#hearLDSwomen: “Wait Here, Please.”
We had recently moved to a new area, where we knew no one and no one knew us. So imagine my surprise, a week after moving into a new congregation, when the Bishop asked if he could meet with me after church. Assuming this would be a typical “getting to know you” conversation for our family, I dragged my husband down the corridor with me. As we reached the office, the Bishop exclaimed, “Oh good, I needed to speak to your husband anyway” and invited him into the office, closing the door on me. I was left standing shocked in the corridor.
When the door re-opened a couple of minutes later, I could tell from the look on my husband’s face that I wasn’t going to be happy. The Bishop explained that he had just needed to have a word with my husband to ask if he could extend a calling to me.
That’s right—my Bishop invited my husband to have a conversation about me, an adult woman, with me standing on the other side of the door. (My darling husband later told me he had responded with his typical dryness, “I don’t know, ask her yourself. She’s standing right outside.”)
During the meeting, I pushed back as to why the Bishop had felt that he needed to ask permission from my husband to offer me a calling, and why he felt compelled to leave me standing outside. He explained that he believed he was required to do so; it was respectful of the husband. He was utterly bemused, and also a little amused, that I might have found this disrespectful.
That day was a turning point for me in my relationship with feminism with the church. I don’t blame the Bishop; I believed then and still do now that he was doing the best he could with what he thought he had to do, given his inadequate training and support. But our systems simply devalue women and their voices at every turn. Adult women, married or single, are viewed as an appendage to their husband or father.
With hindsight, I wish I had kicked that door open and marched into the room to pull up my own seat to the table. Since then, I have kicked hard at every single door I have been asked to wait outside.
M lives in a small corner of Europe, up a hill, near some sheep, with her children and her lovely other half. She spends most of her time reading, and the little that is left, teaching and doing laundry.
Pro-tip: Speak to women directly when extended a calling to them. Respect women as individuals in their own right.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)