Faith, Family, and the Priesthood: A Guest Post by my Wife

This is a post written by my wife Jessica. I really enjoyed her words and her strong faith in those that we sustain as Prophets, Seers and Revelators. I really feel her perspective is incredibly valuable:

 

Although many of my friends and those around me have written about their views involving issues such as gay marriage, gender roles, and women and the Priesthood, I have often refrained from doing so because I find all of these issues to be very complicated and very personal to those affected by them.  I do not really feel qualified to share my views on these subjects because I know so little concerning them in comparison to those who are involved and I often find that both sides of the issue make very valid points.  I do not claim that I completely understand the issues involved, or the reasons why things are the way they are (I often still wonder why), only that I know that God knows better than I do and that by following Him and His leaders I can’t go wrong.  I do not expect this to be a valid reason for all, especially given the religious nature of it, but for me it is enough. 

The Ordain Women movement has been interesting for me.  I admittedly do not know very much about the individual members of the organization, and mostly know the main points that have been more hotly discussed.  Many of the issues they have seen within the church, are issues that unless pointed out to me, I never would have noticed.  For instance, I had no idea women had never prayed in General Conference before, until people were making a big deal of it happening.  I personally do not feel any need to have the Priesthood to be equal to the men of the Church, however I realize that to those that do feel that need, it is very real.  It saddens me to know of so many who feel left out and less important, and I wish there was a way to help them feel otherwise.  

I do not believe that just because men have the Priesthood that means that God must love them more.  God’;s love for us is unconditional and perfect.  It is impossible for him to love anyone more than he does, or any less than he does, because His love is perfect, or whole and complete.  He loves the sinner just as much as he loves those who do everything right.   He loves everyone regardless of circumstance or how inconsequential they seem to be to the world.  However, his love for us does not prevent us from going through trials.  Many people seem to have much harder lives in this world than others, and go through much more difficult things.  It is hard to understand that the unfairness of life is not at all related to God’s love for us, and that God loves the people who go through terrible things just as much as he loves those who never experience those things.  What we are given in this life, is not correlated to how much God loves us.  Although I do not understand how it works, part of having faith in God is knowing that God loves each of us, and in the end wants each of us to reach our full potential and knows exactly what it will take to get us there and is there to help us do so.  Having different blessings and quantities of blessings such as a loving family, a home, money, running water and electricity, food, the Priesthood, the gospel, friends, safety, and many others is part of the way life is.  Blessings or trials are in no way a tool for measuring God’s love. 

Similar to how I failed to notice that women haven’t previously given prayers in conference, I did not realize how controversial The Family Proclamation was and is at the time it was given.  At the time, it seemed like simply a reiteration of things I have always grown up knowing.  Men and women are created in the image of God.  Gender is something you are born with and gives eternal identity and purpose.  Marriage is between a man and women.  Married couples are supposed to raise kids.  Families can and are supposed to be together for eternity.  Men and women have different, important, and equal roles when it comes to the family—fathers are responsible for presiding in the family and provide for them while mothers are primarily responsible for nurturing children.  It also allows for adaptation for non-ideal family situations, like when the father is disabled and can’t provide for the family.  

As I have grown and been exposed to more families, and more people of different backgrounds I have realized that the way things are supposed to be, often is not possible.  No one has a perfect family.  Not everyone gets married, and not all married people are blessed with the opportunity to have kids.  People struggle with same-sex attraction. One income often is not enough to provide for a family.  Some women are much better at providing than nurturing, make great leaders, do not feel happy or fulfilled being a stay at home mom, or otherwise want or need to have careers outside of the home.  Some men are way better at nurturing children, and are much happier being a stay at home dad, than having a career.  In other words, family and gender issues are messy.  This does not change the inspired nature of The Family Proclamation.  It sets forth the ideal for us to strive to, but ultimately it is up to the individual members of the family, especially the husband and wife to pray and get revelation for what is best for them and their circumstances.  Everyone is entitled to and should seek to receive their own revelation on when to have children, how many to have, and how to raise them.  It is not our job to judge those who choose to follow their personal revelation on what is best for their family circumstance, it is God’s job. 

Gender roles and Priesthood are often super interconnected with each other.  We do not know why God has chosen men to receive the Priesthood, or why he has chosen to give men and women the different roles that they have.  We do know that it is not because of talents.  Both men and women make really good leaders, both can be really good at nurturing and raising children.  Both men and women equally receive the blessings of the Priesthood.  Ultimately, men and women share the same goal and purpose in this life which is to become who God wants us to be and return to Him. 

One of the main goals of Ordain Women has been to get the leadership of the Church to ask God if women can be ordained to the Priesthood.  Although it has yet to of been explicitly stated that they have indeed asked, I would be super surprised if they haven’t.   The leaders of the Church have been called of God, and one of their main roles is to receive revelation for the church.  I respect these men too much to believe that they would give talks in conference such as Elder Oak’s talk last Priesthood session, or tell the public relations department of the Church to release the statements that have been released (all of which say that now is not the time for that revelation) without praying first about it and receiving the answer that now is not the time.  They respect the women of the church, and are striving to help make women feel more included especially in settings such as ward council where many local leadership decisions are made.  The missionary age was lowered allowing many more sisters to serve missions.  Women pray in conference.  Because average members serve in leadership positions of the church, sometimes things are handled imperfectly.  However, it is very difficult to listen to the General Authorities speak about their wives and the women of the church or read scriptures that share how God feels about women and have any doubts that they respect, love, and honor women. 

Another common concern is that there are a lot more examples of men to look up to in the church than they are women.  Most scripture stories are about men and are written by men.  Most conference talks are given by men.  Most of the leadership of the church is male.  This is also a valid concern.  Men and women are different from each other, and often learn, think, and do things differently.  One comforting thing to me is that all people on this earth have been given the same person to look up to and to strive to be like—Jesus Christ.  He is the ultimate example for us to emulate in this life, and by trying to be like Him and following the commandments, we can learn what we need to in order to fulfill our purpose here on Earth.  The leadership of the church teaches us through their own lives and examples how to be like Christ.  Personally, I have never really felt a shortage of good, strong, righteous men and women in my life to look up to.  I have learned a lot from the many people and leaders in scripture stories as well as modern leaders in conference talks.  I have been blessed to have many wonderful leaders in my life, so many that it is impossible to name them all.  I have learned many life changing things from being taught by and watching the example of the several Bishops, teachers, young women leaders, relief society presidents and presidencies, visiting teachers, home teachers, mission companions, other missionaries, leaders in my mission, ward members, family members, and friends in my life who are all striving to be like Christ and are amazing examples of how to follow Him.  Many of the examples that have meant the most to me and have influenced me the most are those of the people closest to me.  Although more examples and people to look up to are always appreciated, we have so much we can learn from those around us, even those who are not members of the Church, that we can never learn it all. 

I am very grateful for revelation in my life that allows me to know that the leadership of the Church is following God’s will and because I know that these things are from God, I can trust that they are the right answer even though there is a lot that is very hard to understand surrounding these issues.  It is often difficult for me to understand why same sex couples cannot get married, after all, God loves them too, and they are just as entitled to happiness in this life as anyone else is.  It is hard for me to see people feel like they don’t belong or are lesser in the church because of things that they didn’t choose like not having the Priesthood, gender, whom they are attracted to, the inability to have children, imperfect families, or any other of the many many things that make life not fair.  I know that God loves each and everyone one of us and only He knows what is ultimately best for us, even if we do not know why it is the best for us and it goes against what most of society teaches is best.  If we follow what He says, and His plan, all will work out, and eternally everyone can be happy and the unfairness of this life will work out.  

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