• http://spaces.msn.com/andreinaspace Andreina

    I was wondering how long it was going to take you before you had the urge of talking about this. I can imagine is a very touchy subject for you and your family but I appreciate that you are brave enough to show us where you stand. At least I feel like I understand much better now; better than just watching a show where the only purpose is to keep people watching while the husband has sex with his three wifes on a daily basis.

  • coelacanth

    I don’t have any moral or legal opposition to polygamists being given full legal recognition, but I would be interested to see studies of sex addition and instances of childhood abuse amongst polygamists. Mormonism seems to me to be a lure for men with authoritarian and/or abusive tendencies; just as the clergy is a lure for pedophiles.

  • Megan B

    Wow Heather,
    Very interesting post. I think that Big Government needs to stop focusing so much of its energy on preventing homosexuals from being together (I say let gay/bi people find some happiness in what must be a very difficult existence with all the prejudice, etc.) and instead focus on more relevant issues such as coming up with alternative energy sources to prepare the USA for when the world oil production peaks in the next few years, etc, etc…
    Also, I think that too many people out there try to twist religion around to promote their own agendas, whether it be allowing polygamy for men but not women or saying that only men can be priests or some Muslims stoning women to death for having sex outside of marriage and letting the man off scott-free. Do all religions give women the shaft or just all the ones I know about?
    I was raised Catholic but currently am avoiding organized religion altogether b/c I have too many things I disagree with. I admire your courage in letting your family know that you left the church b/c if I told mine, I know they would quite literally never speak to me again.
    That’s all for now!

  • http://aeichhorn.typepad.com Amanda Eichhorn

    That was well written. I’m a reformed Mormon as well and I can so identify with some of the things you write and it is certainly one of the draws I feel to your blog. I have a different take on the polygamy stuff myself so it was never one of my tender spots with the church. I do think you just wrote a very elegant and non-offensive post though and think a lot more members should reflect further on this particular philosophy.

  • Mackadoos

    Makes perfect sense, and those who know and love you, should accept you for your beliefs, for what you stand for and what you believe. I love your blog!

  • amanda

    I regularly read a few blogs and have only posted to one of them once. Obviously I am posting a comment now, so you must have really hit something with me today.

    I appreciate that you decided (at least in this instance) to write about the complex factors of the Mormon religion and Mormon/non-Mormon family dynamics. I grew up Mormon in Oregon, currently live in Utah, and have four brothers and two sisters—all of whom have temple marriages and full-blown Mormon lifestyles. My dad was my bishop when I was a teenager; I had to confess my “sins” to him. My husband is African-Brazilian and a non-denominational Christian (grew up in Brazil) and even though he is my life partner and the person I confide in, I can’t convey to him what it is like to be in the middle of this weird family dynamic—I can’t convey it in the slightest. It is something that only people who have lived through it can understand. There is something reassuring about hearing from other former Mormons who I can relate to—even if it is only over the Internet. I hope to see you open up more about this, but I respect your decision if you decide not to. Thanks.

  • http://rockrgirl.blogspot.com rockr girl

    very well said.
    while i never was a part of the LDS church directly, my neightbors all my life (till i was 18) was a mission home. families rotated in and out of that house every 3 years and some of the families were really great. we enjoyed having them as neighbors. but regardless of what kind of neighbor they were, we could not get over they way the women and girls in the family were treated as second-class citizens for the most part. it inspired a lot of conversation between my mother and myself, and i think ultimately, the role of women in organized religon being what it always has been, and probably always WILL be, is what turned me off from religon as a whole.
    but i never did get over that harsh realization that this was OK with them. i’m not sure if its because this is all these women had ever known, or if they simply took this treatment out of obligation to the church or what. i saw what the males did and how they acted and what they were allowed to get away with, and the double-standards sickened me.
    i can understand not wanting to open up this can of worms with the people you love most, but i think ulitmately if you feel so strongly about something, you cnnot keep it held in. i applaud you for crossing into your “uncomfortable zone”.

  • http://www.buttergun.com butter gun

    The proof is in the pudding.

