Update on My Letter to Boyd K. Packer

Posted by on April 23, 2012 in leadership, women | 55 comments

About two months ago I wrote post about a letter I’d written to Boyd K. Packer. Many people wanted an update on what happened, so here it is.

I sent similar letters to Bro. Packer, Bro. Uchtdorf, Sis. Thompson (who has since been released) my stake Relief Society president, stake president, ward Relief Society president and bishop. It’s been two months and I’ve had one response. I got a letter from the secretary of the First Presidency responding for Bro. Uchtdorf. Here’s what it said.

Thank you for your letter of February 25, 2012, addressed to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. He has read your letter and asked that I respond in his behalf.

In as much as it was President Boyd K. Packer who wrote his talk in the recent worldwide leadership training broadcast I am unable to comment on your specific with his address.

However, I have taken the liberty of enclosing an address by President Gordon B. Hinckley entitled “Daughters of God,” which discusses the role of women in the divine plan of our Heavenly Father. It is hoped this talk will be of assitance to you.

I have been asked to extend to you Presient Uchtdorf’s kindest regards.

Sincerely yours,
Brooke P. Hales
Secretary to the First Presidency

The choice of talk that either the secretary or Bro. Uchtdorf chose to attach was actually unhelpful for many reasons. It is the talk in which prayer to Heavenly Mother is banned. He also states that the word “men” in the scriptures applies to everyone just as “men” in the Declaration of Independence meant everyone. Except the Declaration of Independence acctully meant white men… so that example killed the whole arguement for me. There are other reasons I found it unhelpful, but that’s for another time.

So while I found the talk inapplicable to my concerns, I was glad to hear that at least one of the seven leaders I wrote to cared enough to respond. He felt that my concerns mattered enough to respond to them. No one else did. Now, I understand the lack of response from Bro. Packer and Sis. Thompson. They get tons of mail and can’t respond to all of it. But the lack of any kind of response from any of my local leadership suggests to me that my experience and thoughts don’t matter to them. I was not expecting any changes to be made based on what I said, but acknowledgment on some level would have been nice. Even just a “I got your letter, thanks for sharing your experience,” would have been better then the nothing I got. A simple sentence like that says to me, “I hear what you say and will listen.” Whereas no response says to me “What you said doesn’t matter.”

Recently I’ve been wondering if who I am and what I believe is welcome in the church. This utter lack of acknowledgment makes me think that maybe I and my experience are indeed unwelcome.

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55 Comments

  1. Well, I’m just responding to say that I hear you. Not much consolation, I know.

    I wrote a letter to the first presidency over a year ago and they sent it to my stake president behind my back, who then called me in to an interview. At least you know that somebody actually read your letter, instead of just dismissing it and sharing it behind your back with someone else.

    That being said, I wish there was a response from your local leaders. Mine have always been extremely willing to talk to me, even though the conversations were often frustrating, at least they were trying (most of them anyway).

    I do hate the feeling of not being heard, so I empathize. Again, I hear you. Loud and clear.

    • Thanks Julianne. Being heard is great, no matter who it is. That’s why I love the Exponent; we have a place to hear and be heard.

      I’m sorry you had trouble with a letter you wrote. I can never tell what the policy is. On the one hand they say they bounce letters back to local leadership, but I haven’t heard anything. Some people get responses from GAs, and then GAs quote letters in conference. There’s no way of know what’s going to happen.

  2. Face palm.

    It is very disappointing that he chose to send you a copy of that talk.

    Words fail me.

  3. I am so, so sorry — I was looking forward to hearing what came of your letters.

    That talk came literally weeks after I’d had a very real and poignant spiritual experience re HM, and I left the broadcast in tears. I hate hate hate hate hate what he said. It made me feel sad and angry and confused — all particularly bad because I’d just experienced this joy and peace and clarity.

    That said, I think you did find an answer in that talk: You may feel free to take it just as seriously as the Continental Congress took women.

    • I’m sorry that talk was so painful for you. I don’t remember when it was given, I was too young to get the implications, but it was painful reading it when I got it.

      And I agree; this talk does not include me so I have no intention of paying any attention to it.

      • I read these blogs because I’m interested in peoples opinions and experiences, even if I do disagree sometimes. I would like to add that I feel Pres. Hinckley was inspired with what he said in that talk. He did not say anything that I find to be extreme. He clearly followed what was taught in the Book of Mormon and gave ample evidence that a lack of revelation neither adds or detracts from the existence of a Heavenly Mother. He outlined how a man should treat a woman, gave his counsel on scriptures, admitted when he didn’t know, said the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother sat well with him, and encouraged listeners to “Continue to live the gospel”.

