This week, we hear about Matt Toronto and what his vision is for Mormon feminism and female ordination:
I have been a member of the LDS Church all my life. I was taught feminism in my youth by goodly parents, especially my mother. They taught me God’s love by loving me unconditionally. They also taught me that while the Church is instrumental in dispensing the gospel of Christ, there are basic deficiencies in the doctrine and practice of our religion that have been perpetuated by millennia of patriarchal culture. Here are some of the truths I learned from them throughout the years:
The scriptures, while holy and true, are written entirely from male points of view and fail to adequately represent women’s interaction with deity, nor do they contain enough well developed models of female spirituality.
Heavenly Mother is missing from our discourse and is essential to our full understanding of God and ourselves.
Marriages are meant to be co-equal in every sense.
Submission of women to men is damaging and leads to unbalanced marriages, resentment and the perpetuation of inequality throughout the world.
Roles and distribution of labor in a family are flexible and should be decided on by both partners in a marriage and not prescribed from an outside source.
Revelation and miracles are equally available to men and women.
Oppression is most insidious when the oppressed don’t realize they are being oppressed.
A father’s place is in the home too.
Discrimination against women hurts everyone.
Women should be ordained to the priesthood; In fact, it is God’s will.
For me, these truths have been confirmed through the Holy Spirit with the same power and in the same voice that has confirmed the reality of Christ’s Atonement, the restoration of the Gospel, and God’s infinite love.
I struggle to reconcile my love for the gospel with a painful awareness of inequalities in the church. Christ’s teachings should lead away from these inequalities rather than perpetuate them. I pray regularly- both for members and for the leadership of the Church- to recognize the truths I learned from my parents. I pray for us as the body of Christ to enact real and meaningful change. I pray to know what actions I can take to help this process.
One of the most important inspirations that has come as a result of my prayers encourages me to follow the example of my own parents and teach these truths to my children. My wife and I are committed to this effort; While we don’t do it perfectly, there are opportunities all around us to help our children understand the gospel in the context of full equality for all people.
We try to run our family as coequals who make decisions together. We also include our children’s voices in family decisions, whether we are deciding what to do on a Saturday afternoon or whether to move across the country. We take equal responsibility for nurturing and providing for our family, without artificial boundaries along gender lines. This has led us to some creative configurations of earning and child care that aren’t neatly categorized, but somehow fit our family in the right ways. Sharing responsibilities has had a direct impact on housework that allows us to work according to our preferences, not according to our biology.
One of the most important ways we weave elements of feminism into our family is how and what we teach our children. When we discuss the gospel, we explore the role of women in our spirituality. We encourage our daughter and our sons to look for female role models. When reading the scriptures together, my wife and I take care to point out male-oriented language. We explore how women might have felt in times that were dominated by a patriarchal culture and compare it to what women experience today. We encourage our children to contemplate our Mother in Heaven- including her in our discussions about our relationship to the Divine.
We share our feelings about the ordination of women with our children and we pray together regularly for women to receive the priesthood. We also pray for LGBT members to be received with full fellowship into the church. This has special relevance for our children because of their love for their grandmother and her wife.
Recently we begun blessing our children together. This year my wife and I laid our hands on our children’s heads to bless them before the first day of school. They each received two blessings: one from me and one from my wife. While my wife doesn’t hold the priesthood, (and didn’t claim to perform the blessings by that authority), the power of her words carried as much spiritual promise as I have ever witnessed in a priesthood blessing. That power came by virtue of her faith and the strength of her love. It felt right to bless them together because we raise them, teach them and love them together.
Although these blessings had a great impact on our children, the experience for me was particularly special. I have given many blessings for various reasons and with various people, but blessing my children with my wife brought a spiritual unity that far exceeded any of those other experiences. The love I have for my children was compounded and added upon by the unmatched love my wife has for them. This joint spiritual action seemed to invoke the total union promised us in our sealing in the Lord’s house many years ago. It’s a moment that I will always cherish, and I look forward to many more.
I don’t know how or when women will be ordained to the priesthood. I only know that it will happen. I often feel like I am doing too little to support this important cause. The truths that drive this effort have been emblazoned upon my soul by my wise parents and reinforced and enlarged by my prophetic wife. I can only hope that as I strive to teach these truths to my children, that they will embrace them and reflect them back to me with greater insight. Whether or not they enjoy a church with a joint priesthood, I know that there will be three more people in the world who understand.