    Genesis 3:16
    Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
    1 Corinthians 11:3
    But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
    1 Corinthians 14:34-36
    Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
    Ephesians 5:22-24
    Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
    Colossians 3:18
    Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
    1 Timothy 2:11-15
    Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.
    1 Peter 3:1
    Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.

  • beetski

    Your eloquence continues to floor me, whether you’re talking about constipation or a topic as thought-provoking as this. I’m not really that into blogs, but I find myself checking your site daily. Thanks for writing. I’ll keep reading, not only because I enjoy your work, but also because I’m hoping your ability to express yourself so clearly will rub off on me.

  • Sarah

    I just sent you a copy of an e-mail I received about this show from an LDS friend. They’re instructed not to talk about this show at all to anyone who has questions and to forward everyone to their stake president. Why would this be? I would think they’d want to inform people, and answer questions. I guess I’m wrong.

  • aggie75

    Heather B — great post. Like art, it’s not just what the artist paints that changes the world. It’s what people see in the art that changes the world. While your post was wonderful, the comments continue to speak to others making your voice more powerful. You are a change agent and a blessing to all who are fortunate to share your thoughts. Thanks for helping me on my journey…

  • sarabellum83

    Dear Heather,
    I started reading your website a few months ago and have finally read the whole thing from the beginning. I have often laughed to the point of tears–and cried for you, as well.
    As a Christian, I was raised Southern Baptist (my dad is a preacher) and I find startling similarities between our life experiences. I left the Southern Baptist denomination my senior year of high school; I did not reject my faith in Christ, but most certainly rejected those tenets Southern Baptists hold that are unbiblical. The rift between me and my family is certainly not as extreme or heartbreaking as your’s, but I do sympathize (sympathise?). I do, on occasion, drink alcohol. I think George W. may just have a rude awakening come judgement day. But I don’t have the courage to discuss these, and other more serious, disagreements with my parents. Not yet.
    I applaud your honesty. You are a brave woman, a respectful woman, and (as a grammar-Nazi) a wonderful writer!
    I wish I lived close enough to give you a hug:)

  • aubriane

    Okay, I realize that this comment most likely will not even be read, but I had to make it, considering that one of my heroes has just talked openly about an issue I feel strongly about.
    I agree wholeheartedly that it is biased to deny to homosexuals the same rights we give freely to heterosexuals, regardless of how flippantly or seriously they happen to regard it. However, when I bring this up, most people will reply with “Should we allow a person to marry their dog?” When I explain that a dog can’t sign a consent form agreeing to get married, they ask “Should we allow mothers and sons to get married? Or fathers and daughters?”
    Now, this question is a bit more tricky. The government has of course laws against incestual marriages; however, if they are both consenting adults, what difference is there from a marriage between two homosexuals, or a polygamist marriage? Most of my ethical beliefs are strongly against any sort of incestual marriage; however, if I can’t follow through on my argument for marriage between consenting adults, regardless of sexual preference, I can’t allow myself to make the argument.
    Mrs. Armstrong, if you happen to read this comment, would you mind letting me know how you would respond to it?

  • http://www.thesprengers.com/blog/sprengblingbling.html SprengBlingBling

    I was hoping you would post about this. I even said to my husband after we watched the first episode, “I can’t wait to see what Dooce thinks of this show.”

  • http://www.hydrangeasarepretty.blogspot.com Shelli

    I SO knew it was pronounced like Pita!

    And thanks for the props about supporting Narda’s and my right to marry.

    In the Orthodox sect of our religion, a woman must get a “get,” or a Rabbi-sanctioned divorce as well.

    Needless to say, we are not Orthodox, although we are very observant.

  • moonrattled

    Dooce, I sent you an email on your sensitively articulated and intelligent post so won’t reiterate those comments, but something occurred to me to ask. It sounds like you have worked out a loving compromise with your very religious (and sounds like, somewhat dogmatic) family and that what you’ve all made a priority is the love you have for each other. Putting it above the religious doctrine. But I’m wondering if you expect or have talked about how your family might try to influence or feel obligated to influence Leta when she’s old enough for “Sunday school” so to speak. Is this a concern at all? Or is this one of those bridges you and Jon plan to cross when you come to it.

