• http://worldofvickee.blogspot.com/ Vickee

    This is a very brave post. Thank you. Oddly, when I first heard about Big Love, I immediately thought about you and what you might think about it.

    And when you think about it, God is Everywhere. Why must one visit a church to feel close to God?

  • Hannah

    Well, upon such a hot topic, I don’t expect my comment to be gotten to, and justly so, since I didn’t bother to read what anyone else said, because frankly I don’t care.

    What I would like to say comes in a few parts (as always, alas). Firstly, I do not bother myself with personal theories of who (or how many) should be allowed to sleep together, be married, make tuna casserole, etc. I feel that these these things are not to be decided by an uninvolved individual.

    And so I arrive at the fact that polygamy is an accepted practice only for males (I assume? perhaps I am mistaken? I think not), and logically this effectively nullifies it as a policy based in reason, and makes its own case as a policy which is designed solely to gratify the male ego.

    If the practice of polygamy were a straight-up “we as a people of common belief, regardless of gender, marry as many people as we’d like” policy, it would, at least, bear the strength of its conviction. But it does not.

    And so I have shaken my tiny fist at the endless sky. Carry on, world.

  • http://vindauga.typepad.com Lisa V

    I really enjoy Big Love and think it is a really well done entertaining show. I think it does a good job- and will continue to explore the way polygamy really can exploit women. I think the question will ultimately be did Bill’s wives have more choice and respect than the women in Juniper Creek. I am fascinated by it (and post about it every week) because it is so different from my experience. Just like Sopranos.

    I live in Idaho, I grew up in Idaho Falls and some of my family are LDS. I always see all the nods to Mormon theology and lifestyle, even while Bill and the wives distance themselves from it.

    The first week I posted about it I felt odd, because I felt like in some ways it was mocking things people I respected held dear (Like temple marriage).

    Your perspective is interesting and heartfelt. I hope your family understands.

  • http://bhappenings.blogspot.com/ betina

    I am LDS, and happily so. Funny, though, I have many of the same opinions you do about polygamy (actually, so do the majority of my LDS friends, male and female alike)However, I think if you ask anyone from any religion if they agree with EVERYTHING that is taught, most thinking people would say no. There are enough good things about the LDS faith for me and my family that keep me here. It’s like a cookie with nuts AND chocolate chips, if you don’t like the nuts, just pick them out and enjoy the rest of the cookie. At least, this is how it works for me.

  • staceymay

    As a Mormon, I’m impressed that you explained your feelings without any pot-shots or belittling. I may not agree with all that you say, but I respect your right to say it and I think you said it well.

  • http://www.internalmonoblog.typepad.com/ Sandra Heikkinen

    You know, I’d actually never thought about what would happen if civil rights were allowed for multiple marriages…but it’s incredibly interesting, and adds a whole new layer to the religion debate.

  • FashMags

    Heather:

    Thank you for a thoughtful post. I was wondering aloud with friends today what you thought of Big Love. My husband and I (not Mormons) have suffered through the first three episodes saying “THREE” how the hell do you deal with all that turmoil. No thank you – I couldn’t be that devout to chocolate cake and I LOVE chocolate cake. I’m impressed you did not mention Chloe Sevfugny being born to the part. Funny, you don’t get a lot of lead actresses who bring their own wardrobe. Best regards from Boston!

  • LisaG

    As yet another person who has left her family’s religion (evangelical Christianity in my case), I can contest to the difficulty of the relationship. My family no longer tries to convert me, but it is difficult to stomach that when they look at me they see a woman who is doomed to hell and is dragging precious grandchildren with her. My mother is always lamenting our lack of closeness with each other, but how can I be open with someone who has stopped being a person and is instead a walking agenda? I can have our conversations without her even being there since I still speak fluent Christianese. Heather, knowing that you really understand this is a big reason I read you regularly. That and also that you are funny as hell. Thanks for another great post.

