Lds.org has hosted a series of essays this year that have addressed some of the murkier parts of the Mormon history and doctrine. While these essays have fallen short of people’s concerns in a lot of ways, it has also inspired a lot of hope. It is the first time many of these things are being addressed and publicly spoken about, which is just a relief all its own.
There are rumors that the next essay is going to be about women and the priesthood. And I’m excited. And I’m nervous. So I really just want to have a word with whomever is writing the thing.
There is a message I want to send the leaders of my faith. Because I am struggling, and I’m not the only one. So many women are suffering and confused, and dealing with these things silently. And some bold women have spoken up and put a face and a name on this suffering, and the way they’ve been treated has left so many of us feeling lost and tired and hopeless. The church has repeatedly sent the message that it does not want women like us, and we don’t know where to go. I, for one, feel like I’ve spent much of this year begging the church to keep me from walking away, and yet still feel like I’m being shoved out the door.
There is a systematic, pervasive institutional way that we are being pushed out. Time and time again we’ve been asked why we don’t just leave. We’ve been told we’re insubordinate and that we’re a threat to the community. We’ve been called aggressors. We’ve been called cowards. We’ve been told we’re thinking too hard about all the wrong things. We’ve been told we don’t understand. We’ve been reminded of the joy of motherhood, as though we’ve denied it. We’ve been told we already have the power of the priesthood, but that means little to us when we have no authority or encouragement to exercise it. We have been told just to have faith in the Lord’s plan, as though we should just smile and nod at a God that would see us marginalized for all eternity. People have tried to convince us that the world and God have two different definitions of equality, as though that might help us choose to ignore all the evidence we see that convinces us we are less than.
But never mind all that. We have an eye trained on the leaders of the church because that is where we know we can learn more of what our Heavenly Parents have to say to us. But mostly the messages we’ve received this year are the same ones women in the Mormon church have always been given. Which just feels frustrating and exhausting, because we are begging for some new information. We need some revelation. We need some insight. We are banging on the door of heaven and begging to know more about our roles, purpose, and value in the eyes of God. We believe that understanding women’s access to priesthood power will help us understand Heavenly Mother’s role, and we long for that because we long for her. We want to know of her and who it is we are meant to be in the eternities. All we want is to understand, to serve, and to be more fully integrated into the Kingdom of God.
So, my dear brother or sister, whoever you are, when you write this essay about women and the priesthood, please don’t make proving us wrong your goal. Please don’t write us off. Please don’t belittle us. Please don’t make us feel unwanted and unwelcome. Please understand that our testimonies of the gospel, of the Savior, and of the Prophet are strong. Please understand that we believe we are seeking after the mysteries of the kingdom of God as we’ve been instructed to do, with faith unwavering, in the scriptures. Please don’t make this essay a weapon that other members of the church can use against us.
Please say something, anything, to help us stay.