THE MORMON CURTAIN
Containing 5,709 Articles Spanning 365 Topics
Ex-Mormon News, Stories And Recovery
Archives From 2005 thru 2014
If you have reached this page from an outside source such as an
Internet Search or forum referral, please note that this page
(the one you just landed on)
is an archive containing articles on
"WOMEN AND MORMONISM - SECTION 1".
The Mormon Curtain
- is a website that blogs the Ex-Mormon world. You can
The Mormon Curtain FAQ
to understand the purpose of this website.
CLICK HERE to visit the main page of The Mormon Curtain.
WOMEN AND MORMONISM - SECTION 1
Women in Mormonism are not allowed to hold any priesthood power or major authority positions in the Mormon Church, excluding Relief Society and lower Church callings. Mormon women are often thought of as second class citizens in Mormonism. Men in Mormonism make all of the desicions from the top hiearchy of the LDS Church from the Prophet down to the Bishops. Even though women are allowed to run the Relief Society, they must still be responsible to men. All decisions are made by men regardless.
| There is an obituary for Dantzel White Nelson, wife of apostle Russel M. Nelson, in [the] Salt Lake Tribune that has really set me off! I don't want to be judgemental of her or the decisions she made any more than I want to judge anyone else. It is the message contained in the article that has triggered old memories and feelings. A few excerpts from the article:
"Nelson died suddenly but peacefully...while holding hands with Russell Nelson, her husband of almost 60 years. [She was 79.]...Though married to a heart surgeon and LDS apostle...she developed no airs, no pretenses, no judgments, no boundaries....Dantzel had been accepted to the Julliard School of Music in New York, but marriage changed all that....And the babies kept coming. Nine of them. All girls. But Nelson always knew she would have a boy....Russell M. Nelson Jr. was born on March 21, 1972. In...30 plus years [her neighbor] said she has never seen Dantzel Nelson get angry. Nor complain, even after a five-year bout of cancer and ongoing heart trouble. Nelson went quietly about mothering 10 children, 56 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren....Given the number of her posterity, Hinckley said, "Dantzel will become a legend to the generations that follow."
I don't wish to detract from all that this amazing woman did for others, but what does it tell Mormon women about what they are valued for?
- Marrying young
- Giving up opportunities to develop talents for husband and family
- Having 10 children, and continuing to bear children until you get a son
- Having NO BOUNDARIES
- Never getting angry or complaining
- The NUMBER of your posterity
| I've written here before about how the brethren are very concerned they're losing young women. The church counts on women to keep the men in line. If the women choose something other than the one and only LDS way, then they will probably lose the men too.
So back in August '04 the brethren ran big articles in the Ensign and New Era dedicated to getting young women to make the transition to Relief Society. The subheading to the Ensign article said:
"Parents, leaders, and bishops have special roles in helping young women make the transition into Relief Society."
Calling out all the troops in a campaign to gather up all the disinterested young women. You don't launch major efforts to solve things that aren't problems.
The New Era article started:
"Your Next Step… from Young Women is into the arms of the Relief Society, where you will learn to become a woman of God through serving Him."
In other words, time to yank you out of your budding single life and prep you for marriage, motherhood and the Mormon way. None of this taking a few years on your own to discover yourself. That just leads away from the church's control. Nope, time to get you acclimated to the limited horizons of old-before-your-time LDS womanhood.
So now, six months later, there's a flock of RS articles. True, March is when the RS was formed, but the tone of the articles shows there's probably some discontent in the ranks.
The lead article is, "Why Relief Society?" Why, indeed. Women who love the church don't need to be talked into supporting RS.
The month's VT message begs the sisters to "Rejoice in the Organization of Relief Society." It quotes BKP:
“The … sense of belonging to the Relief Society rather than just attending a class must be fostered in the heart of every woman. Sisters, you must graduate from thinking that you only attend Relief Society to feeling that you belong to it!” (“The Relief Society,” Ensign, May 1998, 73).
"Just attending." I guess the sisters' hearts and souls aren't into RS. Gee, could it be because it's boring and increasingly irrelevant and micromanaged to death by the old bloodless farts?
Then there's an article about how it's possible to be a stay-at-home mom and still finish your education. Gee, do you think this might be aimed at all the women who want to get their educations before marrying and reporting to the baby factory?
At the same time, there's a really sick cautionary tale masquerading as a story of hope and comfort about a woman who delayed marriage until after getting an advanced degree -- only to have her husband die a year later. Oh the tragedy. Oh the implied threats.
So, ex brothers and ex sisters, using the general rule that the brethren don't preach against things that aren't problems, there are big problems with the faithfulness of the Daughters of Zion. I propose it has gone beyond a general malaise and into the territory of an impending crisis. We shall see.
| What does (normal) suppressed sexual energy take shape as in women?
Some context: I run separated men's groups, and I also have been involved in peer-support men's groups for over 13 years.
One book down here that has encouraged men's groups involvement is Steve Biddulph's book Manhood. In it he lists his 7 Steps to Manhood, the 2nd of which is:
Finding sacredness in your sexuality.
Of that issue the author says that for men, sex will be either sleazy and obsessive, or a sacred and powerful source of wellbeing. Our men's group plans to put a lot of effort into exploring that this year.
Recently I have been getting my head around what the corresponding issue for women around sexuality might be! Nancy Friday, in her book The Myth of Beauty claims that women learn from their mothers to have a poor/problematic relationship with their sexuality and genitals, and that the anger little girls are told nice girls don't have, gets projected onto men in later life.
As Mormonism sends strong messages to women to be "nice" (as in, not angry), and non-sexual or at least passive sexually, I am keen to see what the women on this list feel is women's version of the above challenge to men.
My reading, thinking and observation would suggest that it is probably something in the area of owning responsibility for being fully connected with and proud of their sexuality, but I am of the opposite gender looking in. I see few women who subvert that and turn it into sleaze, as men are prone to do, so what happens to that healthy sexual energy, when it gets stuffed down in women, and denied a healthy expression?
| This Salt Lake Tribune article on last night's General Young Women's Meeting is just begging for comment: |
Tribune: LDS Young Women encouraged to emulate Smith
"The life of church founder Joseph Smith formed the theme
of a general meeting of the Young Women's organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
of the Young Women's general presidency spoke of Smith's dedication to his beliefs in the face of temptation and persecution, and
encouraged the church's teenage girls to follow his example."
Here' what happened to the teenage girls that followed
"Young Women General President Susan W. Tanner
reminded listeners that they can receive responses to prayers as Smith did, from a father in heaven who knows them by name."
She wouldn't mean these divine answers, would she?
"19 year-old Zina remained conflicted until a day in
October, apparently, when Joseph sent [her older brother] Dimick to her with a message: an angel with a drawn sword had stood
over Smith and told him that if he did not establish polygamy, he would lose "his position and his life." Zina, faced with
the responsibility for his position as prophet, and even perhaps his life, finally acquiesced."
"Julie B. Beck, a counselor in the general presidency, said modern young women should still be engaged in the "marvelous
work" that Smith began."
Is this the marvelous work?
Doctrine and Covenants Verses 62-63:
"And if he [Joseph Smith] have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to
him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.... for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the
earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the
world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my
Father continued, that he may be glorified."
"Another counselor in the general presidency, Elaine S. Dalton, spoke of
the "intense pressure from peers and adults" Smith endured after he declared he had seen heavenly visions."
why Joseph Smith was persecuted:
"The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in
this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey
it. He said to me that unless I accepted it, and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people would be damned and
cut off from this time henceforth. We have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment
and not by way of instruction."
- Prophet Joseph Smith, Contributor, Vol. 5, p. 259
"We can apply [Smith's]
teachings when we don't know what to do, when we are faced with peer pressure, when we feel surrounded by temptation, or feel
unworthy or alone," she said."
Say what?! Why isn't the church (especially on Easter Weekend) telling the women to
apply the teachings of Jesus Christ? Aren't they supposed to rely on Christ for strength?
"Our entire case as members
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision. ... Nothing on which
we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration. I submit
that if Joseph Smith talked with God the Father and His Beloved Son, then all else of which he spoke is true. This is the
hinge on which turns the gate that leads to the path of salvation and eternal life."
- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley,
Ensign Mag., Nov. 1998, pp.70-71
It's statements like these, and many others by the church, that make people think
that Mormons aren't really Christian:
The more they focus on Joseph Smith, the
more people are going to find out the truth about him. What are church leaders thinking?
| Girls put down your vacuums, stop massaging your husband's feet, and come out of the kitchen long enough to read this great op-ed piece from the Lord's own newspaper. It seems one student's mother is alarmed enough at the trend of women who actually want degrees and not just wedding rings that she's put pen to paper.
Getting the Most from BYU
Some of the choicer quotes:
"There is nothing more powerful, for a woman, than to build an eternal home. "
"You want to hear what real success is? It's sitting in a temple of the Lord, and seeing your child make eternal covenants with their Father in Heaven."
"Don't let yourself be conned by that evil one who would seek to confuse you and your priorities about putting off becoming wives and mothers."
"Let your education continue throughout your lifetime, but use it to teach your children."
And finally the kicker of all kickers:
"Go ahead and find that wonderful guy, and when you do, get your MRS Degree and live happily ever after!"
So remember if you are a Mormon female, your place is in the home as a baby-factory obeying the male Priesthood. You do not need a degree nor any education. Your job is to stay home, make babies and obey.
Mormonism: PAY... PRAY... OBEY.
| The Role of Women in Mormonism - Very troubling. How did you deal with this as a Mormon?
1. There is no place in the hierarchy for women in the Mormon Church. All women serve under the men. They can never officiate in any ordinance or assist in any way. They cannot even hold their own baby to give it a name and a blessing.
2. No real redress - They have no real voice or redress if it conflicts with a man in authority. Just try it and find out. They might talk big about it, but in reality, it does not exist. Even getting an apology, or acceptance of responsibility from a male is almost always impossible, if a female has been wronged in any way.
3. Secondary to men and even young boys - The position of women in the church is as a "help meet" and and a lot of lip service is given to women's greater "spirituality" however, that is just a way of attempting to make them believe they are as equal and just as important as men. It is a feeble attempt at depreciation by the males to say that women are "more spiritual."
4. Obedience to men never women - In theory the teachings/doctrine makes a grand attempt to make women equal to men. In reality, there is no equality. Even though the women wear the "holy garment of the priesthood." which means they hold the priesthood, only as a priestess to a male, but do not officiate,just as the men do, and a man cannot be exalted to the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom without a woman her place is secondary and may include other women as Celestial Marriage is Plurality of Wives.
Women are to obey the Lord (obedience is the first law of heaven and earth),obey the Priesthood leadership, obey their husbands as they are the Priesthood holders, and obey male leadership in the home (which, technically can be a 12 year old Deacon- on up), etc.
Now to the crux of the matter: the doctrine of obedience is a higher doctrine than equality. Love, in Mormonism is conditional, based on obedience.
Women are not just second class in Mormonism, they are technically third class -- below the Aaronic Priesthood, which is often their sons!
5. Polygamy as a law of heaven is demeaning - Polygamy is seen as the worse disrespect of women and children and feeds into making women obedient, brood-mare slaves.
6. Role of women as mothers - Women are to be the mothers and the men are are to officiate in the priesthood. They are told that this is how Heavenly Father wants it. There is some lip service given to the notion that women are "more spiritual" than men and often given some level of appreciation for their "worthiness" by the leaders.
7. Control of her sexuality - Females in the Mormon Church are expected to be chaste which means she is non-sexual unless married in their only accepted fashion. The general teaching is that she would give up her life to protect her vagina from unwanted intrusion. A typical male Priesthood leader (father, son, etc) is often heard to say: rather she come home in a pine box than be raped.
8. Men must give approval for a woman to have a "calling" - A woman's husband or father is consulted first before a calling is extended to a female.
9.Confession by females to males - A female is commanded to confess her sins and transgressions to a male - husband, bishop,stake presidency, regional representatives, etc, never the other way around.
Nine more reasons why I am glad I am not a Mormon!
| Fore Note: Sonia Johnson (born 1936) is a feminist activist, writer and outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
In the late 1970s she was publicly critical of the
position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church; see also Mormon) against the ERA and was excommunicated
from the church for her activities. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonia_Jo...
Introduction: The Sonia Johnson Speech That Blew the Lid Off of Mormon Maledumb's Secretly Organized and Dishonest Efforts to
Defeat the Equal Rights Amendment
Sonia Johnson–the courageous, outspoken and excommunicated torch bearer in
the ultimately futile battle over passage of the Equal Rights Amendment--was expelled from the Mormon Church largely because of
bold and unapologetic remarks she made in a speech to the American Psychological Association (APA) in New York City on 1
Entitled “Patriarchal Panic: Sexual Politics in the Mormon Church,” her speech was an unparalled
and powerful expose’ of the blatantly illegal, immoral and behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts by the LDS Church to prevent
passage of the ERA in legislative statehouses across the country.
Linda Sillitoe--Mormon author, investigative
reporter, poet, reviewer and mother of three children--explains in her analysis “Church Politics and Sonia Johnson: The Central
Conundrum” (Sunstone, Vol. 5, No. 1, January-February 1980), how Johnson’s stunning unmasking of the LDS Church's
anti-woman battle plan triggered severe anxiety attacks among its male leadership.
Sillitoe notes that, in
Johnson’s remarks before the ABA, she spoke from "pain" and "anger," which were subsequently taken "as polemic and harsh" by
many faithful Mormons.
A typical Mormon reflexive jerking motion to Johnson's speech came from--not suprisingly--a LDS
male in West Jordan, Utah, who wrote:
In the case of ERA, the Federal government has lobbied for its ratification,
the Church against it. I think it all boils down to whom do we trust?
