The Internet is abuzz about “quiet quitting”. While summer of 2021 saw “the great resignation”–large numbers of mid-career professionals and those in their twenties quitting jobs to freelance, launch startups, or take a career break–this summer resigning has given way to the quiet quit. Quiet quitting refers to “opting out of tasks beyond one’s assigned duties and/or becoming less psychologically invested in work.” Quiet quitters continue to do their primary jobs, but are less willing to engage in activities above and beyond their core role–“no more staying up late, showing up early, or attending non-mandatory meetings.”
Quiet quitting may be new to the workplace–or at least newly-trending online–but I have a hunch that it’s been happening in the Church for a while now. And, specifically, among women in the Church.
Are Women Quiet Quitting Church?
I will fully admit that I don’t have any data whatsoever to support this. It’s a tricky thing to measure, anyway, because I’m not talking about resignation. I’m not talking about women taking their names off of Church rolls. So while a lot of people have been talking about declining membership (or at least slowing or flat growth), and about resignations, I’m talking about engagement. Engagement is in fact quantifiable–employers run engagement surveys all the time (these have replaced “employee satisfaction” in many places)–but I don’t know that the Church or anyone else has done any engagement studies. While I have seen Church surveys that ask for information like how many times a month you attend Church, the temple, etcI think those are really directed at creating a profile with which to associate data (i.e., what is the correlation between a person’s Church attendance and beliefs about Heavenly Mother?) rather than actually measuring and trying to improve engagement.
That being said, my personal observation is that over the last five or so years I’ve seen a major shift in the way women around me participate at Church. Yes, I’ve seen plenty leave. And yes, I see many who remain the most stalwart defenders of even the most sexist of Church policies and teachings. But I’ve seen many who continue to participate on some level, but on radically redefined terms. While this varies, some of what I’ve seen in my own circles, among prominent Mormon influencers, and in various social media and other forums includes:
- No longer wearing garments all of the time, or at all, and openly speaking about discomfort around garment-wearing.
- No longer holding a temple recommend, or at least no longer attending the temple.
- Less willingness to go above-and-beyond for callings and a de-prioritization of Church service, meetings, and activities.
- Choosing to donate money to charities instead of tithing to the Church.
- Swearing & watching R-rated content (this makes me laugh, but still, it’s a thing!).
- Openly criticizing Church leadership, past and present, and being much more open and comfortable about things like working outside the home and supporting gay marriage.
- Following a much looser interpretation of the Word of Wisdom (anything ranging from Kombucha to coffee to alcohol to psychedelics).
- Investing time and energy into alternative spiritual pursuits, and paying more attention to religious or spiritual thinkers from other faiths than to general authorities within the LDS faith (people like Glennon Doyle, Ekhart Tolle, Richard Rohr, and Rachel Held Evans).
I’m probably missing some, and feel free to add your own observations in the comments. But what’s also striking about this is that for many of these women, their husbands and families remain active (and in many cases, the husbands are more active and engaged in Church than the wives). That is the exact opposite of the pattern I saw most growing up, where “Jack Mormons” (remember that term?) were men whose stalwart wives brought the kids to Church every Sunday and prayed that one day dad would come back to Church. I’m seeing a role reversal here. That’s not to say that there aren’t couples where the woman is the more active of the two, or that both are equally disengaged, or that both are equally engaged–that may very well still be the majority. I’m just saying it’s a trend I’m observing that was hitherto unknown and even unfathomable to me.
Is the Church Paying Attention to Quiet Quitters?
What’s particularly interesting to me as well is that I don’t know if the Church has a clue this is happening. One of the very causes of disengagement—the fact that the Church undervalues and underutilizes women–also makes it more difficult for the Church to notice their disengagement. Women don’t have the same trackable markers of advancement and activity than men have (no priesthood advancement). The way the Church defaults to men as “head-of-household” means they may be unaware of women who no longer pay tithing. And although the Church seems to be trying to cut down on the number of male leaders required to run a ward (eliminating YM presidencies and high priest groups), a ward and especially a stake and region still require far more men to run them than women–so they may not feel the pain of losing good candidates for callings quite yet.
That said, the Church is certainly aware of temple recommend status and I have heard many reports of ward council meetings and initiatives focused on the new problem of ward members letting their temple recommends lapse and not renewing them. One person I know was even given a list of everyone in the ward without a temple recommend to prayer over and decide how to reach out (!!!). And there have been many recent talks at General Conference and at a stake and regional level emphasizing the need to have a temple recommend, as well as concerns about staffing Nelson’s 100 to-be-built temples.
Sooner or later, quiet quitting will catch up to the Church and impact numbers. While I don’t have any data, it’s not hard to believe that a quiet quitting mom will be less likely to focus on sending kids on missions or even pushing activity onto children. A cynical view may be that the Church would just prefer these quiet quitters quit altogether. That’s how many companies feel about quiet-quitting employees: many employers would prefer a quiet quitter to resign so that they can be replaced rather than performance-manage underperformers out, since that takes time and resources. When it comes to quiet quitting in the Church, I can see the Church being concerned that a more laid-back approach to Church participation (and outspoken opposition to Church policies or culture) may go viral and infect other members. On the local level, I’ve seen a lot of support for less-engaged members–with leaders preferring that people stay at least somewhat engaged on their own terms if the alternative is complete withdrawal. But I imagine that some local leaders feel otherwise and would prefer an up-or-out approach, and I think many regional and general authorities are likewise all-or-nothing when it comes to participation.
