Guest Post: Guardians of the First Veil

By Anonymous

I will start by saying that my views are very different than many who have submitted and commented on this blog. However, I feel like this blog provides a safe space for women to voice their feelings  , and I truly love that. I feel very grateful for all perspectives, and feel blessed to partake in a community of thoughtful women who want the same thing that we all want- true, unadulterated joy. I will voice my inspirations as delicately as possible to not invalidate anyone’s experiences, but I simply ask that you do the same for me. My experiences are real, deeply meaningful, and I feel compelled to voice them.

The Garden

In an article titled, “I Am a Mormon Because I Am a Feminist,” Valerie Hudson Cassler interprets the story of the Garden of Eden. When I first read Valerie’s article, it was like a weight was lifted from my frustrated mind.

I realized two things: not only does this decipher the events of the Garden of Eden to me in a more holistic way, but also that I was previously patronizing the role of woman, rather than celebrating it. I now feel like it wasn’t a cursing but a blessing that women are asked to be the guardians of the first veil, the veil of flesh. I now understand my unique and beautiful purpose in the Plan of Salvation. It doesn’t excuse the fact that many women in the church cannot have children, or that many women have no spouse. However, there are many women in our history that couldn’t bear children or weren’t married, but instead did other miraculous things to assist in God’s will. These people should never be left out of the equation of the Plan of Salvation. However, that would be a thought-provoking conversation for another time.

This explanation of the roles of men and women brings me to another important inspiration I have received more recently.

The Temple Ordinances

In the past, I struggled to understand and be happy about some of the temple covenants. However, over years of careful study, prayer, attendance, and open-mindedness, I now find so much joy in attending the temple. I don’t, personally, wait for the specific strategy of equality that others wait for, because I no longer feel that my guardianship of the first veil is lesser than my husband’s guardianship of the second veil. Through that careful study and prayer of the scriptures and covenants, I received several revelations to aid me in my journey.

One of those revelations occurred while I was participating in proxy sealings with my husband. I always marveled at the different wording when the ordinance was being performed, but I assumed that I didn’t understand enough about it to make a quick judgment. As I listened again and again, I realized that the blessings given at the end of the ceremony are offered to both man and woman. There is no specific blessing for man, and no different one for woman. We are offered all that God enjoys. This was also a freeing moment for me. Here I was, thinking that I wasn’t as favored as my husband because I didn’t have the authority to perform sealings or to baptize my children. I discovered that these performances of ordinances weren’t blessings in themselves and that all true blessings were to come when all is fair and mercy offered, and that those blessings are the same no matter what God-given role we fulfilled in this life.

I learned something similar during the endowment session. I was longing to sit with my husband. I asked myself why it had to be that way. I opened my heart to receive some revelation from the Spirit about it when I remembered that everything was something to symbolize the kingdom that we were “in” at that point. We weren’t separated as punishment, but to symbolize that man and woman are not sealed in the lesser kingdoms. Additionally, we women are only asked to veil our faces in one these lesser kingdoms. Perhaps that is intended to symbolize the inequality, or some other similar concept that will only occur in that kingdom. Or perhaps to symbolize the cleanliness of woman and the difficult and sometimes fatal responsibility of man (hence, only “sons of perdition”, rather than “children of perdition”). I am sure I have a lot to understand on that one, but I know that revelation is valid for me. Once man performs his final duty of guardianship by bringing God’s children from mortality into immortality, we are all together in the Celestial Kingdom, free to mingle, learn, and discuss, without hierarchy and with true joy.

Why Aren’t We Ordained to Give Life?

Another question I’ve pondered is, why is it that women are asked to bear children, but that we don’t need any sort of ordination or sustained vote to do so? Why isn’t it just the righteous women that bear children just as we deem only the righteous men to bare the authority to use the priesthood? My theory has come to this: that generally women, regardless of their belief in Christ or God are given the authority to be the guardians of the first veil because all of God’s children who chose his plan are offered a body and salvation regardless of their belief in God as well. I should note that I believe that to be a guardian of the first veil doesn’t just mean baring children. I imagine that there are innumerable ways in which we, as women, can fulfill that calling. We are all co-givers of that salvation even if some among us never bear children in mortal existence. All women are still a part of that responsibility through the ability and calling to serve God’s children here on the earth. Men are only given priesthood authority based on their righteousness, just as we are only given the opportunity to continue progression and eternal life based on our own righteousness. Thus, we each fulfill a different, but equally essential duty in the great work of the Plan of Happiness.

