Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In the Quiet Heart Is Hidden...

Once in awhile, I'll interrupt the child who is taking twenty minutes to describe a two minute YouTube clip, or is loudly demanding immediate action, to tell them the truth about myself.  I say, "You are speaking to someone with a severe headache," or, "You are speaking to someone who got less than two hours of sleep last night."  They see this as a sign to tone things down, be more gentle...or go tell their dad.

You are reading the words of someone who is hurting.  Breathing feels unfamiliar.  I'm worn from shaking.  Yesterday afternoon, Ordain Women announced that Kate Kelly had received notification of her excommunication.  For those of you who don't know what this means, I put some links below.  I'm not sure why I feel this news so keenly.  I've never met Sister Kelly, but she is suffering deeply and I long to help her, and the countless others who likewise grieve.  But there's more to it.  I see myself in her.  I have questions too.

Why don't women hold the priesthood in my church?
Are women really equal to men in God's eyes?
Why are we taught that men are to preside over their families?
How can marriage between a man and a woman be an equal partnership if the man presides?
What is presiding?
Does the structure of my church contribute to the sexist attitudes I encounter regularly?
How can I protect my children from these attitudes?
Why do I feel othered in my larger church community, a leftover bit?

Many have said that having questions is not a problem.  Questions are welcome.  I wonder whether that's true.  Some of the things I've read and heard this week have left me unsure. 

I hear, "Disciplinary councils are supposed to be private.  Why did she have to go running to the New York Times?" 
I think, "It's not safe for people like me to speak up." 

I hear, "She just doesn't have the eternal perspective that I have gained through diligent study and prayer." 
I think, "Anything less than complete conviction is a signal that I am less than...and lazy." 

I hear, "She can't honestly claim to be one of us and launch a media campaign against us at the same time."
I think, "If I'm not careful about the number of people with whom I discuss my questions, I could be cast out."

I hear, "If she doesn't like this church, she should just leave."
I think, "I spend all of my time being a member of this church.  Whether I clean the bathroom or blog is a decision I make based on my faith.  If I were to leave, it would break my heart.  Where would I go?  There are at least some people I love and respect, and with whom I've served and learned and wept, who don't care."

I'm Maggie.  I'm a Mormon.  I'm an earnest seeker with serious questions and I'm afraid of being rejected by people for whom I care so much.

*The title for this post comes from the hymn, Lord I Would Follow Thee.
Bishop Harrison outlined to Sister Kelly in this letter his reasons for excommunicating her, what it means for her, and what she needs to do to become, again, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She has released it. 
Her defense is written here and here.
There were more than one thousand letters written on her behalf.  Some of them have been published here
I wrote one of those letters.  I also wrote a short explanation here.
All of the content to which I linked in this post moved me and is worth your time if you have a stake in this issue or want to better understand someone who does*


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Maggie , I sure do miss you and your family . Maggie your an amazing person a very intelligent women and one of the most spiritual women i have known. You know what you know Maggie, I am sure you will figure it out. Rely on your spirit... your intellect... and most of all your faith.Men are just men and can falter, but Heavenly Father will never deceive or make mistakes . love always sweetie Jayne

    2. Jayne! Thank you so much! I love your advice, and you!

  2. Hi Maggie,
    I think as women, we are all somehow connected. I think that many of us have the same questions. I think the gospel does have the answers, although, they are often misunderstood relative to each persons' understanding. Women don't hold the priesthood, we do hold motherhood. Somehow, by most people, motherhood is seen as a lesser office to the priesthood but it is in no way lesser. Men and women are joint partners in all the father has in store for us. Neither can achieve the greatest blessing without the other. Men and women's roles are different, we are genetically built different with purpose in those differences. Those roles are explained in the Proclamation to the Family, which also explains that circumstance may require changes is some responsibilities.
    Just as we as women are unable to hold the priesthood-men will never hold the office of motherhood. BOTH are divine callings. Both can be used for the greater good or misused with it's resulting consequences.

    continued in next post(would not let me type my long response as one post)

  3. Are men and women really equal? The answer is yes! Equal in importance. Does the world portray this? Pretty much No!
    Anyone who thinks otherwise does not really understand this doctrine. All men (although men is used it refers to the human race not just men) are entitled to all blessing based on their faithfulness. No where does it exclude women or men. Although part of men's calling, they are chosen to preside, this is simply due to maintain a house of order. If everyone was presiding or if no one were presiding, there would be chaos. It is not intended as a position of power, although as scripture say, D&C121:39 it is the nature and disposition of almost all men(men and women), as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose(so it is not really authority-but misinterpreted as such), they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. This is NOT the intention. By seeing it as a position of control, it has already been distorted. The power of the Priesthood can ONLY be used with righteousness...not by control.(D&C121 as well) A person presiding should be persuasive, meek, and full of love.Should use kindness, pure knowledge, sometimes reproving but always showing forth love afterwards so that not seen as an enemy. A person misusing this position as a position of power most likely would be seen as an enemy as they are not having the family unit's best interest in heart but their own ego at heart. A husband and wife are a team, equals. Should a matter be brought up it should have first been discussed and agreed to between the couple, not simply made by the husband or the wife. Presiding should never take away agency. Agency was why Satan was cast out. Agency is essential to our individual test in this life. As soon as force is involved the Priesthood authority is removed by God, not necessarily by man.(D&C121:37). A woman fills this role to preside when the man is absent for whatever reason, so she is able to preside. again, it is not about power, it is about order. His(God's) house is a house of order, as should ours be. The structure of the church may seem to contribute to sexist attitudes, but again that is purely mankind thinking and not Godly speaking. If it were, man could achieve all the blessing available without us, but it is impossible. We need each other. Nor can we women, we can't receive either without man.
    *continued in next post

  4. You can protect your children by having good examples who understand these principles and demonstrate them so they can truly see, both husband and wife are equal and are partners and teach them correct principles. Knowledge is power. (not forceful power) but having knowledge of truth allows one to discern from lies.
    From the beginning Eve has been commanded to be help meet (not a submissive but a help a partner) to Adam, this still applies to us. We are here to help each other. Man and only man misunderstands this, misuses this, misrepresents this. We are equal, we are all important.
    Part of your role as a mother, is to teach, you are in the best position to see that your children understand this. The mortal men and women of this world will distort everything they can for unrighteous reasons. That does not ever mean it is the will of God. When you truly understand how equally important you are in his plan, you will never feel like a leftover bit, but a valued piece of the big picture. Now, although I type all this, I want you to know I too struggle with these same feelings at times, but they are most often when mortal man has misused their authority not because the doctrine has made me feel this way. I have been excommunicated and know that pain involved in that, but my love for the gospel has remained. I am constantly learning more. Sometimes lessons are slow to learn. Luckily God is patient with us. When I see you and your sweet family I do not, nor have I ever seen you as a leftover bit. I see you as an excellent example of your role as a mother holding with great regard for your responsibility to hold the calling of motherhood. This is the greatest calling available to you as a woman and you are amazing.
    Thank you for your example and for your questions that gave me a chance remind myself how important this calling is and to help me see that I have a testimony about this principle.

    1. Tammy, thank you for sharing these thoughts. I find your perspective interesting and really appreciate it. It means a lot that you took the time to share of yourself in this way. Thanks again.