Sisters Speak: Changes in the Temple – Part III

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

“I was so thrilled to hear about the changes. When I was endowed nearly 25 years ago, the sexist language hurt me, but I still tried oh so hard to understand that it was from God. I remember asking my MTC teacher a few weeks later, “Am I, as a woman, created just for the glory of men?” Even after my mission, I served as a temple ordinance worker for many years trying to understand where I fit into God’s plan as a woman. It has been many years now that I have had a firm testimony that the sexist aspects of the temple were not from God but rather from men. I am so happy that my nieces and my daughter will not have the years of pain and struggle from the temple that I did.” – Brita

*****

“Years ago, when I stopped attending the temple and consciously decided not to renew my recommend, I thought that if the temple ever changed, I would be back. Now, I have spent the day devouring everything I can find about the changes, and I’m not sure I’ll ever return. I am grateful for changes that feel like a significant step forward. I am grateful for the message that women are not eternally subservient to men. But my heart can’t stop screaming the question: Was the endowment wrong then, or is it wrong now? Was it truly revelation from God or was it in response to women leaving in droves? Shouldn’t God be revealing truth to his prophets, including these truths? Why did it take until 2019 to reveal equality? If President Nelson is a “true prophet” and is receiving all of this revelation, what does that mean about Presidents Monson, Hinckley, and others? Much like the term “Mormon” being accepted and encouraged 10 years ago and condemned now as a tool of Satan, I’m supremely confused about how such a drastic change in the temple ceremonies doesn’t mean that somewhere, sometime, we got it completely wrong for years and years at a time. I am grateful for the change. But despite the fact that problems with the temple were the instigation of my faith transition, I don’t know that changes in the temple can stop the unraveling of my faith in the church as an institution.” – Lynn

*****

“These changes would have been more useful for me ten years ago at my very sad sealing, where I learned that the door was very deliberately propped open for eternal polygyny in my marriage. But I’m thrilled that the temple will be better for women today. Probably still not perfect, but better. The vindication feels pretty good, though. I want to hand deliver this news to all the sanctimonious turds who were so scandalized by my dislike of the temple, and who defended all the sexism at the expense of my wellbeing, and the wellbeing of so many others. My feelings were not wrong, and now I have proof.  Still…I suspect people will say the same things about the temple that they say about polygamy and the priesthood/temple ban. “We don’t know why it was that way, but we know that’s how God wanted it.” But as for me and my house, we know the things in the Church that make people feel bad are usually big, human mistakes.” – GPW

*****

“I’m wrestling with this. I haven’t been to the temple other than for family weddings in four years. I have never missed it. I maintain a recommend simply to fit the mold. I’m so thankful that the brave outcry of my sisters pushed a change that will prevent further generations from the pain I feel and many others have spent their whole lives feeling. I am thankful because my daughters won’t hurt the way I have. I’m so grateful for that. I’m sad because this doesn’t change anything in my own heart. I’m still a lost sheep, calling out in the darkness for my Shepherd. I’m not sure I’ll ever be found. I thought briefly this morning that I’d go, see for myself. Now though, after reading about it all day, I think I won’t. I don’t think I can.” –  MBH

*****

“Too little too late. This doesn’t feel like revelation, it feels like damage control. I am happy for the women who have yet to be endowed, this was for them. I’m grateful they won’t have to go through the trauma I experienced. But, for me and all the other women who have left? We’re still invisible and unacknowledged. Still expendable. All the FP would have had to say was “We have seen and heard the women who have struggled with and been hurt by the temple ceremonies. We are sorry for the pain you’ve experienced. Your sincere voices have caused us to bring this before the Lord. His answer to us and to all of you is that yes, you are as valued, capable, and loved as his sons. You are daughters of God with individual worth and the temple should absolutely reflect that. We invite all who have stopped attending the temple to come back. We need you, we are stronger with you here.” But that will never happen. I am haunted by President Oaks remarks that “the church doesn’t give apologies.” Also, forbidding anyone to talk about it seems like an attempt to mask their insecurity and maintain control, certainly not a tactic to help us grow in understanding together. I can’t go back to somewhere where I’m only valued if I’m obedient.” – DW

*****

“is heavenly mother represented? can women represent god/goddess? can women be witnesses of ordinances? can women work the veil? can living women be sealed to more than one husband? can women voice the prayer circle? can women speak equally and carry the same authority in all places where decisions are made? there is a long way to go before women are equal in the church, or even in the temple. this is a first step, that gives a better appearance of equality, and that message is important to get through everyone’s heads. But a child can see that there is not equality in our church. when they sit in sacrament meeting, a little girl will see a stand full of men and boys passing the sacrament and wonder, where are girls in our church?” – KP

