Are you Honest in your Dealings with your Fellow (Wo)man?

Posted by on July 26, 2012 in feminism, humor, Mormon Life, motherhood, ritual, self worth, temple, transition | 51 comments

My temple recommend interview is coming up. One question that always confuses me is: are you honest in your dealings with your fellow men?

I think this question is asked to make sure you are not lying, stealing, cheating, living a double-life, or conducting business fraud. However, I always interpret it as: Are you always 100% completely honest?

How do you answer that question? If I say “Yes” I am inevitably lying. So I always say “No.” To which my leaders usually chuckle and I quickly explain “I mean I don’t willfully lie or hurt anybody, but I’m sure I’ve told a lies in the last two years. In fact I’m lying to you right now by answering all these questions about prophets, belief and faith with one word answers because it is all so much more complicated than that.” I sometimes have the presence of mind to leave out the last part, but normally I have mouth diarrhea the second I am stuck in a room with an authority figure and cannot seem to figure out the line between information that my leaders need-to-know and what is none-of-their-business.

After one such meeting, I decided that I would try to live my life without telling any lies (mind you this was the hyper-religious OCD college Whoa-man at Ricks College in Rexburg and not the uber-critical culturally relative academic Whoa-man now). Right then and there I committed to being 100% honest.

I have many weaknesses, but some things I’ve never lacked for are determination, stick-to-it-ness, or obsessive-compulsive behavior. So when I say 100%, I mean 100 freaking percent.

That night there was a church fireside. In college everyone went to these because we were all single and spent about 90% of our time checking out the opposite sex. I arrived and saw some of my friends. One of them was named Andrew. He was a cute guy from the South. We were semi-flirty, just on the precipice of going out. We all sat together and just as we were taking our seats, Andrew noticed I had a Band-Aid on my finger and nonchalantly asked, “Oh, did you cut yourself?”

I automatically replied, “Yeah” as he took a seat a couple of people down from me.

Suddenly I realized that it had only been two hours into my new commitment to live a purely honest life and I had already lied. I had not cut myself. I had a wart. Yes, a nasty ewwy gross wart on my finger and I was totally embarrassed about it. Nothing is less attractive than a wart, right?

The next ten minutes were excruciating. I fretted, “Do I tell him the truth and look like an idiot and reveal that I have a wart? Or do I fail at my goal?” Both were equally unbearable.

For most people the choice was easy, but for me commitments are commitments and failure was not an option.

In retrospect, if I was going to go the honest route I probably should not have waited those ten minutes. Because when I finally decided (and my neurotic side won out- como siempre), I leaned across two people tapped him on the shoulder and whispered, “I lied.”

“What?” he responded with a quizzical look completely unaware of our original conversation.

“I lied.” I repeated. “I didn’t cut myself.” I hesitated and then said it really quickly as though it would be less painful, “I really have a wart and was using the Band-Aid to cover it.”

He just stared at me. The sound of some older white male church leader droned on in the background.

From the look on his face you could tell that at first he was just totally confused. He had moved well beyond our greeting. I’m sure he didn’t really care if I’d cut myself in the first place. Probably but had just noticed my Band-Aid and said something.

After soaking in what I’d said you could see his face change. It became more of a “this chick is psycho” face. I’m really not. I promise. But what else could he think? I was nuts. To this day I am still royally embarrassed about this conversation with Andrew. Obviously he never called again. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have either. That girl was crazy.

After swallowing a huge pill that was uncovering my OCD masked as hyper-religious zeal I began working through it. I still cringe when I think of this story and the many more stories I have just like it, but it has been over a decade and I feel like I have a better handle on things now. That is, until I go to temple recommend interviews.

My last one was two years ago and a total fiasco. It was three weeks after the birth of my first child and I had come to the third hour of church just to teach the Relief Society lesson I was assigned. I had planned on just attending church for that one hour so that I could nurse my infant at home (I still did not have the nursing thing down). The executive secretary found me right after my lesson and asked if I could speak to a member of the bishopric. I did not know what it was for but never feel like I can refuse so I followed him and went into a small room with the Ted Kennedy lookalike 2nd counselor who informed me I was having an impromptu temple recommend interview.

My recommend was not expired but there was some anxiety about the fact that I had gotten it while living in Africa and it did not have a bar code. Also there was some ward drama where people were concerned about my “worthiness” due to my involvement with Exponent II and WAVE (that is another story for another time). All of this to say that I was caught completely off guard.

He began the questions without any conversation and I fumbled my way through the first part. It is very difficult for me to answer such complicated sentiments in one-syllable words, but I could tell that he was not someone who I trusted to talk about my doubts and fears and my breasts started leaking because it had been too long since I last nursed. I just steeled myself to get through this as quickly and painlessly as possible. Then he got the question about garments.