  • http://www.monkeycube.com Monkey

    A Joseph Smith reference! My mother’s side of the family descends from the Rigdon lineage (Sydney Rigdon – widely viewed among Mormons to be a traitor to the church, because he walked away from it). Whenever we’re around Mormons and we reveal this fact, they suddenly fall very silent, back away slowly, shielding their children’s eyes while whispering: “Pay no attention to those pagans, dear.”

    Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little but you get the idea.

  • Angela

    To Sara Bylotas, Thank you for what you wrote. You moved me to tears. I love the understanding and openess you are talking about and I wish more people could go to that place of peace and closeness with God that only they and God can define. That is how it should be. “Have Ideas, not Beliefs. Ideas are easier to change.” (quote from Chris Rock in Dogma, I know, I am an idiot, but it is relivent)I hope that at least one person had a light bulb go off above their head after reading that and relize they don’t have to push anything on anyone else and they don’t have to push anything on themselves, just let it be what it is. That is happines and understanding. Thank you so much.
    And Thank you Heather. You are amazing and we need more people like you in the world to talk about things like this in such an open and non hurtful way.

  • http://www.nothingbutbonfires.com Nothing But Bonfires

    I’m just not sure why it’s neccessary that we see Bill Paxton’s buttocks so often! And yet … that doesn’t stop me from watching.

    I read a great book a few months ago — “Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith” by Martha Beck. Compelling stuff.

  • teri claude

    One of the things I love about HBO taking on this topic right now is the way it addresses issues related to the Bush presidency and his “war on Terror”. In this “war”, Muslims are equated with evil, and their fundamentalist religious views (which include polygamy) are blamed for many scary things happening in the world today.

    Big Love reminds us that we have plenty of christian fundamentalists in this country, and their religious views can make them do things that make us squirm too. Some of them may be mormon, but some of them are protestant fundamentalists like George Bush.

    The main issue the show highlights, in my opinion, is that blond haired, blue-eyed all-american people can do some pretty scary things in the name of religion, not only dark-haired, dark-skinned people from other countries.

  • R

    very well said!

  • http://thinkerlabs.ca/jeremyduncan jeremy

    Wow great thoughts. Your comments need to be heard by more than just the Mormon church. Traditional Christian churches need to face into their won shit too. My little sister still can’t figure out what I’m doing working for such an archaic institution as the “church”.

  • http://www.manicmommies.com ManicMommyK

    This post was interesting to me because, beyond your feelings about Mormonism and religion, it speaks to the challenges when “putting it out there” for the world to see.

    Whether blogging or podcasting we set up, consciously or unconsiously, boundaries about what we can or will share with our audience. Do I talk about my kids? My job? Show pictures? Share my address? As you know better than most, there can be unanticipated consequences if these boundaries aren’t determined.

    I have always been amazed by your willingness to open your life so completely to your readers. Thanks for opening up this part of your life and background also – you did it with grace and skill.

  • roxyroo

    Comment regarding comparison of Christians and Mormons. From my experience with the local mormons in my area, (which completely dominate the religious population in our town), I would say that the reason I personally don’t consider most mormons to be christians is because they do not act “Christ Like.” To be Christian is to follow in his steps, to be understanding, to love without boundaries, to be non judgemental. Unfortunately in my town, again, in my “personal” experience I find most LDS people to be extremely judgemental of me because I don’t follow their doctrine. If I choose to have a glass of wine in my community–I’m judged. If I choose to shop or play on Sunday–I’m judged. The people I’ve met in my life who were most “Christ like” didn’t judge me, didn’t try to pursuade me to join their particular religion, and were those people who lived an open life able to accept others. I don’t belong to any organized religion at this point, but I know I couldn’t become LDS for the ugliness I’ve seen in my community from its hard core followers. Again, just my experiencs, my opinions.

