I left Mormonism many years ago. Or maybe I should say, I left my belief in Mormonism many years ago, because as a Salt Lake Mormon, with a Mormon-size family, do you ever really leave?
My family is socially-minded. As many Mormons do, we volunteered a lot, and our volunteer work awoke in me a hunger to fight social injustice.
Eventually this led me to a crisis of faith. I could not reconcile my belief in equality with church doctrine regarding gender roles, sexual identity, and race.
This wasn’t easy. My faith crisis made me embittered. It broke holes in my core family relationships — all these loving people who wanted me back, and couldn’t understand why I would walk away not just from God, but from them. Losing my belief meant losing everyone that had always mattered most to me, and losing them in a devastating, unending way.
This isn’t the right forum to talk about what I also gained, but suffice it to say that, despite the initial heartache, I have much to be grateful for: I left Utah and married, found my spiritual niche volunteering with victims of violence, amazing career, friends, husband, and sassy, delightful children. My life is beautiful and right for me.
My Utah family and I have a truce forged in love, and we do all right despite our differences in Sunday habits. As an aunt, great-aunt, sister, daughter, and cousin, I hope always that their lives are fulfilled on their own paths, and I believe they want the same for me.
And then last autumn I discovered the Ordain Women movement.
This movement, this group of thoughtful women, repeatedly inspires me. Not as a catalyst to return to Mormonism, but by shaping for me a new, imagined Mormonism: one where my mother, grandmothers, sisters, or any Mormon woman preside, bless, lead, and counsel over any church meeting and on behalf of any member; one where they can—and are expected to—sit alongside their male counterparts as equal leaders at the front of any ward, stake, or general meeting, and one where I was from an early age taught that I was capable of and able to give blessings, preside, lead, and reflect on my own direct path to the divine, rather than as a secondary, lesser member requiring another, more valued (male) member to guide me to spiritual and post-life fulfillment.
Ordain Women has been perspective-changing. I can’t actually imagine just how much positive impact their movement might have had on 16-year-old me at a time when I believed that my own capabilities were greater than the role proscribed for me. I believed, then as now, in my own ability to guide my own ship, with my own ability to speak to the divine and ascertain the right path for myself. As a young woman, I couldn’t see anywhere in Mormonism where I could do so in a way that didn’t feel lesser, diminished, and unimportant.
Ordain Women gives me hope for the many women like I was – like I am – who see within themselves a greater capacity for more.
I believe that women should be ordained.