Temple Doctrine and church culture: It’s bad but it’s {not?} getting better.

Violadiva & Pianoman at LA Temple

My first time at the temple started out very frightening. It was a completely new experience for me and I was relying on my mother to stay with me the whole time as my escort. The first thing they did was shuttle her off to a “regular” locker as I got whisked away alone to the Bride room lockers. After walking through the labyrinth of gilded walls and mirrors to get there, a pushy granny handed me a big white sheet, pointed to a locker, and demanded, “Go in there and take off all your clothes, including your underwear, and put this on.”

A tablecloth wrapped around my naked body? Where’s my mom?

I started crying.

I did as bidden.

I came out draped in the cloth, clutching the open edges shut to protect my modesty. For a well-behaved Mormon girl who always wore an undershirt layer to keep my midriff or cleavage from showing, no matter the outside temperature, this nudity was quite a shock.

When the ordinance worker reached into the cloth to touch naked bits of my body along with the prayer, I cried harder. The woman paused and said “Try and calm down now dear, we want this to be a good experience for you.”

Then she held out the zip-up one-piece underwear for me to step into.

The only thing that made the day’s ordeal a “good experience” was the warm, trusting smile of my fiancée from across the room later on. He remains the best part of the temple ever after.

I left the temple that day deeply disturbed and confused.

I went back the next day to try and figure out what I missed, because it surely wasn’t the transcendent, ethereal experience so many had taught me to expect.

My husband and I went to the temple consistently every month, sometimes more. We grew to love our time there, almost cherishing the long ride across town to get there together more than sitting through the movie on opposite sides of the theater alone.

But then different things became confusing and frightening. I was anointed to become a queen and a priestess unto my husband. My ears were blessed to hear the counsel of [my] husband first and the word of the Lord second. Eve was given unto Adam, and he named her like a possession. Then me and my blessed ears covenanted to hearken to my husband, in a similitude of how he’ll covenant to hearken to God’s commands. My husband-to-be stood as representative for God and accepted me into the Celestial kingdom. And in order to be sealed to my spouse, just like Eve, I was given to him. None of these rites or wordings is symmetrical for his ordinances.

As a feminist, I’ve been happy to lobby for rights. I wore the pants and wrote the letters and blessed the baby and prayed to the Mother. I worked for years on a Ward Council to see parity between boys and girls programs and opportunities. I changed the lyrics of Primary songs to include more women as role models.

I am so happy for the improvements we’ve observed in the last few years, both large and small. Some changes feel tremendously meaningful, while others seem like mere crumbs from the master’s table. And some feel like a slap in the face.

But persisting is wearing me down, especially when I see my own work undone at the local levels where I once had influence.

I wonder: What will it take to make real, meaningful, lasting, inclusive changes to the way our church runs and treats women and other marginalized groups?

We can look for loopholes in how policies are written in the handbook, and try our luck at leadership roulette to tweak them in our favor, but so many of our official policies and unofficial culture and practices are rooted in our doctrine.

When I scrutinize the doctrine of our highest and holiest ordinances, against the practices of our culture, I find Mormonism to be quite congruent in practicing what it preaches: in this lone and dreary world, women are silent partners and possessions with no real power in spheres that include men.

We see this reflected in the heavens in much the same way, as our official church doctrine has only vague descriptions of our Mother in Heaven and what her influence in our lives can be. She is not officially attributed any Priestesshood power or stewardship influence over Her children on earth.

When we search within ourselves for answers about the worth of women and the involvement of Heavenly Mother in our lives, many feminists have shared experiences of personal revelation that affirm both: We KNOW we are worthy and equal to our brothers. For as much as we believe in a literal male God who influences and watches over our lives, we believe in a literal female Goddess who does the same. Many members of our church leadership believe this as well, which is why we occasionally hear assurances from male leaders of how important and cherished we women are, and confidence-inspiring talks from female leaders about the power and role for good women can have in our families, communities and the world. These truths of equality run deep and bubble up in church rhetoric. When we search the words and actions of Jesus Christ as he related to women, we marvel at his inclusion. They were his disciples and witnesses, and he championed their causes and concerns.

That’s why it can sting so hard when the institutional church has such deeply embedded inequities in our highest doctrines and ordinances, because for as much as we agitate for changes in culture and practice, we are ultimately bound by our doctrine. My husband and I reject the parts of the temple ceremony and ordinances that subordinate me to my husband as incorrect application of doctrine. I can even convince myself that the script is incomplete or has inherent errors that could still be corrected. And yet, the script errors, and the resultant thinking errors in our church communities, persist.

Our culture and practices are shaped by our doctrine. Our doctrine is set by the prophets and apostles, and the current interpretation of scripture. What would it take for radical changes of inclusion in our doctrine? Can modern revelation save our situation?

If our culture can’t really make lasting and universal changes until our doctrine does, it is any use to continue to seek reforms? Is it mere window dressing to actively include women in the spheres where they are already allowed to be, while still prohibiting them from others? If a local church leader works to be inclusive in his ward or stake, is it actually making meaningful change, or is it just a temporary placating until the next leader comes along and changes things back?

CAN modern church culture changes have an upward influence on actual doctrine? If enough wards and stakes adopted more women-friendly practices, would that trickle-up to the doctrine-makers in Salt Lake? Do our doctrine-makers in Salt Lake City even see any of this as a problem that they are actively trying to solve?

I wish I knew the answers to these questions. I wish I could say “it’s bad and it’s wrong, but it’s getting better” to my daughter as she grows up, but I’m worried it won’t get better in her lifetime or mine. Answers like, “It will all be made right in the next life.” Or “The Atonement of Jesus Christ will right all wrongs and correct all inequities” don’t bring me assurance or comfort in my every day life.

I’m feeling discouraged about this and need to hear your ideas. What do you think?

Violadiva

Violadiva is an oxymoron, a musician, a yogi, a Suzuki violin teacher, a late-night baker of sourdough breads, proud Mormon feminist, happy wife of Pianoman and lucky mother to three.

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134 Responses

  1. Lesli Summers-Stay says:

    thanks for this. me too.

  2. Sara KS Hanks says:

    I don’t think it’s getting better except in women’s abilities to recognize, resist, refuse, reject, and replace these teachings in our own hearts. I think that’s becoming more common. But as for the temple doctrine and the culture that comes from it: no, I don’t see it getting better. I have 0% confidence that church leaders see any flaws in the temple ceremonies or feel any need to revise them.

  3. Katie says:

    I don’t think it’s getting better. When the new temple films were released, I was certain there would be positive changes in the dialog of or about women/Eve. I was devastated that there were no changes. (I do not count emotion, meaningful looks, and crying as a change.)

  4. Emily U says:

    “I find Mormonism to be quite congruent in practicing what it preaches.” I hear you, Violadiva, and I agree. I wish I had some words of encouragement. But good leadership really matters, as it turns out, and without it things can only change so much. I think if a sitting prophet were to say it’s time to overhaul the temple language and eliminate the inequality, that would have profound effects throughout the Church.

    Looking at the inequality we see, I think if we take gender as a fundamental part of the makeup of a soul, we have three possibilities:

    1) God made two kinds of souls, female and male (and any trans people will be changed to fit one of those two types in the afterlife), which are fundamentally different in some of the godly attributes they possess, making males fit to preside and females fit to be presided over. This is the way God made the universe, and if it seems wrong that’s because imperfect humans implement presiding badly and sinfully, but all righteous souls will be happy with this arrangement in the afterlife. We should have faith and patience with things that don’t make sense to us; we’ll be glad we did after we die and see how our spiritual makeup really is designed to be male or female with all the fundamental differences that entails, and once we come to appreciate how exaltation is impossible without these fundamental differences between male and female souls. Under this model, polygyny is allowable if all parties agree to it. Polyandry is not.

    2) God made souls who have gender, but this isn’t their most important feature because all souls have the capacity to acquire godly attributes which are independent of gender. The gender roles we see in the Church are only temporal. They are God’s plan for us right now, for reasons that may not be clear, but they are only temporal and we should trust in God’s wisdom and live with them. In the afterlife women and men will have fully equal eternal destinies, and though they will remain partnered (perhaps also in same-gender unions?), there will be NO presiding over one’s partner. Women’s path to godliness will be in no way second to men’s. There will be no polygamy because polygamy is fundamentally unequal.

    3) God made souls who have gender, but this isn’t their most important feature because all souls have the capacity to acquire godly attributes which are independent of gender. The gender roles we see in the Church and in sacred texts are the result of thousands of years of fallen human tradition, which have only really started to change over the past couple centuries – hardly any time at all on the scale of human habitation of the Earth! They are not God’s plan for us, but God expects us to seek out additional light and truth, and to choose equality in a corporate way. Zion is created when we have no poor among us and each person has the chance to bring all their gifts to build the kingdom, regardless of gender. Right now, there are very real limits to what women and trans people can contribute because of the gender roles we have; it’s God’s desire that this change and that we radically equalize gender roles, but it can’t change until prophets start asking for additional revelation on this topic.

    I know which of the three I believe.

    • Violadiva says:

      This comment is so brilliant EmilyU. I know which one I am, and I’m afraid I know what most mainstream members are 🙁

  5. Dani Addante says:

    I too find the temple to be hurtful. When I was endowed, I was single at the time, so I didn’t even notice the sexism until later when I was engaged. It really ruined the temple experience for me. I avoid endowments and sealings because the wording hurts me. What hurts even more to me is that the Brethren haven’t made changes to reflect gender equality in the temple. It makes me feel like they don’t care about gender equality. This is something I constantly struggle with. If they made changes, I could go to sealings and sessions without feeling sad after. Your initiatory experience does sound frightening. I’m glad they don’t do initiatories that way anymore.

  6. Becca says:

    When I reflect on my first experience in the temple, I think mostly of the confusion and disappointment that I felt when I heard the women’s promise during the endowment ceremony. I was endowed a week or so before my wedding, and I struggled with severe doubts about the whole experience as a result. This shouldn’t be a woman’s crowning spiritual experience. It should reflect her maturation into womanhood, as well as her deep spiritual worth independent of her husband’s position and relationship to God.

  7. Angela C says:

    I hope I don’t sound too negative, but I don’t see any of this changing until the men in the church are leaving due to the unequal doctrine for women. Men are now and have always been the target audience, and men are still much more likely to leave the church (but not for this specific reason). If it affects male retention and engagement, the church cares. If it only affects women, nope. Our numbers are already plenty unequal with a lot more women active in the church which only reinforces the unequal treatment based on unequal doctrines.

    • Emily U says:

      Bingo

    • Violadiva says:

      This is such a good point. They don’t hear the women’s washing blessings when they go, so it’s probably not actively in their minds. Perhaps this is an advantage to agitating our discontent?
      Totes agree on male allies needing to be enough bothered by the problems too.

      • Moss says:

        But they don’t even hear it when they are in the same room as us, either. “Priestesses unto your husband…”, “hearken to your husband…”, “Sisters, please veil your faces…”. Men are sitting right there for all of it and very few even notice it. I imagine even fewer are bothered by it.

    • Katie says:

      I’ve never thought of it this way. I think you are right.

    • M says:

      A congregation full of dads alone with their children since mom has gone inactive as a growing trend may send a message, though. I’m not encouraging inactivity as a form of communication to our leaders. But in 20 years if things haven’t changed I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes more common.

  8. Kristin says:

    I too struggle with these things. As an unmarried woman I’m in a weird category. On the one hand, I do not have a man mediating my relationship to God (per the temple language). On the other hand, I’m sort of a half-woman in waiting for that glorious day when I’ll no longer have a direct line to God but get to channel it through my spousal operator. (Even worse is the idea that if faithful I will get to be a multiple wife in the eternities and help some faithful man populate his worlds without number.) How do I participate in these rites that seem designed to exclude me?

