviour in non-prescribed ways, he blessed them. I would prefer to see that pattern continue today.

    I don’t have an OW profile, but I love every single woman in the church. I stand with any person who is earnestly and sincerely seeking truth. If the message is not too sacred for women to read in the Ensign or watch via broadcast, why is the building too sacred for women to stand outside, and seek admission?

    • Emily U says:

      “When women approached the saviour in non-prescribed ways, he blessed them.”

      What a beautiful, true statement.

  38. Lindsay says:

    I do not agree at all that women should have the priesthood. Should men bare children? There are innate values in men and women they are separate. I can accept some of you have different views but once they have been expressed to the first presidency leave it at that. Do not continue to protest etc. We do not all understand certain principles all at once but to hash it over and over does not help.

    • Rachel says:

      Lindsay, I am not certain that “the views” have been expressed to the first presidency. If they have, they have never stated it. Revelation does not come to the church by way of a PR letter.

      “We do not all understand certain principles all at once but to hash it over and over does not help.” President Kimball prayed over and over for blacks to again be granted the priesthood, yet we would never say this to him.

    • spunky says:

      Hate to point out the obvious, Lindsay, but not all women “bare children” (sic). The men=priesthood and women=motherhood argument is stupid at best and ridiculous at worst. Eliza R. Snow, Sheri Dew, Ardath Kapp and Barabara Thompson are but a few women who speak well of motherhood, became prominent church leaders, and never has children.

      If you want to make a point about male and female differences, you must remove gendered parenthood argument in order to be taken seriously IN the church, if only because for every mother– there is also a father. Obviously.

  39. Cindy says:

    Suzzette, you said in your posting that your concerns feel dismissed and do not take your plight seriously. Mam, they do. They just are not giving you what you want and are unwilling to be bullied. Just as you want to tell them what to do, there are others who want it to remain the same. Why should what you want take precident over others?

  40. C. Rider says:

    I stand corrected Ms. Welker, you are a member of record. Thanks for including the quotes. It’s what I was hoping would get read so people could see the true thoughts denigrating the Church behind the OW movement.

    • Holly says:

      If you feel that an honest assessment of the church’s failings as an institution is “denigrating” it, well, so be it.

      out of curiosity, did anyone ever criticize the church in the Book of Mormon? Did it ever need to be called to repentance?

      Yes!

      From here on out, just think of Ordain Women as Samuel the Lamanite. You can shoot all the arrows at us that you want, C. Rider, but it doesn’t change the fact that we are inspired to help you evolve spiritually.

  41. Kate says:

    As a faithful member, I am sad that you feel this way. Women will never receive the priesthood and I NEVER want the priesthood! I know of several women who never want to hold the priesthood who are in fact faithful members. I think you have too much free time to worry about this. Read the PR letter with an open heart. There have been several talks in General Conference that discuss the power of women (The Moral Force of Women by Christofferson for example). We, as women should focus on the blessings we receive from men using the priesthood. Elder Andersen said in this past General Conference, “As surely as we know that God’s love is ‘alike’ for His sons and His daughters, we also know that He did not create men and women exactly the same. We know that gender is an essential characteristic of both our mortal and eternal identity and purpose. Sacred responsibilities are given to each gender.” We also have our own Women’s session for and the men have their Priesthood session. I think that’s pretty fair! I don’t say this to criticize, but to share my own personal insight. I love this church and I’m grateful that men and women do not have the same responsibilities.

  42. C. Rider says:

    Fantastic new group just started: http://www.mormonwomenstand.com
    “Mormon Women Stand is a collaborative online effort to join like-minded female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who share a desire to make a public stand as witnesses of Jesus Christ and in support of The Family: A Proclamation to the World…We unequivocally sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—commissioned by God and sustained as prophets, seers, and revelator–and support of how the Lord has delegated priesthood authority to organize and administer the gospel among all of His children.”

  43. kelly ann says:

    Thank you Suzette for sharing your perspective. It really has been enlightening for me to see how yours and others faith motivates you. I too want to see women ordained but I have to say that I am not a fan of this particular action. I don’t agree with the church’s response but given their response, I think the action needs to be different.

