The Mormon Church Made Me Hate Myself

Hello and welcome to the two-part (or possibly three-part depending on how much I want to rant) series of my journey through Mormonism. This piece has been years in the making as my pilgrimage has been a thorough one. The topic of religion has reigned heavily over me for the past few years and although it is a difficult topic for some, it is one that requires intense exploration.

I grew up in what is called the Mormon Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the LDS church or my personal favorite, The Church (as if it is the only one that exists lol). Growing up in this church entails going to a Sunday session of a one-hour jointed sacrament and a two-hour breakout session depending on your age and gender. Throughout the week you are also expected to participate in an activity with your peers doing service, hanging out, reading scriptures, etc. As a young woman, I remember evenings baking bread, assembling blankets, and making hats. Very gender role based. 

I spoke with some males about what they remember participating in as young men in the church. They recall going tubing down the river, going on boating trips, building sheds, shooting, playing sports and of course, giving women priesthood blessings. Again, very gender role based.

This very gender separation is what first sparked my interest.

I began to look into gender roles taught by the LDS church and the word “priesthood” kept shouting at me. Priesthood this, priesthood that; everything revolved around this subject.

So what exactly is the priesthood in the Mormon church and why is everyone so controlled by it?

According to the Doctrine and Covenants, the priesthood is defined by this:

“The authority and power that God gives to man to act in all things for the salvation of man” (D&C 50:26-27).

One thing that I found interesting during my time in the Mormon church was that whenever “man” was referenced in scripture, it was meant to be interpreted as “all” or “man-kind.” So why doesn’t this remain consistent with scripture on the priesthood? Side note: in case you didn’t know, only males can hold the priesthood within the church. No women allowed.

An outsider may see this as a pretty “male power” doctrine and I agree. Whenever I brought up this prominent sexism to my siblings or church leaders, I was always given the same dry answer that goes something like this:

“We all have a role to play here on earth. We are different from men and have different gifts and roles, but we are all equally as important.”

I mean, that isn’t the worst response in the world. But to me, it’s a cop-out.

This is another thing that I noticed a lot during my time in this church. Other members of the church will tell you that if you question something, pray about it. They want you (or at least they say they want you) to always ask God if something is true. But here’s the catch. If you come back from that prayer or pondering session and feel that the doctrine isn’t correct, you’re wrong. I experienced this first hand.

I had an open mind and heart about everything this church had to offer me but every time I would ponder it, something felt wrong. Actually, a lot of things felt wrong (but we’ll get to those later). But when I would talk to my church leaders about my finding, they would shrug it off or tell me that I wasn’t asking properly or I have closed heart. They put the blame on me, not the sexist doctrine.

The mind games began.

I felt guilt. I felt like I was doing something wrong. God didn’t want to speak to me or maybe I just couldn’t understand him correctly because this church did not feel right to me. I was in this cycle of feeling shame so I would go to the LDS church to try to feel cleansed and the cycle continued. I would feel a distance from a doctrine the church taught, and I again felt guilt. Guilt. Always guilt.

I was told in church that as a woman I “have, by divine nature, the greater gift and responsibility for home and children and nurturing there and in other settings.” This is a quote from the Mormon Message called “Women in the Church.” I cannot act in all things to bring salvation to man, but don’t you worry. I can nurture children and make bread and keep my home in order (it’s like we’re stuck in the 1800’s for Christ’s sake). “As a disciple of Jesus Christ, every woman in the Church is given the responsibility to know and defend the divine roles of women, which include that of wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.” Another quote from the same article.

Wife, mother, daughter, sister…why can’t I just be a person?

It’s like they are overcompensating these titles to sway the attention away from the real issue of inequality.

I see the priesthood like this. In the Mormon religion you need to be baptized, go through the temple to make ordinances with the Lord/God and to be married in the temple being sealed to your husband. All of these steps require the blessing of a priesthood holder, a man. So basically to go to heaven, a man has to let me.

I won’t get to heaven by simply loving others. I won’t get to heaven by being a compassionate person. I won’t go to heaven if I serve others. I can only get to heaven if a MAN blesses me and if a MAN tells me I am worthy and if a MAN wants to take me to the temple. See the issue here?

I tried and tried, prayed and prayed, but each time I felt in my heart that it wasn’t the right thing for me. Notice I say for me. The LDS church can be incredible for many people, I believe that. But I also believe that when you search your own heart and allow yourself to be one with the universe (or some may say the spirit) and something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

This whole “be one with yourself, be one with the universe” thing is a principle that took me some time to grasp. Now that it does, I get angry when I look back at my young self feeling like I was not good enough for God. I no longer see myself as only a potential wife or mother because I know that I am meant for so much more. I am in control of my reality, nothing else. 

Again, this topic is hard to take in for some. This was hard for me as well. Growing up in a culture like this and choosing to leave is no walk in the park.

It is not the easy way out.

I am not lost and I am not hurting. The opposite is true. I finally feel pure love for the universe and for myself and as a result, I can give that love to those around me, even people who have tattoos or who drink coffee because these things do not define a person.

My journey is still in the making and I am still learning. If you’d like to join with me in this exploration, stay tuned. This is only part one, after all.

 

Sincerely,

Abby

 

 

 

References:

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/priesthood

https://www.lds.org/topics/women-in-the-church?lang=eng)

 

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383 thoughts on “The Mormon Church Made Me Hate Myself

  1. Unfortunately, the facts she proposes to support her viewpoint exclude many key points, and several are firmly innaccurate.

    For one, women exercise the priesthood whenever they act “as a good person,” to quote her words. This is supported by an excerpt of a conference talked from Elder Oaks: “Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties(1).” When we are baptized, we take the name of Christ upon ourselves, and that is calling, in addition to any other positions we might hold in the Church.

    The authors details being upset that she has been asked to be a loving “wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.,” and “not just a person.” The frank fact is that all those terms describe people, not objects, but people. She doesn’t have to renounce being a person in order to fit her incorrect perception of what is asked of her according to the Mormon faith.

    There are plenty of women who believe in these roles and they do not have to be a subservient second-class citizen, or believe that their only purpose in life is to be a baby-making machine. To this end, deceased Mormon President Hinckley stated:

    “Strong and able women today fill responsible posts in industry, government, education, and the professions. The whole world looks with respect to Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister of Great Britain, a woman of demonstrated ability and great capacity in carrying forward a program designed to strengthen her nation and its people. We were all impressed when Golda Meir served as prime minister of Israel. It is wonderful to witness this great renaissance. I think it will continue to grow for the blessing of people everywhere(2).”

    She also gives the impression that Mormon women are considered “nothing without a man.” The assertion that she won’t get into heaven without a man is solidified falsehood. Even if this claim were supported by evidence, it would actually be the man that would be considered “nothing without a woman.” The following scripture supports that notion:

    “In order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage(3).”

    Those who have been endowed in the LDS temple know fully that women are eternally designed to HOLD the priesthood as well, and not just exercise it. Women officiating daily in saving ordinances in the temples all across the world are a testament to this. All that LDS teaching describes is that currently, only WORTHY men are to perform priesthood ordinances. This rests upon faith in the plan that our Heavenly Parents have implemented, and in divine timing.

    If one doesn’t believe the teachings, that’s completely their decision, but just because others don’t follow suit, that doesn’t mean the one who disagrees gets to smack a “bully” label on those who do believe it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about following Him, and there are plenty of ways to fulfill that. I regret that this author isn’t able to realize that at this moment in time.

    (1) https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/the-keys-and-authority-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng&_r=1
    (2) https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/09/our-responsibility-to-our-young-women?lang=eng
    (3) https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/131.2?lang=eng

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well written response. Not sure how the Mormon Church made the author do anything – let alone “hate herself”. That said, I wish Abby a good life and happiness whatever she believes.

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    2. I love the way you share your opinion without attacking another person. And although I disagree with you on your opinion about church doctrine, reading the scriptures and praying everyday is amazing, and will help you in the trials in your life, as I’m sure it already has. There is a saying that my mom always says when any of us have doubts about the church because we were offended or insulted by other church members. She said that the people of the church are no where near perfect, and they make mistakes. But, God is perfect and his church is perfect. The people who help organize it are not.

