General Women's Meeting: Disciples of Jesus Christ and Gender Equality


Sometimes I wonder if I belong to the same church as other members. But then I have to remind myself that because I'm a 'tad' older than some, I might be aware of just a few more facts about my faith: Mormonism. 

For example, not once have I ever questioned my discipleship -- I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. Such a designation has nothing to do with gender but covenants. Therefore, when President Dieter F. Uchtdorf during the October 2014 General Women's Meeting referred to the women of the LDS Church as "blessed disciples of Jesus Christ" I didn't give it a second thought -- of course we are. Duh. Did I think it was a lovely way to address the sisters? Yes. But that's where it ended. Now, what are you going to teach me?

No disrespect intended, but upon initially hearing that President Uchtdorf's simple reference got picked up by national media as a big deal I had to laugh. I mean, isn't the definition of disciple, from a Christian perspective, a follower of Jesus Christ? And then I recalled that many don't consider Mormons Christian so perhaps that was it?

Nope. I was totally wrong. Apparently, Mormon feminists had an epiphany about a few things said during the meeting. (Pertaining to priesthood and gender equality.) When they heard President Uchtdorf address the women of the Church as disciples, they were floored. He also referred to our having "heavenly parents" -- part of Mormon doctrine. Anyway, with that and a few other tidbits off they went to noise abroad their new discoveries! Here's how the Huffington Post reported the good news:

Got Pain? Me, too. Now what?

As children of covenant, we turn to our Heavenly Father at all times and in all circumstances for His guidance and answers to life’s most difficult questions and challenges. Life is a test. Whether we experience emotional pain due to a personal trial of faith, or are negatively affected by those nearest to us (for divers reasons), we seek the relief and peace, which can only be found through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.


When the Conversation Does Not Support the Doctrine

Recently though, there’s been a noticeable uptick in online conversations focusing on pain – namely, emotional pain experienced by some Mormon women; most self-described as feminists. This pain is directly associated with being a female member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is said to be the result of a widespread, perceived gender disparity.

The dialogue goes something like this: LDS women in large numbers are experiencing deep pain due to feelings of inequality in the Church and therefore… Most often, these feelings are in response to a negative encounter(s) a sister has had with a person who exercises priesthood authority -- a man. Other female members (presumed to have never experienced similar pain) are labeled as judgmental of the expressed pain -- making it difficult for those struggling with pain to find unity and empathy among the body of the Saints. In order to fix the perceived inequity, changes in LDS Church policy must be made. And from the most progressive voices, only female priesthood ordination will ultimately satisfy.

Note: This post is not about whether or not changes in LDS Church policy should or should not be made and what those changes should be. It is about what the catalyst for change within the Church should be based upon. Is it inspired? Or, is it contrived? And, does it matter?