Zelophehad’s Daughters

Doubt Your Doubts

Posted by Vada

I spent many hours today listening to General Conference. As is usual for me, I was especially touched by President Uchtdorf’s talks. A couple of his comments, combined with events in Salt Lake City tonight, coalesced to form the thoughts in this post.

As anyone who reads Mormon blogs, or Mormon-related news of any sort, is no doubt aware, many women (and some men) came together in Salt Lake City tonight and asked to be admitted into the Priesthood session of General Conference. The group that organized the action is called Ordain Women, and their whole purpose is to call upon the leadership of the LDS Church to ordain women to the Priesthood alongside men. Many of these women have great faith that this is something that will happen, even though it hasn’t yet.

I once shared that faith. For two-thirds of my life, I was certain that women would hold the Priesthood someday. I wasn’t sure why we didn’t yet, but I could accept the current fallen state of affairs. After all, black men had to wait until 1978 to hold the priesthood. I didn’t know whether there was a greater purpose for this, or it was simply the fault of the limited vision of the leaders of the church, but it was how it was, and those who waited faithfully, not knowing how long it would take for them to receive those blessings (or even if they ever would) were blessed when the Priesthood and temple blessings were granted to them. I always saw women’s ordination similarly (though we admittedly have it a little better, since we can already go to the temple). I didn’t know if there was a reason women had not yet received the Priesthood, or if our church leaders simply hadn’t asked yet, but it didn’t matter too much to me. I was content to wait.

Even with the waiting, I never doubted that women someday would receive the Priesthood. After all, I had been told my entire life that our purpose here on Earth was to become like God, and that someday we would be Priests and Priestesses, Gods and Goddesses, and create our own worlds. It’s a part of Mormon theology that has always resonated with me, possibly because I’m a writer and have spent my entire life creating worlds of my own. And it seemed obvious to me that women would have the Priesthood. After all, how could we be Priestesses without the Priesthood? How could we be Goddesses without the power of God? That made no sense. So obviously women would receive the Priesthood.

I maintained this certainty until I first went through the temple for my Endowment. It was a hard, troubling, doubt-inducing experience in many ways, but that’s not what I want to focus on here. It was, however, the first thing that ever made me question my view of the eternities. Maybe it wouldn’t be how I’d always pictured. Maybe we wouldn’t really be Gods and Goddesses, Priests and Priestesses, working together to create worlds of our own. Maybe women really were just an afterthought, not nearly as important to God as His sons. Maybe we wouldn’t really have the Priesthood, because maybe we wouldn’t really ever be equal partners.

Once this seed of doubt was sown, there was more than enough evidence to keep it growing. In the temple, in the structure of the worldwide church, in the structure of local wards, in the way women and men were talked to and about, everywhere I turned there was more evidence to tell me that the wonderful vision I’d embraced for most of my life was not a true vision of how things would be, that things in Heaven would be considerably less wonderful than I’d imagined. I tried to console myself with scriptures that talked of the glory of Heaven, and the thought that a loving Father wouldn’t create a Heaven that would be so painful for me and many of my sisters, but it was hard. It was hard to maintain faith in that, and many days I have despaired. There was a lot of talk about missionary work during Conference today, too, and that is an area I have struggled with. I struggle not because I’m afraid of what someone will think of me, but because as much joy as the gospel gives me, it imparts a lot of pain, too, and I have a hard time inviting someone I care about into that situation. It’s hard enough to live there myself.

But today I’m deciding to take courage. I’m choosing to lean on the faith of my sisters, who believe that women will be ordained. I’m choosing to, as President Uchtdorf instructed, “Doubt [my] doubts before [I] doubt my faith.” I had faith for many, many years that women would hold the Priesthood, and that we would work alongside men as equal partners. My doubts aren’t gone, but today I’m going to doubt my doubts rather than my faith. President Uchtdorf later said, “What had seemed impossible a moment before immediately became a reality.” I’m choosing to have faith that as dismal as things look to me today, they will change. As others have stated, the answer will continue to be no, until it is yes. Today I’m holding onto hope that the yes will come.

9 Responses to “Doubt Your Doubts”

  1. 1.

    Lovely post, Vada, and I love that you’re holding on to hope!

  2. 2.

    Well said. Thank you for posting your thoughts!

    Emma Mae @ Earthly Sisters

  3. 3.

