My Articles of Faith

by Jessawhy

Recently, our book group read Dance of the Dissident Daughter and it has made my feminist spiritual journey more meaningful. As the author Sue Monk Kidd says, it’s like waking up some more. Instead of focusing on what is lacking in my faith tradition, I now feel empowered to shape my own spiritual journey.

Even recognizing a Divine Feminine has become more natural and meaningful to me. Like Kidd, I’ve always felt awkward about using words like Goddess or insisting in a Heavenly Mother. At times, I’ve even doubted her existence. But now I really believe that it’s not so much that the Divine Feminine doesn’t exist, but that I’ve been programed through years of patriarchy, to not experience divinity in any way other than male-centered. By realizing that I can choose to experience a Goddess and embrace that aspect of my life, I find power and authority in my spiritual journey.

Thus, I’ve begun a draft of articles of faith to give shape to my spiritual framework. They are still in embryo, just tentative first steps in the direction of owning my spiritual journey, but they are intended to guide me and give me focus as I work on connecting to the universal Divine.

I welcome your comments both about the book and my fledgling articles of faith.

10 Articles of Faith

1. I believe that the Divine resides inside me, and I can access guidance through prayer, meditation, and studying sacred texts.

2. While parts of my nature may be in opposition to the Divine, it is unhealthy and unhelpful to believe that I am an enemy to God.

3. The Divine that organizes and loves the universe is both male and female.

4. Rejecting the Feminine Divine has led to a large feminine wound in the world. Naming the wound, acknowledging the pain of patriarchy, and encouraging women to name their own realities are steps that I can take to awaken the Divine Feminine within myself and others around me.

5. I am connected on a physical and spiritual level to everything around me. As I seek to connect, love, and serve the other living things on this planet, I become more centered in my own divinity.

6. I reject any claim that another person has to be my spiritual leader. By divine design, I have been given the tools, abilities, and desire to lead a spiritually fulfilling life. This does not mean I will ignore people around me as examples and support in my journey, but I will not defer to their authority above my own authority when it jeopardizes my integrity.

7. Studying sacred text, participating in ritual, worshiping in religious learning communities are some ways I seek to connect with the Divine.

8. I want rituals to be an important part of my spiritual life so they bring meaning, peace, and healing to my soul. I am working on finding and developing rituals that will help me connect to others on a deeper level.

9. Being Mormon is part of my social, cultural, and religious identity. I choose to embrace the parts of LDS doctrine and practice that help me toward my spiritual and family goals. I reject elements that hurt me on any level.

10. I honor the choices and realities of those around me and expect that they will honor mine and not demean my journey by attributing negative motives or attitudes. I seek to live by sharing peace and love.


Jessawhy is a wife, mother, community volunteer, activist and student. She is currently working towards a Physician Assistant degree.

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46 Responses

  1. Are these your personal articles of faith, or the ones in the book? I ask because I know there is a divine feminine aspect to our history, creation and today, but it is not spoken of. Recognizing our divine potential personally and in mother earth is empowering. However, some of these articles are not in agreement with the gospel we believe as LDS women. For example, after studying evolution and our primate ancestors, I have strong feelings that our primitive instincts are enemy our Heavenly Father. Not our mothering instincts, or our instinct to be individuals, but the feelings and actions that include selfish desires, infidelity, gossip, having a cold heart when offended, caring for the self or having tunnel vision. These instincts are what we strive to master like our Savior did.
    So, I encourage us to take some insight about the divine feminine and mother earth, and to read our young womens theme. I was looking at it the other day and found much confidence that it is a good teaching for our young women. Here is the theme, from the church website:
    We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:

    Divine Nature
    Individual Worth
    Choice and Accountability
    Good Works and

    We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values,
    we will be prepared to strengthen home and family,
    make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

    Is this not a beautiful and complete motto to live by? It acknowledges the qualities of womanhood and shows us that we can become divine women through hard work, pure thoughts and actions, which some instincts like charity and hope are innate qualities of women (I believe) and keeping worthy to go to the temple.