      I, myself stopped going to church for about 6 months because I hated the people in my ward. They mistreated my family, and they offended me, personally. I decided that I wasn’t going to go anymore, because obviously if this was the true church then people wouldn’t be hurting me and my family like this. But, I remembered the words my mother used to say. We don’t go to church for the people. We go to church, because we want to worship our God.

      I slowly started to go to church again. It took me a long time to forgive the ward members, especially because they didn’t really change their ways, and even still they offend and hurt me and my family.

      Now, I go to church because I want to show my God that I care about his sacrifice and want to thank him for the life he has given me. Each week I sing a little louder and with more confidence that this is the true church. I have learned to take steps in faith that there is ground underneath me that will hold me up, and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will be there waiting for me. They will be there cheering me on and helping me until I get where they want me to be, and that, is why I go to church. I never go for the people, because pretty much everyone in my ward hates me and my whole family.

      I am sorry you have this trial. I know it’s hard, and I’m not trying to change your mind about anything. Good for you for staying close to God through this. That’s more than I did when I stopped going to church. Please, hold on, and never let go of him.

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  2. Amazing! You are ALL so into YOUR EGOs.. Amazing! I just told you that a man went to the throne of God and met him in 1997…..it’s another Joseph Smith story, and not one of you wanted to know. It was all about what YOU think about YOUR beliefs and not the path of finding the real reason for our season on this earth….to learn the mysteries and have a personal relationship with God. But you spend your time pontificating over your hurts or disappointments or attacking good things. Shouldn’t our path be submission to know Him, the Christ? Your wasting valuable time speaking about YOU instead of finding the real truth. Only when you put the ego away will the learning begin.

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  3. I felt the same way about the gender role thing, I remember being in the young woman’s class asking the president why we weren’t doing the fun things that the guys were doing, she couldn’t say why we couldn’t go shooting and so all the young women were taken shooting one time, I was sick and tired of the quilting and baking and it felt exactly as you said as if we were stuck in some 1800’s teachings. I got out obviously and I was very happy I did, honestly leaving the church has made way less judgmental and not only towards others but myself and letting myself be human! Also I think it is so sad that all the church teaches a woman their whole lives to dream about is to find a husband, marry him in the temple and have as many children as possible, I thankfully was not brainwashed into that as I have always wanted to work for my own money, be independent and enjoy my young and single life as much as possible before even thinking about settling down and I’m almost 30, I get sad every time I hear of how young Mormon couples end up separated or divorced because they got married too young and too fast! The pressure is unreal in the girls and returned missionaries, it’s pretty sad.

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    1. Margarita, my daughters want to do the same things as the boys. I support that. But I think that most women do not want to do those things, and that is who the adult leaders in Young Women are. Several times I have offered to the YW adult leaders that I would be willing to take their girls rock climbing or rappelling or teach them wilderness survival or hiking and camping skills, but they were either too scared or too uninterested in those things to do it. So I do not think it is the men who are limiting the young women from those things. I think it is the women who do that. They just aren’t inclined to want to do the things that men and boys like to do. I wish that would change, but I don’t see how it can. Part of it seems to the human nature and the way older, married women feel about things. We men hardly understand them as it is, let alone have the guts to try to get them to change!

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      1. Timingalls,

        I would like to highlight a key point you made. The adult women were declining not the YW themselves. Don’t you find that odd? Do you really believe that when women become adults they are suddenly too scared or simply uninterested in having fun?

        Let me suggest a different theory. By the time these YW grow up they have been so indoctrinated that staying home baking bread and making fancy scrapbooks is the true path to happiness that as adults they have ‘accepted’ their place in the world as nurturers and homemakers.

        Also, it is the men that choose the YW president, who then makes suggestions to those men for the other YW leaders. Meaning the men choose the type of women that will lead the girls. I’ve seen huge variations in YW programs and they almost always are a direct reflection of the current bishopric.

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  4. It makes me so sad when comments that are left turn into arguments… I really hope that doesn’t happen in this case. Please keep in mind that the following is AN OPINION, and not official statement or doctrine. And, this is written in generalities, meaning that when I talk about men and women, I do NOT mean ALL men and women, and I don’t know if I even mean MOST men and women, I just mean SOME men and women.

    Personally, I don’t feel that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is sexist. It was mentioned in the article: “I can only get to heaven if a MAN blesses me and if a MAN tells me I am worthy and if a MAN wants to take me to the temple. See the issue here?”

    And I’d like to point out that the opposite is also true– a man can only get into the highest Kingdom of Glory (the Celestial Kingdom, because all the Kingdoms of Glory are considered part of Heaven) if a WOMAN will marry him.

    Also, the priesthood thing? I, myself, do not want have it. Why? Because when I’ve talked to men who have the priesthood and have used it to give blessings, it doesn’t really sound like something I can personally do because, to give someone a blessing, they completely clear their mind of EVERYTHING, and then start speaking in a matter of seconds, and say things that only God could know that I need. And it’s not to say that I have never said something that only God knew that someone else needed, but I’ve never been able to clear mind mind COMPLETELY in a matter of seconds. My brain isn’t wired that way.

    And, also, I have a gift from God that He has entrusted to me — I have the ability to create life.

    In my opinion (take it or leave it), God gave men the priesthood so that women would have a reason to need them on a regular basis and so that men would play an active role in church. God entrusted women with the ability to create life–something that God, Himself, is the only other one who can.

    And, I understand that not all women can bear children, and I don’t think that means that God loves them any less. To me, it’s just a different trial that a person has to face. We each have different challenges, some are more obvious and others aren’t. It is a physical challenge that some women have. Not all men hold the priesthood, and it’s a spiritual challenge that some men have. (This is interesting to me because women tend to be more spiritual in nature and men are more physical, yet we’re challenged in ways that go against our nature.)

    Again, please keep in mind that I do not mean ALL men and women, just SOME men and women. And please don’t take any of this as doctrine, this is just simply some things that I have learned.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Barf. Are women who are unable to create life eligible for celestial glory?

      The idea that a uterus (but only a functional one, obvs) was given to women to compensate for not having the priesthood, or vice versa, is disgusting and downplays both roles.

      The great and spacious church is luterally the most damaging part of my life and I am grateful every day that I got out. For me, for my super Mormon husband, and for my girls, who at 4 years old, started asking questions about women and the church and led me right out of it.

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  5. Hey Abby, I enjoyed reading this, though I felt sad a bit, I am a male member of the church of Jesus Christ, and I am sad you feel this way about this gospel, Christ thought we are all equal to God, and not one soul is disliked, I fact the women are the stars in Gods eyes and they are His. We men are given the responsibility to hold this priesthood and we are obligated to use it for the sake of others, never for ourselves, because that’s condemning ourselves. The women bring life into this word, they give life to Gods children who are yet to come and enjoy this worlds experience.

    Elder Holland of the 12 Apostles taught in a priesthood session that all women have the right to use the priesthood, though you all may not hold this power, it does not mean you can’t use it. It’s like having keys to a car, men may hold the key to the car, but you can use that car as frequently as you please.

    I hope you don’t think that just because men must hold this responsibility that it isn’t easy for us, or that we have authority over you. All women are loved, and are admired, no man could be great without them, no man could have true priesthood power without the women of the church.

    We have a heavenly mother, she is important you know. And though it may feel wrong now, the truth doesn’t come when we think it’s needed, but when we can handle it and have proven worthy of it.

    I am happy you are respecting our choice as members to hold onto this faith. But it’s not the church I believe in, it’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our older brother.

    Thanks again,

    Spencer

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  6. I left the church 22 years ago at age 16. My Father still hopes I will go back. I tried to conform and was even in leadership. I blessed the sacrament and lead scouting trips. But always there was lingering doubt. Ladies, you are not alone. I am a straight man who was disgusted by the role women were expected to play and how boys and men were taught to treat them as secondary. For those who think you can just walk away when family are still involved, think again. To this day I am still preasured. One girl tried for 10 years to get me to come back.
    Oddly enough the only Mormon girl I dated as a teen (not the one previously mentioned) my Father chased off fearing she would take my virginity.
    Take what you will from my experience. After so long it is a distant memory and the shame has faded. But I still get mail inviting me to young adults… at 38 years old.

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    1. Thank you. I admit to only skimming through any comments ever made by men on this issue. Even my true blue mo husband won’t talk about it because in his own words, he’s not qualified to speak on what women feel or try to diminish their feelings.

