Sunday, June 29, 2014

The need for Exclusivity

The women in the Mormon church will never be given the opportunity to be ordained to the priesthood. When it really comes down to it, in order for the priesthood to be something special, exclusive, unique; it must be withheld from a group and given to only another.

In all other Christian religions, only a select few receive the special privilege of being ordained. Even in many religions, such as the Community of Christ church, that ordains women, a person must still seek out ordination then go through years of training to be a clergy.  It is held for only a select few and other religions are able to keep the clergy club selective by requiring years of study in theology, family therapy, etc. before they are called to serve.

The big mistake the Mormon church made was in making their exclusive club open to all males over the age of 13. This provided no foresight for women one day wanting to be let into the club.

There are some major changes the church can make to revamp the system to one of exclusivity while at the same time, allowing women in. Some possibilities include raising the age of the Aaronic priesthood to 18 (historically, the age of 12 wasn't set until 1908, so there is historical precedent to changing the age limit.) historical age of aaronic priesthood

The church can make the ordination to the Melchizedek priesthood a temporary ordination, for example only for those who are called as bishops or other callings, and then when they are released from the calling, they are released from the Melchizedek priesthood, also.

The church can follow the lead of other Christian churches and abolish the lay priesthood and have people ordained who have a degree in theology and counseling.

I'm certain there are other possibilities, these are just a few off the top of my head.  The point is, the church can include women while at the same time keeping the mormon priesthood exclusive. Just my .02

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Blog Wars

Over the last several weeks, there has been a blog war over Kate Kelly. The Mormon women have been vocal about all the reasons Kate and other feminists are wrong and the feminists will fire back, point for point. I'm exhausted trying to keep up with all of it. As someone who left the Mormon church in part because I could find no place for me, a woman inside the church, I cannot be exactly objective. As a woman who has suffered from domestic abuse, I have no desire to be objective. I do believe I have a unique perspective and wish my Mormon family and friends would stop the vitriol long enough to listen; drop their defenses and just listen.

Benevolent Sexism

The Mormon church as well as the bloggers have been very clear about the roles that women should play; its written right there for all the world to read in the Proclamation on the Family:  
      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. Mothers are   primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. proclamation

The issue then becomes one of Benevolent sexism. Both men and women are guilty of this. This is the belief that women are kinder, gentler, more moral, better nurturers than men and as such deserve to be put on pedestals.  People who believe in benevolent sexism think highly of women, but only as long as women conform to the expectations imposed upon them. Once women step outside the roles expected of them, wrath comes down on them (just like the Mormon women bloggers saying Kate *deserved* to be excommunicated). It reminds me of crabs in a pot, pulling down the crabs who try to climb out.
Notice all the crab legs pulled off by other crabs who tried to climb out? That's how vicious the crabs are; and not too far off from how vicious the women are that are attacking Kate for wanting something so humanly basic as equality.

Benevolent sexism rewards women when they conform and punishes women when they step outside their assigned roles or expectations. benevolent sexism

Stockholm Syndrome

At the same time that I have been processing my experience with domestic abuse (I was strangled by the man who proclaimed his love for me), this movement has been gaining momentum within the Mormon church, called ‘Ordain Women’ to change the all male priesthood within the Mormon church  to include women. As I watch and marvel at this, I also wonder at the war of words. I wonder, why do so many women not only stay in abuse, but defend it?

I have often wondered about my sisters; I have chosen to distance myself from my father as he continues to abuse my mother and my sisters. My sisters stay and take the abuse, calling the abuse such things as ornery, or mean spirited, ass hole, grumpy, crotchety, rather than what it really is…abuse. He was so abusive to the hospital staff at his last stay; they refused to keep him and sent him home before he was well.

Why…why do so many people stay in abuse?  As we look at all the situations mentioned and see if Stockholm syndrome could be an explanation, there must be four conditions at play:

1. There is a perceived threat to the physical or physiological well being of the individual.
As to my sisters, they believe that families are forever, and that the father is the leader of the family and will become a god…therefore showing him the same respect that is due god is paramount to respecting god, no matter how abusive he is. If that respect isn’t shown, their eternal reward is at risk. This is a real physiological threat to their eternal well being.

