Hi, I’m Jamie. I write books for a living. Specifically, I write historical fiction. Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it, “I write love stories.” I’m a shamelessly sentimental person. I cry at sad movies, sad books, and sad Burger King commercials—I’m that guy.
But I’m also a history geek. And I absolutely love the bits of history—the long-lost bits of truth, that, we, as a society have a habit of paving over. So you could say that when it comes to history, I like turning over rocks and looking at the squishy things underneath, even if they make you go ewwww once in a while.
Well, in 2007, this history geek walked away from the LDS church, where I had a calling and friends and many wonderful memories, because it seemed as though the church’s leadership was afraid of its own murky history. Instead of celebrating the breathtaking work of historians and embracing the truth, the church had been excommunicating them and redacting their findings.
This disingenuous tweaking of history appeared to be a decades-long attempt to control the message—leave in the good stuff, omit the messy stuff. Or as Elder Packer so famously put it, “Some things that are true are not very useful.”
As a church member (and researcher), I could not abide this intellectual dishonesty, especially when I was expected to perpetuate these church-branded half-truths to my own children. I couldn’t do it. And thankfully, they’re too smart—they’d see right through me, and I’m proud of their power of discernment.
Speaking of children, I should mention that I have four amazing daughters (and two sons), so a question that I often find myself asking is this: “Why can’t women be ordained?”
Seriously, this is a question I have of any faith.
Because as a celebrant of history, it’s worth noting that there is compelling evidence that Mormon women were ordained with priesthood authority in the mid-1800s. And women regularly anointed other women with holy oil and performed ordinances of healing until the 1940s.
In fact, many faithful LDS church members have these “crazy stories” from their grandmothers and great-grandmother’s journals, or stories passed down, spoken from generation to generation. According to historian Michael Quinn’s well-researched papers derived from years spent in LDS church archives, those stories aren’t as crazy as you’d think. Many of those stories are true. But the church hierarchy later diminished a woman’s priesthood ordination to mean: the blessings of the priesthood, which only come through her husband. That statement typifies the pervasive bias and inequality in the modern Mormon Church. Oh, and Michael Quinn was excommunicated.
I imagine that somewhere in Heaven, Miriam from the Old Testament, and Anna from the New are both enjoying a cup of celestial tea and shaking their heads. Because if the LDS church is truly led by a Prophet of God, then he’s forgotten that these women both held the title of “Prophetess.”
I’m truly sad for any church that doesn’t value the potential of half its members (including members in the LGBT community). I’m suspect of a church whose glorious view of women comes exclusively through a white male lens. And I’m wary of any church, company, or organization that is governed exclusively by men.
I believe women should be ordained.