I was born into a faithful Mormon family. Having been raised in a relatively affluent area, the examples of Mormon women in my life were generally those who opted out of the workforce to raise children and serve in the Church. I intended to follow the same path.
After graduating from BYU still single, I worked for a couple years before pursuing a doctorate degree. Although I was guided by the Spirit to further my education, I periodically questioned whether or not I was doing the right thing. Did it make sense to take out student loans when I really wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom? How was I going to find a husband when I needed to spend my Friday and Saturday nights in the library? The Spirit of God repeatedly confirmed to me that I was on the right path.
I was blessed to find a good husband while in my post-graduate training. We began our life together just as I began a rewarding career as a researcher that has been a blessing to our family. The tremendous opportunities for personal growth have often been the result of additional responsibilities. I have come to understand that the Lord is pleased with my efforts to develop all my talents and to use them in His service rather than to strive to fit a cultural norm.
Like my career path, personal revelation has brought me to an unexpected place in my understanding of the priesthood. An analogy that I have heard compares the priesthood to an umbrella. It is said that it doesn’t matter who is holding the umbrella as it covers everyone under it. Through my worship in the temple, it has become clear to me that God intends for men and women to officiate in the ordinances of the priesthood. It does matter who is able to hold umbrellas. More priesthood holders on the earth would result in more of God’s children being blessed.
Some may mistake my support of the ordination of women as a challenge to those who lead and guide the Lord’s church on the earth. The scriptures are full of examples in which men and women are blessed by seeking and wrestling with God. I am inspired by the woman of Canaan who petitioned Jesus Christ to heal her daughter. Despite being disregarded and insulted she persisted. The Lord ultimately praised her faith and granted her request.
The greatest stumbling block to women’s ordination may be the common perception of priesthood as a burden. As I view the covenants of the temple to be empowering and not burdensome, I have a similar view of the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Having the priesthood conferred may bring added leadership opportunities but it would be a tool to help fulfill our callings to minister.
Other cultural stumbling blocks include the belief that men are less spiritually capable and need the priesthood whereas women do not and the belief that God granted men priesthood and women motherhood. When I think about my husband, father, brothers or nephews, I feel strongly that men are equal to women in their capacity for virtue, love, compassion and all other divine gifts. I believe fatherhood is the equivalent of motherhood and that women and men can accomplish the most together by sharing family and priesthood responsibilities.
I believe that by evolving into a more egalitarian community where our Relief Society is “a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day – as in Pauls day,” as Joseph Smith foretold, that we will further progress in achieving Zion.
I believe women should be and will be ordained.