I want to end by saying that I am eternally grateful for all views, paradigms, and opinions on gospel matters. I feel so grateful to be a part of such a thoughtful group of women who want to understand their purpose and role in the church and God’s plan. I am grateful for the insight you have given me and I love to discuss various points of doctrine and to receive revelation based on some perspective that I have never considered before. Most importantly, I hope for every woman who reads this will receive every ounce of joy that she is striving for. I also hope that by offering my perspective, that you have opened your hearts to me and been enlightened in some way, as I have opened mine and felt enlightened by you. I do think we are all on our own journeys to find our place with God and Christ and I respect your way of getting there, just as I hope you respect mine.

I am a mother of two and wife of one supportive husband. In the greater Seattle area, I balance managing my home while I work toward my MSW. I tend to have grandiose ideas, so writing, reading, and surrounding myself with a variety of friends puts me in my place.

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51 Responses

  1. Andrew R. says:

    Maddison, what a thoughtful and well written piece. I think your revelations and thoughts are valid – most certainly for you.

    I know that much has been written here about women have to “give” themselves to their husbands, and not the other way round. But marriage isn’t equal – at least the equation isn’t. Why, because ultimately it is about this equation 1 + 1 = 1. So long as couples view their marriage as two individuals trying to find a way to be both equal and different they will fail. We each have to adapt, and change, and become ONE – even as Christ and the Father are one, and He wants to be be one with Him and the Father, so too must be be One in our marriages. It is this eternal oneness (the unity of marriage) that has the power of Endless Lives.

    • Maddison M. says:

      Thank you for your comment and validation! I believe in the value and purpose of interdependence in relationships, which interdependence may seem unequal on the outside but feels equal and growing on the inside, much like my own marriage. For me, it requires that individual growth that you mention while I also have to maintain enough humility to allow my husband the same respect. It’s a hard balance, but working towards it has had miraculous results in itself.

    • Moss says:

      Don’t you think it is odd that we have, as a model for our marriages, a father and a son and not, say, a husband and a wife? Why do you think this is so?

      • Andrew R. says:

        Maybe you have it the wrong way around. Maybe marriage is a model for Eternal Life.

        In the covenant we make between each other, and individually and together with God, we enter into a oneness deal. A deal that will bring us to Him with the promise of Eternal Life and Endless Lives.

        In marriage we work together, deal with the issues that come at us from all quarters. We work on fidelity, not just physical – but emotional, social, spiritual. We knock off our in built “natural” human and work towards something better.

        The example of complete oneness – Eternal Life – is indeed the Father and the Son. But it does, by definition, also include the Holy Ghost, Heavenly Mother and “the gods”.

        But the way to learn to be a part of it is marriage.

  2. Sam says:

    This is hands down the most intelligent and open minded thing the exponent ii has published. Thanks.

    • Maddison M. says:

      Thank you for that compliment. Part of the reason why I felt comfortable posting it was not just because I felt compelled to do it, but also because one of the co-founders of the blog, Caroline, was very open and encouraging about my submission. So thank you for offering the blog credit, they deserve it for keeping it open discussion!

    • spunky says:

      Sam, please familiarize yourself with our comment policy wherein you are in violation. Consider yourself warned.

    • Maddison M. says:

      Sam, was this comment meant to be malicious toward the other posts on this blog? If so, I want to say that I would like to hear your feedback about which points you liked, or would like to discuss, rather than if it’s better or worse than any others. If it wasn’t meant to be malicious, I suppose the same goes, anyway. I am glad you liked it, but what exactly did you like about it? What ideas seemed open-minded? Which points seemed intelligent?

  3. Violadiva says:

    One of the ancient traditions of scripture reading and interpretation was to take things a step farther and spin out a personal story as part of the interpretation. They called these Midrash, and people of many faith traditions have been doing it ever since! (I think the first ones were dated back to about 2nd century CE?)
    That’s how I interpret this work of Dr. Cassler’s on the creation story — her personal Midrash. While I don’t consider her approach to be doctrinal, nor does it speak to me at any level, I LOVE the genre, and I love it when Mormon women embrace the scriptures in their own unique way. I’m so glad you were touched by her interpretation and insights, and I’m very glad you felt safe and inspired to share it here.