  • http://joansyrambles.blogspot.com/ jonell

    I think we should have a big convention/party (with alcohol) for all of the ex-mormon women who left the church, became Democrats, who now blog and read Dooce. I think there are about 65,000 of us – but I could be off a few thousand here or there.

    When I left the church I demanded to be ex-communicated because I didn’t want to be counted in their numbers & didn’t want to add to their political power. I was young and dramatic, so I demanded to be released “in the name of feminism.” They wrote back with a demand that I consult with the bishopric because a decision of such importance could not be made without consulting with the brethern. Which was the final proof that they would never, ever understand my position.

    Polygamy was a further reflection of that. If it’s good for the goose it should be good for the gander, but what are the odds that the church would ever except multiple husbands in the afterlife?

  • Jack

    [blockquote]To say that “They [women] are encouraged to take active roles in society, get educated, participate in politics, in neighborhoods, in service organizations, clubs, social groups,” again, sounds to me that the default position is that women don’t do these things,[/blockquote]

    Excellent criticism of my comment, lawyerish, and absolutely correct. I use that wording not because it is specifically the religious view I hold but because it is the societal view and the religion, simply by nature of being part of society, reflects society. That should not be the default phraseology. I did not even think about it as written. In the context of our discussion, that’s just how it came out.

  • http://www.katieeverybody.blogspot.com Katie

    I have to say, I began grimacing about halfway through this post, and then the grimace was peppered through the comments.

    You raise a really interesting point about polygamy and homosexual marriage. Hmm. As I write this, I’m not even sure how I feel. I understand your point about it being between consenting adults. But polygamy… I don’t know if I could ever swallow that.

    I’m gay and am obviously an advocate of gay marriage. I feel like making gay marriage legal would actually solve more problems than it would create. I think this because of what I define marriage as: a union between two people. Partners. Your other half. Whatever you want to call it.

    While polygamy isn’t hurting anyone, I think it’s playing with fire. Maybe this is a double standard. Maybe I can’t look at it objectively because I’m inherently against the idea of polygamy. But my instinct tells me that you’d really be messing with people’s minds if you made it okay to marry more than one person. I can think of a thousand different scenarios where this would be a bad idea. Maybe it’s because I can’t take polygamy out of the context of a male-centric idea. I guess I feel like emotionally, no matter how much you say you would be able to handle it, it would be extraordinarily difficult. And that, to me, is creating more problems than it would solve, you know?


    God, imagine if polygamy were legal… In 100, 200 years, it might become difficult to find someone to mate with that isn’t a close blood relation.


    Thanks for the great post… I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.

  • http://jordanbaker.blogspot.com jordanbaker

    Thanks for articulating this so well–a colleague asked me yesterday what I thought about this show (I’m not LDS myself, but I grew up in a very LDS area in AZ), and I had a hard time explaining my conflicted reaction to it.

    I think one of the things the show does well is to give the three women very different reactions to their situation–Barb does a good job as leader, but seems kind of resigned to it (mentioned to Bill’s brother that she hated the fact that Bill had had to go to Roman to get $ to help her; Bill mentioned last week that she missed being mainstream LDS); Nikki (as Roman’s daughter) seems to believe in the “principle” but is too selfish/controlling to really be comfortable as a second wife; Margene seems to have fallen into it as some sort of late-adolescent adventure.

    Moments when everything works and they all get along, I can *almost* grudgingly see how it could be a tempting situation for some people (not for me). But. . .with all of the personalities and conflicting emotions, there are so few times when everything works.

    And then to touch on the legal issues–Barb “covered” to the neighbor’s wife by saying that Margene was a single mother “living next door” whom they’d taken under their wing, and that they owned the house on the other side and Nikki was their “tenant.” This makes me think that only Barb (the legal wife) and their children together are covered under Bill’s insurance, would have P.O.A. if something happened to him, etc. Hardly seems fair to the others, and not a situation I’d sign on for.

