Why I Wear Slacks

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.
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14 Responses to Why I Wear Slacks

  1. Heather says:

    I love that you speak your mind and stand firm on this. I haven’t gone to church in forever mostly because I have issues with the teachings that Jesus said love everyone but so many members judge others based on race, sexual orientation or a host of other factors. To me if we should love everyone that should mean everyone not just those who come dressed a certain way on Sunday. Too many people can show up looking right on Sunday when you know they don’t do right during the week. Meh. Overall my issue with church has always been the contradictory nature of the members and the teachings. I’ve been to other churches where people wore jeans, tank tops or whatever they want and you could still feel a spirit of love and fellowship there. I don’t know all the answers but I support you in your thoughts and actions.

    • christine says:

      Heather I so completely agree. It seems there is so much contradiction in what the church *says* and what the members *do*. I have such a hard time with that as well. And I, too, have attended churches where people were in jeans and T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, etc, and yes, they did still manage to worship reverently and respectfully, and feel a good spirit in those meetings. It’s less about clothes, more about attitude and desire. I can go to church in my nicest dress but if I’m not there because I want to be there, to commune with God or whatever I want to get from church, I won’t feel it.

  2. me says:

    What a waste. I always thought you were strong enough not to fall for such easy bate from the adversary. Sign of the times I guess. Believe it or leave it. Gods thoughts are not your thoughts nor your ways his ways. Funny, all you people wearing pants on sunday are just like the people who marked themselves with red dots in the book of mormon. Funny how god won’t really need to do much sifting at the end, because you will already have done it for him.
    He loves us all, but that doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want and not suffer the consequences. It is like the people who believe that Jesus’ grace will save us as long as we believe in him… hmmmm sounds a lot like satan’s plan in the beginning..

    • christine says:

      Empathy, my friend, whomever you are. Empathy will take you far in this life.

      I’m sorry to have been such a disappointment to you, but I would be sorrier still to be a disappointment to my own conscience. You are entitled to your opinions, and I respectfully ask that you at least give your name when you feel compelled to belittle and degrade me for my opinions.

      • Brooke says:

        Brava for such a respectful response to a troll.

      • Troy Maxfield says:

        Outstanding response to a faceless judgmental coward, Christine. The ironic thing about posts like that is that they actually serve to reinforce the notion that God is not found in orthodoxy…as that poster clearly had no semblance of the spirit of Christ in her/his comments at all.

        • Me says:

          Ironic how you all bash on people who are true to the church’s principles and then suddenly you are the victims. You can’t have it both ways. You cry out, “respect my opinion” but yet you don’t respect others. You want to tell the church they are wrong but you don’t want to be told you are wrong…….um pot calling the kettle black. I love how people always misquote scripture or only read what they want to hear. Jesus railed on the pharasiees again and again, and yes he went looking for the lost sheep, but he also warned about the thieves that would try to break in and the hens he tried to gather but “ye would not”. People like you make out that Jesus accepted all people no matter what. Wrong, he accepted all people that were willing to come unto him and follow his ways. That is what it means by he is no respecter of people. He will let anyone come unto him that is willing to repent and change their ways, but that does not mean he will save everyone, that was satan’s plan. He loves us no matter what, but love and salvation are two different things. A parents love will not keep them from the consequences of their choices.
          To be Christlike hmmmmm Christ threw the sellers out of the temple and even used a whip. Christ called the scribes and pharisees fools and hypocrites. He did not tolerate sin in any form. To be Christlike is to follow God’s will and commandments just as he did, not our own will or conscience. Jesus rebuked many times and did not accept any form of sin. He accepted the repentant sinner, but not the rebellious. There is a big difference between a lost sheep, and a willfully rebellious sheep. We all have sins and short comings that we need to work on, but we cross a very fine line when we tell Christ that he needs to listen to us because we feel we are right. That is not how it works, and if you feel the church is wrong, then yes, leave it, leave us alone. We came across the plains to Utah to get away from everyone who wanted to tell us we were wrong. Let us be and go do your own thing, but don’t try to change us, just like you don’t want us to change you. “no matter how loud the wind howls, the mountain can not bow to it.”
          Tolerance is not letting people do whatever they want. A good rule of thumb is to say, “would I let my children do whatever they want?” No, you set rules and guidelines to keep them on the right path. This falsehood of “tolerance” as you describe is what has got our country into the trouble we are in. At what point can you draw a line if you are “tolerant” Is is okay to do whatever you want as long as you claim you were born that way? or that is your own conscience? That is what creates anarchy and does not unite people, but drives them further apart.
          This is not about pants, this is about a struggle that is deeper. It is about an inner struggle that is easier to set aside and deny rather than to fight and conquer, it is the root of all sin, it is pride.
          Here is a great article about “equality in the sight of god” http://mormonscholarstestify.org/1718/valerie-hudson-cassler
          Why am I anonymous, because you are all very obviously looking for whoever disagrees with you to crucify. (pun intended)

