The stuff I'm going to talk about today might make sensitive readers think I'm crazy. Also, it's like 2:00 in the morning, and it's not going to be concise, probably. You're invited to stop reading now.
It has taken me a little while, but I have finally realized--and embraced--the fact that I am a feminist. The idea of promoting equality, love, and respect for all of God's children feels so right to me. But a lot of my strong beliefs seem to clash with the structure of the Church.
Let me get a few more disclaimers out of the way, since you should've stopped reading when I told you to, and you definitely think I'm crazy:
1. I believe in God the Father and the Mother, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I believe that when 'God' is used in the scriptures and talks, it really refers to both our Parents. I believe that the gospel is true.
2. I believe in the Book of Mormon. I believe that the Church is directed by the Savior, and that He reveals truth to our leaders, and to us.
3. I believe that God is no respecter of persons.
4. I believe that most all Church members and those who identify themselves as Mormons are very good people, and have good intentions.
5. I believe that the Church is an earthly institution to spread the gospel, and because it is primarily run by imperfect humans, it is imperfect.
That being said, the Church makes me feel so sad sometimes, and the reason is that I'm a woman.
As a woman, I don't feel very valued or special. I feel ignored, misunderstood, and misrepresented. I long to be honestly seen alongside my sisters as equal to the men in this Church.
Church leaders and members *try* to value women, in a weird and mostly annoying way. We're told how Incredible We Are. We're told that motherhood is the Best Thing Ever and how we're so amazing and angelic and glorious for doing that. We're told how virtuous and pure and perfect we are compared to the women of the world, and how they're a bunch of selfish floozies.
The problem to me is that if everyone thinks women are so great, then why are we left out of so, so much?
Understand me: I love being a wife, and I look forward to motherhood. But I am more than just those two roles. Womanhood is certainly about more than those two roles, which many women, by the way, never experience.
It hurts that the leadership is predominantly male, who decide things for and about females without consultation, as far as I'm aware. It hurts that, when there are female leaders, they are called "Sister Whatever" instead of "President Whatever." It hurts that some callings are only given to men, even though absolutely no Priesthood keys are required. It hurts that we women are excluded from being witnesses or participating in baby blessings in any way (although I can see loopholes in the official policy and you can bet I will take advantage of those loopholes). It hurts that we don't talk about God the Mother; I really, really want to learn about Her and from Her. I want to learn how to be a woman from another woman.
And yes: it does hurt that men are given offices in the Priesthood, when it appears that there is no doctrinal backing for why women aren't allowed. Most of all, it hurts that no one will tell us why.
Well... that's not 100% true. Some people try. But because they don't know, the explanations fall short, don't make sense, sting. Women can't hold the Priesthood because they have uteruses, and dudes are totally jealous? Women don't hold the Priesthood because they're subject to men? Women don't hold the Priesthood because they're so much better than those gross, icky men, therefore they don't need it? Women don't hold the Priesthood because they have to be protected by others? Women don't hold the Priesthood because they're not supposed to, and that's how it will always be, amen?
The most insulting accusation regarding women and the Priesthood is that it's unrighteous for us to want to have it, because we're mothers and it's just wrong and yeah. But if we in the Church believe that men and women are striving to become kings and queens, priests and priestesses, gods and goddesses... then who are you to say that it's unrighteous to want to exercise Priesthood power? I want to serve people in a fuller capacity than I am currently able!
Speaking of a fuller capacity, being a temple worker is so fulfilling to me because I get to officiate in several important ordinances. As far as I know, one can't perform ordinances without the power and approval of God. I believe that we as women are more fully able to use the Priesthood--or maybe our Priestesshood?--within the walls of the temple. It feels so right to me to be able to serve my sisters in the temple in this way.
Here is what I think: our Church is subject to long-standing cultural values, just like everyone else in the whole dang world. I think that Jesus is merciful, and lets us make mistakes, but corrects us when we are ready for it. (... Blacks and the Priesthood, anyone?)
I also think that, perhaps, we just really don't understand the Priesthood all that well, and that until we do, we will continue to come up with confusing answers and shame the questioners for daring to ask.
All these thoughts and feelings, coupled with lingering depression and the occasional migraine makes Church attendance very painful. But because I believe that the life after is going to be so much better helps me hold on. I love the temple so much because I can see a glimpse of that.
This post, while a helpful emotional rant, is also a call to action. If you feel that women and men are equals... show it. Encourage it. Some of the things I'm going to do include calling female leaders by their titles; speaking up for women in ward councils (if I'm ever in a position to); teaching my children to respect and love everyone; giving the same attention to my future daughters as my future sons will inherently receive at Church; doing Visiting Teaching; teaching modesty in a way that isn't male-centered and female-shaming; and finding my own ways to be more involved in things. These are all tiny things. And I know I'll find more. Because by small and simple things are great things brought to pass*, yes?
I believe that things will change. If not in this life, then certainly the next.
*Alma 37:6, in case you were wondering.