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Mitch Mayne: It Gets Better

"You are loved exactly as you are.  And you are exactly who you are supposed to be."
Watch this video.  You can't help but think things are getting better.

The Two Foes (based on Valerie Hudson’s "The Two Trees")

by Angela Felsted

Note: This is a speech given to a group of men in a speculative culture where women hold the priestesshood and men do not. In other words, for the purposes of this blogpost, we believe in Christ, a Heavenly Mother, following the Prophetess, and worshiping in a church that's grounded in matriarchy.

I’m delighted to address the faithful men in this glorious church.

I didn’t convert to the Restored Gospel because I believe in gender equality. I stay, nevertheless, because I DO believe in equality of the sexes, and I’m here to speak about what makes our doctrine revolutionary from an egalitarian perspective.

According to the Gospel, we are to aspire to Godhood, and without men and women loving each other as equals there is no Godhood. Heavenly Mother doesn’t own her own condo. In fact, the one with the expensive TV and sound system, who doesn’t have to share her things or run her decisions by a man, is Satan. 

This is ground-breaking.

Second, the Church teaches that we’ll have our male or female body eternally. This is a reward for our faithfulness in the preexistence. Men, your prostate, your penis, your testicles, are not blights. Brothers, they are blessings. The Restored Church tells us we marry for time and eternity, that we’ll reproduce for eternity, and that the life of being a man married to a righteous priestess, creating righteous children through your seed will bring eternal joy.

A third thing we’re taught is that women and men are equal in the Lord’s eyes. Just, please don’t use the worldly definition of the word “equal”—”equal” doesn’t mean "the same". To be honest, no two women look or act the same and yet, they are equals before God. That is what God’s true church teaches.

Now remember the diverse ways women and men are equal. They have equal gifts. They are equal cohorts with equal influence, equal in growth when exalted to the celestial kingdom, equal in earthly possessions at least in The Kingdom of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. This is ground-breaking. This is radical. This is an earth-shattering view of equality!

I do not believe we can completely understand this doctrine unless we know what occurred in the Garden of Eden, and I hope to show that the Church’s greater understanding of the fall wholly changes the conventional story of Adam and Eve in a way that is harmonious with God’s vision of equality. Before I go into detail, however, I want to set up three points.

Number one: we don’t think the Fall was a bad thing. Rather, we think the Fall was necessary, and that God had a contingency plan which Adam carried out when Eve partook of the fruit.

Number two: we don’t think Adam wimped out when he succumbed to the will of Eve and the serpent.

And number three: because we don’t think Adam wimped out, we also don’t think Adam was penalized when he chose to eat the fruit. On the contrary, he was rewarded.

We need to remember that there were two trees in the garden, two people (Adam and Eve), and Two Foes watching over the fruit of those trees: the serpent and the angel with the flaming sword. I think it’s fascinating that we have Two People and Two Foes.

I believe a man’s purpose has everything to do with how Adam refused to be separated from Eve. It is only right that man was the one who firmly shut the door behind them as they entered the world to protect the woman’s heel from the teeth of the serpent. 

Adam wasn’t the weakest of men; Adam was the strongest of men. He was the most obedient, the most loyal, the most brave. So it was only right then when Jesus was dying on the cross he addressed not a woman to take care of his priestess mother, but a man; it was a man. Jesus trusted a man to take care of his mother as he hung on the cross and thus repaid Father Adam for slipping past the First Foe to follow Eve through the door to mortality.

But what does Eve do now? Well, I think we’re pretty familiar with this part of the Plan of Salvation. We believe that since Eve didn’t have the backbone to resist the snake, it is her responsibility to face the angel with a flaming sword, pluck the fruit from the second tree, and open the door for all of God’s children who have lived a clean and worthy life by giving them the precious fruit of the second tree. And we all know that the fruit of that tree represents the saving ordinances necessary for exaltation. 

Just as the veil into this life is penetrated and parted by men (the sons of God, who plant their seed in a woman’s womb) even so the veil in the temple that brings us back to our Heavenly Parents, is penetrated by a female hand and parted by the daughters of God. And the acceptance of this great gift and blessing, offered by the daughters of God through the priestesshood, will guarantee a man’s passage through the veil and into the presence of his Heavenly Mother. 