I had forgotten that that was one of the temple recommend questions. Since I have never really had a problem with garments it must have just slipped my mind. His eyes peered up from his papers judgmentally at my hesitation and my eyes filled with tears upon remembering that I had not worn my garments that day. I was only planning on being there an hour. I was still so new at nursing and my daughter and I were really struggling in the process. I was leaking non-stop and had to almost get completely naked to even start the long process of getting her to latch properly. My nursing garments were all soaked through within a couple hours even when I worn breasts pads and I was still bleeding enough to require real underwear.

I could have worn my garments over my bra and underwear but no one had ever told me that that was okay. I could have felt confident in my no garments approach to post-natal recovery but no one had ever told me that that was okay either. So instead I sat there silently for a minute feeling horribly guilty, judged and a little bit angry. My mind reverted to its old patterns of coping and I immediately began explaining in great detail my lack of garments based on all of the bodily fluids still uncontrollably seeping out of my body. After I had sufficiently explained that I normally wear my garments without a problem but that this was my first kid and I was struggling to figure it all out, I finally clamped my mouth shut and bowed my head.

I was humiliated and his words did not help. He said something about his wife and daughters also having children and being able to handle garments just fine. Then he asked if I felt worthy to answer that question in the affirmative, as though he did not think so but would let me hang myself, and I silently nodded.

The rest of the interview went quickly and I did not look him in the eye. My guilt and humiliation quickly flamed into outrage and I seethed that this man who had never experienced childbirth and its after effects in his life was judging me. I was sad that I did not have any women in my life (yet) who had told me that I was normal and that garments were really hard to deal with after giving birth. I was disappointed in a system that praised motherhood non-stop but then made it so difficult to fully nurture an infant by mandating church approved underwear and inquisitions of their usage. I was dealing with so many new-mom emotions and physical changes that his condescension broke something inside me. The only comfort I received was a vision that flitted across my mind, one that makes me believe in a God with a sense of humor if it is not too sacrilegious, was a picture of this man leaking and bleeding from all his orifices and crying like a baby at the discomfort completely unconcerned with the concept of garments. I tucked that image away into the file of sins of patriarchy in the recesses of my mind and vowed to never talk to another man again about my physical body or underwear. He had absolutely no understanding. He had no right to make me feel shame. I would never let that happen again.

So it is with much nervousness that I approach my next temple recommend interview. I’m no longer a new mom but I cannot seem to quell the rush of honest revelations that pour out of my mouth every time I sit in one of those interviews. I think it is the question: are you honest in your dealings with your fellow men that reverberates throughout the entire interview and I struggle to find the balance with answering that question in the affirmative while maintaining some level of self-respect and distance from person asking the question.

How do you deal with that question? What does it mean to you? Do you think male church leaders should be asking women personal questions to which they have no experience? What is a solution? How can we be “honest” without revealing too much information? Help!

 

 

 

 

Related posts:

51 Comments

  1. We can have a practice interview (while I’m wearing a Ted Kennedy mask and making all sorts of inappropriate comments about my failed prior relationships with your distant family members, of course). I’m sure it will help. Especially since I’ll change the garment question to “Are you going commando right now? Tell me more!” as a gentle reminder of how absurd the question is.

    As for what I really do in interviews, I say my full and honest answer in my head and then tell them the one word answer they want to hear. God tends to understand complexity and nuance much better than Ted, so I talk to both on the level they care to hear.

  2. i always answer the are you honest question no. it is the only honest answer. it has never kept me from getting a recommend.

  3. I have actually answered with “do you want the short answer or the long answer?” twice before, and one time they said “short,” and once they said “long.” I feel like, that way, I can either give them the yes/no that they are looking for, or a much longer, nuanced version of why I think the question is unfair to answer in yes/no terms and why there are parts of it I struggle with and/or would like to parse out a little further. After giving the “long” answer to one question, the interviewer then told me that he was fine having the “short” answer from then on. Ha.

    • That is so fascinating! Even after decidedly wanting the long answers the interviewer could only stand one!

  4. Wow, that’s quite the experience. FWIW, I regularly give those interviews, but wouldn’t ever hijack someone into meeting with me. Like you say, they are complicated questions that take a little mental preparation.

    Personally, I’ve always regarded the honesty question with regards to business transactions or deals you make. Cheating/stealing/taking advantage being the obvious offenses, as those comprise my dealings with my fellow men.

    To me, all of the questions really just lead up to “do you consider yourself worthy to enter the house of the Lord?” (which some people will also automatically answer ‘no’). I don’t consider my job to judge, but to give a venue for people to appraise/judge themselves. Even though it’s important to recognize and address weaknesses, often I think that people judge themselves more harshly than God would.

    • This is good. Thank you.

    • Interesting that I’ve also interpreted the question similarly. I do think I’m honest with my fellow man – that’s certainly my intention in my interactions with them! But then I can also see previous incarnations of me interpreting it as are you always 100% completely honest. I’m so glad I never did because, if I had, I would never have gone to the temple!

