Women and the LDS Church

I started a similar post last fall, it started to take a contentious tone so I stopped and never posted it. I hope that I can just convey my thoughts and opinions as a way of understanding. I feel the need to write down my feelings and thoughts no matter if no one else reads them. I know that not everyone agrees with me but I feel there is a missing voice, or perhaps a not so vocal voice, on my side of the issue. What issue is that? Women and the LDS church. It all started last September with articles about the injustice of women not having the priesthood and those same women wanting to attend priesthood session of the upcoming General Conference. Everything got stirred within me again this last week. I was talking with some neighbors who are LDS women about some issues and some people who have decided to leave the church. There was also recent article in the NY times about this that was pretty good and somewhat fair but still had to thrown in what I call the “Joanna Brooks Camp.”  I am not part of that. I tend to get frustrated when they make blanket statements as if they are talking for all women of the LDS faith. They do not and that is the reason for this blog post. 

I am a quite passionate person and this passion can push me to act rash at times but I feel also is why I feel so strongly about my faith. Let me give you some background about me and why I have the perspective I do. (Why do people always have the need to explain themselves especially when stating an opinion? To justify it? Perhaps a question for my rhetoric studying lil’ brother) I grew up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah. Yes, what you would call a typical “Mormon Girl.” I attended church weekly with my family and was involved in Primary and the Young Women program. I attended Seminary in high school and my dream was to attend BYU. I made a two-year stop at BYU-Idaho but did make it to BYU where I met my wonderful husband in our singles ward(congregation). Like I said, typical Mormon girl.

Here is where I didn't feel like I was “typical.” From about the age of 14 I had a great interest in architecture. My family built a new home and I was fascinated. I had a desire to become an architect, not the typical stay at home mom that is common in the LDS church. I also was a very independent person. I wanted to do things my way and for myself. One time a male friend of mine told me I was “dependable.” I took this that I was a great friend. No, what he meant was that I needed or depended on having a boyfriend. He also said this right before my boyfriend at the time left for an LDS mission. I was determined to prove this friend wrong and being stubborn like I am didn't have a boyfriend for two years. Also while in my first semester of college I was taking a Book of Mormon class and we were discussing foreordination in Alma 13. It was focused on male foreordination to the priesthood. I raised my hand during the discussion and basically said this is all great but what about me? Where do I fit? I don’t have the priesthood. My professor responded with a generic answer that we are mothers and all that goes with that. I was somewhat satisfied but was incredibly impressed the next time we had class. The professor got up and expressed how he had not felt he answered my question completely during the last class. He proceeded to share numerous quotes by prophets and apostles about the divine role of women. It was amazing and what I see as the start of my shift in perspective.

So with that being said are women in the LDS church equal to the men? In short, yes. I believe that. I believe that men and women have divine and also uniquely different roles that without each other cannot be perfect. Perfect like the Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Father in Heaven. That is what we are all striving for, right? My final shift in perspective was the first time I went to the temple to receive my own endowments. I was engaged to marry my husband and before being sealed in the temple I needed to be endowed. I sat there in the temple that day and learned more of what that partnership between man and woman was. The next week I was sealed for time and all eternity to my partner and eternal companion. A partnership in creating a family. A partnership in helping each other learn and grow. A partnership that can also be partnered with a loving Father in Heaven. That is why I believe women are important and equal in the LDS church.

Where am I now? I am a wife and a mother full-time, you know 24/7. I am also a part-time instructor at a small college. I teach a Computer Design class in the Interior Design department. I teach my students to draw and create floor plans and other drawings of the spaces they design. I teach a night class once a week. I have a supportive husband who leaves work 30 minutes early once a week to switch cars with me and go home with our boys. It is a small job right now and I have goals to one day own a design consulting business. We'll see where the future takes us.

Saying what I have, I don’t want to discount others feelings and past experiences that are painful or discouraging that I myself have not experienced. Those are real and can be difficult to overcome. I thankfully have never had bad experiences with my priesthood leaders. I know that some women who have not married may not feel that same faith in a partnership that right now doesn’t exist for them. But all of us are promised the blessings of heaven if we are faithful. That includes an eternal partner in the future.

This doesn't come close to all my thoughts and experiences on this subject but I feel it all comes down to a few thoughts for me. The gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect, the men and women within the church are not. This fact is why it is important that we doubt our doubts first and not our faith. I don’t understand everything and feel so inadequate at my roles and responsibilities all the time. (My husband could second that with the amount I cry to him about this and that). But when I start to doubt I go back to my faith. I have a testimony that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and restored Christ’s church to the earth in these last days. I have a testimony that he translated the Book of Mormon and have personally read that book and have a testimony of its truthfulness. I also have a testimony that Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet today. I have a testimony that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father live. They love us and are in the details of our lives. I have a testimony that as my husband and I strive to work together toward perfection that we can gain our eternal exaltation. This is my faith and it strengthens me when I start to doubt.


  1. I think you hit the nail on the head here by explaining the doctrine of the Gospel and then differentiating that from the people who profess to believe and practice that Gospel. I think that there are definitely instances where women are not treated as equals within the Church due to the imperfections of individuals. And I think that some of those imperfections have become codified as unwritten "rules" about the "ideal Mormon woman." But like you said, those imperfect practices are not the essence of the Gospel.

    Additionally, I think part of the problem with this issue is the way people in the Church try to impose our socially constructed, Western views of social equality onto the Church, whose formation wasn't the result of some external social impetus, but rather direct revelation from God. God's way are not man's ways, and to say that God and his church should conform to man's imperfect understanding of how things work in the ideal world is the paragon of arrogance and completely inappropriate. But, unfortunately when we are learned we think we are wise. (2 Nephi 9:28) Anyway, there's my two cents.

  2. Also, people have the tendency to explaining where they are coming from because it makes you and your opinion more credible. If I understand your background as a woman in the Church who is educated, independent, and strong-willed (and I think I understand your strong will better than anyone, excepting perhaps your husband), I am going to be more willing to accept your point of view on the place of women in the Church than if I knew nothing about you. So understanding who you are and how your background and experience surround thing subject makes your opinion seem more valid. It's a performance of ethos, ultimately. Additionally it's a way of hedging. Ultimately, any recounting of opinion is going to be highly situated within your own lived experience.

    When we communicate our opinions in order to inform, educate, persuade or influence others we are saying that our own lived experience is generalizable across the population. We're saying that the way we see the world, despite being born of highly subjective circumstances, is at least some shadow of the objective reality of the world. So the better your audience understands those highly subjective circumstances that make up the foundation of your opinion, the more willing they will be to accept your opinion as the generalizable truth (lower case "t") that you are submitting it to be. This is obviously just one facet of making a stated opinion rhetorically sound and effective, but it's an important one.

    There you go. That's probably a lot more than you cared to know, but I'm currently procrastinating writing a paper, so it provided a welcome distraction.

    1. Thanks! I knew you could shed more light on the subject and I knew there had to be some reason whether it be subconscious, nature or some other. True you know my strong will quite well. :)

  3. I agree with you. I feel at odds with a lot of friends and people in our generation about this and other similar issues. I get disheartened when even women in the Church start to disparage the importance of being a mother (and staying at home when and if possible). Anyway, I could go on, but yes, I agree.

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Loved the link to President Uchtdorf's talk. "Doubt doubts..."--that's good advice! I remember having a meaningful discussion along similar lines with a professor of the Pearl of Great Price class I took in college.