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  7. Thank you for putting this into words. I could never figure out why I thought it was so silly that the bishop (a man) decided whether or not I was “living correctly” enough to be sealed in the temple for eternity. Or that in order to be called to resurrection I MUST have a husband. The only thing that really makes me sad is seeing my family follow something so blindly that I personally know isn’t right. Women shouldn’t be treated like all they’re good for is being a home maker.

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  8. I am a fully invested member of the church and have two thoughts for you:

    first, I fully support people leaving the church for whatever reason. There’s a common practice, with which I disagree, to not remove names of people who leave. I suppose among the reasons to do this includes a hope that people will come back one day or that we will always be able to keep track and send the missionaries to visit. I think this just makes things worse by annoying people who have left and by hurting the repentance process if they ever do come back. I say, leave if you want, the church isn’t for everybody. No hard feelings. And please limit your criticism because no one in the church is perfect (far from it).

    Second, the “go pray about it” response to you bothers me in some ways. In one sense, I get how developing an open communication with God is essential to coming to peace with our questions. In another sense though, I feel like when I hear members say that, it seems like they’re also saying “im not prepared to deal with your question right now either because I lack a certain level of gospel scholarship or because you’re not that important of a person to me”. At least that’s what I partly feel when I tell someone to go pray about it.

    In the end, I could say more, but I won’t for now. I enjoyed your story. I am happy you found peace outside the church just as much as I have found it in the church.

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    1. Having left the church six years ago and formally requested removal of my name I can honestly say that you’re correct in that they don’t remove names from the records even if requested. Now I’m stuck with a dilemma of someone from the ward calling and mailing my kids stuff. They were never baptized so I’m not sure what that’s all about. So in order to spare feelings I take the phone calls and make up excuses as to why my kids can’t be involved. I throw away the mail that comes and my kids never see it. I’m not the typical anti Mormon apostate in that I don’t go out of my way to let people know the truth of the history of the church. By the same token, I don’t miss an opportunity to share my belief in Jesus, the redeemer and keeper of my soul.

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  9. Sure, a man is necessary to hold the priesthood in order to baptize and officiate in the other saving ordinances. But without a woman, there would be no birth at all. No entrance into this life. It is not a cop out to teach gender roles. Equality is important, but equality does not make a man become a woman, nor vice versa. That would make having both men and women redundant in the plan of God. If they both are to do exactly the same things, then why have 2 at all? Why aren’t we asexual? I believe God intended some jobs to be done by men, and others women. One is NOT greater than the other.

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    1. Oh, but it IS a cop out when you say that it’s a woman’s job to have the babies. Sorry, but priesthood does not equal motherhood. If i remember correctly, it does take two to make a baby. So… without him there would be no babies as well, which kind of throws that while argument in the water. Times might be changing now, but in the past, many women were treated as submissive to their husbands. Husbands had the final say, and many still view it that way today. Just because the church itself doesn’t make it seem that way anymore, doesn’t mean the Mormon culture doesn’t reinforce the idea that women are subordinate to men. In turn, many men take that to heart. If you are not one of them, then congratulations! You have succeeded in not being a douche.

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  10. Dear Abby,

    I am sorry you had such a bad experience to the point that you felt force to do what you were told and to feel there was something wrong with you. If you are happier away from the church than do that but I want to share my testimony and opinion. I was born and raised in the church and I have wondered about many things I hear or feel should not be the way they are… But every time I have prayed about it because my testimony got stronger. I love the gospel and firmly believe it’s true but the gospel has taught me that what our Havenly Father wants is for us to be happy so go be happy whatever wherever that may be. As for the church being sexist I don’t feel that, I did wondered before but we women have unique divine “powers” that men do not, we can give birth!!! So even if we don’t see it from a religious point, naturally women and men have different roles in this world. Now, my church community has never gave me a looked or made feel bad for being a working mom, for waiting until I was 30 to have a kid, or for not being married (not even legally). I have learned that family is the main focus of the church but we are also encourage to grow our talents, to love and respect everyone regardless of belief, gender, race, sexual orientation, “habits” or whatever anything there is to categorize people. That is what I love the most about the LDS church, I learn about the gospel and God, about what I should and should not do but in the end it is my choice.

    I believe that if you prayed and the Holy Ghost tells you is not right.. Listen.

    For me though, it has always told me it’s right.

    Much love 🙂

    Lou

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  11. What great insight! I really like how you showed how patriarchal doctrines about gender can have such awful ramifications, especially how such doctrines can lead to policies and a church culture that is intolerant and regressive. And you didn’t even need to touch on the ‘Family Proclamation, the suppression of ‘Ordain Women’ and the rash of recent excommunications to make your point. Thanks for posting this!

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  12. Very similar to my experience. I’m such a better person now that I’ve let go of Mormon beliefs and started following my true path. I think if you look into religions in general, you may find the same stories across the board. I recently read a book where ten Jews shared their experiences of leaving Judaism – they all had internal struggles letting go of their indoctrination.
    Anybody who says, “you can’t blame the Church. Take responsibility!”, doesn’t understand psychology very well, and has probably never had a rude awaking, otherwise they wouldn’t be so judgmental.
    (Oh, and about the Priesthood…researching Church History reveals correspondence between members and leadership that goes something like this…”women had jurisdiction over women and men over men, then some husbands got offended that a woman came and blessed his wife, and that should be his role, so the “prophet” responded by giving that authority only to the men.” But it’s not a man’s church, and it’s prophets speak for God. LOL)
    Love and Light to you on your journey, and thanks for sharing.

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  13. You do know that everything you said was sexist works both ways right? Men cannot fullfil the fullness of the priesthood without a wife and then if he tries to use that to rule he looses all rights and privileges of that priesthood. While yes it is taught a woman cannot get into the highest degree of the celestial kingdom without a husband it is the same for men. We cannot get in without a wife. “It is not meet that man should be alone.” Also out greatest possible potential is to become like God and his wife which the church teaches about. It is not as common but she is taught about God is married and without heavenly mother we would not be here. She is just as important. If you know how temples work. For women certain aspects of the ordinances are done by women not men. Women bless the women. It is not known by a lot of men because it is men blessing men.

    The things you say are sexist are not. Activities for one are cordinated by the group leaders growing up i quilted and made pillows but i also went rafting and climbing and shooting. The women did the same.

    I find that it’s not that the wrong questions are beingn asked it’s that the wrong answers are being given. When we are given wrong answers of course we feel wrong about it. Or when people don’t get an answer that the church is true it is often that they know to little. It took me years and i mean years to find these things out because people don’t seek to know and when they don’t know they can’t teach.

    I highly incourage you to study the priesthood in all it’s aspects. You may be surprised to find that women have all the access to the priesthood just they gain it and use it differently than men.

    “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

    P.s. Anyone who judges someone for living a different life is bringing the same judgement upon themselves.

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  14. I found your blog through the Instagram account @searchponderandleave and as a recent exmember I find your words very comforting and the fact that I can relate to you so well makes me happy! Also I was surprised to start reading the comments and seeing people instantly trying to convince you that what you believe is incorrect or that you’ve done something g wrong. Typical Mormons responses to someone who disagrees with their beliefs. I just want to say your are so brave to put your experiences out there on the Internet. I could never do that for fear of my family finding it or judgemental comments. I will surely be sticking around, silently reading and finding comfort from your words but avoiding the comment section at all costs. Thank you!!!

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  15. I felt really moved by your story. I experienced something very similar as a former LDS member. I always questioned myself for not being able to feel what I was supposed to feel about the gospel and the teachings of the church (mostly because of sexism) I’m glad I’m out.

