Sisters Speak: Changes in the Temple – Part II

The Exponent blog is sharing guest and reader responses to the news of the changes to the LDS temple endowment and other temple ordinances announced 2 January 2019. We welcome your contributions in the comments or as a guest post using this link

By Moss

“I’m in tears over this. So much pain and angst over this for the last 15 years. The darkness I felt in the temple, the visceral sickness in my gut during those parts- I had always heard that influences like that couldn’t be present in the temple. What did it mean that I felt them? This is where we are taught about Eternal Truths- is this how God really feels about his daughters? 

Years of crying in the shower and in prayers raging against an unresponsive heaven. Thinking something was wrong with me because this hurt. Everyone acts like it’s fine what is wrong with me? I don’t have to tools to make sense of this. And I can’t talk about this with anyone. It’s too sacred. It would damage other people’s testimonies. I’d get released from my callings. Ostracized from my peers. If people knew how I really felt.

Me silently searching for answers for years, looking for the key of knowledge that would make it ok. Me finally telling my husband, in tears, afraid he’ll reject me for feeling this way. Many tearful conversations later, still trying to make sense of it and what it means for me and our relationship. 

Me talking to my visiting teacher, my bishop, and them telling me ‘there is no sexism in the temple!’ Me wondering what it means if heaven is like the temple but I don’t want to go there. Is there a place for me in heaven? Afraid to die because I’m afraid of heaven. Instead of heaven I found myself hoping for oblivion. 

Me stepping away from the temple and feeling alienated from friends, family, fellow Mormons, and even God for my own mental and spiritual health. Marking the boundaries, holding it at arm’s length because letting it closer will hurt. Removing my garments because more than anything they remind me of being complicit in my own dehumanization. I no longer trust the people who told me to go there. I can no longer sing I love to see the temple to my children because I feel like a hypocrite.

And now it’s changed. And they’re not going to tell us why our suffering was necessary.

I fought this Balrog all the way down and at the end of the day it all meant nothing. I wrestled with the angel. Everything broke into a billion pieces as I struggled. And it meant nothing. Jacob was left with a promise and a limp. I’m left with a spiritual wound and I don’t know what to do with the promise I’m left with. I don’t know if it’s worth anything or if I even want it.”

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14 Responses

  1. Alys's Wonderland says:

    So many of us are reading this, and pieces like it, and thinking “I didn’t write this, but I could have.” The heartache, degradation, and spiritual violence that has been visited upon Mormon women for generations in the temple is widespread and appalling. Most of us thought we were all alone in our suffering. And it has been for nothing. We won’t even get an apology, just like our brothers and sisters of color never got an apology. I really hope the Mormon view of the afterlife if correct, if only to see “the brethren” having to come to terms with how they’ve treated their sisters.

  2. Anne says:

    My first thought was that’s nice moving forward, but where is the box I can check to extricate myself from the old version. I’m eternally bound in the way it was when I made those covenants more than half my life ago.

    • Maria says:

      Anne – I don’t think so at all! It would only make sense that you will be eternally bound to the correct covenants pertaining to you. Since corrections have now been made, those are the ones you are eternally bound to. I believe that God will keep us bound to his correct covenants, not to “doctrines” of men.

      • Anne says:

        I appreciate your perspective and your kindness. The parable of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 20 taught me that God honors covenants as they are made, without wiggle room for human versions of fairness.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, to all of this—I’m so glad we have this forum where we can speak about these things openly and respectfully.

  4. Sara S. says:

    This is eloquently expressed. Although my own experience has been different, your willingness to open up has allowed me to put myself in your place and increased my empathy even more for those who have been deeply injured by these experiences. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Katie says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I didn’t write this. But I could have. It’s… hard to quantify how the temple ceremony has negatively affected me over the years. I’ve been open about it in the last few years, and stopped feeling guilty about not attending. When people asked, I just said, some people like the temple. I don’t. I feel a lot of ambivalence about the changes—kind of a “that’s great but it doesn’t change the pain so many of us have felt for so long” kind of feelings.

  6. lehcarjt says:

    If the language of the sealing has changed, does that mean men can now only be sealed to one woman and polygamy is truly over?

  7. Emma says:

    People would be shocked if they knew the original temple ceremonies

    The truth: Hide the true original oaths to please and retain members— and improve public opinion

    Certain things were supposed to be eternal and based in revelation-/ yet it is changed Under social pressure

  8. Anna says:

    I have been struggling to put into words how I am feeling about this and an analogy came to mind. My father sexually abused me as a kid. Well, years later, I forced the issue and he confessed and was excommunicated. Then the church loved and coddled him back into the church and he was rebaptised. I am pretty sure he never confessed to molesting my sister also, and I am pretty sure he never comprehended the damage he did to both of us. He skipped out on the couple of things I asked for as part of restitution. He never made an effort to talk to me about it all. Counseling was supposed to get us talking to each other, but he quit before I was able to handle talking to him. I felt cheated out of any restitution and I felt cheated out of seeing any sign of repentance. Years and years of pain and suffering and the church helped him ignore it and go happily about his own life. The church cheated me out of any restitution, it cheated me out of seeing any justice, it cheated me out of healing because it declared my father forgiven before I ever saw any fruits of repentance. You know, it is pretty hard to reconcile when the sinner doesn’t care that he hurt you enough to hear your pain about it. I never reconciled with my father. I don’t want anything to do with him in the eternities. Sure, he stopped abusing me, but was he ever really sorry?

    This is how I feel about the church and how this change was handled. I feel cheated of any justice, any restitution, seeing any repentance, and I feel totally unwilling to continue a relationship on these terms. Yes, I left the church primarily over the temple issue. It caused years of pain and feeling like God loved his sons, but did not love me because I wasn’t male. Now the church stops abusing me, but not so much as “we made a mistake.” I am just not willing to reconcile with the church and quite frankly, want nothing to do with it in the eternities. And it isn’t lack of forgiveness, just inability to put myself in the position to be abused by an unrepentant organization.

    • Alys's Wonderland says:

      Thank you for sharing this heart-wrenching story. I think it’s an excellent analogy. Certainly what I experienced in the temple as well. I wish you comfort and healing. <3

    • Barbara Ann Gleason Roberts says:

      I am responding to you from a place similar to your childhood where my father over sexualized and physically abused me and his family. I’d love to visit with you please contact me on fb private messenger if you are interested. With love, BnE
      Barbara Ann Gleason Roberts

  9. I’m really happy with the changes you all are talking about and I’m so sorry for the sad experiences a lot have had growing up in the church.
    My background is different. I have joined the church as a feminist adult and I’ve never come to terms with the polygamy – neither on earth nor in heaven -, the solely male authority line and the family proclamation. So I’ve always taken the things with a grain of salt that came from priesthood holders and I trusted my inspiration, education and logical thinking. My reason to be here is JC, the plan of salvation and my positive experiences with priesthood authority (blessings and so…).

  10. Katie says:

    You’ve supplied the most eloquent words to describe everything I’ve thought, prayed, and cried in the 12 years since I first went through the temple. “I fought this Balrog all the way down and at the end of the day it meant nothing.” My faith is dead, has been for years, but the hurts stays. Your words are like a sacred text to me today. Thank you.

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