Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: A Review

I recently read The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: Haunting the Hearts and Heaven of Mormon Women and Men by Carol Lynn Pearson, and a couple of friends expressed interest and asked me to let them know what I thought of it. I'm not much of one for writing coherent reviews, but I will record some of my thoughts because this topic, and this book, are important.

In full disclosure: I do not believe polygamy is or ever was ordained, sanctioned, or commanded by God. It's taken me years to come to that conclusion, and I won't go into my reasons here (there are a great many). Carol Lynn Pearson shares this view, and this book is written through that lens. However, she never criticizes or condemns anyone, past or present, who may feel differently, and she treats historical figures (particularly Joseph Smith) with compassion and respect. This is not an angry book or an expose of the salacious details of polygamy, though you may feel angry or scandalized at times while reading it

This is a book that explores how the practice of polygamy, while officially abandoned (but never repudiated) by the church over 100 years ago, still affects us today. Earthly polygamy may be a thing of the past in the LDS church, but eternal polygamy, or the understanding that in heaven, men will be able to have multiple wives, is very much part of our present. The influence of this harmful doctrine is seen in our sealing practices and church policies and felt in our marriage relationships. 

The history of polygamy is complex and thorny, and the author dips into it only enough to give context to current practice. (If you are interested in learning in more detail about the history of polygamy, I highly recommend Lindsay Hansen Park's Year of Polygamy podcast--I'm nearly through it and have learned so much. It is incredibly well done.) Pearson's writing is smooth and lyrical, her voice calming and wise. At the end of each chapter, she shares dozens of collected experiences from anonymous, average Mormons about the ways the "ghost of eternal polygamy" has affected and is affecting their lives. The stories are all somewhat different, but they are all connected by threads of pain, of anger, of grief. After reading story after story after story they all run together, and it becomes impossible to assert that "polygamy was a long time ago and doesn't affect us anymore."

This book is for all Mormons: it's for those, like me, who have experienced grief or pain or bewilderment over polygamy, and it's also for those who aren't personally impacted by polygamy but would like to understand how it continues to shape our present culture and remains a very real issue for many of their fellow saints. 

Pearson deftly weaves vivid stories with insightful compassion. She lays out a gentle but compelling case for why polygamy is harmful, offers rebuttals for common explanations and rationalizations for it, and, ultimately, presents a way the church can choose to be rid of it, once and for all. It's more than wishful thinking: she explains precedent for her conclusions and makes renouncing polygamy and moving "from patriarchy to partnership" seem not only perfectly rational and desirable, but also completely doable. 

Before purchasing the book, I listened to this podcast interview in which Carol Lynn Pearson discusses and reads extended excerpts from it. Her words and her voice are powerful. At the end, she reads a couple pages from the end of her book that talk about her vision for our future: what life could be like if the church formally renounces polygamy for time and eternity. I listened to her as I ironed a pieced quilt top I'm making, an activity during which I feel close to my Mormon grandmothers and great-great-great grandmothers--including those who lived polygamy--and somewhere between the puffs of steam and the sliding sounds of the iron I became lost in Carol Lynn's vision and I melted into crumple faced sobs. The words were rich and strong and so hopeful, and I cried in hope and grief and desperate longing.

I left this comment on the page after I finished the podcast:

"I am, even still, even not believing that polygamy is God-ordained, haunted by this principle. I cannot see past it in the temple. If I were to die first, I would be happy to see my husband remarry…but not if it means he is sealed to another woman. We’ve talked about it, he understands, but my fear is still there. Polygamy and temple inequities between the sexes drive a wedge between me and God. I cannot hope to understand a God who forever subjugates women to men. I have always known I, as a woman, am just as capable/intelligent/valuable as any man, and to not see that reflected in our holiest spaces is devastating to me.

"I cried when Carol Lynn read the excerpt from the end of her book of her vision of what the future could be if we let go of the notion that polygamy is or ever was the will of God. I want to wrap my arms around her for expressing so beautifully the pain and the hope in my heart."