  5. I think of “honest in your dealings” the same way I think of “bearing false witness.” The words “dealings” and “witness” to me imply something more than merely lying — and if they wanted to know whether we lie, they’d just ask, “Do you lie?” (Answer for everyone: Yes.)

    Little white lies are fine, but if you lie about something when someone is relying on you for the truth (they want your “witness,” they are involved with “dealings” with you), then you’ve crossed a line.

  6. I like to answer with “I’m doing my best”. Because, honestly, I am trying to have faith, be honest, be chaste, wear underwear, etc. I don’t like to give all the details on what my best looks like; I’d rather let my leaders know that I am working towards my goals and consider myself worthy. I feel like that response allows me to be the most honest with myself and my leaders simultaneously.

    • I like that answer- it is honest.

    • I just blushed 50 shades of red thinking about saying “I am doing my best to wear my underwear” in my next interview! Can you imagine? Thanks for putting that in my head. Just my luck it’ll be the only thing I remember when I actually go in.

      • – me too now! love it!

  7. Honesty is one of the tougher questions that I’m coming to especially as it relates to church and church issues. I’m trying to be really respectful here, really I am, but, what I find ironic when it comes to the topic of honesty and the church is that it(the body politic) requires its membership to behave one way and yet, in theory and practice, operates on a totally different sphere. I just read a letter from Delpert Stapley to the Gov. George Romney type written on Church Letter head, trying to influence his vote on 1963 civil rights legislation. He used pretty vitriolic language in his attempts to get George not to vote Democratic, saying that every person who tried to help the African advanced has met some sought of early.
    demise.

    what I find disturbing about the letter isn’t just the outright nastiness, but, the obsequious manner in which the church was trying to insert itself in national politics and then tell us with a straight face that it doesn’t try to influence the vote. This letter makes that statement a blatant lie.

    Honesty, is a good thing, but, its only good when its a two way street. Until Church and Church leaders actually practice what they preach, they should not being holding the membership to standards that they don’t keep This letter truly opened my eyes on that.

    • I found and read the letter. Stapley makes it very clear that he is speaking his own opinion and not for the church in the second paragraph (specifically stating only the prophet can speak for the church).

      I realize that tone is subjective, but while I disagree with the argument of the letter, given the time in which it was written I’d say it was pretty far from vitriolic or nasty. Certainly he was earnestly trying to persuade someone else to his point of view, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Healthy debate is what democracy is all about and this letter seems an example of that. Luckily the recipient was not persuaded.

      The early demise thing would only be bad if it could be viewed as a veiled threat. I don’t think Stapley was threatening murder, but reminding Romney that violence had surrounded the debate of the issue in question.

      I think this was a case of one person had an opinion and another person had a different opinion. One of those people sent the other a letter trying to persuade them. This could happen between any two people, but in this case they happened to be powerful people. That doesn’t automatically mean it’s a conspiracy. Heck, I might send a letter to a representative if I disagreed and wanted to persuade them to my point of view.

      Point being that one person sending a letter specifically in their personal capacity, be they apostle, SP, Bishop or rank and file member, is not necessarily “the church” messing in politics. Since the church encourages us to be participate in politics, this actually seems a great example of practicing what they preach. Don’t like the way congress people are voting? Send them a letter and try to persuade them!

      You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but if you believe in a conspiracy among church leaders and want to persuade others to your belief, I think the letter you cited is not very supportive.

      p.s.
      since I’m arguing word usage, for reference:
      vitriolic: severely bitter or caustic; virulent

      • I don’t want to high jack the thread, but, I’m assuming here that you are a white male, and if you are I’m sure you would not find the letter vitriolic, however, the fact of the matter is saying that he would rather send all African Americans back to Africa rather than support Civil Rights legislation is “ugly” and caustic.

        If your arguing that it wasn’t meant as church inferring in church politics but, rather a personal one, than Stapely should have written the letter on his own Personal stationary, not use Church stationary, and certainly not use phrases like,”There are some of us here who are very concern,” about your last talk. Who are these someone’s? The Prophet?

        At Any rate, it doesn’t look good for GA’s to be writing or having access to candidates using official church letterhead and then claim they are not trying to influence the out come. That’s not being obvious, the tone of the letter clearly indicates that they wanted George, to change his vote and thinking. And that’s truly disturbing

      • Of course he wanted to influence the outcome, that’s why he wrote, That’s why we write persuasively. That’s exactly why we participate in this forum, in politics, in local and church communities, etc. So in this case he is practicing exactly what the church preaches, being involved. He is also explicitly doing so as an individual, not as a representative of a larger group.

        There could be many innocent reasons for using the letter head, not the least of which could be that it’s what was there. “Other’s here” could likewise be any number of innocent things, but you will read into it as you like. Just know not every reader will have the same interpretation on these items.

