If the Restoration Continues, So Must the Apostasy Within the LDS Church

PRES. RUSSELL M. NELSON HAS CHEERFULLY stated, “The Restoration continues!” It’s a hopeful message that I hold to. But if the Restoration continues–if there are vital aspects of truth still to be revealed–then this must mean the Church remains, in part, in a state of apostasy. Mind blown, right?

To be clear, I’m not suggesting the church is in apostasy, as leaders of certain schismatic groups proclaim, but rather that the church must still be operating under the influence of philosophies prevalent during the apostasy. There’s a vast difference. One suggests that the LDS hierarchy has made a doctrinal U-turn, leaving aspects of restorationist theology behind, while the other acknowledges that “we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor 13:12). 

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To LDS Mothers on Children Leaving the Fold

I’D LIKE TO SPEAK TO THE LDS MOTHERS who are watching young adults leave the LDS Church and are wondering if your own children will leave or if you’re doing enough to keep them in. Maybe you’re wondering what those other parents did wrong that caused their family schism. Maybe your child has already left, as all three of mine have. Maybe you’re blaming yourself. Please know you shouldn’t. 

My oldest removed his name from the records of the Church a decade ago and my other two stopped participating before the age of 20. I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on my motherly performance, to weigh what I taught my children against the reality of what the Church is. I taught my kids the good news of Jesus Christ, to love God and their neighbors, to possess a generosity of spirit. I did what you’re doing.

And then I brought them to church. There they were taught the same things I was teaching at home. But they were also taught the opposite. They were taught by example that women aren’t of the same value as men and our voices aren’t as important. They were taught God offers cishet people blessings He denies others. They were taught that love says one thing but does another. I know many of you will throw up walls against what I’ve just said. Those walls won’t make my message any less crucial to hear.

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LDS Church Should Throw Its Resources into Making Mandated Reporting Universal in US

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has officially lost its temper. Yesterday, the Church’s Newsroom released a strongly worded rebuff of the Aug. 2nd AP article titled “Seven years of sex abuse: How the Mormon officials let it happen,” written by Michael Rezendes. Its initial statement (offered last week) asserted the article misrepresented the help line which bishops and stake presidents are required to call upon learning of abuse, hoping to recast it as a tool to end abuse without addressing why the help line is staffed through its legal-centric risk management office. Many, myself included, were stunned by the inhumanity of the initial response if not by its legalistic hedging of responsibility. But this second response makes the first PR failure look tame, not only because of its continued defensiveness, but also for its misrepresentation of the article. I won’t rehash that. Follow the links above to read each for yourself. Instead, let’s chat a bit about this line from the second official response:

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The Strength of Serious Doubt, Difficult Questions, and Disagreement with the LDS Church

LAST WEEK, I LISTENED to a previously recorded broadcast of LDS apologist and nuanced thinker, Patrick Mason, who asked something like: how can we minister to members with serious doubts and difficult questions about LDS doctrine and practice? It’s something I’ve thought a great deal about. But this time, the question hit me differently, and I understood the disempowerment inherent in categorizing people in faith (or trust) crisis as doubters and questioners of the gospel rather than as those in disagreement with the LDS Church. I felt down to my bones how condescending the question is, how it supposes doubts and questions are weaknesses in need of fixing as opposed to a step forward along a path of spiritual growth.

I consider myself a nuanced Latter-day Saint, but I’m not someone plagued with doubts and questions that disrupt my faith in God. I’m a woman who’s invested decades in study, reflection, and prayer about the difficult realities associated with being LDS. Although I’ll never relinquish questioning as a vehicle for learning or cease to view faith as impossible without its companion, doubt, I assert I am not weakened because of these perspectives, nor am I living in some miserable state of unknowing. My state of unknowing broadens me because it prevents me from shutting out possibilities. My study, reflection, and prayer (each catapulted by curiosity and desire for self improvement) have brought me to a state of disagreement with the LDS institution on some significant issues, not to a state of faithlessness in God. 

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Ending the Objectification of Exalted Women: Joseph Smith’s Antidote to Literal Offspring Theology

MANY LDS WOMEN WERE DISHEARTENED by the rhetoric heard during the recent Women’s Session of General Conference because they were warned against their personal interest in knowing Heavenly Mother. This post will address that, but it is also different from my usual writing because I will be analyzing and challenging the current theology of eternal procreation. Many will disagree with me, some may be offended, but I’ve decided to finally bring forward a fuller rendition of my thoughts on the hereafter, specifically concerning the exalted female body. To be blunt, LDS women like me deserve a better theology than the one we’ve been allotted. Joseph Smith offers us that.

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Do You Hear in General Conference what LGBTQIA Members Hear?

