A group of Mormon women has decided to designate this Sunday (December 16th) as Women Wear Pants to Church Day. This, and the reaction to it has made me do a lot of thinking and I have a few things to say.
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can't see.
Who am I to judge another?
-Susan Evans McCloud
Some women are discontent with what they see as sexism in the church (for ease I will call them feminists). They have concerns based on their experiences. Other women, who have had different experiences, do not believe there is sexism in the church (for ease, traditionalists). People are different and that’s okay. However, some traditionalists made statements like, “they (the feminists) don’t truly understand the Gospel and they don’t really have faith in God.” That is not okay. It is wrong to marginalize and dismiss others because they disagree with you. These issues are painful for some people, they struggle constantly. When someone is going through a hard time, don’t make things harder for them by attacking their faith and belief.
There is disagreement in the church. There always has been. There always will be. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. We have the Word of Wisdom because Joseph Smith didn’t like clouds of smoke at church and Emma Smith didn’t like cleaning filthy tobacco spit off the floor. A problem was observed and something was done about it. Disagreements can make things happen.
We need to try harder to understand each other.
I have been disturbed by statements like, “if you don’t like the church, why don’t you leave and find one you like.” The prospect of that is sometimes tempting. I have stopped going to church several times because I found it intolerable. I always end up going back. Why? Because I have had profound spiritual experiences within the framework of the church. This does not mean I like everything about the church. It especially does not mean I like all the people in the church, or all of its leaders.
The “love it or leave it” attitude traps people in two scenarios.
1. They “love it” by keeping their mouths shut and holding all of their pain inside or -
2. They “leave it” and then have to endure active members trying to get them back to church and/or members fearing for the lost souls and wondering what sin made them leave the true path.
Do you want to be in that situation? Don’t subject others to it.
Many will argue that this is “a problem with the culture in the church and not the church itself.” Fine, I understand that. If a problem is just cultural, why not have a discussion and get things resolved? Why tell these feminists that their concerns are not valid when we could be listening to them and trying help them resolve their issues?
I may be overly sensitive to these issues. Lately, a personal dichotomy has been growing in me. Half of me loves the church (the spiritual aspects, the sense of community) and the other half is repulsed by it (the sexism, views on homosexuality, history of racism). I have discovered I am not alone in this. Many struggle to reconcile the way they feel and the way they think they should feel. Some members who attend church each week are actually agnostic and go because they want to support their family or they like the social interaction. Some don’t believe the scriptures are true, but believe in redemption and like what the church has to offer. We think the church is homogeneous because we are scared to talk about it. Mormonism is a much bigger tent than I originally thought. Diversity will make us stronger, not weaker.