    (if anyone wants to read more Mormon women’s Midrash stories, Exponent II did a whole issue filled with them in the Winter 2016 publication. They’re beautiful.)

    • Maddison M. says:

      Interesting! I seem to remember that from my Judaism class…”Midrash invites us to be attuned to the many sounds that the text makes in our souls.”
      —Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
      Yes, I would say that her midrash spoke deeply to my soul! There has been little in my life that has felt so overwhelmingly true and bright in my mind, that I had to acknowledge it as some form of truth for me, even if it is not pure doctrine. I look forward to reading more from other women whom I can find some truth from as well. Thank you!

  4. spunky says:

    I appreciate the thought you’ve put into this, but your line of thinking does not match my own. I believe the temple is perfectly symbolic for children of God, regardless if gender.

    I’m curious about your childless “thoughts provoking conversation for another time,” especially as you deem priesthood a priveledge for righteous men — no matter how else you word it elsewhere, this heavily implies that female fertility is a guft of righteousness. Are you planning to discuss your views on this in another post?

    It sounds to me that you are starting, rather than concluding your journey. I hope you don’t conclude in this space where your thoughts are now, and continue to seek for more.

    • Maddison M. says:

      Perhaps you didn’t read through my entire message, or I wasn’t clear, but I tried to at least point out that childless women sometimes serve a different calling in this mortal life. That calling is just different and I would never judge a woman unable to have children as unrighteous.
      Thank you for reading and making a point of commenting on my article, but I find it hurtful that you would judge my journey and where I should be. Is that your place? I would never do the same for others. And I don’t think that just because it doesn’t fit your agenda that it means that it doesn’t have some truth to it.

      • Maddison M. says:

        I also don’t quite understand your comment about the temple symbolism and gender. Would you mind helping me understand that?

    • Spunky says:

      I’m sorry my comment hurt you, did you read it? Your post excludes women, but I tabled my feelings on the topic and invited you to write more; after all. not all women want to spend eternity pregnant, even if they never had children in this life. My intention was not to argue, but to invite you to think and share more.

      This is my take on the temple:

      And if you read Cory Jensen’s Understanding Your Endowment (I’ll link our review in a moment), I think the symbolism is beautifully discussed there and well worth a read.

      • Spunky says:

        Our book review with Amazon links to Jensen’s temple book:

        Jensen is firmly footed in biblical and scriptural temple symbolism. I think it is necessary to read his Preparing For Your Endowment before this book.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Why do feminists always boil this down to spending eternity pregnant?

        Where on earth does this notion come from? We will be physical being in the resurrection. The Spirit children we have, together, will not by definition be physical. Whatever the process of bringing Intelligences into Spirit bodies I very much doubt it will involve incubation in a womb.

        However, the nurturing of these fragile individuals to a point where they are ready to progress to physical beings is definitely a long process.

        Whatever it is I believe we already knew something of it, as Spirit children ourselves, in the pre-mortal existence. So we all, everyone on earth (ever), already bought into whatever that process is.

      • Spunky says:

        I’ve never known a feminist to declare that they believed they would spend eternity pregnant; in contrast, I’ve only heard that from more conservative, older, Mormon women. Nor did I say I believed that. Why do you jump to such presumptions assumptions, Andrew R.? Feminists and feminism are not so twee to afford you a single definition, sir, as this post and it’s comments so clearly prove.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Spunky, I like you – I really do. I like the way you are able to make yourself clear. I, it would appear, do not do this very well.

        Yes, I understand that it is not an idea of feminist making. But you brought it up. What I meant is that it is something that is always dragged out as a result of perceived patriarchal thinking.

        I stated how I see this. Sorry if I offended.

      • Spunky says:

        No worries, Andrew. I also think you would enjoy and benefit from Jensen’s book.