GENERAL CONFERENCE IS upon us. Many LDS are preparing to hear the admonition, advice, and encouragement of the men and women called to lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While many believing members anticipate General Conference with great hope, some face the bi-annual conference with trepidation, bracing themselves for the painful messages that sometimes swipe at the tender souls of LGBTQIA members. Often, the talks that inspire cisgender, heterosexual (cishet) people like myself are talks that can plummet a queer person into despair and self-loathing. (“Queer” is an oft-used, commonly accepted umbrella term to replace LGBTQIA.) I may be cishet, but I’ve spent decades listening to queer people, and, while I’m in no position to speak on behalf of any LDS queer person or their community as a whole, I am in a position to talk to people like myself about the things I’ve learned along the way. I do this in the hope that other cishet members might better understand why General Conference can be so painful for queer LDS, even if they no longer attend. I also stand ready for correction by those associated with the LDS queer community.

Most cishet members balk at the idea that anything we or our Church leaders do or say is  homo- or transphobic. After all, we say, we don’t fear LGBTQIA people, and we surely don’t harbor feelings of hate for them. Interestingly, one of my gay friends has stopped using the word homophobic, opting instead to speak of heterosupremacy, or the worldview that heteronormity is and should be privileged as superior to homosexuality. Just because the “supremacy” part of “heterosupremacy” reminds us of the dark, cruel, and vicious world of the KKK’s white supremacy, we shouldn’t gauge the term an ill-fit descriptor of the LDS Church’s worldview; the modern Church can be both infinitely kinder than the KKK and unabashedly favor heteronormity, which it clearly does.   

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On Being Heavenly Mother’s Daughter in an Era of Retrenchment

IN MY FOUR DECADES as a Latter-day Saint, I’ve not known a man who craved a relationship with Heavenly Mother, even if I’ve know men who’ve acquired the interest. The desire to understand the divine feminine abides largely in the hearts of women. As the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organize their messages for this weekend’s General Conference, many LDS women are bracing against what seems the inevitable, official, widespread retrenchment of our Mother God. But to my sisters in the gospel I say, they may push her into the empty corners of their own faith, but they can’t push her into ours. They may think She won’t hear their prayers, or that saying Her name in prayer will disturb Heavenly Father, but that has no bearing on our lived experiences of connecting with Her. They may belittle our connection by calling it our imagination but we know better. We have claimed and will continue to claim Her as our own, our Mother. We don’t need–and have never needed–their permission to be fully Her daughter. 

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Heavenly Mother Reportedly on the Outs with Priesthood Authorities

A FEW WEEKS BACK, I offered the closing prayer in my ward’s sacrament meeting and expressed gratitude for Heavenly Mother. It felt like a risk. I’ve never, in my 43 years in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, been present when She was mentioned in a public prayer. Afterwards, two women grabbed me and shared their gratitude for my prayer, giving me the sense it was because of Her mention. I could be wrong. What I’m not wrong about is the hunger so many LDS women have for a connection to the Divine Feminine. I recently learned, through the multiple witness of other LDS women, that Heavenly Mother is, once again, on the outs with the General Authorities. If I offered the same prayer this Sunday, it might earn me a sit-down with my local priesthood keyholder.

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Will the LDS Church Ever Be Less Patriarchal?

LAST SUNDAY NIGHT, a cute set of young male missionaries, along with a brother from our ward, visit-bombed us, primarily to meet my non-practicing 20 year old son who escaped the surprise experience mid-way through. Everything about this visit with the missionaries was pleasant and typical, including that moment at the end when it was time to ask someone to voice the closing prayer. The senior companion turned to my husband and began, “Since you’re the head of the househo…” 

This was the point at which my junior high school experience in drama finally paid off. Without missing a beat, I shriveled in my chair, groaning, as I performed my best impression of a speech-enabled slug suffering as salt pours over it. Lo and behold, the four men in the room immediately gave me their full–and puzzled–attention. 

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LDS Women [don’t really] Have Priesthood Authority

As an active LDS woman of a mature age, I’ve participated in many lessons on the LDS concept of priesthood, even taught them. Several weeks ago, I participated in two lessons about priesthood, the first having been taught by my wonderful Relief Society president and the second by a male Sunday School teacher who I consider a friend. The lessons were excellent and the content similar. Yet, each was also vastly different from lessons taught ten, twenty, even forty years ago. In the past, priesthood lessons presented to women centered on ways women can support men in their priesthood calling. These days, the focus (at least regarding women) is the apostolic message taught by Dallin H. Oaks at Priesthood Session of the April 2014 General Conference which reasons that the power and authority women use in the exercise of our callings is priesthood derived through the priesthood key holder who presides over us. In both of the recent lessons, the teachers emphasized an identical question: “Sisters,” they asked, “do you understand that you have priesthood power and authority in the exercise of your callings?”

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