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8/16/11

But Brutus is an honorable man

Years of reading and watching romantic comedies taught me the following: the words "Do we have to put a label on it?" are the kiss-of-death in budding relationships. If you aren't willing to label your love, you aren't ready for a happy ending. You've got to be able to commit to the thing relatively early if you want to last the full 118 minutes, or  341 pages.

I suppose I also learned this lesson in high school, when I, or a significant other inevitably proposed a "DTR," an awkward chat designed to "Define the Relationship," to "put a label on it."

Thus, I am found of labels. My relationship as a wife is labeled by law, and irrational or not, I enjoy the institution of marriage and the label in a form of a marriage certificate.

I am equally proud of my label as a teacher, my teaching license and the degrees allowing me to continue my almost unholy worship at the shrine of literature and words, and get paid.

Those papers and labels remind me that I am committed. Committed to my spouse and my career, and myself.

Despite the lack of official looking cards (which I really want, by the way,) I very much associate myself with the label of feminist. Even though I don't always agree with every incarnation, or every other feminist, the overall cause is important enough to me, important enough to willingly embrace a label. Even when that label associates me with a minority few that "hate men" or burn bras.

The label of feminist reminds me of the inherent worth of every human being, of myself, and of my choices. Feminism allowed me to marry not out of economic or social need, and to teach out of devotion to education, not because it used to be one of the few "female friendly" jobs in a world with a low glass ceiling. Sometimes, I identify so strongly as a feminist that I get annoyed when other equality-minded people do not. I am aware that this is a little irrational. But truly, do you not want to commit for the long haul? Get the happy ending? Don't you know that you can be a feminist even if feminism isn't a perfect social movement?  Or are you going to lecture me on the failed institution of marriage, I mean, feminism.

I guess that is the thing about labels, what they represent doesn't need to be perfect in order to be good.

Despite my affection for labels, and my belief that perfection isn't necessary for goodness, I still hesitate to embrace any label concerning my religion. To clarify, I am quite able to embrace some aspects of the LDS label. The Of Jesus Christ part is easy, Christianity, like feminism, reminds me of the inherent worth of every human being. But the Of Latter-Day-Saints part troubles me at times. It's the cognitive dissonance keeping me up at night. The LDS label reminds me of ideas I value: family, charity, humanitarianism, while simultaneously reminding me of ideas I don't: exclusion of certain types of family, Victorian gender roles, and a degree of group-think (more kindly referred to as "Mormon Culture,") that could make Orwell shudder.

But what about embracing labels even when they are imperfect? Don't you want to commit for the long haul? Don't you know you can be a Mormon even if it isn't a perfect religion? Or are you going to lecture me on the failed institution of marriage, I mean organized religion.

Like the romantic partner unwilling to "define the relationship," because they aren't sure of the future, perhaps labels in religion are not always effective. Labeling something assigns it a degree of stasis, permanence that can be rewarding and reassuring, but can also close the door to change, halt evolution, and lead to stagnation. I like labels that help reaffirm who I am, but not when they define me entirely.

While I always want to be a wife, an educator/amateur thinker,  an advocate for human equality, I do not know if I want the stasis that comes from the label of religion. I'm not saying I don't want to attend church ever again, or that I have nothing to learn or gain from my LDS background. I'm simply saying I want the luxury of choice. Can I become some incarnation of LDS without being LDS? Can one be Of Jesus Christ always, but Of Latter-Day-Saints in part?

There is one thing I do know: labels are easier. That is certain.

But not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien.)




66 comments:

geoffsn said...

You know this already, so I don't want to seem preachy, but I figure that perhaps some commenters might find it helpful.

The mainstream LDS church has an awesome history of political and ideological diversity. Orson Pratt and Brigham Young fundamentally disagreed about the very nature of God and argued about it all the time. In the early 20th Century there were many prominent Mormon progressives, socialists, liberals, etc. Part of the label of LDS is the idea/statement Joseph Smith made that mormons accept truth from every source and that as mormons we're free to believe what we want. He spoke out against the creeds of other religions and said he never heard of someone being damned for believing too much.

As for your commentary about DTR's and kissing, I'll let the experts play this out:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/9iSlPoQm2XY

Abby said...

I really appreciate the way you put all of this into words. It's something that I'm unable to do. I can barely even think about religion without getting all jumbled and confused.

Your words echo my thoughts, almost exactly. Thanks for being brave enough to say them.

Stephanie said...

@Geoff, it is one thing to know, another thing to remember, so thanks for the reminder.

@Abby, thanks for the support.

Femme Facetious said...

www.newordermormon.org?

Caroline said...

The first part of your post reminded me of this:

http://tomatonation.com/culture-and-criticism/yes-you-are/

One of my favorite bits of writing on feminism.

Andrea Lee U.R. said...

Looks like you really need to find yourself. I feel bad for you.

Andrea Lee U.R. said...

It sounds like you really need to work on your testimony right now.

Mary said...

I was reading the Save Alpine School District website for some education on publishing idiotic and completely unfounded "facts." On one page of the site, the author discussed one man who was linked to things like terrorism, communism, and feminism. Because they are the same. Because believing women are humans and therefore able to do whatever they wish to do with their lives is the same as killing innocent people or taking away everybody's right to choose.

As for the question of being "of Jesus Christ." I struggle with that a lot. Not because I don't believe the basic and beautiful doctrines of the LDS church. I do. I think that's something you put into words very well.

I have also discovered a few things in my quest to be a better person. While the "whole" of LDS culture is often undesirable, most individuals I talk to deal with the same questions and concerns. I think it's easier to embrace the "LDS" part of being a follower of Jesus Christ when I step away from what appears to be common and get to know the individuals involved. I rarely come away disappointed when I do that.

I hope that didn't sound preachy. It's just something that has helped me.

Caitlin said...

I have VERY similar views to you on this (well, really on most things):

http://caitlinarghduncan.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-are-feminist.html

Thank you for writing.

lifeofdi said...

Although I consider myself atheist in belief, I still find interest and value in my history and Mormon heritage. I went to a Mormon Stories* event last weekend and they read an in-the-works mission statement that I really liked. I wish I could remember the exact words, but I can't and the recording isn't available online yet. But the gist was that the Mormon Stories community believes people should be able to identify as Mormon if they so choose, even if they don't believe or do all, or even much, of what most members would think qualifies you to be Mormon.

I like that definition because I feel like much in the way that there are cultural Jews or Catholics who go to church once a year, there is a huge diversity along the spectrum of belief for Mormons. This way I am able to claim my Mormon identity and history without feeling like I have to believe all things Mormon.