  9. Marcus says:

    The existence of so many conference talks praising women/the valuable contribution of women/etc., is evidence that Church leaders are aware the problem exists. Or more likely, they may not see gender inequality as a problem, but they at least recognize how some of us are deeply troubled by the systemic inequality. To date, their approach has usually been to “teach” us that the “problem” lies not with the doctrines or policies but in our own “misperceptions.” You rightfully point out: there are no misperceptions. The church does a pretty good job practicing what it preaches: men are privileged over women.

    I hold out hope that the Q15 will someday listen as the magnitude of the problem grows to a point where it cannot be ignored. I would like to see the inequalities erased from the temple ceremony, but for now I’d be happy with an honest acknowledgement from the Q15 that the problem is REAL. This post gives me courage to continue the fight until actual changes are made, or until I am silenced. I believe change is inevitable, because I believe Jesus wants to erase injustice in all its forms, and he needs our help to do it.

  10. Ziff says:

    I’m sorry, Violadiva, I have nothing to offer. I share your discouragement.

  11. Chiaroscuro says:

    I too feel hurt by the policies and doctrines evident in our holiest form of worship. i devoured books about temple symbolism trying to come to peace with it, but it worked only fleetingly. I went weekly to the temple as it became more and more painful to do so, and then i decided to stop before driving myself crazy. In truth, I agree the policies are not likely to change until the current leadership passes on and a more enlightened group of men are making policy. And we vote with our feet. Every time we continue showing up we’re voting that things ‘aren’t that bad’. Especially in a place like the temple where no one’s voice can be heard.

  12. acw says:

    Although I have struggled with these issues (and had such a similar experience going through the my initial initiatory as you described!), there are a couple of insights that help me: veiling as a symbol of power (you can read lots written about that), and seeing the endowment as not male/female, but Adam representing Christ and Eve the church. When you listen to it with that framework, Christ leaves the garden to follow his sinful people etc, the people covenant to Christ and he to the father, and it’s beautiful.

    • Anon says:

      It isn’t beautiful to me, acw, because I’m tired of my female body representing the fallen, the lesser. And I don’t think the covenants are meant to be interpreted symbolically.

      • Anon says:

        Sophia, I do not think the mortal body is not important, but we mere mortals are certainly lesser than Christ our Savior. Our bodies would be meaningless, and we would be lost without Him and His sacrifice.

        In this symbolic interpretation of the ceremony, my female body represents what it actually is, right? Whereas the male body represents something higher and better than what it actually is. My female body is lesser in this context than a male body, unless you are arguing that we (all humans) are on par with Jesus Christ.

      • spunky says:

        Why don’t you believe in temple symbolism?

      • Anon says:

        I do recognize temple symbolism. However, for me, that particular symbolism does not erase the sexism that I experience there.

      • Nona says:

        I absolutely agree, Anon. Using the female as a symbol for fallen humans and the male as a symbol for God is not empty of meaning. Symbols carry meaning.
        Also, women are instructed to imagine themselves in the place of Eve and men to imagine themselves as Adam. So…I have a hard time buying this (oft repeated) platitude.

      • spunky says:

        I understand this frustration- but in my mind, Eve is a symbol as well. So -hang with me here– think of the the film, “I’m not there”– where Cate Blanchett plays Bob Dylan. Did a female playing the male character deter from the film? I argue not. So- back to the temple– what is men were to imagine themselves as Eve in the temple? I have no issue with this– indeed, I think it *should* be done, if only to enlighten us all to further delve into symbolism that otherwise appears assigned.

        In the end, I think the temple is wholly symbolic. Not one whit is literal — I mean, decades ago, I used to be told that the husband needed to allow the wife to let her into heaven- by a non-mormon who had been told that by some daft male missionary. Hogwash!

        And that might be how I cope with it– but that is why I like Jensen’s book– it encourages YOU to seek for your interpretation and what works for you. For me, it works to erase the gendered symbols and take the ceremony as wholly symbolic of Christ, the atonement, and the church. I do not believe there is a right or wrong for the temple, unless it teaches to dis-empower. I reject anything dis-empowering offered to me by the perception of others in the name of God.

        I know that this works for me. But I’d love to invite you to reject any interpretation of dis-empowerment; God loves us. She does not wish us to be slaves in patriarchy,

      • Katie says:

        Spunky,
        If you feel that the law of chastity is symbolic, what does it mean to you?

      • spunky says:

        Thank you for asking, Kate. The general Jain code of ethics requires that one do no harm to any living being in thought, action, or word. It does delve into sexuality– but in the end, I love the idea that it means to do no harm in any manner.

        I know a woman who *hoped* her daughter would just have (protected) sex with her boyfriend, rather than to marry him, I was gobsmacked at the time– but she had the wisdom to see that they were attracted to each other, yet a bad a match. I think this wisdom in understanding mortal bodies and human experience is more important than the concept of sexual chastity. I don’t mean this to imply that orgies and one-night-stands are acceptable, I mean that in balancing the concept of “do no harm”– rather than the black and white concept of sex, we can have a deeper understanding of commitment, and love– rather than a physical act.

        “Doing no harm” also bodes well for those who are homosexual– we might, as a church, do less harm if we understood chastity as something other than heterosexual guidelines.

        <3

      • Katie says:

        Spunky,

        I have similar views on chastity. However, I was meaning to ask you what does the temple law of chastity mean to you? What are husbands and wives and sexual relations symbols of in that temple covenant? I just don’t understand how this covenant in particular can be seen non-literally.

    • Katie says:

      This didn’t work for me either. If the hearken covenant is symbolic, are the other ones also symbolic? Is the law of chastity saying that the church must only have sexual relations with Christ? I mean, that’s absurd and even sounds disrespectful/crass. Clearly the covenants are not meant to be symbolic, and it really stretches credulity to believe you have to switch back and forth between symbolic and not-symbolic for each of the covenants.

      • Sophia McLaughlin says:

        Symbols can mean several things on different levels at the same time, without having to make an interpretation of one thing have to fit everything that comes after. Also, an earthly body is not lesser–it is as important a part of our progression as anything else and we know from the scriptures that “those who kept there first estate would be added upon with more glory”. The mortal body is that “more glory”.

      • spunky says:

        I agree, Sophia McGlothlin.

        Also,cwgen it comes to sex, we only need to think of the term f**k. It alone is used in a number of colorful ways, usually meaning to increase or bond, but alsobto destroy- desolate in increasing nothingness. I see nothing wrong with considering that Christ is “sealed” in prophetic increase with only His church. That actually makes sense to me.

      • Anon says:

        Interesting thought, Spunky.

      • Monique J says:

        For what it’s worth, I don’t go into the endowment with Adam = Y and Eve = X equations. It’s more of a fluid experience for me. We know there are layers of symbolism, and one of the easiest to see is the view of the endowment as a timeline, going through the dispensations. You can even hear them refer the holy books as scriptures, then new testament, and then doctrine in covenant (BC, AD, Latter-day) representing this pattern. The part about chastity so perfectly fits into the dark ages, the Apostasy, when the only ordinances being performed were by women NOT men. Look for Mary the Mother of Jesus in this picture. You will find her there.
        (I know I’m going tangential here, but I love this example of how the temple teaches us.)

    • Katie says:

      I’ve thought about this more. Christ is already a player in the endowment, so neither Adam nor Eve can be symbolic of Christ.

  13. Hope says:

    Thank oh for this brave post, ViolaDiva. Me too. I don’t go to the temple anymore.

  14. Steve S says:

    “CAN modern church culture changes have an upward influence on actual doctrine?”

    I think so, but I think even more so the rising generations are deeply influenced which leads to a bright future. I know personally I’ve been deeply effected just having the issues brought to my attention in reading pieces like these in my life. I’ve sought personal revelation, and God has responded in great ways, I’ve been able to see many things to come including expansion of the temple ceremonies in ways I wouldn’t have supposed. Your cause is just, I hope you can stay strong, it is people like you who are influencing the changes I have seen will come.

  15. Nonie says:

    Thank you for both telling your story and encouraging discussion on this topic. I share many of these feelings and have pondered/fretted/prayed many hours about them over the years. In light of the headway women have made over the last hundred years, it feels a little humiliating to sit in the temple and agree to those statements. Here’s where I’m at right now: I think the leaders of the church know/care about these issues and value women’s voices. It wouldn’t surprise me if some among them would even like to see a change in some of the démodé temple wording (it changed in woman’s favor in 1990!), especially considering how much the church has been preaching equal partnership lately (or closer to it). Those public and private messages are at odds.

    But the church is a slow train to move. Significant change takes a great deal of time, and unanimity must be hard to come by. I imagine there’s hesitation to change things that honored predecessors set in motion. It must also be a challenge to make changes in a global church. Many of our teachings, including those about women, are still considered extremely progressive in some countries. Worldwide progress is SLOW.

    Additionally (and this may not be a popular suggestion), I think it’s hard for leaders to know just what to do, even when they see a need for change. I figure the wording of the ceremonies must have been influenced by the culture in which it was written (by culture I mean collective attitudes and customs). It’s been revised over and over since Brigham first scripted it. Why so? Why didn’t the Lord give it to him straight from the get-go if doctrine is unchanging and revelation so unmistakable? IF the temple wording is considered doctrine, and IF culture has already had a bearing on that wording, then our culture as it progresses may continue to influence its revision.

    • Nonie says:

      Honestly, the very word doctrine is sticky. We believe the scriptures are doctrine, right? But we don’t practice everything in them and some of them contradict each other (general authorities do the same thing). To me this shows that we (and thousands of years of believers before us) are constantly trying to sort it all out and (hopefully) striving to know the will of God. It sure seems tricky to find sometimes.

      But—doesn’t the Lord teach people in ways we can understand, even, I daresay, according to our culture? He doesn’t force it on us before we’re ready to believe and receive it. He waits on us even as we wait on him. So it seems to me that it’s the hearts of the people that will really have to open to further light and knowledge on this point before we’ll see substantive change. And little by little, I do see hearts changing and minds opening. I cling to our belief that God “will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God” and feel sure some of those upcoming revelations will shed light on woman’s power and her mighty place in the eternities. I guess the best things we can do to hasten their arrival are 1) to plead with the Lord, and 2) to make strides however we can.

      In the meantime, when I hear those unsettling lines in the temple, I think to myself, “I’m waiting for messengers from my father to teach me.” And while I wait, I’ll be here, plugging along in a church that sometimes confuses or frustrates me, but that (in the words of Emma Lou Thayne) I would be “cosmically orphaned” without.

      • Nonie says:

        Right after I wrote the above comments (which took a couple days to show up here), I pulled a volume of poetry off the shelf at my mom’s and opened it randomly. It was this by Emily Dickinson, and I felt it harmonized with what I tried to articulate above:

        Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
        Success in Circuit lies
        Too bright for our infirm Delight
        The Truth’s superb surprise

        As Lightning to the Children eased
        With explanation kind
        The Truth must dazzle gradually
        Or every man be blind—

      • Katie says:

        “I think to myself, “I’m waiting for messengers from my father to teach me.””

        Yes! I’ve thought the exact same thing!

        I am kind of plugging along in the church. I go, but I don’t really listen or participate.

    • M says:

      Nonie so much wisdom in your comments, thank you so much! I feel like I’ve been spiritually fed 🙂

      I want to be where you are. I’m at a place I consider to be righteous anger, though some may call it pride. Honestly if the leadership just communicated to us that they are pondering, praying, searching, questioning on our behalf, that they care – I think that could sustain me. Without that, and with the wording staying the way it is, I really struggle. I think that’s why the OP resonated so much with me, I feel so much of what the author feels.

