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Getting Involved in Ordain Women (Part 3 of 5)

After seeing gender inequities in the Church, Bryndis Roberts decided to join Ordain Women.  But even before that, she pointed out gender problems within the Church.

Roberts:  [I was] very proactive in raising questions and wondering why things were done this way. Whether it was questioning why we had to have a priesthood holder there when we had Relief Society events; whether it was raising the question as to why the little girls only met every other week; whether it was raising a question about why don’t we affiliate with the Girl Scouts? Whether it was advocating for a class called Strengthening Single Mothers. So, I continued to do things in my church role that were, at least in my mind, trying to address some of the disparities and the inequities, but I did not do them from the context of being part of Ordain Women. I did them for from the context of just being a woman in the ward who sees these things.

GT :  Were people receptive to your admonitions?

Roberts:  I think I made some of the men in my ward probably as uncomfortable as I made my missionaries when I was raising some of the questions. Because when I raised the question, for instance, about why?  I have never been one to accept that something is a rule. If it’s a rule, then it needs to be written down, and I want to see that rule because it often has been my experience that people will read words and think that words say things that words do not say. So, when I raised the question about why do we have to have a priesthood holder? Show me the rule. I felt that then people went off and had to come and look to find the rule. Of course, it was in handbook number one.

GT:  The secret one.

Roberts:  The handbook that I don’t get to see. But then they came back and said, and I think the language said something to the effect of, “Priesthood holders should instruct members of the church, particularly women and children, not to be alone in an unlocked building.” Well, I mean, I don’t know, you can read that sentence backwards, you can switch the words around, you can do whatever you want to with that sentence. That sentence simply does not say that a priesthood holder has to be present, when a bunch of grown women are holding a Relief Society event at the church, it simply does not say that. So I pointed that out that this rule does not say that.

Check out our conversation….

Bryndis Roberts explains how she got involved in Ordain Women.
Bryndis Roberts explains how she got involved in Ordain Women.

Check out our other conversations with Bryndis!

271: Addressing Gender Inequities

270: From Baptist to Mormon

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Addressing Gender Inequities (Part 2 of 5)

There are many people in the LDS Church who notice gender inequities within the church.  What are some of these disparities?  Bryndis Roberts tells what she noticed, and what she tried to do about it.

Roberts: One thing that just struck me and I still don’t understand, and particularly in a ward like ours, why the little boys and girls, the little boys had meetings every week, but the little girls only met every other week. In an inner-city ward, all of the children were just subject to so many temptations and so many things that made me think that the little girls needed a weekly bolstering or recharging or protection, whatever you said that the little boys got from meeting on a weekly basis, the little girls needed that just as much. So I didn’t understand that difference.

I found it interesting that while the church had fully embraced the Boy Scout program, the church had refused or did not embrace the Girl Scout program, which I had had involvement with prior to joining the church had actually been a troop leader. I felt because of my prior involvement, that that program would bring as much to the lives of the little girls as the Boy Scouting program was bringing to the lives of the little boys. I could see particularly in other converts, the joy in the men when, right after joining the church, or shortly after joining the church, they were ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and it was like a progression, whereas the women converts had no real sign of progression for them. Then I started looking around at things in our Ward that we had to wait for things to get done, because there were not enough Melchizedek priesthood holders to do these things.  In fact, my own temple class, I joined the church in January of 2008, didn’t receive my endowment until October 2009. Part of that was because we were looking for a priesthood holder to teach the temple prep class.

Is there patriarchy in the Baptist Church (where she was a member previously?)

Roberts:   I felt that the priesthood lifted Mormon men above the patriarchal institution and made them administer it in a in a way that was full of benevolence and righteousness. So, I recognized it was a patriarchal institution. I guess, I dared to believe that it was somehow a benevolent patriarchal institution. {Chuckling.}

GT:   Okay, so different than the Baptist Church?

Roberts:   Yes, different in the sense that, I guess I put a lot of stock or a lot of hope, or a lot of faith in the concept of the priesthood, the whole idea of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the whole idea of reaching back to when Abraham was visited by the high priest or visited with the high priest. That whole concept made me think that somehow it was going to be different in Mormonism.

GT:   Is it different?

Roberts:   Sadly, I found that there were many examples, far too many examples of Mormon men engaging in what could only be called unrighteous dominion.

Check out our conversation….

Bryndis Roberts describes what she tried to do about Gender inequities in the LDS Church.
Bryndis Roberts describes what she tried to do about Gender inequities in the LDS Church.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Bryndis!

270: From Baptist to Mormon

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Elder Oaks Groundbreaking Address on Women & Priesthood (Part 4)

In April 2014, Elder Oaks gave a sermon on women and priesthood.  Dr. Jonathan Stapley said this was no ordinary talk.  He called it theologically groundbreaking!  I was a bit surprised how revolutionary Stapley felt the sermon was.  It seemed to me to be a response to the Ordain Women movement which was asking for women to be allowed to attend the priesthood session of General Conference.  I saw the address under a different light than Jonathan.

GT:  I remember just thinking, “Oh, this is just to placate the Kate Kelly people and to say, ‘Women, you’ve already got priesthood.  You just didn’t know it yet.’”  But you’re saying this is a theological change.

Jonathan:  When Elder Oaks delivered that sermon, I was looking around like, does anyone else [recognize this?]  This is mind-blowing.  I couldn’t believe it. And everyone else was just like, “Oh yeah, this is just Elder Oaks.”  Revolutions happen sometimes a very subtly apparently.

Jonathan: It’s certainly a linguistic shift and language frames our reality. So, it is certainly, for example, an interesting piece from Elder Oaks’ sermon was he was quoting in many parts from a sermon that Joseph Fielding Smith gave to the Relief Society in a general Relief Society meeting.  And in this meeting Joseph Fielding was as I remember, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time, discussed women’s authority in the church and how they were heirs to a great heritage, but also heirs to authority and their capacity of the work in the Relief society and the temple. But he was quick to say, you have authority to do this work. You have authority in the temple, but authority is not the same thing as priesthood.

Jonathan: And Elder Oaks takes this sermon he talks about, he quotes Joseph Fielding Smith, how women have this great authority in the church and this great heritage. And then he stops and says, what else can this authority be except priesthood? Right? So, it’s this really wonderful kind of re-imagining of what these terms mean. At the same time, reaching to our past to grab hold of our past and make sure we’re still connected, but also in very interesting and creative ways, refashioning it in a way that makes more sense for the present.

Do you think Oaks talk was groundbreaking?  Let me know!  Check out our other conversations on women healers, Ordain Women, and click the video below to learn more about this conversation….

Elder Dallin Oaks gave a revolutionary sermon in April 2014 on women & priesthood.
Elder Dallin Oaks gave a revolutionary sermon in April 2014 on women & priesthood.