      • Maddison M. says:

        Yes, I read the section as “it sounds to me that you are starting, rather than concluding your journey” as a quip to my lack of progression toward your ideals. It gave me the impression that you think less of me for it, and that was hurtful to think that you might dismiss my insight because of it, rather than possibly trying to empathize with my point of view.
        But I am, again, grateful for your comments because it made me realize that either I was not clear at all about my point, or that it’s possible that you made some assumptions about my ideals. I am fine with the idea that men and women just have different roles IN THIS LIFE. I do think that there are unnecessary practices that emphasize the male-authority to use the priesthood role, but I know I don’t feel as strongly toward fixing that, either, mostly because I don’t know what the best strategies would be. Anyway, when we perform those roles that we are offered (again, I won’t pretend to know what that means for every woman), we will then be offered all the Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother enjoy and do. I do not subscribe to the idea that women will be pregnant for eternity- another assumption you made that stung. But it doesn’t matter. I am trying to be more clear and point out that we have a lot of common ground, I hope you can see that.

      • Maddison M. says:

        A way that I think of it is, motherhood, or some other way in which to guard the first veil, is not a reward in itself. It was a job to do to qualify for the reward that I hope to one day claim. I may not even gladly accept that job all of the time, but I accept it because I know that it has brought me closer to my Savior and I am fine with that being my job in the mortal portion of the Plan of Salvation. I think any woman, or man, who thinks that bearing children for eternity is the ultimate reward or eternal destiny of women will be disappointed to see the type of egalitarian reward and responsibility that exists in the Celestial Kingdom.

      • Spunky says:

        You are accusing me of things I have not written in reference to you. Please stop.

        My comment in regard to your journey was not intended to slight your perspective or place. I am sorry you took it the wrong way, but frankly. I’m also surprised given your opening statements about posting from a controversial perspective. Indeed, I’ve asked you to explore your own position. For example, what about women who choose to not marry or have children? Are they guardians of something else? Or wrong? What do you think? I am asking out if sincere curiosity, not to argue.

        Have you considered that this inspiration might be just for you? And might not apply to others? In other words, what does this mean for you? (Not others and not me; I’ve already stated that your inspiration does not apply to me. You.)

        I am pleased that you felt strongly enough about this that you wanted to share your perspective. Many of us have already read Hudson’s work, and some have further studied and sought other philosophical perspectives. Are you planning additional research? If so, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

        Best wishes!

      • Maddison M. says:

        Spunky, going back and reading through I realize that I was in the wrong- I apologize for my defensive outbursts. Thank you for your invitation to expand on my thoughts. To be somewhat on the defense (again) I do feel like I want to say that I was running on probably 8 hours total sleep for the last three days and had to watch my son get sedated for a dental exam (didn’t expect myself to go nuts about it but it is what it is). But that shouldn’t be an excuse, I could have waited till a time that I was in a better state of mind. Again, I’m sorry and thank you for commenting.

      • Maddison M. says:

        I am sorry for interpreting it so wrongly, apparently. Please recognize that I am always considering my own quest for knowledge as just that- my own. Just as you felt the need to engage me in conversation about it, yes I felt compelled to express my view and offer it to the conversation.
        And yes I do think that many women have different perspectives and functional roles in this life. Yes I do think that this applies to me, but it *might* also inspire someone else who is also searching for something else. I believe that is part of what this blog is meant to be, am I right? To discuss the many intricacies of the Mormon faith? Like I have said, I have chosen to be inspired by many who have expressed what I may have never thought about, or have thought about but just dismissed previously, which is why I see value in this blog. If I simply dismissed everything about it as untrue then I would never have offered my insights. If I thought it was only meant to be for me and that it wouldn’t apply to at least one other person- obviously not you, you’ve made that clear- then I would write it in my journal and keep it to myself. But it’s the good back and forth and diversity of thought and analysis that makes communication great, I think, and helps us all come to some new understanding.
        These were some insights I hadn’t necessarily seen from this blog. I get that many have read Hudsons article but that doesn’t necessarily make it moot, either. And perhaps I see something from it that you don’t. Or perhaps I analyze it differently than someone else. For whatever reason, I felt the need to add my perspective- even if it is something that you’ve already considered before. You’ve made it clear that you don’t care for it, and that’s fine with me. But I would also prefer, if I am to offer future perspectives, that you be more sensitive to how me or someone who shares my views might interpret the way you comment about it. I get now that your intention was not to show malice, but it can come off that way especially to someone like me who sees things differently than you.
        And yes I do plan on searching for more truth and knowledge. That was never off the table.

      • Spunky says:

        No worries, Maddison M. I sincerely believe there is more than Hudson’s perspective. I think you do, too. But perhaps neither of us has found it yet.

