Joanna Brooks recently expressed some of her concerns about the potential fallout over Kate Kelly’s disciplinary counsel in a column at Religion Dispatches. Progressive Mormons have used the internet to connect with other members who share the same political views, and some of the same questions and concerns about the Church. In light of the recent events, some progressive Mormons fear that their support of the Ordain Woman movement may put their church membership in jeopardy. I think the use of the internet has been a tremendous blessing to this small segment of the church, and I hope it continues to be. What has perplexed me are those like Ordain Women who have used the internet as a platform to challenge the church openly, as if it were a secular institution that can be persuaded through popular opinion.
How do members of the Church support organizations like Ordain Women, and yet believe that the Church is divinely led? I have read many blogs and news reports featuring members who are sympathetic to Kelly’s cause, but they never show how this movement is in harmony with the doctrines of the Church. To help me (and many others) better understand the other side of this issue, I have included several questions below that came to mind as I read Brooks’ article.
I want to make it clear that the purpose of this post is not to bash Kate Kelly (there has been enough of that already) or attack her character in any way. Although the questions center on her and the Ordain Women movement, they are meant to be applied to a wide range of individuals and situations who struggle rectifying their faith in the church with their personal beliefs.
To Joanna Brook’s column:
“We were so hopeful it wouldn’t turn out this way (That sister Kelly would be called in for a disciplinary council). Maybe it still won’t. Maybe the highest profile excommunication court—that scheduled this Sunday in Virginia for Kate Kelly, a believing Mormon woman and one of the founders of the web-based Ordain Women campaign—will end without Sister Kelly having her baptism and marriage nullified, her membership in a Church she served as a full-time missionary expunged.”
This raises several questions in my mind. First and foremost, what reasoning might lead someone to conclude that Sister Kelly is a “believing Mormon woman”? Second, if you believe she qualifies, what criteria are you basing that assertion? Finally, can one truly be considered a believing Mormon and at the same time continually challenge those who hold priesthood keys from the bishop, all the way to the quorum of the Twelve Apostles? I submit that there are three central fundamental beliefs in Mormonism. First, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet. Second, that The Book of Mormon is God’s word revealed to man. Third, that the church is directed by God through his appointed servants who hold priesthood keys.
I find it difficult to categorize her as a believing Mormon woman (this assertion in no way implies she is a bad person) when she openly rejects the premise that the Church is guided by revelation. That is not to say the church is perfect, or that mistakes have not happened in the past. But to assert that those who hold priesthood keys have somehow overlooked one of the most significant aspects of the Church organization, from my perspective, is grounds for calling into question one’s faith and confidence in the way God has set up His kingdom on earth.
More from Joanna Brooks:
“But it’s also being reported that the stage may have been set for Kelly’s excommunication court when one high-ranking LDS official (Elder Ballard) remarked at a regional leadership meeting in Virginia, ‘that support for women’s ordination should be considered a form of apostasy.’
If the Ordain Women movement does not constitute apostasy, then what would? Additionally, if it does qualify as apostasy then what other choice did the Church have? This raises a further question in my mind in regard to how far we let members go in supporting ideas contrary to Church doctrine. What if a believing Mormon created an organization that advocated the church to bring back polygamy, would you consider that to be a form of apostasy? What exactly do you propose in regard to how the Church should handle the Ordain Women movement?
One last comment from Joanna Brooks:
“This, we thought, was a good sign. A sign that might not need to fear losing our membership, our place, in a cherished tradition, just for having and voicing questions, doubts, and differences. We told ourselves to not to be afraid.”
I cannot help but question why one would fear losing your membership for simply “voicing questions, doubts, and differences”? Let us look at Sister Kelly’s behaviors and commentary. Was she just asking questions or was it more than that? I mean, what answers would have been sufficient for her? There have been General Conference’s talks addressing this issue, yet that still was not enough.
I want to close by saying that the more I listen to different voices on this issue, the more I find myself frustrated with the lack of clarity. I hope everyone that reads this post is willing to take a moment to help me and the many others who share these questions. Any thoughts or responses would be appreciated in the comments below. Thank you.