The LDS Church, its culture, ceremonies and celebrations form a significant part of my early life experiences and memories. I can recall Sunday School, one confused little sunbeam, wondering exactly how a ‘little string’ could give anything away or make the grass grow green. I remember sitting next to my father in sacrament meeting as a boy and the smell of his cologne on warm June afternoons; and my mother trying desperately to make my cowlick disappear during the closing hymn; a cowlick that has only recently been tamed due to my receding scalp. I see myself and the other deacons passing the sacrament trays up and down the pews and I remember the first time I was asked to prepare and bless the sacrament. One of my most profound recollections of this time is the feel and weight of the hands of my father and the other priesthood holders as they ordained me through the various callings of the Aaronic Priesthood.
In my adult life I have always tried to maintain the sense of calling and service that the Church instilled in me as a Latter-day Saint. To serve those without a voice, without hope, those for whom each day is a struggle just to keep the body alive. My life’s work has been spent preventing HIV among homeless drug users, providing drug treatment to those whose lives were ravaged by addiction, and finally training others to serve in the same fields of endeavor the way that I had learned when younger.
I believe that all living, reasoning things go through times of stress and doubt, of stasis and rebirth. This is as true for the individual, as it is for a family, or for the Church. Times of decision can be daunting—one of the most human stories of Jesus is of his prayer vigil in Gethsemane, which illustrates the tension between the easier, softer way—to do nothing and let slip the bitter cup, versus the chilling realization that with the dawn there can be no other way; the path of the Christ leads to Golgotha and the Cross; thence to Glory. Haven’t we all passed through times of self-doubt, of fear, of potential growth, and of sudden change?
The Church stands now in its own moment of doubt, a fulcrum point between stagnation and renewal. The choice is momentous; to open wide the doors of the gospel and to let all enter–doubters, sinners, the righteous and the crestfallen, in the process becoming saints in the Church? Or the alternative, to shut tight the doors of tabernacle, and allow admittance only to those who have previously crossed its threshold?
My favorite scripture is from Ecclesiastes, in it the Lord tells me that there is a time for everything, “A time to be born, a time to die… A time to cast away stones– a time to gather stones together.” Now seems the time to gather stones together, to open every office of the priesthood, from deacon to high priest, and the callings of the Church, from building custodian to revelator, to all of the saints, regardless of gender. I believe now is the time to ordain women.