        This is but a tiny part of my journey that you might consider and ponder in your seeking:

      • Maddison M. says:

        Thank you for sharing your experience, it was touching and I enjoyed getting to know you more. You are right- even from the first time I read her article I knew that there was more to the story, and more perspectives to consider. I knew that there were people it was leaving out. However, I tend to be an abstract thinker, which can make it hard to explain my perspective, sometimes. I think what I liked about Hudson’s article, and the truth I feel like I gleaned from it, was the idea of guarding the first veil, in other words, he guarding of the physical, emotional, psychological, and all other states of the flesh. For some it means giving birth, for others it may mean foster care or adoption, and others it may mean serving/expanding in her calling at church. I should have been more clear about that, I am sorry. I also just read through Sis. Hudson’s article with a different lens and realized that all of the points that exclude women were parts I always skipped over or basically edited out in my mind because I wasn’t seeing it that way at the time- but I do think that it is a valid way to interpret what she is saying. For example, I read her portion of “having children for eternity” as being sealed to my children for eternity, not the actual process of growing and bearing children for eternity. But I imagine that she could have meant that either way. When I first read her article, I was going through major post-partum anxiety and would have guffawed at the idea of going through that again and again for eternity. And as for her idea of breast-feeding as being our ordinances, I thought it was a nice thought, but, again, didn’t read into it as much. It was more this concern I had that my husband gets to take care of all of the spiritual saving ordinances, so what does that leave for me? Potty training a stubborn child for eternity? I think what I saw the best in her article was the general idea that our role to be the nurturer of all of God’s children (not just those in our family, even our fellow brothers and sisters) is an essential role that needs to be done for the salvation and exaltation of God’s children. I do enjoy getting to know other’s perspectives about it, but I ultimately do feel at peace with the idea that I don’t have the authority of the priesthood right now because I feel like I have a great job to perform, which I think was the main perspective I wanted to convey. But I do look forward to reading and learning more.

  5. acw says:

    Thanks for these lovely insights. The idea of veiling in a lesser kingdom was a new thought to me, and I like that connection.

  6. ElleK says:

    This post and Dr. Cassler’s Two Trees theory are great examples of how Mormon women (and religious women in general) have to carve out places for themselves in a doctrine that is primarily written/received by and about men. I applaud these efforts as a step toward Mormon women claiming their own authority and seeking answers in the face of overwhelming systemic inequity.

    I’m fascinated by Dr. Cassler’s theory, and I find parts of it meaningful, but much of it comes across, to me, as wishful thinking. I also find anything that even obliquely furthers the motherhood-is-the-female-equivalent-of-priesthood trope to be extremely suspect, so I can’t fully embrace this interpretation, BUT I love hearing how other women are making sense of things in our shared religious heritage. Thanks for sharing here, Maddison.

    • Maddison M. says:

      Thank you for reading and considering my viewpoint. I admit that I don’t understand how motherhood isn’t as great and wonderful as having the authority of using the priesthood (something I do believe we will get to enjoy when it’s the appropriate time) but I respect the fact that you may not see it as so.

      • Maddison M. says:

        And by great and wonderful, I mean in the sense that my role offers as much to the progression of God’s plan just as a man who uses his authorized priesthood. I understand that motherhood does not feel great and wonderful to many- including myself. But then again I would argue that many men do not feel like the authorization of the priesthood means very much to their desires, either. I realize that it is probably few, but I don’t ask many men about it.

      • Amelia says:

        Focusing on how motherhood feels to individual women and how priesthood feels to individual men, how it maps to their desires and creates opportunities for them to serve *as individuals*, fails to address the fact that within Mormonism priesthood plays more than just a personal, individual role. It also controls the institutional power structures of the church. No decisions are made by non-priesthood holders (even those made by women must be ratified by priesthood holders who can choose to ignore women’s voices as much or as little as they want). Women’s voices are by definitely excluded from many if not most decision-making bodies and meetings. It is true that many women in the church hold soft power, but they hold no formal, institutional authority at all.

        I’m glad that Hudson’s argument brings you peace and has helped you to insights that make the gender inequity of the church manageable for you. But it is insufficient to focus only on how priesthood vs. motherhood creates joy or opportunity or whatever within individual lives. When I and other women speak out against the status quo which does not allow women to hold the priesthood, it’s not because “motherhood isn’t as great and wonderful as having the authority of using the priesthood” but rather because women being excluded from the ranks of institutional power has real lived consequences for all church members, some of them very destructive.