I don't know if that is helpful, as it sounds like you are still much more religious than I. But I like it, so thought I'd share.

*Assuming you know about the podcast, but just in case. http://mormonstories.org/

Colt said...

For what it is worth: I don't always feel comfortable self defining as LDS. It's not that I have no testimony, but what the church stands for does not always represent what I stand for. I am not comfortable carrying the church baggage into a conversation or then explaining "Yes, I'm Mormon. But, I think gays should be allowed to marry, women should have jobs and we just effed up on the black thing." It's a lot easier to say "Yes" while moving my hand to indicate sort-of.

Tristin said...

I have had similar thoughts to what you've written so many times that the weight of their implication was completely lost on me until geoffsn pointed it out hours after I read the post.

I completely understand your frustration and your desire to get away from the labels that impose unwanted expectations and values on you. It would be great to break away from the bad experience that often comes with being a latter-day saint with independent thoughts.

I hope, however, that you'll find a way to embrace the label of LDS while throwing out all of the parts that don't fit who you are or what you believe. I am a latter-day saint and I fight for gay marriage. I am a latter-day saint and I vote liberal with a clear conscience. I am LDS and I believe polygamy was a mistaken part of our church history. I know I'm not alone as this type of latter-day saint.

I hope you'll continue to be the iconoclastic motivator I've come to look forward to hearing from every few days. But good luck in wherever your wandering takes you. I know you'll never get lost.

Aubrey said...

I am curious about Andrea's comment. What exactly does "working on your testimony" mean to her? Does that mean that Stephanie should pray more? Read more scriptures? Go to church more? Does that mean that Andrea assumes that she doesn't doe these things plenty already? When will the hardlined Mormons accept that there is some cognitive dissonance you can't just pray away? There are some things that, even though we have been taught they are right, feel wrong to the very core? Especially when we pray about them. What then?

I love blogs like Stephanie's because it helps us understand that no one is actually forcing us to choose all in or all out. And even though some members (and apostles!) may disagree, I don't have to accept and love the entire church label as a whole. Knowing there are others out there that feel just like me gives me comfort and the strength to continue working on building my testimony and possibly staying in the church.

If I listened to the "all in or all out" members I would have left for good soooooo long ago.

As for labels. As soon as a label is slapped on me, I want to run the opposite direction. Even if it was a lable I wanted in the first place. I have done some work to stabalize that, but gosh those labels sure to scare me. I don't want to be defined easily or succinctly.

Richard and Michelle said...

At Andrea -
Sounds like you need to work on being more "Christlike" because what you wrote in your comment is mean and hurtful.

Sandy said...

@Colt Ha, that is exactly why I sometimes fail at being a missionary. Example: I went to a garage sale at an LGBTQ-friendly Methodist church in my neighborhood and they invited me to join them for their Sunday services. I wanted to tell them that I couldn't because I attend LDS services at the same time (and I, for the most part, LOVE talking to the church about people), but given the prominent LGBTQ slant of the church, I wasn't in the mood for explaining that I was a Mormon that that supports civil rights for all people (and generally loves the gays). Or rather, I wasn't in the mood to defend my affiliation with an organization that can fairly be called bigoted on this issue.

@Stephanie I enjoy your thoughts and look forward to more of them on this issue. My reaction to your question about being "of Jesus Christ" but not "of Latter Day Saints" is what do you do with a belief that the organization of the church is important? not the structure of men having the priesthood is essential, but that going to church, fulfilling callings, doing the sometimes unpleasant work in the church is key to becoming like Christ? This is not a challenge, just an interest in your thoughts.

April said...

Re: Andrea Lee U.R.

I don't know how you found your way to this blog, but after checking yours out, this may not be your kind of blog. MCB talks openly about religious issues and is honest, she doesn't need your pity. Just because you haven't allowed yourself to really think about the church doesn't mean your testimony is rock solid, it just means you haven't exposed yourself to anything oppositional.

Hugh B. Brown said, "We are not so much concerned whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts."

This is a blog for those who "have thoughts". I for one love the courage of MCB to document her journey with honesty and integrity. Because many of us are or have been in her shoes. Kudos MCB!

Stephanie said...

@Sandy: That is a really good question, and I don't have an answer. I agree, that part of being a follower of Christ is serving, possibly in a formal way, in his church. But I don't know what exactly that means when you aren't sure the "church" is functioning in the way Christ would have it run, or how to cope with inconsistencies. I had a really hard time serving in YW. I could never teach from the manuel, and disagreed with some of the mission statements, but really identified with a program intending to help young women transition into spiritual adulthood.


Sorry for the long and vague non-answer. I suspect the "real" answer is a case- by- case basis situation.


@Everyone else: Thanks for your comments and suggestions. From those who are not active, less active, and very active, it helps me to know that there are smart and caring people navigating the path with me. This is why I blog.

Meikjn said...

the Mormon culture is hard to swallow sometimes. I grew up in a small town (tiny) in eastern Oregon, and I had the attitude that I did not like to know what was going on in the world because it was too depressing and did not effect me. I also felt happiness was not achievable without being Mormon. I am still Mormon, and feel that it has been a great contributor to my happiness, but I understand the love of God well enough to know Mormons don't have the market cornered. I also now embrace the news. I think that the "real" doctrines, and the "Mormon culture" are two different things. I have seen friends driven into destructive (not just spiritual) behavior because the culture is too hard to stomach. I think we need to separate the two. we are supposed to embrace all good things and love people as they are, and support each other. I think it is too easy to assume that the church teaches us to be judgmental barbies because so many people in it are. that is not what it means to be LDS. the church does not condemn all things feminist. what it condemns is the demeaning of mothers.we as women have roles that are inherent. if you are having sex you are likely to someday give birth, and that comes with responsibilities. and while the Mormon culture denounces all things "gay" the doctrine is much more compassionate. I think we have a duty to find our own beliefs. but to not be so quick to assume that there is a contradiction between them. I too do not identify with the underbelly of Mormon culture. but to be LDS is to seek knowledge, truth, to be kind compassionate, and Christ-like, not to mold yourself after the crazy "Mormon belt" I agree in part with the things you said, I think it is wrong to define LDS by all of the faults of a small fraction of its membership.

Ryan said...

Femme Facetious recommended New Order Mormon, which I second. And see 2 Cor. 13:1.

rossandconnierockon! said...

I so love reading your work! And I think the students you privilege with your thoughts become thoughtFUL humans/students/people/teachers--and more, I am sure.