We need to come to a true understanding of what we term “The Matriarchal Order.” We know the word “matriarchy,” if you accept the definition in a standard dictionary, is an institutional structure where women rule over men, but we also know that this isn’t the order of Heaven. So clearly what we have in the church is not a matriarchy. But we do believe in a matriarchal order. The question is, why do we name it that, and why should we reject secular meanings that attempt to define a matriarchy as women ruling over men? 

After all, the matriarchal order of the church was given its name because the power of the priestesshood is passed down from mother to daughter, and because only women perform the saving ordinances required to help God’s children defeat the Second Foe. But we know from modern revelation that this system of governance is really the order of the family, where a woman and man covenant with God—just like Adam and Eve did—to love each other forever, to multiply and replenish the earth, and to give greatest energy and talents to the Lord.

So when we talk about the matriarchal order, we’re really talking about a family government found in the hereafter where women and men are equal partners. 

The priestesshood isn’t an extra blessing bestowed on women and denied men. Priestesshood is a form of training necessary so she can qualify for Godhood, and I think men have their own form of training for Godhood. The ordinances—and they are ordinances—of flesh and free will—courtship, foreplay, penetration—the holy ordinances which protect mankind from the First Foe are not less powerful than the ordinances that combat the Second Foe. 

Our God is one of equality. She will not put a heavy burden on the shoulders of men who deserve more. She has given the priestesshood to women as a gift to her sons, and I love the Restored Church’s vision of gender equality and fairness. Nothing causes me greater happiness than the restoration of the priestesshood. How lucky we are to live in these times, to have this knowledge, and to know that in the eyes of God we are all equal.

A Little Book of Mormon (and Not So Mormon) Stories by Ingrid Ricks

After the success of her memoir Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story Ingrid Ricks has released her latest book A Little Book of Mormon (and Not So Mormon) Stories on Amazon.  From the description   This collection tells more of Ingrid's story and is written in the same engaging style as her best-selling memoir.  The stories are poignant and entertaining, and continue to teach an invaluable lesson about the importance of finding your own strength and, in that, your own voice.