*****

“I keep thinking that I’m glad these changes were made, but women will never feel equal to their husbands (or men) until eternal polygamy is stopped. Everyone pretends like it isn’t really there, but it is very painful for many of us. There is an implied subservience with polygamy.” – AMPH

*****

“My first reaction was a surge of relief, of validation, of rejoicing even? I fell to my knees and sobbed quite literally. I have been begging and pleading in prayers for years. I stopped going to the temple because it hurt so much. My first endowment experience was one where I felt betrayed, confused, tricked. And in trying to convey my feelings to family members I was made to feel like I just wasn’t seeing things with the proper eyes which only made me feel worse about myself. What I experienced in the endowment didn’t jive with all the Young Women’s talks, conference talks, and pep talks from parents growing up that God is no respecter of persons and that he loves me as His daughter, as much as he loves his sons. So a huge part of me feels validation, and happiness that these changes are being made. Since I had a daughter I’ve worried about her experiencing similar feelings if she decides to go to the temple and it means a lot that she, and others, won’t have to go through the same. The truth is, even if it shouldn’t have, my temple experience made me question a lot about my true value, my role in the Plan of Salvation. It made me question my marriage relationship and my role therein. It’s broken my heart. It’s done immeasurable damage. So there’s still anger. And confusion. And questions. Why now? Is it really from God or is it convenient timing? Is it that the tears and prayers of God’s beloved daughters reached Him or because it couldn’t be avoided any longer? I’m trying to make sense of when God’s laws and doctrine are unchanging and when they aren’t. And I resent that my family, who wouldn’t hear my grievances and sorrows before, because it was rebellious and faith-less, are now praising these changes as part of God’s ongoing revelation to His living prophets.” – ESD

*****

“All the recent changes have brought back the painful feelings I’ve been working through for the past year. I’m angry that the Church made me and others live with such a twisted theology for so long. The previous wording in the temple did real damage to my relationship with God, Christ, and the Church. I don’t know where or how to begin building up the pieces. I feel betrayed that the Church made such a significant change that directly affects me – how I see myself, my relationship with my husband, my relationship with Christ, and my relationship with God – all without a single explanation. In contrast, ministering – which is essentially identical to visiting teaching – received coverage via numerous conference talks, Ensign articles, and a new website, all dedicated to explaining the nuanced changes. But the completely radical changing of the highest ordinance in the gospel gets nothing? Worse than nothing – an instruction to not discuss it. This feels like a betrayal to me, and I will have to process these feelings before I am ready to go to the temple again and witness the changes for myself.  On the other hand, I have found new hope in seeing how the words of my sisters have brought about this change. I don’t believe anyone in Church leadership initially wanted to listen, but courageous women made their voices heard time and time again through blog posts, emails, letters, personal conversations, and prayers. Their words made a real difference. Up to this point, I’ve considered myself an observer in these feminist spaces. I found solidarity in reading the words of others, but I couldn’t bring myself to write. I didn’t believe it would make a difference, and felt it would cause me too much pain. Now, I’m ready to share my story and my truth – in my ward, in my letters, in my family, and in this community. The changes to the temple have shown me that my voice does have power.” – AC

*****

“I have immensely mixed feelings. While I see this as a huge leap forward for the role of women in the doctrine of the church, it’s actively downplayed as not changing the doctrine at all. I vividly remember my first endowment experience as I prepared to be married. I was nervous to be part of a ceremony but I cowered into the obedient shell of a young woman I was because there was too much at stake: my wedding and reception and family expectations and the love of my fiancee were all contingent on me accepting everything in the temple wholesale. I couldn’t pick and choose. I couldn’t raise my hand for clarification. I had to nod and covenant and move merrily along behind the woman in front of me. In the end I left confused and troubled at being a subject to my husband, an accessory to his exaltation and a mere female valued only through my potential role as a mother.  Over time I came to accept and even defend the presentation of Eve in the temple and the role of women in general. Men needed a role, too, and couldn’t bear children but could lead and guide and preside. I would hearken to my husband because he would follow God. I saw it as a model established just as we follow Christ heading the Church and he hearkens to God’s commands. I attended fairly regularly seeking quiet and peaceful worship and learned to ignore any contrary feelings of discomfort and questioning. I even defended the model to various friends that struggled because, Revelation. There had to be a greater purpose in why the wording was what it was and we just needed more faith to understand.

