Opinion: Women’s ideas have prompted positive change in the LDS Church. They shouldn’t be discounted.

Instead of spending effort fretting about where the ideas come from, let’s prayerfully consider all ideas.

I once sat in a Latter-day Saint community meeting in which a man said, “McArthur, the brethren don’t need yours or anyone else’s ideas.” I blinked — and then laughed aloud. I am no historian, but a basic survey of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ history would beg to differ. Emphatically.

The truth is, women’s ideas have significantly changed the face of the church.

Now, the stewardship of the church is with the prophet and 12 apostles. Do they receive direct revelation for the church? Of course. However, it is readily apparent that not all good ideas flow directly to or from them. Information informs inspiration. The church employs focus groups, pilot studies, polling companies — all to get information to make good decisions.

We would assert that we also have a lustrous history of women’s contributions.

Women’s ideas, concerns, suggestions, pain points, even disgruntlement have prompted the institution of the church to shift how things are done, to create new programs, to change policies.

A few obvious ones come to mind: the Relief Society (a desire to contribute more), Primary (a solution to a problem that was set up and activated in a ward before it was instituted churchwide), the Word of Wisdom (disgruntlement) and translating hymns into a Ghanaian dialect (a young woman’s direct vision from God to bless millions of saints lives with her talents).

If we only count Relief Society, Young Women and Primary, much of the church membership is directly blessed by women’s inspiration. We would point out that after age 30, women make up the majority of the total membership. By age 50 and thereafter, women are 61%.

We need women’s inspiration, perspective and input. We need men to listen. To imply that those with ideas, questions or pain points are somehow less faithful, haven’t prayed enough or are of the devil — three statements we’ve seen in recent comments on a church Instagram post quoting general Relief Society counselor J. Anette Dennis — is to clearly miss the beautiful, rich history of our church and the potential for the faith’s future to continue to grow.

Would we say Sarah Kimball — one of the founding members of the Relief Society — was being led astray by her efforts?

A friend of mine is a Relief Society president in Salt Lake City. She called me up this past week after the groundswell on the church’s Instagram post that sparked more than 17,000 comments.

“This isn’t my issue,” she said, “but I am afraid I am part of the problem if I don’t listen to other’s voices. Can you walk me through this?”

Curiosity, not judgment. That is true leadership.

In October 2015, church President Russell M. Nelson said, “My dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration. We need you to speak up and speak out.”

Women are following that admonition — and history shows listening to women has vastly improved the church at every level.

Lots of women have shared ideas recently. In the same Instagram post by the church, @daniellekempnelson asked for suggestions and, so far, 469 ideas have been posted. More than 2,000 people liked her call. Are we going to listen?

Right now is an opportunity. Instead of spending effort fretting about where the ideas come from, let’s prayerfully consider all ideas. How can these ideas benefit our beloved church? We need men and women to truly work together to build Zion.

(Photo courtesy of Jed Wells) McArthur Krishna

(Photo courtesy of Anne Pimentel) Anne Pimentel

McArthur Krishna and Anne Pimentel are authors working on a book for Signature Books about trailblazing women who changed the church.

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