For several weeks now, I have devoted my columns here to my own personal exploration of the question of women and priesthood ordination within the LDS Church. What set me to this project was the launch of OrdainWomen.org, a set of profiles published by Mormon men and women calling for ordination of LDS women to the priesthood.
Even though I have been a committed feminist for more than twenty years, I never felt the same kind of visceral connection to the priesthood ordination issue that I had so readily felt on other issues of fairness and equality. Seeing the faces of friends go public on-line in support of ordination at Ordainwomen.org made me wonder why.
Perhaps it was because I had not studied the issue carefully enough? Perhaps studying the LDS scriptures and doctrines that structured priesthood ordination would help me arrive at a better understanding of the matter, and perhaps at some stronger personal conclusions, I wondered. So I set out to understand Mormon theology on gender and ordination, on its own terms. I studied scriptures, historical and contemporary writings by church leaders, church handbooks, and ceremonial liturgies from the LDS temple. I also studied scholarship by historians of Mormonism who have carefully and extensively tracked changes in LDS doctrine and practice over time pertaining to priesthood and gender.