This is a guest post by Kyleigh Ruth, who describes herself as “a mother of two girls, a Registered Nurse and wife. Born in Utah, she fell in love with the deserts of Arizona and now is proud to call it home.”
By Kyleigh Ruth
I will never join the Ordain Women movement. To unite myself with their cause is to admit that somehow I am less because I do not hold the priesthood.
Which I simply can not do. I refuse to adhere to a position that demands that I am inferior to a man in any way besides the genetic predisposition for upper body strength and the ability to father a child. Ordain Women would have me admit that I am inferior and then join the crusade to somehow fix this perceived inequality.
I am not less in the eyes of God or in the eyes of this Church because I am a woman and definitely not because I don’t have the priesthood. I have never felt this way and neither have the vast number of women that participate in Church activity. Lifted from the OW Facebook page “Women are powerless in matters of church governance and can make no autonomous decisions, even at the highest levels, Kelly said.”
There you have it. Women are powerless. We can make no autonomous decisions, according to the lovely Kate Kelly. Hold on, let me see if I feel powerless.
Let me see if I can make an autonomous decision.
I think I can… Yes, yes I can.
Why don’t I feel powerless? Perhaps it is because I come from a long line of women who are the leaders in the home. Women who love, respect and revere their husbands, but whose insight and reasoning guide the family.
Maybe it’s because on my mission, I made plenty of autonomous decisions about where to go, what to teach, what to do and how to do it. I was blessed to serve with sisters who were powerhouses, razing the land with nothing but righteousness in their wake. We, as sisters had our own leadership roles, Trainers, that would plan and execute training, solve problems, delegate responsibility and ensure the proper function of our Visitor’s Center. My wise mission president sought the Trainers’ insight about transfers and even recommendation of elders for mission leadership positions.
Elders in our mission (as I’m sure in many others) used the word ‘mujerdocio’ a portmanteau Spanish word that combined the words for woman (mujer) and priesthood (sacerdocio). I suspect this word may have originally had a negative tone, but my sisters and I claimed it as a suitable descriptor for the influence we wielded as we served faithfully and with power.
Today, as I serve in the Church, attend meetings and teach my children, I find myself doing whatever I feel is best in my calling and in my family. Nobody tells me what to do. I teach the principles that I feel are important in the way that I feel is the most powerful and interesting. It almost feels… autonomous.
Maybe we should ask the General Presidencies of the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary if they feel powerless and if they exercise autonomy.
The ladies behind the OW movement don’t seem to care about how I feel or how the leaders feel however. Or that the majority of women in the Church do not feel powerless or unable to make an autonomous decision. I suspect the more likely scenario is that the women in the church feel highly influential and these responsibilities can weigh heavily on them as they converse with the Lord to faithfully fulfill them.
So beyond refusing to claim that I am powerless, I can’t help but be skeptical of OW’s methods. If they truly believe, as they claim, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church, led by a prophet of God, then their approach is wrong. If you believe that Christ is the head of this church, then you should take your grievances to Him through sincere prayer and fasting. If a sister had come to me and said, “You know, I’m thinking that I need the priesthood to have better opportunities in the church, I’m going to start praying for that and fasting every Sunday.”
What could I say to that? “Sure, do it. Let me know what He says. Hope it works out.”
Even a sincere letter-writing campaign to the General Authorities, I’d be alright with. Since the alleged goal of the OW gals is to get a statement from the General Authorities assuring them that they have prayed about the issue. Letter writing it one way to accomplish that goal, just ask Sara Josepha Hale, a woman who knew the value of sustained, continuous effort.
However, what the OW have done is take their cause to the Court of Public Opinion. Innumerable news outlets have covered the story, painting a picture of courageous, marginalized women finally standing up against centuries of oppression from a religious institution bent on discrimination.
Essentially, dragging my beloved Church through the muck of spin and sophistry.
Some of the headlines are truly nauseating to me “LDS Church says Hugs and Heart-felt Conversations ‘Divisive'” “Mormons Exclude Women from All-Male Meeting” and endless articles more. If you choose to violate the useful maxim “Don’t Read the Comments” you will find hundreds of folks chiming in to damn the Mormon church, Christianity and all religions and belief systems of every kind.
Allow me to pose a few questions. When a group decides to take an issue to the media, exposing it to scorn, ridicule and hatred, does it increase interest in the Church or decrease it? Will the media coverage inspire individuals seeking for the truth to look at the Church? Or to turn away in disgust?
I submit that the actions of OW and its subsequent media attention will make it more difficult to overcome the wave of anti-religious sentiment that is sweeping our society, that it will inhibit the work of the Lord and the work of missionaries. In this way, it is contrary to building the Kingdom of God.
Who stands to benefit from the clamor and calumny that result from OW? I’m going to go ahead and say it, Satan. Yeah, I’m sure that he is reveling in the disruption to the work of the Lord because of the methods of the OW movement. And in the resulting contention and war of words between church members because of it.
I don’t disagree with OW’s basic tenets. I find their statements that Joseph Smith planned to organize a female priesthood compelling. I’m not against that. Nor am I against the greater influence of women in the church, in addition to the power we already have. Women praying in conference? Awesome. Sister Training Leaders in missions and in mission councils? That’s superb. I like what I’m seeing. Let’s keep talking about our incredible role in this Church.
I do disagree fundamentally with their methods, and I am angry that their actions have resulted in throwing the whole Church and their fellow sisters under the bus. Don’t characterize me as powerless to achieve your aims. Don’t characterize the women of this church as afraid because they do not share your feelings about your right to the priesthood. While I can’t fault OW for the 24 hour media machine’s voracious appetite for clickable stories of inequality, I can fault them for bringing the Church to them as sacrifice.
Sisters, we are not powerless. Don’t allow anyone, man or woman, tell you that you are powerless. We are not under anyone’s thumb. We serve the Lord, who is seeking to empower us with all that He has. The power in the priesthood comes from righteous living. As women our faith and righteousness endow us with power from on high. Live up to your covenants and responsibilities. Emulate the Savior. Maximize your potential. Extend your reach. Power comes from God, and this is the way that we get it, not from wearing pants to church, attending priesthood session or public demonstration.