    But–if anyone does see/get around to screening “Team” wife t-shirts. . .sign me up for a “Team Barb” in a small.

  • KidKate

    This American Life had a cool segment on a woman in a polygamous marriage earlier this year. You can’t link directly to the show, but if you go their homepage (www.thisamericanlife.org) and click Complete Archive in the left nav bar, it’s under 2006 shows, and the date is 1/27 (“I enjoy being a girl, sort of.” Act Four.) Anyway, if I couldn’t exactly identify with what she was talking about, she did offer a different perspective. It’s certainly something you don’t hear much about, particularly from the woman’s point of view.

  • lawyerish

    Dancingnancy, I’m glad you commented. Again, I do not want to come off as judging anyone or their beliefs; it was just the wording that got to me – I’m an anal-retentive, text-scrutinizing, over-thinking kind of gal.

    I think about 200 comments ago, someone made an analogy to a cookie – you take the nuts out if you don’t like them, but you still eat the cookie – and I’m a big fan of that. So many people follow their religions or personal philosophies in so many different ways, and that sums it up nicely.

    Again, I’m thrilled to be learning more about all of this. It’s all a part of the human experience, and all that good stuff.

    As an aside, I recently flew over Salt Lake City and if it’s anything as beautiful from the ground as it was from above, I’m moving there.

  • http://www.spectacularlynormal.blogspot.com Irina

    As always, you’re just so right on. We have the same stupid rule in the jewish temple…until we’ve gotten a proper divorce under jewish law, my ex-husband and I aren’t supposed to marry again (thank goodness I’m not marrying a jew this time!) If that weren’t bad enough, technically, I’m not even supposed to marry someone from the same TRIBE of jews as my ex…wtf is that? My aunt went through the “jewish” divorce and the minute the papers were officially signed and accounted for, she was treated like a pariah by the very rabbi who’d been so helpful and encouraging all along.

    Organized religion kinda blows.

  • Sarah

    Wow, this was so well written. I have so much I want to comment and say, but now I’m left speechless. Thank you for posting this, it’s been thought provoking and enlightening. I’m a long time reader of your site and I totally love it. This has got to be one of my favorite posts from you.

  • http://www.amanda.veryzen.com Amanda B.

    I too was raised in a religion whose tenants I found that I could not adhere to as an adult. I have yet to find one that feels good and natural to me, so I just work on my own concept of spirituality- however limited that may be.

    I think that you have expressed your views about your former faith in a very respectful manner. Personally, I don’t see how we as hairless monkeys can grow spiritually if we don’t ask a lot of questions, and ultimately find our own path.

  • http://www.digigirlstudio.com/blog/rws.htm DigiGirl

    Your family should be proud to have such an intelligent, independent, free-thinking woman in the family.

  • http://www.vegasandvenice.com vegasandvenice

    I am simply very glad that you shared this information with us! I too understand how it is to live in a different spiritual (or non-spiritual) path than the rest of your family. I am very respectful of your courage to discuss this issue with them and now with us.

    Thank you!

  • http://serenitysprings.blogspot.com/ Holly L

    I’m really enjoying “Big Love.” My boyfriend and I are watching it together and after each viewing we talk about how hard it was to sit through that episode, for whatever reason. (Oh, and we both hate Nicki.) But we’re still excited about the next weeks episode.

    So far I’ve had to watch each episode twice because the first viewing usually totally freaks me out and I have to watch it again later in order to let it sink in a bit. I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed a show this much that I have found this disturbing.

  • http://www.sohosally.com sherships

    I’m a Seinfeld Jew. That means that I’m a cultural, but not religous jew. I’m also reading your blog from New York (city) and I feel like I’m looking through a window into another world. We’re not exactly afraid to voice our opinions out here so I’m always surprised when I note any hesitance on your part to speak your mind.

    The city is gritty, it’s big, and it can be confusing, But for the most part, New Yorkers tend to get along. After all, we all have to ride the subway together.

