More than twenty-five years ago, after I joined the Church in a small outpost of the mission field, I enjoyed six callings. The branch president kept asking me to fill new positions but never released me from previous ones. I loved the attention typically bestowed upon a “golden” convert thrust into full activity in a mission district, but uneasy feelings began to mount. I became aware that some of my positions, such as branch executive secretary, were reserved for men. Certainly there were women in the branch who knew the Church better, and would have been qualified to fill those.
The difference between privileges enjoyed by men and women in the Church hit me like a sudden thunderclap when I moved back to the continental United States and became involved in a regular ward. I started dating a widow, a descendant of the handcart pioneers, who described her experience at singles dances. Men would whisper: “Are you sealed?” When she said yes, they’d lose interest and move on to the next prospect for temple marriage. Despite warnings from other faithful members, including members of her family, I fell in love with this woman. We married in the Holy Temple. However, she could not be sealed to another man so the ceremony was performed differently for us.
That was not a restriction imposed on men. A widower could go to the temple and be sealed to another woman, thus collecting wives in the eternity. But a widow could be sealed only once. If we had a child by this marriage, our son or daughter would have been born in the covenant to my wife and her first husband. In the eternity, my child would be his. This gave me a unique perspective, as a man, into the unequal way that women are treated in the LDS Church.
We prospered in many ways, parenting the children from her first marriage. We sent them on missions and to BYU, and saw them married in the temple. But a smoldering resentment within me doomed our relationship. A dozen years later, having reared my wife’s children, we parted ways.
Today, I’m happily remarried to a beautiful woman who has given us a precious little daughter of our own, one who is unequivocally ours. I have chosen not to impose the LDS faith on my new family, in part because I want my daughter to grow up as the spiritual equal of every boy in her Sunday school class. In our new religious denomination, she can become an ordained minister, if that’s what she desires. All “callings” are open to her.
I believe that LDS women should be ordained. I do so with the perspective of a man whose unusual experiences give him the ability to empathize with Mormon women and the special challenges they face.