        On a side note because I have read many of your posts, I hope you will stay in a Church that is led by the Savior even when you don’t have all the answers you want. I wish your experiences had been better with local leaders and that you can see the faults in them as individuals and not as faults with the collective church as a whole. There are many bishops, relief society presidents and stake presidents that would have loved and encourage a conversation with you.

  4. FYI. This post- therefore your voice- does matter. Your angle is valuable and even though it might not be recognized by the church leadership right now, other members (like me) see this post. I kind of feel like this post is a little seed of info that I slip it into my purse to go along with other experiences I’m grappling with. Thank you for your honest thoughts.

    • Thank you for that. As long as people keep voicing their experience, maybe things will change. If we keep talking and sharing, on some level they have to listen to us.

  5. I am sorry.

    I must admit that I understand when letters I’ve written to general authorities do not get answered. They get so very, very, very many and all of them are from people who they don’t know who are feeling so keenly the need for answers or responses. If I were in their shoes it would be very hard for me to feel unable to respond to them all and to feel that when I did try to respond, my long distance efforts would not be enough. My friend who was a stake president would sometimes get letters from one general authority or another asking him, because he was closer and more in tune with the concerns expressed in a letter they had received, to please be of assistance to the one who had written a letter and he always did his best to try, though he often felt inadequate.

    On the other hand, I’m even sorrier about the lack of response from your ward RS president, your bishop or your stake president. I’ve been the recipient and the observer of some magnificently helpful, thoughtful and compassionate responses given by mine in some wards and stakes I’ve lived in. On the other hand, not all of the bishops, RS presidents or stake presidents I’ve known have been good at that. But that you’d strike out with all three where you live is remarkable.

    • It was the lack of response from local leadership that really threw me off. If they don’t have the time or inclination to address concerns of those in their stewardship, then what’s the point?

      • I agree completely

  6. From my experience, local leaders only respond to letters they can have an official response to in case it gets back to them. Since sharing anytime of understanding, or desire for change in your situation is a no-no; it makes sense that they didn’t bother to say “Hey we got your letter”.

  7. *any type

  8. DefyGravity,
    I can’t get the link in the first sentence of your post to work. Can you fix that?

  9. I cried. I am in the same, exact crisis of faith right now. It is terrible to be told about “this” all-inclusive, loving, Christ-like religion that will bear one another’s burdens, then to be dismissed, as women with an old talk, from an old white guy.

    Why do people do that? Instead of engaging in intelligent dialogue, or offering real insight, they copy and past- or print off- a talk and say “there.” “That is the answer, and if you can’t get it here, it is your problem.” It is not right. It is not what Jesus would do. Seriously, I don’t see him doing anything like that in the scriptures. He made His own illustrations and likened them to the audience He was addressing. Such should be the model of anyone seeking in our church. If there is “not enough time” for our paid leaders to respond, they have a job that is too big for them. I am sorry, friend. I am heartbroken on your behalf.

    • I agree with you totally on this point. They need to listen, and they need to become like Jesus. Maybe the general authorities need a bi annual member conference and they can listen to us like we do at General Conf.

    • I totally agree. Christ sat and talked with people. The scripture say to ask God questions and we are promised answers. So why is dismissal so prevalent in the church? Why is it so hard to engage with people that are different? And what do they think will be gained by ignoring people? Because if you ignore people enough, they’re going to walk out. Why should anyone stay where they are ignored and unaccepted?

    • I would just like to comment on the fact that you said..”paid leaders”… none of the leaders in our church are paid. As to someone not having the time…perhaps it is more likely that they did not know how to respond, perhaps they are still praying to know how to respond or perhaps they are human like the rest of us and got busy with the million and one things in there life and the letter slipped through. I would be terribly saddened if I were to let something slip by unknowingly and then find that the person it concerned was more interested in talking bad about me than simply coming to me and talking. I do understand how it feels to not have a response or not get the response you wished for…however, it is important that we be Christlike and not judgemental. We don’t know what is going on in their lives. Stay strong, pray and you will find the answers you seek…it may not be when you want it but God has promised that we will receive answers and blessings.