      But your words spark a desire for me to persist, so thank you.

  16. spunky says:

    I personally don’t believe anything in the endowmeng or iniatory is literal; so I don’t believe I am making covenants unto my husband. I could not be a Mormon if I thought any of it was literal; its simply too oppressive and just doesn’t make sense.

    I think when we let go of the literal, the temple starts making sense. I really think this book is a good beginner way to look at the symbolism, and help to throw out the literal nonsense. Because that is what the literal stuff is- nonsense. A god who loves is would not compel us to covenant literally in such an obtuse way.

    I also think that the more women speak out, the less likely it is that the literal nonsense will be taken as truth by men- that is the most damaging part.

    http://www.the-exponent.com/book-review-series-understanding-your-endowment/

    • M says:

      A few years ago I attended the sealing of my sister in-law. The male temple worker overseeing the sealing spoke about the Patriarchal order – it was essentially the main topic of his address. He took it to the point of saying that what her husband does in this life matters more than what she does, as he will be the one in the celestial kingdom, holding out his hand for her to take so he can pull her in. He said in no uncertain terms that she is to hearken to him, that he is her intermediary with God. i cried, and not because I was happy for my sister in-law, although I was. Of note, it was a wonderful experience for my marriage – it was my husband’s “aha” moment where he realized the extent of patriarchy and how damaging it can be as he had never before.

      I would hope that if it was symbolic, at minimum our temple workers would be in on it. It would be such an easy thing to clarify, no? In temple prep classes – we could be taught not to take things literally. The temple matron on meeting with us could let us in on it. So why don’t they clarify? My fear is it’s because it is literal. And by not saying one way or the other, they don’t take away any hope by us women that it’s all just symbolic.

      • Monique J says:

        M, that experience sounds horrible! I had the complete opposite experience with my stake president, thank goodness. He said it matters greatly how a man treats his wife because if she does not *choose* to answer his calls, he will remain there at the veil, unable to enter the celestial kingdom, repeating her name over and over again wishing she’d answer him. In his words, “He will be the most pathetic creature.”

        That their takes are on this are in complete opposition tells us there needs to be a moment where further light and knowledge are given to benefit us all.

      • spunky says:

        I think that temple worker hasn’t a clue. Seriously. Jensen’s research is excellent- based in the scripture, is much more egalitarian and avoids dueling GA quotes or ignorant temple workers.

        And I wasn’t taught to take the temple literally- perhaps the only thing I was taught repeatedly is that it is filled with symbolism.

        But again, that reflects my teaching, not what others have been taught, with is literally damning for women

      • M says:

        Monique, yes it was terrible. Especially because as I sat there I looked around at all the women in my husband’s family, people I loved and respected dearly, with smiles on their faces, nodding. Yet it was also the best experience, as I cried my husband patted my hand, really seeing it for the first time. Afterward we shared tears, frustration, and mutual understanding, a truly sacred moment. I guess they were correct when they said going to the temple as a couple can bless your marriage (;

        Spunky, I respect you feel so strongly about the patriarchal order being symbolic; it sounds beautiful and believing it would erase some of my angst, but who’s to say you are right? How do we know that “The Two Trees” interpretation isn’t correct? These things are not correlated which is crazy since the temple is our most sacred place. This I know – in the endowment I’m told to take the place of Eve, who hearkens to Adam, who hearkens to God. During a sealing ceremony a sealer (who went through whatever training they give to be a sealer) confirmed my fears. Any information suggesting it’s symbolic is given by non GAs such as the author of that book you sight. Who, btw, mentions in the comment section of your book review that he received some of his interpretation of women veiling themselves by personal revelation. In other words, it’s his own interpretation guided by his own personal revelation. He’s not an apostle. Bottom line – these interpretations are important as we can see from this post. For some reason the church isn’t clarifying despite the pain it causes many women. Why is that?

      • spunky says:

        “Spunky, I respect you feel so strongly about the patriarchal order being symbolic”

        Uh, no. Patriarchy is not symbolic! I am so sorry that my comment came across like that!! Patriarchy is a F**k’d up system used to dis-empower women for the sake of worldly power. I see not a smidgen of it in the raw temple ceremony. Switch off the voice of that ignorant temple worker and his/her minions lest their stupidity bleed into my comments. 🙂 I said nothing of patriarchy or my feelings. I believe the symbolism is there– and that patriarchy is absent in this symbolism. I am deeply sorry to have not clarified that.

        As for training….well. We’re a church that is volunteer* based. I personally have sat in more that a few “teacher training” meetings offered by stake or whoever folks who have NO teacher training whatsoever– and offer the LAMEST (IMO) teaching advice on heaven and earth. I think the same happens in the temple. Untrained “teachers” leading temple workers in a manner that really isn’t what they think it is- perhaps answering questions they had never themselves considered “on the fly” in a way that is deeply wrong and confusing. After all, don’t we all think we’re smarter than we really are? (me included!) So I think that temple worker, quite frankly, was speaking out of turn and incorrectly. I would not trust him/her with my life- spiritual or otherwise.

        *I typed that wrong as the auto correct changed it to “streetwalkers”- the idea of that symbolism made me smile, but anyway…

      • M says:

        Spunky when I refer to “patriarchal order” I simply mean woman hearkening to husband who hearkens to God which are the words we hear in the temple. You view those words as symbolic and I don’t see any support by leadership for a symbolic interpretation. I was not suggesting you are embracing the literal interpretation of those words or patriarchy itself.

        As to the temple sealer, to my chagrin there are talks by GA that support his stance so why should I believe he’s speaking out of turn? If anything he was taking a church sanctioned stance to a bit of an extreme. Search “patriarchal order definition” on lds.org and you’ll come across articles that support his stance.

        From a GA in 1988:

        “Furthermore, we learn that “the highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood is patriarchal authority” and that “the patriarchal order of the priesthood is the right of worthy priesthood-holding fathers to preside over their descendants through all ages; it includes the ordinances and blessings of the fulness of the priesthood shared by husbands and wives who are sealed in the temple” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 3:1067, 1135).

        The Lord has told us that the patriarchal order will be the order of things in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom; thus, without participation in the sealing ordinance, you simply cannot qualify for admission to that high and holy place. Of course, some individuals, through no fault of their own, may not have the opportunity to marry in this life; they will yet have that opportunity (see Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde G. Williams [1996], 256–57).”

        And from FHE Resource Guide Lesson 20, 1998:

        “Patriarchal Order in the Home

        Teach family members about the principle of the patriarchal order, starting with father Adam. Relate this order to your own family and the extended family. This will give family members a sense of the continuity of Heavenly Father’s family here on earth.”

        If you have examples of talks or publications supporting a more symbolic interpretation of the patriarchal order we hear in the temple I’d love to hear it.

        I’m grateful for the ways each of us are seeking answers to these difficult questions, and the sisterhood I feel with those participating in this discussion even while I recognize we may disagree.

      • Katie says:

        I have found no symbolic interpretations of the patriarchal order coming from church leaders. However, I did find the following very interesting. Compare these two articles published in the Ensign in 1973 and 2013 – exactly 40 years apart. Both are authored by professors, and both rely on scriptures and GA/apostle quotes for proof of their ideas. Yet they teach almost completely opposing principles:

        https://www.lds.org/ensign/1973/02/strengthening-the-patriarchal-order-in-the-home?lang=eng

        https://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/04/equal-partnership-in-marriage?lang=eng&_r=1

      • M says:

        Katie, I’ve read the more recent article you cited and also see the shift. Especially this part:

        “For the plan to work, each must hearken to the other. Before God, they stand as equals.”

        Valerie Hudson coauthored the article so this statement fits right into her views on the subject. I was stoked to see her in an official church publication. As an aside, I know some feminists roll their eyes at her Two Trees article for the same general reasons some of us, like myself, take issue with symbolic interpretations of the temple ceremony. But I really admire Valerie Hudson and I wish we would hear more from her. She comes from a place of such certainty in her interpretation she sounds a bit like a prophetess when I’ve heard her talks.

        Back to the topic – I think we’re at a tricky place in the church re: the temple and patriarchal order doctrine. That article supports the idea that the patriarchal order is not correct in the literal sense. But since we don’t have clarification and some older members support a more literal view (quite likely including GAs) either side can make a case with those more literal leaning folks having plenty of publications and talks to support their stance. It’s either the most chicken of chicken patriarchy (the doctrine is totally sexist but they won’t own it) or wrong and they won’t clarify because…..(insert myriad of reasons here).

      • Katie says:

        I commented with a couple links a few hours ago. I’m not sure if it will go through. Here it is without links.

        I have found no symbolic interpretations of the patriarchal order coming from church leaders. However, I did find the following very interesting. Compare these two articles published in the Ensign in 1973 and 2013 – exactly 40 years apart. Both are authored by professors, and both rely on scriptures and GA/apostle quotes for proof of their ideas. Yet they teach almost completely opposing principles:

        Ensign, February 1973, Strengthening the Patriarchal Order in the Home
        Ensign, April 2013, Equal Partnership in Marriage

        You can easily see both on lds org

      • Dani Addante says:

        That is completely awful! I can’t believe he did that. It makes me wonder why he never stopped to think about how he’d feel if someone said those things about him. I’m sorry the guests and newlyweds had to listen to that.

      • M says:

        Sorry for the long posts just wanted to share a fave Valerie Hudson quote:

        “I taught at BYU for 25 years and while there I saw our daughters…they’re hurting. They’re hurting because they don’t know who they are. And the way our religion is currently constructed is of powerful men of authority, and oh, these women. That’s how it appears to them. And unless we do the hard work of excavation and restoration, you will lose them…..They are going to be lost because they don’t understand. They know they have a Mother in Heaven. But they can’t talk about Her. Nobody knows anything about Her…..How long can you expect these intelligent, bright daughters of ours to keep running on fumes.”

        I also remember once she said until women’s true role in the fall and in the eternities was restored we would not see Zion.

        Some folks that have their own symbolic interpretations of the temple treat the endowment like “aha! It makes sense now and it’s not terrible it’s all wonderful!” With her I get the vibe “It makes sense now and it’s wonderful but they’re sorta doing a terrible job getting the message across and that’s a big deal and we have a long way to go.”

      • Katie says:

        I’ve really liked Hudson’s theories in the past, but I am a birth/breastfeeding junkie. I can see how her theories can be extremely problematic for those who have horrific pregnancies/births, who can’t nurse, infertile people, and so on. And like you say, at the end of the day, her theories are not doctrine. They are not backed by the church any more than any other theory. If the church does endorse equality of spouses, they need to be ultra-clear about it. I know LDS people of all ages wholeheartedly endorse the idea of the wife submitting to the husband’s decision-making power. Beliefs are all over the place on this.

      • spunky says:

        I am short on time, but wanted to add: I LOATHE Hudson’s Two Trees nonsense. Absolutely hate every word of it.

        And- I dunno. The whole “mingled with scripture” thing- I do jot believe leaders are perfect, and have a strong sense of disregard for advice hurled from the conference pulpit. Though GAs speak with good intent, they are yet imperfect. So I’m not waiting for them to interpret the temple for me.

        Why do you feel like someone else must interpret things of the spirit for you? I guess that’s my main point. Ages ago, I came to the conclusion that heaven could not be heavenly if the rules governing it oppressed me or anyone else. Thus, anything that seems hateful, caste-imposed, or sexist, I outright dismiss. So then- perhaps in a “Molly Mormon” way, I seek for ways to understand the theory (teaching?) as something fit in heaven.