  • http://anthonyjoseph2005.blogspot.com joanne

    Although I didn’t email you to ask you what you thought of Big Love, I did wonder what you thought and am glad to know. I admire that you work so hard to keep a relationship going with your family, and maybe it’s a testament to them and to you that you all even bother, even though it’s difficult. As for the show, I don’t know – we are giving it one more week before we decide if we’re going to hang with it. Right now I want to divorce them all too, especially that wooden dead actor Bill Paxton.

  • William Shunn

    Though I’m fascinated by Mormon history and polygamy, I have not managed to bring myself to watch Big Love. Friends who know I’m a recovering Mormon ask me my opinion of the show, and I have to confess I don’t have one. I remember how shocked I was, growing up as a kid, to learn that our church had once practiced “plural marriage,” and that being so I couldn’t really understand why I wasn’t allowed to play with the kid from the polygamist family up the block.

    Just the mention of polygamy brings back all the complicated feelings about the issue I ever had. I remember sitting in priesthood meetings as a young elder and hearing all the men talk about how much they looked forward to practicing polygamy in the next life—or maybe in this one, if conditions were such that the church ever brought it back. I remember doubting strongly that such eager conversations were taking place in Relief Society meeting.

    By the way, a lot of Mormons in good standing continued to practice polygamy well after the 1890 “Manifesto” against it. They practiced it with the winking approval of the First Presidency. This is why, after continuing skirmishes with the U.S. Congress, the church had to issue a Second Manifesto in 1904 to really *really* stop the practice. File *that* under “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

    I have also reached something of an accomodation with my family about discussing religion, though it helps that of eight children four of us have left the church in all. But I continue to write about Mormonism on the web, if at a much slower rate than I once did, and on occasion one side or the other breaks the truce and things get very ugly indeed for a while.

  • http://pickleness.blogspot.com Stepha1202

    I am against organized religion for many reasons, but also because women’s place in the church is portrayed as too subservient and miniscule. It is so nice to see a confident woman who values herself. So few women really do and I think this is why women would be willing to be one of many wives.

    Also, interesting parallel between homosexuals and multiple spouses. I’m not sure what I think about that, but it has me thinking.

  • Heidi

    Heather for President!!!!!!

  • jen

    I know you’ll get trash about your gay marriage POV, but I want to thank you for saying it anyway. You have no idea how much it aches inside when someone tells you your sexuality doesn’t deserve rights- that it, for all intensive purposes, doesn’t really even exist. Thank you for believing what you do- I think you are very courageous to have such different views from the rest of your family and still love and respect them. It’s a refreshing concept these days to think that different people can get along.

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

    hehe. imagine that. a woman president. :)

  • Amanda

    I can’t imagine any member of your family being offended by your response, because it’s obvious that you took great care in choosing your words and that you care about them very much. Dealing with religious issues, especially denouncing your family’s religion, is a huge deal. Although I’m only 18, I’ve already been to hell and back as far as gaining respect for my beliefs, and only my immediate family knows about it! Your effort is commendable and heartfelt, and I can only hope someday that I will be so gracious.

  • >^..^<

    Since this is comment #243, I’m sure that you will never see it, Heather. Not only do I love your blog, I love how you think. I, too, graduated from BYU and finally got smart enough to leave the church (after getting married in the temple). I left for the same reasons you did, and also for some different ones. I found that the lifestyle I am happy with is not acceptable to the church, so “bye-bye”. I had a great time at BYU and learned a lot, and even continue to financially support BYU, but as far as the church goes …. I’m gone!!

    Thanks for your amazing blog, Heather. It is the first one I read, every day.

    >^..^<

  • NicRenee

    Your issues with leaving Mormonism are shared by many, not just former Mormons, as I’m sure you know. I and several people I grew up with have left Christianity within the past several years, and it has been a very intesting experiment in the our relationships with those whom we’ve worshiped with for years, and our families who are still devout Christians. I think it is scary to them that they might be wrong, and it’s easier to push us out of our lives than to consider that possibility. Thanks for the great post.

