Ordaining Mormon Women Would End Joyful Diversity

Last week, LDS Living* published a response to Ordain Women, calling them “a small group of women who are challenging longstanding traditions and even LDS doctrine” and stressing that any recent changes regarding women in the church absolutely aren’t the result of efforts by women to bring about change.

According to the article, actions like those of Ordain Women are foolish and dangerous for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that “sameness is the enemy of happiness.” While I rolled my eyes at how the position misses the fact that equality of opportunity doesn’t automatically result in sameness of experience, I did a facepalm at even larger implications in the statement.

So often in Mormonism, sameness is promoted as the foundation for happiness. The church wants to convert everyone in the whole world, wants everyone to believe the same things and behave the same ways, hearing standardized lessons in uniform meetings every Sunday in nearly identical buildings. Deviations from orthodoxy are both threatening and punished. Correlation, standardization and uniformity are deliberate and explicit goals.

And you know what? It is indeed the enemy of happiness. As a missionary, I secretly mourned how much poorer the world would be if all the Buddhists and Taoists I met in Asia renounced their beliefs and traditions to adopt mine. I felt guilty about not sharing other missionaries’ enthusiasm for changing people.

Here’s another shocking statement:

A concern many advocates of female ordination have is that because men “have” the priesthood and women “don’t,” the blessings of the priesthood are being withheld from women.

At age 12, because they’re male, boys can be ordained to the Aaronic priesthood, moving through its offices until they’re ready to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. “Having” the priesthood means boys and men in the church have the spiritual authority to act in God’s name and administer sacred ordinances in ways no one else can. For instance, baptisms performed in God’s name but without the priesthood aren’t valid and won’t get you saved.

But bits of punctuation somehow eliminate that crucial distinction when it comes to gender. Just put the verbs in scare quotes, ladies, and you’ll “realize” how silly it is to “worry” about who “has” the priesthood or how the church “treats” you!

*Prior to the church’s aggressive attempts to control uses of terms like Mormon, I would have assumed LDS Living catered to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rather than being endorsed by its leaders. It’s published by Deseret Book, which is independently managed, though ultimately owned by the church, so its use of the church’s various names is clearly sanctioned. Now I wonder: How thoroughly is its content correlated? How much approval does being owned by the church bestow, even with a disclaimer about how the magazine isn’t an official publication of the church? In other words, trademarking the church’s names doesn’t dispel confusion—it creates it.

holly.welker@gmail.com'

Holly Welker [@hollywelker] has an MFA in nonfiction writing and PhD in literature from the University of Iowa. Her poetry and prose have appeared in publication ranging from Seventeen to Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought to Bitch to the New York Times. Born and raised in southern Arizona, she currently lives in northern Utah.

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