        And yes, I understand the caveat in your follow-up comment — that you’re thinking about the grand scheme of things. That’s fine. I suppose we need to think about the grand scheme of things to some extent. But at the end of the day Jesus spent his time thinking at least as much about the real, lived experience of those around him. Did they have food? were their bodies suffering? His work was not just about eternity and the abstract. It was very much rooted in the physical reality of today. Hudson’s understanding seems to me too limited to thinking just about the grand scheme of things. Women guard the first veil, men the second — both necessary in the eternal scheme. But it doesn’t grapple with the ways in which men’s monopoly on priesthood also means a monopoly on the lived experience of church and the ways that experience can, as a result, do harm. I think Jesus cares about that harm. I do not think he’s okay with a sex-based segregation that creates it. But that’s just me. I also happen to think that eternity means basically nothing and what really matters is what I do today, right now, to relieve suffering and promote love. Maybe I’m just a heretic. But I don’t buy that God *wants* a system of injustice and inequality in this life. And the church’s system of governance is by definition one of injustice and inequality.

  7. Caroline says:

    ElleK, I feel very much the same. I too am suspicious of the motherhood=priesthood equation, but I also love seeing women theologize and interpret in attempts to create equality within a system that is fundamentally patriarchal.

    So Maddison, thank you for sharing here. I have no doubt that your thoughts, and Valerie Hudson’s thoughts, will bring peace to some Mormon women that feel the inequity in Mormon theology and practice. I hope the theologizing an discussion on this topic continue!

    • Andrew R. says:

      You do appreciate I’m sure that the motherhood=priesthood apart from not being quite right, is also very much biased in favour women.Sure, from an entirely LDS membership point of view it is biased to men.

      However, when taking into account all those who chose to came to earth it is the males by far that have missed out – in mortality.

      And that is the crux of it. The equality is in the Eternities. All men who would have been faithful priesthood holders will be blessed as such. All women who could have been faithful mothers in Zion will be blessed as such.

      • ElleK says:

        No. Motherhood=fatherhood. Preisthood=priestesshood. There is not currently priestesshood in our theology, but we are taught in the temple that women are to become priestesses, so I am guessing it’s part of the restoration that hasn’t happened yet (or maybe will happen after this life). Apostles have also debunked your motherhood=priesthood equation in recent years, so I do wish you’d get with the times.

        You can hopefully understand that having a man tell me that this current system–a system in which I have no institutional privilege, administrative authority, or representation, a system in which my infertility, my unwanted pregnancy, my physically and emotionally damaging experiences of pregnancy and childbirth and postpartum anxiety, my mixed feelings and recurrent sense of worthlessness about staying home with my kids–is BIASED IN MY FAVOR makes me absolutely furious.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Did you read what I wrote, or just wade in with a response to my obvious patriarchy?

        I wrote – “motherhood=priesthood apart from not being quite right”

        I agree with you. But I do very much believe in female:male differences that are required in an Eternal sense. What exactly that is I do not know. But males and females are different, and as such the Lord deals with them differently.

      • ElleK says:

        You’re right–I missed the “not” in your first sentence. However, the ire in my second paragraph still stands. I agree with your second comment. I think men and women are different, but probably not in all the ways you do. Largely, I think PEOPLE are different, and that individuals need to assume the roles that work best for their circumstances.

        I find it so odd that we talk about “mothers in Zion” but rarely mention “fathers in Zion.” It seems to me that the emphasis on priesthood and the consequent emphasis on motherhood often comes at the expense of fatherhood…but we speak of God as “Father” and not as Priesthood holder. Suggesting that one parent is more important than the other is absurd and not supported by research, and for a church that puts so much stock in traditional family models, it’s a definite paradox to me. Until women have a full seat at the institutional table, though, I don’t expect that to change.

    • Spunky says:

      AMEN, ElleK.

      • Maddison M. says:

        These are good points, thank you for offering them. I was not trying to equate motherhood with priesthood. I was trying to say that we were offered different role in this life that have equal importance in the Plan of Salvation and I personally believe that our qualifying for the enjoyment of using both roles and blessings will eventually happen. Which is why I mentioned the temple and the roles we play in them at different times. I have a tendency to stay away from assuming that I might know better than the Lord in his infinite wisdom how to help everyone qualify for the Celestial Kingdom. I don’t think that my not being authorized to use my priestesshood in this life disqualifies me for everything the Lord has to offer or that those who were given authority are sexist for fulfilling that role, either. But I also don’t judge those who feel short-changed. I just don’t feel that way and don’t feel compelled to make everyone else change their minds about how they feel with their membership in the church.