The government or those whom we sustain as
Prophets, Seers, and Revelators? Who do we consider the wisest--the President of the United States or the President of the
Church? Whose motives, goals and objectives do we align ourselves with?
While it's true that members of the Church
have a right to be pro-ERA, it is clear to me that this is the same as our right to smoke, drink, be inactive or withhold any
contributions to the Church. It is not similar to our right to be a Republican, Democrat, Independent or whatever.
The Church says it is a moral issue, the world says it's political. Who do we believe?
Sonia Johnson and others
apparently feel that the Church's opposition to [the] ERA is a "patriarchal panic" based on a chauvinistic desire to keep women
under the thumb of men in the Church. The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve have stated their reasons for opposition
and we do them a terrible disservice in discounting their statements and suspecting instead various unholy ulterior motives.
Besides having the right to be wrong, Church members have the right to inspiration from the Holy Ghost (assuming personal
worthiness). I submit that we should exercise that privilege rather than the former and find ourselves in peaceful agreement with
those whom the Lord has charged with the great responsibility of leading us aright.
A Feminist Voice Against
Male Dominance and Abuse
Sillitoe reviews how Johnson’s speech served to starkly publicize the cunning,
covert and conspiratorial efforts of the LDS Church to defeat the ERA, as well as how her remarks highlighted the Church’s
relentless oppression of Mormon women:
The APA speech describe[d] the Mormon anti-ERA lobby in Virginia and the
Church's opposition to the Amendment, then broaden[ed] to the discussion of problems among Mormon women. Citing Utah's alarming
statistics on depression, "premaritally pregnant" teenage brides, teenage suicide, and rape, Sonia Johnson insist[ed] that "our
sisters are silently screaming for help." The next paragraph continue[d]:
"Because Mormon women are trained to desire
above all else to please men (and I include in this category God, whom all too many of us view as an extension of our chauvinist
leaders), we spend enormous amounts of energy trying to make the very real, but--for most of us--limited satisfactions of mother
and-wife-hood substitute satisfactorily for all other life experiences. What spills over into those vacant lots of our hearts
where our intellectual and talented selves should be vigorously alive and thriving are, instead, frustration, anger, and the
despair which comes from suppressing anger and feeling guilty for having felt it in the first place."
then draws attention to "the key paragraph of the speech [which] center[ed] on [Johnson’s] cause," as laid out by Johnson:
"But women are not fools. The very violence with which the Brethren attacked an Amendment which would give women
human status in the Constitution abruptly opened the eyes of thousands of us to the true source of our danger and our anger.
This open patriarchal panic against our human rights raised consciousness miraculously all over the Church as nothing else could
have done. And revealing their raw panic at the idea that women might step forward as goddesses-in-the-making with power in a
real--not a 'sub' or 'through men'--sense, was the leaders' critical and mortal error, producing as it did a deafening dissonance
between their rhetoric of love and their oppressive, unloving, destructive behavior."
Sillitoe notes that
“[c]opies of the ‘Patriarchal Panic’ speech abound throughout Mormondom,” adding that it was even distributed to the studentbody
by Associated Students at BYU.
A copy of Johnson’s
no-holds-barred rallying cry for women’s rights currently resides in Idaho’s Boise State University’s Albertsons Library,
where it is part of a collection donated by the Boise Chapter of National Organization for Women’s (NOW).
to the university’s website, members of that chapter assembled the collection “during the final years of the campaign to
ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, 1976-1982” and included in it documentation of “the role of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints in opposing the ERA and the excommunication of ERA advocate Sonia Johnson by the LDS Church.”
Johnson’s speech was anything
but conciliatory. To the contrary, it was defiant, accusatory and emboldening.
Indeed, Sillitoe describes it
[It was] the extreme, not the norm, of Sonia Johnson’s utterances and yet it identifie[d] clearly the heart
of what ha[d] become her dilemma. It is in this speech that she crosse[d] the line between equal civil rights and the
patriarchal system of the Mormon Church, a border also blurred by the Church by identifying the ERA as a moral issue upon which
the Church [was] taking political action (in harmony with the July 4, 1979 statement of the First Presidency which explain[ed]
that moral issues, so identified by the First Presidency and Council of Twelve, may be ‘worthy of full institutional
involvement’). Thus it is no more possible to remove Sonia Johnson's promotion of the Equal Rights Amendment from a Church
context than it was possible for her to remove the anti-ERA petition from her ward lobby.
As Sillitoe notes, it
was Johnson’s speech that, in fact, provided the final impetus for the decision of Mormon Church patriarchs to excommunicate
her from its ranks.
At her trial, Johnson was accused by her inquisitioners of having "publicly taught that the
Church is dedicated to imposing the Prophet's moral directives upon all Americans; when it is the doctrine of the Church that all
people are free to choose for themselves those moral directives dictated by their own consciences."
prosecutors were referring to the following indisputable points of reality that Johnson made in her provocative remarks to the
The political implications of this mass renunciation of individual conscience under direction from “God” are
not clearly enough understood in this country. The Mormons, a tiny minority, are dedicated to imposing the Prophet's moral
directives upon all Americans, and they may succeed if Americans do not become aware of their methods and goals. Because the
organization of the Church is marvelously tight, and the obedience of the members marvelously thoroughgoing, potentially
thousands of people can be mobilized in a very short time to do--conscientiously--whatever they are told, without more
explanation that "the Prophet has spoken."
But Mormon anti-ERA activity, though organized and directed through the
hierarchy of the Church from Salt Lake down through regional and local male leaders, is covert activity not openly done in the
name of the Church. Members are cautioned not to reveal that they are Mormons or organized by the Church when they lobby, write
letters, donate money and pass out anti-ERA brochures door-to-door through whole states. Instead, they are directed to say they
are concerned citizens following the dictates of their individual consciences. Since they are, in fact, following the very
dictates of the Prophet's conscience and would revise their own overnight if he were to revise his, nothing could be further from
Johnson’s unpardonable sin (at least to the covered eyes and ears of Mormonism's patriarchal and
predatory prevaricators) was to blow the whistle on the Brethren’s secret political designs to torpedo the ERA.
Yet, according to Sillitoe, this is what Johnson had, in fact, been doing all along:
In those paragraphs [of her
APA speech] Sonia Johnson [did] what she did in virtually every public statement and interview: breaking the story that Mormons
for ERA were determined to make public--that the Mormon Church [was] opposing the Equal Rights Amendment through organized
lobbies in various states. By quoting that statement which contain[ed] the central purpose and tactic of Mormons for ERA, I
believe that the excommunication letter rebut[ted] the "news" and implicitly denie[d] the validity of the contention. Thus the
central pivot between embracing the Church as a whole, politics included, and the division of the spiritual and political Church,
justifying allegiance to one aspect and opposition to the other aspect [was], after all, encapsuled in the findings of the
The Text of Sonia Johnson’s Courageous Pro-ERA/Anti-Patriarchy Speech
Below is the nearly
complete text of Johnson’s remarks before the American Psychological Association in September 1979. (Nearly in the sense that
the copy of Johnson’s speech in my possession is a typed manuscript which appears to have been photo-reproduced many times,
thus resulting in occasional illegibilities at the top of some of its pages. However, despite these relatively small and
infrequent gaps, the meaning of Johnson’s message is not lost).
Johnson’s public exposure of the "panic" seizing
Mormon male leadership in the face of rising calls for gender equality became an inspiring cry in Mormonism’s pro-ERA
underground--particularly, of course, for women who to this day continue to be suffocated by the Brethren’s patriarchal
PATRIARCHAL PANIC: SEXUAL POLITICS IN THE MORMON CHURCH
September 1, 1979
presented at the American Psychological Association Meetings, New York City
Sonia Johnson, Ed.D
Chair, MORMONS FOR
Sexual politics is old hat in the Mormon Church. It was flourishing when my grandparents were infants,
crossing the plains to Utah in covered wagons. Although different generations have developed their own peculiar variations on
the theme, I believe my generation is approaching the ultimate confrontation, for which all the others were simply dress
rehearsals. Mormon sexual politics today is an uneasy mixture of explosive phenomena: the recent profound disenfranchisement of
Mormon women by Church leaders, the Church’s sudden strong political presence in the anti-ERA arena and the women’s movement.
Saturated as it is with the anti-female bias that is patriarchy’s very definition and reason for being, the Mormon Church
can legitimately be termed "The Last Unmitigated Western Patriarchy." (I know you Catholics and Jews in this audience will want
to argue with that but I will put my patriarchs up against yours any day!) This patriarchal imperative is reinforced by the
belief that the President of the Church is a Prophet of God, as were Isaiah and Moses, and that God will not allow him to make a
mistake in guiding the Church. He is, therefore, if not doctrinally, in practice "infallible"–deified. Commonly heard
thought-obliterating dicta in my Church are "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done" and "when the Prophet speaks,
the debate is ended." They forget to mention that the debate probably never even got started since in the Church there is little
dialogue or real education. Indoctrination is the prime method of instruction because obedience is the contemporary Church’s
The caliber of character forged by this "education to obey" is illustrated by an encounter we had two
summers ago  in Lafayette Square after the national ERA march in Washington, D.C. Several of us were accosted by two
Brigham Young University students, former missionaries for the Church, who tried to tear down our MORMONS FOR ERA banner. During
the ensuing discussion, they solemnly vowed that if the Prophet told them to go out and shoot all Black people, they would do so
Another example: Under the Heavenly mandate against the Equal Rights Amendment, Mormons in
Virginia last winter , wearing their EQUALITY YES, ERA NO! buttons (a typical boggling example of patriarchal doublethink),
lobbied not only against the ERA but against ALL bills for women–many of which were models of their kind.
political implications of this mass renunciation of individual conscience for direction from “God” are not clearly enough
understood in this country. The Mormons, a tiny minority, are dedicated to imposing the Prophet’s moral directives upon all
Americans and they may succeed if Americans do not become aware of their methods and goals. Because the organization of the
Church is marvelously tight and the obedience of the members marvelously thorough-going, potentially thousands of people can be
mobilized in a very short time to do–conscientiously–whatever they are told, without more explanation than "the Prophet has
But Mormon anti-ERA activity, though organized and directed by the hierarchy of the Church from Salt Lake
down through regional and local male leaders, is covert activity, not openly done in the name of the Church. Members are
cautioned not to reveal that they are Mormons or organized by the Church when they lobby, write letters, donate money and pass
out anti-ERA brochures door-to-door through whole states.(1) Instead, they are directed to say that they are concerned citizens
following the dictates of their individual consciences. Since they are, in fact, following the dictates of the Prophet’s
conscience and would revise their own overnight if he were to revise his, nothing could be further from the truth.
addition, Mormon women, who make up most of the anti-ERA Mormon army (and the leaders refer to it as an army in true patriarchal
style 2), are advised not to tell people that the men of the Church have organized them, but to maintain that they voluntarily
organized themselves. "People won’t understand"(3), their male leaders explain which in patriarchal doublespeak means: "People
will understand only too well that this is the usual male trick of enlisting women to carry out men’s oppressive measures against
women, hiding the identity of the real oppressors and alienating women from each other."
So many of us in the Church
are so unalterably opposed to this covert and oppressive activity that one of the major purposes of MORMONS FOR ERA has become to
shine light upon the murky political activities of the Church and to expose to other Americans its exploitation of women’s
religious commitment for its self-serving male political purposes.
The reaction of the Church fathers to the women’s
movement and women’s demand for equal rights has produced fearful and fascinating phenomena. In the mid-1960s, Utah’s birthrate
was almost exactly the same as the national rate but by last year  it was double the national average–evidence of a real
patriarchal panic, a tremendous reaction against the basic feminist tenet that women were meant by their Creator to be
individuals first and to fulfill roles second–to the degree and in the way they choose, as men do. In almost every meeting of
the Church (and Mormons are noted for [next several words illegible] "good" Mormon woman, acceptable to the Brethren and
therefore to God; messages calculated to keep women where men like them best: "made" (4) (created) to nurture husband and
children, housebound, financially and emotionally dependent, occupationally immature, politically naïve, obedient, subordinate,
submissive, somnambulant and bearing much of the heavy and uncredited labor of the Church upon their uncomplaining shoulders.
Encyclicals from the Brethren over the past ten years [1969-1979] such as those which took away women’s right to pray in
major Church meetings (this right has since been restored but women will not be safe from the Brethren’s capricious meddling with
our inalienable human rights until we attain positions of power and authority in our Church); to control our own auxiliary money
and program and to publish our own magazine for communication among ourselves have put women under total male control, requiring
us to ask permission of men in even the smallest of matters. These rulings–which have seriously harmed women’s self-esteem,
lowered our status, made us bootlickers and toadies to the men of the Church and destroyed what little freedom of choice we
had–those rulings reveal the depth of the Brethren’s fear of independent, non-permission-asking women, the kind of women which
are emerging from the women’s movement. And it is no accident that they were enacted just as the feminist tide in the United
States began to swell.
But we have other, more direct, ways of knowing how badly threatened and angry our brethren are
by the existence of women who are not under their control. In April , we hired a plane to fly a banner over Temple Square
in Salt Lake City during a break in the world-wide Conference of male leaders being held in the Tabernacle. The banner announced
that MORMONS FOR ERA ARE EVERYWHERE. A reporter phoned the Jody Powell of the Church [Jody Powell was then-President Jimmy
Carter’s White House press secretary] to ask how the Brethren were taking this little prank and was told that they found it
"amusing." Then the Jody Powell-person suggested that the reporter put a cartoon in the next day’s paper showing our plane
flying over the Angel Moroni atop the Temple (as the actual newspaper had) but instead of a trumpet, picture Moroni brandishing a
machine gun. One does not need to be a psychoanalyst to understand how “amusing” the Brethren found our "little prank." (5)
More recently, when an Associated Press reporter interviewed President [Spencer W.] Kimball on the subject of
uppity Mormon women, the Prophet warned that Church members who support the Equal Rights Amendment should be "very, very careful"
because the Church is led by "strong men and able men . . . . We feel we are in a position to lead them properly." (6) The
threat here is open and clear. We had better be very, very careful.
