This is not one of my better posts, it's very stream of thought and I've written so many versions of it over the past couple of weeks. I have so many thoughts on this issue right now and I've had a few people ask me why I haven't written much about the recent goings on in the LDS Church. There are various reasons, among them fear, sadness, anger and above all, bewilderment.
No, I'm not bewildered that Kate Kelly was excommunicated from the church. That was a foregone conclusion. I am bewildered by the reaction. I am bewildered by the lack of knowledge about our history and our doctrine. I am bewildered by people who think that cultural Mormonism is the same as doctrine. I am bewildered by the divide that has resulted from it. I am bewildered by the lack of kindness from both sides about it, but most particularly by the hate from those who oppose her stance. I am still trying to process my reaction to her excommunication. I am saddened by it. Very saddened and very disappointed that it happened.
For those among you who are curious, no, I am not a member of Ordain Women. I don't agree with everything Kate Kelly says and I don't necessarily agree with her methods. But, I think she is a brave and strong woman. I admire her guts, and I am grateful for the conversations she started.
But yes, I am sad and disappointed. Every time I read a comment that said "Good riddance", or something similar, it struck home. Is that what would be said about me?
Every comment saying "You can't change doctrine, God never changes" I wanted to cringe. No, God never changes, but the LDS Church changes constantly. Look back at our history, there are so many examples. The two most glaring? The ending of polygamy and black men being allowed to hold the priesthood. For whatever reason you choose to believe that changed, change it did.
Every "Why doesn't she go start her own church, then?" And, "If you don't like it the way it is, leave." makes me die a little. Kate Kelly and like minded women can't leave and go start their own church. They (we)(I) believe in the Gospel. I believe that the prophet is called of God to lead this church. I also believe that God "will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God". I believe that we must ask for the things we righteously desire. I also believe that not one of us knows Kate Kelly's heart and therefore CANNOT say that she did it out of pride and desire for power. YOU DON'T KNOW THAT. Do not be so quick to judge. I choose to believe Kate did what she did for the reasons SHE stated. Would you like to know what they are? Read what she said, not what you heard from your friend or read on KSL or whatever.
I struggle with the thought that, by virtue of my gender alone, I cannot have the priesthood in my home. I am a single mother, there are no males, worthy or otherwise living in my household, so there is no priesthood residing here. I was told by a man yesterday that I don't need to hold the priesthood, I have access to it whenever I want it. This is not true. I have access to it when it is convenient for whichever priesthood holder I may call in my time of need. In the middle of the night, with a sick child, I do not have the access to it that a priesthood holder has. Yes, I can pray, but I cannot give my daughter a blessing. Fortunately for me, I believe that my prayers are just as effective.
I was also told that women have motherhood, men have the priesthood. This does not correlate. Women have (potential) motherhood, the corollary to that is that men have (potential) fatherhood. Children have a mother and a father, not a mother and a priest. I fail to see the logic in this rhetoric.
The other justification floating around is that women are more holy, more angelic. Men need the priesthood to make them closer to what women are naturally. I don't think this is true. Men and women are equally capable. It's a social construct that men are less holy than women, and it doesn't do men or women any good to buy into that. If men are less attuned to God than women, why is a man leading the church?
When I hear, "I haven't encountered any sexism, it doesn't exist." or "I've never been treated like or made to feel like a second class citizen", it kills me a little. How glad I am for you that you have not encountered it. Your experience does not negate my own, nor that of many, many other women in the church. Sexism, benevolent or otherwise, does exist, whether you have encountered it or not.
Are we not one? Are we not commanded to mourn with those that mourn? Or, love one another as I have loved you? I confess, I haven't felt like loving some of my fellow church members, lately. And, I have been gently and kindly called to repentance by a few of my very loving friends. Not directly, mind you, but indirectly, courtesy of some very Christlike things they said.
Currently, no, we are not one. We are deeply divided and there are many among us who feel like we are, to put it kindly, being "invited" to leave. Everytime someone says, if you don't like things the way they are, leave, they are saying it to me. Is that what I should do? Leave? Can I not hope for change? Can I not sit amongst my people and want things to be even better? To work to make things better? Please stop trying to drive me out.
We are not perfect, my friends. Not you, not me. I sin and so do you. We should not rejoice when someone is excommunicated. We should not be pleased that another soul has had to leave our fold. We should not be pleased that many others are leaving the church as a result of what has happened. It is not "Good riddance." We are not made better by their absence. We are made weaker, so much weaker. Diversity of thought strengthens a group, unless we let it divide us, as we have.
I am saddened because I know there are many other women who will now be afraid to speak out about injustice. I am hurt that a group of women in our fold have been silenced. I am determined to not be one of them. God loves me and He loves you and, yes, He loves Kate Kelly. I think perhaps we all ought to do the same. I will try harder to understand those who think differently from me. Love goes a long way toward healing a hurt, crossing a divide. I only hope my faith is strong enough to see this through.