Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Real Deal on Wearing Pants to Church

Last Sunday was the "Second Annual" Wear Pants to Church Day in my church. Although, this time, they claim, is no longer a campaign to ordain women to the priesthood. They are campaigning for "inclusion". This year, their website states:

This event is not about being critical of the LDS Church or changing Church policy. We want to emphasize that there is more than one way to be a good Mormon woman and encourage changes in Mormon culture to support that idea.

Certainly that idea is valid. I'm glad they have shifted from a defensive, critical stance of Church policy. My heart aches and I feel personally insulted when women claim that they ought to be ordained to the priesthood. To me, it implies that what I already am - a woman - and what I am already doing - living my life in the best way I know how - is not enough. I believe that each of us, man or woman, transsexual, heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise, black or white, tall or short, educated or uneducated, married or single - are enough. My body is enough. Your body is enough.

There is a lady in my ward who wears pants every week - not because she is trying to make a statement, but because she doesn't like her legs. She doesn't need more women to wear pants. She needs to love her body just the way it is. That is the message she needs to hear.

To say that I need something added to me - or that this sister needs something added to her - a priesthood ordination and the invitation to serve in priesthood callings - distracts from the power I already possess within me as a daughter of God.

To follow this logic down the road, we should all start wearing casual clothing to church - JUST IN CASE someone shows up wearing casual clothing. This is ludicrous!

As I have studied this topic, I have come to see - assisted most especially by this recent statement from the Church on blacks and the priesthood - that there may be no doctrinal reason that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood. As the Church reflects and integrates into the culture in which it is established, to an extent, this is simply the way the Church is being operated right now. (Not that I want to add priesthood responsibilities unto what I'm already doing! Am I crazy?!) My worth and potential does not depend on that ordination. (We're already awesome, girls).

Absolutely I agree that there is more than one way to "be a good Mormon woman." What I fail to see is how this is related to wearing pants, or why this even needs to be stated. To me, our Church leaders are already emphasizing this fact. Over and over, I hear praise, love, and encouragement to continue on with what we are already doing coming from the leading bodies of the Church.

Wherever you are, whatever you are wearing, whatever language you are hearing, you [women] are part of a powerful force of joy, peace, and goodness. We are here to rejoice together. . . . Rejoice in the diversity of our sisterhood! It is the diversity of colors in a spectrum that makes a rainbow. It is the diversity in our circumstances that gives us compassionate hearts. (Chieko Okazaki, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, 1993)

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm living in a Utopia that most of the Church doesn't enjoy. In my ward, in my city, I see inclusion. But maybe that's because I "fit in". I live the traditional role of wife, (mostly) stay-at-home mom, driving the preschool carpool and watching my kids at soccer and ballet. Go ahead and write me off as someone who has no idea what it means to be excluded. But consider this: I am the only Mormon in my family. I literally grew up as a redheaded stepchild with freckles, glasses, braces, and the knobbiest elbows and knees you'll ever see. I was bullied at school and at home. I didn't join the Church until I was 16, and even then didn't have any close friends in high school. If anyone knows about exclusion, I might.

My point is this: instead of wearing purple to show off how great you are at including others, instead of wearing pants to purposely stand out as the minority in your meetings, and instead of bragging that you're a feminist and saying that I'm not, let's get out there and be the people that Jesus Christ wants us to be.

Let's all take a break from arguing on the internet about what it means to be a Mormon woman and start embracing the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Don't ask what you can do for someone else - just do it. Give of yourself. Be a truer friend. It doesn't matter what we wear. What matters is that Jesus Christ understands the desires of our hearts, understands our unique challenges and struggles, and that when we see someone who doesn't look the same as us, who is wearing something different, someone we don't understand, that we lay our differences aside and embrace them as children of God. Let's quit focusing on what we are wearing - and start loving those around us! This is what Jesus did. Yes, he crossed cultural lines, but that was secondary to his cause. His number one cause was to love those around Him and heal up their hearts. We, as women, have the power to do this.

I stand firmly with Sister Valerie Hudson Cassler when I say that the Mormon Church - just the way it is, in all its imperfect people and traditional gender roles and cultural abnormalities - is the greatest force for women on the earth today.

In all our seeking for equality, let us not overlook the fact that we already have it.