Traditional Marriage

Traditional Marriage

no to polygmayI recently came across the blog of a local Utah woman of color who has started an advocacy group, Big Ocean Women for maternal feminists in support of traditional family, natural motherhood (no surrogacy or IVF), against abortion, anti-pornography and against sex education in schools. Promotion of polygamy, child marriage, and protection of rapists were not identified as platforms.

Unfamiliar with the term maternal feminist, I followed links on Big Ocean blog and learned that maternal feminism recognizes that the sexes are different but equal, espousing a complementarian philosophy of gender roles. I also learned about the sister organization, United Families International which trains Mormon women (and other faiths) to attend the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Women to advocate for traditional marriage and against practices viewed as anti-family.

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April Young Women Lesson: Why Was A Restoration Necessary?

Traduction en français/Click for French Translation
Peter's Key


It is easy when talking about the great apostasy and the need for a restoration of all things, to talk in terms of darkness and light. For just one example, N. Eldon Tanner once stated that “this period of the apostasy was known as the Dark Ages because the light of the gospel was withdrawn from the earth.” There is certainly something revealing in such discussions, as the world was started with light (Genesis 1:3), Christ is “the light and life of the world” (3 Ne. 11:10–11), scriptures pair truth with light (D&C 93), and Joseph Smith’s first vocal prayer was punctuated with darkness and light (Joseph Smith-History 1). Still, I believe apostasy and restoration narratives about darkness and light are also concealing. Because of this belief, I would likely start this lesson with an emphasis that there was always light.

There Was Light

In all lands, and in all times, the gift of Christ’s light and spirit has been given to every person. As the Book of Mormon prophet-editor, Mormon, taught:

The Spirit of Christ is given to every man [and woman], that [they] may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. . . . And now, my brethren [and sisters], seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

This seems wildly important now, but could be even more important for periods of presumed darkness: There was still light. There was still spirit. There was still inspiration. There was still conscience.

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Series: #Visiblewomen: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See : Generous Quotes From Women in Relief Society Lessons

President Linda K. Burton
Relief Society General Office
76 North Main
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

Dear Sister Burton,

Would you please consider increased and generous quotes by women in Relief Society and Priesthood Manuals?  As an educator, I know the importance of having relatable examples in the stories and quotes used to illustrate and teach a topic. As a learner attaches a teaching to one of their own experiences, long-term learning and profound change occurs.

Years ago in my teacher training  program I was assigned to count examples of men and women and people of color in textbooks. The counting helped me to notice and reflect on who was likely to connect with the material of the text and who was likely to be left out of the experience of relating, connecting, and learning. Applying the same exercise to our Relief Society and Priesthood curriculum, voices of women are noticeably absent. I believe both women and men are harmed by the absence of women’s voices.

I remember two years of Relief Society after I left the Young Women’s program when it seemed every Relief Society lesson helped me to connect my experiences as a young adult to the legacy of LDS women who came before me. Then I went on a mission and when I came home we began utilizing the Presidents of the Church manuals. Quotes and examples of women became sparse, I liked Relief Society a little less but didn’t know why. For the past seventeen years, our Relief Society and Priesthood curriculum has lacked the wisdom, diversity, and incredible strength of LDS women.

As a Relief Society Instructor, Relief Society President, and Relief Society Secretary I’ve had the opportunity to repeatedly observe how women light up and share precious examples of the atonement working in their lives when quotes from women are included in our lessons. Men do too! My father has received a wonderful response from his High Priest Group as he has supplemented his lessons with material from Daughters of my Kingdom and examples of women from scriptures, General Conference, and our family.

This year as we study the life and teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, I have enjoyed my own independent reading on the remarkable Flora Benson. Sadly, no teacher has included her in a lesson thus far. Yet, President Benson was always quick to recognize the essential support of Flora and his children in all of his achievements.

Too many women and men are adversely impacted by worldly portrayals of women as objects. We need more examples of multidimensional women who have led good and meaningful lives. Please consider incorporating the words of more wise women in our Relief Society and Priesthood curriculum.

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I’m not broken.


strength through the agesTrigger warning/content note: sexual abuse, coming out.

