It has been a while since I’ve felt strongly enough about something to
take make the time to blog about it, but this weekend marks an important event (Sunday, December 16th, 2012 has been marked as “Wear Pants to Church Day”) that I simply cannot let pass without contributing my thoughts and feelings.
To that end, I will share my facebook status from a few days ago, also adding a bit more that I’ve been thinking about the last several days.
[Thursday, December 13, 2012] I’m watching, reading, and listening as a lot of my social media is filled with the Wear Pants To Church event started by several Mormon Feminists with whom I am well acquainted.
I will add my voice to those that have already spoken out in support of this movement. I have typically chosen to wear pants when I’ve attended church over the past year, partly as a way to express my unwillingness to simply blindly follow cultural expectation when it goes completely against everything I think, feel, and believe, and partly as a way to speak out for myself and start expecting to be treated as a full human being with valid (though often differing from my peers’) feelings and opinions.
As I look around and see women and men who are supporting one another in standing up for themselves and others who may feel marginalized or “less” in a community that teaches that God loves us all, my heart swells and my spirit soars to know that I am not alone.
If you feel you can support this movement, please do so by wearing pants to church this Sunday. If you already wear pants (men) or you simply cannot bring yourself to wear a pair of slacks to church, then please consider wearing a purple shirt, scarf, or tie in a show of solidarity.
If you feel, for whatever reason, that this movement isn’t something you can support, please take a minute and remember your empathy. Simply because you personally are not hurt by something doesn’t mean my hurt (and that of so many others) isn’t real or valid. I will respect your wish not to wear pants and I hope you will respect mine and that of others who choose to come to church in our slacks.
I am especially grateful for my wonderful husband, friends, and ward members who have continued to love me in spite of my slacks.
After I posted this status update, a few people asked me some questions and made some comments that I would like to go into more detail about.
#1: What is this movement really about? People keep saying it’s not about pants, but I don’t understand what it is about… Is it about women wanting the priesthood?
You’re right. This isn’t about pants. It’s not necessarily about women having the priesthood, either. This movement is about equality in the sight of God. This is a peaceful attempt to start discussions. To bring understanding. To find others who may also be feeling the pain of not belonging in a religion that teaches that all belong. This movement was started by Mormon Feminists, but it’s not just about women. It’s about anyone and everyone who feels marginalized, less, or alone in the LDS church. That includes feminists, LGBT people and their allies, people of different racial backgrounds, democrats (did you know there are a fair amount of Mormon democrats?), scientists, and a whole host of others who don’t quite fit into the Mormon mold.
#2: What’s the big deal? Why can’t you just be happy with things the way they are?
What was the big deal about slavery? What was the big deal about women wanting the vote, or to wear pants, to be able to own property? What is the big deal about gay marriage?
Truth is, each of these issues (and so many more!) are a very big deal. I am a member of a church that teaches that God is no respecter of persons and that we are all children of God. I am a member of a church that believes in a Jesus who spent time with the sinners, who blessed the outcasts, who loved his enemies, and who died that all might live again. Feminists. Democrats. Gays. Sinners. ALL.
What I want is an equal starting ground. I want to be allowed my opinions, and I want to be respected as a human. I want the same access to god that Mormon men are given. I want to know the Female Divine and what my role looks like after this life. I want to feel I am just as valued as a man to God, to my fellow humans, to the LDS church. And right now I don’t feel that way. If wearing pants to church can start a few conversations, help a few people understand how I might feel differently than they do, and show my support to those whom I know are supremely lonely, then I’m absolutely on board.
So why can’t I just be happy with things the way they are? Because I don’t believe the way they are is the way Jesus would want them to be. I don’t believe Jesus would approve of the ostracizing of those who are different. I don’t believe Jesus would condone our condemnation of others for their differences. So I feel I must take a stand, speak out for change, and be a voice for love and acceptance.
#3: You’re just a bunch of apostates who want God to agree with you.
It hurts my heart that anyone would dare say these words about anyone. Yes, you may think that about me, but I can guarantee you that if you think I’m an apostate, you really don’t know me well at all. I feel hurt. I feel marginalized. I feel I’m viewed as “less”. But not by God – by a culture. And cultures evolve. I believe that God already views me, a woman, Their daughter, as a full person. I am not less to Them. I believe God already agrees with me on this issue. In fact, I believe that Jesus was a feminist (I’m currently reading a book by that title). And what, exactly, you might ask, is a feminist? A feminist is someone who believes that women are people, too.
So no, I don’t want God to agree with me. I believe I’ve finally come to realize that God really is no respecter of persons. That God really does love us all, regardless of our choices. That God, our loving Heavenly Parents, love us because of and in spite of our differences.
#4: If you don’t like the way things are, just leave.
I’ve considered this. Seriously. And I’ve had to step back from the LDS church for the past year or so, because it has been too harmful and painful for me to engage the way I want and feel I need to.
But I am a Mormon. I was born that way, raised that way, and I’ve lived my whole life as such. It is part of me, and while I may disagree with some things and be hurt by others, the LDS church is still very much a part of my life and the life of my family. Do I agree with everything said by every prophet of the LDS church? Absolutely not. (On a lot of issues, they didn’t even agree with each other!) But I also believe that generally, the leaders and members of the LDS church are trying to do what they believe God would want.
And so I stay. Because I believe the LDS church is a valid way to God. A valid way to experience life, and a valid way to experience spirituality. I don’t believe it is the only way, but I do believe it is one of many varied and valuable ways a human can connect spiritually with something greater than themselves.
But just because I stay doesn’t mean I won’t try to make a good thing better. Progress was made in our society when women were recognized as human beings, when slavery was abolished, and progress is being made as people come to accept the differing sexual orientations of their fellow humans. For now, I will stay and do what I can to inspire progress.
For more information about Mormon Feminists, the Wear Pants To Church Day, and some of the issues that hurt me along with some suggested solutions, please check out the following links.
- Click here to read about things that make me feel unequal.
- Read here and here to find some suggestions for a more equitable religious community, without making any doctrinal changes.
- Read this to understand why I’m wearing pants to church this (and every!) week.
- Check out this link to hear more about what this movement is really about.
- Read here to understand inequality.