In conclusion, yes, you should read this book. It may create new wounds or uncover some you weren't aware you had, but the pain is productive, the way she tells the story is cathartic, and the resolution she proposes is healing balm. 


Here is an excerpt that was particularly meaningful to me. The words are Carol Lynn's, but many of them have been sitting in my heart, unuttered, for a long time:

"When heaven has an earthquake you fall to your knees and feel through the rubble to find the pieces of God. When my eternal, temple-blessed marriage shattered and everything that had been meaningful lay in jumbled shards around me, I had to slowly and carefully pick up every single piece and examine it, turning it over and over, to see if it was worthy to keep and to use in building a new house of meaning. As I gathered the broken pieces of God, I used only my own authority, only my own relationship with the divine, and the good, small voice that speaks inside me, to appraise them. I threw away many, and I kept many, assembling the bright pieces into One Great Thought. I asked only, "Do I see God's fingerprints on this? Does this little piece feel godly? Does it speak of love?" That made it easy. I was forever finished with the insane attempt to love a God who hurts me. When I picked up the little piece of God-ordained polygamy, I smiled because there was no question. I thanked the God of Love, and I threw that piece away.

"My choice is not between either honoring our founding prophet or acknowledging that he made a significant error. I choose both. I can love King David for "The Lord is my shepherd..." even though this is the same man who arranged the death of Uriah after taking his wife Bathsheba in adultery. Quantum physics has proven light to be at once both wave and particle. Like David, Joseph was at once both a man of God and a man of earth, and he never claimed to be perfect. 

"But this is the thing. No one today weeps in the night because in 1837 Joseph Smith made the monumental error of establishing the "Kirtland Safety Society," an underfunded bank that promised riches, failed within weeks, and caused financial ruin and loss of faith for a large number of his followers. Yet thousands and thousands, perhaps a number larger than we can even imagine--women and men in today's LDS Church--still live with sadness or fear, or anger and confusion, some weeping into the night because of the Ghost of Eternal Polygamy. Something went terribly wrong, and I believe that God insists, and insists very loudly, that we Latter-day Saints do everything we can to put it right. We will not leave the pain unattended. We are better than that.

"And now I wonder. Those who have lived very large lives, who have left legacies beyond their deaths--do they continue to feel both the positive and the negative effects those legacies have on those who are now taking their own turn on earth? None of us wants to be remembered for our errors. None of us wants to see hurt and know that it has come from our actions. I believe that seeing Joseph's polygamy as an error is the kindest way to evaluate it. And the surest way to correct it.

"Brother Joseph said that "Friendship" is a "grand fundamental principle of Mormonism." True friendship, I believe, is described in that lovely thought I have read more than once from writer Dina Craik, who lived in England during Joseph Smith's lifetime:

"'Oh, the comfort--the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person--having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.'

"I count myself as a friend to Brother Joseph, and I wish to honor him like this. I hold the fullness of his life in the palm of my hand, chaff and grain together. I keep the many kernels worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away."

- Carol Lynn Pearson, The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy, pages 69-71


  1. I don't think this is a book I would enjoy. I believe that polygamy was sanctioned by God, and like you, I came to that decision over time and after careful study. I've noticed a trend of people struggling when they feel that a doctrine or event is "hurtful." If something is "hurtful," then it must be wrong. I understand feeling hurt, but I do not agree that feeling hurt must automatically be a bad thing. God asks us to do hard things in life - sometimes *very* hard things. Men are that we might have joy, true, but Eve says, "It is better for us to pass through sorrow."

    I do appreciate and understand your perspective and the author's stance on this subject, but I do not agree with it at all.