    Personally – could I share my spouse or partner with someone else? Noooo. Do I understand how other women could choose that lifestyle? Not at all. However, do I care if other people want to live that way? Nope, not at all.

  • http://www.fixnflipmom.blogspot.com fixnflipmom

    It is because of the oppression of women in most Christian organizations, that I left my Church too. I couldn’t in good faith, no pun intended, stay in an environment that put women as second class citizens. Now, that I have a child, I would love to give him a faith to lean on, but I can’t bring myself to go back as long as they are going to hang onto antiquated beliefs that anybody (women, gay, ANYBODY) doesn’t have the same rights as a straight male. My husband grew up Catholic and is not a practising Catholic, and we decided against even baptizing our son (despite how happy it would make his family) for the same reason. I don’t want to give my son the idea I think it is okay for the Church to oppress people. I see so many others, I know, who try to ignore it. And I understand why, we all want to belong to something greater than ourselves at times. It is comforting and reassuring. But at what price do we do this?

  • http://www.lotr.homelinux.net/nutritilicious/ athena_d

    As a Mormon, I too am impressed with how you explained your feelings, and while I may not agree with everything, I respect your right to say it too. It takes courage to speak up, but certainly a good hand to be able to express it well.

  • claddyjack

    Hooray for Heather B!

  • Sketchy1

    You are very brave. I’m so impressed by this post, especially your willingness to matter-of-factly state your pro-gay marriage point of view. Yay, yay, yay!

  • http://kimbanelson.blogspot.com/ dancingnancy

    Lawyerish, I have never felt unequal to any of the men in my church. I have always felt that it was a given that I get an education and feel fulfilled in my job, whether it be in the home or not.

    Many people have said that when they felt judged or looked down upon by members of the LDS Faith. I am sorry you’ve felt this way, as it is our belief to love and care about everyone, regardless of their gender, race, religion etc. Remember that some people have their own prejudices. The entire Mormon church shouldn’t be judged because of one or two members. The doctrine that we believe in is taught, and it is up to the members follow it. Some people don’t follow it as well as others, which is true for nearly every religion.

    Heather, did you realize this would be such a huge issue?!

  • http://www.sanyasagar.com Sanya

    I think this is one of my most favourite posts of yours. It’s deep and thoughtful and something I can talk about in class tomorrow. I agree with your opinion 100%, and I’m not one to agree with people about stuff — I’m a big arguer. But anyway, I’m glad that you are so civil and at the same time, stand up for what you believe in. You’re a true role model. Thank you, Heather.

  • tenderlumpling

    As a long-time reader of this site and as a former member of the Church, I was delighted to see that you commented on this show.

    I wrestled with whether I was going to watch Big Love as soon as I heard of its premire. While I’ve separated myself entirely from my former life, I am a staunch defender of the church (armed with annals of doctrine that WON’T LEAVE MY HEAD despite the fact that it would free up some dearly needed memory space) when I encounter gross misconceptions about what they believe. I spent my childhood being harassed as the only member in my school, and that stays with me to this day. My opinion is: if you’re going to rail against the church, rail against actual fact and not rumor.

    As expected, Big Love did make me squirm with all the inconsistencies. I felt that HBO had not done nearly enough research. Little things, like people exclaiming “Lord,” or not closing a prayer correctly. More than that, though, it laid bare the very seed of my apostasy. Like you, women’s and race issues are what gave me the impetus to leave for good. When I told my father (the most spiritual man I have ever known – he doesn’t have faith, he has knowledge) I was leaving the church, I likened it to filling out a job application. If I saw a footnote at the end saying “*If you’re black or a woman, you can’t be the boss,” I certainly wouldn’t take that job.

    As a great (x3) granddaugher of Amanda Barnes Smith and the Haun’s Mill crew, I always defended polygamy as well, chalking it up to all the men getting massacred and women not being able to own land and whatnot. I reconciled it as a neccessary evil. But when I read your post, I realized something: my own father is sealed to both my mother and stepmother. He is, in essence, a spiritual polygamist. Like the Avon World Sales Leader, my own mother cannot be sealed to her current husband. I’m not sure how I feel about that at all. Polygamy was not considered a neccessary evil: it was the plan all along.

