I was a confident, feminist teenager. I was fun, smart, full of faith, outspoken, independent, and excited about my bright future. President Hinckley was the prophet and I believed him when he said that men and women were equal in the church. I was proud to carry his name as a Hinckley scholar at BYU. Then I met an awesome man who took me to the temple. Two days before my temple wedding I sat through the endowment and realized that men and women are fundamentally unequal in the church. The second-class treatment made me feel for the first time that God must not love me as much as he loves men. At this point my personal relationship with God began to unravel. I remembered that Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Little House on the Prairie series had refused to promise to “obey” her husband, and here, over 100 years later, I was being asked to do just that. I stayed up crying half the night while my parents tried to convince me that it wasn’t such a big deal. I decided that although I hated the principle, I did still want to marry my husband and I could look past the wording in the temple because I trusted him to treat me like an equal anyway.
Fifteen years later, I started to realize how much my subconscious attempt to box myself into the role of a subdued Mormon woman had undermined my self-confidence, even though my husband hadn’t been the one pushing me into that role. I had been suppressing my own emotional growth, allowing myself to be dependent on my husband. I was constantly beating myself up for not being good enough. I had horrible daily headaches from hunching my shoulders in an under-confident pose.
My husband has also been a fully active but questioning member since the end of his mission. Over the years we talked about church issues hundreds of times and often found common ground. But I finally started to really listen to his belief that the church is wrong on many issues, is culturally biased, and has changed its doctrine many times. I realized that it wasn’t God who thought of me as second-class, it was the Patriarchy of the church – and that they aren’t one and the same!
Now because of his support for Ordain Women my husband has lost his temple recommend, been released from his calling, and threatened with church discipline. After being an active member his whole life, his membership has been called into question, not for any sin he committed or even for himself but because he is standing up for equal rights for me and our daughter.
I stand with Ordain Women because the church has no right to discipline my husband for standing up for what he believes to be right. I stand with Ordain Women because I see how our patriarchal doctrines and culture undermined my own self-esteem and continues to subjugate women. I want my daughter to know that she is just as capable and just as loved by Heavenly Parents as her brothers are. Whatever happens, my husband and I will stand for truth and righteousness together, as equal partners.