[Illegible] the men at the head of the Church are
strong and the patriarchs have for millennia crushed those women who escaped from their mind-bindings. President Kimball is
further quoted as saying, "These women who are asking for authority to do everything that a man can do and change the order and
go and do men’s work instead of bearing children, she’s just off her base" (7)–a truly appalling revelations of ignorance about
the realities of women’s lives.
But perhaps the image of greatest terror crawled from the psyche of Hartman Rector,
one of the General Authorities of the Church, in response to my testimony before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional
In order to attempt to get the male somewhere near even, the Heavenly Father gave him the Priesthood, or
directing authority for the Church and home. Without this bequeath, the male would be so far below the female in power and
influence that there would be little or no purpose for his existence. In fact, [he] would probably be eaten by the female as is
the case with the black widow Spider. (8)
Given this view of women, it should come as no surprise that despite the
carefully calculated public relations campaign which portrays the Mormon Church as the last bastion (and probably the inventors!)
of the happy family and fulfilled womanhood, all is not well in Zion: all is particularly not well among Zion’s women.
In recent years, considerable hue and cry has arisen over the subject of depression among Mormon women, inspiring a spate of
documentaries and articles. (9) The Salt Lake Tribune in December of 1977 quoted local therapists as stating that up to
three-quarters of their Mormon patients were women and that the common denominator was low self-image and lack of fulfillment
outside the home. (10) This depression is endemic and begins at an early age: the incidence of suicide among teenaged females
in Utah is more than double the national average and rising. (11) Seven of 10 teenaged brides are “premaritally pregnant” and 40
percent of Utah’s brides are teens. (12) The proportion of teenage marriages in Utah has been greater than for the nation each
year since 1960, which might partially account for Utah’s divorce rate being higher than the national average. (The time of the
beginning of the increase is also significant, as I have pointed out earlier). Alcoholism and drug abuse among women are
problems in Mormon culture, as are child and wife abuse. In the last 14 years, rape in Utah has increased 165 percent and the
local index of rape is 1.35 percent higher than the national average. (13) Add to this the significant fact that attendance at
Relief Society–the Church’s women’s auxiliary–and at the Young Women’s organization meetings has dropped off drastically
What all this says to the patriarchs is anyone’s guess–they are either afraid to talk with those of us who
are alarmed at their opinions and treatment of women or they do not consider us worth their time. (14) But what it says to those
of us who have survived being Mormon women is that our sisters are silently screaming for help and that they are not only NOT
finding it at Church, but that at Church they are being further depressed and debilitated by bombardment with profoundly
demeaning female sex-role stereotypes. Their Church experience is making them sick.
Because Mormon women are trained
to desire above all else to please men (and I include in this category God, whom all too many of us view as an extension of our
chauvinist leaders), we spend enormous amounts of energy trying to make the very real but–for most of us–limited satisfactions of
mother- and wifehood substitute satisfactorily for all other life experiences. What spills over into those vacant lots of our
hearts where our intellectual and talented selves should be vigorously alive and thriving are, instead, frustration, anger and
the despair which comes from suppressing anger and feeling guilty for having felt it in the first place.
, a Utah woman wrote to Senate Hatch of Utah: “A sea of smoldering women is a dangerous thing.” And that’s what the
Mormon patriarchy has on its hands: a sea of smoldering women. Those whose anger is still undifferentiated, who do not realize
how thoroughly they are being betrayed–their rage is exploited by Church leaders who subvert it into attacks against feminist
causes such as the Equal Rights Amendment, making scapegoats of women and their righteous desires, identifying women as the
source of women’s danger (a patriarchal tactic for maintaining power that has its roots in antiquity) and trying to distract us
from recognizing that where our real danger as women lies, and always has lain, is in patriarchy.
But women are not
fools. The very violence with which the Brethren attacked an Amendment which would give women human status in the Constitution
abruptly opened the eyes of thousands of us to the true source of our danger and our anger. This open patriarchal panic against
our human rights raised consciousness miraculously all over the Church as nothing else could have done. And revealing their raw
panic at the idea that women might step forward as goddesses-in-the-making with power in a real–not a “sub” or “through
men”–sense, was the leaders’ critical and mortal error, producing as it did a deafening dissonance between their rhetoric of love
and their oppressive, unloving, destructive behavior.
I receive phone calls and letters from Mormon women all over the
country and each has a story or two to tell: how two Mormon women in one meeting independently stood and spoke of their Mother
in Heaven, how they met afterwards and wept together in joy at having found and named Her; how a courageous Mormon woman is
preparing to make the first public demand for the priesthood. “The time has come,” she says calmly, “for women to insist upon
full religious enfranchisement.” This statement is the Mormon woman’s equivalent of the shot heard ‘round the world!
patriarchy may be The Last Unmitigated but it is no longer unchallenged. A multitude of Mormon women are through asking
permission. We are waking up and growing up and in our waking and growing can be heard–distinctly–the death rattle of the
[former address and phone number deleted]
1. "New York State women’s meeting: 8,000 converge on Albany: local woman creates
fracas." The Daily Times, Mawaroneck, New Jersey, July 1, 1977.
The local woman who created the “fracas” was a
Mormon, Sherlene Bartholomew, from the Westchester Ward in Scarsdale, N.Y., who would only say that she was "a member of a
loosely-organized group of mothers of small children." The article goes on:
Later, in a private interview, Ms.
Bartholomew continued to insist she was not affiliated with any organized group. Yet in the next 90 minutes or so during which
we accompanied her . . . she came in contact with a dozen or so women who greeted her by her first name, many of whom refused to
From the “Supplementary Data Sheet” regarding the Albany International Woman’s Year
Conference, sent to "all Bishops, Branch Presidents and Concerned Members" by a New York Stake Relief Society Presidency:
The First Presidency [includes the Prophet and two counselors] urges full attendance and participation. Elements
capable of destroying family unity . . . must be opposed. We should act as individuals–as citizens and residents of New York
State–and not as any church or organization.
From the recorded and transcribed minutes of the first organization
meeting of the Potomac Regional Women’s Coalition (later known as the LDS Citizen’s Coalition), at Vienna, Virginia, November 8,
1978, p. 13:
If you go to your state senator and say that he should be against the Equal Rights Amendment because
the Prophet is against it, your are going to get nowhere. That may be why we are against it, but when you trying to convince a
legislator, you better talk his language, not yours.
2. From the Virginia organization meeting minutes, p. 17:
You have got to take this seriously as a calling . . . When the call comes, you march with your forces. In other
words, you are being made a general of a force.
3. From the Virginia organization meeting minutes, p. 2, Regional
Representative Julian Lowe speaking:
Experience shows that if the Brethren are out beating the bushes it looks
like, in the eyes of some, that we are trying to keep women subservient [note the word "keep"] and it is far from that. This is
the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do but it is always interpreted that way. Why don’t I quit while I’m ahead.
4. Wertz, William C., Associated Press "LDS President opposes ERA, encourages women to be wives," The
Rexburg [Idaho] Standard, Tuesday, June 19, 1979.
Quoting President Kimball: "The woman wa made to be the wife,
the one who teaches and trains the children."
5. Oral communication.
6. Wertz, William C., Associated
Press "LDS President opposes ERA, encourages women to be wives," The Rexburg [Idaho] Standard, Tuesday, June 19,
8. Correspondence from Hartman Rector to Teddie Wood, August 29, 1978.
few of these are:
--Degn, Louise, "Mormon Women and Depression," KSL [Salt Lake] TV commentary, February 17,
--Cardall, Duane, "The Three Faces of Depression: Teenage Suicide," KSL TV documentary, February 10, 1979.
--Burgoyne, Robert H. and Burgoyne, Rodney W., "Belief Systems and Unhappiness: the Mormon Woman Example," Dialogue:
A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1978, 3, 48-53.
--Associated Press Provo, Utah, "Depression Among Y Students
on Rise, Health Director Notes," Salt Lake Tribune, March 14, 1979.
--Warenski, Marilyn Patriarchs and
Politics: the Plight of the Mormon Woman, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978). See especially Chapter 4, pp. 81-106: "Double
Dose of the Double Message."
10. Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, "Utah Women: A Profile," June
1978, p. 42.
11. Cardall, Duane, "The Three Faces of Depression: Teenage Suicide," KSL TV documentary, February 10,
12. Associated Press, Logan, Utah, "Utah Weddings 40% Teens," Salt Lake Tribune, April 8,
13. Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, "Utah Women: A Profile," June 1978, pp. 23-46.
14. Recently, when a Stake President in Provo, Utah, suggested to the Regional Representative that a woman speak in Stake
Conference about women in the Church, the Regional Representative replied, "We can’t have a woman talking about women in
This fear–and disdain–is, I believe, prevalent among men in the Church and has accounted in the last few
months for a truly incredible phenomenon: a book entitled, WOMAN, published by Deseret Book, which has as its authors 15
male leaders of the Church–not a single woman!
Johnson Had Amazing Heart for the Battle but Will the Mormon Church Ever Change?
Sonia Johnson was a
courageous, outspoken and inspiring advocate in the cause of equal rights for the millions of oppressed women of Mormonism.
She reminded people everywhere of the power of purpose that comes through individual commitment. As she herself declared:
We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined
people can change the course of history
Nevertheless, can genuine
gender equality be realistically achieved in the Mormon Church’s permanent patriarchal prison? Jessica Longaker, in her
analysis, "The Role of Women in Mormonism," offers a decidely grim assessment:
The Mormon Church of today is still
clinging to the beliefs of the nineteenth century; ideas which are becoming more outmoded every day. A few women in the Mormon
Church are trying to make a difference but they are usually swiftly excommunicated . . .
In Mormon magazines, which
are full of advice for women from the heads of the Church, the message has changed in response to the feminist movement. In 1964,
advice on marriage and divorce was fairly dispassionate; by 1972, these topics were addressed with increasing panic and
harshness. . . . Feminists are described as “the Pied Pipers of sin who have led women away from the divine role of womanhood
down the pathway of error.” . . .
Obviously, the Mormon Church is not going to alter its views on women in the
immediate future. It is questionable whether it is even possible for Mormonism to equalize the roles of men and women because the
oppression of women is so integral to the religion. Men and women cannot truly become equal in the Church, for the basic tenets
of Mormonism are so fraught with sexism that equality would change the religion beyond recognition.
never forget the heroic and lasting contributions of Sonia Johnson in the fight for equal rights. In that fight, she has been a
rare and shining light in the dark cell of the Mormon Gulag. In the end, Sonia Johnson reminded those who viewed her struggle
against patriarchy of the inherent power, dignity and justice of the feminist movement.
But the brutal, costly,
inhumane war of thought control and emotional abuse waged against millions of women by the guards of Mormonism’s patriarchal
concentration camp continues unabated to this day–and will into the foreseeable future.
So the question arises: Why
spend the rest of one’s life fighting to reform an unreformable beast?
Perhaps those lingering behind the Mormon
Church’s electric fence should seriously consider making a long-overdue break for personal emancipation--and encourage as many of
their fellow inmates to join in the rush to at last breathe free.
| Good grief. It is getting to be appalling.
Does Mormonism breed a bunch of childish, silly, whining, threatening, women, stomping their feet and throwing fits who think only their beliefs are so important they can destroy a family over them? Do they ever consider the consequences of this outrageous behavior?
Do they really think they can force a belief in Mormonism or a God down the throat of their mate? Really? They think they have that much power?
It is embarrassing to hear of women who have their spouses dragging their tails between their legs to "save the family" just because they are hurling ultimatums telling another human being what they can read, where they can post and read on the Internet, etc? The unmitigated gall! Despicable behavior!
What is the matter with these women?
Are they the product of generational Mormonism with some kind of genetic deficiency that has left them unable to reach even a modicum of rational thought? Has Mormonism stunted their IQ's?
Where do they get the crazy idea that they have the right to leave the father of their children and deprive those very children of a father and what they need just because they have to have their way? Are they still six years old and playing with dolls? Don't they know these are children and not pets?
Mormonism has done a number on women, that's for sure. If this is any kind of norm, for Mormon females, it is a pathetic legacy for the religion.
If only those ads on TV showed a ranting, raving, pissed off Mormon female firing off her ultimatums, shouting and crying about how they will judge their husband at a judgment bar in heaven, how they must read the BOM and pray, and on and on and on ...or else, how they have to believe in God, or else...or else they are going home to Mormon Mommie and daddy and taking the kiddies with them!
Ugly Mormonism at it's finest. Thank you Mormon women for that!
Make some TV ads about that and tell the truth so people can see what it can do to people!
ARGH! Mormon women who act like we read about dozens of times daily here need a reality check!
| I prepared these remarks for the only living soul that I know personally whom I have made aware of my situation. She lives in Utah (she's Catholic) and wanted to get my take on the role of women in Mormonism. I tried to present these remarks from the feminist perspective (if I can even grasp that perspective to any degree of effectiveness you will have to be the judge) so I am quite sure there will be some interesting comments from both sides. I look forward to hearing what the RFM folks think. As always, comment and/or criticism is welcome. Enjoy...
