Guest post by Brittni Gamble Bunce
Publicly coming out as a feminist wasn’t as easy as I imagined it would be. It wasn’t until my public participation via social media that I fully realized “feminism” is a 2nd “f word” among members of the Church. I jumped two feet in LDS feminism with my organizational support of “Let Women Pray” in General Conference, which involved my daughter’s story being covered by nationwide media. If my friends and ward members didn’t know I was a feminist before, they did after that. During the entire project of Let Women Pray, I felt like a large majority of my participation was doing damage control, if you will. I was trying to make those who were not supportive understand that we weren’t apostate members of the Church; we were asking for a non-doctrinal, cultural change and feminists weren’t always chaining themselves to temple gates or shaking fists high in the air demanding female ordination. And then “Ordain Women” happened.
In came a website with highly educated members of our Church, a beautiful organized website, amazing press connections, and nerves of steel to express the desire for female ordination. Many of my friends thought it was a coattail approach. They started to trust feminists, only to assume I had wooed them over with Let Women Pray, to then indoctrinate them with the Ordain Women movement. I felt so defeated as a “MoFem.” I felt as if the “real” MoFems were turning up their noses at what I considered a huge success- TWO women praying in General Conference- to move onto the more or even most important issue of women and the priesthood. Then on the flip side, those who do not identify as Mormon feminists but supported women praying in General Conference felt as if I was being deceitful and Satan was using me as a tool to lead people astray into apostasy through trickery.
I have never publicly, or even privately, supported the Ordain Women movement. To my knowledge no one has been met with resistance by local Church leaders, but if someone would, I know it would be my luck it would be me. I could see it now; my calling as Relief Society Instructor ripped away, my temple recommend being handed over, my Church membership on the line. The risk is not worth it in my eyes. I often am asked, “Do you think women should have the priesthood?” and my answer is “I would never deny it if given the opportunity.”
However, I think female ordination is not the only answer to the problem. The Church as it stands associates leadership with priesthood. Women have the Relief Society, but after reading the quote by Sister Okazaki and the lack of female participation in the creation of The Proclamation (quote found on pg. 136), I am very skeptical of the input of the sisters on a leadership level. I’m skeptical of how valued the sisters are in Salt Lake City, and on a local level. I think many of my beloved friends who desire female ordination are under the assumption that if females are ordained, that will bring about equality. I’m not so sure. If there isn’t equality in positions where priesthood isn’t a requirement, why should we assume there would be if priesthood was given to all worthy members, regardless of gender?
I believe the priesthood and its ordinances are divinely inspired. I honestly believe women will one day hold the priesthood on Earth and I think glimpses of that can be seen in the temple now. I do find it incredibly sad that many members of the Church do not realize women of the Relief Society were able to bless the sick and their children. I wonder if there will ever come a time where members will realize being ordained to the priesthood would magnify my divine role as a (single) mother to bless my children. However, I think Heavenly Father will not implement new ideas within the Church until the people of the Church are ready to be receptive. Seeing the negative reaction at the idea of a woman praying in General Conference, I’m confident in saying the Church is not ready for female ordination. I feel as if the Ordain Women project was established in a premature manner. I feel there is so much more work that needs to be done before female ordination will occur and more effort should be focused on those areas than skipping right towards ordination of women. For Heaven’s sake can I just hold my babies during a baby blessing?! In my opinion, these various little policies, cultural traditions, and doctrines will have to be changed before Ordain Women will be successful.