Hi, I’m Marian. I am not Mormon, I am an ordained Protestant Christian woman: Deacon, Elder and Pastor in Christ’s Church with a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary. I have worked professionally and as a volunteer in ministry settings all of my life, from hospital chaplaincy to end-of-life ministry, youth and young adult education, Bible school teaching, church planting, assistant and lead pastor in churches. Moving to Utah and marrying a person from the LDS faith opened my eyes and heart to the Mormon experience. I had studied Mormonism in theological school for years, but knowing Mormons and interacting with them through joys and tragedies has shown me that there is indeed something special about the Mormon character, something different that is at once a rod of steel a delicate thread, a commitment to life and community, and a thoughtful, sometimes fiercely passionate engagement with the world. I admire and love that about my Mormon family, friends and neighbors.
In my religious tradition, ordaining women is a gift to the Church and to the world, following in Jesus practices and teachings of inclusive love. It hearkens back to the creation story in Genesis, where God created “them” (humans) in “their own (God’s) image”: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Genesis 1:26.
The Bible continues to tell us that the beautiful world God created was then spoiled by disobedience and resulted in the Fall, and we continue to live with the consequences. We see the effects every day in the tragedy, pain and death that surrounds us. In the news especially has been the plight of women on college campuses and our cities and towns, the “rape culture” that allows and sometimes even encourages exploitation and victimization of women and children. The root cause of this violence is patriarchy, and Utah is one of the vanguards of its practice, with a tragic impact on girls and women here. It’s far beyond forbidding the ordination of women – it is an attitude that results in female students having their clothes photoshopped in school yearbooks while young men are lauded as “studs,” for children and women to be frequent victims of sex crimes, incest and rape. It results in sex trafficking and prostitution of children as young as 3 in our most LDS of neighborhoods, of children being discarded, preyed upon and then criminalized because they are victims. Utah is mostly a silent observer, covering its eyes and wishing it away, another topic to excise from view.
Biblical scholar Dr. James Brownson notes “The Genesis narrative tells us twice that both male and female are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27, 5:1-2)…It is not until after the Fall, in Genesis 3:16, that we find explicit discussion about patriarchy: “To the woman (God) said, ‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you,” The parallel use of the same Hebrew words for “desire” (teshoqah) and “rule” (mashal) in Genesis 4:7 suggests that the “desire” in Genesis 3:16 is the desire for mastery, and the husband’s “rule” derives not from gracious concern but from greater strength.” The telling result: “Therefore, Genesis 3:16 portrays patriarchy not as grounded in creation, but in the conflicted relationship between men and women resulting from the Fall.” (pg. 58, Bible, Gender, Sexuality, James V. Brownson, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2013).
Male rule – patriarchy – is not part of God’s plan, but is the direct result of disobedience and sin. That is what we are fighting against. The beauty and the equality of creation including humankind will one day be restored, with death, pain and patriarchy wiped away “with every tear.” That day cannot come soon enough.
To say I support the ordination of women is to say that I affirm and see as good the tremendous gifts of women to the church – every church. To affirm women’s ordination means that I see all persons as equal, and each unique, with gifts and callings that are from God. To say I support ordination, of equality of women in the church and beyond, is to say that I affirm God’s original plan for us and our world. It is my obedience to God.
We are each unique, we are equal, we are beloved, and we are called. We need to respect each other’s callings, honor and support them. The entire world will benefit, and one day be made new.