    1. I am totally and completely okay with your opinions and am glad you chose to share. My convictions about polygamy were not formed because it is "hard" or even because it's "hurtful," but because, among many other reasons, it is not compatible with my understanding of the nature of God or the eternal natures of men and women. I think the issue is complex, and I don't pretend to have all the answers. When I look at polygamy, I see "Men are that they might have joy, and women are that they should pass through sorrow." (I say that slightly tongue in cheek, and let's be real: polygamy is no cakewalk for men, either.) I also don't believe in patriarchy, and polygamy is basically patriarchy on steroids, so there's that aspect, as well.

      I actually think you would enjoy this book--like me, you're open to reading about and trying to understand other viewpoints, and Pearson's writing is beautiful and her thoughts are clear and well-reasoned. Everything I've read about polygamy previously has been written from a perspective similar to yours, so of course reading this book was validating for me, but I mostly think it's important because it IS different than the standard narrative.

    2. I just want to support Beth's comment here about the trend of being "hurt" -- I've noticed it too. It seems like "This is wrong because it's hurtful" is the trump card of declaring something unjust, and as an appeal to emotion it absolves the speaker of addressing the issue on its merits.

      But I also agree with you, Linsday, that this issue of polygamy (and patriarchy, at least as generally understood) is, yes, hurtful to some (and surprisingly to me, not hurtful for others), but also very difficult to make sense of in light of our teachings on equality, the nature of marriage, and our eternal destinies, at least for me.

      As an aside, when I hear "patriarchy" and its derivatives in doctrinal and temple context, I replace it now with "parental," and when I hear "Elohim" I imagine both a heavenly Father AND Mother working together. It helps me love what I hear and see instead of being troubled by it.

    3. Dani, I think the same thing when I hear "God"--I imagine Heavenly Parents. The problem with taking ownership of my belief is that the gospel as I perceive it and the church as I experience it are becoming two different things.

  2. I needed to read this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I am so glad you reviewed this and I loved what you wrote. I actually have been meaning to make a note to you on FB that I hoped you would review this.

    Do you remember the time you came over to my apartment some 8 or so years ago and I cried about how painful the temple was for me? And then later we went and did a session together? I remember I asked you to do that with me because you seemed like the sort of person I could relate to, and I was desperate to find women who could help me make sense of how devastating it was, just like you said -- "I have always known I, as a woman, am just as capable/intelligent/valuable as any man, and to not see that reflected in our holiest spaces is devastating to me." I could have written that! Thank you again for your willingness to listen and be supportive during that time.

    This book interests me but makes me nervous to read it myself because I'm at a place where I've made a sort of truce with these issues, and I'm not sure I'm ready to dredge them up again. I've been working on mindfulness meditation for about a year, and one of the main principles is developing an acceptance of uncertainty. The more I've considered this, the more liberating it has become. This goes against our usual testimony meeting "I-know-without-a-doubt," but particularly in relation to these gut-wrenching issues related to women in the church, becoming comfortable in uncertainty has allowed me to peacefully continue in the gospel. My list of "I know"s is really short, and my list of "I believe"s is much longer, and then I have a long list of "I hope"s.

    Anyway, I think this was just a rambling way of saying thank you for this review.

    1. I do remember, Dani. And it's so interesting, because while the temple has always, as a general trend, made me feel unsettled and uneasy (there's good there, too, and I've had some good experiences, but the temple has never been "my thing"), when we talked, the patriarchy issues weren't all that bothersome to me. I think it's because I went through before my mission, so all the stuff about a hypothetical husband wasn't really on my radar. Now, though, patriarchy is all I can see. I try to turn off my brain there and just feel peace, but I can't.

      I have a short list of "I believe"s and a very long list of "I hope"s. The only thing "I know" is that it is my job to love people where they are the best I can. I'm not good at it.

    2. Also, I think it's completely fine if you choose self-care over reading this book. I avoided listening to the Year of Polygamy series for a long time because I didn't want to be angry or hurt again. Eventually a day came where not knowing was more harmful than knowing, so I chose knowledge. But I think it would have been equally fine if that day never came.

