Ordain Women is Succeeding

No, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not even close to ordaining women to the priesthood.

However, Ordain Women has succeeded in putting the issue of female ordination at the center of public dialogue. In this sense, the Church publicly rejecting Ordain Women’s request for tickets to attend tomorrow night’s Priesthood session of General Conference was far more valuable to the cause than anything that will actually happen in Salt Lake City this upcoming weekend.

Heck, reactionary blogs are referring to you dismissively as the “Ordain Women crowd” as though you are a aimless mob and the editor of Meridian Magazine has accused you of being “intellectual dishonesty.” Yet, these venues are vile. One should not expect or want anything different from them. These slights should be viewed as a badge of honor.

More important than the vitriol and nasty messages you have received, is that people are now talking about female ordination. Not all of these discussions are civil or productive. Yet, in the past week I have had pleasant conversations about the topic, and Ordain Women specifically, with my parents and a local Church leader.

Do these people I have talked to support female ordination? No. But it is something that people are thinking about and discussing. They brought up the topic. Not me. If this is going to be the question which shapes the future of Mormonism, as Joanna Brooks suggests, then this will need to be a dialogue that reaches beyond self-identified Mormon liberals and feminists (as cool as we are). That is happening and largely because of the spark started by Ordain Women.

How do we advance that dialogue? A great place to start is The Challenge of Honesty: Essays for Latter-day Saints by Francis Lee Menlove.

Menlove makes an argument for female ordination that is rooted in both the Bible and Mormon History. It is a well-crafted and thoughtful argument that will appeal to a range of Mormons, even those who do not consider themselves to be feminist. Menlove’s book contains a number of other spiritual essays and reflections. This book reflects decades of struggle and insight. It was a historical context that I needed and a context that others will benefit from as well.

I am recommending this book as a means of advancing the dialogue because links on a Facebook wall are often followed by snarky comments…followed by contention (though I would still appreciate it if you share a link to this post). If you know of somebody who you care about and want to share with them about women being ordained, sharing with them this book with allow for reflection and discussion.

Don’t take to fight to those who you should be convincing. Instead, give them a gift.

 

(UPDATE: See my follow-up post.)

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About Chris Henrichsen

Chris Henrichsen has moved Approaching Justice off of Patheos. Find his latest posts and the new Approaching Justice. Thanks!

  • Michael Holmstrom

    It might be enough for you, but, many problems & questions are around about women & priesthood. A Stake President, being the only priesthood holder there, told a Girl’s Camp he was the only one who could call upon the Spirit there. If that’s true, then the Church should at least Ordain Sister Missionaries. Then, some Relief Society Presidents are allowed to do virtually nothing in their calling without their Bishop approving every item. Maybe they should be ordained.

    For some reason, YM in the Church need Scouting as well, yet, YW don’t need anything other than lessons, so, YW get much less spent on them. Time & time again I hear of sisters at an incident, where some other member was injured or very ill, but, they can’t give blessings, they just have to pray.

    Then, a sister who’s divorced or widowed could have a son become a Deacon. So, does he preside in that house?

  • Ashley Shawcroft

    I don’t understand the reason for the movement. The last line of your article talks about “those who you should be convincing.” This indicates to me that you think the matter of ordaining women is something that the LDS leaders need to be convinced of. This is God’s church. It is not President Monson’s church, or anyone else’s for that matter. If God wants women to be ordained, He will reveal it. It is not a matter to be decided by anyone else. And I think trying to ‘convince’ anyone to allow women to be ordained shows lack of understanding of the true gospel.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

      “…those who you should be convincing” is referring to friends and family. I am sure I lack understanding on a range of things.

      • Ashley Shawcroft

        So you think we should be convincing friends and family that the way the church is organized by Heavenly Father is an example of inequality and thereby instill a spirit of division and discontent among its members? Why don’t we instead try to teach our friends and family members that Heavenly Father loves us and that if women don’t have the priesthood, that is OK?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

          Ashley,

          I am talking about how think think Ordain Women can be most successful. You are putting words in my mouth. That is not very nice. You are the one that is bringing the spirit of contention to this thread. Indeed, God does love us all! Jesus commanded us to love everyone. I have not interested in condemning anyway.

          • Ashley Shawcroft

            I’m not trying to put words in your mouth. The first line was a question for clarification. My opinion of the Ordain Women movement is that it’s premise is devisive. I don’t understand what you mean by “how Ordain Women can be most successful.” Successful at what exactly? Is not their main goal or hope to acheive ordination of the priesthood for women? Or is it to ‘convince friends and family members’, as you say, that women should have the priesthood? If that is the case, then I feel that encouraging people to feel discontent with the way the church is currently organized undermines the authority of the prophet and may cause people to question their faith. I think it is a very dangerous road to travel down, especially if people start viewing the church as a democray wherein decisions are made by man based on the popularity or unpopularity of man-made constructs. I’m sure you’re a very good person and I don’t mean to put words in your mouth.

  • andrew2001
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