#hearLDSwomen: I’m Not Allowed to Speak in Sacrament Meeting Unless My Husband Speaks Too

In our old ward I went to the bishop and begged to have them find a calling for my husband. He is in law enforcement and is rarely able to go to church; compound that with a less than social personality, and I am my husband’s only social group. They said, “well, he isn’t ever at church.” I responded that I know there are callings that are not Sunday specific. I had three callings at the time. They finally called him to be the building cleaning coordinator. Guess who passed around the sign up sheet, who showed up most Saturdays to unlock and made sure the building got cleaned most of the time. But when I mentioned this reality, I was told, “well, you asked for him to have a calling.”
– Beez

 

We were trying to talk to our Bishop about me holding our baby for the blessing. During the conversation, where my husband mostly supported me by letting me talk, the bishop increasingly began addressing my husband over me. It was the hysterical woman trope come to life and it was ridiculous.
– Anonymous

 

My husband is not a member of the church and also abuses alcohol. We are both from a culture where Christian religion – any Christian denomination – is frowned upon. But my salvation is my business and I am following a path in a church I love with all my heart. And though I “understand” on some levels, I feel like chattel when told that I need his permission for ANYTHING. It makes me feel like I have no value and that my blessings are really to be withheld because an alcoholic jackhole doesn’t believe as I do.
– Kerry Hawk

 

In another ward, we were asked to give the standard “new people” talks in sacrament meeting. My husband declined, but when I expressed my interest, the counselor said, “We don’t really do that, we’ll have to see if there’s another time…” (which of course there wasn’t.)
– Christy C.

 

I’ve lived in my ward for over 8 years, most of it very active, but because my husband is never-Mormon I have never been asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting, even though they know I’m a very good speaker since I have been asked to put together many presentations for Relief Society and taught both Relief Society and Primary. Without a priesthood companion I obviously have nothing worthwhile to say to the whole congregation.
– Nancy K.

 

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Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. Has anything like this happened to you? Please share in the comments or submit your experience(s) to participate in the series.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)

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6 Responses

  1. Grinding my teeth……
    I don’t get why those bishops feel justified. That’s unbelievable.

  2. Christine Wallace Balderas says:

    Time and time again I read these stories of inappropriate bishop/leader interactions that are horrible. I hope that we all remember that is the person (bishop) and very rarely the church standard. I can’t imagine most of these things happening in my ward. Sometimes you just have to ride out the personality.

    • Violadiva says:

      Christine, I can see your positive intention to give the volunteer bishops around the world the “benefit of the doubt.” They truly are in vulnerable, if not powerful leadership positions and exposed to scrutiny, some warranted and some not.

      But please be aware that your comment borders on gaslighting the victim, and diminishing the very real problems inherent in the system that are happening “time and time again.”

      They’re happening “time and time again” because the church institution does not have sufficient training or guidelines or female leadership in place to prevent it from happening.
      It’s not just a problem of “one bad bishop,” it’s indicative of a major flaw in the system. Dismissing it as something that doesn’t happen often enough to be alarming or concerning will do nothing to prevent it from happening again. This is why we’re spendign so much ink on this series – it’s all about speaking truth to power.

  3. Anna says:

    Christine, what bothers me is that things like this are too common to be “a few bad bishops” and I have been horrified sometimes to find out that while I can’t imagine the kind of horror story in my own ward, and turns out my ward has such stories of inconsiderate treatment of women by good but clueless bishops. There is a pattern to these stories from women of being treated like they are sort of an extension of their husbands rather than a human being in their own right. I have seen my teen aged children treated as individual autonomous humans by exactly the same bishop who just treated me as a sub-being of my husband.

    There is a systemic problem in Mormonism of seeing women as a part of their husband instead of a separate person married to their husband, as secondary to the man. It shows up in needing to get the husband’s permission to ask a woman to accept a calling, but of course the wife never gives “permission” for the husband to accept a calling, she only promises to support him *after* he has accepted. There have been many callings I received where after church, my husband comments that he was pulled out of priesthood meeting and asked if they could extend the calling of__________ to me, then later, I am asked. I accepted one where I felt all wrong about it because my husband had already approved and I was never allowed to share my own misgivings. I was correct, that calling was totally wrong for me and I hated it and the ward women hated me in it. There have also been times where I was never even asked if I could support my husband in a calling and there were good reasons that I could not, but I was never asked. This pattern is not a bad bishop, but a bad system. It is a system that gives more respect to men than to women.

    Look at the pattern in all of these stories, not as if they are isolated incidents of poor bishopping. Sure, these are some “worst case scenarios” but they show a pattern. They along with the thousand other smaller insults to women that are just “normal” and we don’t even see them as insults because that is just how the church is.

  4. anon says:

    It’s not hard to keep track of members to make sure everyone is invited to speak. It’s also not hard to talk to the woman directly to offer a calling without clearing it with her husband first. It’s not just women who are put off by this. I know my husband is like, uh, if it’s okay with her….? I’m sure many men find the whole bit awkward. Why these practices are not in place is beyond me. Culture is not doctrine.

  5. When my husband was in grad school, we lived in housing for married students, so everyone in our Ward was married, and my bishopric would only let married couples speak together, on the same day. There were no singles, but the policy discriminated against people in mixed faith marriages and when one spouse was not allowed to speak due to church discipline, it effectively gave their spouse the same punishment.

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