      • I didn’t think I was talking bad about them, just expressing how I feel about what happened. And my previous comment is also based on previous interactions with leadership, who have insulted and dismissed me to my face. This may have been an oversight on the part of 4 leaders, but the way I have been treated was actual dimissal. And I do intend on contacting my leaders again. This post does not cover my whole life or every decision, just a sliver of experience.

        Also, there are General Authorities that recieve a stipend from the church to live on, as well as housing, transportation, etc., because they essentially work a full time job. That could be called pay, depending on how you look at it.

      • As a rule, all general authorities are “paid.” They receive a monthly, or annual, stipend that allows them to live equivalent to upper-level executives in the business world. It is said, that much of their remuneration derives from the many board of directors they sit on, and so forth, in running Church-owned businesses, but it’s all the same. Walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. Very little is ever said about this, for obvious reasons; but it is nonetheless the way things work. Lower level executives in the Church are not paid…unless they actually work for the Church (and there are lots of those in Salt Lake).

  10. Its’ really not uprising. I basically got the same exact letter, minus the “Daughters of God,” comment.

  11. “It is the talk in which prayer to Heavenly Mother is banned.”
    Well that was smooth of them, wasn’t it.

  12. I am so sorry. And that talks was horrible. Why are concerns always so dismissed.

  13. Wow,

    I read your original post and you follow up and I just feel so frustrated at the situation. My heart goes out to you. You are not alone. To have local leadership ignore your letter is just the typical answer it seems “lets just ignore the situation and hope she goes away”. Thank you for sharing and for being so open. I hope that one day we can be seen as more then just wives and mothers.
    Thanks

  14. Good question.

    I once had a stake president who would write long, understanding and encouraging letters in response to missives like yours and that was a terrific gift.

    Here’s a question for you. If you were an ideal stake president and a RS president or bishop who felt at a loss brought you an honest, concerned letter they had received, like the one you wrote, what would you counsel him/her to do/say/be in response?

    That’s an honest question. I ask it because I find that some people do find themselves at a total loss when they receive such a thoughtful letter. It’s a new experience and they don’t know what to do with it and they often opt not to respond to the author simply because they don’t know how, they feel powerless, and the letter doesn’t explain what kind of a personal response is expected. THAT’S NOT TO EXCUSE THEIR BEHAVIOR. It’s wrong not to respond. And I may be asking you a question that seems to you to have a hugely obvious answer. But if there were a good articulation of what, to you, might be an example of an enlightened response in order enlighten the clueless that would be good to have out there. So that’s why I ask.

    Knowing your answer to that would be helpful to me in the teaching I do (and no, I’m not a RS pres.).

    So, if you were to craft the kind of emotional and verbal response that one might rejoice to receive from a responsible, compassionate local church leader that was paying attention and respecting your ideas, what would it be?

    Thanks in advance.

    • That’s a fair question. What I would want is willingness to dialogue. I would want them to come to me and say that they got my letter and be willing to address the concerns I expressed. If they didn’t understand where I was coming from, I would like them to ask me to explain without looking to prove me wrong. I would like to hear that they understand why I have concerns and that those concerns are valid even if they don’t share them.

      It would also be nice if they asked what they could do to make people like me feel more comfortable. What could they teach, what could they avoid saying, what could they change to address women who for whatever reason don’t fit or don’t like Bro. Packer’s description of women.

      So something like. “I got your letter. Can we discuss your concerns?” “I have had a different experience, but I understand how you could feel hurt by what Bro. Packer said.” “We want to make church a safe place for everyone. Are there things that make you feel judged or unwelcome? If so, how can those be addressed?”

      What I would like not to happen is someone trying to tell me that how I feel about what was said was wrong, that I need to pray to understand and accept my role, that I’m misinterpreting what he was saying. They don’t have to agree with my interpretation, but dismissing or criticizing my experience isn’t helpful.

      Hope that helps!

      • That does. Very much. I will use that.

        Thank you.

        So the next question I have is similar. Would you wish for a similar dialogue, via phone or whatever, in response from a farther away general authority as well (I ask because phone conversations with members all over the world may not be always possible due to distances or sheer numbers of conversations required) or would a written response be sufficient. If the latter, what would you want included in that response?

        Again, thanks for considering the question.

