Disclaimer: I have faith in my Savior Jesus Christ and His decision to use prophets and apostles to direct His church here upon the earth. Jesus really is the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. So, there you have it. That is where I stand on that.
Second disclaimer: I’ve purposely decided to stay out of the fray on social media during this conference. I post things on Twitter, Facebook, etc., like normal, but I’m not spending a lot of time on the pages or walls of people who are being combative regarding what is taught by our leaders. It has made for a wonderful conference for me. People can believe what they’d like…I’m busy enjoying the blessings of conference.
So, with all that said, I do have a thought that crossed my mind this morning regarding the “Ordain Women” movement that I’d like to express. But in the interest of keeping my conference weekend happy, if you try to start some big fight on my blog, you’ll be sadly disappointed. I’m a lover, not a fighter…
(Note: Elder Dallin H. Oaks approached this subject better than I ever could. Here is a report, and the talk will be online soon.)
I think it is very important that we humans seem to have an innate desire for things to be “even”. That desire for evenness and fairness (which, I believe, are not the same thing) is what, at least in part, inspires people to be generous. It is part of why people give money to charities, or donate food and clothing, or participate in fundraisers. People seem to be born with this desire to even things up if someone has less than they do. I like that. I’m for that. What a great quality.
When we confuse “evenness” and “fairness” and throw in “sameness”, we do seem to get confused on some related issues. I believe that even though God doesn’t give each gender the exact same opportunities, I’m not sure that fact is related to fairness or evenness. Because of the justice of God, He is perfectly fair to His children. Perfectly. That is one of the central blessings of the Atonement. All things will be made perfectly fair. Perfectly.
Some in the “Ordain Women” movement feel like things aren’t fair or even. With our limited view of life and the eternities, that is understandable. I can’t blame an individual for wanting things to be more even and fair. I don’t stand with them on this topic because I believe that God has made things fair regarding the issue of gender. I have attended enough Relief Society meetings and I’ve watched women display some innate gifts that have made it clear to me that if women move away from their God-given gifts, the entire world will lose a power that would shake the very core of goodness. I do think there are some changes in policy that the church leaders are making that are going to unleash the power of both genders even more. The General Women’s Meeting is an example. The missionary age change for women is another example. The new leadership roles for sister missionaries is again, another example. And there will be more, I’m sure. No doctrine changes, but policies change to unlock and unleash power. God’s hand will continue to be felt and seen regarding both His sons and His daughters. Count on that. And I believe that these changes come through council and revelation and through the divinely appointed leadership of the church.
I’ll finish with an experience I had that has helped me feel a little of what it is like to not have certain opportunities that I really wanted. That I really felt I needed. And this experience taught me that God is perfectly fair and perfectly merciful.
Now, I’ve never planned on sharing this experience. I’m not sharing every detail, as there are some parts of this story that are more sacred to me. But, here is a minimalist version:
Our family was traveling from California (where we’d spent some vacation time) back home to Utah. We had a motel in Winnemucca, Nevada, where we swam and relaxed and prepared for another half-day drive to arrive home. One of our children was quite sick with severe flu-like symptoms and couldn’t enjoy the pool and pizza. As the hours in Nevada wore on, each of us contracted whatever was plaguing the first child (and “plague” is the exact word I’d use!). Eventually we all had it, and at the same time. I will spare you the gory details, but I will say that we were never close enough to the bathroom, the dehydration was mounting, and all seven of us had “it”. Our family has never, ever, been this severely sick, and especially not at the same time. I couldn’t walk. No one could drive. We didn’t know anyone in town. We didn’t even know where the hospital was. It was terrible.
After a long night, we were challenged with deciding whether to stay one more day and punish that poor small bathroom again or to try and drive home to recuperate. It looked as though were were going to have to stay since no one could even get out of the room, but we also couldn’t really afford another night’s stay and knew we’d get better much quicker in the comfort of our home. Janese asked me if I could use the priesthood to bless our family members. That, I could do.
One by one, they each crawled over to the bed where I was curled up. They would lay by me and I would place my hands on their heads and bless them, through the priesthood. There was a sweet feeling in our little hotel room, though I could barely talk. As the last child made his way to my bed I had a funny little feeling. I was sad. There was no one to bless me. My whole family was receiving a blessing that I couldn’t have. I didn’t know any priesthood holders in Winnemucca and was in no position to search for any. Of all the people in my family, I was missing out on a blessing. It wasn’t fair. And I wished it was different. Can you blame me for wishing things were different?
During that last child’s blessing I had a singular experience. I would have an impression come to my mind during the blessing, and I would bless the child with that thing. Then I would have another impression of a blessing (like, “I bless you that you’ll be well enough to make the car ride home”) and I’d go to pronounce the blessing but the Spirit would restrain me and say, in my mind, “No, Brian, this is for you.” Then I’d receive another impression and would be able to bless the child with that blessing. Then I’d get another impression but would not be allowed to say it because, again, “this one is for you”. Back and forth. One blessing for the child and then one for me, until the priesthood blessing was concluded. It was, simply put, sacred and amazing to me. And I was healed. We all were.
Within an hour we were all well enough to travel, including me.
As we drove through Nevada, I was finally able to share with Janese what had happened during that last priesthood administration. She wept. Then she shared that during that last blessing she had prayed to Heavenly Father that He would bless me since I didn’t have anyone there to lay their hands upon my head and administer to me. Her prayer had been answered. God, in His love and mercy, had made things more fair than I could ever imagine. No doctrine needed changing. No exceptions. Just the faithful prayer of a beautiful daughter of God, for which I’ll always be grateful.
Wanting the priesthood in not a bad desire. But trusting that God is at the head of this work is even better. That, I believe. God is not leaving anyone out…