I was studying the Daughters in My Kingdom book this past week, anxiously reading so that I can finish it in time for the General Relief Society meeting on September 29. I was reading in Chapter 4 and the book started describing how the women of the Church boldly defended the practice of polygamy (the irony of that is not lost on me – especially given the amount of discomfort and desire to explain it away by women – and men – of the Church today). The book describes how the United States government passed legislation banning polygamy due to the opinion of the rest of society that Mormon women were degraded and abused under the law of polygamy. In January 1870, a group of Latter-day Saint women decided to speak to the world – for themselves – and let them know what active, faithful Latter-day Saint women were really like.
Image Credit: Daughters in My Kingdom p. 44
“It was high time [to] rise up in the dignity of our calling and speak for ourselves. . . . The world does not know us, and truth and justice to our brethren and to ourselves demands us to speak. . . . We are not inferior to the ladies of the world, and we do not want to appear so.”
I have felt in the past several months that the world does not understand Mormon women. The world still thinks that Mormon women are oppressed, somehow treated as less than men in our Church, because we aren’t ordained to priesthood offices, and because a woman will never be The Prophet. And most of the people who seem to speak about what faithful Mormon want are not, in fact, faithful Mormon women.
Two cases to illustrate my point:
One of the most vocal Mormon women about the inequalities and injustices that Mormon women face is a woman who of her own choice (so she says) has never been through the temple, has never experienced the endowment of priesthood power given freely in the temple ordinances – and then vehemently argues that women should be ordained to priesthood offices in the Church (and that the Church should embrace same-gender marriage, among other things).
Recently, on the Mormon in America primetime special on NBC, the person they chose to interview about the temple was a Mormon woman who had left the Church and had never been through the temple – again, never been endowed with the knowledge and priesthood power that comes from the ordinances and covenants made in the Holy temple.
The loudest voices these days are women (and men) who criticize Church leaders, clamor for “change” in the Church structure, and describe most faithful saints as disillusioned, unintellectual, or somehow brainwashed. If you really knew anything, you would know that the Church needs some serious change to occur before it is actually the true Church. Oh, but the gospel is true. (says these people)
I have been feeling an increased urgency to stand up and speak out. To be louder than the dissenting voices. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and she made the observation that most women in the Church are not like the women (and men) who are the loudest voices of the Church. As blogger SilverRain put it recently,
“In this dichotomy [perpetuated by the loudest voices], there are two groups of women in the Church: those who see a problem with the way women are utilized and heard in the Church, have likely been adversely affected by it, and who therefore choose to “agitate for change;” and those who have never felt the pain a male-only Priesthood can bring to women, who don’t question the authority, and who therefore urge women to, essentially, “sit down and shut up” about it.
But there is another group, of women who have likely been mistreated or misunderstood by a member of the male-only priesthood in the past, or of women who have never been hurt but have still pondered these issues deeply, who would like to see hearts change, but who believe that the male-only Priesthood structure is in place at the will of the Lord, and who support the Lord’s authority structure and the Lord’s established methods for any change that will come.”
In my experience, the largest group is the third group that SilverRain points out. Also, in my experience, the most silent group is that third group. They are the women who are not writing inflammatory blog posts. Rather, they are writing stories of spiritual inspiration in their journals for their posterity who have been born in the covenant. They are not openly criticizing Church leaders or policies on very public news websites, newspapers, and news channels. Rather, they are silently sustaining those Church leaders by magnifying their callings, providing compassionate service in their wards and branches, and instructing one another in the doctrines of the gospel. They are not fighting for same-sex marriage, but rather they are ardently defending the family within the walls of their own homes, shunning pornography, protecting their children from the influences of the world, studying the scriptures, and praying with their families. They may be silent, but from what I have seen they are strong.
Image Credit: LDS Church News
We cannot be silent any longer. It is “high time [to] rise up in the dignity of our calling and speak for ourselves. . . . The world does not know us, and truth and justice to our brethren and to ourselves demands us to speak. . . . We are not inferior to the ladies [of the Church who speak out], and we do not want to appear so.”
Women of the Church – you faithful, righteous women. It’s high time to rise up in the dignity of your calling and speak for yourselves. Come join us. Come speak up with us. Come help us show the world what it really means to be a Latter-day Saint woman, a disciple of Christ.
How can you speak up in your circle of influence? How can you expand your circle of influence and be part of a “wide and extensive sphere of action”? Will you rise up and speak for yourself?