June 15, 2014 0 Comments.

ME STUFF

My name is Tanner Jones, and I support Ordain Women.

If you know me personally, that may seem strange to you (in fact, some of you have even privately asked me questions about my support).

I feel like the reason I get these questions is because I don’t really fit the caricaturized mold of how some LDS people imagine OW supporters – angry, female, man-hating, pants-wearing, flower-child hippie-liberals who hate “the man” (both literally and abstractly).

I’m a conservative, white, male, Eagle Scout, RM from an upper-class, active, Mormon family.  My haircut makes me look like an overaged missionary or an underaged republican senator.  The most visibly rebellious things I do are not shave for a few days, or listen to edited versions of Jay-Z music on my iPhone.  I make jokes about the WNBA, and ridicule hippie essential oil people any chance I get.  I do not fit the preconceived mold.

Which is why I feel like, despite my ‘mold’, I should explain why I support Ordain Women, and why I think most Mormons should as well.

THE PRIESTHOOD

To me, one way to understand the “Priesthood” is as a combination of ritual responsibilities and administrative responsibilities (obviously this isn’t a comprehensive description – which is why I have links – Click ’em!)

Ritual responsibilities include things as being able to baptize someone or blessing the sacrament.  Administrative responsibilities include things like handling church finances or being President of the Sunday School.

Women are excluded from both types of these responsibilities.  So far in all of my conversations, most of the resistance to the Ordain Women movement are people who are worried about the “ritual side” of the priesthood (I’ve yet to have someone be vehemently opposed to opening up the role of “financial clerk” to women.)

For that reason, I’d like to focus my viewpoints on the ritual side of the argument for Priesthood exclusion.  I personally believe there are three possible explanations for the exclusion of women from the Priesthood.

THE REASONS

Reason 1:  Like the Levites of the Old Testament and their temple responsibilities,maybe God has set aside men and only men as the bearers of the Priesthood.  And maybe that will never change (although this Hinckley interview from ’97 makes me doubt that.)

Reason 2: Maybe this is like the preaching of Jesus ONLY to the Jews and not the Gentiles, but then in the future the Gentiles become fair game… in which case, SOMEDAY women will have the priesthood, but just not yet.  We are to wait for divine timing.

Reason 3: Maybe this is like how the church excluded blacks from the priesthood pre-1978 and then we realized that our policy of priesthood exclusion was based out of racism of the 1800’s church leaders rather than doctrine from above.  Perhaps the reason women don’t have the priesthood is based on old cultural habits rather than doctrinal issues.

I don’t know whether the reason is one, two or three, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it doesn’t matter – each reason still merits support.

WHY I SUPPORT

If it is reason 3, then I believe support of Ordain Women makes all the sense in the world.  Their goal of asking leaders to “take this matter to the Lord in prayer” and hoping for a revelation similar to Official Declaration 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants is noble.  It would’t be the first time a strong woman leader asked church leadership to seek a revelation to move the church into the modern ages.

If it is reason 2, then I would LOVE to rally supportively around these women who are waiting patiently for God to tell them that their time has come.  I would hope I would be an ally of Cornelius before Jesus told the apostles to preach to everyone, or before Peter realized what he meant after some extra prodding.

And if it really is reason 1, and women are NEVER supposed to participate in the ritualistic side of the priesthood, then I STILL think we should support Ordain Women.  Of all the problems in the world, I believe that a group of people who want the priesthood in order to bless the lives of the people around them is a noble intention at best, and a harmless hopefulness at worst.

During a time in Mormonism’s history where most Mormons are inactive, and spiritual apathy is a challenge facing not just Mormonism, but all religions, a group of saints who are filled with energy and the desire to serve in a greater capacity within their church stops looking like a ‘problem’ and starts looking wonderfully refreshing.  If only all churches could be blessed with such a problem.

So regardless of what the reasoning is, I count myself as a supporter.  While the future role of women is uncertain, I feel like erring on the side of support and charity makes most sense for reason 1, 2 and 3.  I’m happy to count myself as part of the movement.

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