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. A friend shared this on facebook and I decided to comment and make a few things clear.

    First, I experienced first hand much of what you have experienced.
    Second, I too struggled to decide whether or not to leave.
    Third, I am interested in the idea of theology across the globe, not just the church.
    Fourth, I am still a member by my own free will, and happy.
    Fifth, my experience, upbringing, struggles, and beliefs haven’t changed.

    Why stay, if you don’t “believe?”

    Because I don’t believe in man. I believe in God. What I have learned is that there are only 2 kinds of people, those who believe in a God (by any name/entity/shape) and those who do not. Is one worse than the other? Absolutely not. Is one going to be saved over another? Only the dead know. Then why live a life conforming to set standards and not the way I want? Because I believe there is a God. Why the LDS church? Because I feel more free here than in other religions. Does this mean that other religions are false? No, not necessarily. There is truth in all things and man has a tendency to change things whether or not they know it or whether or not it was bad. Can you still be a good person and a happy person outside of religion? Absolutely. You do what makes you happy and if that means without a God, then so be it. God does not punish or damn those who do not believe. He punishes those who hurt and take away the agency of another to make that decision for themselves. That is what defines an “evil” person. Do people deserve a second chance? Yes, but justice must still be served by the law of the land and the law of religion (if you have one). Religion is filled with people who believe that it will best fit their beliefs and lifestyle. People change lifestyles because something no longer feels right to them. Do people act wrongly inside religion? Yes. Does it make the entire religion wrong? No. What matters in religion then? Your relationship with God, if you have one. Can you be apart of a truth you believe in without completely being conformed to a mold? Yes, this is why I stay. I am me and I can choose what I want and what makes me happy outside of what you and I have experienced.

    I don’t know whether or not this will help you, or anyone on here. They can contact me if they would like to know what I mean by what I said.

    My simple message to you or anyone this same way is to do what makes you happy. That is your agency. I am saddened by the truth your words carry as well as saddened that you are still hurt by this. I am saddened that you have been wronged. I am happy you have found your happiness even if it is not the same as mine. Religious freedom should be a choice and I hope that in that, we can at least agree to fight for the right to believe and act on what we believe as long as we understand that no one is exempt from the laws of the land (applies to all) or the laws of God (if believed under any religion).

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  2. I just came across this article today and I’ve decided to write a response. Take it for what it’s worth.