  4. Hi, Lindsay: I haven't read this book, but have read others by CLP over the years. Like most, I don't like the idea of polygamy. However, as I've become older, I have learned that there are many around me that are in marriages where one partner is not living up to the covenant of marriage, where people have had more sorrow than joy in their marriages, and others who are unhappy for other reasons in their marriages. I think of one friend who is in a particularly bad situation. When these are temple marriages, I wonder how it will be reconciled. I choose to believe that everything works out and that we will all be happy if we keep our end of the bargain. I don't have time to read this book, but I wonder if CLP discusses the fact that we can all be sealed to whomever we've been married to in this life (women, too, can be sealed to more than one man. Only glitch is that it is performed post-mortem. I wish it could be in this life, but does it really matter? It's an ordinance and eternal principal anyway). I just don't worry about the many, many things that we don't know and don't understand through the eyes of mortality. We are promised that we will be happy and I believe that. Regarding patriarchy: there's plenty of that to go around throughout human history. Thankful for the many women who came before to crack the glass ceiling for the rest of us! I hope that you find peace in your searching. You have a wonderful husband and lovely children; what a blessing to be with them however it plays out! Which reminds me--how are families together forever? Many/most grow up and start our own families. Who knows how it will be? I'm just counting on the promises of love and happiness in the eternities. Love you, Lindsay!

    1. "I choose to believe that everything works out and that we will all be happy if we keep our end of the bargain." --I believe this, too, which is yet another reason I don't believe in eternal polygamy.

      CLP does discuss the intricacies of sealing practices extensively. I'm sure you're already well-versed in the differences in sealing policies/outcomes for men vs. women, so I won't go through them all, but I will say that while women can, as you mentioned, be sealed to all spouses they were married to in this life (provided all the parties are deceased), our doctrine is that the woman will have to choose only one of those men to be with in the eternities. Men, of course, are able to be sealed to multiple partners (including multiple living partners in cases of divorce) with the understanding that they will keep all of their spouses in the hereafter (unless, like you said, the marriage sucked--then I believe there will be an "out" for anyone who wants one).

      You're right that the church hardly has a monopoly on patriarchy--life is still horrible for women in too many places. But here in the United States, while patriarchy certainly is ingrained in broader culture, it's gradually being rooted out because most people recognize it as sexist and not ideal. The church, on the other hand, celebrates, teaches, and models patriarchy. I know that doesn't bother everybody, at least not to the extent it does me.

      Families and life are complex and messy, but I'm so grateful for mine. I'm incredibly blessed to be related to such wonderful, strong women (including you!). Thanks for your thoughts.

    2. Thank you for the response. Didn't know that we know for sure what will happen on the other side. So, I guess that I'm not as well-versed as you are. Where should I look it up? Just attended a talk in May by a temple president and his wife, both who had been widowed and are married to each other now (sealed to their first spouses and looking forward to being sealed to each other after their passing). They indicated that we don't know how it will sort itself out on the other side, but that we will be happy. So, I'm scratching my head.
      Re: patriarchy outside the church, I'm scratching my head on that, too. Most women think it is sexist and not ideal. Not sure about the men! We have many, many more opportunities than women had one generation before mine. However, having spent a career where 90% of my colleagues were male, I would not agree with you. Your career was short and not male-dominated, so perhaps you saw things differently. I'm just grateful that I had the opportunities that I did and that I, hopefully, added to the paving of the way for more opportunities.
      Mostly, though, I just focus on the best things about my life. The gospel is paramount there. I'll take it, every time. I don't feel patriarchal/sexist pressure from the church; I only feel it from individuals inside and outside the church. I don't feel hurt by polygamy because it was abandoned generations ago. I am worried about the here and now and how I can help myself and my children, as well as others. The crux of the gospel is loving and serving each other and I try to focus on that.

