Wednesday, February 1
Surrender: How I've Dealt with the Temple Part II
I've been putting off writing this one because this is the hardest one. The veil was the first issue I had to deal with because it was physical, and tangible. The other issues were less connected to my immediate experience and so were pushed to the back burners. However, after I had dealt with the veil I had nothing left to distract me. The issues I had were the following: The Hearken Covenant, Queens and Preistesses to your husbands (as opposed to Kings and Priests to the Most High God), The divine role of women as encouraged by the church, Nearly all of 1 Corinthians 11, Moses 4 (especially verse 22), and finally the conspicuous absence of Heavenly Mother. I'm not going to go into great detail about why these things bother me. If you're curious about some of them let me know and I'll explain, but I also want to avoid turning this into a "yeah, that's why I can't stand the Temple too!" discussion. I'm sure that if you look around a little bit, you can find many discussions about why these things bother many women.
Besides coming to grips with the veil I had gone through some huge changes in my life. Over the course of three months my husband and I graduated from college, moved, and had a baby. I went from being a full time student, full time employee, (who made most of the money in our relationship) in a city where I knew lots of people, to being a stay at home mom with no car and nothing else to do but repeatedly clean the apartment and watch after a very easy to take care of baby. Also the move was to a large city where my husband had grown up, but I had only ever visited. He knew the area, and had family nearby. I was often lost and my small town driving skills were nearly useless in the huge freeway laden place that we lived.
After my busy beyond busy life in college I was drastically underwhelmed by stay at home motherhood. I had felt that having a baby would give my life a depth and meaning that I was uncapable of comprehending before it happened. I felt cheated. All the talks I read spoke of motherhood as divine, and the most worthwhile thing a woman could do. I felt that motherhood was unpaid maid service. And referring to motherhood as a divinely appointed role meant that I was a divinely appointed maid to my husband and children. I began to wonder if divinely appointed implied eternally true. Would I be asked to care for the physical needs of my husband and children for mortality and immortality?
I started to ponder about what I would be asked to do in the afterlife. It was very easy to imagine things that my husband would be doing, he would be doing the sorts of things we imagine Heavenly Father to do. Would my husband be off creating worlds and attending meetings at the mansions of his Father while I was left at the mansion of my husband doing laundry and caring for our numberless concourses of spirit children by myself, or even worse, with the other women that were 'given unto him'? Is that supposed to be heaven?
So I was at an junction. There were a few options. Either the church is true, and everything it says and implies about women and men is eternal truth. Or the church could still be true and parts of what it teaches and implies is false and temporary because of the fallen state of the world and the limitations of mortals. Or the church could be false and nearly everything it teaches is untrue. Obviously it was the second answer (obvious to me anyways). The trick is *which* parts are eternal truths, and which parts are due to the fallen world? The Celestial Kingdom isn't going to be what I want it to be just because I want it to be that way. I needed to know if this was a place I really wanted to be. I needed to know if the 'father presides in the home' part or the 'men and women are equal partners' part was the eternal truth, because they certainly can't both be eternal truths. I wrestled with the very real possiblilty that women really are second class citizens now and forever by divine design, and that the 'equal partners' stuff is part of the fallen world incorrectness.
I pushed and fought. I tried to force the words that I knew so well to contort themselves into what I wanted them to be. One day I put my baby down for nap, and literally went into my closet to pray prepared to be in there for hours if I needed to. What I said was along these lines: I don't want to be worth less than my husband, or worth less than men in general. I don't want to only be valued as a maid. I don't want for it to be true now, and I don't want for it to be true in the eternities. I don't want it, but if You want to give it to me then I will take it. I will accept it with both hands and I will not complain.
After that prayer I felt nothing. I didn't feel peace, but I didn't feel the pain and misery I had been feeling. A few days later I understood, and I was at peace. I'll explain most of what I came to understand in part III. I later realized that what had changed was my willingness to accept whatever Heavenly Father was going to give me. It's easy to accept a gentle loving God, it's much harder to accept a cruel, cold and unyeilding God. I think of Aslan, and the constant warning that he is not a tame lion. We must be willing to accept that God has claws and teeth, and might choose to use them on us. We must have faith that being eaten by Aslan is better than refusing to meet him.