Sisters Speak: Changes in the Temple – Part I

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

*****

“For me, my time in the temple today felt like a long awaited breath in. I have struggled and cried many angry and hurt tears over years of temple service. As a single woman and a temple worker. As a young married mom. As a middle mom, now. Trying to breathe through the hurt to hold on to the things about the temple that I love. Today felt like a million answered prayers. It also felt like my hurt was heard and validated by my Heavenly Parents. Like our collective cries were enough to finally break through tradition. I am so humbled. So grateful.” – BR

*****

“I’m feeling relieved about the changes (finally!!), but sad because this would have meant so much to me 10 years ago when I decided to stop going to the temple, largely because of these issues. It would have brought me so much peace. Now, 10 years later, I believe so little about Mormonism that I have no desire to go to the temple. The changes have come too late for me and so many others.” -LFL

*****

“Like many others, I’m so excited by the changes and the theological implications. In a selfish sense, I’m also mourning my own experience, and how much better it could have been. I find myself wishing I could be sealed over again, receive the initiatories over again, make covenants in a way that doesn’t make me hold back in my mind… I want to talk about it with my friends. I want to talk about it with my in-laws. I need to sort through these feelings in a way that doesn’t use concealed and coded language. It’s difficult to be told by men not to openly celebrate or react to something that doesn’t impact them as much as it does us. Why minimize something so theologically monumental?” – ECR

*****

“I am so, so incredibly happy that women going through the temple for the first time will be saved so much cognitive dissonance, pain, and trauma going forward. I am so, so incredibly sad, frustrated, and angry that church leaders have made these changes without even hardly acknowledging it, boiling it all down to “details” and “adjustments”. Generations of pain mean nothing to them.” – LRP

*****

“As I’ve mulled over these changes, I’ve felt more and more upset and hurt. The temple is the main thing that contributed to me doubting the existence of and love of God. I’m not sure how to recover from that, or if I ever will. Part of me is so glad I was “right” and the temple was wrong, that God apparently isn’t sexist and I’m not inherently inferior as a female. But the pain I felt for so many years is not so easily erased. I don’t know how to heal from the spiritual trauma. I don’t really know what I believe about God anymore, and I’m unsure how to pick up the pieces of my shattered faith in a loving and just God.” -RBR

*****

“The changes today don’t fix the inherent problems for single women in the church. We may not covenant to a non-existent husband anymore, but the initiatory still refers to the “new and everlasting covenant” – a covenant that I won’t participate in. When we cross the veil, the promises of eternity with God will still include references to a posterity that I don’t want. The church still sees me as deficient, incomplete, and not worthy to be by God’s side as I am.  I still don’t have a place here.” – Julia

*****

Standing in the crowded, noisy, bustling Celestial room last night after the session, I could hear dozens of conversations about “the changes.” And we’ll all keep discussing “the changes” for a while still to come. I’m happy about it all. It was time for this. We have been ready. And my heart just keeps hearing, “…a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” -Rebecca

*****

“My heart is full of joy for these changes. To borrow from the lovely talk at last conference, I’ve felt a lot of “divine discontent” towards the temple for awhile now. To hear that so much has been fixed is beautiful. I know it isn’t completely fixed yet, not by a long shot, but I’m eager to attend after a pained hiatus and witness the changed ordinances firsthand. I can’t wait for the day that all has been made right and whole and safe for ALL of God’s children to attend the temple.” – ML

*****

“My joy at the changes that have been made is mitigated somewhat by the charge for silence. Pay no attention to the men behind the veil. Is this true change, or another pedestalization? “Women, you’re amazing! But please don’t tell anyone about it.” The press release added to my complex feelings. We have never been charged to refrain from talking about ordinances in the past, yet here we are dealing with another form of silencing – trading Eve’s silence in the lone and dreary world for our own”. – FRE

*****

“I am looking forward to going and seeing how I feel about the changes. I remember the changes 30 years ago, and appreciated those. I am feeling really Thankful for these changes, and I am so sorry for those it came too late for.” – JBW

*****

“For me, 43 years of pain, 43 years of wondering, if a decision had to be made, “Is this something I should follow my husband on just decide on my own?” 43 years of lacking self-confidence in my own thoughts and inspirations because I was supposed to “hearken” (hate that antiquated word) unto my husband. 43 years of nonsense and abuse in my church.” -LL

*****

“I went to the temple yesterday, and found myself smiling at every change I noticed. I was very happy with the corrections that a lot of women had been asking for, such as not veiling during the prayer, and being able to make covenants directly with God. But more often it was the unexpected things that made me the most happy, changes that I am still pondering. I loved having the Law of the Gospel defined as the higher law of Jesus Christ, and I liked having Eve more involved especially when she asks Adam if WE are going to obey all of God’s commands. I am glad that President Nelson was responsive to these concerns as it has often felt that concerns have been dismissed. However, after receiving my endowment in 1984 and having been very upset at the temple language then, I knew that the endowment could change to reflect what we need today, and so I have been hopeful for a long time that it would eventually be updated. I appreciate all those women and men who have contributed to making this change possible.” – SW

*****

“We’ve been surrounded by talk and visuals of the top-down model of the church for so long that by now it’s deeply embedded in our psyches. But these changes bring to mind a new perspective. Perhaps the true model of the restoration comes from the bottom-up. As members are filled with light and inspiration, we as a people generate a beacon that at last reaches the world through the mouthpiece of the prophet.  This encourages me to double down in seeking truth and to share more freely the light I receive.” – SD

 

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3 Responses

  1. Ziff says:

    Thanks so much for all these responses! And thanks, Exponent folks, for gathering and sharing these! I think this is so valuable to see the range of things people feel, and especially to have captured so well all the reasons why even with such positive changes, most of us are still uncomfortable with things like the admonition not to talk about them.