To the women who wish to have equality within the Mormon church, they stay rather than leave because they believe their eternal salvation is tied to staying. Mormons believe that in order to be together as families in the eternities, they must pay tithing, they must be married in the Mormon temples, they must submit to Mormon authorities. There is no admission into the eternities without these conditions, these are the questions asked to get into the temple, and temple attendance is required in order to make it into Mormon heaven. There is no questioning the leaders within the Mormon church, even if there is contradiction within the self with what the leaders say and do....compliance is paramount to entering heaven.  temple recommend questions

Women who are abused by their significant others are made to believe that their very existence depends on obeying him. He has supreme power over life and death. They are made aware of this every time he beats them, every time he threatens them, every time he rapes them.

2. Small Act of kindness extended interpreted as change:
I see my sisters give my Dad so many excuses, he had a hard childhood, he is softening in his old age, life has been hard on him; they try and minimize his abuse when he is kind to the grandkids but overlook the physical fight he had with his wife the night before where he pushed her to the floor.

The women in the Mormon church do this when they are happy that the church leadership finally allows women to say prayers at the general assembly for the first time in history, or they put pictures of the women leaders next to the male leaders. This is like throwing crumbs to the dogs, yet the women are so happy to have the smallest bit of kindness thrown their way, they can’t see it for what it is; scraps thrown to them to keep them quiet and compliant. No real change and still no equality.

Women who are abused are happy when the abuser doesn't hit them when they are late from work one night and they see this as real change. They are happy when he buys them earrings; but fail to realize this is apology jewelry for the bruise he left on her thigh the night before when he kicked her.

3. The Abuser will isolate the abused from outside help:
My family has done a good job of this with me. I am considered a black sheep, a thorn in their side, and a pebble in their shoe. My brothers have done a great job in making me an example of how others in the family will be treated if they too, leave the Mormon church or exercise their freedom to choose a different path. I have been completely isolated from having any influence on the family. I have been told by my patriarchal brothers to stop writing my blog, as it may have a negative influence on my family.

With the Ordain Women movement, the ex-Mormon community has been vilified so we won’t have any influence over them or the members of the church. We have been called evil, that we are going to outer darkness, that to even wear pants to church will lead to going to hell. In this way, Mormon family will not seek us out when they have concerns about doctrine, women's issues, or when leadership matters come up because we have been deemed untrustworthy.

Women who are abused are isolated from family and friends because the abuser will punish her any time she seeks help or guidance. The beatings will increase any time she confides in family. It is easier on her if she isolates herself from concerned family. The abusers says the family members are interfering and causing problems through their nosiness; so it is easier for the abused to distance themselves rather than be harassed by the abuser.

4. Perceived inability to escape:
With my sisters, there is no way of escape. This is life; this is the way god intended it to be. They are told to ‘Endure to the End’ that life will be better in the eternities; their reward awaits them for their suffering in this life. There is no escaping the pain and sorrow of this life. They are told they chose their pains and sorrows and they should happily endure them to the end of their life. How does a person escape what they are told they chose?

With the women in the Mormon church, they, too feel they must endure to the end. They believe the Mormon church is god’s church, if only misguided temporarily. If they only endure, they will get their reward, a reward that can only come if they stay within the Mormon church. If they leave, they will suffer losing their family in the eternities.

With women who are in domestic violence, they too feel as though there is no escape. With me, J*** made attempts to make me financially dependent on him by talking me into a home I couldn't afford on my own. When I left him after the strangulation, he made me suffer by forcing me to lose the house in foreclosure. I payed a heavy financial price for standing up for myself.  Many women are stay at home Mom’s who have little or no job skills. Many women feel if they leave, he will kill them or take away their children. My ex husband had threatened suicide if I went through with divorce. Depression is common and having the strength to leave is difficult.

The more I have learned, the more frustrated I have become at the institutions that support the perpetuation of Stockholm syndrome and benevolent sexism.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Equality and Apostasy

  1. the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief.