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    1. I think I big issue that most are facing here is the misappropriation of how God’s plan works according to the Latter-Day Saint faith. The ideology of the afterlife is extremely misunderstood, both by the masses of persons responding here and those of the globe itself. You are not required to be married to a man to get into Heaven! It’s such a misunderstanding. Remember, according to Mormon belief, there are three different forms of heavenly state that you are to be a part of in the afterlife: the “lowest” of the three is one that every mortal being is gifted. However, you receive the same blessings as in the other three – with the exception of a minor caveat or two which will be described later. But, as stated before: You will receive the same heavenly blessings as everyone else no matter which category of the afterlife you begin in. Now, this is where most people get confused (including a number of those responding): We as mortals say “There’s only ONE Heaven.” or “Well, if there are three stages or forms of the afterlife, then one is better or worse than another.” These responses are, with a bold and clear response, completely untrue. Even members of the Mormon faith when describing the Kingdoms of Heaven that follow to be “greater” or “lesser” and that is a misuse of information as well. Let’s take a bit of a step back to describe the Mormon views of the afterlife:

      Preparing us to further understand their views, we must understand that some of the words that we use are used differently with members of the LDS faith. For example, Damnation. Damnation to the common folk is being lost forever, never to see God again. This connotation is partially true. The word “damn” works just as the word “dam”. As the word Dam means “to block” or “to prevent motion”, so too does the word Damn (Damnation just being the process of being “blocked”). When one is spiritually damned, they are blocked from spiritual progress. Are they doomed to extinction? No. But, they are delayed. Is that delay something to cry over? I would also say “No.” Some people just need more time to grow in spirit than others. And in the eternal afterlife perspective, will that momentary damning mean anything? NO. You just need a breather. We all need a breather sometimes.

      Another example of differences in words is Heaven. Heaven to most is the endgame. The finish line. Once you hit the Heaven button, the game is over. Roll the credits. It’s a place where our physicalities become androgynous and our spirits wisp across spacetime in delight. However, in the LDS faith is that what they perceive? Not remotely. They believe in a Heaven that is neverending; a place where our physical person may be in spiritual form, but we also have a sense of our physicality retained as well. Even gender is kept. Additionally, although Heaven is one location, we as spirits are placed within three different categories. Mind you, these categories are not placed there as a method of judgment or status, but of responsibility. The three categories, or Kingdoms, are the Celestial, Terrestial, and Telestial (just placed that info there for those who may not have heard of them; from this point on, their names will be primarily arbitrary). These categories are only placeholders to know your specific responsibilities as beings of the afterlife. There is no category that is better than the other (This is also often misunderstood by members of the Mormon community). The “topmost” category, the Celestial Kingdom, just is responsible to take on more tasks in the life hereafter. According to Mormons, that kingdom is where those who have practiced their faith to the utmost and have found a true companion and are willing to continue to be challenged, even in the afterlife, will be placed. Again, this is not a greater afterlife than any other, just one with more responsibility.

      To explain in another, simpler way: Imagine, if you will, a lighthouse on an island off of a coast. Back in the days of the World Wars, a man would be hired to stand guard of a lighthouse for a contracted amount of time, where he would stay that and make sure that the lighthouse stay lit to protect those journeying to safety. However, being out in such a place as a lighthouse could be very lonely. Many were known to have bouts of paranoia and some even schizophrenia while being alone. So, to solve that trial, most were encouraged to marry and take a companion with them on their travels. This was a method to keep focused and level-headed. They would raise families at those locations and stay there with them until their time journeying and saving ships was complete. Now, if you used this analogy and changed around a few distinct words, you could see how Mormons perceive the Celestial kingdom’s responsibility. They are those who keep those lost safe, and they build new families in far-off places to bring them to God’s home, and so forth.

      I hope that this has informed rather than confused, but what I am trying to say is this: we look at these challenges, struggles, pigeon-held archetypes, and expectations and say “That isn’t what I believe.” Things like “men only having the priesthood is wrong” or “I never had the ability to speak” or “I believe God is [this] or [that].” But, to be frank, most of our entire existence, I believe we often misunderstand God. He’s a completely different being than us. The real struggle is that we as mortals don’t comprehend Him. There’s a reason why we say that when we die we then experience “Eternal Life.” It’s because we have no idea the length or breadth of time that entails. Heck, even Time itself is a mortal and fictitious construct. Who knows what’s purely in store out there; what I do know is that we must do our best to push out of our mortal confines of understanding and begin seeing what God wants of us from His perspective. In my belief, which is of those things above (and even I don’t get it all!), we have so, so much to learn. And instead of finding one or two things that really grind our gears, we delve deep and investigate why God might have made it that way.

      Convoluted response, I know. I just really want those reading and responding to understand at least a little of what’s really going on out there on the other side and what’s really important.

      Either way, you’re all awesome and important and someday I’ll see you on the flip.

      (I know that I’m replying to you here: It’s not intentional. More for Abby. I just don’t get WP’s format)

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      1. One of the most clear signs of knowledge about a subject is the ability to explain it in simple language without using more words than is necessary. Although I found it more lengthy than needed, I appreciated your attempt to more fully explain some LDS views.

        It would be important to note that Abby is correct in stating that under LDS doctrines, she has to marry a man in the temple to be admitted into what the LDS faith refers to as the highest degree of heaven, which they call exaltation in the celestial kingdom. According to LDS doctrine, it is wrong to say that everyone who makes it into any degree of heaven will have the same rewards regardless of where they ended up.

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  16. I’m sorry that you have had this experience Abby, no one wants to feel shameful, or guilt towards themselves, and I trust me I would know, I’ve inflicted it upon myself more then enough times, mostly driven my own perfectionism and anxiety. And it drove me to a pretty dark place.

    As someone who grew up in the church I struggled a lot, always felt I didn’t fit in the box, there was a couple of certain girls that made my time really challenging, preventing me from really getting the most from going during my teens. I was also struggling at school, getting bullied, feeling isolated. I fell into a life of drugs and alcohol to help ‘deal’ with these all of these great ‘feelings’ that I very clearly wasn’t dealing with. Though I didn’t know it at the time I became pretty lost, I was searching for some pretty big answer to my life, why was I different to the norm? Why couldn’t I live up to what my perfectionist mind told me was the ‘perfect mormon.’ I decided to go searching else for answers, where my supposed ‘friends,’ we’re seeking their own, Short lived ‘happiness,’ cause I mean if a drug or a festival or night out having drinks with friends doesn’t bring you the ‘not’ that it seems to bring everyone else my age then what else will? I thought the choices I was making would bring me happiness, in fact at the that time I thought I actually had a part in making those choices, not that it was being driven by my depression, my growing addiction to feeling ‘numb,’ and the environments I kept finding myself in. I was lulled into this false sense of ‘love’ and ‘security,’ that I was in this beautiful community of people that weren’t there to judge or hold anything against you. But really it was just a recipe for disaster. I slowly lost my ability to say ‘NO,’ but remember a choice is just saying ‘yes’ it’s also being able to make a conscious and educated decision and say no.

    Eventually I hit my rock bottom and had no where to go, and I had just found out I was pregnant, 18 weeks in fact. I can’t even explain the thoughts that we’re going through my head, I hated myself, tried the route of abortion, even though I had been brought up opposing it, luckily it was too expensive that far into the pregnancy. I also thought my family where going to cut ties with me. My head was going crazy, I felt helpless, hopeless and all alone.

    It was at this time that something amazing happened, I felt this feeling that I had shut myself off from so many years, a feeling of love and warmth, of comfort, the spirit calling me. I realized that no matter how far I had gone, how lost, worthless and crap I felt. Somehow Heavenly Father felt I was still important enough to him, for him to send me my own little saviour. A beautiful little boy born 3.5months early, weighing 1.8lbs and suffering from an extremely rare brain condition not even the doctors knew about. Once I had felt that amazing feeling again, and the ‘feelings’ came rolling in again, I knew there was no turning back from that. I also knew that the journey back to my saviour was not going to be an easy one, that he was going to expect a lot from me, but that he also knew that I had that potential for growth and the strength to overcome any hurdles I may face. sadly there was still a few ignorant members who looked down upon me. Just Like some in society look down upon people who have struggled with addiction issues, or have become pregnant while young.

    I realized that there is a HUGE difference between what I believe, what my testimony is, what my relationship with the saviour is, and how some imperfect members of the church act/judge. I realized that I cannot hold these expectations up to people. NO ONE IS PERFECT, not even Mormons (believe it or not). And what my anxious mind told me people where thinking about me where mostly misconstrued and wrong.

    You don’t need someone else to tell you what about you needs to change or be fixed, you just have to realize that you have a far greater potential than you imagined, and that he knows that potential. I never knew that everything I have been through in my life so far was setting me up to care for my son who has severe cerebral palsy and epilepsy. But it has, it has given me room for growth and a way to help other women struggling with similar circumstances, it has given me a kind, open, non-judgmental and understanding heart. As a woman we are so unique, we have a nature so loving caring, empathetic, we can influence so many people, everyone we meet, those we love and those who love use, gifts we can use for good. we were gifted with these traits from birth. We do not have to work for them, like men in the church do for the priesthood, they are not dependent on our ‘choices,’ instead they are unconditional, just like the love I feel for every single one of my brothers and sisters on this planet, and just like the love our Heavenly Father and our saviour has for us.

