Happy Spring everyone! I don’t know about you, but the time change, the glorious sunshine, and the much-warmer weather has helped my spirits lift. Spring is a time of natural creation, of fresh starts, and of new life. For me, it is a time of reflection and analysis, and a season of goal-setting and hard working.
This last week, I had the opportunity to interview a friend of mine, Meghan Raynes. She is a woman with some very unique insight into what it means to be a Mormon feminist. We talked about a lot of things that really made me think. I will publish the full interview with Meghan on this blog in the near future; however, I would like to mention some things on this blog post that impressed me.
Meghan and I talked a lot about Ordain Women. For those of you that don’t know, Ordain Women is a movement advocating for the ordination of Mormon women to the Priesthood (for more information, visit ordainwomen.org). In the Mormon church, we believe that the Priesthood is the power of God given to man (keyword MAN) to act in His name. This power and authority allows men to perform religious rites, ceremonies, and to give blessings of healing and of comfort. It is also through this power that the Church is presided over and organized. We believe that this Priesthood has been held by all the Prophets starting with Adam, all the way down to the current Prophet of the Church, Thomas S. Monson. Not only Prophets hold this authority, however; all worthy male members of the church may be ordained to an office of the Priesthood. It is the mission of Ordain Women to extend this ordination to ALL members of the church, regardless of sex. The Ordain Women mission statement is as follows:
“The fundamental tenets of Mormonism support gender equality: God is male and female, father and mother, and all of us can progress to be like them someday. Priesthood, we are taught, is essential to this process. Ordain Women believes women must be ordained in order for our faith to reflect the equity and expansiveness of these teachings.”
In our interview, Meghan and I discussed the gender-based inequality that exists in the Church. Meghan feels that there is no immediate solution. Yes, ordaining women to the Priesthood would be a start, but it would not make men and women equal. The Priesthood is hierarchical; it is based on rank. Meghan believes that even if women are allowed to receive the Priesthood, they still would not be allowed to serve in the same leadership positions as men.
This discussion with Meghan really got me thinking about where I stand on this issue. I believe that Ordain Women is a beautiful concept; it brings to light a lot of the injustices that Mormon women experience on a regular basis. Women cannot hold significant leadership positions within the Church; if they do happen to be serving in leadership roles, they are only responsible for other women, and they are presided over by Priesthood-holding men. Women cannot participate in religious ceremonies or rites unless accompanied by a man holding the Priesthood (this is in reference to the ceremonies performed in Mormon temples). It has been my experience that woman cannot really do anything substantial in the church without a man “supervising.” This statement is fairly controversial, and many Mormon women would disagree with me. But like I said, this has just been my experience.
With that in mind, I feel that if women were to be formally ordained to the Priesthood, it would definitely be a big step in the right direction for the sake of solving the gender problems within the Church. But I, like Meghan, believe that it is not the solution to the problem, just a treatment of its symptoms, if you will. As I have mentioned in all my previous blogs, I believe that women are inherently divine, meaning that there is a part of God in ALL of us. I believe in a divine Priestesshood that is just as important as the Priesthood, yet very much different. I also believe that women are already blessed with this divine power, and that we have the ability to use it to bless the lives of those around us. I have seen this power in action in my life. I have felt it as my Mother cradled me in her soft embrace. I have felt it as I knelt in prayer, seeking revelation from God. I have felt it as I served as a missionary, and I was able to use this divine love and power to reach out and fulfill the needs of others around me. I believe in this feminine divinity. We do not have all the answers, and to be quite honest, I don’t believe we ever will while I am still around. But I do know that my Heavenly Mother lives and that Her power resides within me.
So, overall, I think that Ordain Women is a great way to bring awareness to larger issues at hand, but I don’t believe it is the solution to all of the problems. All I can do right now is use the power and love that I have been blessed with to uplift those around me.
I am divine. You are divine. All of humanity is divine. In this I believe with all my heart.