    I could vent for days, but I’ll close up. Thanks for your example. I look to this site daily for strength for fight my own battles with depression and loss of faith. Thanks for sharing your strength.


    post scriptum: I had to go back through this post and un-capitalize “church.” Old habits die hard.

  • Elise

    Big Love is so much more about gay marriage than about polygamy. How pathetic that polygamy is a more acceptable topic for exploring human relationships and bigotry than same sex relationships. Personally, I can kind of see the sister-wife thing; the competition keeps each relationship fresh. And attraction the attention of a powerful man who is more than ready to commit, it’s pretty sexy.

  • http://www.barefootcajun.com Barefoot Cajun

    Very well said.
    I’m married to a former Mormon from Utah whose family has roots back to the original apostles. Those roots include polygamy up until the time it was made illegal.

    My husband’s leaving the church was an easy decision for him to make because he realized that he didn’t believe what he’d been taught. You are so right about it feeling as if he left his family although in his case when he finally made his choice public he did leave Utah for Louisiana. I believe the distance made things a tiny bit easier.

    Like you and your family, they just don’t discuss it, just like they don’t discuss politics. We’re the evil liberals, after all. E’s parents have finally quit trying to guilt him into going back to the church. His father has quit sending him the annual birthday letters asking him how he can throw away his priesthood and not want to spend eternity with them. What they do now is the passive-aggressive stuff like sicking the missionaries on us every chance they get. It makes me want to scream. I’m a former Catholic and there aren’t any altar boys banging on my door begging me to go back.

    E is going to seek to get his name removed from the rolls of the church. This will be painful for his parents but is something necessary for him to get the church to quit harassing him.

    We saw the first two episodes of Big Love and both found it uncomfortable for different reasons. I, like you, cannot wrap my head around anyone finding this an acceptable way to have a marriage. E found it uncomfortable from a religious perspective. He said it just reinforces his decision to leave.

    Love your site. Read it daily.

  • http://www.iprettymuchhateeverything.com Torrie

    You know what I love about this post?

    I learned something.

    And it’s not the first time I’ve learned something from you Heather, so, thank you.

  • http://lawyerish.typepad.com lawyerish

    I have spent an undue amount of time today scrolling through the comments here. So many fascinating issues in one spot – religion, tolerance, gender roles, marriage. Thank you, Heather, for starting the discussion. The world needs more people thinking and talking and sharing and debating ideas, however different they may be.

    I was happily reading along until one comment shot me out of my chair as if it had been set on fire.

    Jack, your comment was very thoughtful and, to someone who knows very little about Mormonism, helpful in explaining some of the details on those subject. As a threshold matter, I’ll just say that I do not have much of a concept of LDS theology or practice, nor do I ascribe any cult-like status to Mormonism or its followers. I’m a New Yorker, and I pretty much adhere to the philosophy that anything goes – everyone should do what works for them, so long as it doesn’t trample on other people or their rights.


    This: “women can get jobs and still be considered good, faithful members of the church.”

    This is the kind of thing that breeds the view of a religion – whichever one it is (it happens that we’re speaking about Mormonism, but could just as well be referring to something else, or even to a non-religious societal norm or group) – as intolerant and/or repressive. To say that a woman CAN get a job and “still be considered” a member of a group is to say that, well, generally, it’s frowned upon but we won’t excommunicate you for it. And the underlying message, at least as I am reading it, is that if you are a woman and you get a “job” (notably, not a “career”) it had better be something that takes maybe two hours of your time each week and for Pete’s sake doesn’t interfere with the housewifing/child-tending that is your REAL job, Missy!

    Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with staying at home or being the primary care provider for children (which gets back into the discussion of a few weeks ago on this site). But there should also not be ANYTHING wrong with a woman choosing to do whatever she wants with her life – whether it’s becoming a Supreme Court Justice or being a janitor or having fifty kids.

