I’ve written before about how frustrating I find our cultural practice of inviting the wives of Men With Big Callings to speak. I was listening to a podcast about a tangential topic today, and it occurs to me that instead of asking the wives of Men With Big Callings to speak, we should be asking Women With Big Callings to speak.
If you are a seventy or other flavor of GA, I wish you’d consider why you are asking the wives of Men With Big Callings to speak. Is it because you are too lazy or unsure of your own abilities to plan a stake meeting in 12 hours, and it’s simply easier to ask the wives of men being released or otherwise used to speak? Is it because you want to honor their Tremendous Sacrifice(tm)? (Every woman makes a sacrifice to serve. Every one. Every woman makes a sacrifice for their spouse to serve. Every one.) Do you think that if a man holds a Big Calling, his wife “must” also be a spiritual giant?
Please ask yourself why marriage affords a woman the right to speak to a congregation, but actually being called, sustained, and set apart as a local female leader with priesthood authority does not. Is women leader’s priesthood authority real or not? Are you behaving as if it is? How does marriage to a Man With A Big Calling give woman more authority to exhort the congregation than actually being set apart to lead?
If you are in a leadership position and find yourself falling into the old “ask the wife of the stake president to speak” trope, please reconsider. You are teaching that being married to an Important Mormon offers perks to some based in marital status, Kit fish or righteousness — that we have a church caste system. You are teaching that women’s authority to exhort a congregation does not come from God, but that it comes through husbands. You are teaching single women they are second class citizens. You are using a public forum to express gratitude for private service, instead of making an effort to meet one on one with wives of men who serve to offer your personal thanks and to give them a chance to address you personally with concerns or to share special experiences. You are making the meeting about your need to feel as though you thanked someone — or worse, your convenience — instead of making the meeting about Jesus Christ.
I think we need to see more women with authority speaking at church, not just more women. I think it is not enough to call on the wife of a Man With A Big Calling and go home patting your own back for “including women”.
Please include Women With Priesthood Authority in your programs, remembering that the priesthood authority to exhort a congregation comes from God, not from marriage. When you honor women’s authority from God, you will paying us real honor, not just adding a token woman to your speaking lineup.