Feminism is simply amazing. I was raised believing it was a nasty label--and things change in wonderful growing ways. One of my professors (and you would love her--the two of you are like-minded in the most complimentary ways) asked a group of us, more women then men, "who considers themselves a feminist?" I was shocked to see more men than women raise their hands. And, by shocked, I was pleasantly surprised to see men raising their hands while disappointed that less women did not. After class I was explaining to my partner about our discussions and told him about the "are you a feminist?" His response was "so what is a feminist?" I explained "in simplest terms, a feminist advocates social equality for all." He looked at me and said "so I am a feminist?" So I smiled.

I know this label is difficult to swallow for some--including my new neighbor--which is why I am tempted to get bumper sticker made:Feminist on board or a t-shirt "Got Feminism?" I will not do this as I do not think this type of activism is always thoughtful. However, I no longer hide behind the notion of feminism and realize action/activism for social equality is so valuable.

thanks for your thoughts!

Julie said...

I too have a hard time with the Mormon culture lable. I usually find myself trying to hide my religious origins from new friends I meet, because I don't want anyone to place me into any of the Mormon culture weird-ness that often defines our reigion.

I like to tell Rob: "I'm not Mormon, I'm LDS"

To me, there is a distinction. Mormon=the cookey non-doctrine culture that I loathe. LDS=the doctrines and laws of God I love (MOST of the time... lets be honest, God and I argue about lots of things...)

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Which are, of course, errily similar to yours ( :

Crystal said...

While I'm still a little confused on your perception of labels (to label, or not to label...) I decided I would share a story. During the Prop 8 scandal in California, I had originally planned to vote no and smack that prop down. I have a lesbian cousin whom I love very dearly and have looked up to for most of my life, as she is older than I am. As time (quickly) progressed it became VERY apparent how against Prop 8 the Church was, and, as a VERY active member at the time (RS pianist, Ward Organist AND Sunday School teacher) I attended the firesides and participated in the hate that would eventually ensue. I am ashamed to admit that I completely changed my point of view, simply because it was what the church leaders asked us to do. Because I was a "Mormon", I felt I was obligated to change and ultimately hate my cousin, while spouting off how much I "Loved her, but not her lifestyle".
I have recently separated from the church on a sort of path to find myself, and quite frankly (for MYself) I have decided that I am a much happier, healthier person.
I have also more recently apologized to my cousin for my behavior on account of my label as a Mormon, to which she was grateful and I believe things are getting better for our relationship. Did the church hold me down and hog tie me so that I would make the "correct" decision (according to them)? Absolutely not, I am fully aware of how I acted as a somewhat educated adult, but I also know of all the guilt and turned up noses of those who are the "perfect Mormon" (to which I had aspired to be).
There are certain things which I still whole-heartedly believe from the Mormon religion and will never stop believing/knowing, but there are somethings which absolutely disgust me, and it's not a label I am willing to associate with, anymore.

(I hope this A: makes sense and is as applicable as I think it is..., and 2: isn't as offensive as it looks on paper...

Stephanie said...

@ Mary: I don't think you sound preachy at all. The reminder to focus on the individuals is beautiful idea, and I think it will help me a lot.

@Crystal: You are not offensive either, wahoo! I totally get what you mean, and I think your comment nicely summarizes what I was trying to say about not wanting the "label" when it goes against my beliefs. (I'm pro Gay marriage too.)

More simply put, I want the labels of wife, educator, feminist all the time, and the label of "LDS" some of the time. I just wish it didn't feel like cheating...

Eliza R. Snitch said...

So recently I have been working on embracing the label of "Mormon" for myself, because let's face it: you can't wash this stuff out.

There have been all kinds of discussions of labels on the Bloggernacle these last few months. I'm like you. I find labels useful. I like them.

So, since you are clearly not a TBM (True Blue or True Believing Mormon), perhaps you are a New Order Mormon or an Uncorrelated Mormon. Unorthodox? Liahona Mormon? Foyer Mormon? Cafeteria/Buffet Mormon?

I personally detest the label "LDS" because it is what correlation told us to call ourselves, instead of the name we took back from people who used "Mormon" and "Mormonite" as a slur. That's just me and my uncorrelated ways, though.

And may I echo another commenter's recommendation of Mormon Stories? Especially Joanna Brooks' talk from the Mormon Stories conference. I cried all six or so times I've listened to it. Absolutely beautiful.

Angelina said...

Part of what thrills me about this blog is your ability to have such a, seemingly, happy marriage with someone that has a a very, seemingly, different perspective on Mormonism. My impression is that spouseman is a peter priesthood type guy. I love that Peter Priesthood is happily and lovingly married to Stephanie instead of Molly Mormon. Maybe you'll quickly refute my assumptions, but for now I'll bask in the thought that at least one Peter Priesthood has a working brain where conflict doesn't cause it to shut down.

bunkersdown.com said...

I wish I had something witty and wise to say that would solve your dilemma, make everything sparkly, and result in world peace.
Sadly, I have nothing. All I can think to say is hold on to the things you know to be absolute truth. Whatever they may be. Cling to YOUR core and let the rest go. Which sounds, perhaps, childish and naive. But it is the way I reconcile the different parts of me that appear to be incompatible.

Stephanie said...

@Angelina: You are correct, my friend! Spouseman is a total Peter Priesthood, E.Q.presidency,ward missionary, conference note-taking rascal. That said, he tries really hard to see both sides. We are happily and lovingly married, as well.

While it is a challenge sometimes, I think our differences will ultimately make our marriage stronger, and make us better people. Or happily insane. Sixes.

Natalie said...

Thank you. I could have written your post myself but I would not have done it so well. Well written.

Elaine said...

I looked at Andrea's blog. What is she even doing looking at this blog? She appears too busy being the "perfect" Mormon mommy to have time for a FEMINIST blog. Soon enough she'll do what I did & burn out, or at least we can hope that she'll at least let go of the judgmental attitude. Really Andrea? Not cool! Leave my Mormon Child Bride alone!

geoffsn said...

To all saying disparaging things to Andrea Lee:

Let's not make assumptions about her and her intentions. There is a good chance that she honestly does care about Stephanie's well-being. It seems likely that she hasn't yet considered the real causes of Stephanie's struggles.

Do we think that by shouting her down or suggesting that she not read Stephanie's fine writing that she'll somehow "wise-up"? It seems that such an approach will only push Andrea away and reinforce a notion that people who don't have orthodox testimonies are void of the spirit (cause I've got to be honest, it's hard to feel anything but a spirit of contention in the responses to her).