        I think you are saying that because this person’s idea for a solution was distasteful to you, living in 2012, it was inherently vitriolic? While I agree with you that from our year 2012 perspective it sounds positively mean spirited, we also live in a world that’s been desegregated for almost 50 years with a mixed-race President. Forty eight years later, we’re far enough removed that it is hard to make that judgement call.

        I don’t even see Stapley as having a definite solution, just a couple possibilities, but mostly things he doesn’t want to have happen like interracial marriages. I’m happy with interracial marriages, but I’m not going to assume someone is vitriolic simply because they disagree with me on that.

        I think to make that claim it says something more about the manner in which one disagrees than the content of the opinion, but that’s just my take. I don’t see Stapley cursing, or taking an angry or bitter tone (subjective) or making personal attacks. I simply see someone presenting his perspective on his side of the issue and on the opposing side of the issue and doing so in what I find to be a reasonable tone appropriate to a healthy discussion/debate.

        For the record, I am an anonymous internet message presenting a point of view. I do not wish to be judged by my age, sex, race or orientation, so I will not share them. If you wish to judge me, please do so on the explicit content of the posts I make (I cannot control the implicit message you take, only the explicit message I write).

      • You asked, not to be judged, but, certainly you judged me at least by implying I did not know what the word vitriolic meant. As an Former English Major, I know what words mean, and if I don’t I look them up or I ask the person whom I am communicating with how they are using the term.
        2) Just because Stapley didn’t curse, or use other ugly language(in your viewpoint) doesn’t mean that it wasn’t ugly or nasty. And Just because its’ 49years later and we have a President who is of mixed race heritage, doesn’t mean that we’ve come a long way baby.

        3) I find it odd that you are defending this letter, You say that he is writing as an “individual” Baloney, He clearly states that there are a few of us who are concerned” Those are his Exact words, not, I’m concerned, But, ‘There are a few of us here who are concerned,” And again, written on Church letterhead, while not having the okay of Prophet certainly, is sending a murky letter. This is a letter that in my mind is church leaders over reaching, over stepping and borders on Spiritual and Emotional Abuse of members. Does, he claim that Romny will be murdered as you stated, I will have to say absolutely not, but he does intimate that nothing good will come of it. Perhaps you should read an OP on The Exponent on Spiritual Abuse. This will perhaps explain it better than I ever could.

        This letter he writes is clearly much more than about preventing interracial marriage. He even states that he doesn’t think the US should do anything to help the African American, rather they should do everything to keep them in their place.

        At any rate, this OP is not about Race, its about honesty and while this is revel event to the topic of honesty and church leadership I do not wish to further derail the conversation.

      • Diane, to judge you would be to make conclusions on your character based on your opinions. I have not done that in my thoughts or my writing. After reading the letter you cited I came to a different conclusion then you and wanted to share that point of view.

        it(the body politic) requires its membership to behave one way and yet, in theory and practice, operates on a totally different sphere

        This statement says the church leadership is hypocritical because it does not practice what it preaches. You then cite this letter from Stapley as an example of this hypocrisy. Since my reading of the letter was different I wanted to share my opinion that this letter looks like a church leader (explicitly as an individual, not as a representative of the church) doing exactly what they preach, which is being involved, and therefore in not hypocritical at all.

        The letter says, “Not in my official Church position, but as a personal friend.” This statement explicitly indicates he is writing his personal opinions only. The others statement that precedes it only explicitly means that he is not alone in his opinion. Who those others are is not stated, so we can only guess. Others could be church officials, or it could be old personal friends who live down the street that he and his wife had dinner with a day or two before, there’s no way to know for sure. I can accept that you believe “others” is intended to bring the weight of the church hierarchy into it, you are entitled to your opinion. I happen to have a different opinion. I want to share that opinion and let others evaluate it and decide which one they like better. In all seriousness I ask: Is that okay with you that I have a different opinion on the motives behind this letter? Can I still be a reasonable person and think that? May I share that opinion without causing offense because it’s different?

        And Just because its’ 49years later and we have a President who is of mixed race heritage, doesn’t mean that we’ve come a long way baby
        How much progress we’ve made, if we’ve made any, is subjective, but I think it is fair say that in many ways the culture we live in today is very different than it was 49 years ago, that is all I was getting at. And that that difference should be taken into account when reading historic documents.
        (and, baby? What is that supposed to mean? I could read implications into it, but I’d prefer not to guess your intention)

        (Since it apparently offended you, I’ll tell you I put the definition of vitriol in my first post mostly for my own reference to help me stay on point. As I requested in my first post, please stick with the explicit meaning of my writing if you wish to comment on it, I can control that, but not what implicit messages you take away so I will not be responsible for those.)

      • Kip,

        And baby we have not come a long way, was a play on words from a long ago commercial for Virgina Slims in which they say,” We’ve come a long way baby.” it was probably before your time.

