My name is Sean. I’m 47 years old and I’ve been married to Renee for the last 22 of those years. We were college sweethearts and we were married two days after I graduated from law school. It was a little law school in Cambridge, MA — HARVARD — but I’m not sure that it’s necessary to mention that I went to HARVARD or that I was there at the same time as President Obama … at HARVARD. But please feel free to leave that part out.
We have four sons, who are 20,18, 10 and 7, respectively. Our family is a little different than most because two of our sons are autistic. This makes Renee Mother of the Year every year, particularly considering that I spend much of my time on the road telling jokes to lawyers. Yes, you read that correctly. I use my coveted law degree as a legal humorist, speaking for lawyer groups across the country.
In fact, this is how I discovered the Church. I was asked to speak at BYU Law Alumni event back in the fall of 2010. Before my talk, my “chaperone” was giving me a tour of the law school and we came upon a wall of class photos stretching back over the last 25 years or so. As I looked the photos, I was struck by, shall we say, the lack of diversity. And don’t get me wrong. I didn’t expect to see many people of color. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see two or three blacks and Polynesians in each class. However, I was surprised that the classes were so heavily male.
In most law schools, women make up a slight majority of the students. This is obviously not the case with BYU. I asked my handler why this was the case and he explained to me that Mormons have this “law of chastity” and as a result, Mormon young men and women tend to get married at younger ages. As a result, by the time that a Mormon woman is in her early 20s, she will have one or more children, making law school attendance all but impossible.
I found this to be SHOCKING. But not because Mormons have a law of chastity. The truth is that ALL Christian groups recognize the law of chastity. However, Mormons seem to be one of the few groups that take it seriously. This piqued my interest in the LDS Church. I thought, “These people take this whole chastity seriously. I wonder how seriously they take the rest of the Bible.”
So, on the first Sunday of 2011, I walked into my local LDS ward. For some reason, I stood out at a visitor and the ward mission leader became my “Church buddy” for the day. While the hymns and the lay talks are an “acquired taste,” I was immediately drawn in by the spirit of warmth and fellowship amongst the members. It was obvious from the start that Mormons really like each other. Given that Christ himself said, “They shall know you by your love one to another,” I was pretty sure so that I had stumbled upon a Church that was ordained of God. The next week, I brought Renee and the kids with me and the rest is missionary history.
We were baptized in May of 2011. We went through the temple and received our endowments a couple of years later. We both currently hold callings. Renee is Relief Society Secretary and Cub Scout something or other (am I an attentive husband or what?). I teach Elder’s Quorum once a month (at least, until someone in the bishopric makes the mistake of attending one of my “lessons”).
As for OW, I probably heard about it through Mormon Stories when Kate Kelly came on to announce plans for the first attempt to attend the priesthood session. My immediate reaction was, “You go, girl!” While I love me some saints, I’ve never been a fan of our priesthood apartheid. In fact, I’ve also found it somewhat demeaning that 12-year-old boys “outrank” sisters who have faithfully served the Church for 60, 70 and 80 years. However, I had come to expect that any such change wouldn’t come from within given our history of agitation (or lack thereof) for the end of the racial priesthood ban in 1978. That is what excited me so much about this movement. The SAINTS were actually attempting to push the Church on the right side of history (which sadly, is not our usual side).
However, I just sat back and silently cheered until last summer when Kate was excommunicated. At that point, I realized that I had to DO something. So I submitted my profile and then sent my bishop a letter in which I handed in my temple recommend. I explained that if Sister Kelly wasn’t worthy to be a member because of her stand for the ordination of women, then I certainly wasn’t worthy to enter the temple by virtue of my cowardice in not voicing my agreement with her.
For the last six months or so, my bishop had been silent on the matter. He didn’t even acknowledge that he had received my letter. That is, until I recently posted my OW profile on FB in celebration of MLK Day. In response, my bishop called me into his office to inquire whether I would continue to be vocal in my support of OW. Given that I so desperately wish that more saints would have spoken up for their black brothers and sisters back in the 60s and 70s, I simply can not be quiet in the face of injustice now.
Hopefully, a few people being willing to speak out will give others to courage to do so. And hopefully, it will help even more saints to see that separate but equal is NEVER equal. My HOPE is that a groundswell feeling of injustice amongst the saints will cause the Brethren to earnest seek revelation. And since the people will be ready for it, HF can help us come one step closer to a true fellowship of believers.
Honoring our past,
Envisioning our future.
Sean Carter, the author of this post, is on Ordain Women’s Social Media Committee.