To Andrea Lee:
Please don't be put-off by the responses. I'd encourage you to try and see things from Stephanie's (and other's) point-of-view. This quote from President Hugh B Brown (he was in the 1st Presidency) I think illustrates what Stephanie is going through:

"Some say that the open-minded leave room for doubt. But I believe we should doubt some of the things we hear. Doubt has a place if it can stir in one an interest to go out and find the truth for one’s self. I should like to awaken in everyone a desire to investigate, to make an independent study of religion, and to know for themselves whether or not the teachings of the Mormon church are true... There are altogether too many people in the world who are willing to accept as true whatever is printed in a book or delivered from a pulpit. Their faith never goes below the surface soil of authority. I plead with everyone I meet that they may drive their faith down through that soil and get hold of the solid truth... Then, and only then, will we be able to defend our religion successfully When I speak of defending our religion, I do not mean such defense as an army makes on the battlefield but the defense of clean and upright and virtuous life lived in harmony with an intelligent belief and understanding of the gospel."


I'd also note that all too often when someone strives to use doubt to have their faith grow deep and to understand doctrines which they struggle to understand, they are treated as wicked or evil.
I don't think you intended to imply any such thing in your comment, but as you've noticed, that is how many perceived it. Keep in mind that many (if not all) of the 'spirited' responses you received came from people who have been treated with little to no charity by fellow-mormons simply for trying to better understand doctrines. They saw your comment as another such move to treat their real struggles as something trivial that could easily be fixed by praying. Often they've spent more time praying than you'd guess. I'm just saying this so you can understand why you've gotten some harsh comments. I don't think they were deserved, but I can't blame people who have been persecuted for reacting in this way.

I hope we can all come to a better understanding of the trials of others and strive to treat others with charity. I hope this doesn't come off as preachy. I've been guilty of both trivializing people's struggles and reacting harshly to offensive (even if well-intentioned) comments.

ChristyLove said...

Do you want to hear some things that are completely embarrassing?

(1.) I really just researched what it would cost me to get cards that say, "Christy R****: Feminist" - and it's really not that expensive.

(2.) I obsessively check your blog for updates every two(-ish) days because google sucks and won't let me subscribe.

(3.) I actually got off my ass and decided to go back to school because the first year or so worth of posts on this blog made me realize what I missing out on. So. Yeah.

So you're kind of changing the world. HOW'S THAT FOR PRESSURE? =P

Stephanie said...

@Christylove

#1 I may just order those cards.

#2 Lame, google.


#3 That is one of the nicer things I've heard. Woot.

Emily said...

haha. I am sorry but I am laughing so hard at the girl who said you need to work on your testimony! Is she serious? Who says that? That was hilarious to me! Anyway. I feel the same as you as far as feminism, and Mormon culture and most old fashioned roles stil placed on women by some in the LDS church make me feel. . .bleh. But it isn't the church's issue as much as a people issue. I echo your thoughts on the acceptance of others and their familial roles (AKA same sex marriage). But the "LDS part" is just one of those things that is so hard to explain to others, yet much simpler in my mind. It is just an old fashioned way of saying the church of Christ restored to our time, and I leave it at that. I believe in it bc I know it. A member of the church is not more valuable then his neighbor and some people need to get over themselves. Like being baptized makes you part of an elitist club or something. In actuality being a member causes you to put everything in this life in question and under scrutiny (just as you are doing Stephanie). I do agree that the LDS label carries with it all sorts of feelings and ideals, however, I am OK with it, I just see myself as an LLDS (Liberal Latter Day Saint):). I am grateful that prophets of the church have made it clear that we are free to have our own political views, and that it is up to us to find the truth. Some people forget that and chose to blindly follow people like Glenn Beck (the anti-Christ--OK, maybe not that bad, but I can't stand him). "Baa."

Jack said...

I know it isn't your intention, but sometimes I feel picked on when you describe "typical Mormon roles" as if it is a bad thing to choose that role. I got an education, I worked for awhile and thought I always would. But when my first baby was born I knew I could not leave her in another's care...she was MY responsibility. So I Stay home and I try to be th best mom I an be for my kids and it is HARD, harder than you know. And no one made me choose to do it. And people look down on and degrade my chosen role. I wish feminists like you would do more to uplift and support women who've chosen to stay home with their kids instead of lumping us into a group of brainwashed lds women who have no voice.
Hose

Stephanie said...

@Jack/Hose

I assume it is not your intention to suggest that women who work are not responsible for "raising their children" or that they "leave them in someone else's care" in some permanent way. Babysitters, nannys, and daycares don't raise children, just like the dishwasher doesn't clean your house. Babysitters, nannys, and daycares, aid working women, that is all.

I'm aware that wasn't the point of your comment, but see what dangerous things happen when you assume?

I have never, ever, said anything against Stay-At-Home-Moms. Ever. Not in this post, or ever. You assumed that the traditional gender roles I take issue with are the ones revolving around child-care. It's an assumption not based on my writing, and it isn't true.

What I have written about, and the gender roles I am talking about are the ones where men "preside" over their wives, and that women make covenants to "hearken" unto their spouses. I don't see how that creates an "equal partnership," or why it necessary.

Heather said...

Loved this post! I often struggle and feel guilt over the fact that I don't always fully embrace the LDS label. I'm born Mormon. I'm very active (Primary Presidency and all), but I am more likely to post a pro-life or pro-gay-marriage post on facebook than I am to click "Like" when one of those pages--BOM, Pres. Monson, Joseph Smith--shows up. I'm not sure why that is. But a lot of it is the same as you. I have a testimony of Jesus Christ as my Savior. I love the doctrine of the church. Some of the culture, some of the practices... Not so much.

Heather said...

Hmm... I commented about how much I love this post and how deeply I relate to it, but it somehow got lost in the ether. So, I guess I'll add to your response to Jack/Hose.

@Jack/Hose--I used to feel much the way that you do, that feminists are the enemy and the reason the role of mother is so degraded. Then I actually started doing my homework on feminism and feminists. My goal was to expose these evil women as the anti-family, anti-motherhood witches they were.

The more I read, the more I realized that THESE were the women I identified with. A tiny minority were pretty anti-motherhood, but most were mothers just like me. They worked HARD and suffered much so that mothers could have a voice in how our country treats both women and children, so that women do not have to live in abusive situations because of economic necessity and second-class citizen status. Feminists are the women who worked and continued to work so that if I ever have to leave my precious children to work for money, I can do so in just about any profession I choose and for a much more fair wage (though not equal to men yet) than I would have gotten 50 years ago.

