The Lady Doth Protest


"The lady doth protest too much." Eight cumbersome syllables. Say it again, slowly. Feel how your tongue darts about your mouth. The airy th, the cavernous oth, the satisfying ch.

It's a line from Hamlet and it probably doesn't mean what you think it means. "Protest" does not mean "to object" or "deny"—those meanings postdate Hamlet. The principal meaning of "protest" in Shakespeare's day was "to vow" or "declare solemnly" . . . a meaning preserved in our use of "protestation." (via)

Last Saturday, through insults, rain, hail, and tears, I solemnly declared that God is no respecter of persons. I protested--a la Shakespeare.

I don't know much about who God is, which is weird to say since I've spent my whole life seeking, praying, and trying to figure Him (Her? Them?) out.

All that being said, I have deep faith that He is just.

Current access to priesthood authority is not just. I understand why women "feel" equal in the Church. I used to feel that way. I ignored the 9-year old Kristi jealous of her little brother's experiences in Boy Scouts (we never learned to use screwdrivers in Achievement Days). The 15-year old Kristi wishing she had a female bishop to talk to after a friend sexually assaulted her. The 18-year old Kristi going through the temple and thinking hold up, what? The 21-year old Kristi wondering why her husband always spoke last in Sacrament meeting. I felt equal until I realized I wasn't. Equality can be measured. The very symbol of justice is not a heart, not a smiley face, not a thumbs-up sign. It's a balance scale.

Believing that a god of justice is a god of equality, I protested. But we are not living in the days of Shakespeare. The word "protest" has different connotations, and Ordain Women has shied away from labeling its actions as such. You will only find that label in Church PR statements--letters that have othered us and fomented tribalism.

With so much opposition, it's hard to control the message. I could charge at windmills trying to get things back on course, but perhaps it's easier to simply tell you what my "protest" looked like.


It felt funny walking to Temple Square with Brock knowing we'd end up in different places--him in Priesthood Session, me waiting outside the door. We stood at the corner of State Street and South Temple. He cracked a joke as the walk signal started blinking--"Welp, see ya later!"--because that's what he does when things get awkward.

I started fidgeting when two gruff-looking men approached our group. They were anti-Mormon protesters with huge signs. I didn't want our group to look associated with them. We had a permit for the park and policemen told them to keep their distance.

A reporter approached me and my friend. "Hi! I'm with KUTV. Would you mind if I interviewed you?" We were flustered, but agreed. (How do you stammer out two sentences explaining something that means so much to you? Remind me never to run for President.)

When Kate Kelly stood to speak, I felt the power of sisterhood. Did you know sisterhood is a feeling? I didn't. To a lesser extent, I have felt that same sisterhood in Relief Society. But we weren't gathered to hear a lesson or to share gospel insights. We were gathered to press forward in building Zion.

Kate's voice trembled as tears streamed down behind her clear-rimmed glasses:
I have no right to remain silent because I love this Church. It has helped me to know my Savior Jesus Christ. I have learned who I am and my divine parentage. I feel the Spirit every Sunday, and it keeps me coming back every week. I love this Church and I strongly believe that any institution that under-utilizes the talents and abilities of 50% of its members can do better . . . I have no right to remain silent because I can see the gender inequality that exists in our Church. It is not invisible.
We began walking. The anti-Mormon protesters jeered as we passed. You need to read the Bible and submit to a man! You are the weaker vessel! Followers of Jezebel! Know your place!  Policemen blocked off two streets and we passed diagonally through an intersection. Cars honked at us and people leaned out their windows to yell things. It started hailing.

Despite all this, I felt bold! The group's energy and determination was palpable. Nearing the temple, I stopped for a moment. I stretched out my hands and threw back my head, staccato hail pounding my face and arms.

I passed the reflection pool and watched a duck swimming to and fro. He looked so funny there, all alone in a pool that was not meant for ducks and in weather that was not meant for swimming. But he swam anyway.

Walking through the gate, I exhaled. "Okay," I said to a friend. "We're doing this." I took my place in line and was nearing the Tabernacle's entrance when a passing woman reached out to me. "Is this the line for OW?" "It is!" "Where does it stop?" "I'm not sure, would you like to come in?" "Yes!"

The line inched forward. I saw a friend moseying around nearby and called out to her. "Holly! Did you reach the end of the line?" "No, I didn't. I can't." "What?" "I left the line. I asked last October and I just can't bring myself to do it again. I've experienced so much rejection in this Church that I just . . .can't."

I didn't understand why Holly felt that way, but I knew her experiences in the Church had been different from mine. I looked ahead and saw a sister crying into the arms of another woman. The end of the line was right around the corner! Why was I so nervous all of a sudden? Kim Farah, the woman tasked with turning everyone away, greeted me with a warm smile. My stomach was in knots.

"Hi. My name is Kristi Boyce, and I'd like to be admitted to the Priesthood Session."

"This meeting is for men. The meeting for women was last week."

Kim hugged me, but a rush of grief consumed me the moment I walked past her. Rejection came as no surprise, but I was still surprised at how I felt. How could I be so disappointed in something I knew had been coming? After all the armor I'd built up, how did it still hurt?

Lorie Winder stood behind Kim to comfort every sister turned away. With her flowing white hair and calm expression, Lorie looked majestic and steadfast. She drew me in and held me close as I sobbed. I looked back at the woman I'd invited into line. She was having a hard time, too. I understood why Holly had left.


It's a strange feeling, wanting something so good, so badly. I'm not going to sit here and pretend it's an unrighteous desire or that I don't care either way. The problem isn't that I don't understand the priesthood, or that I'll "get it" when I'm a mother, or that I simply need to go to the temple/read the Proclamation/listen to the Brethren.

The problem is that I've studied the priesthood. Many mothers feel the same way I do. I've gone to the temple seeking answers. I've read the Proclamation. I listen to the Brethren. And I still believe this is right.

So tell me "no". Tell me "we don't know". Tell me no is divinely decreed when everything divine in me says yes. Hail may fall, but I will stoke the embers of that cherished little flame inside me, hoping one day that God will set it afire. A decade from now, a generation from now, three generations from now, I will wait. I will hope.

But if not . . .

If woman is never to have priesthood authority in this life or the next, if man presides over her throughout the eternities, if I am wholly mistaken in all of this, I will continue to have faith in the Lord, in His church, and in His prophets--knowing that if I do, I will be delivered and receive all that He has.

The scriptures tell me that priesthood is the path to this. So I protest.


  1. I love your "but if not." I love the way your faith is manifest in the way you have studied, stood, and continue to stand in patience. I respect and admire you so much.

  2. Have to admit that I was talked into getting back into line, and I did talk to Kim Farah. I'm not sorry I did.... But it was all hard.

    And I'm really glad we're not going to do it again any time soon. I wouldn't be up for it.


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