Hello. My name is Colleen. I’ve been married for almost twenty years. I’m an adoptive mom. I am a daughter of Mormon parents, and the middle of ten children. I am an aunt, a sister, a friend, and a mentor. I’ve served as a Relief Society president, Family History Center director, teacher, secretary and in many other callings in the LDS Church. I’m a board gamer, a library aide, historian, and singer-song writer.
Now, forget all those labels for a moment as I share a piece of my soul with you.
I didn’t submit an Ordain Women profile early on because I was afraid. It wasn’t fear of public scrutiny. (I gave my husband permission to use a family photo in his profile in the spring of 2013.) It wasn’t fear of church discipline either. Or criticism. My biggest fear was that others would read my profile here and think I wanted priesthood ordination for selfish reasons.
For too long, we have allowed shame, silence and secrecy to overshadow women in LDS culture. And it is casting a pall of fear, skepticism and other ungodly sins onto the church body as a whole.
God is love. Perfect love casts out fear. And the LDS church, in its current state, has become an incubator for fear. Fear of women who don’t fit the cultural molds handed to them. Fear of homosexual and transgender individuals to the point of refusing to allow their innocent children entry into the church by policies that send a clear message that they are not welcome, even though each LDS chapel proudly proclaims “Visitors Welcome”. For years, I have watched our leaders give weak responses steeped in fear for why things can’t change, rather than taking these questions to God and giving us further light and knowledge.
I believe that the priesthood is about love, ministry and service. I’ve always believed that women in the church have access to priesthood, not just through fathers and husbands, stake presidents and bishops. And, I don’t believe that biological motherhood is the female equivalent of male priesthood. I am humbled and honored by my opportunities to minister to my brothers and sisters in the Church.
The conversations that Ordain Women opens up are very important. What women lack in the LDS Church is adequate voice and representation in the decision making bodies of the Church. Some women argue, “I don’t want the priesthood because I am worn out already in my church service…” And to those women, I ask, “What if all the hours of ministry that you do behind the scenes were actually credited to you rather than your male leaders? What if they actually witnessed your burdens so they could be shared in a way for you to experience more joy in your service?”
To our male leaders I would ask, “How much of your work load is already carried on women’s shoulders? If every woman in your congregation left today, would you be able to carry on the ministry they leave behind?” I think not. Just as when a wife heads off for a weekend from her household, her husband desperately misses the order she brings to their home and family; the LDS Church needs more representation and leadership from women.
If it’s not about priesthood ordination, because women already have their own priestesshood, then let’s fix the cultural issues that are holding women hostage. Let’s seat Relief Society presidencies on the stand each Sunday and have them help conduct sacrament meetings. Or let’s call women as Sunday School presidents, financial and membership clerks and executive secretaries.
Women pass the sacrament along our pews; why, then, do we not allow young women to help bless and pass our most sacred symbols of Christ? Christ’s most loyal disciples were women. After His resurrection, he appeared first to women. I believe Christ wants women to carry on His ministry.
Please, pray about this, and ask God if the daughters of Eve should be punished for her transgression in the garden. If we believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression, why do we not follow this basic article of faith and extend it to women? From denying women power and voice by adding an extra veil in order to speak directly to God, we are in essence not following our church’s second Article of Faith.
The truth is, we desperately need each other. If the home is the most sacred space outside of a temple, our church governance and leadership should reflect that. Equal representation and voice would provide more reason for young women to feel invested in this church. Women and children who have been raped by men should be able to work through female leaders, if desired, in their healing process, rather than men. Women are as well-versed in scripture and doctrine. We run households and businesses. I think that given the opportunity, women can help move this church forward as they seek revelation and direction from our Heavenly Parents.
God doesn’t discriminate against us because of our sex. All are alike: male or female, black, brown or white, young or old, rich or poor, fertile or infertile, healthy or diseased, married, single, widowed or divorced. We cannot build Zion without diversity. Unity requires diversity.
Please consider whether our current trajectory is bringing us closer to Christ’s teachings of love. I feel we are hobbling the body of Christ in unnecessary ways and it is weakening, damaging and poisoning our church. We are more than our labels. God sees beyond our labels and examines our hearts. I believe that women and minorities should be given adequate representation and voice in the LDS church.
I believe women should be ordained.