Kate Kelly is facing Mormon church discipline for apostasy. The person in the Mormon church who apparently is leading this is William Clayton of the Quorum of the Seventy in the Mormon church.  Here is a quote from a news source, "Clayton reportedly said that public advocacy of ordination is an act of apostasy."  apostasy

What I find interesting, is for Kate to be accused of apostasy for espousing a belief that women should be ordained to the priesthood, there needs to first be a doctrine against women having the priesthood.

I have read the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, which makes up the doctrines of the Mormon church. In neither book does it state that women cannot seek equality or ordination to the priesthood. I would like to know what the movement, Ordain Women are apostatizing against. 

Where in Mormon church doctrine does is specifically state that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood? 

I want to know specifically what they are being accused of? If they are being accused of apostasy, where does church doctrine state they they cannot seek equality?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Here's to all the Loss...and Gains

I wish I could express in words all the loss I have come to know over the last ten years since I have made the choice to leave the Mormon church. In the Buddha tradition, they teach you that the only way past pain, is through it. You cannot deny pain, you cannot avoid it, you must walk through it. And so, I have  become deeply acquainted with pain over the last several years as I have dealt with loss.

When I made the choice to walk away from the Mormon church, I knew that so many people would not stand with me or support me. I knew it would mean the loss of my marriage, the loss of my belief in my eternal family, the loss of all my friends, as they were all Mormon.  I waited for well over three years to tell my extended family about my decision because I knew it would be devastating to them.

I didn't know how badly my extended family would take it.

My loss has been almost complete. My children have left the Mormon church, and that has been the biggest blessing to me, as I see them living happy, normal lives.

I have had to learn so many things as an adult that I should have learned as a child. I have had to learn to regulate my emotions rather than stuff them down. I have had to learn to communicate with people rather than be passive aggressive and then stuff down my frustration of not being able to communicate. I have had to learn to hold down a job, to learn that there is no such thing as perfection, to live with imperfection in myself and others rather than pretend perfection exists, to let things go, to be authentic rather than have unrealistic expectations based on the belief that people are perfect. I had to learn to set boundaries, I have had to learn to say NO! and yes, and be okay with love and hate and real emotions like jealousy and joy.

These are all things I wasn't taught to do, growing up in a religion that didn't allow authenticity.  I wasn't taught or allowed to do or be any of these things. It has been difficult to learn these things, but it has also been freeing to be able to learn them, to be able to freely express myself, to be me.

Yes, Rock, and Kate and John, I feel your loss as you face excommunication. It is a great loss. I hope you know you have friends. I hope more than anything you also know there is so much to gain also.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I am NOT the enemy

Today, the Mormon church announced that it will be holding excommunication counsels against the two most prominent voices in the moderate movements within the Mormon church, that of Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. there are others, but they haven't gone public, so to respect their privacy, I'll not be naming them.

I am both happy and sad about these announcements. I am happy because these inevitable excommunications will bring to light the rigid and arrogant views of the Mormon leaders, how impossible it is to affect change within an organization I could no longer be a part of because of these reasons. I am also sad
because it will also mean it will be harder to bring the Mormon church into a more moderate stance.

I do not view the leaders of the church as infallible, as this should be obvious by their ability to change doctrine with every whim of pressure that is put on the church. I am confused by those within the church who continue to view the church as error-free.

I am very concerned for the LGBT community within the church and the women who view the church as god's church and yet are conflicted within themselves because they personally desire equality, a voice, choice, to feel heard. They are losing the opportunity to have access to these. I am sorry for those who desire to attend church without guilt or derision.

I remember how difficult it was for me to leave, how conflicted I was, how confused I was, how utterly hopeless I felt. I had hopes that many others would feel they could stay and find some sort of middle ground and now that hope is lost.

The leaders within the Mormon church have so convincingly told the members that we, the ones who have somehow found a way out that we are the enemy, that our family and friends will not look to us as a way to find a way out of their conflict, their confusion, their hopelessness.

"I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine."

-- Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:340.

We are not the enemy, but there is no way for us to convince our loved ones of that. What I find ironic, is that an organization that is worth billions of dollars is afraid of people like me. Why? Why would they be so afraid of a few people who write blogs and host podcasts? Why are they so afraid that they must threaten excommunication? That is what the Mormons should be asking.

I am not the enemy, Mormons, your own dogma is.