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The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 10:27
by Joni
I've been putting off discussing this for a long time, but basically, the catalyst for all of my discontent was sitting in an endowment session and realizing what the different covenants and promises are for men versus for women. As a woman, I felt like I was being treated as an accessory. I'm really uncomfortable with the position I take in relation to the Lord and in relation to my husband; I'm unhappy with the way Eve is portrayed (although I'm hearing rumors that the new movie is a little better); I don't know why I have to hearken to my husband but he doesn't have to hearken to me (that doesn't sound like "equal partners"); I feel that covering my face is symbolically an act of shame. Basically, the last time I attended an endowment session I felt like the Lord saw me as a second-class citizen as compared to my husband.

I wrote out a long series of bullet points, but I think you guys all know what I'm talking about, right?

So... how do you deal with that? I'm really afraid of getting to the Celestial Kingdom and being my husband's inferior for all of eternity. But I'm also afraid of turning my back on my temple covenants and losing my eternal family forever. It seems really unfair of a loving Heavenly Father to place women in this position.

And is there any way to resolve these concerns in a constructive manner? I've heard of people basically requesting an audience with the temple president. But the temple president is, by definition, male. I don't think anyone can really understand how it feels to be placed in a postion of inferiority if it hasn't actually happened to them.

Re: The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 10:58
by On Own Now

I'm a man, so I do not have the same insight into it as you. It bothers me, too, but not to the same extent that it would bother a woman. I'm not completely oblivious to it, though, since I have daughters. My only reason even for responding is to offer that this is something that I think can be helped by working it out between you and your husband. Perhaps if the two of you discuss it and come to an agreement about how you both see it, so that there is no implication that he is a more equal partner than you, you might find consolation.

In a broader sense, I think many frustrations in the Church are overcome by getting the Church out of our relationship with spouse, children, God, and do what feels right and good, without the need for the Church to be the Oracle for us. I think it is healthy to think of the Church as an environment in which those relationships can flourish, but not the manager of those relationships.

Re: The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 11:16
by hawkgrrrl
"I felt like the Lord saw me as a second-class citizen as compared to my husband. "
Change that to "the church" (particularly Brigham Young) rather than "the Lord" and I think you've got it about right. I too find the sexism of the temple to be incredibly hard to bear. I generally just don't go as a result (haven't yet been to see the new films, but I may be going this afternoon so we'll see). The last time I went I was praying for some sort of understanding of why the temple ceremony was like that, and the answer that came to me was that the sexist elements were cultural and from man, not from God. Church leaders are very slow to make changes to the temple ceremony because we have an imperfect understanding of why it is the way it is. It wasn't even recorded anywhere for the first 40 years! It has changed a lot, even in my lifetime it has undergone substantial changes, but most of our top leaders are my parents' age and don't object to sexism, so I don't see them seeking revelation to address it as urgently as I would.

All churches have had a wonky view of Eve. Ours is slightly better than most of the other versions that paint her as a seductress or too stupid. At least in ours she's the only one who gets what has to be done. Adam looks the fool (IMO), not understanding the plan, then passing the buck to his wife. Putting him in charge after his behavior is friggin' nuts if you ask me.

Re: The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 11:26
by Curt Sunshine
Here is a link to a previous thread about this exact topic. It has 45 comments and some really good discussion, including some links to comments and discussions on Feminist Mormon Housewives that are excellent.

"Another Feminist" (viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2817&hilit=give+myself)

Here's one from last September. It only has 15 comments, but it includes something I was told by a much older woman about how she and her parents understood some of the wording that seems sexist to us.

"Sealings: I GAVE myself to him??" (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=4626&hilit=nauvoo+period)

I recommend you read these threads, as well, since there is a lot of good input from people who no longer are participating actively right now.

Re: The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 12:23
by nibbler

Unfortunately I'm not 100% certain of what should and shouldn't be discussed outside the temple... and that's part of the problem. There was a day when I would go wide-eyed :shock: if anyone started talking about anything related to the temple in a meeting, I had built up a hedge around temple discussion. I think most members are in a similar place, It's so sacred it's difficult to talk about? It's very hard to get insight and learn when a subject cannot be discussed.

I feel more open these days but at the same time I want to respect the people that get wide-eyed around certain subjects. also has a temple faq that mentions :
However, temple covenants and ordinances, including the words used, are too sacred to be discussed in detail outside the temple.
So I'll do my best to respect that. I'm not coming down on anyone here AT ALL. I'm just stating why my comment is so guarded.

I see a lot of nuance in language. Communication is a difficult thing, the same words mean different things to different people. For instance, the word "as" could mean:

1) to the same degree, amount, or extent
2) while; when

Take those two definitions for the word "as" and toss them into a contract. I promise to eat oranges as my brother eats apples. Now... how many oranges do you have to eat if your brother doesn't eat any apples?

I could elaborate but I'll leave it at that for now. Sorry for the level of abstraction. I know it probably is of little condolence.

Lately I'm trying to be more sensitive about how women view the church. During one of our meetings I brought up a comment that I had read on this site, if women are 50% of the ward, why are there so few in ward council? I'm willing to go to bat not for, but rather with you.