  2. Violet says:

    Jessawhy – I love these personal articles of faith. Dance of the Dissident Daughter is one of my favorite books and after reading it I was finally able to verbalize a lot of the pain I had felt and work towards moving past it.

    Thanks for sharing and good luck in your journey!

  3. Kaimi says:

    Beautiful, Jess. Thanks for this post, it’s a very nice articulation of a topic I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

  4. Christian says:

    I love Dance of the Dissident Daughter, and I wish we had a male equivalent, because, even though it hits us to a lesser degree, men feel the lack of a Heavenly Mother as well, but I’ve yet to find anyone who gives us ways to address that. Not only does it stunt us not having a mother figure, but also an opposite example, crippling our ability to see the divine feminine as expressed in the women in our lives. How do I see the divine potential in a potential spouse or female family member when I have no real idea what the divine feminine is supposed to look like? So I’m also trying to discover what my relationship is to Heavenly Mother, as a son, and take what cues I can from women’s journeys I read about (like Kidd’s) but adapt them to a male model. Does anyone know of any good sources that discuss male relationships to the divine feminine?

  5. Alisa says:

    Jess, I am totally moved by this very intimate insight into your journey to discover the Divine Feminine. Thank you for sharing your personal values as they’re shaping and forming. I now want to think on these and develop some personal articles of faith for myself.

    Sofia Hoiland, I have also often looked to the YW theme to gain insight into the Divine Feminine, particularly the Divine Nature value that states young women have the divine within them (very similar to Jessawhy’s #1). When we add in the even more recent publication of the LDS Proclamation on the Family, we learn that we are not only daughters of a Heavenly Father, but a Heavenly Mother as well. It states beautifully, “Each [of us] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” I love this part of our theology.

  6. Two of Three says:

    Posts like these are why I visit here so frequently. Someone else is saying it is ok to accept some of it, but not all of it. Someone else is saying that it’s ok to pull from resources outside the church to strengthen yourself spiritually. That may be old stuff to you folks, but it’s a new concept for me and I’m holding on to it like a life line. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  7. D'Arcy says:


    The Young Women’s pledge never made me feel anything akin to the articles of faith you have written here.

    I think having personal articles of faith is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves. I think that many confuse “faith” with “religion”. They are different. And I think that if you feel compelled to stay and embrace the LDS RELIGION then you are completely within your rights and realms to make yourself feel comfortable by defining your FAITH more aptly.

    Thank you for these. I too, want to have more ritual. I’m learning from my friends who have shouted the word “goddess” for a long time. They are teaching me a lot. I would love to hear yours more and more as you create them!

  8. John Dehlin says:

    360 degrees of beauty.

    I heart Jessawhy.

  9. Jessawhy says:

    Thank you for your comments. I would really love if the YW theme began, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Mother who loves us and we love Her.” This would be so much more empowering to me than it currently is. As Alisa pointed out, there is an oblique reference to Heavenly Parents in the FamProc and I am glad it’s there.
    As far as our nature being an enemy to God, I do think some of our inclinations are less than divine and it is important to overcome them. However, I don’t think that “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” is the best way to go either. I feel more inclined to be a better person when I realize that I am already divine, not that I am an enemy to God.
    Of course, all of this is just my personal perspective, and not necessarily aligned with the LDS church. But, it is worth noting that we are all allowed to believe what we want and that it’s not helpful to assume that everyone in the church believes exactly the same thing.

    I’m glad you enjoyed that book as well. Like you, I was amazed to find the words to express how I felt and name my reality to others. It’s given me another way to embrace faith when I have been feeling hopeless about reconciling my feminist awakening with religion in general.

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m curious if you’ve read DotDD?

    You ask excellent questions, enough to start a guest post if you’re up for it 🙂
    As the mother of three sons, I’m always concerned about how my children will understand God and the lack of Divine Feminine. I even had a conversation with my BiL about my imagining God as female. He asked incredulously, “So are men supposed to imagine God as male?” Well, yes, they actually do. I would love to see more men seeking to connect with the divine feminine and I hope, like you mention, that it would translate into much better relationships with women in their lives.