The Role of Women in the LDS Church:
History and Observations
-In THE BEGINNING…
“The first thing any religion worth its salt controls is its women” – Ron Carlson
The three great religions that trace their origins to the patriarchal legend of Abraham (namely: Judaism, Islam and Christianity) have one overriding common factor: They all have at one time or another attempted to physically, sexually and psychologically control women.
From the mythical creation account in Genesis we read of the first great sin committed by Eve when she partook of the forbidden fruit bringing death into the world. A closer inspection of the account as it appears in Genesis warrants further scrutiny than simply ascribing the first act of evil to women from mindless disobedience. The fruit represents those things which mortal man were not to partake of for no other reason than the biblical heavenly edict that “thou shalt surely die”. Like men of countless ages, Adam, it seems, was content to let sleeping dogs lie and continue in a state of eternal mindless bliss.
Eve however was tempted by the serpent’s promise of all the things that are naturally good for the progress of the human condition: knowledge, beauty, and the exploration of passion, appetite and closure through death. Perhaps it is because men, by their very nature, perceive women as mysterious, forbidden, beautiful, insightful, enticing and passionate that they are intimidated by the very attributes that they have, for countless millennia been unable to master.
More fundamental perhaps is the male notion that these attributes ultimately serve no tactical purpose for the technological progress of the species. Consider the nature of the corporate oligarchy that is the backbone of the American and thus, to a great extent, the world economic machine. The sole underlying motive for all societal transactions lies at the root of gaining the greatest advantage that the proprietor can achieve at the greatest expense that the consumer will bear. In short, who can take the greatest advantage of all his surrounding resources (including people) and exercise from them the greatest profit or other economic advantage at the expense of all else. It can easily be observed that capitalism, by its very nature, rewards the masculine attributes of maximum efficient utilization of resources for the perceived good of the individual or organization.
A masculine society is incapable of quantifying the more feminine attributes of beauty, passion, mystery, and intuitive insight. There must always be an identifiable and measurable outcome. Thus, the means by which all things beautiful and enjoyable are produced becomes a means, not an end in and of itself. We reward the production of a piece of fine art, the publishing of a brilliant literary work or the outward attractive features of the human body but we often fail to understand or give praise and reward to the painter’s inspiration or technique, the novelist’s creative process or the individual’s unique and intrinsic individual inner beauty. Indeed, the masculine approach to living renders us, at a societal level as “whited seplulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones...”
It is the great failing of western civilization that whenever we encounter something that we cannot understand, we must subdue and control it. Men cannot, without humility, effort and selflessness understand women. However, men are also (with a few exceptions) biologically hardwired to desire women. This creates for many male adolescents a kind of mental paradox. Men desire women to fulfill their physical needs and initially give little regard to the fact the women carries within her the ability to bring vibrancy, beauty and completeness to the union of the two. Once again, a woman was merely another means to an end. Unfortunately for women, evolution bestowed upon the male species the physical makeup to enable him to physically overpower the female species.
As humanity has progressed, this physical advantage transcended the brute strength advantage of men over women and left an indelible imprint on the collective psychology of basic society. Men were the property owners, the physical providers the religious leaders, the creators and champions of governments. Women were the bearers and caretakers of children and primarily responsible for all things domestic in the home. While this division of responsibilities seemed efficient enough for several millennia, thankfully many of these societal imbalances have been eradicated due in part to industrialization and readily available education for both sexes. It is becoming increasingly apparent, however, that one of the greatest struggles remaining for the industrialized western world will be to finally release its collective psychological tyrannical patriarchal chokehold from the throat of its most vital and enriching element: women.
-IN THE NOW; A Brief Perspective of the LDS Church-
In its early years, the LDS church, as an organization, did make some rather progressive strides toward the equality of women in the religious setting. The two most important were: the organization of the Nauvoo, IL Female Relief Society and the allowance of women to use the Mormon priesthood power to call and ordain officers in that organization as well as give blessings of comfort, counsel and healing when needed. Also, this Relief Society functioned with a much greater amount of autonomy than exists today.
The following July 10, 1994 article by former Mormon feminist writer and editor Maxine Hanks provides some excellent general insight to the topic:
“When Howard W. Hunter became president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last month, his first public act was a plea for alienated Mormons to "come back," or return to fellowship. Yet more than half of the 9 million church members can never participate fully because they are women. To find reconciliation, Mormon women must look to the past.
The historical relationship of men and women in the Mormon Church is a conflicted one. In 1992, I published a book that explores long-ignored aspects of that history and attempts to retrieve the soul of Mormon women's spiritual life. For that, I was accused of apostasy.
Mormon women obtained authority early in the history of the church and then fought a losing battle to keep it. Their concerns were not taken seriously, so men's authority prevailed. Feminism emerged in the struggle, in the energy of women's rhetoric and work and in their resistance to male agendas.
Mormon women exercised considerable religious authority in the LDS Church for 100 years and maintained some autonomy for 140 years. During the first 20 years of Mormonism, from 1830 to 1850, women received authority for blessings, healing and prophecy; priesthood keys, powers and rituals; and missionary calls. Women clashed with male leadership and lost authority at the turn of the century and again in the 1970s. Since 1991, Mormon feminists have encountered a backlash against their attempts to reclaim women's authority. Today's church holds that women cannot exercise priesthood, therefore women are not "ordained" but only "set-apart" to church positions. As a full-time LDS missionary, I sensed I had priesthood, but spent 19 months being denied the right to use it.
Although women's authority is plainly evident in Mormon history, today's male church leaders won't acknowledge it, for that would mean having to take responsibility for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers who revoked that authority. Instead, they blame Christ. Over and over again, male leaders assert that female priesthood is "contrary to the Lord's plan" and that today's church "follows the pattern the Lord has set."
The extreme gender imbalance in Mormonism re-emerges in Utah's masculinist culture, where government, education and business are run by Mormon men in the shadow of Salt Lake's tallest building, the LDS church offices. In Utah, women as well as men repress the feminine, starve it and then overcompensate: We crave sweet and fatty foods for comfort; we gain weight to feel loved; men act effeminate and women self-destruct with prescription drugs, obesity, depression and too many kids. Hostility to women manifests in subtle and shocking ways. Apostle Boyd Packer said, "I could tell most of the secretaries in the church office building that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them."
Male-dominant culture offers women a choice between female powerlessness or male-identification. A respected local therapist told me that she sees many Mormon women who "actually believe they are men." My book was an attempt to heal, by moving beyond male-defined identity to a place of female identification, definition and power, and by removing obstructions to women's relationship with God.
My feminist views were never welcome in church, so I turned to the public marketplace of ideas. Yet for two years, church leaders threatened me not to speak publicly about Mormon feminist issues. Excommunication was a small price to pay for my voice. It didn't take away my theology or my spirituality, which the church does not control. God's spirit cannot be homogenized, mass-produced and marketed by blue-suited septuagenarians from a high-rise in downtown Salt Lake City.
I was told that my feminist ideas were "contrary to the laws and order of the church." I agree. My excommunication was justifiable. Still, these are men's laws and men's orders, not women's. In 1884, Eliza R. Snow, "prophetess" and president over all women and girls in the church, made it clear that the women's Relief Society, which she headed, was "designed to be a self-governing organization. "If difficulties arise," she wrote, ". . . the matter should be referred to (the) president and her counselors." Later, when men assumed governance over women, they usurped women's authority. I cited Snow to the 15 high priests set to judge me, but it had no impact on them. It did, however, liberate me from participating in their illusion. They excommunicated me to silence feminists and send a message of fear to Mormon women, but their action had the opposite effect: Visibility and discussion soared, and my book is in its second printing.
So, where does this leave Mormon women? They have a strong feminist tradition. Whether today's women can reclaim their authority and priesthood in the church and fully participate remains a question; first, they must find authority within themselves. But I will not "come back" to a church that crushes female authority and individual conscience.” Maxine Hanks: July 10, 1994 Los Angeles Times; Home Edition
The following selected quotes give us some insight into how the LDS male leadership views the role of women:
From Gordon B. Hinckley:
"Women have their place," [President of the Mormon Church Gordon B. Hinckley] said. "When all is said and done, there's no substitute for having a woman in the home. . . . If you ask our women, you'll find them happy with what they have. They're not out yelling and chanting." Gordon B. Hinckley: March of 1997 the San Francisco Chronicle
From Boyd K. Packer:
“The next quotation is from a woman who is hurting, and perhaps wonders if anyone but the feminists care about her problems:
"I'm upset that I was always advised to go back and try harder only to get abused more. I need some comfort, I need solace, need hope, need to know Heavenly Father sees all that I have endured. What hope do I have for a chance to live with Heavenly Father? If temple marriage is the key to the celestial [kingdom], where am I? Outside gnashing my teeth for eternity? Help me." …
The woman pleading for help needs to see the eternal nature of things and to know that her trials -- however hard to bear -- in the eternal scheme of things may be compared to a very, very bad experience in the second semester of the first grade. She will find no enduring peace in the feminist movement. There she will have no hope. If she knows the plan of redemption, she can be filled with hope.
The one who supposes that he "understands the mind-set of both groups" needs to understand that the doctrines of the gospel are revealed through the Spirit to prophets, not through the intellect to scholars.” Boyd K. Packer: May 18, 1993 All Church Coordinating Counsel
From Thomas S. Monson:
'Women's Movement: Liberation or Deception' Carefully read the entire text of the talk and you will see a carefully crafted message. Remember to look past the outrageous examples he uses to support his thesis.
-“THE HEAD OF THE WOMAN IS THE MAN…”
From a LDS doctrinal standpoint, Women are eternally subject to men. This perception is supported in the traditional Christian and LDS scriptures from a number of references but perhaps the most clear biblical statements that support this are Genesis 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 11:3:
Genesis 3:16 (see also Moses 4:22 – LDS Pearl of Great Price – part of the LDS scriptures) “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”
This concept of patriarchal rule was expanded upon in the LDS temple ceremony prior to the changes in 1990. The following quote is taken from that ceremony: “Eve, because thou hast hearkened to the voice of Satan and hast partaken of the forbidden fruit, and given unto Adam, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children. Nevertheless, thou mayest be preserved in childbearing. Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee in righteousness.”
The two italicized points above are very important to consider. First, that the woman will be preserved through child bearing and second that the husband shall rule over the woman in righteousness. I will explore the second statement “he shall rule over thee in righteousness” first.
“He shall rule over thee in righteousness…”
In the pre-1990 LDS temple endowment ceremony, shortly before Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden, Elohim (God) and Jehovah (Jesus) require Adam and Eve to enter into a covenant of obedience. From the woman, God required the following promise: “Inasmuch as Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit, if she will covenant that from this time forth, she will obey your (Adam’s) law of the Lord, and will hearken unto your (Adam’s) counsel as you hearken unto mine.” From Adam, God required that he “Obey the law of Elohim (God)”
Eve then turns to Adam and repeats to Adam the covenant given to her by Elohim (God): “Adam, I now covenant to obey your law of the Lord and to hearken to your counsel as you obey our Father.” Adam then turns to Elohim (God) and repeats the covenant given him by Elohim (God): “Elohim, I now covenant with thee that from this time forth I will obey thy law and keep thy commandments.”
As part of the changes to the temple endowment ceremony in 1990, The wording of the covenant that Eve makes to Adam was modified to read as follows: “Adam, I now covenant to obey the law of the Lord and to hearken to your counsel as you hearken unto Father.”
Let’s take a moment to examine the pre and post-1990 Eve covenants. In both versions, it would seem that Eve promises to obey Adam so long as he obeys Elohim (God) as evidenced in the statements:
“I… covenant… to obey your (Adam’s) law of the Lord” (pre-1990 version)
“I… covenant to obey the law of the Lord” (post-1990 version)
“…and to hearken to your counsel as you obey our/hearken unto Father”
While the above statements imply that Eve will only be obedient to Adam so long as he follows God (more on that later), We would do well to remember a couple of crucial details about the temple endowment ceremony that few fail to recognize.
First, after Adam and Eve are introduced into the Garden of Eden, Elohim (God) says: “we have created for you this earth, and have placed upon it all kinds of vegetation and animal life. We have commanded all these to multiply in their own sphere and element. We give you dominion over all these things, and make you, Adam, Lord over the whole earth, and all things on the face thereof. Adam is the first to be given the title of Lord in the temple endowment ceremony. We don’t hear the title of Lord applied to anyone else until after Eve and Adam make their respective covenants of obedience as quoted above.
Second, in both the pre and post-1990 ceremonies, Eve covenants to obey “your”/”the” law of the Lord. Given that Adam is the only Lord designated thus far in the ceremony, Eve’s covenant becomes circular logic. Adam IS the Lord! Eve is covenanting in both cases to obey the law of Adam as he receives, interprets and obeys the laws of God!
This language and theology create the Mormon familial patriarchal chain of command in the typical Mormon household. The husband is the patriarch of the family and as such is entitled to revelation from God in behalf of his family. The wife(s), by covenant, is/are then required to obey the ‘law of the Lord’.
Another important point to consider from the ceremony is this: When a man and a women are married in the temple, the bride and groom will go through a veil ceremony in the endowment room prior to the actual marriage sealing ordinance. Here, the groom stands behind the veil representing the lord. The bride is then brought to the veil and, through the veil, gives the first token of the priesthood along with her secret temple name. The ‘lord’, upon hearing her secret name then brings his wife through the veil into his presence. The bride will never, at any time in the ceremony or the rest of her life, hear her husband’s secret temple name.