        But, to answer your question, can we argue or disagree, absolutely, but, it seems as if you don’t really want to see the harm of this letter. This doesn’t surprise me. Let me put this in a different light, you seem (not being snarly) that we have come along way and if that’s true than there wouldn’t be an article in a current Utah magazine with Mormon women dressed in colorful skirts, saying” We are Women of Color” can we sit at your lunch table.” Just as offensive as Stapley’s letter.
        Something else to think about, I’m all for writing congressmen getting them to change their minds on a particular viewpoint, or at the very least presenting a different way of looking at something, What I don’t have,(What 99% of us don’t have) which Stapley did have is access to company letterhead, which sends a pretty subliminal message that “his” opinion is supported by members of the same company. And there is the nuance, that really doesn’t sit well with me.

        But, again, Race is not the topic of the OP, honesty is the Church has a long history of not dealing with either topic, in an honorable honest fashion.

  8. Jana’s response sounds good to me if you don’t like one-word answers.

    To me, honest in my dealings means maintaining my integrity and more particularly striving to act upon the principles of not cheating others nor engaging in practices that take advantage of or oppress others.

    My understanding of the temple interview is similar to Jack’s, that it is not an interview in which another person determines my worthiness, but one that, rather, asks me questions that I can ask myself and answer honestly as I determine whether or not I’m living by some basic standards. I fully expect that the questioner is not looking for the long answer, which I may ponder over and give to myself if I wish, and that, due to the many interviews he gives during the year, after a few days he will not particularly recall the one syllable answers I gave in my particular interview and that in a week or two, with all the other things on his plate, he will probably not recall having given the interview at all.

    With that short a half life in memory in his mind, the questions don’t bother me. I know he’s asked them scores of times and it is a general truth that any question that is asked that many times loses all it’s sense of detail and curiosity in the mind of the asker. So I don’t see the garment question as personal. It’s a list he runs through for ME to think about, not him. And by answering shortly I help keep his memory shelf-life short, which I suspect is a considerate thing for me to do.

    As for the garments wearing question, if you generally are, that’s a yes in my book. For me that is a question that has to do with whether I take the wearing of the garment and the reminders it symbolically contains seriously enough to want to wear it, not how many hours a day or under what circumstances I wear it. Its the principle that’s at the heart of the question, not the details of the practice.

    Please be more gentle with yourself. It hurts my heart to see you anguishing over this.

  9. This post reminded me vividly of past feelings of guilt and shame, and then made me relieved to know that I’ve moved past them like you have. I remember feeling terrified of going to my baptismal interview, sitting alone with the bishop in his office. Even though at the age of 8 I should have had nothing to be afraid of, the situation had a “this isn’t right” creepiness to it. Unfortunately my 8 year old brain didn’t know how to process that fear and anxiety and instead of assigning the guilt to the uncomfortable situation, I assigned the guilt to myself, thinking I must be unworthy or sinful somehow. I didn’t know a lot, but I did know that primary taught me that when you feel sad or bad it’s because you’ve done something wrong. I felt similarly at every church interview since, especially my temple/marriage/ sealing interview where my stake president asked me if I had been involved in any “necking or petting” (I hadn’t, but I didn’t know the definitions of said “necking and petting” and was way too embarrassed to ask, so I felt guilty saying “no” when I didn’t know what I was saying “no” to).

    I definitely think women and girls should have the option to either interview with female clergy (of course female clergy would have to be allowed by the LDS church first) or have the RS president present, or be allowed to bring a family member/close friend. Currently, I never go talk with any of the bishopric without my husband there with me for moral support because I have social anxiety issues and interviews of any kind always take me back to ’8 year old baptism interview Annie’.

    Something I have noticed though, is that ever since I’ve given myself permission to trust my own connection with God more than anyone else’s, situations like that feel much less daunting. I feel so much closer to God now and believe that my personal worthiness is independent of my loyalty to the LDS church organization and its leaders, and I believe that my connection to God is direct and as valid as any man’s, and does not travel through my husband’s priesthood, or through my bishops priesthood, stake president’s, or even Pres. Monson’s.

  10. I don’t think “never telling lies” and “honestly dealing with others” are the same thing. Two examples:

    1. People used to ask when my spouse and I would finally have children. I lied. A lot. Because it was none of their business. This isn’t a “dealing with a fellow man”. It’s just nosiness.

    2. I’ve been in business transactions when the other party told me the truth, but I felt afterwards that they hadn’t dealt honestly with me. There was still a definite informational asymmetry problem.

    So one can not lie but not be honest. And one can be honest in one’s dealings, but lie other times. I personally lie plenty. I lie when people ask me nosy questions. Because it’s my business. I lie when I’m exhausted after work and just want to crawl into bed an I pick up my daughter from daycare and she asks if I’m happy to see her. Because that’s what I’m going to try to be. I lie when my Mom asks if I’m upset that she’s late. Again. Because I know she’s like that and she’s been like that for years and I really ought to get used to it and not get so upset every single time. And then I go to my temple recommend interview and say I’m honest in my dealings with my fellow man. Because I am. When I sell things I don’t want anymore I offer fair prices. When I grade students’ papers I strive for fairness and transparency and I do my darnedest to let them know what to expect on exams. I don’t lie to my professors about why an assignment isn’t completed to get out of the consequences. Alright, that was a lie. I have done that a few times. I felt bad. It was wrong.