          • christine says:

            My intent is not to change your mind. I simply want to encourage empathy and understanding for those whose feelings and opinions may put them in a minority.

            I understand I’m a minority and that you feel completely justified in your attitude and comments to me and those who have rallied around me. I can certainly understand how you could feel you are in the right. Please remember, however, that you don’t know the thoughts and intents of my heart; in fact you have taken it upon yourself to criticize me for attempting to voice my inner thoughts and feelings. You are under no obligation to respect me, listen to me, or believe a word I say. I fully respect that it is your choice to believe whatever you choose about God and Jesus and religion in general, as well as what you believe about me personally.

            Please know that I’m very willing to converse with you about this in private, where you will no longer be able to publicly call my friends names or question their goodness or righteousness. The people who have commented here have done so out of love and concern for me, and I appreciate that. If that was your intent as well, I am similarly thankful to you for that. But my blog is not a forum for you to call names or condemn me or others. I will, therefore, be closing comments on this post. Please feel free to contact me via email, phone, or a private FB message as you make yourself sound as though you are someone I personally know.

            Someday someone you care about deeply (a child, a sibling, a spouse, a dear friend) will go through what I’m going through. I hope for their sake when that time comes that you are more compassionate to that person than you have been to me.

    • Stephanie Sevigny says:

      So, anonymous me, let me get this straight: in your version of the New Testament, Jesus not only does NOT go out to look for the lost sheep, but he also builds an electric fence to keep that sheep out for good? Because that’s what your response feels like. “Love it or leave it, and good riddance!”

      It’s not the first time I’ve heard that, and it won’t be the last, but it will ALWAYS sting because it’s coming from members of a church that I love, a church that teaches us to follow the teachings of (a kind and loving) Jesus. I’ve seen many responses like yours, but to my everlasting relief, I’ve also seen a lot of, “We don’t understand your feelings, but we are sorry you’re hurting. We’re happy to see you at church, whether you’re in pants or a dress.”

      I challenge you to consider and maybe even pray about which response is more Christ-like.

    • Brittany Ward says:

      As I have love you, love one another.

      Sticks and stone may break my bones but words may break my heart.

      Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

      Jesus said love everyone, treat them kindly too.

      Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
      And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

      Say what you mean, don’t say it mean.

      By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile.

      If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

      And probably most important of all:

      Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.

      Talk about sifting…

  3. Brooke says:

    “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. . . And so I stay. Because I believe the LDS church is a valid way to God.”

    I relate SO very much to this! It is part of me and something I love. I couldn’t walk away without feeling like I was walking away from something I actually really wanted. It’s helped for me to think of the Church like a family … I love my family and am loyal to them, and I love the church and am loyal to it (heck, I gave up 18 months of my life and thousands of dollars to spread its message). But just like my own family, sometimes my feelings get hurt, there are miscommunications and misunderstandings. And I was really sad to see this week, that sometimes just like my family, we yell at each other over silly things like pants. (Seriously, the way people were talking on Facebook it might as well have been two really mean teenagers arguing over what to wear on Sunday.) I’m just hoping that tomorrow, we all feel as much love as I do in my family. Those of us who stay despite our concerns deserve at least that much. I don’t need people to change their opinions, but I do hope their hearts soften a little.

    • christine says:

      I love that – thinking of the church as your family. Love makes everything bearable. While I do believe there may be some members of my ward who disagree with my choice to wear pants, they have thus far been kind enough to keep it to themselves and not publicly shun me. For that I’m grateful. And, I must say, I rocked the pants today. 🙂

  4. fmhLisa says:

    Wonderful post Christine! wonderful wonderful!

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