A Woman's Place- Part 4

 by Angela Felsted
I grew up in a home with three brothers, so I can attest to the fact that some teenage boys are resentful of the extra work that comes with having the priesthood. I’ve never been required to wake up at the crack of dawn for a church meeting, never been pressured to put my life on hold to serve a mission, nor was I taught the importance of finding a career that would enable me to support my future family. As a young woman, the emphasis was in becoming the kind of girl that would be worthy of a man’s protection through keeping my thoughts clean, my body covered, and my virtue intact. Why pursue a lucrative profession if you believe your future husband will take care of you financially; why go into a prestigious field like law if it keeps you from staying home full time with your children?
In the church we call men and women equals while proscribing them segregated roles. We preach that a mother’s work is as respected and admired as any man’s even though men who do my work (Stay-At-Home Fathers or part-time workers who spend more time with family) cannot be found anywhere in the paid church hierarchy. Because the truth is, men who succeed in building prestigious (non-nurturing) careers are the ones who are called as spiritual leader. The two counselors who advise the president of the church are perfect examples of this: Henry B. Eyring went from teaching at Stanford Business School in 1962 to working as President of Ricks College from 1971-1977, and Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who began flying airplanes for Lufthansa in 1965, was promoted to Senior Vice President of Flight Operations in 1992.
It’s only right that these men are admired for their ambition. After all, they are not mothers, called selfish from the pulpit for having the drive to pursue their careers. Authors such as William Bennett, who attribute the disintegration of stable families with the rise of feminism, would be hard pressed to find a better religious organization to model “The Path to Manhood” from. Mormons women are taught to value the home not only as teenagers, when temple marriage is held up as their ultimate goal but also as adults through sermons, lessons and pictures such as those found in the church’s newest publication, “Daughters of My Kingdom,” littered with images of idyllic family life: a mother and father singing with children around a piano, one photo of a family with six bright and cheerful kids, and more than one well-rested mother holding a calm and peaceful newborn.
This one-size-fits-all version of womanhood, advertised like a brand of designer tennis shoes, is isolating to those who believe in the doctrines of the church, but struggle with the womanhood/motherhood connection, or with an abusive spouse, or with the realization that raising children is a tiring job that depletes a person’s energy. The voices of these real women who have real needs are drowned out by the daunting image of the perfect female nurturer. And let’s be honest, new mothers are tired, not all kids are serene, most make messes, many of them do not listen—taking care of children, cleaning a home, doing laundry, and fixing meals isn’t just hard work, it can be tedious. Granted, there are those who enjoy these things, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no ladder to climb in this profession, no reputation to build, no money to be made (unless you work for someone else). 
By highlighting only the most fulfilling moments of family life to its female population, the Mormon church is employing the same commercial techniques which Barber believes has infantilized the US population. There are three ways this harms women (and by extension families): first, it sets future mothers up for disillusionment; second, it creates an environment where those who feel marginalized cannot speak up without censor from their peers; and third, it establishes an unrealistic standard which makes women (single and married) think there’s something wrong with them when men do not propose, babies do not come, or having children does not bring them perfect joy. That last part describes exactly what happened to Lisa Butterworth, an LDS woman who went through her own period of disillusionment before starting the blog, Feminist Mormon Housewives: “I had entered adulthood, married in the temple, and arrived at my destination of perfect Mormon womanhood, but… here was doubt. All my years of faithful Young Women attendance had not prepared me for doubt. Except perhaps to instill the fear that doubt meant I was a bad person.”
Dr. Kent Ponder wrote a widely distributed study in 2003 based on nearly 300 interviews with LDS women called Mormon Women, Prozac® and Therapy where he pinpoints three harmful and often overlooked realities of the male-centric Mormon culture/church: it’s one-size-fits-all creed for women, the requirement that females obey men in authority from birth to death, and how women in the Church forfeit control of their own life choices.
Six months ago, I would have called that last one a load of rubbish, but I have since taken time to think back on the principles stressed in my formative years along with their impact on my choices as a young single woman and must admit that his statement has some merit. For starters, my decision to major in music rather than a practical, more lucrative profession was rooted in my belief that the patriarchal system would always be there to take care of me. And this is the belief that relieved me of pressure to support myself after college graduation when I moved in with my parents and worked a handful of part-time jobs: Jewelry Store Salesman, Switch Board Operator, Office Temp, Substitute Teacher, Free Lance Musician, and Private Music Instructor. By the time I married in 1999, I was a college educated women who had never gotten her own apartment, paid her own car insurance, owned her own credit card, or worked at anything other than a dead end job—but I was pure, completely devoted to the gospel, and looked on my leaders with a childlike faith that matched my childlike obedience.
In the church’s estimation I was a success.

A Woman's Place- Part 3

One of the first feminists in the history of the United States was John Adam’s wife, Abigail, who wrote to her husband on March 31, 1776 to ask him to give women a voice in the running of the new government: “If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”

Despite her ultimatum, no room was made for “the ladies” in this new government. Wives back then were property under the law. Any land owned by a single woman was given to her husband when she married. John Adams sums up the commonly held beliefs of the day which allowed for the disenfranchisement of half the population to John Sullivan in a letter where he explains why women should not vote: “ . . . because their delicacy renders them unfit for practice and experience in the great business of life . . . Besides, their attention is so much engaged with the necessary nurture of their children, that nature has made them fittest for domestic cares.”

The LDS church uses similar language to explain why mothers of young and school aged children are not permitted to hold paid teaching position with the Church Education System, why they cannot serve as temple workers, and why a woman’s only true authority is in the home.

In 1993 Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the twelve apostles had this to say about the roles of men and women: “Some roles are best suited to the masculine nature and others to the feminine nature. Both the scriptures and the patterns of nature place man as the protector, the provider. . . . Those responsibilities of the priesthood, which have to do with the administration of the Church, of necessity function outside the home. . . . The woman, by her very nature, is also co-creator with God and the primary nurturer of the children.”

After he speaks about how men are not to dominate their wives, maintaining their power only “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge.” He goes on to say this about the role a woman plays: “This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it; hired help cannot do it—only mother, aided as much as may be by the loving hands of father, brothers, and sisters, can give the full needed measure of watchful care . . . . The mother who entrusts her child to the care of others, that she may do non-motherly work, whether for gold, for fame, or for civic service, should remember that ‘a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.’ (Prov. 29:15)”

Every so often, I feel like I’m living in a time warp. Has the rest of the world really moved on to letting females serve in positions of ecclesiastical authority outside the home—are their voices really heard and respected in matters once considered the domain of men? If you ask your typical Mormon woman if she is oppressed, she will say no! Absolutely not! The men in our church are taught to esteem the fairer sex, cherish womanhood, care for widows, protect their wives, and provide for the mothers of their children. They are trained from the tender age of twelve to help others by serving in the church.