        And in a pinch, I recall that Smith was a mortal and a mason, so something (many things, likely) has to be wrong with the ceremony. It simply can’t be perfect as a matter of doctrinal integrity which teaches that Christ is the only perfect being.

        I do not mean to be dismissive of temple agnst in the least – I dealt with it for years. I just opted to redirect the agnst into searching for something that freed me, rather than impeisiobed me. For me, anger against the temple imprisoned me- because my perception for a time was also imprisoning. I released myself, and find myself- perhaps in a cheesy way, learning something new every time I attend. (I prefer the rare “live” sessions because of the artwork within the temples- nodding to heavenly mother- and the bad acting makes the symbolism jump out for me.)

        I love this discussion, and am so, so glad for a space to talk about the temple. Thank you for sharing your insights and feelings here. <3

      • spunky says:

        And M, I really believe you’ve had some well-meaning, but deeply misguided male church leaders. I also believe they will be accountable for speaking so ignorantly of women (and men) one day.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Spunky,

        ” Though GAs speak with good intent, they are yet imperfect. So I’m not waiting for them to interpret the temple for me.”

        Obviously I respect your right to believe as you do. However, in respect of the Endowment (including the initiatory ordinances) it is largely, despite changes made in the last 30 years, a construct developed by Brigham Young. JSj revealed the basics of the signs, tokens, names and covenants. However, codifying these into a progressive experience of Creation, Fall and Atonement (the three doctrinal pillars) was the work of BY.

        Given that the vast majority of what most feminists would consider to be Patriarchy in the Church came as a result of BY I fail to see how such a flawed man could have even come close to providing an endowment that binds us to Christ.

        That aside, I have said it before, and will say it now. The beauty of our system of Church government is that it requires the sustaining of 15 Apostles for things to move forward. Reading in this thread about the hope that the next generation of leaders will change doctrines fills me with dread. Doctrines are not for changing. They are for understanding. Does everyone here believe that our 15 Prophets, Seers and Revelators work in complete ignorance of the issues facing members? Quite apart from the requirement to be married at the time of their call, they have daughters, granddaughters and in many cases great-granddaughters.

        President Nelson, currently next in line to be president of the Church is married to a women who until she married him had remained unmarried. She has a PhD, was a professor at BYU, and chaired the women’s conference twice. Do you all seriously believe that she doesn’t have some understanding of the issues you all raise? Do you all believe that she is not involved in the leadership of the Church?

      • Andrew R. says:

        “so I don’t believe I am making covenants unto my husband”

        Well you are not. You are being put under covenant (a covenant with the Lord) to obey His law and hearken unto the counsel of your husband. And I suspect you do hearken to his counsel. You love him, you respect him, and you trust him. And of course, if a husband is unrighteous then the obligation to hearken goes. But at no point are you making a covenant unto your husband.

      • Ziff says:

        Andrew, I appreciate your efforts to soften the hearken covenant, but let’s be clear: Women say to their husbands (whether they have husbands or not) “I now covenant with thee.” It’s pretty hard to interpret that away as really a covenant to God.

      • Moss says:

        And let’s not forget that every woman who has been sealed in the temple performed a veil ceremony with her husband, giving him her signs and tokens. Her covenant is with her husband- he is her Lord, just as God is his.

      • Katie says:

        Spunky,
        I’m not sure if you are asking the general “you” or specific people on this thread when you asked “Why do you feel like someone else must interpret things of the spirit for you?”

        I personally believe no interpretation is necessary. I am aware there is symbolism used within the temple, but I believe that the covenants and “blessings” given in the initiatory and endowment are meant to be taken literally, and that no interpretation is required. I think the early church leaders and many of the current ones literally believe/d in a male/female hierarchy. I think they literally believe that women should be given to men. I think they literally believe women will be priestesses to their husbands.

        I have chosen to make no further attempt to find symbolism that probably isn’t meant to be there. I have rejected the angst entirely, and I have chosen not to attend the temple any more. I let my recommend lapse a few months ago and have no intention of renewing it.

        I just noticed your explanation of the law of chastity in the temple. So you believe it really is referring to relations between Christ and the church, and prophetic increase. Well, I thought there was nothing new to hear in the world of Mormonism, but that is a new one for me. I am stunned into speechlessness on that one, and won’t say any more about it!

        Andrew R.,
        I appreciate that you want Eve/women to be covenanting with God, but as Moss and Ziff have pointed out, the temple ceremony is explicitly clear on this one. Eve literally says “Adam, I now covenant. . .”

        “Do you all seriously believe that she doesn’t have some understanding of the issues you all raise?”
        I would hope that Sister Nelson does. However, prior to marrying, she freely taught about and wrote books on sex, something she had zero experience with. That really diminishes her credibility in my eyes. In addition, in a recent talk, she compared “worldly” sex to the “toot of a flute,” apparently with no awareness of how the majority of US society would take this (with much joking and levity). She also said she gave her husband a swing for his birthday, apparently not realizing that the talk would be shared through the written word and audibly, without the accompanying picture of a backyard swing. I was in a group where several the LDS women legitimately thought she gave him a sex swing. So I really don’t assume she had any understanding of anything. And I’m certain she’s not involved in the leadership of the church. The church has made it clear that wives are not to be involved in their husbands’ callings, even in informal ways as as confidantes, advisors, counselors, or anything else.

      • Sherrie Gavin says:

        Katie,
        You’re missing my point. I believe the temple is fluid and nothing is literal. Absolutely nothing is literal.

        I appreciate that you have very strong feelings on the topic, and am choosing to disengage. Thank you for engaging and sharing your important voice.

      • Katie says:

        Spunky/Sherrie,

        I’m not missing your point at all, nor was I engaging with you about what you think. I was simply stating that I think the opposite as you. We haven’t discussed evidence here, but I think the evidence is very clearly in my favor (in favor of literal covenants), especially if we go back to Brigham Young.

        I also feel that there are close to zero others on the planet who would agree with your interpretation of the temple law of chastity. It’s truly that far out there.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Ziff,

        I don’t know your age, or when you went through the temple to receive your own endowment, nor do I know when you last attended. However at no point in the endowment, as not presented, does Eve (or any other women) say “I now covenant with thee” to Adam (or any other man).

        I am fully aware that this has not always been the case.

      • Andrew R. says:

        M,

        “Spunky when I refer to “patriarchal order” I simply mean woman hearkening to husband who hearkens to God which are the words we hear in the temple.”

        I guess we all hear what we want to hear. I hear “obey the Law of the Lord, and to hearken to your counsel”.

        And specific to the women of the session, “you will each observe and keep the law of the Lord, and hearken to the counsel of your husband”

        Covenants in the temple are made with God.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Moss,

        ” Her covenant is with her husband- he is her Lord, just as God is his.”

        There is no covenant being made at the veil. The veil is a test and a place of learning. Just in case you do not know, previously endowed sisters only do a short veil ceremony prior to their sealing.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Katie,

        “I appreciate that you want Eve/women to be covenanting with God, but as Moss and Ziff have pointed out, the temple ceremony is explicitly clear on this one. Eve literally says “Adam, I now covenant. . .””

        She says she is covenanting, and she says it to Adam. But she does not covenant with him specifically. Nor do the sisters in the session – how could they?

        In fact, even when they covenanted to obey their husbands the covenant was with God. Covenants are two way, and as such require the two people to make the covenant.

        Please tell me how a single sister makes a covenant with a husband she doesn’t have. And what is he offering in return.

        NO – the covenant is clearly with the Lord, and the blessings are established in the New and Everlasting Covenant.

      • M says:

        Andrew, from the Mormon Priestess Essay on fmh which for many of us reflects how we view the female/male/God hierarchy we see in the temple:

        “EVE: Adam, I now covenant to obey the law of the Lord, and to hearken to your counsel as you hearken unto Father.

        ADAM: Elohim, I now covenant with thee that from this time forth I will obey thy law and keep thy commandments.

        At no time in the temple does Eve explicitly covenant to Elohim.”

        And later…

        “We don’t readily see this because in the physical space of our view, the witness couple representing Adam and Eve are at the same altar with Elohim presiding, so it looks like both the man and woman covenant to Him and receive from Him. However, the male proxy for Elohim only gives tokens to Adam. Also, in modern temples, it is temple workers who administer tokens to patrons so when a female temple worker gives tokens the relationship is not obvious. But in a live session, Elohim gives tokens to Adam over the altar, Adam gives them to Eve”

        Why doesn’t Elohim give Eve tokens?

        All this is reinforced by women veiling themselves during the true order of prayer. Only Adam can be present before God. Women must separate themselves by veiling themselves.

        Also, from the author in the comments:
        “The term “The Lord” means God for men, and husband for women. We know this because it us “The Lord” who brings people through the veil: god brings Adam through, and the husband brings women through, which is only made obvious in the matrimonial veil ceremony before a sealing. That is why god knows Adams new name and why a husband knows the wife’s. By having Adam covenant to a god establishes their relationship of direct access. By having eve covenant to “The Lord” initiates can assume eve also covenants to God and it is less obvious and disturbing than having her covenant to get future husband. This wording hides the meaning of the female covenant (it was much more obvious in the previous wording) without changing the meaning or the god- man- woman hierarchy.”

        Sounds like same meaning, just softer language so ladies like me have a benefit of the doubt moment during our initiatory and don’t run out of the room. 🙂

        And re: the “woman hearkening to man hearkening to God” dynamic, not sure if you read above but this was fully reinforced by a temple sealer at my sister in-law’s sealing. It’s reinforced by our past language in the temple (now softened but certainly not clarified) as well as not-so-past church publications and conference talks.

      • Andrew R. says:

        M,

        I did read of the experience, and gladly it is not one I have encountered.

        I’m not sure you read my posts though. Did you not see what I wrote about covenants.

        Please explain how, in your view (and that of the article) an unmarried women receiving her endowment makes a covenant with her “husband”. Sure, you can make a case for it being that way. But it isn’t – we, LDS, make covenants with God.

        When we sustain someone in a new calling we likewise enter into a covenant. We don’t enter into a covenant with the person being called, we enter into it with God. That we will do all we can to support, strengthen, and sustain the person being called.

        So we listen to our Bishop, as he follows the Lord, because we sustained him (with our arm at the square) and covenanted with God to do so.

        Same thing with a husband. IMO. I understand your POV, I just don’t agree with it. And, since it causes you grief, perhaps you should try to see it in a way that obligates you to God.

      • M says:

        Andrew,

        “Please explain how, in your view (and that of the article) an unmarried women receiving her endowment makes a covenant with her “husband”. Sure, you can make a case for it being that way. But it isn’t – we, LDS, make covenants with God.”

        Yes a case can be made for it, especially since we can’t go to the celestial kingdom without an eternal companion. I’m not saying it makes total sense and it frustrates many unmarried women I’m sure. I’m also most certainly not saying it is right.

        “When we sustain someone in a new calling we likewise enter into a covenant. We don’t enter into a covenant with the person being called, we enter into it with God. That we will do all we can to support, strengthen, and sustain the person being called.

        So we listen to our Bishop, as he follows the Lord, because we sustained him (with our arm at the square) and covenanted with God to do so.

        Same thing with a husband. IMO. I understand your POV, I just don’t agree with it. And, since it causes you grief, perhaps you should try to see it in a way that obligates you to God.”

        I’m less interested in doing mental gymnastics to see it in a way that makes me feels less afflicted. I’ve done that a lot in my life and I’m over it. I’m interested in two things:

        1. What the church means by it.
        What do the prophets believe it means? Without having done the research, I can imagine what Brigham Young’s opinion would be on the matter…

        2. What is Truth?
        Is the endowment ceremony as written actually sanctioned by God, all of it? Or are there pretty big problems and flaws pertaining to women? What if it’s really really wrong? Like moneychangers in the temple wrong.