    • I like this! Thanks.

  11. Hm. I started my comment there earlier. Then there was this and that and I finally just finished it and posted it and found several people had already said the same thing. Well, Jack and Ru, I guess I’ll just say I second your remarks.

  12. First – THANK YOU for writing this and sharing such a personal story. This thread makes me think about my last temple recommend interview and the question I struggle with.
    In my very first interview after getting married, the question I struggled with was the “anything in relation to your family that’s not in harmony with gospel teachings.” I stopped right there and said well, who in my family? I was going through a difficult period healing from some things in my past related to my family and, at that point, harbored some really NOT Christlike feelings towards a particular extended family member. The member of the bishopric explained that it was asking about my immediate family – was there abuse or mistreatment going on. I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief and said – OK, I’m good, no there’s nothing. Since then (and through my own healing which the temple was a HUGE part of), that question has been OK for me.
    The one I struggle with now is the “associate with any organizations” question. I worked for a school district that I at times felt was a bastion of evil and then in higher education which – where I was – basically advocated everything AGAINST what the Church teaches. I would usually say – well, I work for XXXX; kind of joking but also to see is that was what they meant. I had a member of the stake presidency once talk to me about it and explain – no it’s really about if you’re affiliating with any groups that promote causes that would overthrow the church in some way. So I was always good in that way…..and then I moved to UT last year. I had an interesting, anxiety filled conversation with the member of the stake presidency here (some things had changed between my bishopric and SP interview and I was considering affiliating with a group who may in some context be construed in that light) and – well I’m still working on reconciling what he had to say with the positive spirit I felt while he said it…..maybe I’ll be brave and submit a guest post about it! Regardless I would LOVE to hear Whoa-Man’s other story about how some ward member’s concerns about her worthiness and the temple recommend interview played out. That speaks to the heart of what I’m struggling with and fear I think…..
    Anyway – again THANKS!

    • It is so interesting to hear your story. Thanks. I have always been told that the “associating” question referred to polygamy. It was introduced into the TR interview questions at the time when polygamy was denounced but many members still secretly practiced it and the question was a way to make sure that only non-polygamous people could attend the temple. I’ve never actually heard it used in conjunction with modern groups, organizations or political actions. In fact, even during the ERA it was never used against Sonia Johnson in her excommunication because she was allowed to “associate” with and have different political opinions. So equating that question to contemporary issues is really fascinating and I wonder if anyone has any direct experience with that?

      • I have heard rumor of one Stake President using it in conjunction with Prop 8. He told a ward that any who did not agree with Prop 8 needed to turn in their recommends. One of my friends who was in the particular ward met with his bishop, ready to hand his recommend over. His bishop handed it back to him and said it was unnecessary.

  13. My last temple recommend interview (between the first counselor and the bishop) was 3 hours long. I told the bishop EVERYTHING that bothered me about the church and he tried to talk me out of it. I told him about my involvement with feminist blogs, which were completely new to him, and in the end, he thought my involvement in these blogs made me not worthy to receive a recommend, but of course it was my choice. I told him I didn’t intend to stop becoming involved with these blogs anytime soon and, needless to say, I did not receive my recommend. I think we all left the church around 10:30 that night. When I woke up in the morning I was embarrassed about my ridiculous amount of honesty, and my inability to shut up, but at least he knows now. There’s one more person I’m not hiding from.

    • “I told him about my involvement with feminist blogs, which were completely new to him, and in the end, he thought my involvement in these blogs made me not worthy to receive a recommend, but of course it was my choice. I told him I didn’t intend to stop becoming involved with these blogs anytime soon and, needless to say, I did not receive my recommend. ”

      Can I just tell you how upset this made me. He basically is trying to censor what you’re reading. You can’t read that if you want this! Censorship in any form is bad, but when it’s coerced from a religious authority that makes it worse. AND, I doubt that the issues you may have with the church are a RESULT of participating in blogs, but rather a REFLECTION of issues you already had, but that’s my own presumption based on my own experience. (Sort of like, hey, I’m curious about this or wondering about this and then, HEY! There’s this awesome community who’s discussing these issues too!)

      SO upset on your behalf right now.

    • Lala, I am appalled by this! NONE of the questions say anything about feminist blogs. Would he not give a recommend to any Teaparty or anarchist males whose political struggles were reflected in their doubts about associating with organized religion? NO. Absolutely no! I also had a friend who expressed her doubts openly and honestly and the Stake Pres decided he didn’t think she “was ready” to renew her TR. It was the most condescending patronizing thing I had ever heard! It clearly states in the CHI that it was up to the person to decide their worthiness. Leaders need to stop deciding on arbitrary issues whether someone can or can not have the recommend. I’m so sorry Lala that you experienced this. I have some experience also of being judged and ostracized because of my feminist mormon online associations, but frankly, these are the only thing keeping me “in” the church and like you said earlier, no one who has ever given me flack knew very much about what they were talking about anyway! AUGH!

