It's hard to live in Utah and not be sucked into the Kate Kelly / Ordain Women debate. I have friends on both sides of the issue, and it seems to me that no matter what decision is reached at the disciplinary council, there are going to be some very angry and very upset people. There are no winners here, my blog-friends.
From my limited viewpoint, it seems like both sides could have handled everything much better. Kelly's disciplinary council should have been held before she moved out of the state, period. But Kelly should have listened to the counsel of her leaders. It's okay to question and to ask the big questions, but from my point of view, Ordain Women has gotten out of hand.
All I know is, I'm sure glad I'm not Kelly's ecclesiastical leaders. Can you imagine being the one who has to make the decision? I can't. Shudder.
I can only speak for my own experience as a Latter-Day Saint female, but I don't want the priesthood. I just don't. I do believe that men and women are seen as different but equal in the Church. I have never felt marginalized by the doctrine of the Church. Although after I first got married, I did have one bishop who made me feel a little inconsequential, but in that case, I think he was seeing me as a very young person and treating me that way. Which, young I was. I was 20-21. I was young and dumb. He treated Hawk the same way he treated me, so I don't think it had anything to do with gender.
When I was growing up, I never really wanted to be a girl. I was a tomboy to the max. The only thing that I ever thought was unfair about being a girl in the church (well, besides having to wear a dress) was the fact that I wasn't allowed to go on a mission until I turned 21. Since the missionary age has been lowered, I'm willing to bet my 13 year old self wouldn't find anything wrong with being an LDS female. My 27 year old self certainly doesn't.
When I was 19, I underwent a disciplinary council. It was one of the most exhausting, heart-wrenching, and spiritual experiences of my life. I was scared, but I have never felt so loved in all of my life. I didn't know the bishopric holding the council very well, but they treated me with so much respect and love that I came away from the experience a stronger, happier person. I've just really never felt so protected and watched out for. I knew then and I know now that they wanted the best for me. They held the council to get me back on track to where I needed to be, not to browbeat me into obedience or intimidate me with their man-powers.
At my council, I was given a list of 4-5 things to work on. Stuff like "meet with the bishop every month to discuss progress," "study the scriptures on repentance," etc. One of the men involved at the council said to me: "this is not a requirement, but I have a suggestion for you. I'd like you to seek out and read a book on womanhood. The Spirit will help you to find the right book for you. Read it, and I hope it will help you understand more about your gender and what it means to be a woman."
That right there was some of wisest council I have ever been given, ever. At the time I was like "...uh, what?" And it was frustrating to go to Deseret Book and look at their "womanhood books" and not have the sense that I had found what I was looking for. But one day I happened across A Quiet Heart by Patricia Holland. I decided to buy it, and it changed my life. For the first time I had a better idea of what being female meant, and why it was just as good as being a male. It changed my life, that book. I was happy in my own skin, in my own gender, for the first time in 19 years.
So when Kate Kelly says that women are not equal in the eyes of the Church, I disagree. Everything I have seen, everything I have studied, says that women and men are equal but different. Kate Kelly does not speak for me.
It's hard to watch so many people fighting and hurting over this issue. I don't care if people ask questions. But at the same time, I don't think I could ever presume to tell a bunch of people what to believe and it boggles my mind that Ms. Kelly seems to think she is speaking for every woman in the church. Again, she's not speaking for me, that is for sure.
I don't have the answers. I don't know what will happen. I just hope that those who are making the decisions will have the Spirit with them, and whatever decision is reached will be the right one. I also hope that no matter what the decision is, everyone will be able to see the wisdom in it. Ultimately, I hope that we can all remember that we are children of the Most High, no matter what our personal stance is on the issue of women in the church. And I hope that we can treat each other with love, kindness, and respect.