By Mathew and Ronan, BCC Bloggers
As is now well known, the leader of the Ordain Women movement, Kate Kelly, has been called before a disciplinary council. There has been much speculation about what role the church’s senior leadership played in the decision to convene the council. The church’s newsroom has issued an official statement that says in part that “[d]ecisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters.” While it may be entirely proper to leave the final “decisions” to those church leaders who know her best, we feel that church headquarters can still play a positive mediating role in a case that already has and will continue to have church-wide ramifications.
Thus far there has been blame enough to go around in the OW matter. Listing each side’s offenses would be tedious and likely devolve into another round of finger pointing. We will not itemize them because we do not want to detract from the purpose of this post (and comments that do not abide by this sentiment are not welcome). Suffice it to say that fair-minded individuals can find multiple actions from both sides that have been insensitive and uncharitable. These misunderstandings and disputes have resulted in bad feelings that are harmful to the church, a state of affairs that contradicts a command the Lord gave to the church at an early conference to esteem one another and to “be one, and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:24, 27).
A Request of the Church
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was organized in part to “build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same” (D&C 107:33). Because the Kelly affair is more than a local matter, we believe that it would be welcomed by many if the senior leadership of the church were to intervene. It seems much good could be accomplished if Salt Lake were to step in and de-escalate the situation by asking Kelly’s local leaders to postpone the disciplinary council so that all parties (Kelly, the Virginia leadership, and Salt Lake) can meet.
The church would gain a lot from this. Besides beginning the work of healing the wounds that have opened up in our community, it models to its membership what civil dialogue looks like. It signals that it is listening to the concerns of all of its membership and not just those it deems worthy of being listened to. It exhibits grace and generosity of spirit to a world that is watching. Perhaps most importantly, it acts with compassion and charity towards someone who is suffering.
Some may say that seeking reconciliation will show weakness on the church’s part. Such arguments should be ignored. As President Uchtdorf stated at the October 2010 general priesthood session: “[W]hen we focus on our own importance, power, or reputation; when we dwell upon our public image and believe our own press clippings — that’s when the trouble begins; that’s when pride begins to corrupt.” This moment in our history requires us to put aside personal and institutional pride even if those we disagree with have not.
A Request of Kate Kelly and Ordain Women
If the church were to reach out in this way, we hope that OW would respond with magnanimity. The movement feels wounded and let down but any hand that is offered in friendship is a hand worth taking, even at this late stage. If there is any hope of rapprochement, we would ask OW to take it. Perhaps there is some act of submission to church authority that they can countenance, not one that would fatally compromise their deepest beliefs but one which would demonstrate their basic faithfulness to the church. Now is the time for such generosity.
We recognize that it takes great courage to stand up for what you believe in in public, courage most of us lack. It may well be that there is nothing OW can do, short of disbanding, that will please the church. If that is the case, then we truly are at an impasse. It may also be that the church will simply let this action run its course without an intervention. One might think that the onus is on the church here given the power imbalance in play. That may or may not be right, but if Ordain Women were the ones to initiate one last, compromising gesture, they would, at the last, demonstrate the basic good will of their movement.
To act boldly and charitably now would be to enact the prophetic gift with which the church is blessed. In the Book of Mormon an angel asks Nephi, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” Nephi responds, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17). There are moments where the conceptual tidiness of the plan of salvation runs up against the messiness that results from living in a fallen world. In those moments it can be difficult to know how to proceed. The problem is mitigated if we remember that like Nephi we know one very important thing — that God loves His children. In the face of that one certain thing, an error on the side of love, or mercy, is not an error at all.
Lastly, we recognize that we are speaking here from the comfort of our own lives, no doubt not in possession of all the facts, and much less affected by all of this than are many other parties. Forgive our impertinence, if impertinent we are; we simply, and honestly, wish for harmony in the body of Christ and really fear the fallout that is likely to come from Sunday’s mooted action.