  44. C. Rider says:

    No thanks Ms. Welker, I’ll go with the Prophet and our sustained leaders’ inspiration over yours to help me evolve spiritually. Best of luck calling the Church to repentance. You should add that to your profile!! 😉

  45. marhamylove says:

    Thank you for that, Suzette. I’ll be there with you too.

    In the meantime, I would like to know why it is that the anointed of Heavenly Father can’t seem to manage to make a statement without pouring salt in the wounds. Nothing about what comes out of the COB sounds like revelation from a loving Father addressing his troubled children who are looking for the way to glorify him and find their rightful place in his community of saints.

  46. Nikki Mosley says:

    I’m just curious…why do you want the priesthood? Will that make you feel more complete as a woman? As an LDS woman myself, I have never felt second to any of the men in the church. In fact, I feel the exact opposite. I love the role my Heavenly Father gave me and I try to fulfill my responsibilities to the best of my abilities.

    • Olea says:

      When my sister and I were travelling around Europe for three weeks, and she had an unexplained swelling, and we didn’t speak the language or know anybody, it would have been so wonderful to have been able to give her a priesthood blessing. When we lived in a small branch, and the same five people blessed and passed the sacrament every week (or we made do with fewer people passing), it would have been wonderful to have been able to step in and assist. There are times that my soul yearns to help someone else, and I do not have the tools to do so. I have to wait for someone else to come into the house, so that I can ask them to open the curtain. And then I have to trust that, though they’re a stranger, they will let in the right amount of light, and to the right parts of the room.

      If that is part of my test in this life, to learn how to be subservient to and trust others, that’s fine. If I need to learn to live with this gap, where my capacity for good is greater than my opportunity, that’s fine. But if my responsibilities are able to meet my abilities, I would love that.

    • April says:

      Nikki, you can read about why Suzette wants the priesthood here:http://ordainwomen.org/project/hi-im-suzette/ and about why I do here: http://ordainwomen.org/project/hi-im-april/

  47. Winifred says:

    I see apostasy and excommunication. How would members of ow feel if they are excommunicated?

    • Rachel says:

      Many of the OW leaders have met with their bishops and stake presidents, shared with them their OW profiles and activities, and have explicitly been told that such sanctioning will not take place.

      Those are the judges in Israel. You and I, are not.

    • TopHat says:

      Winifred, please see our comment policy. Saying “I see apostasy and excommunication” violates the fourth bullet point against calling others’ testimonies and righteousness into question.

  48. Donna says:

    I am so proud to stand with you, Suzette – and so many other strong and valiant women! Just remember that 90 per cent of WOMEN opposed women having the right to vote when the women’s suffrage movement started!

  49. Melody says:

    Suzette, your thoughtfulness about this action is inspirational. Thank you for sharing your testimony and your commitment in a public forum. Thank you for your example of faith and courage. God bless.

  50. M says:

    I don’t understand the whole women holding the priesthood hype that is going on. Women have just as much right to the blessings of the priesthood as men have. The only thing more that men have is all the responsibilities associated with holding the priesthood. Women have enough responsibilities…men can have it.
    In RS today the lesson mentioned Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. It was mentioned that Hyrum could have chosen to be jealous of Joseph like Laman and Lemuel were of Nephi. But, Hyrum chose to not be jealous. And we can too in this situation of the priesthood.
    Others are entitled to their opinions, and so am I. It makes me sad to think that some women might feel like this because of abuse or unrighteous dominion. Either way I respect their opinion and I hope they will respect mine.
    I know the leaders of our church are inspired. Whether they do or don’t change it I know it will be God’s will.
    Choose not to be offended. Pray for guidance and inspiration to understand why the church is not changing this policy…Heavenly Father will help you and guide you. All my <3.

  51. LoveOneAnother says:

    I read an interesting theology article from the Lutheran perspective that may be of interest to those who are sitting on the fence about the ordination of women. While my opinion is not yet formed I thought this was interesting… And aside from the obvious differences in belief about the Godhead I find it mostly in keeping with the LDS beliefs.

    http://www.christforus.org/Papers/Content/OfficeProphetess.html

  52. Katie says:

    Update to report: Elder Oaks in the Priesthood Session of General Conference on April 5, 2014 said that women will never receive the Priesthood but can always use the Priesthood.

    Is that good enough for you?

    P.S. I am a women and watched this session via the internet.

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