The doctrinal implication for this ceremony is as follows: During the resurrection, the faithful husband will call his wife’s secret temple name and then resurrect her. She is then brought into the celestial kingdom by the authority of her husband and lord. In Mormon theology, resurrection is an ordinance and as such can only be performed by a worthy priesthood holder. Thus, a worthy woman can only get into heaven by the good graces of her faithful husband. In cases where there is no faithful husband, she will be ‘assigned’ (more in this concept later) to a worthy priesthood holder in the next life, who will then perform the ordinance of resurrection in her behalf and admit her into the celestial kingdom.
Besides the basic Christian ethics that should be prevalent in any western marriage, this assignment of exclusive familial and religious authority to the husband can create an ethical vacuum in some sense. Besides the scriptures (which themselves are replete with examples of inconsiderate and brutal treatment of women), who or what is to be the external source of confirmation in regards to any revelation that the husband receives for himself, his wife, his children, etc? Absolute power corrupts absolutely as we shall see when we examine the limits to which Joseph Smith stretched this philosophy.
“Preserved through childbearing…”
Joseph Smith began having extra marital affairs as early as 1831, starting with a relationship he had with Fanny Alger, a housekeeper that he and his wife Emma hired. For the next 11 years, he would have occasional secret relationships with women of various ages and stations in life and these women were to eventually become his polygamous wives. Among these were as many as 11 women that were then married to living husbands at the time of their affairs and ‘sealings’ to Joseph Smith. Others included Joseph’s wife Emma’s two counselors in the Nauvoo Female Relief Society presidency (without her knowledge or consent – an important point to remember later in this essay) and Mormon apostle Heber C. Kimball’s 14 year old daughter Helen Mar Kimball (at the consent and request of her father). By 1842, Joseph began teaching the concept of ‘celestial eternal marriage’ (which at from that time until the beginning of the 20th century, was synonymous with polygamy) to a few trusted associates in the higher echelons of leadership in the Mormon Church. All counted, Smith would take at least 33 known polygamous wives before his assassination in June of 1844.
As mentioned previously, nearly all of Joseph’s affairs occurred without his wife Emma’s knowledge or consent. Once she discovered Joseph’s indiscretions, she was naturally vehemently opposed to the whole concept of ‘eternal marriage’. At one point, Joseph’s brother Hyrum asked him if he (Hyrum) might go to Emma and try to reason with her about the concept of polygamy. Joseph was reluctant to allow it telling Hyrum “You don’t know Emma like I do.” Hyrum persisted and asked Joseph to write down the principles of celestial marriage as given to him by God (as Joseph claimed) so that he (Hyrum) could take them with him as he tried to ‘reason’ with Emma. Joseph acquiesced and proceeded to write what has come to be section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, one of the LDS scriptures.
While I will not review the entire section in this essay, I will explore what are, in my opinion, the most crucial verses in this section. Keep in mind the circumstances surrounding the creation of this section. It was originally directed to Emma at the request of Hyrum Smith in order for him to reason with her and convince her of the truthfulness of polygamous celestial marriage. It should be noted from the outset that I do not consider section 132 to be inspired writing of any kind. I will treat is as a manifesto written to justify the lusts of men and I believe the verses that I will comment upon will easily validate my bias in this regard. My comments will follow each reference in bold text with brackets [text].
The introduction to the section states the following:
Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded July 12, 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant, as also plurality of wives. HC 5: 501–507. Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831.
[This fact is demonstrated by the verifiable affair with Fanny Alger.]
The summary of verses within the section reads as follows:
1–6, Exaltation is gained through the new and everlasting covenant; 7–14, The terms and conditions of that covenant are set forth; 15–20, Celestial marriage and a continuation of the family unit enable men to become gods; 21–25, The strait and narrow way that leads to eternal lives; 26–27, Law given relative to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; 28–39, Promises of eternal increase and exaltation made to prophets and saints in all ages; 40–47, Joseph Smith is given the power to bind and seal on earth and in heaven; 48–50, The Lord seals upon him his exaltation; 51–57, Emma Smith is counseled to be faithful and true; 58–66, Laws governing the plurality of wives are set forth.
Now let us review selected verses from the section:
1- VERILY, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines–
[Evidently, as a precursor or to justify his affair with Fanny, he began to have questions concerning the marital arrangements of some prominent biblical figures.]
3- Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.
[Keep this verse in mind as you consider that the LDS church formally abandoned the earthly practice of polygamy in 1890 (still practiced covertly until 1910) in order to prevent church property and leadership from being seized and also to achieve statehood. The LDS church is currently in a catch-22; they have the law but are not obeying it. From an LDS doctrinal standpoint, this is the equivalent of apostasy.]
4- For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
6- And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fullness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fullness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.
[Same logic as verse 3, only now, if you don’t abide the new and everlasting covenant, you will not dwell with God.]
7- And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.
[In plain English this verse basically states that any lawful arrangement entered into on this earth by the laws of man is void in the eyes of God. The reason for this verse is rooted in the fact that all of the plural marriage arrangements that Joseph was entering into were illegal in the state of Illinois. To counter the accusation that Joseph was breaking the law, he simply turned the tables on society as a whole and said that the laws of God (as revealed through Joseph – convenient for him) trumped the laws of man. That is the reason that the leadership of the church practiced in secret and publicly denied the concept of polygamy. This verse basically gives Joseph Smith the right to do whatever he wants as far as the church is concerned – terrifying when you think about it.]
13 And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.
[Same logic as above. Why worry about what any lawful court may say about the legality of your actions when God is going to send you to hell anyway? Of course, terrorists who commit atrocities in the name of God apply this same logic. I consider Polygamy and its generational effects on the women of the LDS church to be such an atrocity.]
15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.
[I.E. your civil marriage doesn’t count for anything in the eyes of the LDS church. This perception – albeit watered down slightly – persists to this day.]
16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
[This statement is a play on words from the following New Testament passages: Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25 and Luke 20:35. The problem presented with this interpretation is that Jesus was answering a question regarding those who had died but were married in life under the old Mosaic covenant instituted by God himself! There is no marriage in heaven because we will all be in the same family… the human family of God according to Jesus. But Joseph decided to take matters even further by declaring that those who did not abide by the new covenant (Polygamy) would be servants in the next life. So not only is your civil marriage worthless in this live, but you will be a servant to one of the Mormon celestial polygamous families in the afterlife!]
19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant… by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; … and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.
[Verses 19 and 20 basically sum up the Mormon plan of exaltation: Creating planets and forever producing children to populate them. An important point to consider here is that according to Mormon theology, God the father, Jesus the son and Michael (Adam) created this world. Since the creation of this world (according to the temple endowment) was patterned after the creation of many other worlds and will be the pattern for future creations by innumerable gods, it is understood that women will have no part in the planet creating process. So where does that leave women? The answer: eternally pregnant with innumerable spirit children. Men get to create planets and have sex eternally while women are relegated to the role of nothing more than celestial brood mares.]
22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.
24 This is eternal lives–to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.
[Just to re-emphasize the point that according to Mormon theology, eternal life is only achieved in the literal sense. It is not simply immortality, but eternal progeny.]
29 Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.
32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.
34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.
[Actually, Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham of her own volition because she was barren at the time. If you read the Old Testament account, God didn’t command anything in regards to this arrangement. In fact, after Abraham sired children by Hagar, Sarah kicker her out in a fit of jealous rage (can’t say I blame her).]
36 Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.
[If we take this legend literally, then whatever God puts into our heads is right and we should do it. Again, sounds like terrorist logic.]
37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.
[Note that in general they did all that they were commanded, but this verse specifically refers to the fact that bearing children is counted unto them for righteousness and the means by which they become gods.]
38 David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.
39 David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord. [Have you noticed in the last few verses that the women are given to various men like property? Keep in mind for the following verses.]
41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.
42 If she be not in the new and everlasting covenant, and she be with another man, she has committed adultery.
43 And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery.
44 And if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many.
[While these verses may seem confusing, they basically restate that the only valid marital (and thus sexual) relationships are those that are sealed and approved by God via the new and everlasting covenant. Again emphasizing the point that civil marriages are considered void from a LDS theological standpoint. Verse 44 also introduces the doctrine of reassignment where a virtuous married woman may be martially reassigned to a righteous priesthood holder (bachelorhood not required) if her spouse is unfaithful. Thus, the righteous priesthood holder becomes a ‘ruler’ over many women. The doctrine of reassignment is still practiced among some of the fundamentalist LDS polygamous offshoots.]
46 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven.
48 And again, verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph, that whatsoever you give on earth, and to whomsoever you give any one on earth, by my word and according to my law, it shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord, and shall be without condemnation on earth and in heaven.
49 For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father.
50 Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac.
[Verses 46 through 50 give Joseph power to do basically anything he wants. He can forgive sins (including his own in verse 50), curse and condemn others at will and he gets a reserved spot in heaven. These verses, when viewed in historical context, follow Joseph’s line of thinking during this period of time. At one point he made the statement: "God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be god to you in His stead". (History of the Church: vol. 6, pp.319-320) Brigham Young went so far as to say that: "...no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith.... Every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance... I cannot go there without his consent.… He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven." (Journal of Discourses: vol. 7, p. 289) It is historically evident from these and other sources that near the end of his life, Joseph Smith was suffering from some kind of messianic delusion.]
51 Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to aprove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.
[This verse refers to a little know historical oddity. When Emma discovered the extent of Joseph’s extramarital affairs she was understandably outraged and demanded that he discontinue the practice. Joseph countered that he was commanded by God to do these things and therefore could not stop. Seeing that Emma was not satisfied with this answer, he then offered Emma the option of having multiple husbands (polyandry). However, at the writing of this revelation, Joseph apparently changed his mind and restricted the command to have multiple spouses to him and the high (male) leadership of the church and told Emma that hers was simply a test.]
52 And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God. [For anyone that thinks that the practice of polygamy began with the writing of this revelation in 1842, this verse will essentially destroy that notion. Here Joseph is telling Emma that she has to accept and receive into her home if needed (and she actually did on occasion – refer to the book ‘Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith’ for references) any and/or all of the plural wives that Joseph had already taken. Further more, if Emma was concerned about the virtuous nature of any of the plural wives that Joseph had thus far accumulated, she is assured in this verse that any false claims of virtuousness would result in the destruction of the plural wife (most likely in the next life). It is ironic however that while Joseph is having multiple extra-marital affairs with single, married and underage women, having these affairs without the knowledge or consent of his wife, pursuing the whole despicable practice without the knowledge of the general membership of the church, defying the laws of the state while doing so and publicly denying on record that he did so that he is still considered virtuous!]
53 For I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him.
[“…he shall be made ruler over many things…” I.E many wives.]
54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.
[Joseph gets to have as many affairs as he wants but if Emma even thinks about it she will be destroyed. Sounds pretty reasonable doesn’t it?]
55 But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds.
[If Emma still doesn’t like this new and everlasting covenant of plural marriage, Joseph says that he will still take care of her but that he will basically get more of everything in this world (including more wives) and eternal life in the world to come.]
59 Verily, if a man be called of my Father, as was Aaron, by mine own voice, and by the voice of him that sent me, and I have endowed him with the keys of the power of this priesthood, if he do anything in my name, and according to my law and by my word, he will not commit sin, and I will justify him.
[Again, Joseph is justifying any past present and future actions, right or wrong because as God’s prophet, anything he says in the name of God is right no mater what anyone else thinks. More terrorist thinking.]
61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood–if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.
63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.
[In these last three verses Joseph gives the reason that men are allowed to enter into plural marriage: They simply have to desire to espouse a virgin! Given that much latitude, a priesthood holder’s desire for fresh virgins would know no bounds (and didn’t in many cases). As for the caveat that the virgin should not be espoused to another man, one must question why this statement is even in the section at all since Joseph was marrying other men’s wives while their husbands (both member and nonmember) were living. Perhaps that privilege was reserved exclusively for Joseph and no one else. In any case, there is basically no way that a Mormon Man can commit adultery under this law so long as he expresses his desire for the virgin of his choice to the proper church authorities. The woman on the other hand, is guilty of adultery if she attempts any behavior that is similar to her polygamist husband! Also, according to this verse, these women physically belong to him! Furthermore, for those who think that polygamywas simply instituted as a way to care for the widows of the church, look at verse 63 more closely. It clearly states that the reason these women are ‘given’ to the men of the church is to multiply and replenish the earth. You can’t multiply without sexual relations. This verse also contains a reminder that salvation and exaltation is achieved through child bearing in this life and the life to come.]
64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.
[This verse is directed solely at Emma Smith. The command: Accept this law or be destroyed. This kind of negates the whole free agency concept that Mormons hold so dear. Actually, in Mormon ideology, Satan is the only being that uses force or coercion to realize his goals. Based in that understanding one would wonder, from a Mormon perspective, where Joseph is getting this revelation from.]
65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.
[Again, this verse is directed at Emma. If she doesn’t like or accept the new and everlasting covenant of plural marriage, in the end it doesn’t matter! In this case Joseph has decided that he doesn’t need her consent (as required in verse 61) and then has the audacity to name her as the transgressor! This entire revelation, and these last few verses especially, are nothing more than spousal emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse cloaked in the protective mantle of God-given revelation!]
In summary, section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants reinforces the doctrinal foundation for male dominance in LDS domestic life. Women are viewed as gifts and rewards for righteous living. Once given, they are spoken of as property or chattel. However, the most important point in this section however is that in order for a man to enter the highest degree of the Mormon heaven, he must be able to produce offspring. If he is faithful over a few things in this life (women are included in this grouping of things incidentally), he will be made ruler over many things (once again, women are one of those many things that he will rule over). This line of thinking is very similar to the Jihad’s hope for a harem of 70 virgins in the next life if he is faithful in his service to Allaah. For Mormon men, women are the producers of a never-ending stream of spirit progeny.
