Ordain Women: Reflections

The movie geek in me really wanted to subtitle this post: “The Empire Strikes Back,” but I somehow managed to convince that geek that wasn’t quite tonally accurate. 🙂 So we went with the bland “reflections.” (Bonus points to you if you can connect the pic in this post to the topic. I got a little acrobatic in the connection this time . . .)

In any case, my blog and Facebook page were hopping over the weekend after my Ordain Women? post, and so I wanted to take a moment to go over some of the lessons and principles I’ve learned or encountered in that process.

  1. I mentioned this on Facebook, but in hindsight, titling my post “Ordain Women?” and then having the post start with the words “Yup. The time has come, sayeth the Bryce” wasn’t the world’s most genius idea ever to be thunk, and it didn’t represent what my post really was about. The hazards of typing posts quickly . . .
  2. Many people have asked me if I regretted writing that post. The answer is “Of course not!” It’s not like I didn’t know it would be a hot button issue when I wrote it. The one thing I *do* wish were a bit different is how conversations sometimes unfold on my wall. I’m friends with a large array of individuals. I know them all, but they don’t know each other. At times I think it might be nice to introduce them all to each other, so that they understood where they’re all coming from. I don’t like policing comments, but I have to from time to time, because I want my wall and blog to be a place where everyone feels like they can say what they believe and not get put down for it. At times I’ve had people on my wall argue who I think would totally be on the same page in person. It’s just easier to argue with someone when you don’t know anything about the other person. All too easy to reduce them to a stereotype and start whacking away.
  3. Reverse sexism–Apparently this is a thing in the church, too? Where women regularly slam men? I haven’t seen this. Maybe it happens at Relief Society functions . . . But if it’s happening, it ain’t cool. Related, the trend of continually putting women on pedestals: “My wife is perfection incarnate.” “Women are all more spiritual than men.” That kind of thing. This shouldn’t be a pendulum where we slam a gender in one area, then make sure to slam the other gender in a different way. That’s not the equality we’re going for, is it?
  4. In light of Elder Oaks’ talk on women and the priesthood, I wonder what the Ordain Women movement will do. Part of the main reason I’ve spoken out (somewhat indirectly) in support of them is that I believed their motivation was “more equality for women in the church,” which is a sentiment I can fully get behind, even if I might disagree with the *how* they had chosen to get that goal. (In other words, as I said before, actually ordaining women to the priesthood was a step I wasn’t ready to embrace. I don’t think you need to jump to there to get equality.) However, when you call your movement “Ordain Women” and use that as a rallying cry for women’s equality, what do you do when suddenly you’re faced with an argument that women not having the priesthood doesn’t make them unequal? Elder Oaks’ talk was fantastic, but it really only answered the question, “Should women have the priesthood?”
  5. Related to that, I was encouraged by the many people who posted and said they were women and had never felt marginalized in the church. That’s fantastic. But at the same time, I saw plenty of people post (or reach out to me privately) to say that they *had* felt marginalized, and that’s a problem. I feel like those who have escaped marginalization are too quick to dismiss the experience of others who haven’t been so lucky. Just because all is groovy for you doesn’t mean that someone saying things are less than groovy for them is wrong, misguided, easily offended, or lying. A lot of my post from Friday is still just as relevant today as it was before Elder Oaks’ talk.
  6. Equal vs. Different–This is an idea that came up quite a bit, with many wondering why we *have* to be equal in all things. To that, I’ll first say that we of course *don’t* have to be equal in all things. It would be impossible, for one thing. The world is full of difference, and we can get a lot of strength from those differences. Many of them should be celebrated. However, there are also areas where there’s no need for differences. Where we can work to get equality and balance, and life would be better for it. Dismissing differences to try and force equality is just as bad as dismissing equality to try and force differences.
  7. The Sister Trainer Leader program appears to (thankfully) be much more robust than I had feared. See here for more details.
  8. I found it very sad that so many people felt the need to give these women a virtual stoning. They’ve been policing their Facebook page pretty heavily, but even then, I’ve still seen a lot of finger pointing and name calling aimed at them, plus more than a little schadenfreude. I find it very ironic that people would leave a conference focused on loving your neighbor and lifting others up would then hop onto social media and start vomiting out the sort of nastygrams that these women and men were receiving. There’s a disconnect there. Regardless of what you think of the movement or the group’s motivation, leave the judging and calls for excommunication to church leaders and individuals who are somehow directly related to this. What happened to “Love them that despitefully use you?” And this group wasn’t despitefully using anyone. They were taking some actions some people found objectionable. If you really vehemently object to all they were doing and advocating, the last thing in the world you should have been doing was drawing attention to them in any way. Arguing “They’re only doing it for the publicity!!!!!” while shrilly pointing everyone in their direction demonstrates an amount of face/palm I usually reserve for politics.

Anyway–that’s all I have for you today. Thanks for all who participated in the discussion over the weekend. It certainly led to some interesting points. That said, I’m glad those don’t happen too much. Why can’t we all just talk about how to get into BYU for the next while?

4 thoughts on “Ordain Women: Reflections”

  1. MY main question is if they are happy. I hope they are. I just don’t know if I’d be happy in an organization if Ifelt like they do.
    Of course, Idon’t, and I do feel happy.
    I wonder if they’ll self select out.
    And honestly, if the church truly isn’t making you happy — something is wrong. And it may not be worth it. I mainly think the tchurch is true because my life runs better when I follow its princpials then when I don’t.

  2. It’s true. It’s all about happiness. But what do you do when you feel strongly that the church is true, but you also feel marginalized–like the organization you love is letting you down? I know this isn’t the case for you, Hilary, but I’ve felt like that in the past. Like the local level congregation didn’t know about me or care about me. It’s a bad feeling to have, and while I do think I was responsible for some of it, I also don’t think it was all me, judging from how things went for me before that ward and after that ward.

    I don’t know enough about Ordain Women and its adherents to be able to say what’s at play in their individual cases, but neither do most people. If there’s something the church or local congregations could be doing differently to make people happier and help them feel more accepted–but staying within the bounds of doctrine–then I think we should look at doing that.

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