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  17. Thank you for writing this. I left the LDS church in my 20’s. Removed my name from the records just before my second child was born in my 30’s. It was hard to leave. Hard to realize how brainwashed I was. I did go on to be a mom, wife, professional, and all sorts of other labels. I often wonder what life would have been like if I’d been raised to think that marriage and children was an option. That I could and would be fulfilled any way I choose. I don’t regret and wish I didn’t have a family. I just wish I wasn’t raised in a church that only gave me one option.

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  18. Abby, I am a Lutheran pastor and I am taken by your story. No one should ever be felt to feel that they are not good enough for God. Can you talk a little more about what you mean when you say, “I am in control of my reality?”

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  19. Hello Abby, have you read a book by Nicholas Wade, titled “The Faith Instinct”. I found it fascinating in its theory of why there is religion, (different religions), all over the world. I recommend it. I could send a copy if you are interested.
    Regards, David

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  20. I love this and greatly needed to read this! I have had the same thoughts and I am glad I am not the only one out there! Thanks for writing about it. Love love love what you said!

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  21. As a non-member, but someone who has read the Book of Mormon, D&C, and The Pearl of Great Price, I can safely say that the religion, like most Monotheistic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism), is in fact inherently sexist. Just from my own research, I truly do not agree with the stances of the church on the “role” of women in the church and life. I also want to say thank you to the author of this blog, for being brave enough to put her opinion and experiences out there on the internet.
    FInally, I want to leave you with my personal feeling on religion. Religion by itself is fine. Religion used as a vehicle to promote hatred and sexism is not.

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  22. Wow! What a fantastic article! Thank you for sharing. I grew up LDS and found many of the same things you wrote about here.
    I have been out of the church for probably 24 years now. I feel much the same as you describe. It never occurred to me to write about my experiences! Well done! What you’re sharing will no doubt help other (young) women address their inner still small voice and realise that they have options and it is ok to choose other avenues and still be happy!
    Well done! Woo-hoo!

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  23. Hi – I think you’re very bold to have written about your journey in such an open way. I’d love to chat with you more about your story and about a potential follow-up interview. My e-mail is below – I hope to hear from soon.

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  24. Hi Abby, thanks for taking the time to share how you feel. A dear, life-long friend of mine shared your post via FB, and I read it via her. I would like to attach my response to her post, and hope it pose questions that might inspire further thought and contemplation.
    Best, Sarah

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s important for me to know how you feel, and that’s why I’m glad you shared this. I can see how you might feel this way, and I can understand your questions regarding this topic (I have thought extensively about so many of these ideas as well). I hear what you mean, and I love and respect you and your journey to find peace and happiness in life. I think being able to talk to each other about how we feel, and questions we have is so important. I think it’s inevitable that people won’t always agree- and that’s ok. But to be able to talk, and really hear, and understand each other is the only way we can all grow and learn and become better. So that being said, I hope it’s ok if I share some of my thoughts about this blogpost. I do it in the spirit of love and communication, and in knowing that I am safe with you in expressing the things that are important to me (as I hope you feel safe with me in expressing your feelings- whatever they may be).
    First of all, I think it’s fascinating how our perception of reality shapes our opinions. It’s also interesting how our personal experiences- and our chosen reactions to those experiences- influence the way we construct our truth. It seems evident that most human beings tend to be quite arrogant in their opinions. It also seems apparent that our egos (selfish natures, what we want now, instant pleasures, etc.) damage and hinder our ability to perceive truth. Interpretation is a powerful thing- and because it’s so powerful, I think we must step carefully as we strive to interpret/understand the world around us ESPECIALLY in regards to finding truth.
    For those individuals seeking to live a meaningful and intentional life, it’s of supreme importance that we constantly evaluate and question the personal motivations we have that drive our religious beliefs (or the lack thereof). In other words, our intentions. Do we desire above all else to move towards an enlightened existence- to understand and know truth as it exists independently? Or are we driven by selfish and basic desires that propel us to construct our own truth based on what we want now; creating a god that will be the most convenient for us personally to worship? Do we have fears that limit our capacity to love (both ourselves and others) and therefore limit our ability to pursue truth with power? Like anything of worth, attaining an understanding of truth is not easy or for the faint of heart, and takes consistent perseverance.
    Another important thing to consider in our quest for truth is the nature of our questions. And how current social trends and culture affect the type of questions we ask. Have we considered both sides of the coin? In this article Abby makes a lot of statements about the Priesthood and Womanhood. Her conclusions give insight to what questions she has been asking; maybe something like: “Why do men get the Priesthood and women don’t?” And “Why do I need a man to get into Heaven?” Her entire article is based on an assumption that being a man- and having the Priesthood- somehow indicates that a man is more valuable in God’s eyes. Couldn’t we then ask the opposite, “Does the ability to bear children makes women inherently more valuable in God’s eyes?” Why aren’t angry men- and/or women- asking that question? What about considering this question: “Why is it that women don’t need the Priesthood?” or “Why must men be given the Priesthood (an extra requirement) before they are allowed to enter the Holy Temple, but the women don’t have to run that extra lap- so to speak?” “Why must men be given the Priesthood to enable them to serve God’s children (the entire essence and purpose of Priesthood is service), but women are born with an innate ability to be ‘Saviors on Mount Zion?'” Abby refers to the temple in her post and asks “So I need a man to get to heaven?” Why not replacing it with the other side of the coin: “So being born is an essential part of the plan of salvation, but I can only be born through a woman? So I need a woman in order to receive my salvation and exaltation?” And lastly, “Why does a man NEED A WOMAN to get into Heaven?” (as outlined in D&C 121:18-21).
    Philosophers and writers throughout history have observed this sentiment- or one very similar- “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” (William Ross Wallace). But the cultural climate right now has shaped our generation to feel that motherhood and the bearing and raising of children is somehow…less-than; less challenging, less valuable, less influential, less impactful. This, I think, stems from our society’s obsession with self; which takes a variety of forms including- but not limited to- wealth, fame, beauty, ease, the belief that if someone feels they want to do something is therefore right and acceptable, and all other forms of hedonism that so permeate our current social climate. I believe this social climate is what shapes questions that move us away from truth, not toward it. And if we are truly seeking truth, we must be willing and able to ask questions that go far beyond the limited popular notions of the day (especially considering the fact that what is socially acceptable is constantly changing). I also believe that a further and unbiased search for truth- started by asking questions outside the current popular social construct- could begin to reveal discussion that will actually have the ability to lead to truth, to God, and to lasting joy and happiness.

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  25. check out this video on Youtube; https://youtu.be/-1XYgXJvdSU. Does she sound suppressed to you as a single woman in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Or, that she has not made something of herself as a woman. Here’s to your searching. I was once in her shoes, not married in a church that is primarily family centered. But I chose to see the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for what it was, to strengthen my commitment to God and simply Obey. I did not see it as holding me back.

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  26. Theism itself has a lot of power. A person’s core belief can mean everything in life. In ancient times, we needed that power to hope, to give, to care, but it has to balance with science and development for human civilization overall. At the same time, religion has the power for manipulation and brain washing. The evil which believers can’t see because they are not permitted to question God. Things like human sacrifices in a believers mind means loving, giving and trusting God. In reality, it is a brutal way for temporal emotional satisfaction. Price is death.

    In the past, churches were where kids receive educations, but tradition isn’t easy to change. Sexism didn’t come from nowhere. It is also passed to us from our ancestors, it is a strong tradition. A belief that them believers find impossible to disobey. but guess what? People who changed this world are always those disobedient ones. The obedient ones are usually good workers, but ironically they don’t become the greatest people.

    In my understanding, religion can be transformed into a new faith called free thoughts which modern higher education encourages. Technology will be better and better. We have proves that says the good books are wrong in many of the chapters. Some day soon we will find what souls are, what demons are and what the unexplained events really happened, in a understandable way with legit prove. I believe that everything can be explained. We just gotta have smart people to do so. People are not stupid. Not like in the movies. We always find what’s best for us in the long run.

    I hope you take some of those concepts from me, I always like to speak out, but sometimes it could be inappropriate. Some people don’t like it because it’s too much for them. I don’t judge them, I’d do the same if I were them.

    Abby, just know that we are lucky to have the willingness to be different. Most people don’t have that. We are the ones can make the world a better place.

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  27. Thank you for this. My struggle began when I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility after my husband and I were married a few years. I went through torment and pain every single week, hearing that mothers are the most noble because they bear children. I wanted to puke, cry, scream, and die every time there was a baby blessing, or seeing a ton of pregnant women trotting around like they were something special. That was where it all began for me. Then, shit hit the fan. My husband had an affair (NO JOKE) with a married woman in my ward, hid it from me. The bishop hid it from me. Not too much longer, he began an affair with ANOTHER married mother (our YW president of all people), who knew about the first one, they were friends and #1 confided in what turned out to be woman #2, who pretended to be one of my very best friends. These disgusting pigs sat in church with me for months knowing what had taken place and nobody had the decency or respect as a human being to tell me. Using their “authority” over their human heart and obligation to care for others, what drove me away finally in disgust. I will NEVER, ever have anything to do with this sick church or the people ever again. I am a convert, joined when I was 25, I’m now 41 and I believed that there were good people in the church. I know I’ll heal in time, and I know, just like you that will find peace and a love for life outside of the church, I struggle daily, but know that this decision to leave the church is the best thing I can do. I understand 100% how the church made me hate myself because I was never going to be a mother, and my temple marriage crumbled. I hate the church.

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    1. You hate the church because a handful of members treated you horribly? They aren’t the church. They are human just like you, making mistakes as they go along in life. I can’t imagine the pain that you went through but I feel that it isn’t right to blame the church for what a few members did to you.

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      1. The churches members especially the bishop are, like it or not, representatives of the organization. For what is the church but a collection of members? As someone who was mistreated by the members I understand how this feels and the desire to blame the whole.

        When you go to a restaurant and the food servers and management are rude and condescending then you don’t much feel the love they claim to have for their customers. You are not likely to go bad are you?

        I have seen a Bishop sexually harass a young lady. I have seen a deacon foultimately the sacrament. I’ve listened to the stance of the church of gay rights. I’ve heard from young ladies how their breasts are stared at in the temple as they do baptisms for the dead. The church is not always the wonderful and safe place people would like to believe.

        Why is it so hard for some of you to accept that a lot of people do not feel the spirit?

        I myself was raped by a male member of the church as a preteen. A man who had touted the scriptures and quoted verses. The church individually and as a whole did nothing. And almost 30 years and several child molestation charges later he is still a member. Even though he legally cannot enter the church.

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      2. If you don’t hate the church because of its sexism, maybe you should hate it because Joseph Smith is equivalent of Warren Jeffs. Didn’t they both marry fourteen year olds in their thirties? If Joseph Smith had lived long enough he probably would have had more wives than Jeffs and gotten even crazier. At least the FLDS didn’t alter their history like the LDS did.

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  28. Abby, for everyone who grows up in the Church there is a struggle to find truth and get answers to their prayers. Part of it has to do with maturity. I had several experiences as a youth where I felt the Spirit, but I didn’t know it. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I started to get answers to my prayers that I could for sure identify as coming directly from God. Some people take longer to learn to recognize what the Spirit feels like. I know I did.

    Some of your conclusions are a bit troubling. They involve inferences that seem to be based on your feelings and opinions instead of being based on facts and logic. For example, you ask, “So what exactly is the priesthood in the Mormon church and why is everyone so controlled by it?” Your question involves a logical fallacy in its premise. You claim that everyone is so controlled by the priesthood without actually establishing that such is the case. In my experience, everyone is NOT controlled by people with the priesthood. Yes, organizational decisions are ultimately decided by priesthood holders, but those are not most of the decisions made, and I would say that they more create a framework to operate under. There are many leaders in the Church that are women. So I disagree with your premise. Secondly, how exactly are people being controlled? You, yourself, said that priesthood holders and others asked you to find out for yourself what it true. That doesn’t sound controlling to me.

    And if you didn’t get the same answers to your prayers as others, couldn’t it be possible that you misunderstood personal revelation and how it works? If those people had actually gotten real answers to their prayers, wouldn’t they be in a good position to have an opinion on how it is accomplished? Wouldn’t it also be inconsistent for one God to give two people completely contradictory answers? One of them would have to be wrong. Right? How do you know that your answer was right and that they other person’s answer was wrong? In my experience it takes a lot of practice with personal revelation to get it right.

    Your title itself is inaccurate. How can someone or some institution MAKE you hate yourself? You are in control of yourself. Nobody else can make you feel a certain way. Your thoughts bring feelings, and your feelings bring actions, but you are the master of all three of those things. It sure makes for a very dramatic title, but not for a very truthful one.

    You stated: “I won’t get to heaven by simply loving others. I won’t get to heaven by being a compassionate person. I won’t go to heaven if I serve others. I can only get to heaven if a MAN blesses me and if a MAN tells me I am worthy and if a MAN wants to take me to the temple. See the issue here?”

    Unfortunately, your understanding is inaccurate as to how the Atonement works. Nobody goes to Heaven by simply loving others or doing any individual action. That’s not how it works. It is not based on your actions, as if there were a list to check off. You cannot be righteous enough to get there. You also cannot go to Heaven simply by marrying a man or being sealed in the temple by a man. That is not now it works. The Book of Mormon is very clear on this. In order to go back to live with your Heavenly Father, you must have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. You humble yourself and beg and plead for Heavenly Father to forgive you and purify you. You exercise faith that He loves you and will forgive you because of the fact that Jesus suffered for your sins. You make a promise to obey and follow your Savior. Then, he forgives you and fills you with His Spirit, which provides you with both proof that he has forgiven you, and with a power that changes you and purifies you. By doing this daily, you grow in how much light your spirit possesses, and you become more happy and god-like. Nobody knows if they are going to Heaven unless they know they have been forgiven in this way.

    You stated, “So basically to go to heaven, a man has to let me.” A man is not going to “let” you go to heaven. No man has that authority. Jesus Christ is the only person who has the right to do that. Yes, there are men who make some decisions on your worthiness to go to the temple and participate in other saving ordinances, but does it really matter that it is a man? Isn’t the important part whether your are living in a way that you would qualify for those next steps? If it were a woman instead of a man, wouldn’t that be the important issue?

    Remember, also, that I as a man cannot enter into the highest of the three degrees of glory of the Celestial Kingdom without being sealed to a WOMAN. I (and you) can enter into any of the other degrees of Heaven, but not that one. Also, remember that the Terrestrial Kingdom and the Telestial Kingdom are also parts of Heaven. Anyone who is not a Son of Perdition can get to those parts of Heaven. This is as Paul described as the glory of the sun, the moon, and the stars. But the nature of Exaltation, which is the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom is of eternal expansion of your children. It involves creating worlds and populating them with spirit children, which must be accomplished with a spouse. It involves becoming gods, because you continue to be enlarged and all things, including the angels, are subject to you. And I do mean YOU, not just your husband. This is very clearly explained in D&C 131 and 132. So if your highest potential in the Church’s teaching is for you to be a god, maybe your perspective is too limited when you believe you are treated less than men.

    It seems like you have a problem with the ideas of gender equality, not based on the teachings of the Church, necessarily, but by your own perceptions and attitudes toward men. We believe that while women do not have the duties of the Priesthood, they have just as much access to the power of God. I know many men who have been given the authority by being ordained, but they do not have actual authority from Heaven because of the way they live their lives. They also do not have the Power of the priesthood. Authority and power are two different things. The power of the priesthood to heal is the same power that is harnessed through prayers of faith, and that is gender neutral. It is all God’s power. Nothing gives a man more power than a woman when it comes to actual exercise of God’s power. You could do just as many miracles as any man could. I know this because all of the miracles I have ever performed (and there are some astounding ones) came only after I got the power of God through prayers of faith. It is God who actually performs the miracles. The authority comes into play mainly when officiating in the ordinances of the priesthood: baptism, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, temple ordinances, and blessing and passing the sacrament.

    I do not see men dominating women in our church. I don’t think you did either. If you did, that is something that goes against the way the Church is supposed to be run. We do not believe in controlling people. I would like to invite you to revisit the way your paradigm has been formed and see if perhaps you made conclusions based on partial understandings.