The fact that feminists fought for me to have SO MANY choices only glorifies more my decision to stay at home with my children, because it IS a choice, not the status quo and the only role allowed me. Even within the church (see Quentin L. Cook's talk in April 2011 conference) women are encouraged to prayerfully choose what paths they will take regarding career and motherhood and encourage us all to support each other and not judge one another's choices.

Though there are certainly vocal outliers, we feminists are not the ones degrading women or women's roles. We are continuing the fight for women, children, families and all people to be treated with respect and afforded all the choices we need in order to do what is best for our families.

Jack said...

I read your blog to learn from you and your perspective, I am not sure why you felt the need to call me names. I was simply telling you how I felt: that I feel like sometimes you and other self-proclaimed feminists tend to lump those of us who choose to follow the herd as like-minded lemmings. (yes you do often make negative comments about the like minded majority of the church) I hope you realize that some of us choose to live that way because it makes us happy, not because we are forced to. And that the world looks down on us enough so it would be nice to have your support into lives we've chosen. That is simply how I feel, not meant to be an argument. I enjoy your blog and think I s often smart
and insiteful and that you have important things to say. I'm not sure why it so often has to be laced with bitterness and resntment though.

Stephanie said...

@Jack/Hose: Please point out the part of my response where I called you a name. I did not.

Nor have I ever (even if you keep insisting I have,) suggested that people who are SAHMs, or "conventional" mormons, are lemmings.

I have, on several occassions written about how some church policies and practices make it difficult to be a non-conformist, and how it can make some people feel isolated.

Thus, after you identify the name I called you, I invite you to identify the lines or statments that I have written that suggest that anyone is a lemming.

Again, I have simply stated that sometimes it is difficult to fit into a certain norm, and that I disagree with many aspects of "Mormon Culutre." I never said that those that do, included my husband, are bad people, or lemmings.

Also, I am not being mean or bitter, I am simply being direct and stating my opinion. As you said, I am simply "telling you how I feel."


I am a feminist because I believe people should have a right to govern their own fates. If that means being a SAHM, I support you. If that means being a very traditional Mormon, I disagree with you on some points, but support you.

My posts simply ask that we as a Mormon culture do the same for those of us who are not SAHMs, or non- traditional in any way.

Ru said...

Stephanie, does it ever seem to you like I only comment to talk to another commenter? I'm sorry dude. Loved the post, as always.

To the Jack/Hoses of the world (that was surprisingly fun to type ...): Are you really so looked down on "in the world?" Really? I'd like you all to start identifying examples, because this is something I've heard claimed over and over, and yet I've never actually heard *anyone* express disdain for stay-at-home-mothers. Please, stats. Every article I read -- from scholarly to journalistic to silly advice columns -- praises the role of the mother generally and the stay-at-home mother specifically. Probably because we're all terrified of doing otherwise.

And that goes double for at church. I have heard LDS women claim that other women at church judge them for the decisions to have children or stay at home with those children ... and I am just curious to find out which break-off sect of the LDS church they go to. Because the one I know practically has altars built to breastfeeding. You want support? Seriously? You don't feel ENOUGH support for motherhood in the LDS Church?

Maybe when you all realize there is no one out to get you, you won't be so defensive when someone like Stephanie says something that doesn't even come CLOSE to insulting you.

kaitlyn.mary said...

Stephanie,
I absolutely loved this post! Two statements in particular really seemed to stand out to me and I find that I can completely identify with them. The first was your idea that something doesn't need to be perfect in order to be good. After thinking about this for a moment in relation to things other than religion, I thought, ya know, that is pretty much true in all aspects of life. Is there any label that we can reasonably argue is perfect in every way, shape, and form? I don't think so... We embrace ideas, institutions,"labels" of all kinds every day KNOWING that they are not perfect. We see the good in them and that is what we focus on. As humans, we are inevitably imperfect beings, so how could we expect the things we have created to be perfect? It is an impossible standard to hold anything to in this life.
The second statement I really liked was "I like labels that help reaffirm who I am, but not when they define me entirely." All I have to say to this is yes yes yes! In my understanding of this life, we are all constantly searching for things that bring us joy, peace, contentment, etc. In particular, we search for truth and understanding of this world and of ourselves, and labels can only help that process when we let them become a part of who we are, not when we allow them to completely encompass and define ourselves.

Racher said...

Stephanie, I've been reading your blog for eons of time and identify with most everything you write and especially rejoice in your skewering of terrible LDS fiction. I was wondering how you reconciled your feelings with your YW calling--I'm really struggling with that right now as a YW teacher. I feel like I've been thrust into the role of the people who frustrated me so much when I was in the YW program and it's causing me a lot of cognitive dissonance. I also find the manual detestable. How did you bring your personality and beliefs into the lessons in an empowering way? I'd love any suggestions.

Stephanie said...

Racher, I am just heading out to a.....ward campout. Shit. Who am I? But I will tackle your question upon my return. In the meantime, anyone want to help a Racher out?

Team Howsley said...

Had you written this a year ago, I don't think it would have resonated with me as it does now. What changed? My location. I moved to Utah from Texas after finishing medical school to do my residency at the U of U.

I grew up in Texas and was spared a large part of the "mormon culture" (I mean, how do you have a culture when there's only like 10 members?) I was never embarrassed to let others know I was mormon, it wasn't a big deal.

But as soon as we moved here, religion took center stage. Apparently, the most important thing to find out about someone you meet here is "are you mormon?" Once you have the answer, everything changes. People censor what they say or use a different lingo around you. They assume you engage in certain activities or hold certain beliefs.

It makes me crazy. It makes me very hesitant to let people know that I am mormon because I hate the assumptions both mormons and non mormons then make about ME simply based on my religion. Just because I am mormon, I am not against gay rights, a woman's right to abortion, democrats, etc. Just because I am mormon I do not stay home with my son; it's not my husband that is a doctor!

So I completely understand where you are coming from, on not wanting to put that label on yourself because it is so loaded with such heavy assumptions. What makes you (or at least me) uncomfortable isn't the gospel itself, it's the culture that's been created around it which is actually quite harmful to those who don't embrace it wholeheartedly.

Take comfort in knowing you aren't alone, I know reading your blog has given me much encouragement since I've moved here and felt like the odd woman out.

Team Howsley said...

Had you written this a year ago, I don't think it would have resonated with me as it does now. What changed? My location. I moved to Utah from Texas after finishing medical school to do my residency at the U of U.