      • I’d prefer a verbal conversation, since then you can have a conversation. Clearly, this isn’t always possible. If it was a written response, I would appreciate statements like many on this post. “i understand how you feel.” “Your experience matters.” “I don’t share your experience, but I’m glad you shared.” It would also be nice if someone said, “I will try to incorporate your experience by doing x, y, or z,” even if it’s just being aware of the variety of experiences in any group of people or more inclusive language. I don’t need everything to be about my experience, but a balance of experiences, language that doesn’t create a hierarchy of experiences or exclude minorities would be wonderful.

      • Thanks. That’s helpful too.

  15. I went back and read your previous post. I feel that Elder Packer was saying that the most worthy goal for a woman was to “live the gospel.” He goes on to specifically mention marriage and motherhood as ways that he believes that his wife is living the gospel, and I’m sure he in turn feels that is important for all LDS women. Regarding this implication, I think it would have been more inclusive to include other and more fundamental ways that women live the gospel, such as their relationship with God and the Savior. However, since he mentioned first the foremost goal of living the gospel, and went on to describe his wife’s choices as being in accordance with gospel teachings, I don’t feel he is outright saying that other women’s choices are less valuable, or that other ways to live the gospel are not as important. It’s possible that he may harbor that opinion, but I didn’t feel that message coming across. Personally, I think it would be hard to advocate for motherhood without downplaying the value of women who are not mothers. Hats off to those that can do that!!

    I’m sorry that you felt hurt by his words, and I feel that it is a shame that your local leaders are not offering a response to you. It is hard when our lives and the way that we choose to live the gospel seem invalid. I am not a mother, nor am I married to a man that actively holds the Preisthood. I do not feel like the ideal LDS woman in many ways, but I think that’s okay. The impressions that the Spirit gives me that validate me are so important, and the words of leaders that stir the influence of the Spirit inside me are primarily what I try to focus on. I admire you for bringing statements to the attention of others that don’t validate many women. Hopefully, it causes them to reflect on the messages they give in new ways.

  16. Just a thought,

    First, let me get this out of the way: I’m a guy. I can’t imagine what goes on inside a woman’s head and know little of what it’s like to be a female. OK.

    I have always been curious about cosmology. This world and the lives that we live seems so tiny and fleeting in comparison to….everything. Like most people, the thought of a Heavenly Mother freaked me out (in a good way) I thought to myself “maybe spiritual reality isn’t about old men with beards and robes, but REAL people.” A divine co equal couple governing this frame of existence? Makes perfect sense to me. Then the question, the elephant in the room: Why don’t we pray to her? I asked my dad. He gave me the burka answer, which I don’t buy for a second. Why would an all powerful goddess need protecting from stupid, short sighted mortals who know nothing about her? Heavenly Father needs no protection.

    This is my personal reconciliation. It helps me with a lot of issues, but makes some others angry. We know extremely little about the universe and the laws that govern it, but there are things that we do know. We know why we are here and where we are going. We know that there is indeed a divine glorious feminine. However, we don’t know what her place is in everything.

    My guess is that when Christ returns, he will introduce us to a vast number of new concepts that we can’t even comprehend at this point, beyond our current understandings that may change how we view existence itself. To me gender IS essential to everything. Males and females are both human, but in so many deep ways we are very different. Perhaps we both contribute something essential to Creation. Something that a one gender species could not achieve. Perhaps in this life, at this stage of Eternal Life. We don’t need to know, or shouldn’t know Heavenly Mother’s place in everything. If we needed to know, I’m sure the Lord would tell us about the Lady. We’re Mormons, not gnostics, Heavenly Father isn’t trying to oppress us, and I can’t bring myself to believe that the GAs are either. Not from fear of the implications, but from the truth that I hear spoken by them. Just my two cents.

    • I’m with you on finding the burqa explanation for our Goddess’s absolute silencing and absence ridiculous. And I’m perfectly fine with using a “we don’t know” kind of answer. That said, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be seeking further revelation about Her, especially given how much pain many women feel as a result of the patently obviously sexist structure of the church as it’s currently constituted. In my mind, arguing that God wants it to be patently obviously sexist for some reason that’s beyond our ability to understand now, but which we’ll someday comprehend, is essentially arguing that God wants to oppress us. Since I agree with you that God does not want to oppress us, that leaves me wondering why it is that church leaders are not openly and actively seeking further revelation about this. And since I generally agree that church leaders are not intentionally setting out to oppress us, I can only conclude that they are woefully and/or willfully ignorant of how the status quo affects real people. Which is why I appreciate people like DefyGravity writing her letter, and why the kind of response she got infuriates me.

      • Hey Amelia, thanks for your thoughtful response. I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot lately. A LOT.