  14. Am I the only one who thinks what the executive secretary did was totally and utterly wrong? An impromptu temple recommend interview? The recommend interview process is done in the spirit of desire, contrition, and personal worthiness– on the part of the card-holder. Not because the priesthood-holder feels like “the time is right”. It is up to you, not your leaders. He had no right to pull you into an interview and put you on the spot like that, when you had not sought it out, especially when your recommend hadn’t even expired. That does not sit well with me at all. Not OK.

    • MTE.

      The whole point of a Temple Recommend Interview is that it is done completely at the discretion of the person being interviewed.

    • I agree. It was not okay. I’ve avoided them ever since and try to only go to appointments that fit in my schedule, but at the time I was just so trained to ask “how high” when my church leaders said “jump.”

      • Understandable. And it is easy to look back on it and say what’s wrong with the situation, but in the m moment, at vulnerable times in our lives, we all may have done what you did. I guess that’s what irritates me the most- knowing that if I don’t have my guard up 100% of the time they can take advantage of my vulnerabilities. It’s sad, really.

  15. I’m completely hung up on the part where he said his wife and daughters wore garments just fine after they gave birth. Did he, like, ASK them? Has he ever actually seen someone trying to breastfeed a new baby? Does he understand that there’s a whole freakin’ lot of blood and milk and sweat (and, while we’re at it, tears) going on? (I’d also like to ask the old reliable “Did he ever change a diaper?” question, but I fear I know the answer.)

    • Amen, Libby. This totally sounds like the type of person who would “know” that the women in his life had no trouble with garments after childbirth because they knew him well enough to avoid bringing the issue up.

  16. Whoa-man, one of your posts, http://www.the-exponent.com/to-some-it-is-given-2/ helped me immensely during my recent temple recommend interview. I answered the first three questions (all faith-related) with, “I try to” instead of “yes”. The bishopric interviewer accepted these answers without question but the stake presidency interviewer asked me to elaborate. I said, “I believe that faith is a spiritual gift that not all people have equally. I do not have this gift to the extent that some other people do, but I try to comport myself as well as anyone who is more believing.” I passed the interview.

    With regards to non-gynocologist middle-aged men and their knowledge of female postpartum health issues, I recently had a baby and shortly thereafter went to a waterpark with my extended family. My dad was surprised that I abstained from swimming and I had to explain to him about postpartum bleeding. He had no clue even though he is a very involved and nurturing father of 5 and grandfather of 12. So you are absolutely right–just because a man has had a wife deliver babies and daughters who delivered babies does not mean that he knew about or remembers their issues with postpartum bodily fluids. As involved as he may have been, those things simply didn’t happen to him.

    • Thank you so much for referring to my past post To Some it is Given about how some people have certain gifts and others different ones. While I think of this often in my life and try to capitalize on what I do well instead of where I lack, I never thought to apply this to my temple recommend interview and now I will! What a great response and idea. Thank you!

  17. Whoa-man. I am sorry that you had that experience. It was not appropriate for that person to pull you aside, nor for him to make the particular remark on your underwear usage that he did. Each person’s bodies are different, and even if, by some chance, his wife and daughters really did have no problems with it, you are not his wife and daughters. Your situation was not their situation. Their should have been a greater amount of compassion for you, a new mother, than he gave.

    Garments are ill fitting and difficult enough to wear for women without nursing, which I think is one more thing many men in the church don’t realize. What they are asked to wear matches, or nearly matches what many men outside of the church wear, especially those men who choose to wear undershirts. Men in the church do not have to spend greater amounts of money or time trying to find clothing that will be “modest” enough to wear over their garments. Garments simply do not affect them in the same ways that they affect women.

    And concerning the TR interview question, it (should) simply ask if the person wears them. It doesn’t say, “Do you fold them down, or pull or tug at them, or wear them every second of every single day.” If you try, or do mostly, I sincerely think that that is good enough, partially (or entirely) because of the wording concern covenants in general. We are not asked to do things perfectly. We are asked to “strive” (which I read as a Really Try). We will fail. We will fail at being perfectly honest. We will probably also fail at wearing the garments perfectly, or doing anything perfectly, but I don’t think doing things imperfectly is supposed to keep us out of the temple. What should really matter is our personal relationship with God.

    There have been interviews with ecclesiastical authorities in the past where I have tried to tell them every single thing I doubt about the church, or every single sexual sin I have committed. Once those two things lined up in one interview, and my bishop was much, much more concerned with the doubts than the latter things. But he still felt fine about giving me a recommend. I felt very anxious when I met with the member of the Stake Presidency but when I got to those questions I just told him that I’d talked about them with my bishop, and he said that if it was fine with my bishop, it was fine with him. I felt immensely grateful at the time.

