Monday, June 23, 2014

Mormon Woman - Yes I am

While I haven't blogged very often specifically about political or social issues, I wanted to state my thoughts for those of my readers who know I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon).  I know there's been a lot in the news about women wanting to be ordained to the priesthood, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the role of women within the Mormon church.
(BTW - if you comment, keep in mind, these are my thoughts, I don't speak for the church, and please be respectful.)

There's been a lot of hubbub in the media - much of it negative, regarding individuals and groups who have spoken out, and called for change within our religion, specifically regarding women not having the priesthood.
To whit - after a Sunday school lesson a few weeks ago, with the topic of the priesthood of God (God's power to act in His name, granted to men on earth to further His work), one of our children had some very valid questions.  We've had much conversation about it here and home, and I've thought and read a lot about it.
Personally, I'm not all worked up about wanting more work.  Why should I be? I have enough to do, and my house is still messy!  Here's what I think though.

I believe that Jesus Christ established His church, and organized it on the earth.

Through His atonement, and resurrection, old laws were done away with (the Law of Moses), and a higher law was established.  (Compare the beautitudes to the 10 commandments - more "blessed are ye if..." rather than, the harsh "thou shalt nots".)

Christ gave power and authority to Peter James and John (mount of transfiguration), to run His church since He was no longer physically on the earth (ascension) - He had also called 12 apostles.

After Christ's death, resurrection and ascension, the Church grew and did well for a while, but then the people began to turn away.  They persecuted the prophets (as always - the didn't like what they were hearing - it personally offended their lifestyles and asked them to change), and eventually killed them all.

No apostles or prophets=no one with priesthood authority to act in God's name on earth.

In 1820, a young boy named Joseph Smith wanted to know which church to join.  He lived in upstate NY, and it was the middle of the religious revival period of time.  He attended many churches and they all claimed to be the "true church".  They had fragments of the Church Christ had established - but no prophets with authority (priesthood) or ongoing revelation.  Joseph Smith turned to the scriptures and prayed to know which church to join.  James 1:5.  He was young.  He was just trying to figure things out.  He went to the woods to pray, and as he did, he received a Heavenly manifestation.  God the Father, and Jesus Christ appeared to him.  They told him that none of the churches had the full authority, or full gospel truth, and that he shouldn't join any of them.

Over time, Joseph received heavenly messengers, through which he was taught, and he was called to be a prophet.  Later, at various points, John the Baptist (who had the authority to baptize in Christ's time), and Peter, James and John (who had the keys of the church) appeared as heavenly beings to Joseph Smith, and gave the priesthood authority to baptize, and to re-establish Christ's church upon the earth to him.
He was called as a prophet, and twelve apostles were also called.

The priesthood (power to act in God's name) is passed, through the laying on of hands and ordination.  This is how it was established by Christ.

While I admittedly had very pro feminist ideas while in college and felt very angry about the roles of men and women, in general, I've calmed down ALOT since then.

Men can't physically have babies.  It isn't the way things work. Do I understand it? Nope. Well - yes, but maybe not the "divine reason", other than that's how God organized it.  We have roles.  While I CAN do most anything I want to (other than grow a little taller), there's lots that I don't NEED or have a burning desire to do.

In our church, I've had many opportunities to lead, and serve.  I've been a missionary, in charge of the women's organization, in charge of the young women's organization, and I've been in charge of the children's organization.  I've been in charge of the nursery, and I've been in charge of early morning bible classes, I've been in charge of activities, I've been the pianist, I've been the organist, I've been a teacher, I've been a chorister, and I've left lots out.  I'm okay not presiding over everything, or all of the men.  When I've been in charge of different organizations, I've never done it alone.  We do it together - working in the trenches, side by side - men and women.  Loving God's children, our brothers and sisters.  Do I need to have the priesthood to be equal? Do I need to be equal?
Nah - not really.

In my personal experience, my father was a Bishop of our congregation for 7 years.  I watched the cares and worries of all of his congregation take their toll on him.  Often, his summer vacations included time off of work for scout camp or girls camp.  Thursday night visits, Saturday funerals, people calling in distress in the middle of the night, hospital visits, people in need of counseling, people with no place to turn.  During those long years, my father needed my mother to support him.  She was a comfort and support to him and helped him as he served the congregation.  Her role was just as important as his, but it was outside of the limelight. She also learned patience, and how to put the Lord first in her life.  She loves the Lord and loves my dad, and served our congregation by supporting my dad and sharing him with the congregation.

Here's another example from my home of this concept.
We have two daughters. They love crafts, sewing, crafts, crafts, frosting things, crafts, you get the picture.
My husband - he HATES that stuff.  It bores him out of his mind.  He DOESN'T enjoy it.  Well, not after the first 15 minutes.  After that, it is pure torture.  He'd prefer to walk over live coals, rather than spend time at Michael's craft store.  That's just how it is.  Other men may be different, but this is my example.  :)
I love to sit and work on projects with my kids.  I love to see and help them create.  I'm not a huge crafter, but I love to spend time with our kids crafting.
My husband and I have different tempraments in regards to crafting.
Our kids need to create, and learn to express themselves as they grow.  Luckily, I'm the girl for that dept.  He's not.  That's just how he is made.
We each have our roles.  His role is bed time tucker inner and lame jokes and silliness.  He doesn't really begrudge me that I am the head crafter, nor do I begrudge his lame jokes (love you honey, but it is true), or his silliness.  These are our roles within our family.  We get things done, and it works.

