Equality can only exist when all people make righteous choices all of the time, or when there is no law and no consequences. One way (equality) is God’s way, and one way (inequality) is Satan’s. When people all choose to obey God’s commandments, then they will be equal. They will be equally happy, they will be equally wealthy, and they will be equally good. They will love equally, and they will be equal by their own choice. We call this Zion.
“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18)
There has been a swirl of talk in the blogging world about inequality in the LDS Church. As an LDS woman, this makes me chuckle. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has one of the the largest women’s organizations in the world. I have served in many callings in the Church, and have only been treated with respect by my counterparts in the priesthood. All of those callings came with responsibility—some of them with more responsibility than I felt capable of handling. Inequality in the LDS Church? No way!
When I was Relief Society President in my ward, I remember making a decision which was extremely unpopular with the sisters under my care. The Bishop could have told me to back off and stop making waves. Instead, he met with me, asked me my reasons for making the decision, and then backed me 100 percent. As a matter of fact, he came into Relief Society and basically reminded the sisters that I was in charge. He told them that they were going to have to change their ways and listen to my counsel. The Bishop was a federal prosecuting attorney and when he spoke, people knew he meant business. It was another year before the sisters began to understand the reasons and wisdom behind the decision. They also came to the understanding that it wasn’t my decision at all, but Heavenly Father’s decision through inspiration.
At the 2013 BYU Women’s Conference, Sister Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society President, gave a talk about the priesthood. She states, “We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood. I testify that the Lord is hastening His work, and it is imperative for us to understand how the Lord accomplishes His work so that we may receive the power that comes from be aligned [sic] with His plan and purposes.”
Understanding the priesthood means also comprehending the complimentary role of women, and that inequality does not exist in God’s Church. Understanding the priesthood and its role in the lives of women is important; it helps us to serve better and to sustain our leaders—both male and female—more fully. All organizations have a division of labor and have clearly defined roles for their members; this alleviates confusion, gives everyone a clear purpose, and helps the purposes of the organization to be met in an efficient manner. God’s plan for His children also includes clearly defined roles. None of these roles is more important than another, but they are different in the tasks required. They have the same value and privileges.
Sometimes I hear accusations that Mormon women spend their lives silently doing as they’re told and never leading or having an impact on their religion. I’m told we’re not seen as having equality to men. Having been a Mormon since my conversion in 1976, I know better. Mormon women are leaders—sometimes even when they’d rather be reading a book.
Inequality in the LDS Church is a non-issue. I never intended to be a leader. When I became a newly converted Latter-day Saint as a teenager, I learned my life was about to change dramatically. My bishop informed me that I was being called as the Laurel class secretary so I could attend the Bishop’s Youth Council and learn how church leadership works. He said I was learning all this so I could be a leader in the future. I protested. No one had told me that was part of being a Mormon—but it turned out it was. Leadership was a part of God’s plan for me, whether I liked it or not. I came to understand that a woman’s role in the church is very powerful.
Women have more leadership opportunities than they have in most other faiths. Nearly everything a pastor or minister does in another religion, everyone can do in ours. Continue reading →