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COLUMN: Ordain Women foes should act Christian

By Noelle Johansen
On April 9, 2014

Disclaimer: I am a Mormon. I am also a woman. Brace yourselves.

I am not a supporter of the Ordain Women movement. I am also not an opposer of the Ordain Women movement. I am, however, a supporter of being kind and an opposer of being an ignorant jerk face.

I have friends I respect on either side of the argument, and maybe that’s why I don’t feel strongly for or against the ordination of women in the Mormon church. I have seen, read and discussed both sides of the issue and feel fairly well-informed on both opinions, but I myself am a firm fence-sitter on the matter. I repeat, I neither support nor oppose Ordain Women.

What continues to surprise — and, frankly, disgust me — is the hostile nature of many of the reactions to the Ordain Women movement. Since when is disagreement on an issue validation for negativity and belittling? From my position squarely on the fence between whether Mormon women should be ordained or not, I feel no threat from women who feel personally and deeply that they should be ordained to the priesthood. I also find no fault in women who feel the current system is divinely organized and needs no change. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe in a God who can and will continue to reveal truths, and whether one of those is the ordination of women to the priesthood is up to Him.

So why do I keep unfollowing — it’s like unfriending without the commitment — people on Facebook? Because I continue to see bigoted and tactless comments in regards to the issue. Unfortunately, most of these comments come from fellow members of my church in a way most unlike how Christ would act.

What surprises me further is the fact that many of these contentious Facebook commenters are not only Mormons, but Mormon women. Faithful Mormon women are figuratively attacking other Mormon women for holding a separate opinion and personal devotion. Coming from an institution that prides itself on sisterhood in the Relief Society. That makes perfect sense. And by perfect sense, I mean absolutely no sense whatsoever.

I visited Temple Square last Saturday evening to observe the Ordain Women demonstration. I originally planned to conduct interviews for a story, but after the Temple Square ban on reporters I refrained from any interviews and had mere conversations for the sake of personal curiosity. I’ll be honest, I was super nervous to show up to a controversial Mormon woman protest. I half-expected a feisty, contentious group demanding what would surely be denied. I was surprised, and happily so this time.

The male and female supporters of Ordain Women were nicely dressed — albeit soggy after getting caught in a hailstorm — and waited quietly and patiently in a line that wrapped around the Tabernacle. Each person or group of people asked to be admitted to the priesthood session of General Conference and many hugged the LDS spokeswoman who denied their request. It was very peaceful.

The offensive reactions I have witnessed to the Ordain Women movement are far from peaceful. They resemble more the protesters stationed at the free-speech zones on Temple Square, spouting criticism hatefully.

Here’s an idea. Be the Christians you claim to be. Jesus loved everyone. Let’s get off our high horses, recognize our opinions are not the only ones in existence, shake hands, maybe even hug and agree to disagree.

Noelle Johansen is a junior in Spanish and journalism and is the digital editor of The Statesman. She fully recognizes and embraces her future as an old maid with 27 cats. Direct comments, concerns, complaints and embarrassing personal secrets to noelle.johansen@aggiemail.usu.edu

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