  2. Ellen Hawkins says:

    I went to the temple when I was 21 years old. Not because I wanted to go to the temple, but because I wanted to marry a man who wanted to get married in the temple. I had no business taking out temple covenants. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t. It was not a happy experience for me. Thirty years later, I am not sure how I feel about these changes that promote gender equality in the temple. It’s almost too late for me. I’ve spent the last 30 years feeling shame for not wanting to go to the temple. I’ve felt like a bad person because I didn’t seem to feel the joy that everyone else felt when going. All the relief society lessons talking about blessings of the temple and how parents who attend the temple have stronger families, etc. All the “5th Sunday” talks bout the importance of the temple. All the insipid testimonies of weeping sisters talking about how when they don’t want to go to the temple, that it’s Satan tempting them not to go. Did they ever think that maybe they just didn’t want to go, that it really isn’t that great, that it had nothing to do with temptation? For so long I have been paranoid that my family would fall apart if I didn’t go. When my daughter had suicide attempts I was told that she would get better if I went to the temple. I refused to believe that God would only “cure” her mental illness if I exercised faith by going to the temple. And now I find out that all this time my hesitation was valid. I was right! The church was wrong. t wasn’t wrong to feel bad about the temple. I was right, as were so many other women who suffered in silence for many years. We never talked about it in Relief Society. We gushed about about the wonder of the temple, even though we were feeling less than equal to our husbands and less than equal before God. Why did we never talk about this? Feeling shameful for 30 years can damage a person. I feel damaged. Then the temple recommend interviews. Am I even worthy to go? Let’s see–probably not. I had some tea and espresso beans this week which technically makes me unworthy to go. Should I say I obey the word of wisdom or should I say that I drank some tea and become temple un-worthy? So there’s another element of shame. Saying yes to obeying the word of wisdom when you drank some tea so you can get your recommend so you can escort your daughter to the temple. My father the addict who drank some vodka the day before my wedding. People said he was such a loser. We now know that addiction is a disease, not a lack of will power. He had to go to the bishop to see if he could still come see his oldest daughter get married. Mercifully, he was able to go.Being called out in front of his family. I feel such anguish when I think about that now. All these issues surrounding the temple have caused me enormous pain. I refuse to feel shame anymore. I am glad that I have said this publicly.

  3. NH says:

    Sweet Ellen. 👼 🥰 Thank you for sharing your feelings and thought processes. We all feel weighted down from this mortal experience in so many ways. As we encounter so many surprises along the way, sometimes it triggers our fears of the unknown and we struggle to find our roots and the fruits 🍎 we do hoped for.
    I just had to respond because sometimes we give up on ourselves and want someone to fight for us. I have felt like I have been scraping out the bottom of the barrel many times in my life, and as I faced my fears about myself, I actually was also was given heavenly hope. Talk about a perceived “glass ceiling.” I found it is not there!
    We can know both Heavenly Parents. None of us are beyond hope, even the most vile sinner. What do we have to lose by experiencing who we are not, so that we can learn who we are?
    At least for me, I know at the bottom of my barrel, that I got to learn I too can become my own best friend! And God (all of Them) are there! I learned that A loving Father, Mother & Brother love us in our stresses, anger (which is really hurt behind anger as our defense that protects our sensitive spirits), and ALL of these contrasts can ALWAYS become the art 🖼 of our lives! We chose to learn from ALL the possibilities. Under the word “Election” in the Bible Dictionary (if you want to consider it), it says that we chose our time, place, and circumstances. So, does that mean if we are unhappy, that we are actually angry at ourselves for taking on too much? Ouch. 😳 many of us want to choose being a victim, and go to blame. Is that part of our glorious mortal selves 🤪 and that “experience” we were perhaps so eager to learn from?

    There ARE some hard truths in all of it too, for which I have great compassion…compassion even for MYSELF in that painful (and joyful) journey. Sometimes we equate our goodness with what our lives look like from the outside… what results we think we are seeing. But I invite myself every day to look at other possibilities. Could it be that we all had great courage to confront the crusty effects of previous ancestral lives from many generations? What if it were true? Are we the heroes that came to clean that up? Maybe it IS being pure in heart to honestly look at the ugly parts of all the mistakes made, even in a perfect church organization organized by Christ, but really messed up by mortals’ weaknesses, faults believes, and imperfect processes. So what do we do with just the weaknesses in our own families? Do we become a change agent, a transformative person with Christ as our partner, or do we give up? We all want to be rescued at some point, and the truth may be that it is always there for us if we can get past our own stuck places, and surrender them to the cleaning up process. I know it’s real… and I still get stuck quite often. Just know that the promises of blessings and miracles are as great as the burdens we are carrying! Why do we except so easily that we don’t have to be a Harvard graduate to be a value in this world? What if this is her school and there are many ways to get the highest degrees of answers? I know that God wants all of us to know for ourselves, and get those degrees! Complete and holy (whole) parents have been down that road and want that for their children. 😇💜❣️

    We don’t shame little children for falling when they stumble. They learn to walk one step at a time, and then run, and more. The process matters and we all matter to God! They Will raise up friends to help us as we believe and keep trying. A few adjustments in our perspective can make all the difference. Could it be that one of our faults believes is that we are not enough, we choose to live in a comparative world, we are unwilling to take the next step in our Surrender process to give Christ our unbeliefs? Just something to consider. As we know the truth (on any level), it makes us free! This I know…and I’m still working on some more layers of my own unbelief. 🥴

    I’d love to chat if anyone wants: thejoyspring@yahoo.com. 🤗

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