Modern Mormon women will stress the equality of the sexes by explaining that neither a man nor a woman can enter the celestial kingdom without a spouse. What they don’t like to discuss in particular is what their respective roles will be in the hereafter. Few are willing to connect the dots between the temple endowment ceremony, section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants and the smattering of pro-patriarchal scriptural references in the Old and New Testament. From these sources it is made evident that man is to rule over women, that godhood is achieved through the ability to have numberless spirit children and that a man, if faithful in this life will be made ruler over many wives in the next life. When viewed from a diagrammatical standpoint, the Mormon plan of exaltation is essentially a celestial pyramid scheme (ever wonder why those are so popular in Utah? May have something to do with the psychological impact this doctrine has on the minds of the members).
-SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS...
From a male perspective, the Mormon Church is an ideal ego enhancement. A man holds all of the real positions of authority, has the right for revelation in regards to his entire family and is promised many wives in the next life, the power to create worlds and have eternal offspring, which ultimately make him a god. What does the church really offer women from a doctrinal standpoint? The following was posted on an Internet discussion board that I think summarizes the answer to this question perfectly. It is put in the form of a question to the men of the church; how would they react if gender roles were reversed…
Would any rational man join a church in which…
…Women held all priesthood leadership positions, including Prophet, Apostles, Stake Presidents and Bishops etc?
…God was a woman and any mention of Father in Heaven was forbidden?
…Only women were allowed to speak for God?
…Under no circumstance could a man hold a position of authority over a woman?
…Only women could perform church ordinances - i.e. pass the sacrament, perform baptisms or bless their own children?
…In the temple women covenanted to obey Mother in Heaven but the men covenanted to obey their wives?
…The fundamental narrative upon which the entire religion were based had a man obeying Satan to eat the forbidden fruit first, which would explain why men are so subservient to women?
…Men were told time and again in General Conference from their all-female leaders that their main purpose was to be submissive to their wives?
…At age 12 the girls got the priesthood with subsequent advancement during the teen years. But the boys got nothing but a Manhood Medallion?
…The only men's group in the church called the "Relief Society" was really run by the women apostles who made all the real decisions, controlled the budget and provided all the curricula?
…The church had a history of treating men like mindless property. Its founding leaders taught that God commanded that one woman should have plural husbands that lived by themselves and had to share the one wife with other men?
…The church founder (a woman) had over 30 secret husbands. Some of them were pre-pubescent boys she emotionally blackmailed into secret sex. Some were happily married men who she told had to marry her in order to save their families?
…The church's scriptures contained a revelation by the church founder (a woman) that has Heavenly Mother saying she gives young virgin men to the founder and her husband must accept it or suffer eternal destruction and damnation?
…The Book of Mormon had only four pathetic references to men but the whole rest of this "divinely inspired" book was about women?
…Women frequently gave men priesthood blessings of counsel, pretending to speak in the name of Heavenly Mother commanding them to obey their wives and "be faithful"?
…The most precious thing a man could give his wife is his virginity/virtue?
…Men who had lost their virginity before marriage were called "used cars"?
…Single men were told that they could only be exalted if their wives called upon them for exaltation?
…In the next life a woman could have as many husbands as she wanted while the husband could only have one wife?
Would any man in his right mind join such a church?
Some of these statements seem a bit drastic when viewed casually, but they really do represent the LDS male dominated culture. You may not find these cultural philosophies often expressed outright, but they are an integral part of bedrock Mormon doctrine and culture. Truly, in the LDS church, the head of the woman is the man.
I long for the day that the collective roar of the downtrodden and oppressed women of this church will be so loud that it shakes the church to it’s foundational roots. Until that time, the Mormon woman will continue to be given a false hope of eternal life coupled with a requirement for continuous strivings for perfection and obedience and a patriarchal choke-hold so strong that is suffocates the true spark of divinity and dignity that is inherent in her. She will continue to despair at her daily failings and yearn for the happiness that she has been promised, but can never find in an organization that will ultimately rob her of her unique identity and compel her to strive toward ‘Stepford’ submission and perfection.
…She is truly a woman in chains…
| The Morg is prejudiced against single people! If you don't marry, you can never reach the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom.
There is tremendous pressure in the Church to marry. I felt pressure to marry in my singles ward.
There are many reasons why people don't or shouldn't get married. Some people want to get married, but they can't. They can't find the right person, etc. Such people already feel bad about their situation, and they are missing out on the benefits of marriage. Why make them feel worse by rubbing salt into their sores?
You can study the scriptures 2 hours a day, attend the temple once a week, pay 20% of you income in tithing, and fulfill all of your callings, but if you can't get anyone to exchange wedding rings with you, you're dead in the water! You're a second class citizen! If you make it to the CK, you will be a servant to a god who was lucky enough to find a mate on this earth, and you will never be able to have spirit children or rule your own planet.
The Church's marriage requirement comes directly from DandC 132, the polygamy revelation. In fact, we only have temple marriages today because Joseph Smith needed to create a revelation to justify his infidelities. By some strange logic, we have to get married today because Old Joe could not keep his hands to himself.
I know of no other religion that will not give its members complete salvation if they are not married. Christian churches, for example, welcome everybody--the poor, the downtrodden, and--guess what?--the UNMARRIED! Christ will not refuse to love you, totally and completely, if you can't attract a woman (or a man).
Beyond all of this, the marriage requirement creates a host of other problems. How many TBMs have divorced just because of religious differences? How many TBMs have married the wrong person because they married too early? How many TBMs remarry anybody that breathes after a temple divorce just because they don't want to miss out on godhood in the Celestial Kingdom?
I have been rejected by Mormon girls because of religion. Let them have their RMs. I have not dated a Mormon girl for a long, long time.
| My wife and I married when I was 26 and she had about six weeks remaining of being 25. Just over three years later, we had our first child when I was 29 and my wife was 28. Our second child arrived nearly four years after that.
I wouldn't want to suggest that we didn't have good friends in all of our Mormon wards. We did. At the same time, we never really fit in demographically with any particular group or clique. When our children went to the nursery and to Primary, we found that we were several years older and several years less cool than most of the parents whose children were in the same classes. Those parents who were close to our age and who had children around the ages or our children typically also had older siblings who were already passing the sacrament.
I suppose the fact that we didn't rush into either marriage or having children was evidence that we were a bit more unorthodox and independent than most. Maybe that's why I am where I am now.
Thus spake Mujun.
| As many people here know, I attend a monthly bookgroup, composed mostly of TBMs. Despite the occasional grating TBMish comments, most of the time it's pretty stimulating, and I've continued to attend following my resignation from TSCC for that, and to maintain friendships with women that I genuinely like.
For December, we're reading short stories. Two of the eleven selections are from the New Era. The other nice selections are classic pieces of literature, and I REALLY got a lot out of them.
And, then, I read this selection:
For those who don't care to read it, it's basically a propaganda piece in the New Era that touts the virtues of early marriage, and poverty in marriage. The scenario is stereotypical. A young man has to pay his way through college without help b/c his parents are paying for a younger brother's mission. Predictably, he falls in love and wants to marry a girl, but he only has $4 a month left over after the most necessary expenses and doesn't see how he can afford it. His clothes are falling apart b/c he can't afford to replace them. He can't afford transportation or school books. But the girl REALLY wants to get married and have a baby (and points out that family and friends can help clothe it, and that he can quit school and get a job if their kid gets sick and has medical bills). The girl offers to quit school and work so that he can finish school. But he resists, and they break up. Finally, driven to distraction over the girl, he figures out all sorts of ways to get by on the cheap (like picking up discardedChristmas trees, and working in a garden for free veggies) so they can get married. And the story ends.
I read that story and felt sick. I'll probably refrain from commenting during the discussion (especially since there are so many other outstanding stories to discuss). But I was bothered enough to need to post here.
There is NOTHING romantic about being so poor you can't afford to properly clothe yourself, or take care of your child. There is NOTHING terribly virtuous about placing a woman in socio-economically vulnerable position (asking her to give up her education) just so that you can get married a little sooner than you might have otherwise. I don't want to suggest that poverty is a vice, but it isn't "cute" either.
I didn't have much growing up. I sent myself through college through scholarships and working to support myself (my dad preferred to give money to fund the missions of unrelated young men in our ward than to help his children with their educations). Even in the relative poverty of being a student I had a lot more than I had growing up. I got married to a teacher (no big salary there) and put myself through grad school again through scholarships and part-time employment. Even with both our salaries, we didn't have much. We were happy just to make ends meet, and not to need to take out loans. If we had gotten pregnant early into my program, I would have had to drop out because I wouldn't have been able to work, go to school, and afford childcare at the same time.
There was nothing "cute" or romantic about being poor. There were weeks when we survived on ramen noodles and frozen veggies (because I could sort of feed us on the $8 a week extra we had for food). Now I'm finished with my degree, and currently not working in order to care for our new baby. Luckily, my dh got an administrative position a couple of years ago, so we can afford to live comfortably, but still need to be frugal until I return to work. The women in my book group all have husbands finishing Ph.Ds. Most of them have several children and those women stay at home. Their families live off student loans and welfare programs. Only a couple of these women (who are VERY intelligent as a group, I might add) were economically able to finish college, and several express self-esteem issues about not having much advanced education. There is nothing terribly romantic about their situations. There is just grinding poverty even in a town with a very low COL index. I often buy the books from our yearly reading listfrom a used book store for just a couple of dollars a book (and resell the books, so I usually pay only $20-30 a year for books). Most members of the group can't even afford this, and can't read a book unless it is available in the local library. They get by on WIC, and shopping at the local thrift stores. They worry about money all the time, and if their husbands don't get good jobs (and sometimes in this economy they don't get jobs right out of school), their family will be in serious financial jeopardy. Our family lives modestly, and I make it a point to to keep my son's toys and accoutrements at a modest level in comparison with peers that overspend on their children. We try hard to live within our means (which isn't necessarily how many of our non-TBM peers with similar educations and jobs live). In comparison, when TBM children see my son's room, they often say he is "spoiled" because he has clothes that are inexpensive, but not second hand, stained or worn. He has a couple of drawers and a small closetof toys that are clean and in good repair. He has a small yard with a tree house. He has his own room. Other TBM kids think he is rich and often ask if they can have his things (a weird, and rude behavior that I haven't figured out). And the non-TBM kids think his room is boring, small, and lacking in ENOUGH toys to adequately entertain themselves. Considering that all of these kids come from homes of well-educated, middle-class families, the disparity in the ways that the families can provide for their children is striking.
But, regardless, we have a story about how great it is to be married young, and have children when there isn't enough money to comfortably sustain them. And when I read the story there appears to only be four compelling reasons to do so: 1) Because the stress and anxiety of poverty makes you work harder and this gives you an edge later in life; 2) Because the GAs command you to do so; 3) Because babies are cute, and won't notice that their family is dependent on other people to care for them, or that their food consists of macaroni with cream of mushroom soup and jello (i.e. nothing with any real nutritional value except sodium, fat, and sugar); 4) The young couple in the story are in "love" and are probably too horny to wait to get married.
Whereas, it seems clear that just waiting 2-3 years to finish up school and become gainfully employed would resolve some of these problems (that and/or condoms and BC pills). The state of marriage, and child-bearing doesn't seem so important to me that people should sacrifice at least a minimal level of financial security just so they can start a family as soon as they find someone with whom they'd like to have sex. In fact, it seems to me that the prevailing social attitudes about marriage and child-bearing has long been that they ideally should be put off until a family can be provided for. And, while that doesn't happen in many cases, I can't think of a reason to romanticize it, and make it seem desirable and appealing like this story does.
Why does TSCC want to victimize young men, women, and children this way? SHEESH.
| I have decided to change my mind.
The Mo-perspective on a working woman is one of shame.
"She works because her husband can't make enough for her to stay home."
"She's a *hushed voice* single mother."
*Judgmental voice* "She chose a career over children."
I have been taught to see a working woman as something less-than-desirable, and I now reject that teaching.
I am choosing to see my search for a job as my search for my place in society's productivity. Not that my job as a Mother is less important; but that I *can* do both.
And not be ashamed.
| I hate what the Morg has made my mother into. She has suffered from manic-depression since her teen years. She gets worse every year. I strongly believe that TSCC has been very bad for my mother's self esteem, self confidence, and directly contributes to her worsening condition.
The mother has an elder brother who is mentally retarded and cannot speak or care for himself. Uncle L_____ is still in the care of my grandparents, and he will be 50 next year. It is a common-held belief that L_____ did not come to Earth for a body like the rest of us. Apparently, he was perfect in the preexistance and came to Earth to teach us (I have a strong feeling that L_____'s condition was a huge factor during my grandmother's conversion to Mormonism in the 60's).
The mother has a younger brother who went on a mission in Argentina, graduated from BYU with a degree in psychology, and married in the temple. Uncle F___ is now the father of 7 beautiful children (4 daughters and 3 sons, ages 7-16), and holds the rank of major in the US Air Force.
My mother was accepted into BYU in 1978, but she chose to take the prophet's advice and get married in the temple instead. The parents were unable to conceive for the first 4 years, which I imagine fed my mother's self-loathing. Now they have 4 daughters (ages 16-22) who have all "fallen away" from TSCC. The youngest daughter, still in high school, has notified the parents of her unexpected pregnancy. So far, the mother has taken it pretty well, other than her classic self-blame act.
The mother compares herself with her younger brother all the time. F___ is "perfect". F___ can do no wrong. F___ is successful and well-liked. The mother believes that their parents love F___ more than they love her.