    3. I can't find, after a cursory search, a source for my statement that women will have to pick a spouse on the other side, but it's what I've always been taught, it's what my widowed friend was told by an apostle, and it's consistent with D&C 138. For a brief and interesting background on the recent policy change (1998) allowing (deceased) women to be sealed to multiple (deceased) husbands, see this post by a respected Mormon historian: (under the heading "Women sealed to multiple husbands").

      I'm not sure exactly what you disagree with me about re: patriarchy/sexism outside the church--you're saying it is NOT part of our current culture? I wonder if you misread what I wrote--I just said that in the secular world, patriarchy is generally recognized as sexist and is gradually improving (indeed, has improved by astronomical amounts in the last 100 years). In the church, however, patriarchy is modeled and taught as desirable. I know many Mormons (both men and women) who see no problems with the patriarchal model set forth by the church. I can only say that this benevolent sexism/protectionist philosophy does not mesh with my understanding of God or my own divine nature.

      I'm glad that you are happy, and I absolutely see your views as valid. I, like you, am not seriously bothered by polygamy that happened so long ago--but I am incredibly bothered that it is still considered doctrine, that we accept it as an eternal principle, and that its influence in our policies is still causing so much pain and confusion today. Polygamy is only a small piece, though: I fundamentally disagree with the patriarchal structure of the church in general--some of it cultural, some of it doctrinal. There is so much beauty to be found in the gospel. I just have a hard time seeing it in the institutional church sometimes.

    4. Lindsay, I dunno. Still scratching my head over here. I looked at your link. It says nothing about women having to choose a sealing. It just talks about how things have evolved over the years for the better. I've never heard of this historian. As an aside, it's hard to really take seriously a blog called "keep a pitchin' in," though! Must be a sense of irony. Nothing in there I disagree about. Just goes to underscore how history has helped policies/doctrine become more clear. It is good to separate what is doctrine and what is merely policy. We've learned much over the years and I fully expect more clarification.
      Your widowed friend who talked to an apostle--would love to hear more about this because it could effect me, too. However, this vague reference is merely hearsay to me since I don't know your friend or which apostle she might have spoken with. Nor is it published or seemingly doctrine. You could say the same thing about what I said from the conference I attended. The speaker and his wife are temple presidents in SLC, and his wife is the daughter of President Hinckley. They were delightful and funny! I went up afterward and asked them about sealings and what about my abused friend and which sealing would "take" after death, etc. The answer that I got was that we just don't know right now. This will be revealed when it is time or we will understand after passing through the veil. Would love to know if your widowed friend heard something different and from whom. And then I would like to hear what the church actually has to say about it from a GA if what your friend heard conflicts with what I heard. "what you've always been taught" is also vague and undocumented.
      Regarding your comment about my disagreement with you is that NO, I am NOT saying that it is NOT part of our current culture. It is overwhelmingly so. Yes, we've made huge strides in the last 100 years both in and out of the church. I said that out of the church and in the workplace, sexism is alive and well and I experienced it for more than 20 years in a very male-centric environment. On the church side, when I read and listen to GAs, I read and hear that we are equal partners with our spouses. I don't feel suppressed by church doctrine. I feel suppressed by certain individuals, though.
      You began your post by expressing your own personal grief, pain, and bewilderment about polygamy. Now you are saying that you are not seriously bothered by polygamy but that it is still considered doctrine and an eternal principle. Still wondering about your sources here. I keep reading and hearing that we just don't know.
      Honestly, Lindsay. I feel for you and your pain and your searching. I hate to see you troubled.
      I love to research my problems and issues and challenges, too. We have that in common. I just don't understand why you are so worried about something that none of us knows for sure and for which you are unable to cite credible, current sources by those who speak for the church. I love what your mom says about not worrying about what hasn't happened yet. I hate to see you unhappy.
      Anyway. Agree to disagree or whatever it is we are doing. I love and respect you. Just hate to see you mired down in what we just don't know.

    5. Maybe someday we can someday discuss this in person. I really must not be expressing myself well if there's so much head scratching going on.