    It is a very vulnerable post for me, and I’m glad that it is helping you examine your own articles of faith. I’d love to talk with you more on this.

    I also appreciate your willingness to see the best in text that I read with ambivalence. Being beloved children of Heavenly Parents really is a beautiful doctrine.

    Two of Three
    I’m so glad you have found us. I know how you feel, just searching and trying to find someone who understands the pain of cognitive dissonance. This isn’t old stuff to me, this is me in the middle of my journey (3 years in, at least). But, I have found an online and RL community of people who understand and support me and that has made my journey easier and much more enjoyable. Please feel free to send me an email if you want to discuss more.

  10. Jessawhy says:

    Thanks for your comment. The ritual part is one that seems different than the others because I really want to learn from others to implement that part of my spirituality.

    John Dehlin,
    Aww, thanks. (blushes)

    About the Photo:
    I also forgot to add that the photo is one that I took in Kauai at the Allerton Gardens. These trees (used in Jurassic Park, do you recognize them?) are enormous, beautiful, and strong and they remind me that trees were used to represent the divine feminine in OT times. (Does anyone have the link to Kevin Barney’s paper? He explains it really well).

  11. Alisa says:

    I’m glad you explained the photo. I love it!

  12. Old Mormon says:

    Be sure to address your letters requesting the removal of your name(s) from Church membership to;
    Membership Records
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    47 East South Temple Street
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    Rev. 3:16 “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

    Oh, and be sure to get back with us with the name of that female saviour of the world just as soon as you find it.

  13. Kaimi says:

    Yay, the hostile and snarky comments are here. Now the party can truly begin.

    “Our leaders have consistently counseled us ‘to live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies. It is equally important that we be loving and kind to members of our own faith, regardless of their level of commitment or activity. The Savior has made it clear that we are not to judge each other.”

    -Quentin L. Cook

  14. mraynes says:

    Old Mormon, please review our comment policy, specifically #4. Your comment is out of line!

  15. Jana says:

    I’m curious–do the YM have a motto like the YW? If so, can someone provide a link to it?

  16. Jana says:

    Oh, and Jess…I love the truths that you’ve shared here.

  17. Amelia says:


    thank you so much for sharing this. it’s a truly beautiful document and i couldn’t agree more with its ideas and sentiments.

    Old Mormon: your type of judgment and condemnation is simply not welcome here. If you can’t comment in a constructive fashion, please simply refrain from commenting. you would do well to adopt jess’s article #10.

  18. Amelia says:

    of course they don’t, jana. because you see, men naturally know who and what they are. it’s just us pesky women who need to be set straight about our place.

  19. James says:


    To answer your question about a YM motto/theme, there is no 1:1 equivalent. I just found this link to the “Purposes of the Aaronic Priethood,” which is pretty close. Incidentally, when my dad was the stake YM president years ago, he took the version as it was then (pretty similar to what’s there now) and simply made it an “I” statement, beginning with “I am a son of God and hold the Aaronic Priesthood. I will…” This gave both the YM and YW something to recite at meetings, which corrected the imbalance (in this particular aspect…I realize there are imbalancees on both sides).

  20. Jana says:

    Wow. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before that the YW have a theme that they recite each Sunday to reinforce their purpose/meaning and the YM don’t. That’s kinda huge to me.

    Having local leaders correct the inequity is awesome, but doesn’t address it as a systemic issue.

  21. Amelia says:

    i was a bit flip in my first response to you, jana, but i’m entirely serious. men do not need to be told their place, since their place is the default. women on the other hand…they need to be told their place, and have it reinforced often. not only is there a YW theme, there’s an RS one (though it’s not usually recited [but i have been in wards that had the women stand and recite the RS theme]). apparently the church feels that women do/can not know their place without constant guidance.

    even worse, the church recognizes (probably not consciously, but still) that women’s worth is non-existent in a patriarchal structure without it being proactively asserted. only when there is actual equity and equality between the sexes in the church will we get beyond such trite, rote expressions of worth. (can you tell things like the YW and RS themes disgust me?)

