My name is Joseph. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. I served a mission to East Tennessee from 1997-99. I was married in the Sale Lake temple (later divorced), and have served in many church callings throughout my life. I am not presently active in the LDS Church, but consider myself a cultural Mormon and an active believer.
I’m a seventh generation Mormon. My great-great-great-great grandfather, Philo Dibble, took a lead ball to the left of the navel in the Mormon-Missouri wars, and carried it with him as a little bump on his back for the rest of his short life. I’m also a descendent of Israel Barlow, who has over 200,000 living descendants, and played a key role in the founding of Nauvoo, Illinois. He has a statue dedicated in his honor, kitty-corner from the Nauvoo temple. I smaller version of the same statue was recently dedicated at This is the Place Monument in Salt Lake City. I take great pride in my Mormon heritage.
In contrast to the honor and veneration I feel for many of my Mormon ancestors, I also have strong feelings about my great-great-great-grandmother, Eliza Ann Dibble. At the age of 15 she was assigned by her father Philo, and Brigham Young, to be a plural wife of prominent Mormon leader Orson Spencer. She was miserable in that marriage. Luckily for her, she was able to get out of that terrible situation and later married my g-g-g-grandfather and they had a happy marriage. Other young Mormon women were not so lucky. I sometimes feel ashamed that our religion put many young women in these situations.
I tell these stories about my ancestors to illustrate the tension I feel as a committed, believing Mormon. I love Mormonism, but I think there are collective sins that are part of the Mormon past. These tragedies are just as much a part of Mormon culture as the happy stories we tell our children. I believe that Mormon feminism entails a call to the redemption of our culture from these past sins. I believe that we can work towards atonement and reconciliation together. This work can only begin when men and women are granted equal access to the blessings of the priesthood. I believe that this will only be made possible when women are ordained, and Joseph Smith’s promise to make the Relief Society a “kingdom of priests” is fully realized. I believe that women should be ordained.