I grew up in Texas and was spared a large part of the "mormon culture" (I mean, how do you have a culture when there's only like 10 members?) I was never embarrassed to let others know I was mormon, it wasn't a big deal.

But as soon as we moved here, religion took center stage. Apparently, the most important thing to find out about someone you meet here is "are you mormon?" Once you have the answer, everything changes. People censor what they say or use a different lingo around you. They assume you engage in certain activities or hold certain beliefs.

It makes me crazy. It makes me very hesitant to let people know that I am mormon because I hate the assumptions both mormons and non mormons then make about ME simply based on my religion. Just because I am mormon, I am not against gay rights, a woman's right to abortion, democrats, etc. Just because I am mormon I do not stay home with my son; it's not my husband that is a doctor!

So I completely understand where you are coming from, on not wanting to put that label on yourself because it is so loaded with such heavy assumptions. What makes you (or at least me) uncomfortable isn't the gospel itself, it's the culture that's been created around it which is actually quite harmful to those who don't embrace it wholeheartedly.

Take comfort in knowing you aren't alone, I know reading your blog has given me much encouragement since I've moved here and felt like the odd woman out.

Molly said...

Ru,

In my reading of Stephanie's blog and blogs like Stephanie's, I'm always amazed when I read comments like "SO glad I'm not the only one who feels this way!" "SO happy there are other people out there!!" Because from my perspective, these are the issues me and my like-minded friends in the church discuss regularly. These are the conversations I have with my family often. And there are hundreds of blogs devoted to this train of thinking.

At the same time, though, I recognize that's just my perception, just the things I read about and hear about and talk about, so that's my own reality. I think Jack/Hose has her own reality, one where it appears she feels targeted or looked down on. Maybe women in her ward are all professionals, maybe her sisters work and she's a little self-conscious about her choice.

I think her feelings are valid and shouldn't be dismissed on account of your perspective that society is actually pro her perspective so she should suck it up. That's not to say she should call out Stephanie for things she didn't day.

I think we all feel conspicuous in our own ways, whether others think we should or not.

Unknown said...

@Racher:

Several years ago, I was a YW teacher, and like you and MCB I found the manual, erm, hm, how to phrase it, lacking. Did I agree with the principles being taught? Of course, and most of them were very important. However, my issue was with the sipmlistic way they were presented and the "case studies" we were supposed to use. (Do the manuals still have those? They were both insultingly basic and gag-inducingly sweet, and to my recollection I never used a one.)

A perfect case in point was when the time came for what I refer to as the morality cycle lessons. I taught the chastity lesson, and when I asked the little beehives (some of whom still had new car smell)why we shouldn't have sex before marriage, I got the typical answers of "because it's wrong" and "because it's a commandment". When I agreed but also added that if you have sex before you're married you could get pregnant or an STD, I thought their heads were going to explode. Do I believe in the law of chastity? Yes. Do I follow it? Yes. But I also think we need to be honest with the YW about the consequences of their actions. If they aren't getting it at home, they need to get it from us. Regardless of my personal stance on chastity, I could not in good conscience teach "abstinence only" in a modern world. (And no, I wasn't released for saying that in class.)

I think the key is to find the core of truth in the lesson and focus on that. That may mean using the case study or a talk from general conference or your personal experience or waiting for that voice of inspiration during class or a combination of all of the above. It can be tricky because you do have to be sensitive to their age, but I think YW teachers have a responsibility to teach more than just pray, read your scriptures, and go to church.

Natalie | The Bobby Pin said...

I hear you on the feminist card. I blogged about Gloria Steinem the other day, and a commenter mentioned that she'd never heard of her.

I about had a heart attack.

I think these labels work when we give them to ourselves. If I call myself a Mormon, I have to affirm that no one else can really take that away or tell me that "i'm not doing it right."

Stephanie said...

@Racher

I need to read/skewer some more LDS fiction. It has been a long time.

I have served in YW twice, and I believe both times inadverently caused me to question my membership in the church in ways I never had before. Big statement, but it started with the manuals....all the talk on the "role" of homemaker, and the tacit support of the patriarchy. The obsession with female sexuality and how it is akin to porn.

Whatever, you've read them. They make me angry, especially when coupled with truly great talks and resources that promote independence, individual revelation, and education. I entirely understand what you mean when you talk about cognitive dissonance.

I always felt like such an imposter. I still do. I wish I had simple answers to solve the problem and make it happy again.

However, a few things that made it easier:

1. Being honest. Instead of simply omitting a part of the lesson/manual I didn't like, and hoping nobody noticed, I explicitly mentioned why I was excluding that passage. Sometimes I said it was outdated, and provided a more recent talk with the new information. (I used Elder Uchtdorf's "create" talk to state that a clean house isn't a woman's job, to counter the lesson on homemaking, for instance.)

Sometimes I said the example or case scenario was simplistic. The case study about the young couple who didn't marry in the temple and then died in a terrible accident, so they didn't get to be together? I talked about mercy and the atonement, and how you can always, always trust in loving, not punitive Heavenly Parents.

2. Talk about what the YW want to talk about. Discuss their concerns, not what the manual tells you their concerns should be. Give examples about how you personally overcame the difficulty.


3. Live as an example. You're a feminist who wants to promote equality? Show them. Use inclusive language. (Heavenly Parents is a go-to for me,) Quote powerful women, both LDS and non-LDS. Talk about making decisions with your spouse, or your goal to do so once you are married.

To use strong but simplistic language: Be something. (I am sure you are.) If you are married, share your goals for yourself as an individual outside your marriage. If you are single, make it clear that you are happy, strong, and capable, not waiting for a patriarch to make you spiritually or emotionally whole.

It is hard to serve in YW. You want to do and be so much, in an environment that makes it hard. I feel like I didn't answer your question well enough, or talked about things you already knew. If you figure something out, email me.

bunkersdown.com said...

Ru,
You are completely correct when you posted that everyone praises the role of motherhood, especially stay-at-home mothers.
However, their actions rarely match their lip service. An incredibly well written book called "The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued," by Ann Crittenden can provide you with many statistics, law suits, and the like, showing a general discrimination against mothers.
I also agree that within the LDS church, in particular, much homage is paid to "the stay at home mom." However, in my experience (and it is only my experience, I'm not suggesting that this is universal) even though I receive praise and approval for being a SAHM I am not taken seriously any longer, nor are my ideas sought after anymore. Males and females alike within the church use phrases like "Oh, you've got your hands full, I'll let someone else be on that committee." Or, "Focus on your kids right now, we'll take care of this."
It could be that they are truly concerned about my time management skills, and I am projecting my own insecurities on to their comments. But it FEELS dismissive and condescending.
I hope this helps you to understand a different point of view and I hope you'll check out Ann Crittenden's book. It contains many court cases that are really fascinating.

