This past General Conference weekend I participated in the launch party for Ordain Women. I have always been interested in all things women's-rights/equality related, especially as they pertain to my church. I was deeply impressed by the website and this brought me out to the gathering held at the same time as the Priesthood session on Saturday. The meeting met my expectations to learn more about the ordination of women, feeling more connected with the other women and men involved with this movement and feeling the necessity of creating a safe space to have these discussions. After several presentations given by the panel of women, they up opened the floor for the audience to express why they were there, their personal experiences and why they support the ordination of women. I hadn't planned on contributing at this point, but as the mic was being passed around, I couldn't help but stand. This picture caught me mid-expression:
SV asked, "What was she saying?"
In more or less words that were certainly better said at that moment I felt I had to rise and after expressing that I felt prompted to stand because of the pounding heart and other familiar pre-testimony-giving feelings, I talked about why I support the ordination of women. Here are some of the experiences I shared along with some other thoughts:
I was an LDS missionary once. I loved my work and dedicated myself to it. My favorite part of being a missionary was the express duty to love God's children. I fiercely loved the people I served in my mission. During an interview with my mission president, my sweet president congratulated me for my hard work. He then told me that if I was an elder he would have called me to serve as a Zone Leader (a sort of leader over a group of missionary companionships in a geographical area). At the time this was a wonderful complement, but as time went on and I thought about this, I realized this is something we should never have to say--to anyone. "If you were more or less this, then you could be something better or more important..." We should never make people feel like they are less than a person or less qualified to be something because of who they are innately.
I am now a student midwife. I have the great opportunity to help women through the process of birth in their homes. I can't tell you how many times in the past year I have found myself wishing for the authority to lay my hands on a woman's head or belly as she labors and to leave a blessing on her, to bless her body as it passes through the sacrament of birth. I have always expressed sympathy to the women who have desired to hold the priesthood, but I have never particularly felt moved to seek for this gift. I can thank my journey of becoming a midwife for changing that.
On the road to seeking equality, I believe that returning to the ordination of women will bring greater strength to families in the church. I believe that the correct parallel for motherhood is fatherhood, not priesthood. I believe that asking questions faithfully brings us closer to our Heavenly Parents. I believe in continuing revelation and am grateful my church does as well.
I love my church. I love my leaders. I have a small, but stalwart testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I struggle, I hold on to the things I know and the things I believe.
I want dialogue about this. If you have questions, please ask. Leave a comment here, email me, visit the above link for Ordain Women. This isn't about proving points or telling people they are wrong, but about understanding and seeking answers.