  • wardsboro123

    sorry, maybe i’ll take religions seriously again when they stop being reactionary: why not go help all of the hungry or homeless people that need help, instead of protesting “special rights for queers”. or taking seriously very dubious foundations of “Absolute Truth”. Would you like to talk about America’s disasterous track record of foreign policy, too?

    bye bye.

  • http://www.littlehoney.net Littlehoney

    Well said. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable, respectable answer to a question that might have become uncomfortable.

  • momisery

    i cant believe you left comments open.

  • amarilis

    In response to themuriels, et al,

    I am sorry that you have been verbally attacked by Christians, that is the last thing that a true Christian should do. Also, you are correct that God did create you and he loves and accepts you. However, you aren’t perfect like you are. None of us are perfect like we are.

    When someone says “there is no absolute truth,” is that statement absolute truth? Because if there is no absolute truth, then that very statement cannot be absolute, etc., etc.

    If there is no absolute truth then why do we have a justice system? I mean, why should people be punished for wrongs when there is no wrong? With no truth, justice doesn’t exist.

    Why should you be able to marry your girlfriend? Really, why?? Where does that right come from? If there is no truth, then we really have no rights.

    Also, think about this-if there is no absolute truth then the, oh let’s say, the World Trade Center bombings were perfectly fine because the hijackers really believed that they were doing the right thing! Their truth was that they should kill thousands of Americans. How can we say that they were wrong if absolute truth doesn’t exist?

    That is what I call living the comfortable lie. You say there is truth where you want it and say “oh there’s no real truth” in the areas of your life where you want to live however you want.

    There is Absolute Truth. It’s not the Christian truth, it’s God’s truth. No one has a corner on it except God Himself.

    One last question: Why is it that when we Christians say that we don’t agree with homosexuality we are called homophobic and haters?

    Can’t someone be opposed to something without being insulted?

  • http://indigosarah.livejournal.com indigosarah

    I totally agree that polygamy should be legal. What I wonder is — how do we deal with that in practical terms. If one man has seventeen wives, all legally married to him, should his job’s insurance cover all of them? If he died and didn’t have a will, who gets his stuff? So many existing laws would have to be altered. Imagine the lawsuits.

  • annejumps

    That first part should be italicized. Doh.

  • wardsboro123

    our highest calling is the ability to bear children? there’s DOCTRINE stating the reasons a woman can’t have multiple partners, and a man can? ok, that’s like a scientologist admitting he’s into aliens, and a catholic believing in talking burning bushes… at the very least, this should all call into question the utter mess that is the myth of marriage as a godgiven covenant between a man and a woman. it’s a contract involving property and reimagined constitutional and civic rights: which does not mean i support the “mainstream” gay and lesbian communities push towards “equal” rights and marriage. i think it’s a desperate assimilationist landgrab

    just to clarify, i’m gay. allowing me to marry and/or debating my right to do so? thanks, but no thanks. rather, redefine all marriages — homosexual, heterosexual, polygamist — as civil unions. This would provide the legal protections that come with marriage, from health care to taxes to adoption, without the emotional and cultural freight. to underscore the polygamist question: the state’s authority to pronounceshould be stripped from the ministers, rabbis, imams and priests. religions want a homogenized, sexist culture, it’s the easiest way to be safe. (i’d lump all religions under this blanket statemnet). look through photos of the “gay marriages” in the past. There wasn’t a nose-pierced, pink-haired, breast-tattooed transgressive transgender queen to be seen. That’s a nightmare vision of what the future holds. Marriage as it’s now practiced, mormonism with it’s doctrinal sexism, and catholicism in general won’t change your world in any way. That’s the point, and it’s really sad.

    and ps. “As for polygamy, I have also thought that if gay marriage were legal (I think it should be) so should polygamy, even though I find it extremely distasteful….”

    someone PLEASE explain this line of thinking? or rather, don’t. it’s gross.

