I finished my mission in 2012, and to honest, I was probably a more liberal member than most. My mind was always open to looking at the world through different eyes. When most of my friends and ward members were talking about the so-called dangers that gay marriage would bring upon modern society, I sat back and realized how messed up the world would be if every religion insisted on subjecting the entire world to their viewpoint. This “highly dangerous” thinking eventually helped me realize that I had no problem with gay marriage and also lead to my feminist awakening.
You see, there was in the place that I lived an unusual excitement on the subject of feminism. It commenced with the Ordain Women but soon became general among all wards in that region of the state. Indeed, the whole district seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different feminist parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Wear pants to church!” here, and others, “Wearing pants to church is evil!” there.
But blatant Joseph Smith History ripoff aside, feminism in the church was a huge topic in the church after I got back from my mission. Ordain Women and Kate Kelly became household names, and just about every faithful member I knew enjoyed verbally bashing on them as if they represented Satan himself.
This blind hatred confused me because as far as I could tell, the whole thing came down to two points:
1. Ordain Women was asking the leadership of the church to pray over whether the time was right for women to receive the priesthood
2. Members of the church were upset that anyone would dare ask the prophet to seek revelation on a subject that is scripturally unclear
There was no violent protest, just simple requests. The scriptures are full of examples of prophets seeking divine guidance after people have honest questions. I couldn’t figure out how this was any different from the scriptures. Some people argued that Ordain Women was going about things in the wrong way and being disruptive, but I just couldn’t see that. They weren’t choosing to engage in violence, and most of their demonstrations were relatively quiet.
In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
Okay, I promise that I’m done now.
But in all seriousness, while everyone was arguing with themselves, defending the church and tearing down Ordain Women, I did something completely unheard of: I stepped back and asked myself if I was okay with women having the priesthood. And you know what? That entire line of thought changed me.
Looking back I’ve realized that this was one of the first times in my adult life where I allowed myself to think outside of the “church box.” The church had taught me for two decades that the restoration kicked off with Joseph Smith asking a simple question and this was my Joseph Smith moment. I finally asked a question that was independent of everything that the church had taught me for two decades.
I came to the conclusion that I would be quite happy to see women receive the priesthood. I also realized that it was something that I desperately wanted to see happen, as it would be a huge positive step in revitalizing a church that had started to feel stale to me. Right now the church claims that men and women are equal with different responsibilities, and I think it’s time to retire that line of thinking. Men need to be given more responsibility for raising their children and performing duties in the home. Likewise, women are desperately needed in church leadership. Women are not only capable of leading within the church; they are necessary. Women are every bit as capable of guiding an organization as men are, and together their combined effort could do a lot of good for the church. The modern church has become a cold, stale, corporate organization (because that’s exactly what it is) and I think that female leadership could help breathe some new life into it.