Friday, 20 June 2014

this is what I believe.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who is pretty plugged into the internet, it has been hard to miss the slew of blog posts, major news outlet articles, and general chatter on social media about the controversial Ordain Women movement.

For those of you who don't know, there is an organised group of (mostly) women who feel that the Church needs to extend Priesthood authority to women as well as men. At this time, only men are conferred the responsibility to perform sacred ordinances in God's name, through His power and authority, namely the Priesthood. Hopefully that makes sense to the non-initiated.

There are many reasons why Ordain Women feels that the Priesthood should be extended to female members of the LDS church. I haven't read up on all of it, but from what I've seen, I think one of the main reasons stems from painful interactions with men who feel that a little bit of authority to administrate gives them a lot of power to dominate others. In short, abuse can and does happen when there is an imbalance of power, whether it is in a parent-child relationship, an abusive marriage, a work setting, or an ecclesiastical relationship. We are all imperfect beings living in a fallen and imperfect world. We all do things that we shouldn't.

While I understand a few of the underpinning ideas behind Ordain Women, I don't feel the need to support them. Their concerns, their pain, their world view, is not the same as mine. Their stories aren't the same as mine. And that's okay with me. I do not feel threatened by their agitation and don't really feel the need to rail against their leader, who is rumoured to be facing church sanctions and possible excommunication.

Here is what I believe. I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ as set out in the New Testament is the same in structure and content as the gospel preached in the Mormon church. The structure of prophets, apostles, priests etc, is the same. The ordinances of baptism, the sacrament, temple worship; all the same. I believe that Jesus Christ structured His church in this way, and I am a grateful recipient of these saving ordinances.

I don't feel good or happy about the Ordain Women bashing that I see online. It hurts me to see the almost gleeful, self-righteous back-patting that's going on. Aren't we all imperfect? Don't we all have the need for the Atonement, the need to repent?

I think that we as a people, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are closer to the ancient Israelites than we'd like to admit. We study the Bible and the Book of Mormon, stories of people who stoned their prophets and twisted the words of God to their own ends, and we say "How could they do that? They have the prophet right there! He just came down from the mountain, he just saw God face to face! They saw an angel for themselves! How could they do that?!" And then we busy ourselves with measuring hemlines and only take the sacrament with our right hands -- and I wonder. I wonder if we are all to blame. I wonder, if we would just be anxiously engaged in a good cause, in serving, in loving, if we invite the less fortunate to our tables, if we focus on that beam sticking out of our own eyes, well. I think everything else would sort itself out. I think life for everyone would be much better.

Are Mormons Christian? Do we serve, do we love, do we bless other people's lives? Or are we too busy pointing our fingers at people not living as we would live, who interpret the world through a different lens, who choose a different path (or have one forced upon them?), who should be our brothers and sisters in Christ?

It is easy to be deceived. It is easy to get confused, to get puffed up and to feel "safe" in our choices.

I believe that this furor over Ordain Women should end. I believe that the decision over excommunication or not should be left to those in charge, and we, who really have no horse in this race, should remember that we covenanted to lift each other's burdens and love each other. Regardless of that other person's choices, or whether those burdens were "deserved."

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this is what I believe.