  • annejumps

    Why would a woman willingly submit to this lifestyle? It’s beyond my comprehension, yet I am curious to find answers.

    There are a lot of women who take pride in being anti-feminist; they think it makes them more feminine, or something. Since there are many stereotypes and caricatures of feminists (and misunderstanding of what feminism is), particularly in “red” areas, it’s pretty easy for someone to decide that they’re anti-feminist (even as they believe that women should be able to vote, wear pants, etc.). I think it becomes sort of a Stockholm syndrome — I can’t be a first-class citizen, but by God I’ll be the best of the second class, by denouncing those that want to get rid of the status quo (in this example, feminists and/or people who don’t like women having second-class status). It’s certainly not contradictory for a woman to be misogynist or to justify misogyny.

  • http://biggaysam.com Sam Merrill

    Ha! I love the show. I love most of all Bill Paxton’s butt. ;)

  • jen d.

    I’m another recovering Mormon, and I wish I could say that the reasons I left were as virtuous as Heather’s. My reasons included a divorce and re-marriage, and the fact that nobody in my family was Mormon made it a lot easier. I came from a liberal upbringing, and somehow in my head was able to reconcile the Mormon way of life and feminism or equal rights. In retrospect, however, I think I was somewhat brainwashed. If you are a devout Mormon, you believe that the roles of women are different but equal to that of men, and that if you husband is righteous, then there will be equality in the marriage. But the thing is, women in no way are encouraged to work outside the home, or even finish college, and how can that be equality? I personally thought that it was sheer insanity not to finish college even if I never worked, because what happened if my husband died and I had kids to support? I digress.

    As for polygamy, I have also thought that if gay marriage were legal (I think it should be) so should polygamy, even though I find it extremely distasteful. I hadn’t put much thought into the property rights and child custody issues some posters have discussed, and that certainly complicates things. On the upside of legalizing polygamy is that it would certainly get a lot of people off welfare. I am a bleeding heart liberal, and believe that children should not suffer because of their parent’s behavior, but most of the polygamists out there manage their lifestyle because the second, third, and fouth etc. wives and their kids are on welfare. Maybe there would be less abuse of the practice in regard to young girls if the lifestyle were not bankrolled partially by the state. On the downside of the legalization is the issue, as mentioned above, of whether many of the women in polygamous relationships really consented to the plural marriage. Something to think about.

    I have to agree with a couple of the posters above about the nagging thought that maybe the Mormon Church is true and I’ve totally screwed myself by leaving. I guess if Heaven means that I have to share my husband with some other woman and that my daughter would have to do the same, I want no part in it anyway.

  • Liz Cadorette

    Wowee, Heather — Fantastically written, and thoughtfully articulated. The longer I read your blog, the more I admire you and aspire to the same level of…Je ne sais quoi.

    I grew up with parents who divorced when I was seven. My parents married when my mother was eighteen, and because she died at 46, before I had the guts to ask, I have no idea why it was that she chose to marry him at such a young age. But in any case, my father was an untreated manic depressant, and both my mother and I suffered from his bouts in the black areas. It wasn’t until I was eighteen and living — I’d say on my own, but I moved out of my mom’s house and in with my boyfriend, which is fodder for a whole other discussion — but anyway, not living with either parent, before I was able to confront my dad, get past my anger and forgive the past enough to have a relationship.

    My point in all that TMI is that I had attributed a lot of what I went through as a child to exactly what all my friends thought it was about my father that made him the way he was, and that is that he was heavily involved in the church (pick a non-catholic christian church, and he’s probably played the organ or directed the choir for it, although I was baptized Lutheran). So, inevitably, any disinclination of mine to be rowdy or lewd as a pre-teen was written off because I was “the priest’s kid”, nevermind that my father was neither a priest nor Catholic! (And wouldn’t those little bastards be interested in all my current friends in the Kink and Poly communities…)

    Due for the most part to opression issues, I have never felt connected or comfortable with organized religions. My greatest comfort levels have been in the sort of amalgam-Pagan-Earth-centered self-serve spiritualities, wherein I can choose my own peace with the Divine, without having somebody tell me that my perceptions are wrong/horrid/divergent.