    Thank you, Vada. I’m struggling with this right now, and your words are a much needed balm. Along with trying to figure out my Mother in Heaven’s place, because it seems likely to be my “best case scenario” for the eternities, and the silence on that front is troubling. Combined, they threaten to overwhelm, and disallowing women from sitting in the conference hall, and preferring empty seats, which I never imagined to be a possibility, was an unexpected blow. Especially after the talks I heard from the Saturday Morning session. I will try to doubt my doubts, but when there seems to be a difference between the rhetoric and actual experience, it’s tough.

  4. 4.

    Interesting. It is symbolism and phraseolgy in the temple that first made me realize that I needed to be preparing to officiate in priesthood ordinances.

    I guess each one sees the experience differently.

    So, I still take my preparation to do so seriously. How soon that happens isn’t so important to me, but my own preparation is.

  5. 5.

    This is amazing. I appreciate your commitment and your thoughts. I hope that I can doubt my doubts as well. It sometime seems easier to walk away.

  6. 6.

    This was beautiful. Your doubts about women’s place in the eternities are mine, too. I just took it for granted as I was growing up in the church that one day I would be a creator on par with men. I have not gone to the temple, but many of the things I have learned about it have contributed to my descent into doubt about the value and potential of my soul. I would never have thought to apply Pres. Uchtdorf’s words to this particular doubt, but I will try.

  7. 7.

    I like reading your posts sister. :-) I really like these thoughts!!! We should chat some more, me and you. MWAH!!!!

  8. 8.

    Thank you, Vada, for this wonderful post. It always makes me sad to read these painful experiences, but they are important and need to be told. I admire your ability to hope.

    I thought about Elder Uchtdorf’s talk, which moved me deeply, by the way, and wondered what to do with his doubt your doubts statement. I feel like it encouraged me to take a step back from my doubts about God, about the historicity of the Book of Mormon, or about the necessity of exclusive saving ordinances. These are areas where I have a current belief, but I also feel there is no way to know for sure, no way to be sure that I am correctly interpreting my spiritual experiences associated with those topics. So his talk made me feel that in the absence of other evidence, it is OK to trust in my spiritual experiences that lead me to believe in those things.

    On the other hand, I don’t think that doubting my doubts means that I should give a pass to Church doctrines or policies that cause suffering that I can see in family and loved ones and strangers in our midst (of course, not implying that this is what you meant). Instead, I feel an obligation as a Mormon, a Christian, a human, and a child of God, to resist and speak out against policies that cause pain and do not square with my sense of the nature of God. My integrity does not allow me to doubt the harms I see caused by doctrines or policies or cultural practices that promote inequality by sex, gender, race, or sexual orientation. I can’t imagine such practices in heaven, so I don’t believe I should turn a blind eye to them on earth.

  9. 9.

    I to thoroughly enjoyed Elder Uchtdorf’s talk about doubting our doubts and looking to what I do and have had faith in. I realize that I do and did have faith in Jesus Christ and that in him all things will be resolved. As I have often pondered the true meaning of the temple endowment it has always been something that has reassured and reinforced my faith in the Eternal love of our Heavenly Parents and that their love is given equally to everyone to get us back to them. The temple endowment is an eternal GIFT of God’s Power unto us as Children of the Divine and Eternal God. As Eliza R. Snow declared, “Truth is reason; truth eternal
    Tells me I’ve a mother there.” As I have pondered this thought in regards to the endowment I have come to realize that the Endowment IS an equal gift of power to all. It is a Priesthood Ordinance. It is Women performing Priesthood ordinances and men performing Priesthood Ordinances as equals to enable God’s Children to do as Eliza R. Snow wrote so beautifully with words of such hope and understanding,
    “When I leave this frail existence,
    When I lay this mortal by,
    Father, Mother, may I meet you
    In your royal courts on high?
    Then, at length, when I’ve completed
    All you sent me forth to do,
    With your mutual approbation
    Let me come and dwell with you.”
    While I do not know if Priesthood offices will be granted to Women, I do know that the saving ordinances which grant Priesthood Power and true equality HAVE been granted unto Women and that as Gods all are equal working as a team equally yoked together having taken upon themselves the yoke of Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:29) and as a team of oxen are yoked together to work as a team they are equals in importance and power to work as a team to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of everyone.

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