Hi, I’m Josh. My Mormon roots go deep. I come from a long line of pioneer ancestors, some of whom were among the earliest saints to join the Church and include one of the original 12 apostles. I was baptized at eight, graduated from early-morning seminary, served a mission, went to BYU, married in the temple, and have served in many church callings, including Branch President, Young Men’s President, Elder’s Quorum President, and in the Stake Sunday School Presidency, among many, many others. I received my Ph.D. in Economics from Brown University, and currently am an economics professor in Florida. My research focuses on the intersection between demography – with an emphasis on gender and fertility rates – and economic outcomes.
I believe women should be allowed to be ordained to the priesthood in the LDS Church – both because I have personally observed the inequality which emerges when only one gender holds the priesthood, but also because I believe there is doctrinal and historical precedent for it.
The Book of Mormon teaches that “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). I believe that until women have the right to hold the priesthood, the Church will remain inherently unequal. I have seen unequal burdens of leadership placed on a few overworked men when there are plenty of bright, capable women able to help. I have seen poor leadership quality in wards and branches which skew heavily female, since the pool of potential male leaders is almost non-existent. I have seen male ward leaders disregard suggestions from women leaders simply because they don’t, and cannot, have the final say without the priesthood. I was instructed on my mission to only proselyte to men because, due to our lay clergy, we needed to convert more “potential bishops and branch presidents”. It felt wrong that a woman convert was less valuable than a man in the church of God.
I love learning about the history of my ancestors and my heritage as a Mormon. As I have studied, I learned that women used to be able to give healing blessings in the LDS Church, even up until the early 1900s. Joseph Smith used the word “ordain” when setting apart the leaders of the original Relief Society, which he said he wanted “to make a kingdom of priests”. I began to realize that some authority of the priesthood for women was a gift given – and then a gift taken. Given such a precedent, I believe that the ordination of women rests on firm theological ground. In 1997, even President Gordon B. Hinckley said the priesthood ban on women was a policy which could change if women agitated for it. We now see women agitating for the priesthood.
But most meaningful to me, my heart has broken as I have watched the inequality in the Church affect my wife’s inherent sense of self-worth. Her whole life she has struggled to understand why males and females are treated so differently in the Church. At times she has wondered if women are really “less than” with God. The tension between what she wants and feels capable of, and what the Church tells her she should be, has been the defining struggle of her life. Now I realize why that never felt quite right: It’s not. I know the leaders of the Church don’t see her tears or hear her voice, but I do – and I feel I can’t be silent any more.
I believe women should be ordained.