by Michelle Mormon (not Molly!)
Saturday, September 21, 2013
The Patriarchy Dance
by Michelle Mormon (not Molly!)
I’ll never forget the day my husband stood up, laid his hands on my head and ordained me to the Melchizedek Priesthood.
For a non-LDS Jewish man who admitted he had no earthly idea what he was doing, or never really planned to do such a thing, the pronouncement came out almost perfectly! And yes, that day as he laid hands on my head, we both clearly felt the presence of our Heavenly Mother.
Now, if you are a Mormon, you are probably thinking what in the world?
But please, hear me out on this before you run out of the room screaming “Apostate!” -
About a year before my husband and I got married, we shared a powerful spiritual experience of our Heavenly Mother. I had no idea at that stage in my spiritual journey that I would even join the LDS Church a couple years down the road, or that I would be involved in the push for women’s ordination….but Heavenly Mother must have seen it coming!
Not too long after I converted to the LDS Church, my non-member husband could tell I was struggling with the issue of women and ordination, and he wanted to do everything in his power to fix that. So when he stood up at our family Passover Seder in 2011 and walked over to place his hands on my head, I had no idea what was coming. – Apparently, he had no idea what he was doing either! He was just following a prompting.
Since that day, so much has happened. A year ago, I took on Agitating Faithfully and have been both involved in the struggle for women’s ordination, in addition to taking on a leadership role in the Finding Heavenly Mother Project. Just this past summer, I found out that I am definitely a Bitner cousin of Gordon B. Hinckley, the very one who simultaneously challenged us to “faithful agitation” and discouraged us from praying to our Heavenly Mother. Yes, I think my distant cousin is aware of me from the other side. At times, I sense he is cheering me on!
So back to the issue at hand…to most people, it may seem that what I received was nothing more than a “rogue” ordination, but I was reassured that in time, I would figure out what my Priesthood means and how to use it. I have had opportunities to use my Priesthood on occasion as I have felt the prompting of the Spirit. However, personally I like to think of it more as a Priestess-hood of Heavenly Mother in the tradition of Mary Magdalene, but the terminology really should not matter. Either way, the Priesthood is "inseparably connected with the powers of Heaven" (see D&C 121).
What I have noticed in the three years I have been Mormon is how much a woman’s eternal status is dependent upon that of her husband; even if others really do not want to admit it. Recently my husband and I sat down and had a serious talk about this, and our conclusion was this: Okay, you want Patriarchy? Two can play at this game!...
Try to follow my logic for just a moment — if my chances for eternal exaltation are dependent upon my husband, and my husband was born and became a Bar Mitzvah under a different covenant, what does this say about me as his wife? Am I wrong for following my husband’s leading as he follows after righteousness and seeks our Heavenly Parents’ guidance in our lives?
I suppose you could just as easily flip this around and say, well what about those women whose husbands are non-members? Or of a different religion altogether? Or a different denomination? But somehow with the Jewish faith, it doesn’t quite work that way. It’s not so easy! God’s covenant with the Chosen People has never been revoked, and it has been my experience that the LDS Church realizes that on a fundamental level. Consider the way BYU students on the Jerusalem campus are forbidden to proselytize to Jews in Israel. I also find it interesting how carefully the members of my Ward tread around the issue of my husband. There have been no attempts whatsoever to try to convert him! And I really don’t want them to either.
Personally, I find great comfort in the Jewish traditions; here at our home, we light the Shabbat candles together every Friday night, celebrate Hanukkah and Passover, and I fast every year for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. I would describe my own personal spirituality as a healthy mixture of the two faith traditions. While I am not the “best” Mormon out there, I do attend church regularly, pray, and do I ever read my Scriptures! My relationship with Christ and my belief in the Restoration are very genuine. I love Joseph Smith and believe he restored the Church – and yes, my husband and I are planning to go to Palmyra in a couple of weeks for my husband's birthday! – His choice!
I look forward to joining hands with my husband in the Sacred Grove. Who knows, maybe Heavenly Mother will even decide to show up!... I would never rule out the possibility!
So in terms of my so-called “rogue” ordination, I invite you to be the judge….