The church has given me so much:
I learned at an early age that the worth of a soul is great in the eyes of the Lord. I learned that service is the basis of a happy life, and that family and relationships are the heart and soul of a life. I learned that young people need the wise counsel of older people and that self control strengthens freedom. I learned to lengthen my stride.
My husband, who was also raised in the church, feels these same principles in his very bones. He is always nurturing and helping others because of the principles he learned as a Mormon boy. He is a very good man, and I know from where his goodness is derived.
I am a juvenile public defender, a criminal defense lawyer for children ages 8-17. As I see the struggles of “my” kids, I wish that they could have the experience I had as a teen–I wish that they had smart, loving, wonderful and wise Young Women’s and Young Men’s Leaders. I wish that they were immersed in a culture that taught them their own value, as I was. I wish that someone told them that the worth of a soul is great in the eyes of the Lord. I wish that they had something like a ward to be an extended family for them.
But as much as Mormonism has enriched my life, and as much as it is force for good, I am pained by it too.
I wish that on my mission, we wouldn’t have had to rely upon the elders showing up to go forward with baptisms. I wish that my wonderful mission president’s wife had been equal to him in the eyes of the religious institution. I wish that no woman would ever have to stand alone in a church court, with no other women in sight, being judged by a group of men.
I wish that I could have been part of the circle, blessing each of my 3 babies.
I believe that men and women are different. Which is why I believe that the church needs women’s voices in all of its decision making and at every level of governance. If wise women were sitting next to the wise men on the stand at church we would all be richer for it. If a male bishop is the father of a ward, I hunger for a mother, too. “In the heav’ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal Tells me I’ve a mother there.”
I appreciate other churches for their aesthetic beauty, fundamentalist passion, or thoughtful liturgies, yet I always feel like I am coming home when I step in a Mormon chapel. I want to be a full partner in that home.