What Causes Quiet Quitting & How Can It Be Addressed?
When it comes to employee quiet-quitting, experts are evaluating root causes and suggesting solutions. Three covered in a recent Harvard Business Review article include:
- Burnout and job creep. One cause of quiet quitting is that, while the gradual expansion of an employee’s duties over time is natural, some employees felt a particularly large expansion during the pandemic. This expansion was taken for granted by employers, who did not reward employees with promotions, acknowledgement, or compensation increases. The suggested solution is to recalibrate employees’ job responsibilities to make sure they are clear on expectations, that they are compensated accordingly, and they are not taking on too many non-essential / outside scope tasks.
- Not feeling heard or empowered to drive change. Another cause of quiet quitting is that employees do not feel listened to or invested in. Solutions to this include collecting quantitative and qualitative data around what employees need to feel engaged at work, conducting “stay” interviews to provide insight into employee experiences, creating an environment where employees feel safe speaking up and in which they feel confident that leadership will hear and address their concerns. Finally, employers need to recognize that not all employees are the same. Instead of creating one-size-fits-all solutions, find out what employees really want. Some may value career development, some may want a flexible schedule, and some want higher pay. Targeted investments depending on what employees value can help with retention and engagement.
- Less busy work, better-crafted assignments. The reality is that in many workplaces, creating an inclusive, fun, engaging, and successful culture requires employees to go above and beyond their core jobs. That might be mentoring other employees, participating in resource groups for underrepresented minorities at work, having team activities, or putting on educational seminars. But not all employees will be equally interested in these extracurricular activities. Finding out what kinds of projects employees are energized by and then empowering them to work on those can create a better match between employees & extracurricular work.
- Lack of connection and community. I have one more to add to the list, but it’s just another theory of mine. I think remote work is making people feel less connected to their workplaces and colleagues and so less interested in going above and beyond to create a company culture. To the extent that kind of connection drives engagement, I think it may be contributing to quiet quitting. I don’t know how you fix that in a remote world, but many companies are working (quietly or loudly …) to get people back in-person at regular intervals or otherwise figure out how to build a culture remotely.
I think the connections between these causes & solutions and women at Church are fairly self-evident:
- Women are the workhorses of the Church and yet, paradoxically, nonessential: while a ward could not exist without men (because there would be no priesthood holders), it could not function without women (because they tend to do the bulk of the work when it comes to teaching children and youth, and I am even referring to Young Men since in my experience the Young Women’s leaders keep both programs afloat).
- Women do not have a forum to give feedback or input, and often are not even empowered to make decisions that impact the organizations they are supposed to be running.
- Women’s skills are underutilized at Church. Many women have excellent leadership and professional skills, but those skills tend to be overlooked in favor of more traditional roles and skills like caring for children, music, decorating, etc.
- Covid hurt women’s sense of connection to Church, particularly women who weren’t able to take the sacrament during Covid. (Many of those women simply stopped taking it, and realized they didn’t miss it. This is a problem for the Church.)
As far as solutions, easier said than done. While I appreciate strides the Church is making to be more inclusive of women in leadership and represent more diversity (like the General Relief Society Presidency including a lawyer, a single woman, and PANTS WEARERS), the gulf between how women expect to be treated in the workplace and world and how they are treated institutionally by the Church remains wide. I can’t think of anything more demotivating than feeling like I don’t matter to an organization and I can’t influence it–and continued institutional sidelining seems a perfect recipe for quiet quitting.
- Are you sick of hearing about quiet quitting on LinkedIn? What are your thoughts on it?
- Have you observed quiet quitting at Church? What other behaviors would you include as “quiet quitting”?
- Do you think women are quiet quitting in increasing numbers lately, or do I just live in an echo chamber? Are there other populations or types of people you observe quiet quitting? Do you think this is having a positive or negative impact on wards?
- Do you think Church leadership is paying attention to quiet quitting? Why or why not? How do you think they are addressing it? Are those efforts fruitful? How would you address it?
If you’re not willing to give me something for nothing…. I’m not willing to give you something for anything.
That’s true American capitalism! A grandiose performance expectation just for the privilege of working for them. Bravo!
How it relates to the church? You can’t reinforce the patriarchy by destroying it. Women will be put in their “place” eventually. The priesthood pressure is real.
Seriously, it’s hard to tell whether quiet quitting—headlines of 2022–is a relevant or meaningful shift. Especially while we’re in the middle of it.
