For various reasons, the church I belong to, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a.k.a. "Mormons", a.k.a. LDS Church, has been in the media quite often. I have seen discussions from various friends on facebook, some of which are favorable, some of which are not. Some things are false. Some things are true. I do my best to clarify, explain, and help my friends understand my beliefs (if they really want to know, that is). I would like to state some obvious facts:
I am LDS.
I am a woman.
I am happy.
I am married.
I have children--six of them.
I grew up a member of the LDS Church, and was baptized (by my own choice) when I was 8 years old.
I am NOT oppressed.
The last fact is what I would like to focus on: I am a woman who is LDS and a stay at home mother and I am NOT oppressed. Are you shocked? I hope not. For some reason, many people who have left the Church, or those in the media somehow have the notion that women are lesser beings in the LDS faith.
This is not true.
This is not true.
I heard Sheri Dew speak recently. If you do not yet know her, she served in the General Relief Society Presidency of the Church (which means that she was a leader for all of the women of the church all over the world) and is currently the President of Deseret Book (for the past decade or so). Sheri has been asked how it feels to be an 'oppressed woman of the church'. She has answered in telling them the position she has held in the church (the one I mentioned above), the fact that she is the president of the Church owned book store--Deseret Book. Going further, she declares that women all over the world serve in leadership positions over the women of the church, the young women of the church and the children of the church. We speak in church, we pray in church. We teach the doctrine. We preach the gospel in proselytizing missions. In the temple, women officiate in certain ordinances. This wasn't just something started recently to be politically correct. In the 1830's Joseph Smith's wife Emma received a revelation from the Lord when she was commanded to expound on the scriptures. In 1842, Joseph Smith was guided to start the Relief Society (which is now the largest women's organization in the world).This was when women could not vote, could not own property, if they earned money, it belonged to their husband, when women were basically one rung higher than prisoners on the social scale! This was not forward thinking on the part of the Joseph Smith, it was prophetic. Oppressed? No way.
I, too, have served in such leadership roles, and will continue to do so. For instance, I have been a primary teacher, a Sunday school teacher, the compassionate service leader (in charge of orchestrating care for members, whether it is meals, child care, or house cleaning when someone is struggling, or had surgery, a new baby, or death in the family, etc.), cub scout leader, a member of the primary presidency (the children's organization), and also served in youth presidencies while I was a young woman. I don't say this to 'toot my own horn', but to help those who wonder about LDS women to understand how each woman/girl is an important and vital role to how the Church operates, not oppressed.
Sheri Dew related a story of President Gordon B. Hinckley, a Prophet of God (he passed away in 2008). Often he was questioned about the women of the church usually in the context of them (us) being oppressed. One famous answer he gave was in the year 2000 at a National Press Club in Washington D.C. After a brief opening statement, President Hinckley stated, "People wonder what we do for our women. I will tell you what we do: We get out of their way and look with wonder at what they are accomplishing." I think that says it all right there!
Why don't the women hold the Priesthood? I don't know. What I do know, is that Christ is the head of this Church. Not the congregations. Not the bishops or stake presidents. Not even the Prophet or Apostles. Jesus Christ is the head of this Church. He makes the decisions. He decides how he operates His Church--He decides, He presides. I believe that we can have a personal witness of this truth, along with any other questions that we have. We can know for ourselves. We are encouraged to pray and seek and study for answers. Priesthood keys are just as valid for women as they are for men. Both men and women are eligible for exaltation. Women have just as much access to the power of the priesthood as men do. President Joseph Fielding Smith said, "The blessings of the priesthood are not confined to men alone. These blessings are also poured out upon...all faithful women of the Church...The Lord offers to His daughters every spiritual gift and blessing that can be obtained by His sons." (Improvement Era, June 1970, 66.)
Women are vital to the church and have key roles. Bruce R. McConkie said, "Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness and which are brought to pass as a result of personal righteousness—in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord." (This address was delivered at the dedication of the Nauvoo Monument to Women, 29 June 1978.)
Thank you Sheri Dew for putting all of these thoughts and feelings I have had into words. I have summarized a lot of what she said, while also adding my own thoughts. I do not doubt that I am a member of the Lord's Church upon the earth today. He is my Savior and Redeemer. I trust in His ways. I have faith in His will. I do not blindly follow, I seek answers and I study it out for myself. I hope that if you have questions regarding this, you can ask me or someone else you trust, pray about it to know for yourself, or study reliable sources such as www.mormon.org or www.lds.org. Or, contact your local LDS Missionaries and they would be more than happy to answer any and all questions.
© Wendy 2012