I asked our home teachers how “Wear Pants to Church Day” went in our ward. As I expected, the day was ignored in our traditional neighborhood. I didn’t participate because, although I support sisters who want to make a statement about gender inequality in the Mormon fold, I just can’t force myself to sit through tedious meetings in order to do so.
From what I’m reading on the Bloggernacle, few Mormon women accepted the challenge to wear pants to church yesterday. I find this a bit strange since I hear plenty of older women who hate pantyhose and drafty skirts wishing “The Church” would say it’s all right to wear pants to Sunday meetings. Since there are no official rules about wearing skirts or dresses to church, I doubt we will ever receive official permission for changing the custom. Sisters waiting for a message from 50 N. Temple will endure pantyhose and cold legs at church for the foreseeable future.
Mormons live by rules. Mormon doctrine, “we are saved after all we can do,” makes works and obedience rather than faith the key to salvation. For many Mormons, a checklist of do’s and don’ts is seen as the best chance for inheriting the Celestial Kingdom. They feel confidant of God’s approval when they check off items like: Attend meetings, pay tithing, accept callings, abstain from coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco, avoid R-rated movies.
The problem I have with the checklist approach to religion is that items that can be checked off are mostly superficial. What I consider signs of true spirituality—reverence for what is greater than ourselves, kindness, generosity, peace of mind—are difficult to measure and impossible to place upon a checklist. The issue isn’t about what we wear to church. The issue is about how we treat those who make choices different from our own.