At the time when many American men are starting their sophomore years at college, Mormon boys are encouraged to delay their education to preach the gospel in a place they’ve never been, among people they have yet to meet.

A few months after my future husband arrived in Mexico for his two-year mission, he was sent to a tropical region, where he slept in a humid room with no air conditioner, making trips to a cockroach infested outhouse in the dead of night. When the sun came up, it beat down with such intensity he shaved his head to keep cool, only to receive the worst sunburn of his life. To make matters worse, his Mission President assigned him a companion who, in the midst of talking to strangers and knocking on doors, badgering and begged my future husband to help him buy a donkey, after which he broke their one and only fan, destroyed all the lights, and began tearing the electrical wires from the walls in a fit of rage.

When my future husband mentioned these issues to the Mission President, he was told to suck it up and deal with it—a scenario which was repeated with another difficult companion a few months later, except that in the second case he was so angry and disillusioned he walked to the bus station with the intention of leaving. Torn between the conviction of his faith and the hell of trying to preach said faith, he found himself sitting alone on a bench on Christmas day bereft of friends or family when two complete and total strangers convinced him to go back and try again.

Is it any wonder with this kind of training ground, the majority of Mormon men value persistence and hard work? Is it any wonder that this particular religion has produced successful, influential leaders like Steven Covey, J.W. Marriot, and Mitt Romney?

Since marrying my husband, I’ve watched him help people move, visit the poor and depressed, give blessings to the sick, and offer our home as a place of refuge for a teenage boy kicked out by his own mother. I’ve watched my husband testify of the strength of his beliefs while struggling to sustain leadership which doesn’t always know better than to use guilt and toxic shame as motivators. Spiritual abuse is a problem in the church, and I’ve watched my husband get walked over time and again while feeling utterly powerless to protect him. So often when I’ve tried to defend him to leaders, I’ve had my concerns and suggestions dismissed right before said leaders compliment me on my compassionate heart.

The majority of LDS men I have met go to great lengths to pay homage to the women in their lives. They see these accolades of verbal appreciation as a form of honor, and often get defensive when a woman utters the word “oppressed” in regards to her place in the church. The problem with the O word is that it brings to mind images of workers weighed down under boulder-like responsibilities as a foreman cracks a whip to keep them laboring. Under this definition it isn’t Mormon women who can claim oppression, but the men who offer their bodies as stepping stools to lift their wives, mothers, and daughters onto a pedestal. 

Our Thoughts: From the Peacewriter Writers- Celebrating the Peacewriter's 100th Post


To celebrate the 100th post, several of the writers on the blog put together their thoughts about the journey, finding peace, and accepting the paths others around us choose as well.  

From St. Jude:

Ex-Mormon, Inactive, Jack Mormon… we slap a title on them and think we have them all figured out. But the reality is under that label is a husband, a father, a daughter…

Imagine if your life was celebrated rather than judged. Imagine if we could all stop judging each other’s lives and start celebrating them. What if today we stopped referring to people who have left the church as an apostate, or deceived, or lost? Maybe today we could refer to them by a standard not set by a church; rather we could call them a good man, a good mother, a loving son, a compassionate daughter. What if today we stopped judging them by a belief system; today we are only allowed to judge them fairly, from our heart and what we know to be true about them.

No church can compensate for a family’s love and support.

Can we give ourselves permission to celebrate the lives of those we love even if they chose a path other than our own? D &C 64:10 I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” This is what unconditional love looks like. These are your children, your parents, your friends; they are not commodities that should be set at distance because they don’t agree with your world view. Do your family members really have to attend church to receive your love and support? If you’re answer is “I do love them but…” that “but” is a fail marker. Can you say a prayer for their happiness that doesn’t include a miracle to bring them back to your vision of how their life should be? Time is ticking away from all of us.  How much time has to pass before we can see there is so much more to a person than a belief system.

