LDS Church Breaks Silence about Mormon Underwear and Members React

From out of nowhere and shocking to some members of the Mormon faith, myself included (to be honest), on a relatively quiet Saturday afternoon The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released an unprecedented video about the sacred, holy temple garment worn by covenant members of the Church -- with photos, titled: Sacred Temple Clothing (a.k.a. Mormon underwear). And, Mormons are reacting... 

The reactions by Mormons, mixed to say the least, aren't just about the temple garments being neatly laid out for the world to see, but also shown is the temple clothing (robes of holy priesthood) worn only inside a Mormon temple; sacred to members of the Church. So sacred, that most don’t purposely show the temple clothing to their own children until they are preparing to go to the temple themselves – as adults.

One sister, after viewing the video said “The times they are a changin. This is sacred and NOT for public viewing. I'm shocked and appalled. The gospel isn't supposed to change. Why is this being changed? No one besides those worthy are supposed to see this.” Many, after reading her comments, did their best to help her work through these initial feelings. But, she’s not alone – other faithful Mormons are having similar reactions.

Mind you, most reacting with some discomfort about the Church video are fully aware that anti-Mormons and apostate members find great joy in displaying our sacred temple clothing across the Internet to mock the faith and humiliate us -- and worse. We know that Google is more than accommodating to the curious or critical in providing these unholy shares, the likes of which offensive to those who hold this part of our personal faith sacred -- not secret. And, we get that having the Church address the curiosity by taking charge of the conversation will be a net positive.

I like how this sister, from my WBMW Facebook community, put it: “I'm very happy that this video has been produced by the Church. People have been viewing temple garments on-line for years, because some… have put them online. This video teaches a sacred principle and takes the shock value away from those who would try to scorn or mock. A bold move.”

With that said, however, showing the garments and robes as if it's no big deal, just part of the faith (similar to others), well, that's taking some Mormons time to digest -- for a few reasons; all legitimate. In fact, I shared the video immediately and did so as a positive. Though it hasn’t yet taken away the background discomfort I’m feeling particularly when so many are sharing similar reactions – I totally get it.

Before the release of this new video about "Mormon underwear" in most settings the spiritual maturity of an individual has often been the guide, or policy, used to introduce the wearing of Mormon temple clothing. Because of that this sudden exposure, if you will, by the Church, has come across as somewhat confusing to not a few members. I might add, that most pushback is coming from older members (although I hate to admit that), rather than from Millennial Mormons who right off the bat think it’s pretty darn cool and see it as super awesome! ;)

Like this, from Jake Oakey: "Our youth now have a resource they can turn to to learn more, which still maintains the sacred nature of temple ordinances. Learning about sacred things should be done in sacred places when the learner has been adequately prepared. The temple is such an amazing and special place. I am grateful the Church is opening up some of that special sacred knowledge to others."

Which means, because our wonderful and faithful Millennials are the future of our faith, the rest of us best come up to speed. Right? I think so. But I do feel there is some value is recognizing and validating the concerns swirling around the new openness of the Church and together focus on the positives going forward for our faith.

One sister I spoke with yesterday (young I might add) suggested “it would have been nice if the Church had given us a little head’s up about the video -- a letter perhaps?” Honestly, considering the sacred nature of temple clothing, to so many members, I had to agree; it would have been nice. Onward.

I really like these thoughts, extracted from various online conversations about the new temple garment video, helping me and others to reconcile our temporary, uncomfortable feelings: 

“I think this is good for members and non members. Some of us don't know what we can say, share, etc., even with our own kids. We are watching this for Family Home Evening this week. My parents were very guarded about letting us see their temple robes, etc. I was totally surprised when I went to the temple for the first time (my parents have been valiant members of the church who love the temple and go often my whole life- but they must have missed President Benson's talk about his memories of watching his mom ironing her temple robes- I never saw my parents' temple robes before we went to the temple). I wish I had. This video does a wonderful job talking about these sacred- not secret- things.”

