There was a very interesting exit story posted to Outer Blogness recently on the blog Escaping the Brainwashing of Zion:
Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3 * Part 4 * Part 5 * Part 6
The focus isn’t on concluding the church isn’t true so much as it is on escaping from a dangerous and abusive relationship. People will probably point out that it’s not the church’s fault that this woman’s husband was mentally ill, however the church appears to have played a significant role in seeing that all of the power and all of her options were placed in his (less than capable) hands…
I think the real question is whether experiences like these are typical. I submit that ex-mormons will say that they are whereas Mormons will say that they are not.
My own personal opinion: I think the church, at the local level, needs to step up to the plate and say that unless both the husband and wife receive the same revelation, it’s not from God and actively stop people from becoming the victims of someone else’s mental illness.
I don’t think that such experiences are typical. Most people aren’t mentally ill (at least not to this degree), and if this type of experience were the norm, the church would probably be equipped to deal with it better. My main point is that such tragedies do happen occasionally, and in those cases many of the church’s policies and practices massively exacerbate the problem.
This was an interesting personal account.
The man-on-top element of Mormon culture has been diluted a bit over the years but is still strong. Gender is a pillar of Mormon doctrine. It is even ascribed to God. The use of ‘Heavenly Father’ as the most common name of God continually reinforces the idea of divine male gender. Men and women are very different creatures, with very different privileges and roles, here and in the afterlife, and in all things the men preside.
It isn’t hard to understand how this kind of cosmology results in the mistreatment of women, especially when mental illness is a contributing factor.
What’s more amazing is that LDS culture has shifted toward the more mainstream view of gender as a more minor signifier. This produces a two-tiered system where the doctrinal position and the de facto social structure are significantly different. One manifestation of this dissonance is in the official position on polygamy– polygamy is increasing repudiated for current marriages (for example, in the Proclamation on the Family) but still supported doctrinally as an eternal principle that holds in the afterlife.
I heard a rumor floating around that the Church quietly changed its position and now a woman can be temple-sealed to more than one man, whereas before, only the man could be sealed to more than one wife (in cases where the wife died). Now it works for both widows and widowers. Interesting and welcome development, if it’s true that is…
Anyone heard about this?
MoHoHawaii — That’s a good point about the two tiered system. There almost seems to be an element of “bait and switch” to it. People can point to the de facto social structure and say “see, it’s not as bad as people say,” but then when push comes to shove, the man can point to the doctrine to enforce his authority.
Seth R. — It seems like I’ve heard vague rumors to that effect, but nothing definitive. Even so, in cases where a woman is sealed to more than one husband (such as sealing by proxy for a woman who was married twice in her lifetime but all parties are now dead), I’ve heard that in the afterlife they’ll “sort it out” by having her pick one husband or the other, whereas a man in the same situation would keep both wives…
“Iâ€™ve heard that in the afterlife theyâ€™ll â€œsort it outâ€ by having her pick one husband”
So even when I die, I can’t escape The Bachelorette???!!! 🙂
LOL!!! Well, when you create your own universe, you can tweak this one rule… 😉
According to my wife and her mother, who are professional genealogists and avid temple goers, deceased women have been sealed to all their husbands for quite some while. The rationale appears to be that this is a matter that will be sorted out in the hereafter. The important thing is that the woman has access to the redeeming ordinances and all options remain open.
I have not heard that living women are now getting sealed in the temple repeatedly. I did hear several reports, however, where in-laws of the widow complained that there was a temple divorce to let the woman marry her new husband for time and eternity. In both cases the divorce caused considerable anxiety for the parents of the deceased husband.
Obviously, such reports are hearsay. Don’t bet the family farm on them. I am pretty confident about my wife’s report about ordinances for the dead.
In my opinion, this is a fairly typical phenomenon in Mormonism. Of course, there are laudable exceptions but the dogmatic supporters of patriarchy can rely on the authority of the prophets and thus dominate the public discourse in Mormon chapels.
As long as that is the case, it is only reasonable to expect elevated levels of spousal abuse in our society because it is so easy to invoke Mormon theology to refer to the suppression of women as a virtue. That in turn will muster the conscience in the service of suppression.
In my experience, conditional love is another pathology that is over-represented in Mormon culture. Especially among corridor Mormons, there is a pronounced distrust of gentiles. Mormons are identified with virtue, non-Mormons with vice.
Russell Nelson even gave a talk that argued that God’s love was conditional.
Applying that worldview to parenting is deeply problematic, especially in light of the fact that religious commitments are a matter of conscience. Unfortunately, there is too little respect for the religious freedom of non-Mormons and little appreciation for the conscience of religious dissidents.
I have seen a number of Mormon parents who responded to their children’s religious objections with coercive methods.
If Mormons in Germany were treated as Utah Mormons treat gentiles, we would not hear the end of it.
as noted at the CH, LDS leaders seem to be adrift as to where to steer; they’re stuck between ‘Mainstreaming’ (MRomney discounting our distinctions) and the ‘old line’. Add the discomfort occasioned by the inet/web, and the GAs, albeit just below the surface, are struggling at the helm.
They don’t know which to keep, which to throw overboard (as they did with me).