  22. Kaimi says:

    It’s always fun to rail against the YW theme and motto, but I think that Amy’s claims here — that these are a special form of indoctrination which show the devalued status of women in the church — is overstated and probably wrong.

    For one thing, the motto and values are very recent developments, both introduced under Ardeth Kapp in the 1980s. (See generally the EoM discussion, at ). They substantially postdate other developments on women and the church (disestablishment of RS; ERA) which would seem to be much more significant markers of gender attitudes.

    In addition, I don’t believe that the facts show special female-only indoctrination. While it’s true that there is no YM theme, there is certainly a Scout Law, Scout Oath, and Scout Motto which the young men of the church typically memorize (and have done so for many decades prior to the introduction of the YW theme). Ardeth Kapp’s talk introducing the values (at ) appears to build on this — she mentions that the YM are already receiving formalized instruction, and that it is time to make sure that the YW get the same, thus the need to introduce these values.

    Sorry, Amy. I agree, they’re still annoying. 🙂

  23. Amelia says:

    i appreciate your insight, kaimi, and i’d like to respond (you haven’t quite convinced me), but i don’t want to continue the threadjack here. i’ll write up a post on the issue sometime in the near future.

  24. CatherineWO says:

    Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I too have read this book and gained much from it. Your post inspires me to write my own articles of faith, constantly evolving as they are.
    And Christian, thank you for asking some very interesting questions. You too have given me much to think about.

  25. Two of Three says:

    Thanks for the offer. May take you up on it. I have so many questions.

  26. jimbob says:

    I’m glad you found something that works for you. Whether it’s compatible with Mormon doctrine is another question entirely. I mean, I think I’ve read pagan mission statements pretty similar to this.

  27. Amelia says:

    what you mean, jimbob, is whether it’s compatible with *your* interpretation of mormon doctrine is another question. from where i sit (and i’m a lifelong, fairly believing mormon), i see no reason why jessawhy’s articles are not compatible with mormon doctrine. i just don’t understand why mormons have such a hard time recognizing that every single individual member of their church has a unique understanding of mormon doctrine and not one of them is definitive.

    and i’ll refer you to our comment policy #4. your comment borders on violation of that policy.

  28. Mike says:

    Tell Old Mormon that he (and I) claim(s) the priveledge of worshipping almighty God acording to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same priveledge, letting them worship how, where or what they may.

    As a Father of daughters, I’m happy that they will learn the YW motto. If they can attain those values in their life, in spite what the world tells them they are, and in spite of influences telling them to value things that are contrary to those highest ideals, they will be happy, and influence the world for good.

    I have a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is true. I know of no other christian church or religion that even approaches the notion of a Heavenly Mother and teaching that women can become Godesses hereafter. We are really quite progressive. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and exhibits many “feminine” (I’m using this word to describe sacrifice, compassion, love) traits and used parables wherein he described himself as a Hen trying to gather his people under his wing like only a mother/woman could do. Jess, he loves you and is concerned when you feel troubled, concerned or alone.

    The Church and world would be a terrible place without women seeking to become and develop their divine attributes.

  29. reader Rachel says:

    I love these articles. For myself, I would change #9 to be “I feel no obligation to embrace elements that hurt me on any level.” Rather than rejecting, I reserve judgement.

  30. Flygirl says:

    I love this Jess. Very beautiful way of stating what you believe and how you feel in a positive and empowering way.

  31. Jessawhy says:

    Jana, Amelia, James, Kaimi:
    Good dialogue on the YW/YM themes and mottos. After watching my brother recite the Scouts motto at his Eagle Court of Honor, I do think that it’s part of what we try to do to teach youth. I’m not sure how effective it is, but we keep doing it.

    I’m glad you liked the articles. If you have any suggestions or additions, please let me know.

    Two of Three,
    I don’t check the email address on this blog very often, so send an email to jess dot steed at gmail. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks for your support. I’m not very familiar with paganism so I have no way of verifying your comment.