“Why not show it appropriately? Go to YouTube. Many non-members have posted far worse. Being the only member of the church in my family, and always being asked about my "magic underwear", this makes it easier for me to share that part of my life with my family in a way the church deems appropriate! I understand this makes people uncomfortable, because for so many people this has been something not up for open discussion for so long, but with the invention of the Internet, so much floats out there already, better to address it."

“I am so thankful the Church decided to do this. They did this in a tasteful way, and in a way that the sacred nature and words of the covenants that are made in the temple are not divulged or infringed upon, and are kept sacred. The exact meaning and symbolism of the temple clothing and garment is kept sacred as well. This clears up misconceptions, speculations, distortions, and downright falsehoods that are made all the time about our faith and our temple worship. This is a great thing!”

“ For some of us it is a little shocking to talk about "temple stuff", but we have to remember that what goes on in the temple is "sacred", not "secret".  Let's follow the Church's lead and carefully share the scriptures that verify what is taught in the temple to our children, friends, and neighbors. We don't have to feel awkward about testifying of the covenants we've made in the temple. Without verbalizing everything, we can still promote our sacred beliefs without being weird about it. Everything we do in the temple is in the scriptures and is available to all those who faithfully desire. The Church is opening the door for us as members to share what is truly important to us.”

“So much better that our church leaders explain it reverently and correctly than our detractors being the so called "authorities" on this topic. I'm very glad they're done this video.”

“Wow... I don't know how I feel about this. This is just too sacred, but at the same time I understand that sometimes certain decisions in the church are necessary. All I know is that following the prophet is what's right!”

“When my children were sealed to us this summer I didn't know how much to tell them. This answers my kids questions about the clothing. I am so grateful this was put out. I can show them and now they will understand.”

“What an eloquent way of dispelling the myths. I'm questioned often about temple garments and this is a wonderful little video that explains without going into too much detail. I love how the garments were displayed. A very usable tool for Temple Prep Classes.”

I'm feeling much better already. I hope you are, too.

Be sure to visit the Mormon Newsroom and see topics page: Temple Garments.


Kathryn Skaggs 

Photos: screenshots taken from video

Other articles about the new video, or topic, of Mormon underwear or temple garments: 

LDS Church Responds to Supreme Court Ruling Refusing to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in response to today's Supreme Court ruling refusing to hear same-sex marriage cases has released this statement on the Mormon Newsroom:
The succession of federal court decisions in recent months, culminating in today’s announcement by the Supreme Court, will have no effect on the doctrinal position or practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is that only marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable to God. In prizing freedom of conscience and Constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religion, we will continue to teach that standard and uphold it in our religious practices.Nevertheless, respectful coexistence is possible with those with differing values. As far as the civil law is concerned, the courts have spoken. Church leaders will continue to encourage our people to be persons of good will toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, and differences in sexual orientation.

Oct 2014 General Conference: How to Watch, Invite and Share! #LDSConf

Information for Oct 2014 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: This much anticipated meeting will be held in the LDS Conference Center, Salt Lake City, Utah. This is an exciting time for Mormons worldwide!  We have the opportunity to hear from our Prophet and President of the Church, Thomas S. Monson, as well as many other prominent Church leaders to receive relevant counsel and direction to help strengthen us as individuals, and as a people, committed to living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

About General Conference:
"General conference is a semiannual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During general conference weekend, Church members and others who are interested gather worldwide in a series of two-hour sessions to receive inspiration and instruction from Church leaders.

All sessions of General Conference are available, live, on the Internet at LDS.org.

General Women's Meeting: Disciples of Jesus Christ and Gender Equality

Sometimes I wonder if I belong to the same church as other members. But then I have to remind myself that because I'm a 'tad' older than some, I might be aware of just a few more facts about my faith: Mormonism. 

For example, not once have I ever questioned my discipleship -- I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. Such a designation has nothing to do with gender but covenants. Therefore, when President Dieter F. Uchtdorf during the October 2014 General Women's Meeting referred to the women of the LDS Church as "blessed disciples of Jesus Christ" I didn't give it a second thought -- of course we are. Duh. Did I think it was a lovely way to address the sisters? Yes. But that's where it ended. Now, what are you going to teach me?

