I remember an experience I had shortly after I was first called as a district leader in the California Sacramento Mission. Each week, I would call the companionships in my district and ask a few questions to get a feel for how things were going in their area. I recall having a conversation with the senior companion in a sister companionship, Sister Jensen. Sister Jensen was nearing the end of her mission and had a maturity, spirituality, and calmness about her that I lacked as new district leader. One evening after talking with her and sensing again her leadership strengths, I wondered: why it wasn’t the other way around? Shouldn’t I be reporting to and learning from her experience and missionary know-how?
I’ve since gained all the stereotypical Mormon credentials (including a few bonus ones):
- Graduated from seminary
- Served an honorable full-time mission
- Grew up in a fully Mormon household with faithful, goodly parents
- Fulfilled numerous callings (e.g. Sunday School President and Elders’ Quorum Presidency)
- Graduated from BYU (with what I call “the three degrees of glory”: MPA, Biology, and Law, which took eight years)
- EFY Counselor (and later Coordinator)
- Faithful church attendance
During my last year at BYU I began to reflect on the LDS practice of excluding women from general governance. I learned a great deal about governance in the Romney Institute of Public Management at BYU (the MPA program seeks to be a leader in that field). One of the things I learned is the organizational wisdom of allowing equal opportunity (without respect to race, sex, nationality, etc.) for leadership positions. Organizations that don’t encourage equal opportunity in employment, advancement, and importantly, leadership positions, fail to realize the unlocked talents and benefits that flow from fair competition, rewarding merit, and diversity.
Since the LDS church excludes women from general governance (meaning they can be leaders over subsets of the institution such as children or women, but never over general segments that include men, women, and children) by barring them from Stake Presidencies, Bishoprics, and the First Presidency, the institution is impoverished in the same way another organization would be. Our church pays such a great cost for excluding women: the sooner we remedy this practice, the sooner our beloved institution will realize the benefits that come from greater equality in general governance.
In the minds of most LDS members, priesthood is a prerequisite for general governance. Because ordination is the simplest way to provide that credential, I believe women should be ordained.