With the wording changed, all the years of frustration and shame feel even worse knowing they were unnecessary. And quite frankly it solidifies my doubts of modern Revelation and the infallibility of the prophet. While I welcome the content of these changes, the fact that the Church so casually changes fundamental doctrines while dismissing them as non doctrinal shakes my faith to its very core. The temple is sold as a crowning experience, the height of our spiritual journey where we learn of our Divine potential and see the beginning to the end of the plan of salvation. Changing the script IS changing the doctrine and is a big deal.” – KC

 

You may also like...

7 Responses

  1. Pamela says:

    Thanks so very much to all of you for your comments.

  2. Wendy says:

    Yes thank you for taking the time to express so articulately what so many women are feeling right now. You are not alone!

  3. Katie says:

    Sharing these feelings and experiences is important. Thank you.

  4. Ian Harvey says:

    For any who think recent changes to the Temple ceremony nod to feminist voices, alert:

    While some components of the sweeping changes were clearly badly needed, like men and women covenanting directly with God, and “good riddance!” to women’s face veiling (hey, I at least called that one out in my book.)

    But I have bad news that cannot long go un-discussed in public, given it is Satan’s words that underlie the now-multiplied rationalizations of disobedience in Eden, and that his words obligate us to shout them “upon the housetops” so that we can rightly ask ourselves whether those words are truthful or should be believed.

    Indeed, as we strengthen—and suppress discussion of—Satan’s “there is no other way!” dogma, we truly canonize within our temple doctrine the creation of an anthropomorphic god.

    He’s a god who was once like we are, fallen: carnal, sensual and devilish and himself once in need of salvation. (“For that is the way Father obtained his knowledge.”)

    He is a god of joy through disobedience, sorrow and suffering; happiness through blood and horror; companionship through exile and sin; and life through death. He is a god of “there is no other way”, even if that way is consistently upside-down to every other teaching in the scriptures. (“It is better that we should pass through sorrow, that we might know the good from the evil.”)

    He is a god of elitism if not racism. We have created a God who has selected just a few within the human family to be his truly elect and these people very secretly believe they are ancient spirits who have lived more than one life (up to nine “estates”) on this earth, in a muddled transmogrification of the doctrine of Eternal Lives conflated with a sweet touch of Adam-God. Both delicious-to-the-taste ideas take root in Lucifer’s “there is no other way” for fertility without mortality! Truly, we are being taught the “Philosophies of Lucifer, mingled with scripture” inside our own sacred temples.

    He is a god of bigotry. In thinking that he is progressive in listening to the needs of women, we have created a god who has willed and intended all things, even disobedience to his own explicit command. This is a god who will also be justified and rationalized as having created gay, lesbian and transgender people for purposes that we are not to understand. Perhaps for their test; perhaps for their punishment, but we (and especially the elite) are to learn how to individually show compassion for them while institutionally ostracizing them and their offspring until they realize their own need to be repaired.

    The god we have created is manipulative, cunning and duplicitous. He said one thing but intended the very opposite. He apparently used the unwitting Satan as a tool to get us to do what we believe had to be done.

    Welcome to the secret temple worship of the god of this world, completed through covenant by wearing the mark of his green apron. The god whom we ourselves endowed as lord over the whole of it—and who has subsequently wrapped it in his chains—gloats over us. It is the god whom we believed when he said, “there is no other way.” And you hoped this was merely a late and unapologetic appeasement of feminist voices.

    All this because Satan lied. Then we institutionally believed him. Then we were told not to talk about it.

    We have to bottle up inside what all of this means and ponder it by ourselves? I for one am not willing to do that because the stakes are too high. I believe that we must speak about the garden scene openly so that we may openly and publicly question whether or not we should believe what the liar tells us even if that occurs inside the temple. I refuse to worship Satan, the one god we created in our own image—carnal, sensual and devilish; the god of disobedience and all the consequences thereof; the god of elitism and bigotry; cunning and duplicity. I for one choose to speak openly of this so that the true and ever righteous God may be known and so that we as a people—by choosing to believe God—may begin to receive of God’s bounteous blessings and find lasting joy and peace.

    –Ian R. Harvey (www.snowhorselab.com) Thanks for listening to a guy who likes to listen to women’s thoughts and voices, and who occasionally may have something to contribute.