No disrespect intended, but upon initially hearing that President Uchtdorf's simple reference got picked up by national media as a big deal I had to laugh. I mean, isn't the definition of disciple, from a Christian perspective, a follower of Jesus Christ? And then I recalled that many don't consider Mormons Christian so perhaps that was it?

Nope. I was totally wrong. Apparently, Mormon feminists had an epiphany about a few things said during the meeting. (Pertaining to priesthood and gender equality.) When they heard President Uchtdorf address the women of the Church as disciples, they were floored. He also referred to our having "heavenly parents" -- part of Mormon doctrine. Anyway, with that and a few other tidbits off they went to noise abroad their new discoveries! Here's how the Huffington Post reported the good news:

"Mormon feminists may have been surprised by some subtle changes in vocabulary and approach Saturday (Sept. 27) at the church’s general women’s meeting.  
Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed the audience — sitting in the giant Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City or watching via satellite in chapels of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the globe — not just as “sisters” but also as “blessed disciples of Jesus Christ.”  
In a speech about living out one’s faith joyfully, Uchtdorf, second counselor in the church’s governing First Presidency, referred twice to women as “daughters of heavenly parents,” alluding to the Mormon belief in male and female deities."

Not to be rude, but no changes occurred. Nothing new. Nada. The earth hasn't shifted. Rather, the gospel is consistent, steady, reliable --  firmly rooted in eternal doctrine.

In fact, addressing the membership of the Church in the April 2010 General Conference President Uchtdorf said this:

"Let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our Master, we are called to support and heal rather than condemn. We are commanded “to mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”" (You Are My Hands)

Ironically, and apparently missed, Linda K. Burton, general Relief Society president during last April's General Women's Meeting referenced the women of the Church as disciples, too.

"As true disciples, may we offer our willing hearts and our helping hands to hasten His work." (Wanted: Hands and Hearts to Hasten the Work)

Elder L. Tom Perry, Special Witness: Being a Disciple of Jesus Christ, The Friend 2003.

"The central purpose of our [life] is to prepare to meet God and inherit the blessings He has promised to His worthy children. The Savior set the pattern during His earthly ministry and encouraged those who followed Him to become His disciples..."

"As true disciples of Christ, may our lives reflect His example. May God bless us that we will earnestly desire to do our spiritual housecleaning, getting into all the corners, cleaning out all those things that would [keep us from being] a disciple of the Lord so that we can move forward in our service to Him who is our King and Savior."

President Henry B. Eyring, A Voice of Warning, October 1998
"Our ability to touch others with our warning voice matters to all who are covenant disciples of Jesus Christ. Here is the charge given to each of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (D&C 88:81)."

I could share so many more references but hopefully you get the idea.

And then there's the revelatory reference to us being "daughters of heavenly parents." Think of it, every time The Family: A Proclamation to the World is referred to by a leader of the Church, the doctrine that we have both a Heavenly Mother and a Heavenly Father is officially reiterated. That we have heavenly parents is commonly referenced throughout LDS teachings. All one has to do is go to LDS.org and run a search for "heavenly parents" to reject the ideas advocated that this is a remote doctrine of the Church -- it's not. Or that women being referred to, as disciples of Jesus Christ are new vocabulary -- it is not.

What we need to be watchful for and see, as suspect in this kind of media hype, is feminist advocacy -- plain and simple. The Church is politically neutral and nothing that takes place in a session of general conference, which the General Women's Meeting is, is intended to make a political statement of any kind. Nor is it meant to pander to select groups that desire policy changes in the Church.

What was taught during the General Women's Meeting that truly deserves a shout out? Everything! Meaning, every word uttered meant to instruct the sisters of the Church how to return to our Heavenly Parents -- this is where women of covenant focus their attention. Not on how some interpret what happened surrounding the meeting.

Everything worthy of our attention and application pointed to holy temples and the making and keeping of sacred covenants. Anything that distract us from inspired messages is contrary to the purpose of the General Women's Meeting, thus to God. Reject it. 

