My family has been in the LDS Church for a long time- ever since Anson Call read and re-read the Bible and Book of Mormon so he could beat Joseph Smith in a theological argument. In the end, although he felt that “to be called a Mormon was more than I could endure”, he decided on baptism.
Like my parents, I attended and graduated from Brigham Young University. Now I live in Nashville, where I farm and study anthropology.
I support the ordination of women because of an experience I had in April of 2006. I was approaching my 20th birthday. I was struggling with my faith, and I was struggling with the question of whether to seek ordination to the Melchezidek Priesthood. My bishop and family encouraged me to attend the Priesthood Session of General Conference, and arranged for me to get tickets. I went, and found that some of President Hinckely’s words at the time spoke directly to what was on my mind:
“Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?”
At the time, where I lived in Utah the media was dominated by debates over migration and the growing Latino presence in the state. The “Minutemen” were taking assault weapons to the Arizona border and threatening to attack migrants. I felt that President Hinckley’s words warning members against racism spoke directly to my concerns and to the urgent questions facing our church, and I left the Priesthood Session glad that I had been invited to attend.
Reflecting back on that experience, I remember how gracious my bishop and family were, how they persisted in inviting me and encouraging me, how they gave me rides, offered to loan me a tie, and made me feel welcome. They saw my willingness to attend Priesthood Session as a sign of my good intentions. I had been conflicted, but I was told to trust the faithful feelings that had guided me there.
When I attended the priesthood session, no one ever accused me of trying to ‘take the seat’ of another, more deserving young priesthood holder and preventing them from participating in the session. I support women’s ordination because I want to see faithful women receive the same welcoming, encouraging, supportive response that I did.
Our Church’s collective soul-searching is helping us rethink what it means to be faithful, to rethink what it means to be welcoming to others’ expressions of faith, and to rethink what it means to treat everyone as equally deserving of respect. I want to see a future where men and women can sit together in the Priesthood Session of General Conference and hear a prophet warn against the arrogance that some are eligible for priesthood while another who lives a righteous life is ineligible because of their gender.
That’s why I believe women should be ordained.