        As we’ve noted in this discussion, in the past the wording did suggest that women were actually covenanting to their husbands. So….why should I feel reassured that this is no longer the case when the wording is just a bit softer? The way I see it, our history re: the endowment ceremony only further bolsters the way I interpret it. Which to me is wrong and which is why I no longer attend the temple.

        When you’re the one affected, the one afflicted, these things are a pretty big deal.

      • M says:

        Andrew,

        Also you said you understand my POV and I know you feel very certain in yours. But you haven’t addressed the specific concerns. Why do women not receive tokens directly from God? Why does my husband know my name and I do not know his? Why am I veiled in the presence of God?

      • Katie says:

        Andrew, you say “She says she is covenanting, and she says it to Adam. But she does not covenant with him specifically.”

        I truly do appreciate that you want Eve to be covenanting with God. I want that too. You are clearly in favor of equality. But this is such an incredible stretch, I don’t see how you can believe it. If I am standing next to you and turn toward you and look at you and say “Andrew, I promise to make dinner every night” can you honestly say that there’s any way I could be making that covenant/promise to Bob over there in the corner?

      • M says:

        Also Andrew,

        You said:
        “However at no point in the endowment, as not presented, does Eve (or any other women) say “I now covenant with thee” to Adam (or any other man).

        I am fully aware that this has not always been the case.”

        So you acknowledge in the past women covenanted to their husbands?

        What I’m hearing from you is something like: how could you think women covenant to their husbands instead of God? That’s nuts we don’t do that. You are absolutely covenanting to God and no one else. Oh yeah, sure, ok in the past women covenanted to their husbands but we don’t anymore thanks to new understanding.”

        If that’s so, then that new understanding was a huge deal, no? Like a really big change. So why wasn’t the wording changed in a very clear way to reflect this change?

        “Adam, I now covenant to obey the law of the Lord, and to hearken to your counsel as you hearken unto Father.”

        Eve is looking at Adam. Why can’t Eve, looking at Elohim say “God I now covenant to you…” There’s always this man, her husband between them. The body language throughout the temple supports it. After Eve is punished she no longer even gets to be in God’s presence. It’s an Adam/God show and Eve is sorta there but silent.

        Can you imagine what it’s like for a woman going through the endowment ceremony for the first time, to have no direct contact with God? Especially when we’re taught that it is in the temple we commune most closely with Him?

      • M says:

        Ha! Katie, looks like we were making the same point simultaneously!

        Or should I say, looking at Andrew, “we were making the same point simultaneously!” when I was actually referencing you, Katie. Also he should know it was you I was talking to, not him.

        No disrespect meant by that joke, Andrew. I have a hard time keeping jokes inside.

      • Andrew R. says:

        M,

        Only the first token is extended by Elohim, and in actual fact a person representing him. Since the witness couple are not Adam and Eve, but a symbolic representation of them we can not know what may have actually have happened. In the temple all tokens are given by a person of the same sex as the recipient. Only in the extension of this first token is it given specifically to Adam. And then the desire is for all to receive it. It is then given by ordinance workers representing Elohim and/or Peter. Yes, the sisters are also representing these priesthood holders. It is not the husband that gives the tokens, but someone set apart under the keys held by the temple president, received from the president of the church, to do so.

        You may already be aware of this. However, the final part of the second anointings is an ordinance performed by the wife, in their home, which claims him has hers in Eternity.

      • M says:

        Andrew,

        In the temple women put themselves in the place of Eve and men in the place of Adam.
        When Elohim gives the token to Adam and then Adam to Eve, that has meaning.
        The way I see it, when Eve then gives the token to the rest of the women, it’s in a “here, this is what the token looks like” sort of way. But the real “giving” of the tokens occurs with the three at the front. This supports the idea of Patriarchal Order in the temple.

        Also I had a wedding day and was sealed to my husband. We are living our marriage here on earth. I see no reason why we should not have received each other that day.

      • M says:

        *meant to say female temple patron. I recognize Eve does not actually give the tokens.

      • Sophia McLaughlin says:

        I think you’ll find that by thinking Adam=Christ and Eve=mankind, the dissimilar vows in the garden make good sense, also in the case of the veil.

      • M says:

        Sophie I recognize that. However, the dialogue we are having with Andrew is about a more literal interpretation, not the interpretation you describe.

      • Sophia McLaughlin says:

        But how relevant is a literal interpretation? The temple is many-layered symbols galore, no more nor less than the baptism and the sacrament are. Concepts made tangible.

      • M says:

        If you interpret the temple covenants literally then I would say it’s very relevant. I respect those who have their own symbolic interpretations. I only ask for the same respect in return.

        I imagine you’ve read the Mormon Priestess essay on FMH but if you haven’t you may want to check it out if only to see just how many women interpret it this way.

      • M says:

        Andrew,

        Could you please answer these questions as they pertain to your interpretation, where women make covenants to God but not their husband?

        Why does my husband know my name and I do not know his?
        Why am I veiled in the presence of God?
        Why am I promised to be a Priestess unto my husband, and my husband is promised to be a Priest to God?

        And if you acknowledge women made covenants to their husband in the past, what makes you so certain they don’t now?

        The following statement by the first presidency was read in the temple in 1990 for a few months after they made changes to the wording. I have placed in caps the pertinent parts, I promise I’m not yelling:

        “SINCE THE TEMPLE ENDOWMENT WS FIRST ADMINISTERED IN THIS DISPENSATION, MINOR CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE FROM TIME TO TIME by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, acting unitedly in their capacity as Prophets, Seers and Revelators.

        After an exacting and extensive review, and following solemn prayer on many occasions in the Upper Room of the Salt Lake Temple, modifications in the Endowment ceremony have been recently made by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. Those of you who are familiar with the ceremony will recognize THESE CHANGES WHICH DO NOT AFFECT THE SUBSTANCE OF THE TEACHINGS OF THE ENDOWMENT, NOR THE COVENANTS ASSOCIATED THEREWITH.”

        My covenanting to God all of a sudden instead of my husband sounds like a pretty big change.

        Not trying to goad you or anything, if you don’t feel comfortable responding I suppose I understand. I just sincerely want to to know where you’re coming from.

      • Andrew R. says:

        M,

        “Why does my husband know my name and I do not know his?”

        Men, representing the Lord, in the endowment bring patrons through the veil. This is a representation of bringing people into Exaltation.

        The Lord, and I know this is very sexist, that a wife will acknowledge in the Eternities is her Husband. He will bring her, if he is worthy and righteous enough to do so, into Eternity. The name is a symbol. It is Key their share.

        Why am I veiled in the presence of God?

        I do not know. I have read a few things that shed some light on it. One of which was to do with covering the precious things. The Holy of Holies was veiled. The Celestial Room is veiled.

        Why am I promised to be a Priestess unto my husband, and my husband is promised to be a Priest to God?

        Because he is the one you have a claim on – as I alluded to in my previous post. He is your priest and king. You are his priestess and queen. Is there some reason you would not want to be.

        I have said many times here that I see marriage as a one. There is no male and female, him and her, there is ONE. If there is not one there is no increase.

        I don’t acknowledge that women covenanted with their husbands. They have always covenanted with God. The nature of the covenant changed.

        Prior to 1990
        “We will put the sisters under covenant to obey the law of their husbands.”
        Post 1990
        “We will put each sister under covenant to obey the law of the Lord, and to hearken to the counsel of her husband, as her husband hearkens unto the counsel of the Father.”

        The change was that sister no longer were obligated to obey their husbands law, only to hearken to their counsel.

        You will note the words, “We will put the sisters under covenant”. These are spoken by Elohim and He is putting the sisters under covenant.

      • M says:

        Andrew,

        You said:

        “The Lord, and I know this is very sexist, that a wife will acknowledge in the Eternities is her Husband. He will bring her, if he is worthy and righteous enough to do so, into Eternity. The name is a symbol. It is Key their share.”

        You acknowledge that this is sexist. Usually “sexist” denotes something wrong, negative. Do you support this idea, of a woman’s Lord being her husband in the eternities? The one she worships, praises?

        Me: “Why am I veiled in the presence of God?”

        “I do not know. I have read a few things that shed some light on it. One of which was to do with covering the precious things. The Holy of Holies was veiled. The Celestial Room is veiled.”

        We feminists refer to the as pedastalizing. So precious I need to be veiled as I keep silent and worship my husband in the eternities. But more often, veils symbolize a separation. The veil between the living and the dead, for example. I believe what we learn in the endowment supports this interpretation of the veiling of the women. Cut off from the presence of Elohim whereas their husband is not. This is supported in that at no time in the endowment, after the hearken covenant, does Eve address Elohim directly. The only name she says while covenanting is Adam, and he is the one to whom she is directing her attention.

        Me: “Why am I promised to be a Priestess unto my husband, and my husband is promised to be a Priest to God?”

        You: “Because he is the one you have a claim on – as I alluded to in my previous post. He is your priest and king. You are his priestess and queen. Is there some reason you would not want to be.”

        No he’s not my priest and king. He is a priest and king unto God. I am a priestess and queen unto him. This is supported by the language of the second annointing. You didn’t answer my question from what I can see. I know I may sound sarcastic at times. I mean everything I am saying sincerely, including this. Pro Tip: when engaging with someone who obviously has major major issues with the current sexism in the temple, please do not acknowledge sexism to the point that her husband will be her Lord in the eternities, and then turn around and say something like “Is there some reason you would not want to be.” It is patronizing.

        You: “I have said many times here that I see marriage as a one. There is no male and female, him and her, there is ONE. If there is not one there is no increase.”

        No, they’re not ONE. He’s a powerful God in the eternities who communicates with his children. She’s the priestess who worships him. Their offspring on earth can barely speak of her. If they were ONE there wouldn’t be such discrepancies between him and her.

        You: “You will note the words, “We will put the sisters under covenant”. These are spoken by Elohim and He is putting the sisters under covenant.”

        I see this is as bolstering the argument that women covenant with their husbands in the temple. Stick with me on this –

        The first covenant is made with Eve saying Adam’s name, looking at him:
        EVE: Adam, I now covenant to obey the Law of the Lord, and to hearken to your counsel as you hearken unto Father.

        ADAM: Elohim, I now covenant with thee that from this time forth I will obey thy law and keep thy commandments.

        Eve does not specify who she is covenanting to, yet she says Adam’s name and is looking at him. Adam does specify that he is covenanting to Elohim while looking at him.
        In the pre-1990 version, Elohim then says “It is well, Adam.” No acknowledgement of Eve’s covenant. Because her covenant was made to Adam, and Adam is now the intermediary between Eve and Elohim.
        At this moment the pattern is established, women covenanting to their future Lord, their husband.

        Later:
        The hearken to the sisters is spoken as you said “We will put each sister under covenant to obey the Law of the Lord, and to hearken to the counsel of her husband, as her husband hearkens unto the counsel of the Father. Sisters, arise.” etc. etc. the covenant is again stated and the women agree.

        And to the men: Brethren arise. Each of you bring your right arm to the square” etc. etc. the covenant is stated and the men agree.

        Why the difference? With the women Elohim says “we will put the sisters under covenant” why the “we?” Unless it means women covenanting to their husbands who are covenanting to God. So in effect, both God and the husband are placing her under covenant.

        ********
        Is it any wonder so many women support non-literal interpretations of the temple endowment? It makes sense if one desires to remain a faithful active member, yet a literal interpretation is so disheartening, so offensive to so many.