Here is what I heard and hold in my heart. (My notes.)

The truth about discipleship is that it brings divine power. Knowing who we are is directly related to temple attendance and faithfully keeping our covenants. Keeping commandments is God's way to show His love and bless us -- it will reveal our divine worth. Commandments mark the path to our eternal home. The perfect pattern of becoming like Jesus Christ is the temple. If we are to be a light in the world, as He is, and assist in the work of salvation, like the temple, we must be light. Go to the temple. Our divine origin is that we are daughters of God. His divine plan for us to return to His presence requires the choice to keep covenants. Meaning, our divine destiny must be claimed through the righteous use of agency. The influence of good women is sorely needed in the world today. We have made a covenant to stand for Jesus Christ and that requires courage and action. Living the gospel is not a burden -- it is joyful! Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us -- remove the umbrellas of doubt. God knows things we don't! Only through the atonement of Jesus Christ can we overcome our weaknesses. We must humble ourselves. If we want to give light, we must glow ourselves. (Monson) The Spirit speaks of eternal promises. Temple covenants lay the foundation of an eternal family. Sacred temple covenants give us strength and power. There is peace, power and protection in making and keeping covenants. As we stand in the waters of baptism, we look to the temple. We are His and we have made a covenant to remember Him always. Joseph Smith desired that those who enter the temple would feel the power of God. Those who wish to receive exaltation are required to receive a higher standard of living. Make sure our homes are places to feel the Spirit and then we will be at home when entering the temple. The oil of spiritual preparation cannot be shared... We can do small and simple things to add oil to our spiritual preparation. The best way to strengthen a home current or future is to keep covenants.

I know this counsel is inspired and if we are faithful to these teachings and continue to trust in the Lord and diligently keep temple covenants we will have happiness and peace in this life and the next. We will come to a true understanding of our equal standing before God and with all those who walk this same path - male and female. This, is the good news of the gospel that deserves our undivided attention and efforts.

Kathryn Skaggs

Photo credits: LDS.org

Got Pain? Me, too. Now what?

As children of covenant, we turn to our Heavenly Father at all times and in all circumstances for His guidance and answers to life’s most difficult questions and challenges. Life is a test. Whether we experience emotional pain due to a personal trial of faith, or are negatively affected by those nearest to us (for divers reasons), we seek the relief and peace, which can only be found through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

When the Conversation Does Not Support the Doctrine

Recently though, there’s been a noticeable uptick in online conversations focusing on pain – namely, emotional pain experienced by some Mormon women; most self-described as feminists. This pain is directly associated with being a female member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is said to be the result of a widespread, perceived gender disparity.

The dialogue goes something like this: LDS women in large numbers are experiencing deep pain due to feelings of inequality in the Church and therefore… Most often, these feelings are in response to a negative encounter(s) a sister has had with a person who exercises priesthood authority -- a man. Other female members (presumed to have never experienced similar pain) are labeled as judgmental of the expressed pain -- making it difficult for those struggling with pain to find unity and empathy among the body of the Saints. In order to fix the perceived inequity, changes in LDS Church policy must be made. And from the most progressive voices, only female priesthood ordination will ultimately satisfy.

Note: This post is not about whether or not changes in LDS Church policy should or should not be made and what those changes should be. It is about what the catalyst for change within the Church should be based upon. Is it inspired? Or, is it contrived? And, does it matter?