The mother also believes that the grandparents love F___'s kids more than they love my sisters and I. If it's true (which I highly doubt) it's only because F___'s kids are not old enough yet to have "fallen away" from TSCC.
Every time the mother comes home from church feeling depressed, she says it's because she is not faithful enough. She tries reading her scriptures and attending meetings more often. But her depression keeps getting worse.
The only thing I want is for my mother to leave the church. I wish that she could find the truth, and LEAVE like I did. She would be much more happier if she did. I have not spoken to her about this, because I realize that it could shatter the only known stability she has.
My apostacy came soon after I started college classes. My parents had successfully sheltered me through 10 years of homeschooling. But I loved learning in Sociology class about other cultures and religions. I couldn't learn enough! During that semester, the 9/11 attack shook the US nation. I realized that day that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could never be the only true church. If faithful Muslim extremists could give up their lives and families for their beliefs, who was I to say they were wrong?? Who was I to say anyone was wrong???
If "right" and "wrong" are just labels that can change based on culture and history, I have no desire to claim allegiance to any belief. It makes more sense to think in terms of actions and consequences; cause and effect.
How many other Mormon women suffer silently with their inability to be perfect? How many women here on this board have said goodbye to TSCC for those reasons exactly? I was in singles ward when I left the church. Singles Wards are for meeting spouses. All of my friends from YW are married now with at least 1 kid. I am thankful to be 22 years old, and NOT pinned down with a husband or children. Even though motherhood is a special event I look forward to, I am glad I am an independent woman, and I can choose when I want to begin my family. I feel more confident than ever before.
| Women and the Priesthood: separate roles but equal in importance. Hey, if it worked for the Civil Rights movement...
I never fully believed that women needed different roles or would be happier in such (I grew up with a single mom - who studied and worked). It seemed so counter-intuitive: all the women, everywhere, need the same program of maternity?
Women and the priesthood and the typical apologetic answers by the most liberal of Mormons seemed so weak. "Well, it isn't really doctrine..." or "They have equal status..." or the terrible jokes like "Men need the priesthood to reach a woman's level."
In my experience, the best women I've known have hated being put on pedestals or treated like inferior people. The key to equality was not buying roses one day or leaving her in the confines of a home the next: it was walking beside her (or letting her walk alone if she needed it) and letting her decide her own life. LDS apologists respond that women are every bit as able bodied as men. Duh! Why do you handicap them? Why do church society, leadership, and parts of the dogma frown upon a women seeking employment? Why must women be called home if they are just as able as men?
By comparison, a man can (though socially he is given less opportunity) to be just as effective as parent. However, such a reverse arrangement is just as stigmatized as married women and men working (assuming they are not elderly). Why?
If an African-American fellow is just as talented as a Caucasian, does this mean either should stick to their "racial" roles? Why then, should there be "sex" derived ones?
The social stigma against women is coupled by "divine" curses and prophetic "warnings" for mothers to please come home. I remember remarks from the Miracle of Forgiveness and many a talk or fireside where women were urged to return. To disobey is to disobey god. The fear this could instil on women, all but robber of her intrinsic self-worth by saying she can never "truly" have it or operate in a similar fashion - even my liberal associates concurred that the church said a women's priesthood is through her spouse -and ultimately through her male god-.
Every program in the church is overseen by men. Relief Society is no exception as they are incorporated into the ward and the chief calling being made by the priesthood (and LDS will quickly refute that is "technicall" God through the priesthood). I have know "rebel, rebel" Relief Society sisters who defied convention and the status-quo. However, these were exceptions, not rules. This women broke convention and church teaching: I'm unbelievably grateful for them. I am troubled and saddened by the sisters who did not escape the engineering of the men -the priesthood-. I've known many a woman break down because she wasn't sure she was "worth it" or that she'd "matter more than being a mom". Yet, the LDS reinforce that this is the pinnacle in her crown and nothing shall take precedence above it (though she may have other activities - they must not overthrow the paradigm). I saw Sisters practically broken because they couldn't bring themselves to wasting time or not being a "good" mother. Elitism is truly commonamongst some parts of the Relief Society - with many women left in the cold because "they just don't get it."
I watched my mom cry as a little boy, sometimes wondering what she to deserve the abuses of my father. After-all, the spiritual promptings surrounding the marriage were so strong? To even think that God deceived her was a heresy that would, in her mind, damn beyond recognition. I watched her struggle, single and poor, to take care of us. She'd be reminded that she 'wasn't getting any younger" and that we "needed the priesthood in the home." This was counsel given even by people who knew our circumstances: my had been raped by father during their separation (which resulted in my dear, younger sister) and he had (to the best of my knowledge) molested my sisters. I can't recall if he ever did anything to me -aside from dreams and episodes similar to my sister's post-traumatic stress disorder-.
My mom experienced tremendous pressure, even testimonies that she needed to return home, after she married my step-dad. She was a nurse and didn't want to lose her license. My step-dad is nearly ten years older and a diabetic. From any other standpoint, it made sense for her to work. yet, she faced stigma, doctrine, and inspired counsel. She threw out her back at work and quit earlier than expected. Surely, this was a sign. She misses the workplace in many respects (especially since my father works in Alaska for five weeks at a time). She's had a few friends (much older usually) or associates in the ward but very diminished in comparison to the men in the ward. Her friends are usually equally ostracized by the "alpha females" in the ward or they are non-members who try to cut through the crap being tossed at her. Case in point, one of her best friends in recent years was Washington, liberal journalist from across the street. They got along well: decently educated, loved the sciences, etc.
From my experience, the Church clearly does not treat work equally (even if they roles are separate). Everything is done with a man on your back, a priesthood holder over shoulder, and a guilt of freedom rolling forth.
| Is there a reason we all have to stand up and chant this absurd load of garbage every Sunday? just curious. It's rather cult like...
We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love him
Yeah we say that in unison. Every week. Yeah I don't know why either.
We will stand as witnesses of God at all times and all things and in all place as we strive to live the young women values which are:
Choice and Accountability
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values we will be prepared to strengthen home and family make and keep sacred covenants receive ordinances of the temple and enjoy the blessings of exaltation
You know what is scary?
Is I could type the whole thing down from memory. That 'theme' is burned DEEP into my brain.
And I can still hear all of the boring, droning voices of the girls and they trudged through that every week. It's a monotone that haunts your dreams. Kind of like children of the corn.
| Here is my list of the things women would change if they ran the church.
10. All guys would be carrying babies around in Elders Quorum. Kids would go to the guy first when they get mad in Nursery, not the wife.
9. Tithing Funds would go towards..." Accessorizing the members Fund" to help pay for perms and manicures and ear rings and stylish clothing...for the poor among them.
8. All the rooms in the church would have flowery wallpaper and pictures of Ducks and Geese, or cute bunny rabbits instead of the dull white that covers the walls now.
7. Enrichment Night...would actually include projects the women want to do...like catching up on the latest ward gossip and talking about how inadequate their husbands are.
6. All the lids in the mens rooms would be glued down. Men would have to sit to go potty.
5. The Word of Wisdom would be enhanced to include the use of deoderant for men, picking up clothing around the house, and the proper use of a toothpaste tube. Chewing Tobacco would still be a no-no, but tea would be in.
4. Part of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood would to get fancy jewelry for the wife once a month. A fellow could be excommunicated for not living up to this requirement.
3.Men would be required to actually listen by penalty of excommunication when the wife says..."We need to talk." Tuning her out would not be an option.
2. Polygamy would have never been an issue.
1. Talks would be about how inept men are and how they need to try and understand how the woman is feeling more. No sleeping during meetings by men again!
| I think women have a much bigger mind job done on them than men do (and I'm talking narrowly right now about just within the church). Men, for all the damage the church can do to them, are at least taught to be proactive in their own lives--they get to take the initiative in most ways and are encouraged to do so.
Women on the other hand, are indoctrinated in passivity. Many years ago I read an analysis in Sunstone of manuals for girls vs. manuals for boys, starting with Merrie Miss, going up through Laurels. I don't remember statistics, but basically they counted things like use of the passive voice (things like "being taken to the temple" for girls vs. "going to the temple" for boys), encouragement to action/activity, encouragement to obedience/subservience, and so on. Unsurprisingly, the girls got much, much more passive-reactive kinds of teaching and little active-proactive teaching, while boys were consistently given messages that empowered them, encouraged them to be outgoing, make decisions, take initiative. Maybe what they were being told to do was whacked (we could certainly argue it!) but the underlying message is, you have control, you can make things happen for yourself. Girls were given a constant bombardment of messages that they must be reactive, passive, acted-upon rather than acting. I think formen it may be easier to make those leaps in their thought processes when they don't have this sort of mental Chinese foot-binding. Obviously it's possible to resist in some way and lots of women make the leap, but after watching these situations on the DAMU for almost two years now, my developing theory is that the church teaches women to look to men (gender specifically) for their salvation. And in the temple particularly, in some ways, this is literal. They are taught that they are, in critical ways, not the authors of their own lives. And when the man they have looked to as the one who the fate of their soul depends on, leaves the church, of course they freak out. They don't have the mental, psychological or emotional tools to deal with that. It's just one more loss of control--not over anyone else, over themselves. How can they be expected to suddenly be "authors" of their own lives when "authority" (the word is directly derived) has always been denied them, except as parceled to them by men and always subject to and inferior to those same men. A man leaves the church and, doctrinally, the woman is denied salvation. The sop that is given to women here is that (and note the language) she needn't worry, she will be "given" to another "worthy priesthood holder" in the next life by God. In other words, she's a commodity and she'll be passed from hand to hand, perhaps with some choice in the matter, but there is nothing in the doctrine that would guarantee that. She still is not the "author" of her own fate.
As exhibit A in all this, go no further than the execrable talk by Dallin Oaks posted on the boards today. He discusses "traditional male intiatives" and how "agressive women" with "options" have essentially made men afraid to take their male initiatives (subtext: initiative belongs to men not aggressive women). Even the use of the word "leveling" in regards to the effect of the women's movement belies the thinking. The playing field, apparently, should NOT be level. Men should be in charge of it. Women should be at a disadvantage, the rhetoric implies that women should not have options other than those outlined by God/the church (ie, men in suits).
His "counsel" to women who are single is such vile excrescence that I can hardly be rational about it. If you're not married yet, well, just give up on it. If a man doesn't ask you, you can't ask him (or apparently even ask him out on a date). So you have to stop being the passive lump we've always told you god wants you to be and now at the age of 24 or 25 or 30 or whatever, you must throw off all your early training and actually go out and be proactive and make yourself a life. But it must be a life of aloneness. You can only be proactive if you don't have a man there to be the active one for you.
Of course, both men and women have the crap beat out of them in this talk. Both men and women are psychologically infantilized by the church--but women are so to a degree that is several orders of magnitude higher than for men. Of course it's harder for them to leave the church. You have to be proactive to color outside the lines. Men at least are trained in proactivity. They have some internal structures and mental skills, and cultural approval of their proactivity. Women, to the degree that they have absorbed and internalized these messages, have to overcome their indoctrination in passivity and the massive cultural disapproval that will come down on them for being proactive in ANY way--much less in challenging the mores of the church. And then, after slogging through all that--at the late age of 20 or 30 (or even 40) something, we still have to actually learn how to BE proactive.
And as for those women who have been able to resist it, who eventually do make it out? Well, frankly, I feel pissed off at the amount of my life energy that was spent (especially during my teenage years) on resisting the nefarious messages I was being bombarded with all the time as a female. Wry Catcher's thread on the foyer really speaks to this. Women have to go through all these mental steps to be proactive in life that I did not see the men and boys around me doing. Education for example: I couldn't just go to school and explore and learn and find a niche in the world where I fit and where I could contribute, as boys could. I always had to remember (and was told at every turn) that--"hey, it's nice you're going to college, but for you education is only about being prudent because you are going to be a wife and mother and that is your niche (and yes, it fits you because it is the only niche God made for all women and you, being a woman, fit into that niche--don't tell us it's not for you--YOU are forIT). And of course, if a man doesn't choose you, then you need to feed yourself, but a secretarial course will serve for that as well as anything else." So I could either succumb to that message and have it gnaw away at my sense of the seriousness of my education and my ability to see my own education as valuable. Or I could marshal up a lot of psychic energy to resist it--which sapped resources within me that were now unavailable to serve my development.
I remember when I was first at the Y, Rodney Turner spoke at a devotional on campus where he stated that "higher education is dangerous for women" because it "tempts" them away from being a good "supportive" wife and a mother to lots of babies, for whom she should give up everything. The student body women's vice president at the time tried to get somebody in the administration to make some kind of statement disavowing Turner's talk and saying something encouraging to women. Basically, they just all told her to STFU. Did men, at the very institution of learning where they were being educated, have to deal with the message, from an official "pulpit" as it were that the very activity they were engaged in (and paying their money for) was suspect for them and they probably shouldn't even really be doing it all? I thought not. Frankly, it was like slogging through hip-deep wet concrete. Boys, did you have to so slog, just to feel like you were entitled to an education?
It "should be easier" for women to leave the church? On the contrary, I think a woman needs much more courage to leave the church than a man needs. I think it's surprising that as many leave as do.
| I remember the International Year of the Woman with mixed feelings. I was a young mother, just trying to raise my 3 little boys the best I could, not paying a whole lot of attention to the national news... until Sister R, a woman from Utah came to our ward Relief Society one Tuesday. She was a cousin of a woman I really admired in our ward, so she had instant credibility with me. According to her, we had to drop whatever it was we were doing, and follow her to Ellensburg, where a meeting was going to take place that would forever change our lives, if we didn't pack up and go right then. She said she'd been sent by church leaders in Salt Lake to lead us, because she had family here where I lived. She said they'd been broadsided in Utah, but here in my state, we still had time to stop the evil. We were on fire with passion to save our homes, our families, and our country from being taken over by the spawn of hell.