Ru said...

Molly - That's certainly fair to say. However, I don't think it's too much for people to stop generalizing and give specifics - less "feeling," more facts. The fact that someone would claim "people look down on me and degrade my chosen role," and the only evidence she gives for this is claiming that Stephanie said something she obviously didn't say makes me disregard her argument.

I should have explained myself more clearly. I DO want to hear about people's experiences, but not if they sound just like someone who has a persecution complex. (Which a lot of people seem to suffer from.)

Bunkersdown - My point (that I obviously did not make clearly enough) was that people take the statement, "SAHMs are disrespected" at face value when it is not always (or even usually) true. It certainly wasn't true on Stephanie's blog. Your example (LDS church praises stay-at-home-moms, yet at times marginalizes them) is one I take seriously because you have explained it and not just relied on "Well, I *feel* disrespected, and therefore I *was* disrespected." And that perspective is an important one to hear.

Re: Ann Crittendon's book - that is an excellent read, but I would point out that there's a difference between the financial difficulties mothers face (either as they try to navigate the workplace, during retirement, after a divorce, or in getting the government to place value on her work for benefits purposes) and claiming (like that Jack/Hose did) that someone "disrespected" or "looked down" on you. (How? What did that do to you? Had Stephanie *actually* said anything offensive, what consequence would that statement have?) Maybe both categories are important, but personally I really only care about the first one.

(I'll shut up before this tangent gets too far out into left field. Sorry Stephanie!)

stacythemagnificentmommy said...

For what it is worth: I don't always feel comfortable self defining as LDS. It's not that I have no testimony, but what the church stands for does not always represent what I stand for. I am not comfortable carrying the church baggage into a conversation or then explaining "Yes, I'm Mormon. But, I think gays should be allowed to marry, women should have jobs and we just effed up on the black thing." It's a lot easier to say "Yes" while moving my hand to indicate sort-of.-------------------


I puffy sparkley heart love this! Thanks, Colt! I'm not the only one out there after all! ;0)

Chelsea said...

Yay, feminism! Love it.

I recently stayed up late to watch "Gloria: In Her Own Words" on HBO. I highly recommend it. It's a great overview of 2nd wave feminism, which gets a bad rap sometimes (especially among Mormons) but was so crucial to the rights we enjoy now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2cqVYlWYCs

As for the comments about stay at home moms, I am one, and I have definitely been talked down to and disrespected as a result - usually by other women, unfortunately. I've heard everything from "What do you DO all day?" to "I could never do that, I would just be so bored, I need to be challenged." In situations where I'm meeting people for the first time, I can often see their eyes glaze over as soon as I tell them I don't currently have a profession. It's probably related to where we live (lots of people with glitzy careers) but it's a real thing.

BUT, I know that my friends who are working moms face similar sorts of comments. Things like "Oh, you let someone else take care of your kids?" and "Do you NEED to work or do you just want to?" People make all sorts of assumptions and judgements no matter what we do. It sometimes makes me think that we women are just S.O.L.

Alan Macfarlane said...

Pres Hinckley said: "Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression. Constructive discussion is a privilege of every Latter-day Saint."

Not an aside or a mere boon to our theology, but fundamental.

And I have a harder time referring to myself as a Latter-day Saint (LDS) than a Mormon because heaven knows I'm no Saint. Calling myself one seems foolish. Saying "I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" is trunky and makes me feel pretentious. So, yeah, I'm Mormon. And maybe I'm exactly what you assume, but I'm hoping you are pleasantly surprised at what that can mean.

Christine said...

I have asked the very same questions as you. Your post is beautiful and thoughtful.

I have come to a peaceful place with my questions. I have found that asking the questions will forever be a bigger part of my journey than the destination. I have also come to peace with the idea that spirituality and religion are two very different things. Jesus Christ is my path to being a spiritual person. LDS is a religion, and a place to go on Sunday. My spiritual language may not be spoken in the LDS church but parts of my history make me who I am, and I like that person very much.

fellow child bride (18 yikes)

Christina Bishop said...

"But not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien.)" I love that part. And the title of your post. Makes me want to go read a good book--or play.

There are many aspects of Mormon culture that are just that--culture. And in some minds, church "culture" inadvertently becomes sketchy, unfounded church "doctrine." So YES! You can "be Of Jesus Christ always, but Of Latter-Day-Saints in part" if Christ=True Doctrine, and LDS=Unfounded Religious Culture. And that doesn't make you a bad Mormon.

Labels are so interesting. Here are two thoughts I've had since reading your post yesterday (and they are more about names than labels, but those are similar, right?): 1) My husband pointed out during a recent lesson that the members of Christ's church in the New Testament were called saints (Corinthians 1, Ephesians 1, etc.). So looking at the name of our church--not at the baggage of the name--I don't despise the "saints" part since it is simply used as a title for members of Christ's church. At face value, "Of Latter-Day Saints" means "members of Christ's original church established in the last days." I can embrace that. 2) In Acts, Peter and Paul preach that "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." The name of Christ is the key to salvation. If we have that written upon our hearts, we'll be OK. I haven't read that "LDS" has to be written anywhere....

Uh, I'm waxing very philosophical. Apologies, if they are needed. But this is just an example of how my mind starts cranking when I read your writing.

P.S. I wanted to chime in so you would know I am not a threatening, what's-her-face type troll. I happened to find your blog during the Bentley aftermath, but it was from Mormon Mommy Bloggers, not facebook. Coincidentally, that was my first time on Mormon Mommy Bloggers, and yours was the second blog I clicked. I have been happily hooked ever since.

Stephanie said...

@Christina Bishop

Mormon Mommy Bloggers still links me? Wild. I thought I'd gotten to swear happy....


Anyway, I really liked your insight into the names, particularly the part about being Saints and taking the name of Christ upon us as a means to salvation.

Maybe that is the key? I like the "naming" of myself as a Saint, and taking Christ's name, but not the "label" of LDS...

Lots to think about, thanks for stopping by.

Emmy said...

