The following post is by an anonymous guest who was born and raised in the Mormon church and is shared with permission. Although I may not agree with every single sentence… I didn’t want to alter their work and I agree with much more than I don’t. For a church that has at its very foundation the principle of agency… we do a poor job of practicing it.
What is most important about the point of this piece is that sexual assault is not “non-consensual immorality.” It is a crime. It is violence. And referring to sexual assault as such minimizes the significance and consequences of this behavior.
I’ll tell you what non-consensual immorality really is.
Non-consensual immorality is blessing an infant into the Church. Forcing the child to go to Primary and Church meetings, participate in Family Home Evenings and scripture study. Taking the child up to the pulpit once a month when they’re 3 or 4 years old and teaching them to repeat to the congregation that they know that Russel M. Nelson is a prophet and the Book of Mormon is true.
Non-consensual immorality is questioning a teenager about their masturbation habits and making them feel guilty for a normal human behavior. Forcing the youth to go on trek and get baptized for dead people. Teaching girls how to cook and clean at YW meetings while the boys are off shooting rifles and riding ATVs.
Non-consensual immorality is forcing a young man to go on a mission and ostracizing him, guilting him, or refusing to pay for college if he doesn’t.
Non-consensual immorality is teaching young couples to have as many children as they can, regardless of their ability to parent or provide for those children. Regardless of whether they have finished college or obtained work skills, regardless of whether they even want children in the first place.
Non-consensual immorality is brainwashing a person to pay 10% of their income so the Church can build luxury malls and buy expensive chandeliers for temples. For telling them that unless they fork over the dough, they are separated from God and are unclean. That unless they pay, they can’t be with their loved ones forever. Telling them to pay their tithing instead of buying food for their children.
Non-consensual immorality is teaching women that they are equal, valued and honored, then placing them in a system where they aren’t equal, valued or honored. A system where men assign their positions, tell them what to do, set their budgets, and occasionally let them say a prayer or speak at conference.
Non-consensual immorality is going to other lands and amidst other cultures and telling them they got it all wrong and they need to change their beliefs, habits and ways. That they need to subjugate themselves to the white Americans who will teach them to get closer to the divine through obedience and monetary offerings.
Non-consensual immorality forcing a spouse that has shaken off the shackles of brain washing to keep attending and to pretend they believe, for fear of losing their wife or husband, children, community, and/or job.
Non-consensual immorality is telling a LGBT person that there is something wrong with them. For encouraging them to marry a partner of the opposite sex. For encouraging them to procreate in an unstable situation. For blaming them when an untenable situation disintegrates.Non-consensual immorality is lying, gaslighting, denying, obfuscating, hiding, excusing and minimizing unsavory aspects of Church history and doctrine.
Non-consensual immorality is teaching spouses, children, parents, friends and neighbors that if a person disbelieves the Church, then that person is evil, addicted to porn, or wants to sin.
Non-consensual immorality is ignoring, neglecting, shaming, and blaming victims of abuse. Excusing and protecting their abusers. Setting up a system that grooms potential victims by teaching them unwavering obedience and respect to Church leaders and then placing them in circumstances that allow them to be victimized.
Non-consensual immorality is settling with such victims who have evidence or are too vocal about the abuse they have taken, but requiring iron-clad Non-Disclosure Agreements so victims can’t talk about what happened to them, throwing the dark deeds done into the shadows, preventing victims from warning others and denying the unsuspecting faithful masses the information needed in order to protect themselves and their children.
Non-consensual immorality is tearing apart families, alienating the affections of loved ones, and ostracizing people who don’t bow down to their Mormon overlords, all so 15 con men in Salt Lake City can build Luxury Malls, live in fancy homes, drive or be chauffered in nice cars, get their children and grand-children free education, receive excellent health care, own nice vacation homes, and bask in the adulation of adoring throngs who worship them and wait endlessly for them to drop them some crumbs from the table.
This is what non-consensual immorality really is.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, writes a regular column for Sunstone Magazine, is the current president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.