My name is Abigayle. I served a mission in Estonia, and was married in the temple to a wonderful man whom I love with all my heart. We have an 18-month-old son whom we adore. I work as an RN. I’m currently between callings due to a recent move, but I was previously a Gospel Doctrine teacher and I have served in Primary presidencies and in the Relief Society in various callings.
My journey to the conclusion that women need to be ordained began with my endowment. Before being endowed, I had always assumed that whatever sexism I encountered in the church was due to cultural mistakes of imperfect people. However, the temple was and is deeply painful for me. I found the endowment ceremony extremely sexist and harmful to women, and that experience opened up my eyes to the gender inequalities that exist in the church at large. I attended the temple regularly, prayed, read books, and talked to priesthood leaders for several years before coming to the conclusion that the sexism in the endowment is not inspired of God. I felt that answer confirmed in my heart by the Holy Ghost. I struggled for a long time to reconcile that answer with powerful experiences with the Spirit confirming to me the reality of the Priesthood in this church. After years of studying this question out in my mind, I have come to the conclusion that even good, inspired men who are called of God are influenced by their preconceptions and prejudices. That is how I explain African-Americans being denied the priesthood for so long, and that is how I now understand women being denied it. In both cases, where there was (is) a lack of true doctrine, “folk doctrine” sprang up to try to assuage our pained consciences.
I see the church’s huge emphasis on “divine gender roles” as this sort of folk doctrine. I believe there are some inherent differences that tend to exist between men and women, whether due to cultural influences, or physiology, or by divine design. However, when you try to set up one gender as presiding over the other, having all the authority to make decisions and effect change, and call that a gender role, that’s where you have lost me. Men presiding over women in the church, in the home, and in eternity is not a gender role. It’s a gender hierarchy. And I do not believe that it comes from God, regardless of how righteously it’s done. We can all see the many evils that come from patriarchy all around the world, from child brides to sex slavery to unrighteous dominion in the home. I cannot believe that this is the way God’s kingdom is organized. I don’t believe if it’s done nicely that makes it okay. It is not consistent with my knowledge of just and loving Heavenly Parents.
I believe that something has to change. I can’t say that I know exactly what that change should look like, but I have received for myself a knowledge that things as they are now is not right. And I believe women should be ordained.