    However much I may want to, however, I don’t think I will ever be able to discuss my Pagan leanings with my Dad. So I can’t tell you how amazed and impressed I am with your post, on a subject that has caused so much angst and hurt for so many families over hundreds of years. BRAVO. Thank you, once again, for putting it all out there with honesty and (most of the time, LOL) class.

  • Nannergrrl

    Thanks for your comments on the show. I was certainly curious as to your viewpoint on it.

    I essentially have the same views when it comes to the fundemantalist Mormon sects which practice polygamy. The basis of it all seems to rest on a foundation on the subjugation of women and especially the sanctioned sexual abuse of adolescents. Blech – makes my skin crawl.

    Hope the post doesn’t play havoc with familial relations again. Good luck and a happy Shoshun to you. (I’ve taught the word to my dog, Fergus, and it means all things of happiness, i.e, chicken treats, walks, back scratches, etc.)

  • notaclue

    Okay, not sure how to start this. First of all, I am religious–Presbyterian. As far as I’ve seen they don’t have any hang-ups about women. Women are at all levels and are Pastors.
    As far as gay-marriage…., well, that’s harder. Some Presb. churches are supportive…., ours is not quite there yet, but I’m working (quietly) on it. I think it has more to do with the current Pastor (homophobic) than with our branch or the members. When my son came out publicly, sooooo many members were sooooo incredibly supportive. They’ve all known Paul all his life and know what a wonderful person he is. It was a relevation to them that gay people were not the freaks that so many like to portray them as. I like to think God was helping them grow by them knowing Paul so well and for so many years. This is a very small town and it was a very big deal–so much so that there were extra police in town when my son took his boyfriend to prom, and there was a great deal of concern that Fred Phelps would picket our Awards Night when my son was the first recipient of the Matthew Shepard Scholarship in Iowa. Thankfully he chose a different ceremony to spew his venom at (not very Christian of me, but man, oh, man, do I HATE that puke! I just know I’d wind up in jail for trying to rip his fucking face off. Ahem, sorry.)
    As for how I am quietly trying to change our church…, well, I am a Sunday School teacher and let’s just say I don’t allow that kind of hate in my classes. I teach honestly and am not afraid to answer the kids questions. If some of the more repressed members knew what I teach they probably wouldn’t be happy but so what. I feel strongly that God led me to teach and this is all part of his message of love and acceptance. I know he made Paul exactly how he wanted him and I think he did a fine job. I also know Paul was born this way and it wasn’t a choice—I hate that assumption, that it is a lifestyle choice. So stupid. He didn’t choose anything. He was born different from son #2 just as son #2 is different that son #3. And I love ‘em all, the little shits!
    Anyway, the point that really bugs me is that I raise my children to believe in marriage and that society will not let my son do the one thing he really wants to…, marry his partner. It really pisses me off that I am not allowed to have a beautiful wedding for my child just because some people are ignorant. I’ve told him I will stand up with him for whatever type of ceremony he wants, wherever he wants, but you know, it’s just not the same. I never hear about other parents being upset about this, but it makes me mad as hell. It’s ironic too…, I come from a family of 7 siblings and none of the other siblings offspring care to marry and protect the children that they are producing (with multiple partners and with no thought to how this affects their children–okay, okay, this obviously is a rant I could go far with, but I think you get my point!)
    By raising this child of my heart to believe in love and marriage I have inadvertantly set him up for heartache. And it breaks my heart.

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

    Thank you Jack for writing my feelings exactly. It also saddens me when people look for answers regarding our religion in every place EXCEPT our doctrine. I have never felt anything but equal in this church. I have also not been led blindly. I know what is out there, and have made the decision to be a member of this church willingly – not because I was forced to. I have never felt more free.

