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A few weeks ago an organization called “All Enlisted” called for sisters to wear slacks to church as a way to address gender norms within the church that are cultural as opposed to doctrinal. The group’s founder, Stephanie Lauritezen, says:

                The gender norms that exist within the church aren’t necessarily doctrinal gender norms but they’re just cultural and so we do want to challenge that a little bit and say there’s others way to be        Mormon,” said Lauritezen. “I think we need to go towards equality. I think that’s where we need to be going. I think that’s where we are going and All Enlisted is a way to keep that movement going.”

Lauritezen said this is about starting a dialogue and says this is just the beginning to something bigger.

I wondered what her “something bigger” was. And I wondered just what she meant by “equality”. None of her quotes specified how she defined equality within the church. Many women wore pants as a show of solidarity with the disenfranchised within the church. Huh? I’m beginning to think we have raised a generation of idiots. There are several meanings to the word disenfranchise. It can mean to deprive someone of the right to vote. It also means to deprive someone of power. Lastly, it means to deprive someone of a right or privilege. Does that word truly apply to any of us?

Ms.Lauritezen’s statements are so wonderfully vague that people could ascribe whatever meaning they like to the awareness campaign. But I am curious, what exactly does she mean by the church needing to “go towards equality”, and how, exactly, does wearing pants make women more equal? If her desire alone is to withstand cultural traditions that have become norms within the church, but which have absolutely nothing to do with doctrine, I sympathize. Really. And in that respect, skirts for women are a cultural norm. So are pianos for worship services. In Africa the piano is an instrument associated with bars and saloons. Drums are the instrument of worship. Does it somehow stunt our spirituality that we continue the cultural construct of eschewing drum playing during sacrament meeting? So you have a beef with cultural norms? Just don’t follow them. It really is just that simple. What, are you afraid to wear pants to church all by yourself? Ever notice girls don’t go to the bathroom alone either? We called it “monophobia” growing up. But I digress. Cultural norms are not synonymous with oppression. Most cultural norms help us by giving guidance for behavior so that we can show respect and consideration to others and our surroundings. They help us, as individuals, feel comfortable in unfamiliar circumstances because they lend us direction on how to present ourselves and interact with others. It’s called manners.

If, however, Ms. Lauritezen, in advocating greater equality, is using code for women holding the priesthood, good luck with that. There are two things that come with priesthood: the power to bless and the authority to administrate in the church. Both are heavy burdens. Not all men are perfect in the operation of their priesthood duties. And yes, sometimes they inadvertently injure in the process of presiding. Jeffrey R. Holland once said:

…we love and sustain local and general leaders, imperfect as they are, for their willingness to accept callings they did not seek in order to preserve a standard of righteousness they did not create…

Women also inadvertently injure in their conduct as mothers. And really, who makes the deeper, more lasting impact? If you say a temporary priesthood leader, then you are either delusional or a fool. You probably also had a saint for a mother. Lucky you. If you say the church is institutionally oppressive towards women, it’s an odd sort of oppression that keeps women in the millions voluntarily sacrificing untold hours of their time and talent smiling all the while. No, give the priesthood to women and men become expendable except as sperm donors. Quite frankly, I think God gave men the priesthood because women would have quickly come to that conclusion. Outside of the church, women are reaching that conclusion. (Conversely, if men had the ability to give birth, human kind would quickly go the way of the dodo.)

My greatest objection to the “wear pants to church” demonstration was that it sought to turn sacrament meeting into a prop for protest. I have a hard enough time shutting the world out. Can’t we just come and partake of the most sacred of ordinances without distraction? From within and without? What do we protest next week?

One woman defending the demonstration said that if you truly wanted meetings free from controversy, then you would also decry divisive topics addressed at the pulpit such as the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. Au contraire. General authorities will speak about contemporary issues that conflict with revealed doctrine. They have an obligation to. If I find the topic divisive, that probably says more about my own limited understanding. Believe me, there is doctrine that I find hard to understand, but I’ve always viewed that as a shortcoming on my part and not lack of sensitivity on the part of church leaders. And I have, without fail, found that answers and understanding do eventually come with time, study and prayer.

NOT through silly gestures like wearing pants on Sunday.