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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Middle Mormon Voice

Recently there were 2 opposing articles that were published about opinions on women and equality in the Mormon church. In reading both I felt there was a large group of Mormon women left out of the discussion. 

One of the articles,"This Fearless Mormon Feminist is Doing Something Very Brave and Very Dangerous" publish in Tech Insider quoted Chelsea Shields, "I gave my religion a free pass because I loved it, "Shields said. "Until I stopped. And I realized I had been allowing myself to be treated as the support staff to the real work of men." The other article  "In Response to The Mormon Feminist" published in LDS Smile quoted Kera Birkland, "Now when it comes to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have always been treated equal." Both articles state opinions of women's equality in the LDS church. Is it possible that both women are right?

I know there are many women in the church that feel sidestepped, marginalized, and suppressed. I also know there are many women in the church who feel supported, honored, and that they have different, yet important roles, than men. How do I KNOW both of these kinds of women exist? They are my mother, my sisters, my roommates, my cousins, and my friends. So it is true that one woman can feel she is "support staff" while another feels "I have always been treated equal."

It seems that in our society  the outlier voices are much louder than the middle voices. The dichotomy of, things being great just the way they are in the LDS church when it comes to women and, the voices shouting that women should have the priesthood, is not representative of the majority of women in the LDS church. I want to go out on a limb and say that the middle voice, or those who can see that there are still some equality issues in the church yet women, in general feel good about their place, is under represented.

I long for a discussion of how we can as women (and men too) start working together for the common good instead of seemingly working against each other. Telling women to leave the church if they aren't happy just isn't the solution. Also, making women, who don't desire to hold the priesthood, feel like they are stupid  or brainwashed, doesn't help either. I believe the power lies in the middle ground.

And while we're on the topic of black-and-white-thinking let's take the Planned Parenthood situation as another example. You can read articles, blogs, videos, charts etc. about the outlying sides of whether Planned Parenthood should be funded or defunded. Depending on which article or which side you choose to believe there is a LOT of seemingly great evidence to support your feelings.  One side is shouting that we should close it all down and the other side is screaming about the greatness in all the services Planned Parenthood provides. To me this isn't an all or nothing situation. 

Like most things in life there is a grey space between these voices or sides.  I think the middle voice is closer to the idea that there are a lot of great services at Planned Parenthood that help a lot of people AND there are some huge moral issues, such as abortion, when it comes to life and death. It isn't as clear as the media or the loud voices seem to portray. There are parts and pieces of good just like there are parts and pieces of bad in many polarized topics.

I don't get too involved publicly or personally with the issues above or others, not because I don't have an opinion or because I don't care--most of the time it's because I tend to be somewhere in the middle of the conflict (and there's no fun in that argument, haha). 

People  are complicated, passionate, opinionated, vulnerable, and so much more. We bleed, we cry, we love, and we all die. We live most of our lives in the grey, not in the black-and-white, and yet the middle or grey never seems to be splashed across any media, blogs, or articles youtube, etc.

 I  feel like the middle voices needs to be heard in the middle of all the conflict! 

What do you think?


  1. Great point. From my observance it begins with the home dynamic. As a home teacher, a single adult, former ward missionary, and primary teacher I have had the opportunity to observe the balance between men and women in the church. It all really begins at home. You can tell the power structure pretty quickly in the home or how kids interact during Sunday school. The world is a grey area. I think the reason that everything is portrayed in black & white is, like the gospel tells us, that we are constantly striving to reach one or the other. We try to escape the grey. It gives us something to strive for. A purpose. It prepares us for the day beyond this life where we will finally stand on one side or the other. Unfortunately, our struggle can often be divisive.

  2. Great post, especially your point about people being to black and white about things. I was just listening to the TED Radio Hour podcast titled "screen time" and they made reference to how in some ways, technology has led us to this culture of vilifying and taking glee in tearing someone down that we disagree with: in the end all becoming more disconnected rather than connected. Really kind of a scary cultural trend. Contention doesn't come from a good source and it seems we're all getting a little too desensitized to it.