For those who have left the church, this unconditional love is a two way street. It’s ok for you to be happy for your family members who are going off on missions, marrying in the temple, spending their Friday night date night at the cannery. Your vision of life is not their vision of life, but it makes them happy, and brings them peace. Happiness and peace should be things we hope for each other. Its’ ok to ask “ How was the temple?” It won’t kill you to hear them say how they felt the spirit and received what they feel was an answer to prayer. It won’t kill you to say “that’s great, I’m glad you had a good experience there.”

All of us need to take off the rose colored glasses of judgment that we see each other through. Stop looking from outward sources at these people we label and see them from your heart, See them with love and compassion, find a reason to celebrate life with them, not in spite of them. It won’t affect your own salvation, but then again, being a little more Christ like just might. 

From Angela:

Mormons draw on history to affirm their faith. They feel the angst of young Joseph as he kneels in the grove of trees, the worry of Emma (his wife) when her husband is imprisoned, the hope and fear of men and women as they cross the plains in search of religious freedom. 

These things are in the past, but many of us feel them in the present. The pain and anguish of our ancestors become our own pain and anguish, cementing us together not only as a people who believe in a similar theology, but as a people grounded in a common past. This isn't an easy thing to leave behind.

From Tom:

I have spent a good deal of time of my life as a firm believer in Christ, God and the authority the LDS church claims it has.  And after going through my personal crisis of faith, I’ve spent the last four years in a state of unbelief and uncertainty.  It didn’t take me long to realize that I’ve been trying to walk on a path with very little footing.  My foundation had been ripped out from under me and I was in a place of trying to rebuild my spiritual identity from the ground up. 

So in these last few years I’ve encountered a great deal of hurt, anger, pain, betrayal and permanent damage from many people who have gone through a crisis of faith of their own.  Some find a “home” in their anger, or resentment towards the church.  I understand that.  I’ve also seen many people burn bridges with family and loved ones all in reaction of losing their faith in the church.  In fact, I’ve been one of those who burned a few bridges of my own and I regret that.  So I am now in a place where I am more interested in building bridges, rather than burning them.

This place, this blog, was created by a dear friend of mine.  This person said to me, “wouldn’t it be great to have a place where people could find peace and solace through each other, regardless of beliefs?”  And it was our own Stephanie’s words that immediately became the motto for this place.  Loving and accepting words. 

I still have my phases of anger towards the church.  No doubt.  I have trouble with things said to me and my family that I firmly disagree with.  I currently reside in a forced position of having to navigate these crazy waters.  Would I like to not deal with trying to sustain a relationship with the church?  Yes.  Would I rather leave the church and permanently damage my marriage and family relationships?  Absolutely not. 

So why this place Tom?  Well, in my four year journey thus far I’ve seen how much beauty there is in other people.  And I don’t give a flying shoot about what they believe anymore.  I don’t have a single ounce of missionary intentions in me any longer.  I have NO interest in converting anyone one way or another.  What I am interested in is hearing and seeing what works for people and what they have gone through to be who they are today. 

I have recently become involved with suicide prevention.  Hearing stories of those who have lost a loved one through suicide will change you and as I continue to be more and more involved with those involved I will continue to change. 

I am not a wise person.  I don’t have any good and lasting answers for people.  I can share my experiences and hope that something I’ve gone through can give peace or possibly spark an idea for them.  I am in a position with more questions than any real answers.  I recently told a friend that I feel like I’m a sponge, just trying to soak in as much as I can to help me get a better perspective of where I’m headed.  I am still trying to build a spiritual foundation for myself.  So, I’m still on the ground level spiritually and I can often get overwhelmed with how much work I need to do. 

So I would like to personally thank all of The Peacewriter readers for coming here by, reading, sharing and leaving comments.  But I really want to give a virtual hug of sincere thanks to those who have come here and contributed:  St. Jude, Oliver, Ingrid, Mel and most recently Angela. 

But I would most like to publicly thank Stephanie.  Because without her, this place would not exist and so many of these powerful words that have had a direct influence my life would have never been spoken or written. 

I consider myself just a fan.

From Stephanie:

Recently a friend posted a comment on a message board that went something like this:

I don't know that any of us have to understand why other people choose to remain active or maintain affiliation with the church and others do not. What works for some people does not work for others.