I recently revived my monthly contribution here at The Exponent as part of our Queer Mormon Women* series, and it has me thinking.  How did my Mormonism affect my queerness?  When did the messages first get mixed together?

(In fact, these questions have been swirling around in my brain for so many weeks now that I have decided to start writing regularly again here.)

Like most things, they are connected.  I don’t know that I can separate them, at least not completely.  It’s this idea that I have been pondering since my last post; the idea that I thought I was broken for so long.  I thought the sexual abuse I had endured was what broke me, and I thought that the way it broke me was with regard to my sexuality.

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Series: #visiblewomen: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: Primary Pictures

I teach Primary Sharing Time.  I love it.

I love the teaching, the stories, the kids, and the fun.  When we talk about Jesus, I tell the children the stories of His life and the men and women He lived and worked with.  When we talk about the courage to do what is right, I read from “Girls Who Choose God”.  When we talk about faith, I tell them of both Nephi and Abigal.

I tell them stories from my own life and any stories of President Wixom that I can find.

I use pictures a lot.  Aside from the pictures I bring myself, there are few pictures of women.  I will be writing a letter to President Wixom and her counselors, asking them to consider including more pictures of women and girls in packets / manuals provided to Primary teachers.

I believe this will be a great advantage to both girls and boys.  They will learn that both women and men can be examples of faith, courage, and service.  And they can strive to be like them.

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#VisibleWomen Series: Please Add a Women’s Regional Calling to Missions

This is my letter to the Relief Society General Office in regard to the creation of a regional or Mission-based Relief Society Presidency or similar.

President Linda K. Burton
Relief Society General Office
76 North Main
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

 CC: Mission President


Dear President Burton,


I live in Regional Australia. My family’s records are associated with a Branch that is about a 3 hour drive (each way) from where we live. Because of the tyranny of distance, we received permission from the Regional President for my husband to bless the sacrament at home with our children on Sundays. In these special meetings, we share a unique spirit while we teach lessons to our children directly from the Friend and other church materials. It has been a beautiful experience for us as a family, but we also love attending branch (and regional) activities and meetings as often as we can.


A few weeks ago, I was thrilled when the Branch Relief Society announced that they had changed the date of the Relief Society anniversary celebration. The date was changed from a weekday to a Friday—the start of a weekend-  specifically so I would be able to attend. I felt love and connection with the women of this branch in a way that is only shared by women in the church, and their desire to include me brought tears of gratitude and belonging. My husband and I quickly budgeted to ensure I could attend this, with family in tow!


You can imagine my disappointment when I had a message shortly thereafter stating that the celebration had been cancelled by the Branch President. He said that the women did not “ask permission” to have the celebration, or to move it. As there was a “District Family Discovery Day” scheduled on the regional calendar for the Saturday, he enlisted the Relief Society to manage that entire activity for the branch. “The Priesthood” would supply “supplementary food”– i.e. it was a potluck, so I was still assigned to bring a dish, but the men would bring soft-drinks. It was evident to me that he had forgotten about the Relief Society celebration (it happens annually, for Heaven’s sake!) and was content to have everyone else forget it as well. The funny thing is that the branch activity closely mirrored the Relief Society activity, but rather than focusing on the women of the church, the focus was to be on the church in general. The branch relief society president, a quiet and patient woman simply accepted the pronouncements. She said that her only choice was  “be angry ….or be supportive of the church.” In this, she advised me that she was choosing to follow the Branch President. 

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Real Talk

Two Women were chatting in office(1)I confessed to being Mormon at a cocktail party recently. The startled expressions of my coworkers indicated that I had either said too much, or was clearly not in good standing with my religion, or some combination of both. I wondered if I had once again failed at small talk. I valiantly attempt to admire necklaces or recall the weather, but inevitably I end up asking a question or revealing some piece of information that veers the conversation way beyond customary topics and into “Here be Dragons” territory. I had brought up religion. In the Midwest. At a work function. I was courting exile.

An offhand mention of a construction assignment at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints church building had elicited my proclamation. Much to my surprise, after the initial reaction, my two female companions eagerly started discussing their own religious upbringing and current involvement. We chatted about families, attendance, and what had shifted for us over the years. Then one of them looked me in eye and asked what I believed in now.

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