        Also, Andrew. Where did you learn of your own interpretation of the temple? It is really not that far off from my own, and it is shared by many. What amount of your own interpretation was due to simple temple attendance vs. speaking with authority figures in the church vs. other (including internet study). Just curious.

        I appreciate your taking the time to have this discussion.

    • Andrew R. says:

      Katie,

      “The church has made it clear that wives are not to be involved in their husbands’ callings, even in informal ways as as confidantes, advisors, counselors, or anything else.”

      This is absolutely not the case. Having been closely associated with many stake presidents, one being my closest friend, another being someone I have been clerk to for five years, I can tell you that each one is told by the GA/AA calling him to use his wife as a counsellor. Obviously he should not discuss personal issues of members with her – but he shouldn’t do that with his counsellors. (Even when a DC is being held it is only very close to the actual council that a stake president’s counsellors even know who is attending, let alone why. Only I know that since I write the letter, but I take no part in the council, other then taking the minutes.)

      The same is said to Bishops, and I am certain to GA’s and AA’s.

    • Andrew R. says:

      Sophia,

      Either was make covenants in the temple, or we don’t. If we don’t, and they are simply symbolic a recommend question asking if we keep those covenants is meaningless

      The Law of Obedience is the first law of Heaven. It is the basis of the Plan of Salvation – in that it is in Obedience that we are proved to “see if we will do all things…”

      Please note, I am not saying that there are not symbolic interpretations as well. There are, on many levels – some unique to individuals. However, the covenants are real.

      • Laura says:

        Excuse me. I have to butt in here. “The law of obedience is the first law of Heaven.” That is some dangerous ground you are treading there. Obedience is the first law of dictatorship, and if it is also the first law of Heaven, you can have Heaven. I want no part of it.

  17. Kris says:

    I believe that we had the agency to choose our gender in the prelife, therefore I wholly embrace my femaleness in mortality. I feel no angst in any Church Doctrine or practice.

  18. Katie says:

    I had a conversation about women in the church with a friend last week–my answer is always the same. Until the temple covenant changes, it doesn’t really matter what we tell ourselves or others tell us.

    Conversely, the only way future male leaders will ever change anything, ask different questions of God, whatever, is if we keep having these conversations and fighting for things, little and big.

  19. M says:

    I don’t see things changing either.

    I hold the church to a higher standard re: the temple than I do our other forms of worship. I was taught temples are a place where Christ resides, our most holy buildings on earth, where God communes with His people. Going there is to be the pinnacle of our spiritual experience where we learn new truths and make promises. But the gender inequalities I see in the temple are even more glaring than what I get by church attendance.

    So either culture permeates our temples more than it does our outside temple experiences, or the patriarchal order we learn in the temple is how things truly are meant to be. The Spirit tells me the latter is false, a lie. So if the former is true – what is the purpose of our temples? Can they truly be such a spiritual place if they are so deeply flawed? And if they are so very flawed, are they really sanctioned by God? All this work we do, all those volunteer hours, all those funds creating these buildings. For what? If a covenant is made in the same room a sinful principle is taught, is the building still holy? Can these covenants be made in unholy places?

    Related: near the girls camp I went to as a youth there was an altar at the top of a hill. Story was some higher up church authority figure had set it apart in the 1970s or something. (I know, I’ve never heard of this before but it was sold to me as totally legit). But one day local teens came and spray painted the thing. At that point it was no longer considered holy, it had to be re-dedicated which it never was.

    It may make no difference to any authority member of the Church, but my issues with the temple are large enough that I am taking my own stand. It started with stopping temple attendance, and eventually declining obtaining my temple recommend. I’ve recently stopped wearing my garments. These measures have not gone unnoticed by the bishop, so that’s something, if small. But more importantly I am standing up against something that is so very wrong in my eyes, and I’m feeling self respect and empowerment as a result.

  20. Monique J says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and your experience. It so closely mirrors my own a few years ago. I agree that the current setup in the temple put women in a position to feel deep pain and question their worth. That being said, I have put in my sweat and tears to keep going back to the temple and am now at a point where I feel REALLY GOOD about it. I’ve even come to write out my breakthroughs under the label “temple” here on my blog and it brings me great comfort: http://ohwellmormon.blogspot.com/search/label/Temple

    For those who feel hurt by their temple experience, I can offer my insights, but more important I offer my hugs and understanding.

    • Katie says:

      Monique,
      I came across your temple post on chirality/etc in 2014 or 2015. It’s very tempting to believe! I mean, what woman wouldn’t want to believe it? It’s very flattering. But have you ever found any scriptural support whatsoever for your ideas?

      The prevailing theory of women who have made the temple work for them seems to be the Eve=body, Adam=church theory. These women believe they have received this interpretation through revelation, or at least had it confirmed through revelation. Yet it is a completely non-compatible theory to yours. I recognize that symbols can mean many things, but if the temple is supposed to teach truth, these theories cannot both be true. For me, that calls both the theories into question.

      I guess I don’t really care any more – I gave up on the temple after the new videos came out and the wording hadn’t changed one bit. I do not count increased emotion, crying, or facial expressions as a positive change, like many women do.

      All hope was extinguished for me after the Exclusion policy was released. I read your post on that, and I feel the same way you do about the blessings, and I feel that the rest of the policy is just as wrong. For me, the Exclusion policy is sufficient evidence that the church does not bring truth and is therefore not a good place to be. It literally makes me feel that I am supporting evil by continuing to go to church after the policy was released. (I still go for my husband.) I see that you seem to feel differently, based on your blog post about separation and taking a break. Sometimes I wish I could feel such strong convictions. Your blog posts make me wish I could try to believe again, but then I get back to feeling like I am supporting evil. It seems I can’t win.

      • Monique J says:

        Abrazos, Katie.

        Where you are now with Church, I could be tomorrow. For sure I was there in what seems like only yesterday.

        Even though I have had these tender mercies in the temple, my husband knows not to suggest going to the temple in a light-hearted way. Each time he brings it up, it’s along the lines of, “Do you have it within you to go?” That’s because the potential for pain is ever present. Not just in the temple, but at church on Sundays and in any other interaction with members we have as it could be colored by the direct and subtle teachings on sex we have received over the years.

        Like you, I worry about aligning myself with an organization that creates the pain I clearly wish to avoid, and hope never to spread. Violadiva’s entry speaks to me, to all of us, because I agree that changing temple wording would go a loooooong way to improve the status of Mormon women.

        Nevertheless, I persist with things as they currently are because my testimony carries me through when every other part of me just can’t. I have to retain hope that further light and *clarification* will be given to all.

        The point you made about Eve = body and Adam = church, it didn’t fit into my understanding until just this week! I wrote a post about this, integrating it into my big picture of things: http://ohwellmormon.blogspot.com/2017/06/this-week-has-been-all-about-employee.html

        So there’s that. Not meant to persuade you, of course. But like you, I find it interesting how women from different walks of life can distill information along the same lines. There’s something to that.

        At the very least, we can all agree something’s gotta be done. Too many hurt women.

  21. Monique J says:

    But as for the “how” in making a change, others have been hinting at it or going right to it. It will come down to numbers, I think.
    I live outside Chicago and with the creation of the nearby Indy temple our patron numbers have plummeted. The Chicago temple is being sustained by the old grannies. And currently, the higher-ups are attributing their number problems to the demands on your mothers from their children. They believe that once those kids are grown up, the next generation of grannies will fill in the pews.

    They’re wrong. There will be a lot of temples sitting empty because the younger generations of women can’t and won’t bring themselves to go through the temple ceremonies as they are currently worded.

    I can offer what I have from my blog, I can still go there with the peace that I personally have found, but even now I’m usually all by myself when I attend during the week.

  22. Ceci says:

    I think this is a church founded by a mortal man that made many mistakes and a body of believers that puts more faith in that mortal man than they do the perfect being who was the model for the church. Joseph Smith instituted “doctrine” that was never taught by Jesus Christ and yet we place the word of JS above the word of Jesus Christ.
    This church was founded by a male for males. A male made up the rules and wrote, and then re-wrote scriptures (D&C) multiples times to maintain his superiority. Christ himself never had the arrogance that we see in past and current leadership. The temple ceremony was instituted by Joseph Smith. The temple ordinances were withheld from women until Emma, the prophet’s wife, would accept polygamy. There is nothing Christ-like in using coercion to manipulate women into accepting less and being grateful for it.
    As women try to assert equality in the church, males at the top double-down on the “doctrine” taught by Joseph Smith. It’s a vicious circle. Males are powerful in his church. The so-called doctrine is for the “sons of God” as JS says regularly throughout the D&C. JS manipulated events and doctrine to suit himself and those manipulations are so interwoven into the tapestry of Mormon beliefs that it will take a miracle to correct. I’m sorry I sound so pessimistic but I’m getting more and more discouraged about what is doctrine from Christ and what is just LDS dogma. The dogma seems to rule.

    I’m incredibly disheartened. I’m sad that it took me so long to ask questions and even sadder that no one will answer.

    • erindixon says:

      Yes! I feel exactly the same way! I also completely agree with Violadiva and her post. I love coming to this blog and feeling like I’m not alone.

  23. Meredith says:

    Nonie and I must be sisters, because I was about to write her exact response, especially on the notion of the current temple ceremony being “doctrine.”

    Mormons, as much as we like to use the word, have never actually been big on doctrine. We tend to value orthopraxy (“right practice”) over orthodoxy (“right belief”), mainly due to our reliance on personal and continuing revelation — see James Faulconer on this. This is why you can have thirty Mormons in a room who all claim to be Mormons to the bone, but who all believe vastly different things about life and eternity, derived from whatever verses, prophets, or personal revelations they have held dear.

    The temple ceremony as we have it (and it has changed more than once since Brigham Young, and changed between him and Joseph Smith as well… and btw we can’t ignore how the gender dynamics of that time and particularly in the CHURCH at that time may have played into this) is a ritual. What is the purpose of ritual? Ritual is spiritually transformative, before it is informative. There are big problems in the temple that impact our culture, and for all those reasons your article should be taken seriously. But I think we should be careful when we wield the word “doctrine” in reference to a ritual intended to transform more than inform.

    All that said, I hear and feel the pain of all my sisters as we strive to learn what we already know about ourselves: that we are equal every whit to our brothers.

  24. Tyson says:

    To Andrew and those engaged in back and forth with him 🙂

    I’ve found that things in the church historically and doctrinally can be more easily understood if I just change my assumption of what portion is “revelation vs assumption, cultural, made up stuff, history and popular influence, etc….
    For example if you think the structure and doctrine of the church is 99% pure direct from Gods mouth and 1% philosophy of man you are going to do some incredible mental and emotional gymnastics to reconcile inconsistencies.
    Simply shift the percentage to the correct level and study more history and you will find that you don’t have be so acrobatic in your approach to make it all fit.

    • M says:

      Tyson,

      I don’t disagree with you. I often go back to my favorite essay “Lusterware” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich to remind me that I may need to change my assumptions.

      That being said, your comment isn’t exactly helpful. I can shift my viewpoint of the church more toward the “philosophy of men” influenced by culture, etc. side of things. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m experiencing the church how it is now, flaws and all, and that that experience can be harmful. I’ve got to figure out a way to raise my daughters so that they understand what you describe which is something pretty difficult for a young child to grasp, especially when it likely differs from what their SS, YW, and Seminary teachers believe.

      So yeah, many of us are already doing what you describe, but it doesn’t wash away the difficult stuff.

  25. M says:

    Meredith,

    I’ve been ruminating on your comment – thanks for your take. Do you attend the temple? What if an informative practice is so harmful that it interferes with our ability to be transformed? And what if many of our leaders (and members) believe that the information presented is true and good, and that the information itself is to be spiritually transformative?

