My parents each taught me that I could grow up to be and to do anything I wanted to be. They taught me that all men and women are created equal regardless of race, creed, gender, or nationality. In this background, it never occurred to me that women would not be equal before God, but I feel that the lack of equal access to the priesthood for both men and women sets up exactly that dynamic.
That’s a bold statement, one sure to offend some, but I want to explain why I made it so bold. My parents divorced when I was young and my father wasn’t really a part of my life in any substantial way until I reached adulthood. My mother has a lot of mental health problems, but at the time they divorced, women always got custody because the court assumed women were naturally nurturing. This is not the case. As a result, I rapidly (at age 7) became the primary caregiver for myself, my sister, and my mother. I cooked. I cleaned. I made sure homework was done. I covered for my mother’s illness, because she convinced us that foster care would destroy us.
For nearly 20 years, I carried that load. I begged for help and while our physical needs were always met, our spiritual needs were met only when it was convenient for the priesthood to help. I will never be able to recount to anyone the number of nights I cried and begged and pleaded for God to send help. I will never be able to explain to anyone how much it hurt when I was told we were being a burden to those priesthood holders, who had families of their own, because I needed help. I’ll never be able to explain to anyone what it felt like to be told to just slap on a smile and deal with it, or what it felt like to have those priesthood holders just never show up. There were, of course, times when they did show up, when someone took their duty to what I would consider above and beyond by showing up monthly for home teaching and giving my family members blessings. These times were what helped me hold on through the prevalence of darkness that followed us.
For a long time, I was convinced that if I were just more righteous, I would get the help I needed. I desperately wished for some way, any way, to access the priesthood keys on a regular and consistent basis. I sought every scripture, every record, every everything to find a better understanding of my situation, of what God wanted from me. What I found was that in our history women’s roles were not confined simply to the bearing and raising of children, but also to blessing the sick and afflicted. I felt like this was the answer I had been searching for all my life.
I asked loads of questions of my church leaders, but much like Ms. Kelly, I was told to be silent. I felt like I had been the good, silent, obedient follower all my life but I needed answers and I could not be silent even one day longer. As all of this came to a head for me nearly a decade ago, I am not currently active in the church. I could no longer bear to be silent. You may judge me for that decision if you choose, but silence about every aspect of my existence was beating me into the dust and I felt the need to live openly and honestly about my past and what I believe about the future. This does not mean I do not have a testimony, just that living silenced became too much for me. Despite this confession, I hope you will listen to my words and consider them. I believe this is an issue that deserves to be addressed, and I know of no other way than to address it publicly and I am grateful for all the women who have held on where I have faltered from exhaustion and who are active and raising this issue. They give me such hope.
I love both my Heavenly Father and Mother and I have tried to follow their counsel for me throughout my life. I believe there is much good in the church and that they do much good in the world, however, I believe this good can only be magnified by making sure that those who haven’t a nuclear family have full access to the blessings and benefits of the Priesthood that we lacked in our home. I believe that many truths remain hidden until we as a people are ready to receive them. I also believe women should be ordained, whether or not the day of their ordination is today.
Whether or not I ever hold the priesthood myself, I raise my support for women’s ordination for my three sisters and their children. I want every broken home to have a priesthood holder available not just for blessings in times of great injury but also for blessings before the start of each school year, or when guidance was needed or wanted, and when comfort was required. These are luxuries not every Mormon family has, but which I can attest are incredibly important and their absence is sorely felt. Women’s ordination isn’t about unrighteous dominion or simply wanting what someone else has. It’s about lifting up hands that are hanging down and not currently reached by the means available to those who have the Priesthood. It’s about doing the most good, for the most people and making sure no other child is left behind. For these reasons, I believe women should be ordained.