Apostolic Warning About Perceived Inequality in the Church

Elder M. Russell Ballard gave this pertinent instruction during a 1993 General Conference address (perhaps more relevant today) titled: EqualityThrough Diversity. He said, “In these latter days, we see people, increasing in number, who urge others to feel and voice dissent when frustration and hardship enter their lives. They would have us believe that the Church or its leaders are unfair to women, or that women are denied opportunities to realize their full potential within the gospel framework. Sisters, we know that the Church is made up of mortals, that priesthood leaders are fallible, and some may not always handle their stewardships with suitable sensitivity. However, I want you to understand this plain truth: the gospel of Jesus Christ provides the only way for women or men to achieve their full potential as children of God. Only the gospel can free us from the terrible effects of sin. Only by following God’s plan for us, with faith and determination to live ultimately in eternal families, can we qualify for eternal life in His presence. Ideally, the Church and the family do not inhibit our progress. They expedite it by putting our feet firmly on the gospel path that leads us back to God. We each have the privilege to carefully and prayerfully seek the Lord’s will for us regarding our individual challenges and dilemmas. Personal revelation is personal, indeed. It is not based on gender or position but on worthiness. It comes in response to sincere inquiry. However, revelation for the Church comes only through the Lord’s prophets, seers, and revelators. In these confusing times, keeping our feet on the gospel path can be difficult. We hear many persuasive voices urging us to turn our backs on revealed truth and embrace the philosophies of the world.”

The scenario above is also blamed on a purported increase of females leaving the Church and it not being friendly for women going forward into a progressive secular society – particularly for Millenials. Therefore, changes in Church policy must be made so that Mormon women will no longer experience the pain and alienation, which results from the current experience of the status quo Mormon culture.

The Catalyst for LDS Church Policy Changes

It should be of concern if potential policy changes were based on such criteria. In all likelihood the emotional pain that is suffered, due to relationship malfunctions, not intended in the gospel plan, would not spare any of us from the inevitable pitfalls of dealing with mere mortals – male and female. As you might imagine then, this is a sensitive issue to broach – not wanting to offend or minimize the experience of those in pain.

With that said, I feel that we are facing a similar problem (or stumbling block) that we have recently had in understanding righteous, temporary 'judgment' – it being misunderstood as un-Christlike. The current trend to identify ‘pain points’ of our sisters and how it is inflicted by other members may very well be the intent of the adversary to divide us. We often see these dynamics closely related as they are frequently discussed in tandem -- one bringing the other into play, so to speak. The point is both have their place in bringing us together, if we apply Christlike principles or to divide us if used to manipulate and control. Let us never forget, Satan is the master of deception and contention.

True Doctrine Understood Changes Attitudes

Holy scripture proclaims, and it is the Relief Society motto that: Charity Never Faileth. When charity is exercised toward others, we are assured success – or rather the ability to overcome and make right all things.

Charity is the “pure love of Christ.” God’s love, in its Fulness, is manifest in the Atonement. As mortals, naturally, we lack greatly even a smidgen of this charity. We learn that charity is a spiritual gift, of which all are commanded to seek. We’ve learned that without charity we are useless to the Lord and will fail at all attempts to act contrary. Charity brings into our lives the grace of God – His power to endure to the end and love, as He loves.

Sister Sheri Dew taught about the power, need and source of grace during the 2014 BYU Women’s Conference devotional. She said, “Every divine gift and every spiritual privilege that gives us access to the power of heaven comes from Christ or through Christ or because of Christ. We owe everything to Him and to our Father in Heaven, including the privileges of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost; of receiving personal revelation and gifts of the Spirit; of being endowed in the temple with knowledge and priesthood power; of learning the “mysteries of the kingdom even the key of the knowledge of God”; of having angels on our right and on our left; of receiving all the blessings of the Atonement; and of receiving eternal life, the “greatest of all the gifts of God.” With this understanding, it is a quandary that we would look to any other source, or answer, for the comfort and healing, which we so desperately desire when afflicted with the pains of mortality!

Emotional pain is real – let’s make no mistake about it lest we risk minimizing another’s reality. Mortality is notorious in assuring that all will find need of reconciliations aplenty. God’s plan and His gospel provide the remedy -- thus, the conflict at hand.

The Advocacy to Minimize the Atonement

In the case of emotional pain brought on through Church association, coupled with perceived gender inequality, however, the ‘pain holding’ becomes suspect. It is reasonable then for those with similar experiences (less gender issues), or not, to feel perplexed by a supposed need to, in a sense, exploit shared experiences for a cause -- versus seeking relief through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and moving forward. It feels to minimize faith, actually. Therefore, it is legitimate to have this conversation so that we might discern if a possible motive for the holding of pain exists and if so, appropriately challenge the thought process.

