There's been an increase of discussion lately about Mormon women and the priesthood, partially because of this group of women who are seeking ordination and to attend the priesthood session of General Conference tomorrow. If you know me personally, and/or have read my blog (especially this post) for very long, you probably know that this is an issue I feel strongly about. Very strongly indeed.
I would really, really like to call myself a feminist. I personally do consider myself to be one, but I hesitate to officially and publicly label myself as one because I disagree with the opinions of almost all of the self-professed "Mormon feminists" out there. I don't want to be mixed up with them.
Unlike most of these feminists, I do not feel slighted as a Mormon woman. I have never felt like I am less valued or less worthy as a member of the church because of my gender, even though being a woman means I do not hold the priesthood. I don't feel like I need to hold the priesthood to be happy or fulfilled or important.
I also know that if it were necessary for women to hold the priesthood to be happy or fulfilled or important, then God would never withhold that from us. I know for absolutely certain that if God wanted women to hold the priesthood then, by golly, women would hold the priesthood. It is as simple and profound as that. He would reveal it to our dear prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, and that would be that. The end.
In The Family: A Proclamation to the World (a very short but extremely worthwhile read found here), it discusses the importance of gender, the roles and responsibilities men and women have, and how they work together. Here are a couple excerpts:
"Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."
"By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."I love that. Often "gender roles" are considered to be a bad thing (and sometimes they can be), but if you read the Family Proclamation, specifically these excerpts, then you'll see that God has given us gender roles/responsibilities. I would even be so bold as to say that the Plan of Salvation is built upon the foundation of gender roles because that is central to the family and family is central to the Plan of Salvation. And according to the proclamation and this talk, it means that women's primary responsibility is to nurture their children (if they have the opportunity) and that the responsibility to hold the priesthood, the presiding authority in the home and the church, belongs to the men. And you know what? I totally support that. (Gasp!)
I'm sure that some of you are going to read this and think, "None of this sounds very feminist." You're probably right. You see, my definition of feminism is a little different than most.
To me, true feminism is embracing the unique, God-given qualities women have been blessed with, and using those qualities to better the world in a way that only women can. It means being feminine. Strong, nurturing, loving, gentle, hard-working, intelligent, sensitive, wise, and so much more.
As a wife, it means supporting my husband, especially his position as a priesthood bearer and the patriarch of our home. It means being an equal partner with him in our marriage and doing my part to keep our relationship strong and our home happy.
As a mother, it means nurturing, loving, and caring for the spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being of my future children... with the help of my husband as my equal partner, of course.
As a single woman, it meant preparing to become a wife and mother, whether I would end up having that opportunity or not. It meant gaining education (both secular and religious), preparing for a meaningful career, and becoming a better person in general.
Anyway... I figure President Gordon B. Hinckley put it best when he said this:
“Women do not hold the priesthood because the Lord has put it that way. It is part of His program. Women have a very prominent place in this Church. Men hold the priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this Church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women’s organization in the world... They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world...
“The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.”Well said.
Also, because I can't help myself, please enjoy what might be my favorite Mormon pick up line of all time. You're welcome.