  26. Sean Sargent says:

    These questions you raise at the end are exactly my struggle! I want to make things better for me, my wife, my daughters, my sons, and all of us. But what to do if these local changes don’t trickle upstream?

  27. Kira says:

    Hey, so, does anyone know if it’s against the rules for a husband to share his temple name with his wife? Because I think I could be okay with it if he shared his name with me afterwards, but I am really uncomfortable with the idea of not knowing his name while he knows mine.

    • Katie says:

      We are told that the name should never be revealed except at a certain place that will be shown. That place is the veil. So can the name only be revealed AT the veil, or could it be revealed at the veil or any time after (in the celestial room)?

      I suppose if a couple was ready, they could both reveal their names AT the veil during the ceremony prior to their sealing, but the vast majority of women have no idea that it’s going to be a one-way revealing until long after that has passed.

    • Andrew R. says:

      Technically it is against the rules. But since only you two would know, and you could repent, I am not sure that it would matter only is as much as your husband has made a covenant not to reveal it to anyone. Of course, it is only symbolic, and holds no place in Eternity.

      What exactly is it that makes you “uncomfortable” about not knowing?

      • Katie says:

        Andrew, are the men really told to net reveal it to anyone? The women are told “except at a certain place…”

        For me, it would be uncomfortable because it’s an inequality. It sets up a precedent of one-way secret keeping in the marriage. Of course we wives can just look the name up online, but it’s the one-way secret keeping that is a problem. I have personally chosen to not allow this kind of inequity into my marriage.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Men and women have the same restriction. I guess I don’t quite see it as secret keeping. Do you tell each other everything? If you learn something as the RSP, for instance, that is secret do you tell him because it’s not fair that you know something he doesn’t. Would you expect him to tell you everything he might learn as Bishop?

        Since I am guessing you would both keep such confidences why is it any different if God says don’t tell anyone this except as a certain place?

      • M says:

        Andrew, before you reply it may behoove you to place yourself in the shoes of the people with the concerns (empathy). There is an air of incredulousness to your response. It’s one thing to say “yeah, I can see how that would bother you. He knows your name and you don’t know his and you’ve been given zero explanation as to why that is so and you’re just supposed to totally ok with that? I haven’t had to experience that but I can see how it would be troubling. Here are some of my own thoughts as to why that may be so and here’s my opinion about whether or not him revealing that to you is acceptable.”

        Which brings me to my next point. Why are you here? Your comments usually come from a standpoint of educating us women about why we should be ok with the status quo with no attempt to understand things from our perspective, or at least no verbalization of any such attempt. This is not my blog of course, but the subtitle “Sharing women’s voices since 1974” indicates this is a female space. If you aren’t interested in understanding, this tells me you are no ally to women experiencing issues with the Church. So what is your motivation for coming in the first place? I have to wonder if you enjoy being surrounded by people with less power than you in the Church and somehow get off on educating us with your amazing man wisdom as to why we just need to accept the way things are and submit.

      • Katie says:

        I am completely baffled by your example of a bishop or an RSP keeping confidences from their spouse. How is that in any way related to the issue at hand? This is not simply comparing apples to oranges; this is like comparing apples to chickens.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Katie, I see why you think it’s different. However, think of it this way.

        Your husband entered into a covenant when he received his new name not to reveal it, except at a certain place. As did you. There is no method in place for him to reveal it to you at that certain place. So by extracting that information from him you have asked him to break a covenant. In my consideration that is worse than breaking a meeting confidence – where there is no covenant. But each to their own.

        I mean to say that for me it would be worse – if I broke the covenant. What your husband does is none of my concern.

        Just as long as you don’t mind him keeping some secrets – that he has to keep is all I was wondering. You made it seem like there should be no secrets between you.

      • Andrew R. says:

        M,

        I know I say this a lot here. However, I have an endowed mother, wife, and two daughters. None of them is concerned about not knowing their husband’s new name – at least not enough to have them break their covenant and reveal it. So I asked in incredulity. Sorry.

      • Katie says:

        Kira was the one who originally brought this up, and she has not come back to answer your question about why she is uncomfortable, so maybe she would have wildly different answers than M and I do. But I’ll continue to expound on mine. I have a few thoughts that don’t necessarily tie together to each other, but are each part of why someone might be uncomfortable not knowing their husband’s new name.

        1) *In most of our minds, the endowment was inextricably connected to marriage.* Whether it should be or not, it was. So setting up something where he knows our name and we don’t know his, in connection with the same ordinance (not in connection with something completely unrelated such as him having a calling or job that requires confidences to be kept), sets up a power disparity and a terrible precedent.

        With more women going on missions, I think the endowment is becoming disconnected from the sealing, and that’s a good thing, because it emphasizes the individual nature of the endowment. However, in the past, the vast majority of women receiving their endowment were receiving it in preparation for marriage.

        Your example of keeping an unrelated confidence just doesn’t work for the majority of women, because to us, the endowment and marriage happened in the same hour, or on the same day, or in the same week and were bound together in our minds. Again, I get that this may not be the proper understanding of it. Or maybe it is the proper understanding — the endowment was originally only offered to those entering polygamy. So maybe doctrinally it *is* inextricably bound with marriage.

        2) We have been taught that our husband will use our new name to call us forth in the resurrection, and many of us have been taught that if he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to! I have had this information used against me as a threat before, by other women, not by my husband (“well, if you don’t live up to X, Y, and Z, your husband might choose not to call you up”). Clearly that is very bad doctrine, but I am giving you an example of what I encountered years ago in my life as an average, true-believing woman.

        3) We were led to believe that the new name is revealed only for us and is special to us. My seminary teacher spoke of it in this way, and being 15-17 years old and having not gone to the temple, I was unable to recognize what wording he was using that was probably technically correct, but led me to believe the wrong thing. I came out of seminary believing the new name was one revealed specifically for me. Imagine my surprise to find out that it’s assigned based on the day of the month. It’s not special, and it sure wasn’t revealed for me. So why on earth does it have to be kept a secret? There is absolutely zero reason for it that I am aware of. Perhaps God is hiding the reason from me to punish me for my insubordination. Your examples include actual reasons a secret/confidence might need to be kept.

        4) You said “You made it seem like there should be no secrets between you.”
        I think that not keeping secrets from one’s spouse is a pretty good general rule that most married people would want to strive for. To use your word, I am incredulous to think that you see it differently! 🙂 Living in an imperfect world, I am sure that it doesn’t always happen, but I would think it is what most people want and try to live up to, and that most people who are keeping secrets from their spouse consider it to be a deficiency in their relationship.

        ~~~~

        You said “So by extracting that information from him you have asked him to break a covenant.”

        Not if you ask him to tell you in the Celestial room!

        As I said way upthread, I have personally chosen to not allow this inequality into my marriage, so it is irrelevant for me and my marriage.

      • Kira says:

        I’m really not here to argue. Katie has basically explained the reason why I find this uncomfortable. I would also note that a name is more of a personal thing, whereas information you get in your calling about other people is not personal, which makes it less important to share with your spouse.

        Thanks to everyone for clarifying about where/when names can be revealed.

        Although now I’m worried about the whole “refusing to call your name at the Resurrection” thing that Katie mentioned. 😛 I know a lot of men who might do just that.

      • Spunky says:

        Interesting opinion, Andrew R. I am under the impression that you are a “letter of the law” kind of approach to this, whereas many people, myself included, are more “spirit of the law” people.

        In the spirit of maintaining marriage as a divine covenant relationship, I see no sin in spouses sharing each others’ mortally assigned temple names.

        You see this as an issue because the women in your life, so far as you know, have no such desire. I respect thier choice as I don’t see thier choice as a sin of omission in becoming united as husband and wife with God.

        Is it really so difficult for us to agree that the marriage covenant you made is similar (if not the same) as the one I made, yet our circumstances and our relationships with God as separate units are different, and thus, our covenants are manifested in different ways?

  28. M says:

    Andrew,

    Your lack of personal insight is astonishing and your disinterest in seeking understanding very un-Christlike.

    Again, what are you doing here? What sort of non-feminist non-ally person seeks out and comments regularly on a feminist leaning blog?

    Either you are:

    1. here to stir things up (troll) or,
    2. you have so little power your life (job? marriage? social?) that you feel the need to throw church patriarchy in the faces of a bunch of feminist leaning women because apparently all of the patriarchy loving women in your life do not fulfill this need sufficiently.

    Either scenario is pathetic.

    • Violadiva says:

      M — I love your comments on this post and on the blog as a whole. Your voice is so valuable on these threads. Thanks for all of the great insights and questions you have contributed to this discussion about the temple.

      However, even for Andrew R., we must abide by the comment policy of no personal attacks or insults.

      http://www.the-exponent.com/site-map/comment-policy/

      • M says:

        Violadiva,

        You are right – it went too far. I should have stated my views in a more constructive and less attacking way and I apologize for not abiding by the policy. I can usually handle these types of commenters, but became especially frustrated by his recent comments which I found to be insensitive and dismissive to the very real and valuable experiences of the women commenting, especially in light of the topic at hand and the very real pain and frustrations many of us have about the temple. I should not have fed into those frustrations as I do realize that by doing so I, too, detracted from the good stuff.

        Thank you again for your OP. It (obviously) hits home.

      • Spunky says:

        M, I understand you have strong feelings on the topic. But I think you’ve ventured to personal attacks on Andrew, even in your last comment.

        This isn’t my post, so don’t feel like I have the final call, but you have been previously warned about this.

    • Andrew R. says:

      It’s just perspective. I am not saying that there are things which are inequitable in the church for men and women. I just find it hard to drill this down to a Patriarchy thing.

      Really the essence of what I get here is that everything that is good with the Church is God given, and everything that is wrong is from Men.

      It seems that there is no room for the idea that some of what is seen as the result of man made patriarchy is actually the way it is because that is what God wants.

      So:

      I don’t believe that God wants women to be silent and not have a voice. In fact I believe that recent changes have made that more clear. All of the current Q15 buy into the Ward and Stake Council being the melting pot of discussion – and that sisters should be heard.
      In a recent CCM the Area Seventy invited the stake RSP’s along with the stake presidents. He covers two missions and his other one is the one where my son-in-law is a stake clerk so I know he is doing this in both. He had four topics for discussion. One was “How can we better use the experience of sisters in ward council?” This we discussed last evening in Stake Council – where sisters, though out numbered, always speak for more of the time than the men.

      But I don’t believe that Sisters need the priesthood, or will have the priesthood, as it is given to men. I don’t believe this disadvantages them, though I can see why they might think so.

      I do not see a man knowing his wife’s new name as inequity. Whilst we do not know fully why this is the case, I do believe this is how God intended it and that it wasn’t to keep the women under control. I believe that having made a covenant to not reveal it I shouldn’t. The Celestial Room is not the veil. The fact that it is easy to find the new name of anyone you have an endowment date for makes it moot I suppose. However, this is how I view it. I am not discounting others’ opinions. As I said above.

      I do not believe any of the nonsense that people have been taught in relation to a man calling his wife from the grave by her new name, or choosing not to. Whilst I am content to believe that a man may well administer the ordinance of resurrection to his wife, I believe he would do it in her actual name – just as with all other ordinances. Since the keys of resurrection have yet to be restored we do not know. I do understand why such teachings would be hard to hear – but they are not supported in any accepted context (ie the scriptures).

      Just something to ponder on. In the final stage of the Second Anointing a wife performs an ordinance which claims her husband as hers in the eternities (barring the unpardonable sin being committed). She does this after having been anointed a Queen and a Priestess to her husband.

