This is my letter to Kate Kelly. If you have not heard of Kate Kelly, you probably don't live in Utah.
Dear Kate Kelly,
I have been thinking a lot about you lately. I can't help but feel for you right now. I know a little about spiritual anguish, and I am sure you are in the midst of something terrible right now. You have your supporters and you have your critics and everyone is so vocal about all that has happened. And all of this just makes me sad. I am sad for the path you are now on. I am sad that there is so much dissent among church members. I am sorry you felt you had to choose such a public forum for what should have been your own personal quest for enlightenment.
I have been to your website. I have read some of your thoughts. I would even say I can certainly sympathize and agree with some of the points you made. I believe that the role of women in the church has been heavily influenced by our culture, and there is much room for improvement in the leadership roles women can play in our church, and also in how we view ourselves and our daughters. I also think that we have made great progress even over just the last few years. And perhaps some of that progress is due to the influence of those who feel as you do. But where I part ways with you is that I do not believe that ordaining women to priesthood offices is the way to advance the role of women. I also don't believe you have the right to force your personal agenda onto the entire membership of the church, nor should you be actively recruiting people to join your cause to change church doctrine.
I have a hard time understanding how you can profess to believe in the authority of this church, and then be shocked at your ex-communication when you continually defy that authority. You claim that you are being punished for merely asking a question. In reality, you took a great deal more action than just asking questions. You claim that being ex-communicated is a violent process and anything but loving. I would have to argue that you brought that upon yourself; it was not an act that was committed upon you And if you understood anything about church discipline, you would first understand that ex-communication, while painful, is the first step in the repentance process, and is a gift that offers you the chance to come back, free and clear and fully restored. And hopefully, much stronger and wiser for your experiences. That is what repentance and the atonement is all about. Indeed, that is what this whole mortal experience is about.
Let's talk about equality for a moment. You claim on your website that you can prove that inequality exists in the church by looking at numbers. You seem to think that until 50% of conference talks and prayers are given by women, we are not equal. Until a branch can be formed with only women, we are not equal. Until scout budgets and activity days budgets consist of the same numbers, we are not equal. All of these things might be great improvements that we as a church could make, but none of them would change the fact that males and females are equally important in the eyes of God, and equally loved and valued. That is the only equality that should really matter to us, and the gospel is very clear on that point. Whether or not women, or men for that matter, are ordained to the priesthood does not change the value of their souls one little bit. Where in the world did we ever get the idea that the legal definition of equality had to apply to the kingdom of God? I believe that I am a loved and valued child of God, along with every other person on this earth, and that whether or not I am able to administer a blessing or preside over a meeting is of no consequence in the eyes of God or in my spiritual progression.
I believe I already hold the priesthood. I am not ordained to an office in the priesthood, and I don't hold the authority to perform priesthood ordinances for other people, but every calling I have had, every influence of the Spirit I have felt, every sin I have sought forgiveness for, has been through the power of the priesthood. I am not even a little bit bothered by the fact that I can't be ordained.
Maybe I am completely missing the point here. I am sure you could tear apart every one of my arguments in a matter of a few sentences. I'm sure you are a lot smarter and much better educated than am I. But what I really want to say to you, Kate, is this: Come back. Get on that proverbial road to repentance The church needs you. We need strong, outspoken, intelligent women to be a force for good in this world, and in helping the church to grow in the right ways. We need women who can ask questions and start dialogues, and who can be leaders. You don't need to be ordained to the priesthood to do any of that. And I know it is hard. I hope and believe that with faith and patience and diligence and long suffering, and all those other saintly attributes that I am so sadly lacking in, that we can figure out all these hard questions together, with help from the One who has the answers.
Your sister, Lynne