    To say that “They [women] are encouraged to take active roles in society, get educated, participate in politics, in neighborhoods, in service organizations, clubs, social groups,” again, sounds to me that the default position is that women don’t do these things, shouldn’t do these things, but that someone has concluded that we’d-prefer-that-you-not-but-well-ok-if-it’s-on-our-terms. Otherwise, you wouldn’t even have to say it. It would just be, “Men and women are equal and the same rules of our group apply to both equally.”

    As I said, I know nothing about the religion itself and don’t presume to know whether the majority of Mormons would agree with you, Jack (and I’m not attacking you personally; I’m just trying to deconstruct your statement); but I freak a little whenever I am confronted with or perceive a system under which women are not completely, 100% afforded the exact same opportunities as men. And not just that they are “allowed” to do these things, but supported in every way possible by their family, community, church (or non-church, as the case may be) and society at large to accomplish their goals. I feel the same way about gay marriage and all sorts of other civil rights – rights shouldn’t just be “allowed” (i.e., not made illegal), but must be encouraged, supported and embraced by all members of a society.

  • Carli

    Heather, i thought that your post was very clear and concise. You obviously have thought a lot about what this means to you and how it would effect your family by discussing it in the blog. I commend you on being so honest and still protecting the feelings of those that you love. That’s something I need to work on in my own life, but you did it so well. I watch Big Love, but don’t delve too deeply in to it – it’s a tv show people, not a documentary. I have read other boards where people are confused that this family is Mormon and not a splinter group, and I would hope that by the third episode, it is now clear. I also didn’t know about how being sealed in the temple and then divorced has more ramifications on the woman than the man…. almost like she is being “punished” for not keeping him happy… Very interesting. I’m agnostic, but like learning about every other religion, in case I might have a revelation. Again, thanks for a great post.

  • Janerie

    Damn, what an interesting conversation today. And Heather, you rock for starting it.

    I have lots to say, but will try to stay focused — specifically on Jack’s comments. Jack, thanks for taking the time for such a thoughful, respectful post outlining actual Mormon doctrine. I’d like to comment on this particular line:

    “Women are not second class in the church. That they are ever treated as such is an unfortunate consequence of man’s imperfection.”

    I’m not Mormon, so I can’t react to this as a Mormon. I am, however, a recovering Catholic (something my family has trouble with, though they’re getting better), and one of the major reasons I’m recovering — aside from the sex abuse scandal — is precisely because of this same attitude. No disrespect, Jack, but I call bullshit when men assert that women aren’t marginalized in the church, any church. It’s more than slightly paternalistic to say, “It’s okay, dear, you can’t be a priest, but you can serve God in lots of other ways.” The men in charge of the Catholic church have all sorts of explanations for why women can’t be priests — all of which are conveniently linked to “the truth” of the New Testament — but in my view they’re all just a ploy to maintain control. I suspect the same dynamic is at work in the LDS church. Rationalizing that women are “equal, but separate” probably helps men look at themselves in the mirror, but honestly — if we’re not second-class citizens, then stop treating us as such. And the only real way you can stop treating us as such is to change the doctrine. How likely is *that* to happen? At least in Catholicism, the new Pope has made it abundantly clear that day is “never.”

    I’d agree with other posters who eschew organized religion in any form. Religion sucks: It takes otherwise intelligent, thoughtful people and turns them completely batshit. Mormons are supposed to believe Joseph Smith was inspired by magic rocks; Catholics are supposed to believe their savior was born to a virgin (and that’s not even scratching the surface); Scientologists are supposed to believe in aliens and past lives featuring many aliens; I don’t know enough about Islam or Judaism to offer examples, but I’m sure others can. When “traditional” Christians consider the LDS church, they cry “cult!” Most people scream “cult!” when confronted with Scientology. But why can’t anyone recognize these same characteristics in their own faith? I think it’s because so many people suffer from such a degree of insecurity that believing something so “special,” even when it makes no sense, imparts not only a sense of belonging, but of ownership. Unfortunately, these are some of the very same tendencies that feed racism, sexism, ageism, and most any -ism you can think of. Religion should UNIFY people. Instead, it causes horrors like the Inquisition and jihad, and gives mean-hearted people a “valid” reason for discriminating against other human beings. My current favorite is the Catholic Church’s idea that the way to prevent the sex scandal from happening again is to not only bar homosexual men from becoming priests, but to actively teach (once again — and I thought they were making progress) that gay men are unsuitable for the priesthood. Never mind that allowing both sexes to become priests, and abolishing the absolutely ludicrous celibacy vow, might work. Oh, no — straight men will remain in charge because “that’s the way God intended it.” I imagine most people outside Catholicism point and snicker at idiocies like this.

