Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ordain Women

If you're LDS or have a lot of Mormon friends, I'm sure the group Ordain Women has clogged up your news feed at some point in the past year. If you've somehow missed out on the numerous Face Book posts, I will explain briefly: it's all in the name.

Alright, a little less briefly. Ordain Women is a movement composed primarily of Mormon women, to have women ordained to the priesthood. In the LDS church priesthood is the power and authority of God exercised on earth and is reserved, exclusively, for boys/men who are worthy of it*. Stated extremely simply, what the Ordain Women take issue with is that women don't have the priesthood and therefore are only in positions of authority which require male oversight. (You can read all the details and issues at their website.)

Everything that I have seen on my Face Book news feed about the organization has been overwhelmingly negative. I myself wasn't quite sure what to think of the protesting ladies, but I figured their representation in my news feed and and the blogs they linked to, wasn't comprehensive. When I finally decided to do some research, I landed at their website and I really was quite surprised by what I found. All the posts and links I followed lacked the context of the Ordain Women movement and that context is vital for a true understanding of the group.

Ordain Women are extreme in the bounds of Mormonism, but they're not crazy. If you read the FAQ page of their website- they lay out their views in succinct terms, logically and with reasoning(They respond to the 'distinct but equal gender roles' argument commonly used against them, in what I considered an interesting way). I also think it's important to note their obvious devotion to the Mormon church. If it wasn't paramount to these women, their passion would cause them to leave it rather than seek a revelatory change. Additionally, it is so important to know the context of the movement. It was the late president of the LDS church, Gordon B. Hinckley, who gave Ordain Women hope that their vision could come to pass and further, that their current methods could elicit a change from on high.

In a 1997 interview, President Hinckley was asked about whether the church's stance on female ordination could change, as it had for blacks in 1978*. President Hinckley replied that indeed the stance regarding women could shift, but only if God changed the rules. In response to that, the reporter questioned,
"So you’d have to get a revelation?"
And President Hinkley responded,  
"Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied. These bright, able, wonderful women who administer their own organization are very happy. Ask them."
The Ordain Women organization seeks to be that agitation, that persistent urging, that President Hinckley said was lacking in order for such a revelation to come about. They do so through public action because (once again according to their website),
"Mormon women lack institutional authority and access to those leaders who have the ability to receive revelation on behalf of the Church, public advocacy is one of the few options open to those of us who actively seek ordination."
All that said, you may still think Ordain Women are unequivocally wrong*, which is fine because I'm not trying to convince you that they're right. In fact, in no way am I saying Ordain Women is right. What I am saying, is that I don't think they deserve the portrayal they've received by Mormons online; I think people should understand just what it is they are disagreeing with before they publicly defame a movement or organization and that is not what I see on my news feed. What I have seen is blind disagreement to the idea the internet has cultivated about what the Ordain Women movement is. When you look at the context of their argument- it doesn't seem so stupid or crazy or even as extreme as your news feed would have you believe.

I was woefully misinformed until I visited their website myself, and I think the context here is truly vital. From my experience there is an important and painfully obvious lesson: Go to the source first, only then should you read others views about it, whatever 'it' may be. Following that order is the best way to reach an informed opinion of your own.

 *If you're interested in the many details of the priesthood- I would suggest reading up on it at

*Before 1978 black men were not ordained to the priesthood. The church gives an explanation for that here

*The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sent an official statement to Ordained Women, which you can read here. From the letter it's obvious that the church currently disagrees with both the goal and methods of Ordain Women.

No comments: