I am having a hard time celebrating the changes the Church has made in regards to temple ordinances and women. On the one hand it’s long overdue and it will be much more palatable for new women going in for the first time. On the other hand I feel like all the pain I felt for so many years having to participate in a ritual where I felt my husband was put “above” me is largely ignored. Not to mention how it hurt my feelings towards my faith and testimony. How do you make sense of this?
I very much appreciate Blaire Ostler’s balanced words in regards to the changes we have seen happen recently in the temple for women. The changes are vastly positive and yet, not comprehensive. The pain of many paved the way towards these changes. Some of which we have lost to our tribe along the way. And…many will benefit and rejoice, rightfully so. The process of change is complex in our culture. How we talk about it… the stories we create around it…and too often, we silence many unnecessarily. I give my “amen” to Sister Ostler. And I validate the mixed feelings the poster mentions. May we be gentle in how we manage the reactions of these changes.
You can get more of my thoughts on the changes, as well as several other mental health providers, on the interview I did on Mormon Mental Health Podcast:
Today’s guest post is written by Blaire Ostler. Opinions shared on guest posts may not completely reflect the positions of the blog’s author.
Blaire Ostler is a philosopher and leading voice at the intersection of queer, Mormon, and transhumanist thought. She is a board member and former CEO of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, the world’s largest advocacy network for the ethical use of technology and religion to expand human abilities. She presents and writes on many forums, and speaks at conferences promoting authentic Mormonism. Blaire holds a degree in design from the International Academy of Design and Technology-Seattle. She is currently pursuing a second degree in philosophy with an emphasis in gender studies. She is also an artist, and spends her spare time hiking, painting, writing, and bickering with her friends about almost any topic imaginable. Blaire and husband Drew reside in Utah with their three children.
There is a reoccurring pattern in the Mormon community that when the First Presidency announces a progressive change there are two common responses:
Group 1: “Yay, look at this! Isn’t this great?! Things are getting better. My concerns were addressed. Let us rejoice!”Group 2: “Are you kidding me? This is barely even a drop in the bucket. We aren’t even close to where we need to be. I’m still being marginalized. Who will weep with me?”
So far as I’m concerned, both reactions are legitimate, and we do well to leave room for both expressions and everything in between.
As for Group 1, it’s perfectly reasonable to want to celebrate. One drop in the bucket is still one drop in the bucket. Metaphorically speaking, buckets aren’t usually filled with firehoses. Firehoses are too powerful to actually fill the bucket. Water will just spray back in your face. The bucket is more likely to get damaged or injure someone than get filled. Buckets usually get filled by a steady faucet. So yes, one drop in the bucket is certainly worth celebrating, so long as it doesn’t lead to complacency about filling up the whole bucket. I’ll celebrate the temple changes with you to provoke and inspire further improvement for the rest of us. Don’t forget, while the temple changes are great for a lot of heterosexual cisgender women, this does very little for queer women.
As for Group 2, I get that one drop isn’t enough to fill the bucket. Full disclosure, I want to see all genders ordained. I want to see trans, non-binary, intersex, and queer people worshiping in the temple according to their gender identity. I want to see homosexual sealings available in the temple. I want to see plural sealings available to all consenting adults independent of their gender identity. I want to see God being portrayed in the temple as a queer woman of color. So no, this one drop in the bucket is not nearly enough for me. However, we can’t forget that one drop in the bucket is still one drop closer to queer inclusion.
If you feel like rejoicing, I support you.
If you feel like weeping, I support you too.
We need to leave room for people who are rejoicing and for people who are weeping. This is what it means to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. As a community, we must paradoxically learn to weep and rejoice at the same time. Even though I am not perfect at it, this is the goal.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org and 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, 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