I read this last night and have been thinking about it since then. I have a comment in general and then I'll get to the label discussion.
I am probably one who, some may claim, doesn't have any business reading your blog. I fully believe and try to live all the teachings of the church. I don't do this blindly. I do this based on my faith and beliefs. It's what feels right to me. It's what makes me happy. I don't do it because everyone else in the ward is, or seems to be, doing it. This works for me.
From what I've read, I think you live according to your beliefs and what feels right to you. It works for you.
I read your blog every once in awhile because it's intriguing to me. I am not swayed when you say things I don't agree with, but neither am I offended. I say good for both of us who are trying to live the way we believe is right.
As for labels, I don't mind them. I am a Molly Mormon. I am a stay at home mother. As stated before, I try to live all the teachings of the church. I teach directly from the manual.
We seem to inherently like to categorize everything. While this can be helpful, efficient and informative at times, it causes us to overlook differences within each of our man-made(or woman-made)categories. We are labeled, because of our similarities to its associated group. But that doesn't mean we came out of the same exact mold as everyone else in the same group. I try to see the individual beyond the label.
I hope that makes sense and I'm sorry it was so long!

Anna said...

Wow, quite the conversation going here. I wanted to post about the origins of Latter Day Saint, and Christina beat me to it. She said it much more clearly than I would have too.

But, as long as I'm here~ Mormon/LDS and Feminist are not mutually exclusive terms. I got a CD set of 'Great Mormon Women' when we signed up for Living Scriptures (long story) It took me a while, but I eventually listened to some of them. And wouldn't you know? Emma Smith and Eliza R Snow- FEMINIST. About as feminist as could be for the time too. Emma and Brigham butted heads primarily because he was big on gender/ priesthood roles and she wasn't.
I am rather inclined to think that SHE was the more correct, but that Brigham Young needed to lead the church and instill certain ethics in the members to get them through some difficult times. His teachings are one thing I have to study and pray about and figure out (with the help of the Spirit) WTH the point was behind some of it. Him and Paul.

While my dissonances are not the same as yours, I generally come back to this- the DOCTRINE is true. The Gospel is true, as complete as is available at this time, but certainly not complete in the entirety. The people come up with all sorts of interesting sidelines, culture- TRADITIONS. (Hmmm, the scriptures don't have much good to say about 'traditions' do they?) So I study the Gospel, try to live it, and attempt to weed out the traditions. Easier said than done.

Stephanie said...

First, wanted to apologize for the delay in publishing comments. Had some technical difficulties, hope no one was concerned.


@Emmy: The only people who have no business reading my blog are the people who can't stay rational when confronted with an idea the don't like. I hold myself to this rule, and it's why I stay off blogs that make it hard.

Thank you for your well-thought out comment, and thank you for sharing. You are more than welcome.

I like what you said about making choices based on your faith and beliefs, and based on the doctrine. It works for you and makes you happy.

That is what I want for myself as well. I think the only thing I'd add to your comment is that I too feel like I am following the doctrines of the Christ (manual issues aside.) Our behavior may be different, but I think our motives are the same.


@Anna: That is really interesting. I'd like to read more about Emma/ Brigham's interactions. I will have to look into Great Mormon Women.

Have you seen the new "Mormon Women" book? Also very interesting, with some great contemporary examples.

Brooke said...

I love what Mary said about focusing on individuals instead of what appears to be common. I've seen that what is "common" in thought or opinion can vary from region to region, or even ward to ward ... so I think assigning a label to the church membership as a whole (or even the majority) for a certain social or political view is often unfair. There are a lot of assumptions I make about members of the Church or what the leadership at the top think about certain things that I find just don't hold water when I get down to the individual membership. That gives me strength and the confidence to take on the LDS label because I know I know I'm not as much of a minority as perception of our culture may make me appear. Even if I am a minority, I second what Natalie said about making the label your own so that no one else can define or take it away from you once applied. Good luck in your journey! You've got a lot of people on your team and wishing you the best.

tappens said...

So I read this post right after reading your "Cafeteria Mormon" post. I enjoyed the ideas in both, but this seems like the kind of definition meant by the analogy, not something else about not being able to get your fill of the Atonement. I'm sure you know that, and that there is more depth to it, but that was just my first thought.

First time commenter, BTW. I like your straightforwardness :)

-Tori

Angela & Scott Olson said...

At first when I read this post, I really wasn't sure where you're coming from. I've always looked at Mormonism as 100% or nothing. You are or you aren't.

Do I believe we should make it so gays shouldn't get married? No. Do I believe in polygamy? No. Do I believe in the old-school way of thinking women ONLY belong in the home? No. (side note, I actually DO stay home with my son, which was quite a struggle as a self-proclaimed feminist)

I'm wondering if being Mormon isn't like being married. Do I love my husband and want to be with him forever? Yes. But he drives me nuts. Sometimes I don't like him that much. Sometimes I don't even want to claim him in a crowded room, yet I know he's a part of my for eternity, and that thought makes me happy.

Stephanie said...

@Angela: I really liked the comparison between marriage and the church, it fits really well.

Katie said...

I know I'm super late reading this and coming into this discussions. I followed a link on a friends blog to get here and after reading several of your posts, I really like it.

I just have one thing to say about the YW manual and the difficulty with the calling: the Lord called you to serve there (or maybe the Bishop just needed to put you somewhere or had an opening or whatever). Either way, YOU are the one teaching. You have the responsibility to be yourself. God loves you for who you are and thinks you are awesome (at least most of the time). The girls that you teach probably need your frankness and definitely need your honesty. I believe very strongly that, upon being set apart, you should teach how you feel and if the Lord has a problem with it, He'll direct you another way. If it means throwing out parts of the manual, throw it out but I agree- explain why it is either out dated or -lets say it- just plain wrong. I will put a qualifier on that statement: think about what you are saying before you say it, study it out and then you call call it wrong.

I promise I'm not a troll. I just feel very strongly about this. Too many times I was chastised for things I didn't have responsibility over. I want the YW and all women to know that there are things still being printed in Church manuals that are not right.

I had a father who ruled over the house because he was the "priesthood" holder and ultimate authority. I was raped and blamed for it by my bishopric because obviously it is the woman's fault. I was abused and neglected by someone who was supposed to take care of me when I was very ill. I was shunned by my neighbors and ward members after I attempted suicide. I have left the church because I was sickened by many things in the Mormon Culture. I did, however, come back because I know the base of the Church- the Gospel and its principles are correct. I love the Gospel, just not all the people.

Sorry, I probably sound a little preachy.

Stephanie said...

@Katie

You don't sound preachy or trolly, you sound honest and like you have an opinion. Both are welcome here.

I agree with you that the Lord will direct me where to go. Sometimes it is hard to hear the directions of the Lord when all the other things are yelling very loudly to be heard. (YW manuals, tradition, etc.)

Thank you for your comment.