        These are a few of my theories:
        1.) Either the GAs aren’t giving enough time to this subject and are ignorant of a great deal of LDS women’s feelings of oppression

        2.) (You’re going to hate me for this, but it DOES have historical precedent) Or we aren’t being righteous enough or aren’t mature enough for further revelation. And/or aren’t doing enough good with the revelations and knowledge we have.

        3.)This one is kind of the pin that holds it all. If we needed to pray to her/have more knowledge of her, wouldn’t she reveal herself through the prophets ASAP?

        Honestly, what do you think?

      • BTW I seriously hope my last line didn’t sound condescending. I’m really curious. Maybe it will give me some ideas.

        And also I wasn’t discussing DefyGravity’s post. I was just thinking on the subject and decided to throw my 2 cents out there.

      • I believe She is making herself manifest all the time. There are many women who have had powerful experiences with Her. And many people have experiences with God, and being trained to think of God as male are comfortable attributing them to the Father. That does not mean the Mother is not involved.

      • That’s pretty interesting DefyGravity, it makes me think. But why wouldn’t she reveal herself to the prophets? They receive revelation for the Church as a whole.

      • Could be they aren’t paying attention. Maybe She has and they missed it. Or maybe they aren’t ready for it but specific members are. Or She is unconcerned with buerocracy? ;)

      • I think there is a very good reason we aren’t given much information about our Heavenly Mother. I believe that Heavenly Father has numerous wives, so we all don’t have the same Heavenly Mother (but that’s just from my personal revelation and is not official doctrine). Even though we are not to ‘officially’ pray to Her, that does not mean we cannot develop a relationship with Her. I am sure that if you think about it, there have been any number of times in your life when Her presence has been there to help you. Anyway, regarding President Packer’s talk, I also don’t think he intended to hurt anyone, but he obviously did not think his comments through very well or he would have realized that the many women who would never marry or have children in this life would be hurt. I’m also sorry, DefyGavity, that you received no response from Pres. Packer. I know a lot of GAs do not respond to letters. But I am appalled that your local leadership did not respond. Have you asked your Bishop or Relief Society President why?

      • I haven’t spoken to them yet. My bishop and I don’t get along, but I’m trying to find the right way to address my other local leaders, especially my RS president, who I really like.

  17. You are braver than I am to write a letter and send it. I’ve had too many friends do this who either get generic answers because the GAs were so terribly busy, no answer whatsoever, or have been called in by local leadership and had very unpleasant conversations. Not saying no one has ever had a good experience with writing these kinds of letters. I heard someplace that John Dehlin had a good experience writing a letter to President Oaks, but that is the only one I’ve ever heard of and the number don’t appear to be in my favor.

  18. Aack, typos! “but that’s the only good experience I’ve ever heard of, and the numbers don’t appear to be in my favor.”

  19. I had to go back to your original post to understand this of course. You are absolutely right to feel the way you do about that talk. This is exactly the kind of insensitive comment which has plagued conferences as long as I can remember. When I was a divorcee through no choice or “sin” on my part and married to a nonmember I honestly felt that I was consigned to hell. That all possibility of ever attaining exaltation was gone and my only reason for taking my children to Church was to save them as I was beyond such hope! It was a miserable time for me. So I see it as no exaggeration that you feel these remarks devalue many women, those who cannot have children or cannot marry or worse still for those who have made life choices which appear to conflict with Packers statement. Having chosen not to marry a priesthood holder for example would mean I think even greater potential guilt. Just as I had!

    This is not just a womens issue. This kind of statement is repeated over and over in a multitude of ways which affect all groups at one time or another.
    The fact your local leadership did not respond I find disgusting. You deserve something from this. Your feelings are real and reveal genuine flaws in trying to dictate a definitive lifestyle whether a choice or not as the only perfectly acceptable one to God! It is not right to have such narrow parameters, neither is it right to ascribe worthiness to marital position. Worthiness is personal between us as individuals and God. No man stands at the door. It is Christ Himself only! Not Packer or me or anyone!

