"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
November 24, 2014
I Don't Have the Priesthood, And That's Ok
by Sydney Bone

A Mormon Gender Issues survey has been running around Facebook for the past week. As expected, the survey asks for opinions on giving women the priesthood.

It also brings up a number of other potential reforms, ranging from “Eliminate language that suggests husbands preside over their wives” to “Appoint women to serve with the Stake High Council.”

A number of people have expressed concerns about its methods and the inherent bias of the questions. I worry that by focusing only on perceived slights, the survey paints an inaccurate picture of the experiences of Mormon women.

The authors want to know if LDS females are “limiting career goals to conform to cultural expectations,” “not being consulted about important ward decisions,” or “feeling left out of baby blessings,” to name a few. However, they don’t ask about any of the ways in which women are supported in the Church.

When Jarret and I first got married, we moved into a family ward a mile from campus. As a female engineering student, I didn’t fit the Mormon cultural norm, especially in that area, where most of the women were immersed in family life.

Because I was so busy with school, I wasn’t very good about doing my visiting teaching. Classes, work, and long hours of studying regularly interfered with my callings. Yet I never felt anything but love and support from the members of my ward.

After my daughter was born, I wasn’t jealous that her dad got to give her a blessing. I was too busy being grateful for all the support we were getting as new parents. We moved to Alabama for a summer internship, 1600 miles from home, when I was 34 weeks pregnant. We weren’t there for long and our needs far outweighed our contributions to the ward, but the people didn’t care.

When Emy was born, we got casseroles, visits, and advice. One family loaned us a bassinet and a bathtub, so we wouldn’t have to worry about transporting our own stuff back to Utah when the summer ended. Many women feel isolated right after they move or have a baby. I did both, at around the same time, but because of the Church, I had friends. I belonged to a community.

I am so proud of my fellow Mormons. We "mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort." We "bear one another’s burdens," and as a result, they are light. We laugh, learn and love together.

We are all different, but that doesn’t matter. We encourage each other to follow our dreams and be our best selves.

Rather than limiting my potential, my membership in this church has helped me achieve my goals. I would not have finished college without the help I got from members of my ward.

I know several women who are working outside the home, while they have young children. They are not are “limiting career goals to conform to cultural expectations.” In fact, they often receive babysitting service from members of their ward. This enables them to succeed in their chosen careers.

Rather than holding them back, the LDS community and its culture of service is helping these women succeed.

Now, our culture has its faults, just like any other. It is crucial to periodically examine our own lives. If we aren’t careful, we can end up passing along teachings, rumors or actions that do not actually align with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As I’ve already mentioned in a previous column, we need to be particularly careful about what we teach the youth. That being said, minor issues are generally overshadowed by all the good things members do for each other.

Women from all walks of life can find companionship and a sense of belonging in Relief Society. In this organization, as well as other auxiliaries, women devote their time and skills to serving in the Church. We are included in many leadership and service roles. The Church would not run so smoothly without women’s contributions.

As the Mormon Gender Issues Survey brings up, men and women have different roles within the Church. I have thought, studied and prayed about this issue. I could enumerate arguments here, but I wouldn’t change any minds. People who agree with me would continue to agree. People who disagree would pick apart every point and use my alleged logical fallacies to hold even tighter to their opinions.

Instead, let me say this: If you are a member of the LDS Church and you don’t know how you feel about women’s place in the Church, pray about it. Be humble and open to the answer. Heavenly Father will answer your questions infinitely better than I can.

Although a conversation about gender issues in the LDS community can be enlightening, I feel that the narrative readily shifts to a negative perspective. The conversation becomes a forum for griping about every perceived slight.

Instead, I want to talk about the fact that this gospel changes lives. In some cases, it saves lives. I have gained so much from my membership in the Church. My testimony has sustained me through some very dark times. It is not something I am willing to abandon because women aren’t given the Priesthood.

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About Sydney Bone

When Sydney Van Dyke was five years old, she wanted to be an inventor like her grandfather. She grew up surrounded by engineers and decided that was what she wanted to be as well.

She went to Utah State University to earn her BS in Biological Engineering. While there, she met and married fellow engineering student Jarret Bone. They are the proud parents of Emelia Rose, born the summer before they finished their senior year of school.

Sydney Bone is now adjusting to the change of pace that comes with being a stay-at-home mom. She loves having time for her family, with some leftover to explore the things she loves to do.

Sydney still wants to be like her grandfather, but she is now focused on emulating his kindness and generosity, rather than his impressive professional qualifications.

Sydney is currently serving as a gospel doctrine teacher in her home ward.

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