      I wasn't suggesting you take any of my anecdotal evidence as hard proof--I was just explaining how I'd come to that conclusion. I shared that blog post because, as I said, it provides background that I thought was interesting, not because I was trying to make a point. Between D&C 132 and the sealing practices as they are presently constituted, it's pretty clear to me that eternal polyandry is not a doctrinal option, but you're right that they haven't come out and said it (that I've found), and you're certainly welcome to form your own conclusions.

      On the matter of the doctrinality of polygamy in the celestial kingdom, though--men being able to have multiple wives in the eternities--that IS doctrine that is very clearly laid out in D&C 132 (I mistakenly wrote 138 in my comment above) and by multiple prophets over the centuries and has never been repudiated.

      We agree on sexism in the US. Like I said, it's absolutely still a part of our culture. It is becoming less and less acceptable, though, and is gradually improving. We still have a long way to go.

      I'm glad you don't feel suppressed (or oppressed) by church doctrine or the current hierarchy. I completely respect that. As for myself, I chafe in an organization where, as I see it, women have no true institutional authority (we could split hairs on that, but let's not. I'm completely fine if you see it differently). Every assertion that spouses are to be equal partners seems followed in the next breath by admonitions to adhere to gender roles whenever possible and that men are to preside and provide while women are to nurture and care for children (see the Family Proclamation). If nothing else, to me, it's confusing double-speak.

      I said I'm not seriously bothered by the polygamy that happened 100+ years ago (though I absolutely don't agree with it)--it was a long time ago and doesn't directly affect me. I said I AM bothered by the fact that we still believe in eternal polygamy and that this principle hasn't been repudiated. This DOES directly affect me because it colors the way I view God and heaven. It is difficult for me to trust a God who, presumably, sees and treats men and women so differently. I'm not suggesting that you or anyone else should feel this way or that I'm "right" and other views are "wrong"--I'm only saying it's my own experience.

      I believe what Mom said below: that men and women are equal in the eyes of God, that He/They are no respecter of persons. I didn't always believe that, but I do now. I just don't always see that God represented in the church.

    6. Ah! Thank you!! I knew that I was wrong with "suppressed" and couldn't come up with "oppressed!"
      Yes. Let's not split hairs. You have your reasons for the blog post. I, on the other hand, wanted to take an opportunity, as well. Usually, I don't personally know the author of something that I read. Nice to be able to engage with you about something important. Although you say that you weren't suggesting your anecdotal information and your feelings to be "hard proof," it came across that way to me. Without actual sources and doctrine, it is all just opinion.
      Mostly, I am concerned about your chafing and hurting so much. Ultimately, you will need to work this out on your own, as you seem to be expressing. For what it's worth, I have faith that God loves us all and that all will be more than fair. Love what one woman in our ward likes to say, "In the end, everything will work out. If it hasn't worked out, it isn't the end!" Looking forward to your baby news and can't wait to meet him when he comes!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Many members have very faithful explanations for polygamy. However, you cannot deny that JS committed adultery in his life according to earthly laws. Do consider my own spiritual confirmation in your thoughts about Joseph: He was just a man. Along with everything he added to our wisdom, he was just a man with human desires, little education, seeking truth.
    I can only explain Joseph's behavior thusly: He saw visions of heaven and interpreted them through his own eyes which are filtered with his brain's understanding. His interpretation is subject to his limitations and natural desires. When the heavens opened, he must have seen glorious things. I'm sure his visions were interpreted through the lens of the Bible (concubines, etc.) which he studied as a child. He didn't know how else to interpret this new information. I'm sure he saw beautiful Celestial beings freely trusting and giving themselves to each other in full freedom and unashamed love. Surely, Celestial women are just as free to love as Celestial men. Perhaps gender is not an obstacle for love as it is here in mortality. Perhaps sex is not as carnal as it seems. Perhaps sex is only a physical manifesting of pure love when language is a barrier. If there was polygamous relationships there, surely there were polyandrous and homosexual relationships. Of course, heterosexual relationships are the only ones that majestically produce progeny. Surely, Celestial beings can freely love and trust completely other Celestial beings. Joseph was merely expressing his Celestial-like feelings for women, but in a carnal state, which was a terrible mistake. In no way did God intend for one gender to be subjugated to another. That is a human misinterpretation. Everyone is sealed to everyone in heaven and surely no intimate act is wrong. However, Joseph should not have brought this Celestial-like intimacy to earth secretly. It should not have been acted upon. Look at what tragedy arose because of the secrecy! It's devastating.