  5. MDearest says:

    Thank you so much for fostering discussion of these changes. I’m blindsided by the visceral reaction I feel to being silenced and erased all over again. I’m grateful for the part Ex2 has played in my ongoing struggle to find and develop my voice later in my life. I experienced institutional abuse but didn’t identify it because gaslighting, but once I saw it, I couldn’t gaslight myself anymore, and this is the same old nonsense. And the pain is fresh and familiar at the same time, but this time I know how to process through— by rejecting it and talking about it, and reading/hearing others doing the same. I’m grateful to have a familiar forum willing to help.

  6. Ian Harvey says:

    Great posts here. I am so sorry I failed above to properly acknowledge what I saw as good and praiseworthy about the thread to which I hoped to contribute in a positive way. I’m delighted by the long-overdue changes that remove the language of systematic subordination of women from the temple. I saw some of this jolted surprise and disappointment through the eyes of my three daughters as they prepared for missions. I confess that I did not see it through the eyes of the best friend I married so many years earlier, and sorrowfully wish I had.

    AC’s observation in the above thread particularly impressed me, how different are these critical changes and what they mean, versus, say, ministering. She astutely pointed out the contradictory nature of how ‘ministering’ was discussed and taken apart to the most minute detail both at the highest and lowest levels of church teaching and conversation. Yet as many others are properly pointing out, even more secret now are these doctrinal changes that are such a central feature of our scriptural canon (Genesis, Moses, Abraham, D&C 29, 2 Nephi chapters 2,9), and which otherwise were not previously subject to the same oaths of secrecy as those surrounding our covenant making.

    I would like to reinforce what I have heard many of you say in different words, but my reinforcement is for a different reason: we must not remain silent about the events of Eden, even from the pre-endowment temple dramatization. These events must be discussed in public and in our Sunday Schools. Why? The basic question is whether Lucifer’s words spoken in the temple should be taken as truth. We should examine each statement critically and identify where is his subtlety, what is his agenda and why (scripturally) is each statement a lie. This is what I have done in my (profits to OURrescue.org) book, linked at my website below.

    In a blog post from March 20, 2014, Lynette implored our leaders to “Stop Using Eve and the Fall as Evidence that the LDS View of Women is Progressive” http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2014/03/20/stop-using-eve-and-the-fall-as-evidence-that-the-lds-view-of-women-is-progressive/

    My perspective likewise takes umbrage with the idea that women’s feelings should be so idly played with, as a means to some other end. The end in this case, as I see it, is to reinforce a dogma that each of the First Presidency has personally invested in heavily over the years: that of garden infertility and the fortunate fall “upward” or “forward”. We did not see this notion from President Monson or President Hinckley who only acted cautiously around its many contradictions and paradoxes; but with the ascension of President Nelson and President Oaks’ agenda it is a clear priority to create a base doctrine built on what Elder McConkie termed, the “Three Pillars of Eternity”: a backwards causality arising from the dogmatic belief in Lucifer’s “there is no other way!” The “Three Pillars” demanded the bloody and horrific Atonement was so essential that the Fall MUST HAPPEN in order to create the need for that atonement. The Creation, then, merely set the stage for the Fall. As a footnote, Eve’s heroic role is convenient both for carrying out the secret will of god and (now timely) for demonstrating true progressivism within the church.

    And there is nothing here that should NOT be openly discussed, even “shouted upon the housetops”, as we skeptically question Lucifer at the most fundamental levels!

    Because there’s still a little problem—the basic fact God expressly and explicitly commanded against partaking of that fruit. In attempting to deal with this not-insignificant problem, Elder McConkie set about to rationalize that our first parents must have been given a separate commandment, nowhere documented, but which “must be obeyed”, one which mysteriously countermanded the only divinely forbidden act that is independently revealed at least four separate times in our scriptural/temple canon, “thou shalt NOT partake of it!”

    We have to discuss this because it is incumbent upon each of us as individuals to decide whom we should believe, Father or the devil. This is our test, a do-over, if-you-will, given that the test of the two trees (moral agency) has been restored for each of us to face individually.

    Elder Holland (April, 2015 Conference) said, “the simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death—in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter—without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it.” He laid fault for the lack of Eden’s comprehension at the feet of our secular society and the lack of fashion in discussing this topic. I doubt he could have foretold how it is precisely cultural taboo now expanded to a presidential injunction not to talk about it. Given that it is the verity of Lucifer’s words at the very root of the discussion, this is a conversation that must be taken openly into the light of day.

    Thank you for allowing my voice inside this forum. Ian R. Harvey (www.snowhorselab.com)

Leave a Reply to Wendy Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.