    Thanks Heather for your honesty. I am grateful to live in such a wonderfully free country where we can all express our opinions without fear. Whether you support our current President or not, we should all remember what a wonderful country we live in.

  • Lindsey

    I don’t think the portrayal to be accurate- do we really think that one husband could support the lifestyle of all those wives, and what a lifestyle. The show could have been about “communal living” hippie-yuppies exploring an alternative lifestyle, apparently the show is not about the religious aspect of the Church of LDS.
    If nothing else Big Love has offered us a chance to think and talk to each other, but who are we kidding, we’re preaching to the choir!

  • wardsboro123

    this is all great, but wondering why polygamy still hasn’t ever been defined or thought of as a wife with 2 or 3 husbands. i’m pretty sure there were no revelations as such… ? heh.

    also, heather, i think you swerved a little too close to the homosexuality leads to bestiality line of thinking, but generally well thought out.

  • Jack

    That was a long stroll through the comments to make sure I’m not duplicating what others have said. If I do, I’m sorry. And I’m not trying to start fights, just answer some of the questions which have been posited.

    I’m a Mormon man and a Wisconsin Democrat. I love this site. Heather is an incredible writer with a sharp wit, a great sense of humor, an insightful, enjoyable to read. Thank you for writing, Heather.

    POLYGAMY
    I don’t want to marry any more women. My wife sometimes brings it up: “You know, if polygamy were legal, I really wouldn’t mind you having another wife or two . . . as long as the others understood that this is my kitchen.” I worry that if it ever were legalized she’d start matchmaking on me.

    I think I do understand how the Church’s position on polygamy changed. It has nothing to do with God changing his mind about what was okay. It’s that we also have a strong belief in supporting the nation in which we live. That doesn’t mean we have to accept GWB as appointed by God (whew! . . . and for your Mormon friends that do, ask them if that means Bill Clinton was too), but it means we strive to follow laws. If they’re unjust we work to change them within the system as we can, but we follow them. We respect them as Law. The Church has an official Article of Faith addressing that we respect laws, but the belief also has strong biblical support and is a tradition among most Christian faiths. It is important that the practices and actions of Christians not drive the non-believers away. Christ taught that, Peter, Paul, John all taught that. Too many Christians don’t “get” it.

    So when this nation passed a law banning polygamy it put the Church in the position of either stopping the practice they believed was decreed by God or rebelling against the nation’s laws – and they believed God wouldn’t approve of that either. In terms of not being a stumblingblock to the unbelievers, it makes sense that the Church would stop the practice of polygamy . . . whether you want to believe that came by revelation from God or by temporal concerns about the property that would be lost if we didn’t. As if the two were mutually exclusive, as if revelation from God can’t also make temporal sense.

    WOMEN
    The members of the church are a subset of society. The hope is that by learning the Gospel and striving to live it, they become more morally upstanding, but they are still imperfect human beings. Women are not subservient to men in the church and ideally they would not be treated as such. The men are taught in their priesthood quorums (or should be if they are taught out of church manuals) that their priesthood does not make them superior to anyone. In fact, it makes them subservient. If men are not humble, loving, respectful in their relations, then they are not executing their priesthood offices correctly.

    “We have learned by sad experience,” Joseph Smith wrote, “that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” And “when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”

    Women are included in church councils where decisions are made about how to run the affairs of the church, they head organizations within the church with their own presidencies, budgets, decision making authority, etc. If their voices are ever not heard or are discounted as less worthy then it is a problem with the men in the church surrounding them and those men will be held accountable to God for their actions. Depending on their actions, they can be held accountable to wordly priesthood authorities, even removed from their offices.

    Women are by no means asked to be shut-in homemakers. They are encouraged to take active roles in society, get educated, participate in politics, in neighborhoods, in service organizations, clubs, social groups. The church does encourage specific roles for women and men, but not with any exclusionary walls between them. The man may specialize in the job outside the home and the woman at tasks in the home, but they support and assist each other in those roles. Men are encouraged to do housework and be active participants raising their children, women can get jobs and still be considered good, faithful members of the church.

