I am not a member of Ordain Women (OW). But last year I felt the need to understand better why women wanted to be ordained. I spent months reading about it, asking those involved, and discussing the many different reasons for why they have chosen to support OW.
What I found were reasons based a lot on the inequalities between male and female members. ALL of those reasons reflected feelings I have experienced through out my life. I spent most of my pre-teen and teen years asking, "why do the YM/Priesthood get to do things that the YW/RS don't?" The answers always varied, but never felt adequate. I have spent my adult years watching the marginalization of women within the church suffocate women's identities, individuality, and the impact they could make within the church.
I support those requesting more equality within the church. I support those who want to be accepted within the church for who they are, not what they are expected to be. I support those who want to have women's voices actually make a difference within the church. I support those who wish to have women and men work side-by-side in the decision making processes within the church. I support those who believe that women have more to offer than flower arrangements, table cloths, and center pieces. I support those that promote the idea of men and women each being responsible for their own thoughts and actions.
Knowing that I support these things and that lots of these things are some of the reasons that women are involved in OW, means that I can relate to the request of the organization. I understand where they are coming from. I don't have an emotional pull/need towards ordination. I do see benefits of women being ordained.
I stood patiently in line with a couple hundred men and women requesting admission to last years October Priesthood Session. I didn't go because I need to be ordained. I went because I understand what each of these men and women feel. I understand where they're coming from. I also went because, after talking to so many people, I felt that this group was going to be grossly under-represented because many women didn't have the ability to get to the session for themselves.
In Luke 10: 25-28, Jesus was asked "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" and with great wisdom answered with his own question, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" The lawyer answered saying,
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."
Jesus confirmed, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." But here the lawyer didn't know who his neighbor was. Jesus continues to explain by giving us the parable of the Good Samaritan. Explaining that even those we disagree with, are not socially acceptable associates, or that we were taught to hate are, in fact, our neighbors.
Now here is where we all talk about the love and compassion that the Samaritan bestowed on the the man from Jerusalem. He was a Godsend to his fellow human being; truly a miracle. But instead of talking about the Samaritan, I'd like to talk about the man from Jerusalem.
In this story he is stripped, beaten, and left for dead. I have never experienced this and pray I never do, but lets imagine what he is feeling. Hurt, violated, worthless. Then he has, not one, but multiple people see him and walk by. These actions could solidify feelings of worthlessness, depression, and succumbing to death.
But then there is someone who stops to help. This person cleans the mans wounds and carries him to safety where he can get the best help. The man now might feel hope, love, support, understanding, and compassion. SAFE.
The men and women I know who are members of OW, and those who are not (myself included) but question other aspects of our LDS culture and church, feel these emotions. When members of our own church pass us by, count our concerns as unimportant, and scream hateful words at us this solidifies our feelings of worthlessness within the LDS Church.
This year, I will again be joining Ordain Women in Salt Lake City. I will go, not because I feel the need to be ordained, but because all women need a voice within the church, all women need a place to feel safe and secure, and all people, members and non-members alike, need never feel criticized for searching for answers.