    First of all, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is referred to as “The Church” only by Mormons and usually only when speaking to other Mormons or to others who live in and are familiar with Utah Mormon culture. Many people in other religions refer to the church that they attend as “The Church,” it’s quite a common thing.
    Classes are separated based on age, because the things that people are going to church to get help with and the interests and maturity of those in different age groups tend to be similar, then by gender, because the Church has some teachings that differ for males and females. Males and females still interact with each other and are still taught the same doctrines and principles in these classes. This setting provides a good environment for young men to feel that they are a part of a brotherhood with boys they become very close with and vice versa for girls being part of a sisterhood.
    As far as activities that boys and girls participate in, I can’t say why specific activities are chosen. I would say that two likely reasons are culture and tradition. Many members plan activities that they did when they were in young womens or young mens. The activities mentioned in this article (baking bread, assembling blankets, and making hats) are enjoyable activities and can be very useful in the future for either gender to know how to do. As far as males saying that they remembered giving blessings to women, that is misleading as males also administer blessings from other males. It is also important to consider that all blessings come from God and not from the males themselves.
    The author says refers to the scriptures being interpreted selectively and quotes a scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants that is revelation given through Joseph Smith, the Prophet. The same prophet who recorded this revelation also taught about the proper use of the priesthood and who can hold it. If the scripture she quoted truly came from God, that would indicate that Joseph Smith was a prophet and, therefore, had the authority to receive revelation from God concerning the correct interpretation of the said scripture.
    The answer that the leaders of the church gave to the author upon her questioning of why women can’t hold the priesthood is accurate but does seem like a cop-out. For a further understanding of the important different roles that women and men hold in this life, see https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?cid=+HP14TPOTF&lang=eng&old=true and https://www.fairmormon.org/testimonies/scholars/valerie-hudson-cassler
    When it comes to praying to know if something is true, you must first find out whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. Something is either true or it is false. If the Book of Mormon is true, the Joseph Smith was a prophet of God along with the fifteen prophets who have succeeded him. Often we do not gain the understanding and personal testimony of a principle or doctrine until years down the road. Wisdom and knowledge come with patience and time.
    The reference made to the divine nature of women to care for and nurture children — The author mentions these things in a very demeaning manner. Raising good children is no small task. Anyone who has talked to a woman who tries to keep her household in order while actively raising children to be good, moral, disciplined, lively, dynamic, responsible, kind, loving, caring, hard-working, diligent, compassionate, respectful, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, obedient, bold, service-oriented, selfless, and an embodiment of all other good characteristics knows that it’s no easy task. Going to work and doing tasks is easy, in comparison, to raising a human being who resembles God. That’s what the LDS Church teaches. We try to become like Christ as we help our children to do the same.
    The way that she refers to the different divine roles of women is demeaning and insightful into the foolishness of her youth and inexperience. She refers to them as if they are easy and unimportant roles. Again, talk to anyone who has a close, powerful relationship with their wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, or female friend and you will know that the influence that can be exerted by said roles is incomparable. While these are the primary roles that women hold, the LDS church does not teach its female members that they should not pursue righteous causes, be actively involved in their communities, or go to work. It says that those decisions are between the spouses and the Lord. Studying the lives of the female general authorities is instructive in learning about how LDS women live robust, impactful lives. When a woman or man wants to achieve greatness and recognition in the world because they believe it will bring them joy, they are misled and following after the pride of their hearts. In the beginning, Lucifer wanted the glory of God for himself. He wanted the credit and the recognition. True joy comes from selfless service and involvement with family and God.
    To go to heaven, a man has to let me. — Yes, a man has to perform the priesthood ordinances in order for them to be valid. These must be done in humility, not to exercise “unrighteous dominion” in order for them to be valid. Read Doctrine and Covenants Section 121. Administering these ordinances is one of males’ primary roles in God’s plan. It is an important role and it is necessary to get people out of this world and back into the presence of Heavenly Parents. Is it more important than the role that women play in getting people into this stage of the plan? Obviously, in order to understand this, one must understand the reality of existence in the presence of God before life on this earth. Without the role that women play in giving birth, no one would have come to this earth. No one would be able to participate in Priesthood ordinances, because they would not have bodies to do so, just as those who have died without performing the ordinances cannot do so for themselves. Women provide the bodies that are baptized and go through the temple. Men help in the process, yes, but women help men in using the priesthood. No man or woman can be saved alone. Also, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is one of the only religions that teaches that almost every single person will go to heaven. As this author likely knows but perhaps does not understand, men and women need each other and God to be able to return to and live in the presence of God forever. The reason for this is that eternity will consist of those who qualify becoming gods and goddesses. Godhood is parenthood. By loving others, being compassionate, and serving others, a person will go to heaven, but not become a god. They will dwell in a kingdom of brilliant glory and rest from cares and troubles and be happy. But they will not become gods because gods are parents. That’s why only those who want to marry and be parents forever will be gods and experience the highest degree of glory that God has to offer. When the author says that she can only get to heaven if a man blesses her, if a man tells her she is worthy, and if a man wants to take her to the temple, she is incorrect. She will only get to the highest degree of heaven if GOD blesses her, if GOD says she’s worthy, and if a MAN wants to take her to the temple. Similarly, a man will only get to heaven if GOD blesses him, if GOD says he’s worthy, and if a WOMAN accepts him and covenants with him in the temple. It’s the same thing for men and women. Men just have the responsibility to act as representatives of God. If God says that you are worthy, does it matter whether that message came through the lips of a man or woman? The message is the same, so don’t shoot the messenger.
    It may be that the LDS church isn’t right for this girl, but that doesn’t make it untrue. It is either the church of God on earth or it is not. If it is and it’s not right for that girl, that means that she has chosen to make herself not right for the church. God sets the standards and we can either choose to do our best to follow them or to do what we want to do instead. For those who choose to be humble and do God’s will instead of their own, they will have the opportunity to be parents or gods-in-training here and gods/parents into the eternities. For those who choose to do their own will, they will go to heaven and be happy forever as single people.
    I would ask this author to define what it really means to be “one with the universe.”
    I would also ask this author what she is referring to when she says she is “meant for so much more” than just being a wife or mother. What is greater than those two roles? What career compares with creating humans and raising them to reach their potential to become gods and, not only that, but creative, contributing, caring members of society?
    The author says that she is in control of her reality. In the most sincere way, I want to ask her the following question: How much control do you really have in your life? How much control do you have when calamities and tragedies happen in your life? Can you just choose for things to be different? Wouldn’t you rather have a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful god in control of your life?
    Finally, what does that author mean when she says she feels pure love for the universe, herself, and all people around her? What love is more pure than giving your life so that others can improve, be cleansed from sin, overcome all weaknesses, and become gods? That’s what the Savior did. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints strive to follow the example of their Master, they are imperfect and make many, many mistakes. Sometimes Mormons offend other people because of a lack of understanding, tact, or because they were just plain stupid or mean. That doesn’t make that church and its doctrine not true. It makes the people mortal. Sometimes the men in the LDS church misuse and abuse their stewardship and priesthood authority and cause grief in the lives of those around them, including women. This does not mean that the authority is not from God or that the system is not inspired. If I could speak to this girl, I would invite her to learn more about what is really important in life, what brings joy, and what Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness is really centered on. Families are the basic unit of society and the organization that will continue on into the eternities and creating and raising families is the most honorable, important, and noble task that one can do in this life.