That was the first time I ever heard about what the church felt about the ERA. We were told we'd have unisex bathrooms, that women would be drafted (a very scary possibility, since the Vietnam War was still a very big part of our lives), that feminists would make all mothers go to work, if it passed. We were determined to fight back. We felt like we were marching into battle, when my mother-in-law, my pregnant sister-in-law, and I drove to Ellensburg in our pick up truck with a camper on it. We parked at the college in a parking lot, dressed in our dresses, and followed the masses of women into a large hall.
Sister R was there and directed us all to where we were supposed to sit. We sat in blocks of about 125 women, 10 rows deep, 12 women across, then a 3 foot aisle, and 125 more, all around the room. Our Relief Society president had told us to watch Sister R and she would tell us when to stand and when to sit. We looked around the hall and there must have been 10,000 women there. At the stage, there was pandemonium. Several women in pants were yelling at the moderators, who were gesturing for quiet. The press was milling around. Finally, the moderators got the whole room quieted down.
We were told how the meeting would progress. There would be motions and time for testimony and if we wanted to speak, we had to line up at the microphones that were around the room, say our name, where we were from, and any group we represented. Several very passionate women from Seattle spoke. We knew they were the enemy because they said they were from Radical Women of Seattle. Anyone who was a radical woman was definitely not with us!
We voted on several proposals. Sister R would hold up a sign, and we'd all stand up on command. We had no idea what the proposals meant, we just stood when we were told to stand. We voted everything down. The Radical Women were absolutely beside themselves. They felt their political podium had been stolen by a bunch of hicks led by a pawn from a bunch of old men in suits.
After it was over, I found a friend of mine who had press credentials, because her husband owned a two-bit weekly newspaper that had never printed anything more newsworthy than the latest high school football score, but she got to go to the press room. She said it was pandemonium. The press was coming unglued. The Mormon women had stolen the platform and they would have to send delegates to the meeting in Texas with a platform that was straight out of the 50's.
The Radical women were absolutely thunderstruck. I remember one woman quite clearly. After the meeting, we were walking back to our truck, when she stopped us, and just looked completely shellshocked. She was speechless and just shook her head at us.
I look back now, and I wonder... what if? We were sheep, obedient to the call of the Prophet, blindly marching to the tune of a drummer we never even saw. I still remember the sound of thousands of those feet as we all stood to vote as Sister R told us to. It haunts me now.
| Visited some inactive friends today and found the following in their Mormon newsletter-
There was a dinner at the stake center to honor eleven girls who had received their Young Women Medallions.
The theme of the evening was "Put on the Armor of Light".
Each girl received a white temple bag with the Proclamation on the Family, a picture of the Redlands temple, a statuette of the Salt Lake temple,and a letter from the General Young Women's Presidency.
"A knight in full armor posed for photos with each honoree before a backdrop of the Salt Lake temple, signifying the ultimate desire of each to marry her knight in shinig armor."
I think I'm gonna throw up.
It's terrible when these poor girls get their first dose of reality, I saw it happen to some close friends who bought into it.
Life just doesn't work out like this medieval Mormon shit that's being sold to these kids.
| I have read a great deal on this board and elsewhere about the irreparable damage done to women by the dominance of men in Mormonism. It is s subject of significant interest to me. The stifling stereotypical sex roles assigned to the female adherents to Joseph Smith’s little homemade religion limit women to childbearing, child rearing, homemaking and husband worshipping. Women are clearly second class citizens with no power and little influence in the hierarchy of TSCC. They are relegated to such important tasks as crafting, scrap-booking and recipe swapping in Relief Society – their very own little gossip club. YIKES!
One thing I have observed that I have seldom seen discussed on this board is the damage these stereotypical sex roles do to the male members. It is assumed that since the men-folk get to hold all the power positions, reign as the righteous Priesthood holders over the ward house and the home, that life is good. Not so, I say – not so. Dividing the sexes in the manner glorified in the “Proclamation of the Family” is harmful to BOTH genders. The following quote says it all - “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” (From The Family: A Proclamation to the World. This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah).
While the GAs repeatedly insist that the wife is supposedly equal to the husband, she is consistently described as fulfilling a subordinate “helpmeet” (assistant) role. While men have most (if not all) of the power in the LDS church, they also are burdened with a disproportionate share of responsibility for supporting the family financially and making things right in every other way. The ugly flip side of the patriarchal coin is that men bear the lion’s share of BLAME when things go wrong. While you will never see this fact officially confirmed in writing by church leadership, this is the practical and logical result of the patriarchal family system which focuses on man as leader, provider and protector. In the end analysis, it is the husband who is primarily at fault when the marriage and family go poorly.
I have observed that there is a certain type of Mormon woman who wields the righteous Priesthood ideal viciously like a club to control and manipulate her husband. This type of Mormon female is an expert at “guilting” her man into compliance with her demands. She is relieved from all responsibility for making the family work – it is all up to the man. Nothing can ever be HER fault, now can it??? If there is not enough money to buy the finer things – all HIS fault (although she refuses to work outside the home). If the kids are ill-behaved or get into trouble at school – all HIS fault since he is not acting as a proper Priesthood role model (never mind that she is the one who is home all day and who has the most interaction with the kids). If she is miserable, bored, unfulfilled – all HIS fault since it is his job to make her happy (don’t pay attention to the fact that she elected NOT to attend school, never bothered to developed a career and has no way to keep herself occupied).
This is a recipe for marital disaster and I have seen it described many times by men on this board. By denying women a sense of self based solely on her gender, some women become angry, perverse, stunted, and twisted. They have no overt power so they become masters at passive aggressive behavior and manipulation. They take their resentment out on the men and the kids. Neither party wins – everybody looses. Unhappiness all the way around.
In the long run, systematic subjugation of women hurt males. When you keep half of the population in a perpetual child-like state, the other half ends up having to pick up the slack. This may have worked in 1840 or 1950, but it sure as HELL does not work in today’s world.
| As an attorney, I hate representing LDS women in divorces. My TBM partner agrees but for separate reasons.
I am taking a small break in my hiatus from RfM to post regarding my observations on divorce and TBM’s. This is a real sore point with me. I am in a general practice law firm located in the Midwest of the United States, definitely not a predominately LDS community. Most of the population is religious with the prominent religion being Southern Baptist, followed by Methodists, Evangelical Christians, etc. Mormons probably account for about 1 – 2% of the state’s population, but several hold prominent positions in state government.
Divorce and custody litigation and representation represent less than 20% of our firm’s earnings. Most of our divorce clients are not LDS, but we get most of the LDS divorces in the metropolitan area. Enough background information.
I absolutely hate representing LDS women in divorce matters. They are anxiety driven, WHINING and never can make up their minds without the need for revelation from heaven. They use children to punish their husbands and are extremely vengeful. You may believe that I am exaggerating, but in this I am not. Even my TBM partner agrees with my feelings about representing LDS women, although we differ slightly regarding the causes of such behavior.
In the past, I have been asked by TBM female clients to give them priesthood blessings so that they could know what Heavenly Father wanted for them ( I always refused this even during my TBM days). On one occasion, I was in a heated mediation settlement with an LDS lady who after all day of back and forth negations had received 95% of our objectives. It was a great victory. The weary mediator prepared the mediation agreement for our review and signature. At that point my client stood up, reached for her purse and said she was leaving. I was dumbfounded as was the mediator. When I asked why she was leaving she said that the Holy Ghost was telling her not to sign the agreement! The mediator looked at me with the knowing look of that we were dealing with a verifiable nut job.
Usually when I have asked for a decision, I have to wait for my LDS female client to fast, pray, talk to the bishop, get a blessing from their home teacher, etc. They never rely on their own judgment or my advice.
LDS women always want to completely deny their soon to be ex-husbands any access to the children, including visitation. They are the only group of women who behave this way consistently. The reason is always the same: “[Name of husband] just isn’t a good priesthood holder anymore and I want my children to have a better role model.” Try explaining that to an opposing attorney or judge who wants to know why your client doesn’t agree to standard visitation!
And when it is all over and they got most of everything that they sought they always say that Heavenly Father blessed them with such an outcome. I have learned to say: “You can give him the credit, but you’re paying my bill.”
I believe that LDS women are taught from early on to not trust their judgment and to have to rely on men to make important decisions. Usually that person is the husband and when an LDS wife can longer depend on her husband for spiritual and temporal guidance, they go crazy. Instead of developing self-confidence in themselves, they look for a substitute man to make decisions for them such as bishops and home teachers.
My TBM partner believes that LDS women have been dominated so much by their LDS husbands that behavior is a form of self assertion and punishment. The irrational fear and denial of custody and visitation is a form of punishment for causing the break-up of the eternal family. If the wife can’t have an eternal family, the husband can’t have an earthly family.
For the record, I am not a sexist! I represent many non-LDS women in divorce matters and view them entirely different. The process is very emotional for them too and difficult to navigate the waters of terminating a marriage. However, at some point the emotions take a back seat to rational decision making and a resolution becomes easier to obtain. Very rarely if ever, do LDS women become rational decision makers during or after divorce in areas of equity division, custody and visitation. My non-LDS female clients are more capable or forgiving mistakes in a marriage and accepting some culpability for a failed marriage. My LDS female and male clients never can admit mistakes, accept blame or forgive. I have often joked that LDS divorces become pitched battles of who is the better Mormon, which battles judges don’t care much about.
The final difference is that I rarely see non-LDS women having to consult with men to make decisions in the divorce. They seem more confident and less needy for male direction.
| The impact of being infertile in this religion is more than one soul should have to bear.
My vision for my life was so clear. Based on everything I heard and learned and saw from childhood on was centered on woman as mother. That was the only role to take on. I am a woman, therefore my purpose in life is to create more life. That's what I've been told from birth. Its what my mother did. It's what my sisters (both actual and church) did. From my perspective (and from what I was told), motherhood and pregnancy were the essence of womanhood. It was so simple it seemed preordained.
We began trying right away with all the fervor in the world. And nothing happened. Silly girls who were barely beyond childhood themselves were popping out kids right and left. Baby showers were torture. Older mothers with gaggles of kids in hand me downs would offer me well meaning advice on how THEY managed to get pregnant. The tone was that I was somehow slow and didn't understand how this was all supposed to work from either a biological or theological perspective. Often I was asked what I was waiting for (and not in anything resembling a kind way. Sure it KINDA sounded like a joke, but tinged with something like annoyance). And then I would get pity. The condescending promises of perpetual motherhood in the afterlife.
My ovaries are a disappontment to them. It's nothing I can help, there is nothing I can do.
I mourned the loss of the life I had been told would be mine. I thought nothing good would ever come of this trial. But I was wrong..
It lead me to question. It lead me to wonder about what it REALLY meant to be a woman. Was I less than a woman because one tiny part of me did not function? Why would my church, the place I should turn for support for any and everything, make me feel that I wasn't complete?
And that is where my faith fell apart.
| So much has been written about polygamy on this board lately because of Warren Jeffs' arrest. Polygamy...just a word...unless we look at the whole picture. Polygamy isn't just an argument about a moral issue (how many husbands or wives can I legally have sex with). It's only part of a bigger issue of how the Mormon church has made women second-class citizens.
Beyond the issue of polygamy (and whether I’m going to have to share my husband with many other women in heaven), I've been touched by posts from women who seem to be lost, afraid, lonely, sad, or angry because of their current experiences with Mormonism. I’ve been especially touched by the stories of women who have been left with reduced self-esteem or inability to support themselves.
I'd like to speak to those women.
The first thing I want to say is *You are not alone.* I’ve been the depressed, lost homemaker, trapped in Mormonism, having raised children, having no skills and no degree, with a dying husband and a dying faith in Mormonism. Now I teach adult women in college who are trying to re-enter the work force.
We Mormon women spend our lives dominated by others. We are told what to think, who to believe, what to wear, who we are, what our role is, who our friends should be, what we should read and watch, what words to say, what level our voices should be kept, on and on and on …… The result of all this dominance is that we cannot develop our own sense of self.
Leaving Mormonism immobilizes us because we don’t have a strong sense of who we are without it. Developing a sense of self is hard, not just for Mormons, but for anyone who has been abused. These are some tips I give to my students (altered to fit Mormons).
Does all that sound like I know everything? I hope not. I’m just as bumbling and confused as everybody else. I’ve just been where you are, and the light at the end of the tunnel really isn’t the proverbial train.
- Remember incidents that made you feel you were somehow flawed if you didn’t follow the exact pattern the Mormon church set for you. Review that thinking and see what it did to your opinion of yourself. Think about all the ways the Church has invaded your personal boundaries.
- Get angry! Feel the anger. Scream. Yell. Break dishes. Burn your Book of Mormon and Book of Remembrance if you need to. (I burned my sealing certificate.)
- Establish healthy boundaries for yourself. Stand up for your rights as a human being. Don’t ever let anyone cross your bottom line again without a fight.
- Recognize that you are NOT without skills or knowledge that you can apply in a workplace. You are simply without the confidence to apply them.
- List all of your skills and the possible ways they could be used in a work environment.
- Take control of your life. Imagine yourself in 20 years. What do you see? What would it take to get you there? That gives you a place to start planning the next year of your life.
How to navigate:
- Click the subject below to go directly to the article.
- Click the blue arrow on the article to return to the top.
- Right-Click and copy the "-Guid-" (the Link Location URL) for a direct link to the page and article.
|Articles posted here are © by their respective owners when designated. |
Website © 2005-2021
Compiled With: Caligra 1.119