I believe that we need to carefully discern the cause of all division of thought in what and how and if Church policies in regard to female members should or should not change. Frankly, we should expect change continually, in regard to policies in general – not doctrine. Change is positive when it is inspired.

However, do we really want or feel it inspired if changes to increase the work of salvation were motivated by emotional pain either intentionally or unintentionally and caused by those who hold the keys of the priesthood? Personally, I don’t. And in fact, I am compelled to reject such a thesis.

In a 1989 General Conference address titled ‘The Canker of Contention’ Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “My concern is that contention is becoming accepted as a way of life. From what we see and hear in the media, the classroom, and the workplace, all are now infected to some degree with contention. How easy it is, yet how wrong it is, to allow habits of contention to pervade matters of spiritual significance, because contention is forbidden by divine decree.” Christ Himself spoke adamantly about contention when He insisted that, “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me [saith the Lord], but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” (3 Ne. 11:29–30.)

To be Seen, Heard and Valued as Women in the LDS Church

News Flash: Many women in the Church, throughout the years, have had uncomfortable experiences with priesthood leaders (men) and women, too, which have left them feeling sad, depressed and lacking control of a temporary situation.

I could offer a number of personal stories -- products of my over 37 years of activity in the Church. I’ve served as a Relief Society president once and as a counselor numerous times. I’ve served as the Relief Society education counselor on the stake level, twice. And, I’ve served as the Young Women’s president twice and as a counselor more times than I can count. I share these positions with you, not to wave my Church ‘resume’ but rather to make a point. You bet that with that many opportunities to engage with other members, male and female, I have had a glitch here and there along the way. And a few, have left me with having to deal with deep emotional pain, requiring desperate pleas to my Father in Heaven for relief and the ability to forgive and most important, forget.

I’ve stood at the precipice of  ‘that’ black hole (those having been there know), which could have easily sucked me in, making it very difficult, if not impossible, for me to crawl out. If I had made the choice to give in to the bitter feelings, which had completely overwhelmed my soul during those times and inflicted such deep sorrow that I could not alone handle, I might, even now, be lost. Of note (which must be pointed out), is that my emotional pain because of my willingness to serve in the Church was not due to male only encounters. These are problems of mortality, relationships, and differences of perspective and opinion… personalities, perhaps, and frankly, lack of inspiration.

In each of the negative encounters that I’ve had to negotiate in order to press forward and not allow the adversary to take hold, my only answer, literally, was to access the Grace of God, through His Son Jesus Christ – and I knew it! I needed Him and nothing else would suffice, lest by my own choice I place myself in bondage, incapable of feeling the Spirit as I always had before. And then, the blame game would have inevitably ensued – as it always does when we choose to be a victim.

“Grace is divine power that enables us to handle things we can’t figure out, can’t do, can’t overcome, or can’t manage on our own. We have access to this power because Jesus Christ who was already a God, condescended to endure the bitterness of a fallen world and experience all physical and spiritual pain.” ~ Sister Sheri Dew

Come Unto Christ and Take His Yoke Upon You

Without going into personal details, because I have learned how emotional pain places us in bondage, is intended to incite fear and create barriers, and can be used to manipulate people and conversations, a sweet friend has allowed me to share her very intimate thoughts during a recent exchange, on topic.

“I'm feeling that the solution to the pain these women feel is [to develop] a very personal intimate relationship with God. I don't mean to say they aren't faithful, aren't praying or studying. There is a quote by Sister Dew – she said, “Sisters, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood, you have been shortchanged. They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.” When that is quoted many, get offended, as if we are insulting their knowledge of the doctrines. I believe this quote applies not only in the macro, but also in the micro. Maybe even more importantly in the micro. What is their understanding of their personal doctrines, personal commandments?