    The problem in my opinion stems from the asumption Packer was speaking for God. He wasn’t. The ideal is drummed into us that these guys are the Lords mouthpiece and that every word they say is gospel. Its not! Because these two “principles” or beliefs exist and are actively enforced its hard for a local leader to say ” Well sister X, Elder Packer is stuck in an idealistic world of his own creation he is trying to enforce on others without thinking how impossible that ideal is for so many sincere and honest people”! They would feel like an apostate saying that! I would say that, which is exactly why I’ll never be in a position to say it! LOL

    Leadership is to a great extent a closed shop I’m afraid. It will have to change and the pressure I hope will continue to mount. This kind of statement when said by someone with such assumed power and authority is totally out of order. Strip away the power and it would be what it really is. A quite bigotted opinion!

    • I’m sorry you’ve felt attacked and pushed aside. Religion just shouldn’t make people feel like they are unacceptable, not if they are really trying to bring people to God.

      I’m with you on Bro. Packer not necesarrily speaking for God. But how can members know when to listen and when to not? And then these kinds of comments are used to alienate people who don’t fit the mold. And you end up with people who’ve done nothing wrong feeling like sinners. I’m never going to be in a position to change the leadership from the inside, so we get to try to change it from the outside.

      • I share your frustration. When they don’t reply though you feel you can’t even be heard!

  20. As far as praying to a Heavenly Mother is concerned, this is not so simple. Two problems occur. Firstly there is no scripture anywhere which tells us to do anything other than pray to the Father. Secondly, if we promoted it, we would be seen as an even more crazy bunch by other Christians than we are now!

    There is no reason given why we don’t and I don’t believe any of the ridiculous suggestions that have come out so far. None of them make any sense whatsoever. If the family is eternal and the pattern of the hereafter why would we not talk to both? We talk to both parents here. We might ask one certain things and another, other things, but we would talk to both. Definitely something weird about this one.

    • Peter, you are assuming that the scriptures we have today are how they were originally written. The history of the Bible is insane with different translations, books left in and taken out. It’s entirely possible that praying to Her was there at one point.

      But I agree that having two parents but only talking to one makes no sense to me…

      • I thought maybe you were English with the tower bridge pic, but your spelling reveals you are probably American. Some significance as the American culture is very different to ours so we assume we are speaking the same language but often the words mean subtely important different things! Not unlike the language differences between men and women within those cultures and the multitude of assumptions that are made between us which cause misunderstanding. I have to grate my teeth at some of the things feminists say about men which they assume they know but in reality have no idea. I think your blog heading is equally attributable to men and has been obvious to me I think since birth. We just don’t know or even want to know how damaged we are by the expectations which are thrust upon us. They fit few personalities well! However the need to put people into boxes seems strong in American culture.

        I find that when something is right for us there is clarity in mind and peace in our heart as though all our parts are unified in accepting enlightenment together. When things aren’t right for us there is an imbalance between what we are accepting or wanting to accept and how we feel. Simple and obvious maybe but its this very thing which makes us unhappy and the solution is to find the place where peace is again found. In effect we have strayed from truth. We have to change what we are doing. It can be a simple change in physical direction, making a long averted decision or changing the assumptions we have made about life.

        So when these remarks such as Packer’s are made and they cause us to feel a dichotomy because we are conditioned to think we have to accept it as from God yet it makes us feel bad about ourselves, it is easy to assume it is us which are wrong and try to force our own attitudes to change and adopt a paradigm in which these statements are comfortable to us. That is possible for someone whose life runs along and from the outside appears to conform. Those whose lives, whether through their own choice or not, do not conform will experience heightened feelings of imbalance and pain. They are forced to either live with that pain or change something fundamental.

        The hardest and most painful thing to change seems to be belief. Perhaps that is why changing Church direction is so hard. The leadership have to want to change their beliefs and this isn’t easy for them!

        In answer to your question how do we know when they are speaking for God and when for themselves the answer is an uncomfortable one. It is almost always themselves. The reason I became a Mormon was because it fit so well with what I felt before joining and because it encouraged us to live by the Spirit as individuals. Personl and individual revelation for ourselves which always trumps. We are obedient to leaders always until the Spirit directs us otherwise. THen we always should follow the Spirit. That sounds just perfect and applying that has been very successful in my life. I follow according to concience. In reality the Church has eroded that principle as leaders seek to encroach on our behaviour in every facet of life. Its a control which is unhealthy and takes away even the joy of the act of choosing to do what is right. Doing right carries no reward as its expected.

  21. So I think this feeling of initial freedom gradually changes to one of being controlled. It will be different for lifetime members. The only way I can see to get back that freedom is to change the asumption that has gradually pervaded my being. That whatever these men say is the word of God. If it was it would lead to freedom of concience as that is fundamental to following the Spirit which is the whole point of knowing the truth as the truth makes us free! Therefore I deduce any statement which takes anything away from personal freedom is from MAN not God! Hence it becomes clear to me almost everything they say is from their own preconceived notions and not anything to do with a personal enlightenment from God.