    Years after that (and now married), I might wish that some of the things in my bishopric meeting were left unsaid. It is almost never appropriate for women (single or married) to reveal things about their most intimate selves with older, married men. In the best of circumstances it leads to uncomfortable feelings all around, in the worst, it can be much worse. Because of these new thoughts, I feel perfectly fine (and even honest) telling the full truth to God, and the partial truth to these men who do not need to know God’s portion.

    • I cannot agree more. With EVERYTHING you said!

  18. Two comments. When asked the honesty question years ago by my bishop, I said “I try to” and my bishop replied, “I didn’t ask if you’re trying to be honest. either you are or you aren’t” which blew me away. He knew me, my family, etc. really made me think so now I just say yes, which of course is a lie because I’m not perfect. Now that I am much older and wiser and more jaded and cynical, I still s=answer yes but am coinsidering replying that I’m as honest as the church is about its history, which isn’t the best analogy though. But I agree with a previous comment that if I/we are asked to be honest, then the “church” should be too.

    • I cannot believe he said that! That is such a strange response to the honesty question. I really really like your answer! It is perfect.

    • I once gave a “I try” answer to a bishop and he was elated. He said, “Well, that’s all we ask for.” I can’t believe someone would be upset over someone trying! It’s like, “I’m upset you’re human and haven’t been translated yet! No temple for you!”

  19. So, The next time a Bishop ask the question are you honest? I would ask him has his wife ever asked him if a dress made her look fat and ask him if answered that question honestly?

  20. For more years than I can remember I haven’t been able to wear the garment bottoms at night – something about the elastic around my waist makes them uncomfortable or constraining and it affects my sleep. Even if I start out wearing them I eventually end up taking them off during the night. So… when asked the question… in the past I would always answer ‘yes’ and feel a little guilty so at my last interview with the bishop’s councilor – when asked the question I explained my sleeping habits. He was really understanding and said that he didn’t feel it was an issue as I wasn’t deliberately avoiding wearing them and that it was more about intentions. That made me feel a whole lot better. Whoa-man – I’m so sorry you were subjected to that awful interview and that you hadn’t had women in your life before that time to give you helpful advice about garments and nursing etc. Our good intentions need to be enough.

  21. Whoa-man – I loved this. You have a great writing style. That story about the bandaid had me laughing out loud. That totally sounds like something I would do.

    I don’t have my endowments and I don’t like doing baptisms, so it’s been a little while since I’ve gone to a recommend interview. I don’t wear garments, but just the thought of wearing them has been stressful enough. Not because I run around in halter tops, but because layers make me uncomfortable. I already know I won’t be able to wear those all the time. (If I end up going through the temple, which isn’t on the radar right now.) Iv’e thought about that questiona and come to the conclusion that what underwear I have is my own personal business and no one elses. The temple questions should be between you and God. I sort of wish they would ask the questions, give you time to think, but not force a response. The only one a verbal response would require is “Do you feel your worthy to receive a temple recommend?” That’s what I think would be most comfortable and beneficial.
    .
    I don’t know. I use to take everything so literally in church, but that has been changing recently. Thanks for this post! Lots of good stuff to think about!

  22. Lala:
    Your bishop may have a point. Many of these feminist mormon blogs directly challenge and even are hateful of church leaders and doctrine. One particular one is strange, FMH. They promote homosexuality, abortion, goddess worship in one blog and in the next post it’s like they are having a testimony meeting. It’s one thing to promote evil things in one post and then have a testimony meeting in the next one.

    • Not strange at all. What they are saying is that, there is room for everyone, even if you don’t believe as to the strict interpretation of the doctrine. I don’t have the right to stop someone else, or to force someone else to live by my standards.

      Its’ not my impression that FMH’s believe in Goddesses, what they believe in is the divine feminine a big difference imo.

      • And actually unless the question has changed, its’ really not “Are you honest in your dealing with your fellow man’ woman” its” Do you strive to be honest? And for the most part I think people do.

    • fMh is wonderful, isn’t it Dara? I consider it and the Exponent my Relief Society. (ZD is my FHE.)

  23. Great post, Whoa-man. I’m flabbergasted at the cluelessness of your bishop. But I have to say that this made me laugh out loud:

    The only comfort I received was a vision that flitted across my mind, one that makes me believe in a God with a sense of humor if it is not too sacrilegious, was a picture of this man leaking and bleeding from all his orifices and crying like a baby at the discomfort completely unconcerned with the concept of garments.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Zelophehad’s Daughters | Nacle Notebook 2012: Funny Comments - [...] Your Bestie, commenting on Whoa-man’s post “Are you Honest in your Dealings with your Fellow (Wo)man?” at the Exponent, …

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>