This is a guest post by Michael Davidson, who is a father, husband, attorney and active member of the Church.
In a recent Facebook exchange, I was asked to share what in my life would be damaged if women were ordained to the Priesthood. My response was that his question missed the mark. I haven’t opposed Ordain Women (OW) because I think that female ordination would be such a terrible thing. Rather, my opposition to OW is that it is a trap that will lead people out of the Church. A friend responded and insisted that “Mormons are not being led out of the church by OW.… For me and many other Mormons OW and FMH has provided a profound place of comfort and solace within the church.”
This refrain has been repeated many times and in many places by folks from the OW crowd. OW founder Kate Kelly has repeatedly stated that OW is perhaps the greatest retention effort in the Church right now. Most recently, in the “Getting Started” handout related to OW’s new six discussions, OW claims “we have already seen this organization serve as an LDS retention effort for women who left, or were considering leaving, the Church due to their feelings on gender inequality.” OW actively promotes itself as a group who provides a “profound place of comfort and solace within the Church” as observed by my friend. But this is a false claim. In fact, I propose that there is nothing about participation in the OW movement that will strengthen someone’s commitment to the Church. Instead, the natural consequence of participation will be to lead women and men out of the Church.
OW must realize the course they are setting will lead people to have difficult conversations with their Bishops and Stake Presidents. From the very beginning OW has a “Productive Conversations Toolkit” available on their website. The purpose of this document is to prepare OW acolytes to “effectively and confidently engage in conversations with leaders and peers about Ordain Women and the ordination of LDS women.” The document begins by introducing the hypothetical that the reader has “just got called in to meet with your church leaders.” It then gives specific advice for, among other things, avoiding discipline. Why would such a thing be necessary if it weren’t for the fact that it was entirely foreseeable and expected that activity in OW would lead to potential Church discipline or other problems?