I went to the temple for the first time in a long time on Thursday, and while I felt half imposter-sinner and half conscientious-objector while I was convented there, there was a point where tears overtook me and I felt it was a direct answer to doubts I have been having recently. Doubts about whether there is a place for me in the structural church, with my dangerous questions.
Last week I got an email from one of my favorite cousins. I wanted to defer to the priesthood authority in my home and beg my husband to answer for me (because my husband understands, and maybe the same idea from him would be conceivable?) — but the response, my only response, to that and all the other (however well-meaning) shushings I have received all my life is a barbaric and desperate yawp into the gaping maws of benevolent paternalism that I am entitled to my questions.
I am entitled to my questions. I will have and do have and have had questions. You can have my house, my shelter, you can have my books, you may take my Diet Mountain Dew, but you may not take my questions. (You can’t take my daughters, either, unless you promise to not return them when the whining starts.)
God is not threatened by my questions. He understands them, and me, and our entire church is based on the idea that asking questions is a good thing.
In the temple Eve has a small role, but she asks five extremely incisive questions. And then she sets the whole plan in motion by her actions.
With Eve as a model, the creation story as a guide (Adam is a bit of a dim bulb, yes?) and the admonitions of so many as an excuse, I am tempted to concede that it is quite fundamentally obvious, yes, that women are naturally and innately superior to men in all aspects of spirituality. We are born nurturers, we are intelligent enough to ask the right questions and we are courageous enough to do what needs to be done. Of course we do not need the priesthood or comprehensively-planned and well-funded developmental activities. Of course we do not need to approach our education with a career in mind or learn any of the things involved in heading a household. Is it the errand of angels to change tires?
We do not need lessons in leading or calls to action or reminders of duty. We have no need of entering into covenants with the Lord directly when we will always, from birth, through every stage of life, unto death, have a man at our side to mediate that relationship for us. Why would we need to speak to God for ourselves, anyway, when we are already, by virtue of our congenital chromosomes, as perfect as a man might someday hope to be with the priesthood as his aid? Even our transgressions are not our own but the responsibility and realm of the man whose rib made us. We can own no wrong.
Why would any man ever think he knows better than I what it means to be faithful and content and devout? Doesn’t he know what I am? Doesn’t he know that I am a woman, and as such, his innate superior in every spiritual way?
And that is not even counting my motherhood. Four children and two souls lost to miscarriage. In the motherhood-priesthood equivalency, that would parallel, what? Deacon for Avery, Teacher for miscarriage one (or is a miscarriage like an ordination temporarily derailed by one dissenting vote of non-sustaining? Let’s count it for now), Priest for Callie, Elder for Lucy, High Priest for miscarriage two, Patriarch for Molly.
If I embrace the “woman don’t need the priesthood because they’re naturally righteous” and the “motherhood and priesthood are complementary” arguments, it would seem that, logically (or I should say spiritually, because it is not in logic but spirit that women exceed male capacity), I am a seriously righteous Patriarch (Matriarch), who can stop apologizing for asking questions.