Hi, I’m Melanie. I was born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and loved the church from a young age. I am part of a large Mormon family, have Mormon heritage going back for generations, married at 19 in the Salt Lake City temple, and lived in Utah for most of my life as a devoted member of the church. I served in Beehive and Mia Maid presidencies during my youth and held callings such as ward choir director, ward chorister, ward organist, and visiting teaching coordinator as an adult.
Growing up in the church, it never occurred to me to be concerned that women didn’t hold priesthood offices, weren’t allowed to administrate church funds, held so little administrative decision-making power, etc. It wasn’t until one of my family members expressed concerns about gender equality in the church that such a notion ever crossed my mind. That question lingered while I tried to sort out other concerns with my faith in my twenties.
That struggle with my beliefs led to my exit from the church, but in the 10 years since I left, I never stopped identifying as Mormon. Mormonism is the tribe that raised me and comprises so much of who I am that I can’t imagine not “feeling Mormon.” I still care deeply about the experiences my Mormon loved ones have at church, as I know how profoundly matters of faith, religion, and belief affect each one of us.
I know that many of my active and faithful Mormon loved ones are divided on the issue of women’s ordination. I also know that good people can disagree on such matters and still respect and love one another. It is in the spirit of solidarity with the Mormon women in my life who find gender equality in their church an essential and burning issue that I post this profile.
For them, female ordination is not only an issue of administrative equality, but a crucial spiritual and theological concern. Their desire for their leaders to continue to pray about female ordination does not come from a position of egotism, but from a sense of self-respect and a deep desire to serve as they feel they have been called to do by their Heavenly Parents.
In addition to my Mormon loved ones’ concerns, I believe that women’s equality in all of the world’s religions is a vital concern for improving gender equality across the globe. Too often, religious belief is cited as the justification behind harmful laws and social conditions that oppress women and undermine our dignity, endanger our physical safety, and prohibit access to opportunities.
It is critical that we confront the injustices in our most intimate communities if we wish to make this world a more just and safe place for all of us. This sometimes means risking the loss of valued relationships and social belonging when we challenge the status quo. My life has already been impacted in these areas because of speaking up for women’s issues, especially on matters of faith, and it has been extremely painful for me. But I have to speak up in order to live consistent to my values and out of my own sense of self-worth. That is why I believe that women should be ordained.