I am a stay-at-home dad for two crazy beautiful and just plain crazy kids. I am a runner, a reader, and an aspiring writer. And for the first time in my life, I am not an active Mormon.
I graduated from primary, seminary, and a nearly-all-Mormon high school, where my nickname was “Bishop.” I served an honorable and full-time mission in Argentina. I was married in the Salt Lake temple to my wife, now of four years going on five. I’ve been a gospel doctrine teacher, a Sunday School president and a temple worker. I considered myself a scholar and a deep lover of the scriptures. I’ve been faithful to almost every commandment and found great joy in obedience to and a life lived in the gospel.
While my reasons for entering into a period of inactivity are complicated and varied, there is no denying that my growing consciousness of inequality between the sexes within the church is among the primary reasons for the weakening of my testimony, if not the very core reason itself.
I’ve always believed that the basic equality of all human beings in the sight of God is one of the key truths of the Gospel, and for most of my life, I was able to believe that the separate roles for men and women in the church was not a violation of this principle, but rather God’s way of recognizing and validating the inherent differences between men and women. I can no longer morally support that position.
Through experience and study, it has become clear to me that denying women the institutional spiritual authority inherent in the priesthood denies them a meaningful spiritual path towards divine progression. Yes, women lead in the church, but only other women or children. Whenever a man is present who holds the priesthood, whether it be in church or at home, his authority is to be deferred to. Assigning to me an inherently higher level spiritual authority necessarily, in my mind, equates towards assigning to men a greater level of spirituality, and I cannot believe in a God that would create us in a manner that allowed for the identification of inherent spirituality by sex (or race or sexual orientation, for that matter). The evil that such a doctrine would and has created is terrible and, in my view, inexcusable and was in no way associable with the loving God that I always believed in.
I support giving women the priesthood on a spiritual and intellectual level, but I also crave it on an individual level. While giving women the priesthood would not automatically restore to me my testimony of the divine leadership of the LDS church, I can see no path to regaining a testimony in a church where inequality is so glaring and undeniable. I crave a reconciliation with a church that I love, and so I plead to whatever God I still believe in that the necessary hearts will be softened, and the world will be made better as the LDS church is made a safe and nurturing place for members of both sexes.