  22. I just wish I were British. I spent 2 summers there for school and would love to go back. (I just had a professor of mine suggest that I do grad school in England so it’s on my mind.)

    I agree that there is a need to box people in order to feel we understand them. That may well be an American thing, but I see it in the church as well: “Mormon or non-Mormon,” “married or single,” “parent or not,” etc. And those labels have been frustrating to me, because as a woman (another label in Mormonism) I don’t feel I fit the box of a Mormon woman. I”m not nurturing, I don’t want kids or even enjoy kids very much, I’m ambitious and career-oriented. So for most of my life I’ve been trying to parse out the boxes people are put in.

    Your description of the problem of being told that something is right but that feels wrong to you rings so true for me. I was born into the church and therefore taught from the beginning that the church is true. But by the time I was 12 or 13 parts of it made no sense to me and felt wrong. It got worse after I got married and could not reconcile myself to the role that is assigned to married women in the church. I was sure there was something wrong with me because the church was true, so if it felt wrong the problem must be with me. But a few years ago I decided I either had to trust myself and go with what felt right to me and trust that I had the ability to recognize truth, or i could never trust myself for the rest of my life. I decided to trust what felt right to me, which led me to question the things that felt wrong in the church, the biggest issues being patriarchy. The choice to trust myself has led me away from belief in many parts of the church, which has been and continues to be a painful experience. I understand the desire to avoid that pain. (Which might lead people to ask why I’m writing to church leaders at all. But there are parts of Mormon doctrine that I still believe, I’m still considered active, and most of my family and friends are members. So I still care enough to express my feelings in the hope that the church can becoming more welcoming to those who do not fit the mold, so that those who want to stay can. And as a feminist, it pains me to here that there is only one best decision for women. Motherhood is the best decision for some women. Stay-at-home motherhood is the best decision for some women. The best decision is based woman and her circumstances.)

    My blog, incidentally is dealing with the effects of patriarchy in my life, not men. Men are in power in patriarchy, but at this point both men and women are responsible for the existence and continuation of patriarchy, and women can be just as patriarchal as men. If you look at some of the comments on an early post you’ll see a women who is profoundly patriarchal, putting me in my place. So my issue is with patriarchy and the individuals of both genders who support it, not with men, because not all men are patriarchal, and many that are are victims of the system they exist in and don’t know how to get out of or are unaware of. Just to clarify that.

    I would agree that any statement that limits choice is probably not divine. People are smart enough to know what is right for them, and if leaders teach that they know better for everyone then they do for themselves, or that God knows for them, strikes me as a problem.

    • Seems our positions then are extremely close!

      • I just want to say, AMEN!

  23. Of course you’re welcome

    You’re just wrong about who you are.

    You think you’re this kind of person, and you imagine yourself being happy being that person, but you’re wrong wrong wrong. You’re really the kind of person they say you are, and the world’s really the way that they tell you it is, and you can try to imagine otherwise but you’re wrong and you’ll always be wrong. So if your heart is breaking because the world they show you is depressing, it means that you’re sinning and need to repent. Then you’ll see how much god loves you; he loves you so much that he’s giving you, unique you, the same thing he gives all other women, and it’s breaking his heart that you are ungrateful.

    Also no one is really transgender, and if they just stop having their sinful (and not incidentally creepy and icky) desires they’ll know how much god loves them as long as they stop being so icky and creepy. Eww.

    • I was really hoping you were being sarcastic. Then I looked at your blog and I”m pretty sure you are. :)

      It’s strange to me that many believe that God made individuals just so they could all do the same thing. If we are unique, I would assume that was intentional. So why must everyone conform to the same expectations if we have different personalities, talents and passions?

  24. hey I didn’t have enough time to read thru all the comments on your blog, so maybe somebody has already touched on this point. But the great thing about the church and having the priesthood leaders is that they are there for directing the church as a whole… But we can decide for ourselves how to direct our lives. The other great thimg is that we can receive personal revelation to help us direct our lives. We always have the choice to accept or not, to comform or not, to follow or not…. But in the end its our own personal quest and choice of salvation and hopefully exaltation. The people arn’t perfect but God’s plan for our personal progression is. I love it.

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