My thoughts exactly. 

The power in that quote is in the acknowledgement that there are different paths to choose and for those of us who live on the fringes, it is nice to have someone willing to back you up, no matter where your path is taking you.

Like many others who have been down the same road I have yet to find a road map that tells me what comes next.  The way is different for everyone.  For me, it has become about a quest for peace and a place to belong.

The vision for The Peacewriter was a simple one inspired by an amazing friend whose life choices reminded me that there is value in finding a middle path, of working through the hills and valleys and finding peace along the way.  In the beginning I was angry and wanted to destroy everything I could that reminded me of the Church.  But the example of my friend and the words of others taught me that I was going from one black and white worldview to another.

I wanted to create a place where people could come and talk things through, to find peace through words and thoughts and ideas.  To some, the words may seem harsh or even critical at times, but to others, there may be something resonating.  And maybe, another traveler might feel less alone on the rocky and winding trail.

I hope we have accomplished just that.  I want to dedicate this 100th post to the many writers who have shared their thoughts and made this place just what I hoped it would be.  My journey has been made bearable by reading their words and feeling the love of the friends who have crossed my path.  I can only hope The Peacewriter has given others a place to find peace as they traverse their own paths.

A Woman's Place- Part 2

In 2007, Benjamin R. Barber, a political theorist and director of the Interdependence Movement, published a book about how consumer capitalism is breaking down the fabric of society. I mention this because the home and church are part of the fabric of society, and while there are those who blame feminism for the implosion of solid, stable homes, I believe there is a simpler explanation.
  In Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole, Barber shows how the commercial economies in the western world have forced children to grow up faster, made sweat shops in underdeveloped countries thrive, and pressured adults in capitalistic societies to put off saving in favor of spending money they don’t have. He then takes his premise one step further by saying consumers have taken the place of citizens.
For centuries, women have entered into marriage expecting to work and take on more responsibility. While some wives have labored alongside their husbands, others have cultivated their own garden, educated children, or found a separate job to increase the household budget. My maternal grandmother helped out at a local grocery store for one dollar a week during the Great Depression. My father’s mother had nine children and spent her evenings changing bedpans and nursing the sick at the local hospital.
I believe our expectations of marriage have changed since the introduction of modern conveniences like online shopping, streaming video, credit cards, and Disney movies that portray love and marriage as a sugar-coated, happily-ever-after experience. As American consumers, we are bombarded with commercials on television, Facebook, YouTube, the newspaper, Google, blogs, and magazines. Barber writes that this pushing of “stuff” does wonders for the US economy, but that by giving buyers whatever they want right now, adults have forgotten how to delay gratification.
Ironically, the ability to give up something now for future payoff is vital for building a fulfilling marriage and successful family. The “Peter Pan tendency” described by Barber as the infantilization of adults for consumer gain, isn’t just a money thing. It has bled into the very fiber of our culture. Nowhere is this plainer than on shows like Two and a Half Men, where the commitment phobic leading man avoids marriage and fatherhood while sleeping with a different woman almost every night. His lifestyle allows him to have all kinds of grownup toys: a big screen television, a cook to make his meals, expensive clothes, a leather couch, walls without smudges and brown fingerprints from children’s hands—the benefits of success without the work of family life. Why grow up when you can stay a kid forever?
In a society where we prize material wealth, there are all kinds of reasons not to start a family. My local Safeway store sells Huggies for $30 a box, one tin of powdered formula is $25, every few months I fork out hundreds of dollars for shoes, but this pales in comparison to the $900 a month charged by the preschool three blocks from my house. According to a study done by the USDA in 2009, the cost of raising a child in a middle income family from birth to age 17 sits at around $222,000 (a figure that doesn’t include college).
Raising kids requires sacrifice, and dealing with the judgments of other people doesn’t make this sacrifice any easier. As a Gen Xer stuck between baby boomers who used mostly physical forms of discipline and young trendy parents who think Time Outs are abusive, I’m always receiving unsolicited advice. At the drug store a few months ago, one man told me to chill out after I reprimanded my daughter for not coming when I called her. A few weeks later a different sort of parent confronted me at Barnes & Noble, “Do you hit your kids?” he asked.
“Of course I don’t,” I said.
“Well . . . you’d be surprised what one controlled smack will do.” Maybe it’s bad, but I wanted to smack him. Parenting is hard enough without heading up a PR campaign. And let’s face it; mothers of small children could use some positive press.