    CONCLUSION
    I’ve written more than I intended. I hope I haven’t offended anyone. It’s just that reading Heather’s entry and the several responses that expressed similar questions about “how can the church be like that”, I felt compelled to answer. The church abandoned polygamy with reasonable social justification that is not incompatible with the belief that God would support abandoning it. Women are not second class in the church. That they are ever treated as such is an unfortunate consequence of man’s imperfection.

  • Karen C.

    Hear hear!! NO ONE could have said it better than you. Thank you for your post and your thoughts.

  • novelle

    This was a very brave post. I know exactly what you mean about there being unspoken boundaries when your family members actively read and participate in what you write. And, as usual, I’m inspired by your determination to broach a sensitive subject, discuss it candidly, all the while keeping their feelings in mind. Well done and thank you.

  • Biscuit

    Many props on an eloquent post.

    In response to comment #216 about the “Big Love” ad on the homepage. I don’t know much about the technical side, but it’s pretty obvious that dooce uses an ad system that picks up words on the page and posts ads accordingly. So, in this case she mentioned “Big Love” and these smart ads threw an ad up there for “Big Love”. Therefore, the ads are effected by her content and not the other way around. Had to stick up for dooce + family for making money doing something they love. We should all be as lucky!

  • http://www.lifeisnuts.blogspot.com Nytro

    wow. nicely put. as someone who has left the mormon religion in my 20′s as well, it’s always a touchy subject with my parents.

    i, too, felt that my liberal views were too much for my religion. i, too, couldn’t understand why women weren’t given equal rights in the church. but, i squashed these feelings for many years because i just thought i wasn’t spiritual enough and wasn’t listening to “the still, small voice.”

    it wasn’t until i met my husband – a catholic (gasp!) – that i started to voice my opinions. how could god create a man that is perfect for you in every way, but tell you that you can’t marry him because he was brought up differently than you? how could god give us free agency, but then only give one TRUE religion for us to choose? how could god threaten to seperate families in the hereafter if we’re not sealed in a temple? the list goes on and on.

    anyway, thanks for such a well though-out post. enjoyed it!

  • dre

    As usual you know exactly how to express yourself eloquently and intelligently. Thank you for your honesty and your integrity. I’ve said it MANY times, as have others, but I LOVE your blog and – don’t get freaked out – YOU! :) My husband and I are taking off on a 9 day road trip and frankly, I don’t know how I’ll survive without my daily dose of dooce! I’ll have to take an extra day off and dedicate it to catching up on your posts…

  • Bella

    Very good read Heather. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    This show has got me thinking. Knowing very little of Mormons and basically nothing of ploygamy, I have found myself asking some of the same questions you have asked.

    Why would a woman willingly submit to this lifestyle? It’s beyond my comprehension, yet I am curious to find answers. Also, what did Bill mean when he asked Nikki if she wanted him to give her a blessing? It has me googling info every Monday trying to find answers.

  • meringue57

    I know I’m late in the comment-game…but I just wanted to thank you for putting yourself out there and giving us all a peek into your world/your experiences with Mormonism.

  • http://q.t_pi@hotmail.com Jezzie

    When I first saw the ads for the show I remember thinking, hmmm…wonder what Heather has to say about this? and now I know (and kudos as usual girl).
    As a lesbian, a MONOGOMOUS partner in a relationship….. I think its about commitment.
    I know as a woman, its about commitment from my partner. I don’t want 3 partners, and I don’t want to be one of the many for the person I am committed to. How about “Desperate Bisexual Mormon Housewives and Their Fantasies About the Other Wives”? ok just joking.
    Seriously, when the church (or government) enters into adult role play, it just loses it’s erotic edge, don’t u think? eewww. Gimme a flippin break.