  8. Amy says:

    I want to echo what others have said here, that I appreciate your thoughtfulness and effort.

    I once very much embraced the Two Trees/Two Veils theology. I especially leaned on it as I prepared for the birth of my second child and first daughter. I’ve written before on Exponent about that experience but I’ll sum up by saying that it brought a lot of heartache after an incredibly traumatic birth experience and years of postpartum depression. I tried to find solace that this was my priesthood, my veil to protect. While time has softened some of the pain, I realized later that the expectations this theology put on myself as a pregnant, birthing and postpartum woman–experiences that are encountered only a handful of times, for a limited amount of time, and not available to all women–were a large piece in contributing to the feelings of worthlessness I felt as a mother. I questioned, “if this is my priesthood, why was it so incredibly traumatizing?” In a lot of ways, this theology was the crux of my faith crisis/transition (which is neither good nor bad, just is).

    • Maddison M. says:

      I, too, have suffered tremendously from post-partum depression. I feel your pain with you and hope that you will one day feel at peace. I guess all I can say is that I don’t feel like I am leaning on some ideology at all. I felt like I was leaning on a crutch when I was waiting on the day that I would once be able to be authorized to use the priesthood. But I was not happy. I was then freed when I realized that my efforts will be rewarded, that baring children is not necessarily the reward as it’s one means to the reward. That probably doesn’t offer you peace, I am just offering it as a way to explain my feelings.

  9. EFH says:

    Thank you for writing of your journey of faith and how you found comfort and answers to your questions. It is difficult to open up in a public blog because not only the story but also the words used will be examined.

    The story of the Two Trees is very interesting to me. It has not brought any comfort or crisis but I have enjoyed reading it as the path of another woman in her efforts of being faithful. Having known Dr. Hudson in person for years, I can say with confidence that she is a tower of strength – not because she has not had loss and crisis in her life but that she has always managed to come stronger on the other side. So, this is how I have read her midrash of the Two Trees.

    As women, I do not expect my journey to be the same as those of other sisters. My hope is to learn from all of you who put so much thought into existential and theological questions. Blessings!

    • Maddison M. says:

      Thank you, I feel like we are on the same wave-length in our faith in personal revelation and perseverance. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      • Maddison M. says:

        Thank you, I feel like we are on the same wave-length in our faith in personal revelation and perseverance. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      • Maddison M. says:

        Sorry, my computer is being weird today! I didn’t mean to comment twice.

    • Amelia says:

      It is that last bit — not expecting our journey to be the same as our sisters’ *simply because we are all female* that results in my having problems with the two trees understanding. I just don’t buy that all righteous women’s experiences can and should be similar to any large extent (ditto for all righteous men). I see far more similarities across sex and gender lines than within them. My lived experience is radically different from that of my mother’s, sisters’, and many of my female friends’. It’s much more similar to the experience of many of my brothers and male friends. Near-mandatory, universal sex-based priesthood ordination creates an artificial similarity between “righteous” men’s lives. They are ordained at the same age, fulfill the same functions, have the same kinds of opportunities to serve in the church (even if they don’t all get to act on them). That superficial similarity reinforces the notion embraced far too often in Mormon circles that sex is a stronger factor in shaping our experiences and identity than anything else, that our roles and responsibilities should align with sex. I just disagree. I don’t think God expects us to conform to sex-based roles and identities. I think he expects us to manifest our own individual identities as we operate within larger communities.

      I just don’t buy that having a penis means someone should be primarily concerned with the second veil, while having a vagina means someone should be primarily concerned with the first. It is reductive and ignores far, far too many people while suggesting that they’re failing to conform to a sex-defined journey indicates something about their righteousness or their willingness to embrace their god-given identity.

  10. ellen patton says:

    Things to think about…thanks, Maddison. And, I miss you! I’m going to call you one of these late nights when I’m baking or sewing. heart ep

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Amelia and ElleK: thanks 🙂 Your comments on this post really brought me comfort in feeling I am not alone in my concerns and opinions.

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