Re: The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 12:37
by Joni
I don't generally read FMH, but I ended up on this post from one of the StayLDS threads linked above. The seven points they listed are nearly word-for-word what I had written down myself. So if you want to know what specific things I object to, it's all there.

ETA: several posters mentioned that the "hearken" covenant used to say "obey," which is something I kind of suspected.

Hawkgrrrl, you are a better woman than I, if you still attend the temple knowing what you know. Right now I can look at myself and say I don't ever want to sit through another endowment session again - it makes me feel degraded and unhappy. If I do return to the temple, I can feel okay performing initiatory work and sealings for the dead (particularly sealings between mothers and children, vs. spouses, because the unequal language is not there) since I've had nothing but positive experiences doing that in the past. But at the same time... I don't feel great helping the spirits of women who have gone on before to be prepared to be the subordinate of their husbands. And it all ends up there eventually.

My husband admits that he can't really understand what I feel, and though he's never really questioned any aspect of the endowment, he's also not some kid of monster who is looking forward to ruling over me in the Celestial Kingdom. He's even said that he will risk his own eternal salvation to make me his equal partner. Which is a beautiful sentiment but I don't feel like we mere mortals can really stand up to God and say, "No, I want it to be THIS way."

Re: The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 12:39
by Curt Sunshine
Fwiw, nibbler, there is almost nothing in the actual endowment ceremony that is forbidden, explicitly, to be discussed, and the things that are forbidden are part of what was borrowed from Masonry. Back before everything was available online, and when there literally was intense pressure (and even threats) from some sources, not talking about it much made more sense than it does now. At least, that's how I see it.

I respect completely individual positions about what that person will or will not discuss outside the temple, and I try to be very careful what I share in a public forum like this - for the exact same reason you mentioned (the sensibilities of others). However, I also feel strongly that sacred doesn't have to equal secret - and that insisting on secrecy has done FAR more damage over time than insisting on sacredness alone would have done. Seriously, absolutely everything is available online now, so I believe maintaining secrecy only hurts our own members (by not preparing them adequately) and doesn't give us a chance to provide "faithful" interpretations when the temple gets ridiculed and misrepresented by others.

Re: The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 12:49
by Curt Sunshine
Joni, it is objectively certain that the temple ceremonies were not dictated by God in perfect form - that there is a HUGE amount of culture involved. There have been too many changes to think otherwise - and the earliest statements by Joesph attest to that view. I am not criticizing anything that happens there when I say that. Personally, I absolutely LOVE the principles and concepts that are part of the temple (even while understanding what bothers you about it) - but I'm a guy, so it's less emotionally personal to me.

I can say that for two reasons: I don't see the wording and cultural aspects as literally God's ultimate, divine will - and because I also believe all women who have gone through the endowment "hold the Priesthood" just like men. I can overlook the cultural stuff that bothers me and not hold it against God, so to speak. I believe deeply in real oneness - and that real oneness means one spouse is not above the other - that they are equal and will be in Heaven. I see that understanding increasing over my lifetime, and I believe, at some point, it will be reflected better in the temple, as well.

Again, my advice is simple but not easy:

Realize it's okay to see things differently than you were taught previously - that it's okay to play a different instrument in the orchestra, as Elder Wirthlin and Pres. Uchtdorf have said.

Also, until you can feel okay about the endowment (if that ever happens), and if you like some other aspects of the temple, do those other aspects and don't do the endowment. We teach that once is enough for each person, so let go of it for now and do other things when you go. I know people who do that, and it helps them stay LDS and actually enjoy the temple.

Re: The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 13:45
by LDSThomas
Ray Degraw wrote:Joni, it is objectively certain that the temple ceremonies were not dictated by God in perfect form . . .
- and the earliest statements by Joesph attest to that view.


Do you have particular statements by JS in mind?

I have always believed that "the temple ceremonies were not dictated by God in perfect form" as you said -- if I had a JS quote to back it up, that would be awesome!


Re: The big one: Being a woman in the temple.

Posted: 15 Jan 2014, 13:48
by Forgotten_Charity
I can't know how you feel exactly. I know I always felt extremely uncomfortable as a man even thinking that someone should obey or hearken to someone else (husband and wife). It makes me very very uncomfortable to even think about a hierarchy of obedience (especially of man and flesh). What I can tell you is the way I feel I would prefer not to live or even prefer hell to seeing myself or others be preferred or above or below anyone else. That's just who I am even as a man. I let my wife know it because she insists that I am the patriarch of the house. I am not. There is none. There is a side by side effort only and that's what I talk to her about. I talk to her about disavowing any hierarchy or seeing yourself or others as above or below another. I hope in time she becomes more comfortable with it. Just my perspective as a man. I am very very uncomfortable with any notion of such too. It's a huge clash and I see hierarchy especially in marriage as a really bad and destructive idea. (I could say evil, but I don't think or place any thought in that.) Just good or bad ideas. This one is just very old black and white idea to preserve men in power. I don't want or need any kind of power. Hope it helps you to know it's not just you or even just women who have a problem with it.