One of the most difficult things to understand is [the self]. Why do things upset us? Why do we let other things go? If we are continually looking for outside answers, we will forever be getting the wrong answers because that is not where they are found. Yet, we look for outside answers because they are easier than doing the inner work. That inner work can feel like there is a wrecking crew in your heart and mind. Blaming someone else can be tempting. Even when others have offended in very real ways, there is inner personal work to do to heal. While God views us with mercy in these situations, it doesn't mean he takes away the need for inner work.

A personal example might explain more clearly.

Most of you know the struggle I have had with my priesthood leaders throughout my divorce. I was deeply wounded by my bishop; I feel he made things worse. In my pain and confusion over my own feelings and life situation, I couldn't connect with him. As I [worked] on myself, coming to understand and heal, I [realized] there were very real structures in my own heart that predisposed me to take what he said negatively. I am not absolving him, but I am saying that as I heal my own heart I can see the way to communicating with him more clearly, in a way that he can learn to counsel women in my situation more sensitively and I can receive counsel from my priesthood steward. This is all a process, one that takes as long as it takes. Honestly, it is frightening to walk; I wish there were a different way.

The problem is, if someone had not extremely tactfully presented me with the idea that I have work to do to heal from what others have done, I would have just built more fortifications in my heart, instead of beginning the work to tear them down. Yes, the responsibility for a kingdom of God focused on respecting God's daughters and sons relies on priesthood leaders acting in righteous ways, it also requires each member doing inner work.

If I'm completely honest with my opinion, I feel those at the heart of [the Ordain Women movement] have deep personal work they are avoiding. The greater the outside chaos created, the better it distracts attention from the real work waiting in their own souls. I'll repeat: even when others have offended in very real ways, there is inner personal work to do to heal, to access the atonement. Our pain clouds our view of the Savior, our access to the Spirit. Doing the inner work to clear pain from our view makes the synergy between priesthood and sisterhood more likely.”

Perhaps these are hard things to hear. Actually, I know they are because when I wasn’t personally in the right space to hear them myself, I lashed out at my giver.

Hope Through the Atonement of  Jesus Christ

Fortunately, the pain I experienced during those tough spiritual trials are years behind me. Today, I am actually grateful for having had to wrestle those demons, realizing just how vulnerable every single one of us are to the fiery darts of the adversary. My heart goes out to all in bondage to emotional pain. However, there is hope the minute you turn away from all things that cause you to remain and instead make the choice to look to God and live.

I’ve come to know the power of the Atonement and that His Grace truly is ‘more’ than sufficient. I have learned with new eyes the beauty of gender diversity in the work of the Lord and now see it as truly brilliant! I wouldn’t have it any other way. God’s way is to make us equal with Him and that requires us to apply every characteristic of Christ in our daily comings and goings. He uses opposition to grow gods.

Because of my sensitivity to the current conversation, where I feel that emotional pain is potentially being used to manipulate a broad conversation to advocate policy changes in the Church, I feel it’s important to share my insights and cautions even though I know that, for some, what I have to say will not be well-received and, likely, strongly opposed. But I know that the pain we experience in this life is not intended to control, manipulate or divide us. It is to, in contrast, bring us to our knees that we may come to rely on our Savor and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and apply the Atonement to our lives – truly experience it. Only in this way, will we ever come to know the depth of love our Father in Heaven has for each and every one of us, His Children, equally.

“Tell your Heavenly Father how you feel. Tell Him about your pain and your afflictions, and then give them to Him. Search the scriptures daily. There you will also find great solace and help.”
Sister Linda S. Reeves


Kathryn Skaggs

Recommended reading on similar topic:

Mormon Women: Thoughts on doctrine, culture, structure, practice, visibility, change

The Millennial Star: Using Joy to Overcome The Pain Narrative

Mormon Women Stand: Pain - Embrace Peace or Seek Incomplete Solutions

You might also enjoy listening to this FairMormon podcast. I was interviewed along with my co-founder for Mormon Women Stand. Much of what was discussed is applicable to this conversation: 

Articles of Faith 14: Mormon Women Stand – Defending Prophetic Authority

And this from The Rains Came Down: Female Ordination: How to Stop Hurting