    I appreciate your heartfelt testimony. Do I know you? I’m just not used to people calling me “Jess” who aren’t close friends.

    Admittedly, the church’s acknowledgment of the existence of Heavenly Mother is uplifting for some. But for others (if you’d read the post at ZD I linked in the OP) it is a two-edged sword. A silent HM who is possibly one of thousands of wives to HF is not very comforting to women like me in the church.

    I guess I don’t know why my worshipping a female Goddess is so troubling to some of the men who have posted here. I had a very personal spiritual experience a few weeks ago as I imagined a female savior. This is not something that I’m doing out of rebellion, or silliness, or just to prove my point. I need to find out who I am spiritually on a feminine level. I know that Jesus had feminine qualities and that he gave women way more respect than other men of the time did. And that is why I am still a Christian. But I need more than that. I need a divine model, someone who is like me on a very basic level.

    It’s possible that you are right, and that I just need to focus more on embracing the all-male Godhead of traditional Christianity, and specifically Mormonism. But my guess is that the path I’m choosing will bring me greater peace in my life and help me become a more divine person. And, if I end up being wrong and there is no Divine Feminine, then I’m comfortable that Heavenly Father will know that I did the best I could with what I had: I followed my heart and listened for the things that ring true to my soul.

    Reader Rachel,
    Thanks for your suggestion, it’s a softer approach. I like it and hope you don’t mind if I implement your change.

    Thanks for stopping by. It’s new for me, thinking in terms of establishing my own spiritual path. I love it.

  32. Christian says:

    Guest post? Yikes! I suppose I could. I feel like I’d need to do more research first, but I’m also new to this blog, so I don’t quite have a feel for your style yet. But I could.
    On the YM not having a standards thing, they totally did when I was in it 6-12 years ago. We recited it every Sunday and everything. It seems that one might have been enveloped by the new Duty to God program (because I can’t find it online), though, which I find interesting, because as far as I can tell the Duty to God program as currently constituted was actually backformed in the model of Personal Progress. Duty to God used to be a Boy Scout award for just the Mormons, but it seems the Church is pulling back a bit from officially affiliating itself with the boy scouts (perhaps to be more international) and so they made a Mormons-only achievement program.
    Sorry, that was a very long way to say that the boys did (and I think still do) have a set of values which they are told to love, cherish, recite, and conform to.

  33. Kaimi says:

    I just thought that another data point is missions, which are largely (though not entirely) male. In my mission, we memorized D&C 4 and repeated it as a mantra at every zone conference and mission conference. This is pretty standard fare, from what I’ve observed.

  34. anon says:

    But Kaimi, do not Sisters also have to recite the 4th section as well? That is just one more weight in the balance towards systematic inequality.

  35. jimbob says:

    “what you mean, jimbob, is whether it’s compatible with *your* interpretation of mormon doctrine is another question.”

    As it turns out, Amelia, I meant what I said.

    And if my comment is an example of a violation of your comment policy, then so is yours. There’s little worse in the bloggernacle than a perma who selectively pulls out a “comment policy” so as to bully out points of view they don’t like. At least try to be consistent.

  36. anon says:

    sorry, didn’t quite read your comment carefully. you do mention sisters. but the fact remains that any mantra recited by elders are also recited by sisters.

  37. amelia says:

    i’m sorry if you felt bullied, jimbob; it was not at all my intention. i read your comment as a negative commentary on jessawhy’s beliefs in relation to mormon teachings. you very clearly implied that you find her beliefs inappropriate for a mormon in good standing. our comment policy specifically asks commenters not to condemn other’s beliefs, even if it is done in as veiled a manner as you did; that is why i mentioned the comment policy.

    i stand by my assertion that every mormon’s understanding of mormon doctrine is their own unique understanding and there is no monolithic “mormon doctrine” which governs. discourse just doesn’t work that way.

  38. G says:

    Jessawhy, I’m so sad I missed the discussion group for this book. It was quite pivotal to my own journey, so much of what she was saying hit home so closely.

