Bad Unicorn

Written last month, the 29th of May:

bad unicornI’m hungry, but in that good way we’re all familiar with. Today is a “Day of Fasting, Praying, Reflection & Meditation” with Ordain Women. If you check in with Facebook, you’ll see that it is happening right now, and that I “am going”! We (the 75 of us who said we were participating, and maybe a few of the 18 who said they were “interested”) are tapping into the doctrine of continuing revelation, which is a “cherished tenet” of our faith.

Except that, is it? Well, I cherish it. I love it very much. I don’t see it very often, sadly. It’s become a sort of doctrinal unicorn—beautiful but exceptionally rare. And like a unicorn, it will not be ensnared; we have to seek it and be ready when it happens. No seeking? Then no revelation for us!

Except that (per our myths) unicorns can be ensnared. And who may ensnare them? To whom do they come willingly? To virgin women! Thus was a unicorn a symbol for Christ in the Middle Ages, a beast who would lay his head in the lap of the virgin (Mary) and allow himself to be killed. For virgin, let us read virtuous, but in all cases, she who received the unicorn in the good old days was most certainly a woman. Could it be that revelation extending the priesthood to women of the church will come first to . . . women of the church?

Except that women don’t receive revelation for the church. Would a unicorn lay its head in the lap of a sister? Should it? Could it? Naturally, a woman might receive revelation for the entire body of the church if she were the prophet. But that seems unlikely in the near future, unless . . . unless . . . revelation extending the priesthood to women were sought and received. Sought and received by men.

Well, it’s complicated.

Except that I don’t think it is that complicated, actually. Never mind the sex of the person who, ultimately, receives the unicorn! If stories teach us anything about unicorns, it’s that they appear to the pure in heart, the ones who are prepared, the hopers, the seekers, the “we-believers”. Anyone might espy a unicorn, if she or he is ready.

My buddy Platte Clark wrote a book called Bad Unicorn* a couple of years ago. Check it out! Some of the exuberant humor lies in the incongruity of the words “bad” and “unicorn,” right? Clark’s unicorn has ammo bandoliers slung over her shoulders and she’s dangerous, quite a comical mismatch. How can a unicorn be bad? Unless you happen to be playing leapfrog with one, everyone knows that unicorns are always thoroughly good. The merest glimpse of a unicorn, a flash, a quick impression, would be as a blessing.

Except that there are those among us who, at least from where I sit, regard an ordained woman in the same light as a bad unicorn. You know what I’m talking about. It doesn’t exist, and if it did, it would be just wrong. Any unicorn, Lord, but not that unicorn! Sure, we claim that we believe God will yet reveal many great and important things, but that one of those things might be ordaining women to serve as his priests? We won’t seek after that thing—it’s a bad unicorn.

As I join my (75-plus?) sisters and brothers in fasting and prayer, I’m not asking for revelation. I’m asking for forgiveness. We don’t take the idea of continuing revelation very seriously if it involves asking for it, seeking it out, and knocking at the door. No, we regard that sort of activity with an ungodly amount of suspicion, despite our “cherished tenet.” It’s as futile as chasing a unicorn. Maybe even a bad one.

*the first book in a wicked funny trilogy that includes Fluff Dragon and Good Ogre.



Emily HB is a hausfrau living in Utah with delusions of grandeur & survival, a writer of books, a hoper of all things and a believer in several of them.

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4 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    “we don’t take the idea of continuing revelation very seriously if it involves asking for it, seeking it out, and knocking at the door.”

    So true. I would think a sign of careful righteous prophetic stewardship would be to listen to people’s concerns and take those concerns before God. But apparently the mere suggestion that our leaders do this regarding women’s ordination is an absolute outrage….

    • EmilyHB says:

      There is a certain amount of spoon-feeding that people seem to need when it comes to continuing revelation, as if it is somehow desirable that the lay membership outsource the whole bag to a few people in SLC. I’d like to advance the notion that seeking and knocking are desirable actions, and possibly even required of us.

  2. I have heard a lot of chicken and egg discussions around this issue. Some believe women must recieve revelation about women, but since women are virtually absent from church leadership, how would that work? I am more inclined to think that God will work through the structure we have, but that the existing woman-free structure is also a huge barrier slowing progress down. But with God, all things are possible.

    • EmilyHB says:

      April, I’m with you–I do believe that all things are possible with God. So many people think they know what God will say to X question, without even asking. Worse are all the members who seem to know for absolute certain what he won’t say. Why not ask with humility and love, and see what happens?

      How does the asking/answering mechanism work when male leadership is manifestly unwilling to address female ordination head-on? I don’t know. I am doubly, triply, exponentially frustrated because in-your-face sexism is so much more tolerated in our culture/church culture than in-your-face racism, so the pressures that worked to get leadership to address blacks & the priesthood aren’t going to be as effective when it comes to women & the priesthood. Anyway, nothing new here — just nattering on. Thanks for your comment.

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