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    1. Excellent mansplaning here about womens roles and how the autbir’s feelings about them are incorrect. It’s not about those roles being easy or hard (or precious) it’s about them being the roles you must accept. No one gets to heaven without the priesthood. No one gets to heaven without being birthed. If birthing or raising children is not in your wheelhouse, for whatever reason, you don’t get to participate fully in getting people to Heaven. All worthy men can participate in their divine role. Not all worthy women can. Don’t say, “but sister, aunt, friend!” That’s not the point. The point is that a man’s value and a woman’s value are based on imbalanced roles and can never be equal.

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  3. I feel for Abby. However, I have an issue whenever anyone makes sweeping generalizations and allegations against groups of people. I don’t like it when blacks call all whites racist. I don’t like it when a president elect says we all need to work on our race issue. I don’t like it when men do it to women and vice versa. Making sweeping allegations against the Mormon church makes no sense especially as this article is not based at all in doctrinal truth. If you are a young woman planning an activity and want to go tubing, you simply plan it.

    My biggest frustration are the critical women who tell me I am supposed to feel bad about myself because I am a Mormon women and who completely misrepresent the doctrine taught by the gospel of Jesus Christ that teaches I am equal and will equally inherit the glories of eternity some day. I acknowledge experience is not ideal, but misreprrsentingvor outlash against many people not ever met and trying to claim extensive experience makes no sense either.

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    1. I noticed at one part you said “No man or woman can be saved alone.” I agree with this statement, however I am not from the Mormon church. If we are not perfect, as you mentioned towards the end; we all make mistakes and mess up. Yes, I agree as well. My question to you is: How can imperfect people come alongside each other to make one another perfect or worthy of the highest heaven? Wouldn’t there need to be ONE that took our place? And Was made perfect in our weakness?

      Why do we on this earth feel we have to earn it on our own? Doesn’t ecclesiasties talk about it all being meaningless like filthy rags? I noticed Jesus was not mentioned as your savior. HE is my savior. The ONE whom has wiped me clean and I can live in peace knowing I can’t earn my righteousness. In my humility and absolute thankfulness I’m not even close to being capable. I love others and live my life in the way that God would have me live it. But my righteous deeds are a reflection of God living in me- not of my own doing. I don’t have a desire to be a god or a part of eternal parenthood as you mentioned because my life isn’t my own. God was the one who gave me my life. Therefore, I will live it to forever glorify God in heaven. To me, the desire of perfection earned on my own separates me from my Lord and diminishes and demeans Jesus work on the cross and prieimnance.

      Your thoughts?

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  4. Good stuff, Abby. Glad you see your way through it. I realized when Sr Kelly was ex’d for questioning her role in the church while simultaneously, the Bundy gang were stealing millions of dollars, equipment, vandalizing First Nation lands et al – while maintaining temple recommends that something was amiss. When the church stopped calling out public liars (Glen Beck) and white supremacists (blogger Ayla) and they can be completely free of accountability, but thoughtful educated women are expelled with utmost speed, then it’s quite obvious that this is not an organization that is interested in truthful behavior. There is life out there and it is of a distinctly more genuine quality and authenticity than the plastic intellectual contortionism required to remain. Best wishes to you, I’ll tune in to read more.

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  5. Your journey through leaving “the church” will not be easy, but I promise you, you will come to a place where you will be free and released from all the guilt and crazy brain washing. Stay strong. Keep reading and thinking for yourself.

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  6. I loved your question about D & C reference to man being mankind. However, D & C 50:26-27 doesn’t say that at all. It says this: “He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all.
    27 Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son.”(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 50:26 – 27) You got your quote from LDS.org about the Priesthood and it makes me wonder where they got that definition.

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  7. Honestly Abby, your title to this article is hateful. The Mormon church didn’t do anything to you; you can’t blame your hate you had for yourself on a church, a person, on anything. Take responsibility for your own thoughts and your own actions; for they are YOUR OWN.

    I will tell you though I don’t agree with your article; I like that you specify that it wasn’t right “for you.” It may not be now, or ever (in this life.)

    I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true; the pure doctrine of Christ. “The Church” is imperfect as are its people: but the doctrine, principles, and covenants are true.

    Thanks for sharing your beliefs. I hope for the best for you and the Van Buren family.

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    1. It’s so weird that you’re talking to another person like that @shaywright, it makes me uncomfortabls that so many people appear on here to tell Abby things as if they are above her. Aren’t we all standing next to each other? Equal minds thinking and hearts feeling.

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  8. Honey, You are a beautiful daughter of God. I am sorry that your experience as a Mormon has not been easy for you. Ask God if the Book of Mormon is true and everything else follows. I know it’s true. I ask myself all the time similar questions, but I fall back on the fact the Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and all the LDS Prophets have been as well. I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet. I invite you to read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it is true. Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and requires that we enter into covenants to receive all his glory.

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