  7. I remember during one particularly devastating time for me, my friend Claudia happened to be in town. As we talked, I told of her of my present distress and of how I felt it could impact the future. I went on and on about what I felt could happen years down the road, and she listened patiently. Finally, she stopped me and said, "Kathie, that hasn't happened yet, and it may not happen at all. You don't have to worry about that--you only have to deal with what is happening right now." I think that is the single best piece of advice I have ever received. Often, when I find myself worrying about things that may or may not happen, I hear those words, "that hasn't happened yet, and it may not happen at all. You just have to deal with right now." It makes life much more manageable.
    For me as a woman living in the 21st century, polygamy after this life is one of those things "that hasn't happened yet, and it may not happen at all." I trust that God knows best, is omniscient, and I believe that He knows and loves me, and He knows and loves you. I believe that whole purpose for being is that we will have joy. Enoch said of and to God, "thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever." He invites "all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female..." I believe that with all my heart--that he loves sons AND daughters.
    As far as the institutional church, I was touched by the words of a woman from Ghana in this month's Ensign. Quoting the first paragraph of the article:

    Many years ago, my friend and her husband were doing leadership training in rural Ghana, and a woman came up to her afterward and said very emotionally, “This is a woman’s church.” My friend asked the woman what she meant. She said, in essence, “We have the glorious Relief Society, which teaches us about spiritual things and everyday things that bless our families and us. And at the same time your husband is in the next room teaching our husbands that they must treat their wives and children with kindness and gentleness. We have the temple, so my children who are dead will be mine forever. Everything I want I find in this church. This is a woman’s church.”

    I believe that, too. I love you, Linds.

    1. You and Claudia are both very wise. Though it haunts me sometimes, I do not worry much about eternal polygamy (mostly because I don't believe it's ever been sanctioned by God, anyway). That doesn't mean it doesn't affect my relationship with the church or even with God, though, because it does.

      Benevolent sexism, on the other hand, has happened to me, is happening to me, and directly affects my day to day life in the church. I didn't go into it in this post because it wasn't relevant, but eternal polygamy is just one more thing on top of a large stack of other things. I try not to focus on it, but I can't un-see it. Perhaps, someday, it will cease to matter to me. I absolutely respect and honor your experiences and those of the wonderful sister in Ghana, but my experience has been that this is very much a man's church. I don't say that in anger or in pain--it's just something that has always been apparent to me. I recognize and respect that there are many women who feel differently, and I'm okay with that. We can all make room for each other.

  8. Just read the "about" section in your "keep a pitchin in" blog. Now I get it! Funny!

  9. Perhaps your friends and family are correct in encouraging you to not let this polygamy thing bother you. I mean, I know how devastating it was for me as a single person when I had no one to back me up through my journey. I eventually had to leave the church which was so much more disheartening than I thought. My whole life and all of my wisdom sourced from that well.
    Perhaps you have much better footings than I did. You have a solid support system and are well read and can express your feelings in a way that you don't feel trapped. My heart goes out to you in your righteous indignation and quest for truth. May your head stay above the tides. I'm afraid I treaded the waves for too long and lost the fight. I trust that you have a proper life jacket and a rope tied to your raft as you seek to regain the broken pieces of truth.
    (Sorry for the corny metaphor.)