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    1. Just because you don’t “see” men dominating women in your church, that doesn’t mean it does not happen. It is a problem whether you choose to see it or not.

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    2. I couldn’t read your whole comment since it seemed longer than the original blog, but this stood out to me: “They involve inferences that seem to be based on your feelings and opinions instead of being based on facts and logic.” To believe many teachings of the mormon church you have to suspend facts and logic. Fact: the facsimile of the PoGP was mistranslated by JS. Fact: The BoM refers to things that did not exist in the Americas at that time. Fact: JS loved to marry — little girls (under 15), married women, etc.

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    3. You can tell a apologetic reply by it’s length…
      You said: ” Some people take longer to learn to recognize what the Spirit feels like. I know I did.” You are so fortunate to finally achieve that ability, It appears that Brigham Young never did. If he could distinguish “spiritual communication from echoes of his won thoughts, he wouldn’t have taught so many (now disavowed) strange doctrines.
      Perhaps you should not be so sure that what you consider to be communications from the “spirit” are really that.

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  29. Yes you need the priesthood that MEN hold to get into the celestial kingdom, just as you needed a WOMAN to bring you into this life. Its as simple as that. The Book of Mormon is true & that’s the only fact you need to know in order to be happy in this church. The real question is, which commandment did you not wanna keep? That’s the real reason you left. Let’s be honest.

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    1. Did you go to health class? Because it actually takes a man AND a woman to bring life into the world. Oh, and Joseph Smith was a pedophile, not a prophet, you should have had some kind of vocabulary lesson in school as well. And you should have had a history class that taught you that Native Americans are descended from Asia, therefore not Israel or whatever it was, proving the whole book is false. (The earth is also millions of years old, and evolution is real, also FACTS)

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  30. Love God. Love Others.

    Salvation isn’t complicated or stressful. God wants us to love Him and love those around us. There’s no special underwear or magic words that can get us to Heaven. As a non-Mormon in Utah, I see the brokenness and hear this same story so often. There is too much pressure to live up to the man-made standards of the LDS church. My heart breaks for my neighbors. I truly believe that we have such a high suicide rate here because people feel they aren’t living up to these ways. People feel they aren’t good enough or look perfect enough and make permanent decisions regarding their lives because they don’t feel there is any other way. We are living in very troubled times.

    Good for you for voicing the words so many want to say. Don’t give up on God because you are giving up on your church. Although many don’t understand, there is a big difference between the two. God loves you. Be blessed by being a blessing.

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  31. I used to feel similarly. Used to feel picked on for being a woman. Then one day it didn’t bother me. Just because men hold the “priesthood”, doesn’t mean that I as a woman don’t have access to the same power that a man has, should I need it, and I have had frequent miracles in my time where I have been able to call upon the powers of God without having to have the priesthood. Doesn’t mean that women can’t go tubing down the river. You should have suggested that mutual activity to a young woman leader. We frequently did sports and stuff. You just have to plan it that way. The church is perfect, the people in it aren’t.

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  32. A number of years ago I was a recently divorced woman trying to reforge my identity. I became involved with a man who was LDS but divorced like me. Unlike me he had been on a mission and had been married in the temple. However, we became intimate and I got pregnant. In the conversation that followed about options it became clear that I had made a terrible mistake and this was NOT the man for me.

    I spoke to my bishop who encouraged me to give up the baby for adoption through LDS Services so the baby be raised in a home with the priesthood by two loving and faithful parents. I didn’t want to give up my child – I wanted to raise the baby with the two children I already had full custody of. I am a single mother – what was one more? Besides, I argued, the father would try to take custody if I suggested adoption.

    I was counseled by my bishop that I should give the baby to the father. Even though we both committed the same sin by having a child out of wedlock, he was a priesthood holder and therefore more qualified to raise a baby than I. Nevermind his current standing with the church…he was a more suitable candidate by virtue of his potential to “worthily” hold the priesthood.

    I was disfellowshipped and spent nearly five years working to reattain full membership status. He was “going to the temple” within six months of having another child out of wedlock with another woman (whom he married).

    I had never felt the sexism so acutely in the LDS church as I did at that time. I was not (and am not) for ordaining women. But I refuse accept that I was/am a second class citizen because my gender was not granted priesthood authority, either.

    Your statements that a woman cannot get into heaven without a man is spot on. Having a penis means you are a potential priesthood holder. Being a priesthood holder puts you in an elevated position in every aspect of life as a member of the LDS church. Equality is a myth.

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    1. Although this is a nice idealistic way to view the world, people ARE MOST DEFINITELY shaped by their environments, and other people are part of every environment. It is also true that established organizations MOST DEFINITELY shape, change and affect people, so although it’s fun to say, “no one can make you hate yourself”, that statement is in fact wrong. However, there is truth in that she does have the power to act on better information as it comes along, she does have the power to adjust and change the way she behaves and feels toward herself. Which is exactly what this post is about. That’s exactly what she is doing. So kindly stop dismissing how the author is telling you she was shaped and affected by her circumstances. It’s not helpful.

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  33. Go and do it your way.then ask yourself if you are truly happy.You will surely regret it when you aged.you might be right that what you did is not a walk in the park.But certainly it is a walk leading to your comfort zone..

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    1. Comfort zone!? Are you fucking kidding me!? You try leaving your religion and tell me that’s INSIDE your comfort zone, having friends and family judge or cut you off; struggling with the idea of God on your own terms; struggling death on your own; grappling with a loss of community; trying to integrate society after being so sheltered… these things are NOT easy and NOT inside comfort zone.

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  34. Nobody can make you hate yourself let alone an entire organization. The entire premise is absurd! I know some very happy people who find great joy from their association with the LDS Church. I’m not saying it’s the right vehicle for everybody in their pursuit of happiness. Personally, I am not active at this point in my life for various reasons. However, to say it made you hate yourself is a cop out. First of all, it’s a completely voluntary organization. Perhaps when you were a child your parents forced you to go but then put the blame on your parents! And even then, if you’re old enough to write, you’re old enough to have some accountability. Secondly, your own beliefs, thoughts, and emotions are just that — yours! Sure, other individuals may try to influence you but ultimately you are the person having thoughts, forming beliefs, and feeling emotions. You have control. Take some responsibility for your own self worth!

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    1. “Nobody can make you hate yourself”, is an idealistic way of viewing the world. Sorry, that’s not actually all the way true. It’s partly true.

      Your experience is different from hers, and I’m sure you understand that. But even in your life, I’m sure you’ve experienced the moulding and shaping by your environment. Your interactions with others, your life circumstances, your location and privileges have shaped the life you have AS WELL AS your ability to choose. Your ability to choose however does not trump the life circumstances and environment you are raised in.

      There is truth that as she becomes more aware of her circumstances and how she was influenced she has more control and ability to change things. Which is what she is doing. She is changing things.

      It really irks me when people say things like that because it very much puts blame on the victim for feeling the way they NATURALLY feel and gives them no solutions for the way they feel. Iy just puts them in a box and says “fix yourself. You should be able to”, which is so harmful!

      People DO have choice, but the influence of our circumstances is a HUGE factor that many idealistic individuals neglect in error.

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  35. As a male who is no longer a member–this REALLY hit home for me for many reasons but mostly thinking about my daughters who still go to church. Thank you for your thoughtful words!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Abby thank you so much for your wonderful letter to the world. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words for the first time. Thank you for empowering me and empowering others who have felt oppressed in this institution. Thank you for making me feel like I am not the only one. keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. I think the author failed to mention that the Priesthood is as much a responsibility as it is a gift. Childbirth for example, is such an incredible gift, but also a God-given responsibility solely designated for women. The author may say to this, “No men allowed”. The author feels that, “A man has to let her” into heaven. Those in the LDS faith would say that only God and Jesus Christ are able to judge and “let” us into heaven. I personally don’t feel that a mother has to, “Let children into this world” at childbirth. Rather, it’s a process that has to be respected and nurtured by both men and women. The Priesthood is similar. Yes, only men can bear the Priesthood, but Mormons believe in agency and a just God. Women and Men need each other to obtain celestial glory. Since forced marriages are not recognized in the temple, Men need Women’s permission as much Women need Men’s permission to, “Go to heaven” as the author puts it. It’s just not in line with what the LDS church teaches.