      So often we read this as her being a priestess “of” her husband. However, when we talk about a bishop or stake president we talk about them being the Bishop to their members. Maybe, and this is speculation, part of being a priestess unto your husband is to provide him with priestessly duties as someone who administers to him.

      You all wonder why I come here, I wonder why with all that you seem to find wrong in the church, and especially its uninformed, patriarchy enabling leaders you continue to go to church.

      We are all on a journey, and none of us has all the answers. We do what we believe is right and we do it to the best of our abilities. And at the end only God (I use that term to mean, at once, Heavenly Father or Heavenly Mother or Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost and any, and all, combinations of them) can judge us. However, in the process we take in the words and thinking of others and use it as we process our own thoughts. This is one of the places I come. I also frequent a very nice, quite small, forum of members across the world who are all active. I also read on exmormon.org from time to time – where my comments are disliked even more than here 🙂

      I dislike the written medium, but it is all we have. There are many here I would love to meet and have a proper conversation with, and maybe one day that may happen.

      • Spunky says:

        Have you been through a second anointing?

        All I’ve heard about those just sounds creepy – I’m not interested, nor does it seem common within the church.

      • Katie says:

        “It seems that there is no room for the idea that some of what is seen as the result of man made patriarchy is actually the way it is because that is what God wants.”

        Uh, no, there’s a ton of room for that. That’s a common point of discussion in women’s groups. Believe me, we are often terrified that it is set up *exactly* how God wants it. If this Earth life is not fair and equal for everyone (covering every topic from poverty to abuse to religion), then I believe there’s no guarantee that heaven will be fair and equal.

        “The Celestial Room is not the veil.”

        True, but it is *beyond* the veil. Many believe that all mortal restrictions and inequalities fall away after one passes through the veil.

        “So often we read this as her being a priestess “of” her husband.”

        No, “we” don’t. I’ve never heard of any woman discuss it that way. I’ve always heard it as “TO,” as in she serves him and administers TO him, just as you go on to say.

        “Maybe, and this is speculation, part of being a priestess unto your husband is to provide him with priestessly duties as someone who administers to him.”

        I guess it’s speculation, but it seems pretty obvious. What else could it mean? Why do you think some of us women have such a hard time with it?! We want to be doing stuff together, equal *with* our husbands, not administering to him with no reciprocation! Most women already do that their entire earthly lives. So many marriages are getting better, but in so many, the woman still serves everyone else in the family at her own expense, with little reciprocation. As far as my husband, he is amazing at serving the family and I am very fortunate.

        And as Spunky said, the second anointing appears to be very rare within the church, so cannot be used as a common experience among members.

        “I wonder why with all that you seem to find wrong in the church, and especially its uninformed, patriarchy enabling leaders you continue to go to church.”

        I go for a few reasons:
        1) So my husband won’t divorce me.
        2) So I can stand up for LGBT people if the need ever arises. For example, I spoke very boldly/negatively about the gay family exclusion policy when the bishop came in to discuss it with the RS in 2015. Nearly every other woman who spoke after me backed me up. Speaking up really does make a difference and frees others to say what they think. I guarantee there are LGBT kids in every ward, and usually adults as well.
        3) Mormonism is my tribe. Unless I get divorced, stop seeing my extended family, get a different job, and move out of state, Mormonism will be my tribe regardless of what I believe. I typically enjoy the hymns and music, and sometimes a talk or lesson will be really great. Mostly I spend my time at church in the mother’s room.

      • Andrew R. says:

        I realise that the second anointing is rare. However, it will be something that we all go through – as we are told in the endowment.

      • Katie says:

        I don’t think it’s saying everyone will go through it. It’s saying they’ll be anointed kings/queens/priests/priestesses, but it doesn’t say they’ll go through the Second Anointing process in order to do so. I think the Second Anointing is an earth-bound ordinance and will not happen after death.

      • M says:

        “However, in the process we take in the words and thinking of others and use it as we process our own thoughts. This is one of the places I come”

        You use our words and thinking to process your own thoughts? In what way? To simply reinforce your own views to yourself? Our pain, frustrations, and experiences are real, but none of that seems to matter to you, and you disregard them with your incredulousness. You are disinterested in empathizing with us, disinterested in understanding us. You are not here to buoy up your fellow Saints. You are not here to mourn with those who mourn. You are not here to witness dialogue between a group of people to which you don’t belong so you can better understand their point of view.

        You ask few questions. You make statements, not opinions. “I realise that the second anointing is rare. However, it will be something that we all go through – as we are told in the endowment.” It’s like you are saying “the sky is blue.” The rest of us speak of what we find in the temple as interpretation, opinion, or belief. You speak primarily in certainty. Has the prophet personally told you the exact and true interpretation of the temple?

        You are consuming what we say, but to what end? What do you gain?

      • Andrew R. says:

        ““I realise that the second anointing is rare. However, it will be something that we all go through – as we are told in the endowment.” It’s like you are saying “the sky is blue.””

        I will reply to this, and then I will never comment on this site again. I will continue to read – I see little point in justifying why. The thoughts, opinions, and issues of men are unimportant.

        My point, poorly made I realise, was that at some point all married couple who have endured to the point of having their calling and election made sure (and it happens, and can only happen, as a couple) will be called up and anointed Kings and Priests, Queens and Priestesses. And in the final act of that the wife will perform a priesthood ordinance, as a priestess, to claim her husband in the eternities. If you do not see the relevance of that in the eternal scheme of Temple, Priesthood, Eternity and the place of women with men that I see I am sorry.

        I am not discounting the pain and suffering that many here have felt. I am saying that it is a tiny part of eternity. Mortality is hard, it was ever meant to be so. Is it actually harder for women than men? I don’t know. But I have a better understanding of the female side now than I did before.

        However, being a man in the Church, holding the priesthood, and all the expectations heaped on boys through Primary and Aaronic Priesthood also cause pain. If it wasn’t for the certainty of hope that I have I would quite happily walk away from the church today. I am not happy in my callings (in that I am currently unfulfilled doing them). That is not to say that there is not enjoyment, or that I don’t do them. But they do not satisfy me, I am not growing in doing them. Because of the nature of my callings most weeks I spend the entire three hour block doing nothing other than being there. I sit down at 9:50 for Sacrament meeting. Move at 11:10 into the hall for Sunday School, then back to the chapel at 12:00 for priesthood. Then I go home. I could easily not speak to anyone, and often don’t. I may make a comment in Sunday School, and I am usually more engaged in High Priests group (because of the low numbers in there). There are things I could be doing, but am not asked to do, which is fine. I am one of only three real organists in our stake. However, in my ward a few years ago, due in part to my stake callings, someone else was called to be the ward pianist (not an organist). Last year he was called as second counsellor on the bishopric. And he still plays the piano – even when conducting the meeting, while I sit unused in the congregation. So I know what it feels like to be undervalued, and underused, in the way I read many of the stories here.

        Anyway. Enough about me. I bid you all farewell and maybe, in the eternities we will be able to meet up and have a chat and see if mortality was worth it. Sorry for any and all offence caused – it was unintentional.

      • Spunky says:

        M- FWIW , I don’t think the prophet is the omniscient source for temple interperations any more than Andrew is, or I am. So even if the prophet had told Andrew or me what his thoughts on the temple are, I would still take it as an opinion rather than facts set in stone.

        I don’t think your point was that the prophet is omniscient regarding temple interperations, but that being said the temple speaks to me as a fluid place of ongoing revelation – including revelation regarding its own routine.

        Thank you for commenting.

      • Spunky says:

        Andrew, it just occurred to me that possibly the second anointing can also include death. After all, Christ was anointed prior to death and crucifixion. I’ve heard of other second anointings but they do not appeal to me.

        I respect your very literal temple interperations. But I also suggest you read Understanding Your Endowment by Cory Jensen. It is avail through Deseret Book and discusses different temple interpretations that I think would appeal to you.

        Also, Andrew, I am sorry to see you go and I think you should reconsider. Temple topics always run hot here, making it a hard place to engage with orders who ate so hurt, angry and frustrated. I think your interaction has benefited those who are afraid or unwilling to comment and stretched discussions in interesting directions.

        I meant what I said in my post that you recently commented on in reference to President Eyring. I’m sorry the church isn’t making better use of you. Perhaps some of the discussion here can help you stretch and prepare for callings that deal with women? I know that in my years of being calling -free that I enjoyed the break and saw it as a time to prepare.

      • M says:

        “I don’t think your point was that the prophet is omniscient regarding temple interperations, but that being said the temple speaks to me as a fluid place of ongoing revelation – including revelation regarding its own routine.”

        Yes, Spunky. When I said that I was merely pointing out that when it comes to the temple, unless you have some sort of real authority in the matter, you really shouldn’t be speaking with absolute certainty and I used the most extreme example I could simply to make my point. I like what you say about fluidity and I can see how that interpretation of the temple exists. You also use the term “the temple speaks to me as…” demonstrating an opinion or interpretation. By doing so you show respect to others’ view of the temple, including my own which is different than yours, and makes me more likely to want to engage with you. Unfortunately Andrew often speaks in statements, and by doing so he doesn’t leave room for other interpretations or beliefs which I find disrespectful.

        “I will reply to this, and then I will never comment on this site again. I will continue to read – I see little point in justifying why. The thoughts, opinions, and issues of men are unimportant.”

        Your call. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to question your motives for being here and find it telling that you do not answer that question. I can easily explain mine. This is an online support group of sorts for me. I am a lifelong member who was participated in, received much from, and given much to this church. Throughout my life I have developed a strong testimony of my value to God. What I sometimes see at church, and in the temple especially, goes agains my view of that relationship. Through prayer and personal revelation I have been directed to pursue a career and despite it being a true blessing to my family (thanks also to a very supportive spouse and overlapping gender roles) my church does not support that decision. Online forums like these create a sense of community for me that I do not find at church and mitigate the negative experiences I get in church culture.

        The thoughts, opinions, and issues of men are important. But care should be taken by men when commenting in female spaces. Insight is important. I have engaged successfully with several male commenters on forums like this one. It can be done.

      • Katie says:

        Andrew said “However, being a man in the Church, holding the priesthood, and all the expectations heaped on boys through Primary and Aaronic Priesthood also cause pain. ”

        I 100% agree with this. As a woman, I will freely discuss women’s pain and harm in the LDS church, but as a wife and a mother of 4 boys, I will also freely discuss men’s pain and harm. I will never deny that men experience pain and harm from this church as well. Your comment, coming from a believer like yourself instead of a disgruntled exmormon, gives me all the more reason to accelerate my efforts in extracting my 4 boys and myself from the church. I understand that for many, the benefits and joy from the church outweigh the harm and the pain. I’m not so sure that for me and my family it does.

        I realize I’ve been very tenacious in responding to Andrew, and this isn’t really “my” forum either. I think I’ve commented here a time or two in the past, but I’m not a regular. I saw this post on Facebook and was interested and jumped in.

      • M says:

        “M, I understand you have strong feelings on the topic. But I think you’ve ventured to personal attacks on Andrew, even in your last comment.

        This isn’t my post, so don’t feel like I have the final call, but you have been previously warned about this”

        Spunky,
        If my last comment sounded like a personal attack, I think that is a misinterpretation of tone and not the actual written words. Of course if the moderators feel differently, then I respectfully defer to them. I don’t think it’s inappropriate to call out insensitive behavior on these blogs, especially by a male on a blog with feminist leanings. I am a white woman and were I to go to a blog meant for women of color, I hope I would conduct myself in a respectful way and were I to get called out, I should hope I would internalize that dialogue and strive to do better.

  29. Spunky says:

    Just sayin’- this book addresses many of the issues going on in this discussion in a very good way.

    http://www.the-exponent.com/book-review-series-understanding-your-endowment/

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