They could also do without having others label them “breeders” and “baby factories.” To have morning sickness, labor, sleep deprivation, diaper duty, loss of privacy, and the constant stress of setting a good example for your child even when they’re throwing a massive tantrum in the middle of the post office, referred to as merely “popping out babies” is demeaning to all women, not just those who reproduce.
Do I recognize there are people who think my choice to raise a family make me anti-feminist? You bet. Just as I realize that my ability to own property, vote, and plan my own life are made possible through the hard won efforts of feminists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who in addition to her work as an activist, reared seven children and remained faithful to one man for 47 years until his death in 1887. By today’s standards, she’d be called an anti-feminist too, and chances are she’d be appalled at the article I ran across on a few months ago, where William Bennett, author of The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood writes, “A shift in cultural norms, a changing workforce and the rise of women have left many men in an identity crisis. It makes for good comedy, but bad families. . . .  Most feminists aren’t celebrating the decline of men and shouting it from the rooftops.”
Bennett blames the deterioration of the male condition on the rights and opportunities of women, but provides no evidence to back up his assertion. In an article printed in the November 2011 Atlantic Monthly, Kate Bolick tries to connect the rise of women with the decline of men by pointing out that “in 2010, 55 percent of college graduates ages 25 to 29 were women.” She tells us that “as of last year, women held 51.4 percent of all managerial and professional positions,” and writes that “male median wages have fallen by 32 percent since their peak in 1973.” But correlation is not causation, and even she doesn’t have the gumption to state that the deterioration of the male condition is a direct consequence of feminism. Unfortunately, logic is not enough to counter the conviction of those who insist feminism is ruining men and destroying the family. Nowhere is this attitude more prevalent than in the LDS church.
The gender roles assigned by the Mormon patriarchy are at odds with Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s vision of equality. Women have limited authority in the church and strive to live laws which they have no voice in forming. Though a twelve-year old boy ordained to the Aaronic priesthood can pass the sacrament and collect fast offerings for the poor, no woman, no matter her age, is permitted to serve in like manner. When appearing before a church court, women appeal only to men, making a jury of her peers impossible. And if ever she commits a sin requiring forgiveness from higher authority, she must confess to a man who holds apostolic power from God. 
While the Declaration of Sentiments written at the Seneca Falls Women’s Convention in 1850 might use this as an example of man usurping “ . . . the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming his right to assign for her (woman) a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and to her God,” most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe any woman who asks to serve in the same capacity as a man is ungodly and prideful, and that the significance of motherhood disqualifies her from such service.
In “Daughters of My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society,” put out by the church in 2011, we learn of the experience of a 16-year-old girl, who finds comfort in the words of her leaders. “In her innermost feelings, this young woman had always wanted to be a mother, but she had been concerned that motherhood was unpopular and even denigrated by many people in the world. She was comforted when she heard prophets and apostles affirm the goodness of her ideals.”
A woman’s most noble path in the church is defined by her gender. Without motherhood she cannot reach her full potential, give service equal to that of a priesthood holder, or fulfill the most important duty God wants her to perform: raising righteous children unto The Lord.

I can see a number of benefits to this value system and understand why so many people embrace it. As a stay-at-home mother who is on this path, I don’t like hearing my life choices denigrated anymore than a career woman does. For years I believed what was preached from the pulpit: that feminism is waging a war on the family. Now I think those who blame female rights for the destruction of the family are setting up a straw man.

From Mitch Mayne: Jordan's Story

From time to time there is another blog post or published piece somewhere in the Blogosphere that touches us enough we feel compelled to promote it from The Peacewriter. This post from Mitch Mayne is not only touching, it is an extremely important read.

If you want to know what militant priesthood leadership does to the individual caught in the cross-hairs, this account will leave you stunned. If you want to know the cost of bigotry to the souls of the members of the Church, read on. This post makes me sad and angry.

But Mitch's words make me feel hope.

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If you have ever experienced a period of doubt or questioned your beliefs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you know that this is not a minor thing. It is tantamount to a crisis, and one that can be life altering.

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