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  38. Just one point I do want to make in regards to we, as women, getting to heaven:

    Yes, if we want a Temple recommend, or to get baptized, or to receive ordinances in the Temple, or to get married in the Temple, or go to ‘Heaven’, we need a man with the Priesthood to give the ‘OK’ for it. Likewise, if a woman wants to have any of those things and is already married, she has to have permission from her husband to do so.

    However, to get baptized, to be ordained to the Priesthood, to get a Temple recommend, to receive ordinances in the temple, to get into ‘Heaven’, men ALSO have to have a man give them the ‘OK’. Men also can’t get to Heaven without being married to a woman. It’s a team effort to get there. Men who have been ordained to the Priesthood also basically become slaves to that Priesthood (not the nicest way to put it, but that is pretty much what it is). They have to be willing to be on-call 24/7, 365 days a year for the rest of their lives to give a blessing to anyone who asks. And if they don’t, they risk going to ‘hell’ for it. They are expected to be the breadwinners and earn enough money to take care of themselves, their wife, and their children, and fulfill all of their obligations at church, and be ready at the drop of a hat (or ring of the phone) to drop everything to go help someone who asks (or who they are asked to help, such as if the Bishop or the missionaries ask a man to help give a blessing or to help clean up after a storm). We as women get all the benefits of the Priesthood with none of the responsibilities of it. That is not to diminish the struggles that women have, but it is helpful to have some perspective.

    That all being said, I definitely can understand how church doctrine can seem somewhat sexist. I’m not disputing that it can be. Some women (I will put myself into this category), would love to be a stay-at-home-mom. I like teaching, I like cooking and baking, and most of the things traditional gender roles tell women they should do. But I also know that I can do more than that, and I can BE more than that. Other women don’t want that kind of life, and that is perfectly fine! Some women want to be career women, some don’t want kids, and others *can’t* have kids. My mother was a single mother with two kids when she joined the church, and she got quite a bit of flack for it. Some women went so far as to tell her that she wasn’t taking her motherhood duties seriously because she was working to support us (even though she was a single parent and HAD to work in order to pay bills, and the sisters who said it had husbands with Master degrees who had government jobs and could afford for them to stay home.) Lots of sisters in Relief Society kept asking me when I was going to get married (as if my clock was ticking before I turned into an old spinster), some even pointing out my past (which I never kept from people as some sort of secret, but as a convert, the ‘law of chastity’ didn’t always mean as much to me as it does now) as a reason WHY I wasn’t getting married. One sister mentioned that I was the epitome of the ‘licked cupcake’ analogy, and that no self-respecting Priesthood holder would choose me as a first choice to take to the Temple. There are often cliques within Relief Society that alienate certain members that don’t fit the ‘norm’. It is one of the reasons I prefer callings in Primary.

    I wish I could say that the church is above judging people because they don’t *perfectly* follow OUR doctrine….but we’re not. And I’ve seen how prejudiced some church members can be. I’m sorry that members disregarded your questions as you being ‘closed minded’. It is perfectly fine to have questions! We all do, whether or not we admit it to ourselves or others. I’m glad that you have found peace!

    Quite honestly, there are times where it’s overwhelming to me how much I am expected to do in the church. Be the best wife I can be, be the best mother I can be (when I have children), fulfil my church calling to the best of my ability, meet and develop relationships with all my neighbors and invite them to come to church/take lessons with the missionaries (then be willing to have them over for dinner/missionary lessons at the drop of a hat), share my testimony on my social media regularly, read scriptures every day, pray multiple times a day, plan FHE for my family every week, keep my house clean and orderly, work on my family history and take those names to the Temple as often as I can, as well as somewhere find time to develop my talents and share them with other people. It can be exhausting. But what keeps me going is not the church. It is the relationship that I have developed with Christ and with Heavenly Father. Church helps, to be sure, but it really is the knowledge that our life here isn’t the end all/be all. Who I am (and more pointedly, my failures) NOW aren’t who I am going to be a few months from now, a few years, or a lifetime from now. My best today might just be to hang on until tomorrow, and that is OK! Tomorrow I can try again. THAT is the whole point of the gospel; that through Christ’s Atonement I can try again tomorrow when I inevitably mess up today. Knowing that this mortal life isn’t the end helps me to not want to just give up when times get hard. Sometimes I feel very tired of trying to be better, sometimes I get sick of trials and trying to learn from them. But I know that Christ already fought my battles, and He won. I know that my trials aren’t insurmountable; I know that with Christ’s help, that I can beat them.

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  39. As a non-mormon that has dated a Mormon and lived in Provo, let me first say how brave you are and how proud you should be of yourself to have the courage to do what you are doing. It is hard enough for a person to even confront their beliefs; it is even harder for them to recognize how they have been brainwashed from age zero. I remember the first time I went to a meeting house for Sunday services; children are shoved into the fray from a very young age. I remember a 10-year going up in front of the church and their entire family to give their testimony and say why they believed the Book was true. It was one of the most disturbing and cult-like things I’ve ever seen, and I’ve travelled the world. Run…don’t walk…as fast as you can.

    At the end of the day you have a strong emotional and cultural attachment to an idea that is ingrained since birth. This is how they control you. But it isn’t real. And there is a beautiful world outside of the church waiting for you and let me tell you, it is an amazing place. Welcome! You may lose friends over this. Heck, you may even lose family. Good riddance. There is a word for people that only want to surround themselves with people that think like them: Bigots. You don’t want those people in your life.

    And if you are still struggling with whether the BoM is true, just read this:

    http://20truths.info/

    I sat next to an LDS bishop from Denver on a flight once and he said “Either the book is 100 percent true, or it is one of the biggest frauds in history; it can’t be both. And how could a child with no schooling write that?!”

    Easy there bishop. Go read the section in 20 truths about plagarism. It is pretty black and white. First of all, Joseph had schooling. He could read and write. So much so that be copied almost the entire book from the King James Bible and another writing of fiction published several years earlier and available (based on proven records) at his local library. He took everyone for a ride, and with 100 years to incubate in Utah, you now have LDS in its current state. It is fake. It is Scientology + Jesus. Don’t feel bad. Feel proud. Go meet someone amazing and raise a beautiful family outside of the treachery of LDS. And maybe help a few of your friends leave along the way!

    Best of luck to you. With love from everyone else on Planet Earth.

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  40. i just want to say as a mormon myself, and maybe not a very good one, that there is one very big misunderstanding in what she has said. no one has ever said you need a man to let you go to heaven. what has been said is that no one can get to heaven alone. you must be helping god with the work of bringing others to the knowledge of our heavenly father. secondly if you understand lds theology, you know that there are three degrees of heaven and to make it the highest degree you need to be married. you can still be in heaven without marriage, but not to the highest degree. third, and most importantly, if you believe in god and the bible, then you already know that the way to heaven is through a man, the man, our savior Jesus Christ. He is the one who made it possible to even consider going back to heaven. without him, we would be lost, so in a way we do need a Man to allow us to return to heaven, just not in the way you’re thinking. i know this is God’s church, His gospel. that is a knowledge noone can take from me no matter how hard they try. i hope and pray you find what you are searching for.

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  41. Your story is unbelievably easy for me to relate to. I love that you mention that the LDS Church isn’t easy to walk away from because i think that is something most people don’t quite understand. i wanted to continue being the person i was when i left the LDS Church. i didn’t want to burn bridges and i wanted to keep all of the people i cared about. i wanted to keep my own personal spirituality. i just didn’t want to be labeled as something that i am not (in this case an LDS member). It took me 8 years to accomplish this in a way that i was proud of. The ending result is who i am today, a happy, thoughtful, intelligent, working member of society. Thank you so much for writing this. It really means a lot to me that there are people like you out there. You are truly an inspiration to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. “I see the priesthood like this. In the Mormon religion you need to be baptized, go through the temple to make ordinances with the Lord/God and to be married in the temple being sealed to your husband. All of these steps require the blessing of a priesthood holder, a man. So basically to go to heaven, a man has to let me.

    I won’t get to heaven by simply loving others. I won’t get to heaven by being a compassionate person. I won’t go to heaven if I serve others. I can only get to heaven if a MAN blesses me and if a MAN tells me I am worthy and if a MAN wants to take me to the temple. See the issue here?”

    By those statements, YOU see it all wrong and unfortunately you have missed the mark.

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