    Anyway, as someone with two degrees in English, I’ve decided the Transcendentalists and Romantics had it right: god, or whomever your higher power is, can be found in nature, and it is up to individuals to forge their own relationship with god. We don’t need religions, for they breed hypocrisy and corruption.

    Okay, whoops — that was precisely the soap-box rant I was trying to avoid! Sorry, everyone — but a sincere thanks for providing a forum where I can voice this opinion, even though many of you may not agree.

  • http://www.duchessjane.com duchessjane

    I loved reading your point of view on this topic.

    My mother left Catholicism the day she found out I was going to be a girl.

  • http://katehopeeden.blogspot.com katehopeeden

    When I started to read this, I kept waiting for the moment when I would cringe and think ‘I can’t believe she just said that!’
    It never happened.
    The reason for that, I think, is because you handled that perfectly. Got your point across in a completely unoffensive way.

  • http://www.digitalpretzel.com fred

    i dont get HBO :(

  • http://stillbaking.blogspot.com suze

    Heather – you are a brave, brave woman for opening up comments on this post….

    It is never an easy thing to reject the religion of our parents without it feeling like a personal rejection of them. My father is a baptist minister. When I left the church as an adult, it was one of the hardest hurdles of our relationship in many ways. But one of the best complements he’s ever given me came of it as well. He told me that he and my mother had raised me to think critically and to never accept blindly what I was told. And that, while he was disappointed by my decision, he had to respect it, and also the strong, thoughtful, intelligent woman who made it.

    I’d be surprised if your parents didn’t feel similarly about you…

  • http://www.randomandodd.com Kristine

    Very well said, Heather.
    Did you let out a big sigh of relief after you wrote that?
    I know I did after I read it. Great job!

  • http://brewerburns.blogspot.com Jennifer

    Thank you for the thoughtful post. It is difficult to state your beliefs in a way that is not hateful and derogatory to other belief systems. You conquered that problem with finesse.

    I have not seen Big Love (no cable) but you touched on the problem that ultimately caused me to leave organized religion altogether. I did not want to be a second class citizen in my own faith. There’s just nothing that would convince me that it was alright to treat women in a markedly different manner than men. I know that I’m not the only woman, or man, who feels this way.

    Thank you so much for expressing the thoughts of so many in such an eloquent manner.

  • wendy

    I’ve been watching Big Love too, and there is just no way I could deal with being one of multiple wives. I think by nature, women are competitive enough…add in sharing a husband, and I see nothing but heartache.

    I come from a long line of Mormons, and my great-grandfather was the last to have two wives. I was absolutely mortified to read in one of many handy dandy geneology books that he was courting wife 2 while wife 1 was pregnant with my great-grandfather. My grandfather was the only one of his family to leave the church, much to the chagrin of my great-grandfather, who was a bishop at the time. That was a rift that took a long time to heal.

    Our family reunions are great. On one side you have the drinkers and heathens, and across the room there is a line of frowning Mormons. Since I love nothing more than to torture relatives that think I’m not going to be allowed in whatever heaven, I let my bleeding heart liberal views out as loudly as possible.

  • Leta

    Wow. I emailed you months ago requesting just this sort of post. Outstanding. Kudos to acknowledging legal polygamy as the logical next step beyond gay marriage. As a fellow gay rights supporter, I’ve struggled with this one.