Withholding for You, My Foremother
As I hold this card and read your name, I think about your country, your century, your life you left long ago. Your existence in a world without antibiotics, with no choice but unmedicated child birth. Because I have this card, I know you have been baptized by proxy, released from a prison that held your spirit and welcomed into the fold of the faithful. You’ve been confirmed a member of the church, my church, a church you didn’t even know existed when you walked this earth, should you choose to accept this ordinance done for you in your name. You’ve been washed and anointed, a proxy body gently blessed with words that are specific, delicate, and surging with power.
You’ve been tenderly dressed, in a body not your own, in a garment of priesthood power to shield you, protect you, and remind you of your blessings and covenants. And for all this I am glad for you, dear Grandmother, one who walked this earth so many decades ago, that you’ve been given the opportunity to accept this service in your name, performed on your behalf. That perhaps now, years, maybe even centuries after your death, ceremonies are enacted just for you. I have not forgotten you.
But now I hold your card, and I think about the promises that lie ahead to be made on your behalf. That you will be put under covenant, as a punishment for Eve’s choice, to place your husband between you and our Heavenly Father. That you will listen to this man, as if his words were the words of God. Five days before my marriage, I made this covenant myself. I did it because I loved the man I was about to marry, a gentleman, an educated man, a man who I believed would never use this covenant to come between me and God, even though it was his right to do so, even though I had been made to promise so. In my eyes, I saw my future husband to be perfect. But even the best of men are not perfect: they commit acts of commission and omission, and mine did not necessarily advertise these to me, to tell me when he was hearkening to God and when he was not. But still, he is a good man and kind husband, and I made a covenant to hear and obey. I did not like that covenant, I would not have asked God for it, and it put my teeth on edge. But I covenanted out of sheer love for the man I wanted to give my life to, if only he could do and feel the same for me.
But what about you, dear Foremother? What of your husband? Now that your life is long gone, did he do well by you? Would you make, voluntarily, this same covenant to place him between you and the Lord, to make him the mouthpiece of God for you? If I offer to make this covenant for you today, you can accept it, or you can reject it; but the covenants are what they are, offered now, they are your only chance. If someone had drawn your card decades ago, you would have been offered a different covenant, one of strict obedience to your husband, and your covenants would have been sealed with an oath on your life and promised against your own execution. Not so now. I offer you something gentler: Just treat your husband’s words and he would treat God’s words. And when two proxies seal you up together in eternity, allow yourself to be given to him, forever swallowed up in him, as he receives you fully. A gentler, softer surrender than those who received ordinances before you.
As you can see, the sacred covenants change through time in promise and presentation. As we ask, new doors are opened. The cultures and philosophies of the human race dwindle away, and the covenants become more pure, more loving, more directly connecting us with God. I am grateful I am not bound by the covenants my mother was bound to. And I hope my children will not be bound to the exact covenants that bind me now. I hope that further light and knowledge will cease to punish the daughters of Eve for her transgression and place us, once again, on equal footing with our spirit brothers.
Now I look at your name, old Grandmother, on this pink card. You are now freed from spirit prison. Should I take you and your name and place you into another, a prison where your direct line to God you received through confirmation is suddenly intercepted by limited man? Or should I wait on the hope, dear Grandmother, that change is coming. That if I wait, you will be able to receive your ordinances without covenanting to accept the curse on our first mother for ushering in our existence. That when you receive your one opportunity to accept exalting ordinances, you will receive ordinances that tie you directly to God, where your femaleness does not create an eternal separation currently reserved only for daughters, placed under sons, in this hierarchical state of communication.
Do I enter in and bind you now? Or hope that one day there will be a better offering that I can give you, dear Foremother: an unmediated connection to God, adding upon the connection you received along with the Holy Ghost. When that day comes, I will take up this card and enter in for you. But for now, it is too much to forever bind another to a presentation of a covenant that I hope, I feel, is changing, to make a better eternity for you than the one I have entered into myself. For you, I will have to wait.