In our church, I don't have a need to be equal to the men.  I'm equal in my own role(s). I'm not a man, and I don't need his role as well as my own.  I don't need a title, or the outside world to see my title to feel okay with where I am -  I'm already okay right where I am.
Personally, to be honest, I love that my husband goes to work to provide for our family, and I get to stay home and wipe noses, and cook, and teach and love.  Some days are better than others, but I appreciate our roles.
Likewise, I'm okay with my role in the church.  It doesn't matter if I'm crawling on the floor with toddlers, or if I'm playing the organ (poorly, but doing my best), or if I'm organizing the hymn books.  What is happening, is that I'm serving others, and allowing the Lord to shape me, as a humble follower of Christ, hopefully into a more Christlike, compassionate being.

In light of the political and social media chaos about this, I'm saddened that certain individuals have thrown a pall over the beauty of the symbiotic relationship of men and women within our church. One doesn't exist without the other.  Just as procreation needs both men and women.

So, while I joke that I'm an orthodox Mormon (they don't really exist mind you), I believe that men and women are called by prophecy, and revelation. I also believe that a prophet and 12 apostles live on the earth today, and that God communicates with them, and they lead His church.  Even during Christ's time, many people didn't believe in Him or accept him.  So it is today, some dissent over social and political issues, as they don't agree or accept things as they are.

What I know, is that I am a Child of God, and that He leads His church as He sees fit.  Sometimes the answer is "just cause", sometimes it isn't the 'right' time.  And sometimes the answer comes later.  But morning always follows night.
In a nutshell, I'm proud to be a Mormon woman, and very secure in my role as such.

*Out of curiosity last night, I asked two women who I work very closely with about their thoughts on this.  Their responses were - identical to my thoughts.  There's a lot to be doing and worried about - distractions such as this come along, and will carry away those who get caught up with them, but really? - is it really worth my time, or is the media blowing something up because it's a slow news day?


Caterina B said...

Well put. do you feel about women who DO want more? Is that OK with you? Would that be OK with you? Just asking. :)

Mare said...

Caterina B, that's a great question with a lot of facets. I'm not sure what you mean by women who do want more. Want more what? More church power or authority? I don't judge or condemn anyone who has differing ideas, Just as I appreciate that others reciprocate and withhold their non-judgement and condemnation of me.
I believe that we are all God's children, doing our best.
Since this is my blog, where I hope I can share my own opinions freely, in answer to your question, full active membership in our church can be pretty demanding. Here's a general sketch in the life of an active lds member (this one with kids - me). Get your high school student to the church by 5:50 am. for seminary (bible study - every single day school is in session) Back home, get others out the door, exercise, clean, throw in personal scripture prayers/study, start preparing for next Sunday's lesson. Whether you are giving the sermon, playing or leading the music, teaching a youth or children's class, working with the cub scouts - whatever it is, if you are active, you will generally have a calling, and have responsibilities - it is a lay ministry, so no one is paid - therefore, we all share the work.

Reach out to set up appointments, make phone calls, meet with people who you need to visit with regarding any of the forementioned responsibilities, arrange to visit 3-4 women in their home and share a spiritual message each month, prepare a family lesson for Monday night, help your youth get ready for their mid-week activity (or if you are a leader, plan and execute a weekly activity), schlep kids and family members around, family dinner, family scriptures and prayer, bed, get up and do it again. Did I mention throw in one or two extra meetings during the week for something or other? I forgot work on your food storage, geneaology, missionary work, go to the temple, forgive others, work on being get the picture.

I don't know anyone who is fully active in the church who really feels the need for more. Most of the time, active church members are just trying to hold it together and do their very best as they juggle all of their responsibilities - especially when they have two or three responsibilities. If someone feels a need for more than this, absolutely, they are welcome to it, but they need to take it up with God. Life is a partnership and relationship with oneself and God.
God doesn't change. He calls prophets and directs them on how to direct His church on earth. Just as God told Noah to build an ark and get on it, just as Moses was a prophet who led the Israelites out of Israel, we believe that God has called a prophet today, to guide us (get us on that ark if needs be).
If God feels like women need more, then at the right time, He will tell that to His prophet, and things will come about. God works in a proper order, and just because someone doesn't like something, or thinks it is wrong doesn't mean that God will be swayed. (Noah got some guff for building a really big boat right? Public perception didn't understand), As I believe that God has a prophet on the earth today, who He communicates with and uses to direct His church, I'll follow him.

Don't know if that answered what you were asking, but those are my thoughts nonetheless