I am a Mormon woman. I am also a mother, grandmother, university professor, writer, and avid reader. I love going to movies, art museums and libraries, and buying books and beautiful shoes. Teaching is my passion; I am thrilled when I can get my students excited about the relevance of Greek, Latin, and mythology to their everyday lives. And I believe ardently that women should be ordained to the priesthood.
I have been publicly advocating for women’s ordination since 1984. I never used church callings and podiums to further my message because this was not my place, but I used every other forum available to spread what I see as essential to the good news of Christ’s gospel: the equality of all people. Since the power of God resides in men and women equally, both groups need public as well as private ways to use their priesthood gifts for their own growth and the benefit of the community. My ongoing public speaking about my beliefs finally led to my excommunication from the LDS Church in 2000 because I refused to be silent on women’s right to the priesthood.
Being cut off from my people broke my heart. I am a sixth generation Mormon on both sides of my family. My ancestors were in Ohio, Missouri, and Nauvoo; some of them crossed the plains in 1847; others came from England and Denmark in the 1850s. I love my Mormon heritage, and I have always found Mormon theology compelling and complex, even though I am at odds with the Church’s stand on gender issues and gay marriage. Though I am no longer LDS, I still claim Mormonism because it is deeply connected to who I am. And I still feel compelled to share my spiritual commitment about the need for women’s ordination. I believe that God called Mormon women to priesthood ordination in 1842 when the Prophet Joseph Smith told the Relief Society that he was turning the priesthood key to them and that he was going to make of them a “Kingdom of Priests.” This was six years before the famous Seneca Falls conference that led the way in women’s rights in this country. We Mormons should have been at the vanguard in gender equality; instead we have dragged far behind. The Church cannot fulfill its divine mission until it ordains women and includes them in all the priesthood quorums of the Church.