Women, How Will You Travel the Covenant Path?

DEBORAH: I hear with different ears than those I heard with in my youth. As a new convert, then a wife and young mother, I heard the men at the General Conference podium through ears of hope and expectation. I relished their promises that following their counsel—being a wife devoted to the betterment of my husband in both career and church, being a sacrificing mother intent on raising my children in a new, exciting gospel—would result in a happiness unmatched outside the reach of the gospel. Every inch of my soul longed to please God and, with my whole heart, I trusted the men called to speak for Him.

I’m at the other end of life now. I’ve raised my children and am watching them raise theirs. I’ve lived as is prescribed for Mormon women. I earned an education—a bachelor’s before marriage and a master’s degree in midlife—but I’ve not had paying, full-time employment since my first child was born. I ensured my children learned the gospel; we attended our meetings, held callings, and lived an existence centered around the church and gospel.

When I listened to General Conference last weekend, I listened with the ears of an experienced Mormon woman and with eyes wide-opened by time. While most of General Conference was uplifting, some of it rang as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Certain things said leave me wondering if some of the men who lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understand women at all. Continue reading “Women, How Will You Travel the Covenant Path?”

Robert Kirby: Victim of Misandry?

DEBORAH: Last week’s column by Robert Kirby landed him in a field of cat vomit and dog poo, or so he described the aftermath. The column focused on McKenna Denson and her trip to a fast and testimony pulpit in the Arizona ward of the self-admitted sexual predator who molested her while he was the MTC president and she, a missionary-in-training. In Kirby’s effort to clean up the figurative cat vomit and dog poo, he failed woefully, letting ferment in the light of day the misogynistic, rape culture attitudes that created a church system that assures McKenna Denson can receive no justice. Continue reading “Robert Kirby: Victim of Misandry?”

The Wounded Women of Polygamy Culture

DEBORAH: Sisters Quorum has been publicly quiet in the wake of the Joseph L. Bishop scandal, but behind the scenes, our writers have been in an emotional and spiritual tumult. If you’ve followed the blog, you’re aware that some SQ writers have deep, prolonged history with sexual and spiritual abuse. The reality is, as it turns out, many of our writers have been victimized sexually and abandoned, or not believed, by church authorities and often by family members. I’ve watched these amazing survivors grapple with the hard reality that the formal Church, through its authorities, looked the other way, expressing a level of forgiveness or compassion for a sexual predator that resulted in enabling his continued abuse. The level at which this is striking the souls of abuse survivors is deep and primal. The pain it renews, the rage and confusion it reignites, aren’t going away. Continue reading “The Wounded Women of Polygamy Culture”

Faith, Priesthood Blessing, and the Unhealed Child

DEBORAH: One of my children suffered a birth injury that left her partially paralyzed in one arm. My doctor initially told me she’d recover in six months. When six months came and went without much recovery, I was bursting with concern and dread. Apparently, most babies with injuries at C5 and C6 do recover, but mine did not—not even after much faith, prayer, fasting, and priesthood blessings that promised a full recovery. By her ninth month milestone, I realized I’d have to accept that, for my sweet baby, a poor recovery was her “full” recovery. Continue reading “Faith, Priesthood Blessing, and the Unhealed Child”

An Open Letter to President Nelson

DEBORAH: Dear President Nelson,

Thank you for accepting the call to serve as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and congratulations. I listened yesterday to both the announcement of the newly formed First Presidency and to the press conference which followed. I was pleased to hear you reiterate that women’s voices are needed in church. As a practicing Latter-day Saint, a convert of several decades, as a woman who married in the temple with her family outside, and as a mother and grandmother, I have some things to voice that are important for the future of our church.

Continue reading “An Open Letter to President Nelson”

The Confessional and Rape by Fraud

DEBORAH: The year my daughter was a high school senior, she fell in love with a sexual predator from a nearby ward and was raped by fraud. I use the term “sexual predator” because this is how priesthood leaders described him to me, knowing his sexual history as they did. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “raped by fraud,” it is applied to sexual activity which is consented to under false pretenses. Suffice it to say, my daughter fell in love with a bona fide liar, the kind of person who is every parent’s nightmare because he will do and say whatever it takes to achieve sexual conquest. This man-boy (then a college student) isn’t my subject today. Instead, I want to share how my daughter’s priesthood leaders treated her once her sexual conduct became known. Continue reading “The Confessional and Rape by Fraud”

Patriarchy Happens

DEBORAH: During Sunday services, I looked around the chapel, noting the brave women who had posted Me Too stories this week and realizing most (probably all) of the other women could tell their own stories if they’d felt inclined to. Then, as a speaker referred to the men in the ward as “the priesthood,” my mind slid back through the ways men at church have used their position to diminish and/or dismiss me, intentionally or not. I felt the urge to tell my stories, though today I will offer only one. Continue reading “Patriarchy Happens”