    I love your articles of faith, and I’m so grateful you shared them here.

  39. John Remy says:

    Jessawhy, I’m pretty far removed from Mormonism now, but this post has me considering what spiritual aspects I can hold on to. Reading it makes me want to say Amen. Along with the divine, you’ve a bit of prophet(ess) in you. 🙂

    I also appreciated Christian’s initial comment, esp.:

    “men feel the lack of a Heavenly Mother as well, but I’ve yet to find anyone who gives us ways to address that. Not only does it stunt us not having a mother figure, but also an opposite example, crippling our ability to see the divine feminine as expressed in the women in our lives.”

    This was something that weighed heavily on my mind several years ago. I wish I had found more men who expressed similar feelings, and I’m glad that you do, and aren’t shy to speak up about your own desire and need for the feminine divine.

  40. John Remy says:

    I wanted to point out that commenters like Old Mormon are much more hardline and less compassionate than I experienced with the several bishops and stake presidents who worked with me through my questioning and doubting days. The last thing most leaders are going to say is “get out of here.” Which of course, can make it hard on the questioning member in other ways, but I wanted to point out the apparent disconnect between such commenters and actual church practice.

  41. Kalola says:

    Jessawhy ~ As I read through your Articles of
    Faith, I reflected on a prayer I have on my
    blog under the heading “The Divine Feminine.”

    I thought I would share it with you:

    May The Blessing of God Go Before You
    May Her peace and grace abound.
    May her spirit live within you.
    May her love wrap you around.
    May her blessing remain with you always.
    May you walk on holy ground.

    ~Miriam Therese Winter, Life Prayers

  42. suzann werner says:


    Your articles of faith are a gift to me. I would never get around to writing my own, your’s are a perfect fit for me. 🙂

    I was pleased to hear the ways the Young Women’s Theme empowers Sophia. I can see how the Theme contributes to YW feeling loved and important to God, but it never occurred to me how YW could feel empowered by those words because “I have a Heavenly Father who loves me,” stumps me up from the beginning. My mind floats to thoughts such as….. “do Church leaders really believe Heavenly Father is a single parent, or how can they leave out the feminine contribution to creation.” In my mind, we must embrace both male and female spiritual energy to fully understand what it means to be God like, to be whole and complete.

    It would have been so easy for the statement to read, “I have Heavenly Parents who love me, and I love them.” Since those words are in the Family Proclamation, I see no reason for “heavenly parents” to be left out in the theme for the YW. It is impossible for me to believe that God is only male.


  43. Jessawhy says:

    If you decide to write up a guest post about the Divine Feminine from a man’s perspective, please email it to me, or to the blog. It’s definitely a worthy topic.

    We missed you at the discussion, too. It was nice because it was such an important book for me (and also the first one I’d actually read in a while 🙂

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad to hear that your experience with leaders in the LDS church was not as extreme as sometimes I believe. I am sorry, though, that things worked out for you as they did.

    Thank you for sharing that blessing. It is beautiful.

    I’m so glad that you identify with these articles. It’s refreshing to know someone like you in real life, and even better that we can also connect on this blog.

    As far as the YW values, I do remember them being very helpful when I was young. I was a good girl, very earnest and overachieving. Looking back though, I found that I misunderstood the word integrity as being more like obedience than being true to myself. I’m glad that I now understand the true meaning and try to live that value.

  44. Jenne says:

    I too have contemplated the Divine Feminine, especially after a reading an article in the Journal of the Association of Research on Mothering where the author, Trudelle Thomas rejects the typical patriarchal views of a masculine God (Father, Warrior, Kind) and replaces Mother, Friend, Guide in a feminine role. I think you would enjoy reading the article in Volume 70, issue 1.

    My own ponderings from the article are on my blog:

  1. December 30, 2009

    […] us translate ourselves to ourselves and to each […]

  2. January 11, 2010

    […] to connect with her more deeply which isn’t allowed within Mormonism. I’ve even written articles of faith about my intentions to find my own rituals, study sacred text, and worship in un-orthodox ways (for […]

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