On the one hand, very little has changed in the Church. I measure from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the U.S. because that’s a distinct marker, and because it’s roughly my lifetime from when I was aware of the world outside my family. There has been significant change in the Church for Black members. Not nearly enough, but meaningful. Things have gotten worse for LGBTQ members, in my judgment not because the Church has become more essentially antagonistic but because LGBTQ people have refused to stay quiet and closeted. And nothing much has changed for women. A few more prayers and talks, token representation in councils, more women on missions, welcome small changes in the temple practices that served to highlight what wasn’t fixed, more pants/slacks at church but even that’s still worthy of comment when the general Relief Society presidency is pictured in slacks, in a non-church setting.
Very little has changed for women in the Church. But in the larger world, women are making waves. There’s so much more to do, but when the trend line for the Church is almost flat, and the trend line for the larger world is a steady and noticeable improvement, and those lines diverge for move than 50 years now as I’ve watched, something’s got to give.
And then there’s the documented shift in the millenial generation, now roughly 26 to 41 years old. See Jana Riess’ The New Millenials, for the best example I know of. That’s a generation that’s speaking up and walking out, both. Are we just noticing a generational change? As opposed to a 2020-s COVID era change? It’s probably relevant that Primary and Relief Society presidencies have generally—in my long experience—come from that age group of women. If a rising percentage of women in that age group are just saying no to callings, that would make waves.
In other words, I think everything noted in the OP is happening, but my contrary hypothesis is that we are noticing longer trends both in action and choices on the ground, and in speaking up and letting our dissatisfaction be known, and that the quiet quitting of last week’s news cycle is not much more than a catchy headline.
@christian I think that’s right in a lot of ways. I’m sure quiet quitting has been happening for ages, it’s more a shift in people being willing to admit it and militate against the idea that we should value people giving everything to their jobs.
As for women, also agree that what’s happened is the gap between how we expect women to be treated outside the church vs how we treat them inside church has widened, so the modest improvements made haven’t made a dent in the growing chasm. When employers and educational institutions and government at least aspire to be more inclusive and promoting of women – even though they don’t always do so – and church continues to insist on a ceiling, it’s notable.
For generational change, I think that is real. But it’s a confluence if (1) millennials culturally being more willing to speak up and walk out (true in both the workplace and church), and (2) younger people having less skin in the game at church and being more willing to do their own thing. It’s quite different for a 20 yr old to decide they’re done than a 50 yr old who has spent her life in church, married and raised children in church, etc.
As to the question about Covid, in my observation while you’re right that many changes have been happening under the surface, Covid seems to have been a real catalyst or accelerator for people. Having some space away from church, getting out of the routine, realizing what you don’t miss, and for women feeling either undervalued because they didn’t have access to the sacrament and/or realizing they could have a rich spiritual life without male mediation and didn’t miss it … I think for the older people who’d previously had more skin in the game, it made a big difference in their willingness to quit – quietly or loudly.
While quiet quitting is a catchy term, I hate it. It’s not quitting to do the job you are being paid for and not doing the job you are not being paid for. And since in the church we don’t get paid for doing jobs, there you have it. Callings are something we do when we can. I’ve noticed where I live that activity days is every three weeks instead of every two weeks; YM/YM frequently has a bye week. I can’t tell you the last time someone asked me about ministering. All sorts of callings are being fulfilled differently now. And I’m all for it.
As to non-essential meeting, both in the workplace and at church, I’ve tried everything I know to stop these meetings from happening. But bosses won’t listen. So the only choice we are left with to show respect for our time it to simply not attend and wait for the email version. I stopped attending extra church meetings years ago. When well-meaning members try to inquire why I wasn’t there, I ask what I missed. The answer between the lines is that I missed nothing. They know it, and I know it, even if they won’t say it.
I definitely am seeing less garment wearing where I live. Perhaps it’s always been a thing and I never noticed before because I was at work all day. But now that I work from home, and will do the occasional school pick up, after school activity drop off, mid-week grocery run, I am seeing my Mormon neighbors out and about in leisure wear all day. And I’m also guilty so I’m not passing judgment. I stopped wearing garments several years ago when I got released from the bishopric. And my current bishop said I could still have a temple recommend not wearing garments as it was a personal choice. He would not give me a recommend however for paying tithing to actual charities instead of the church. But the garment thing we was not going to police.
Yes I do think more women are quiet quitting the church these days, but that’s probably only because they are catching up to the men who were quiet quitting for decades. Now it feels more balanced. YMMV.
I’ll never forget what the wise christiankimball said on a separate post. The theme right now for Church members seems to be “Fine, have your discriminating policies, but I want nothing to do with them.”
“Lack of connection and community. I have one more to add to the list, but it’s just another theory of mine. I think remote work is making people feel less connected to their workplaces and colleagues and so less interested in going above and beyond to create a company culture. To the extent that kind of connection drives engagement, I think it may be contributing to quiet quitting. I don’t know how you fix that in a remote world, but many companies are working (quietly or loudly …) to get people back in-person at regular intervals or otherwise figure out how to build a culture remotely. “
The lack of community and connection has been growing over the last 30+ years.
Without that, you don’t have a church.
If someone views their church membership the same way they view their employment relationship, I can see how the two could be compared as suggested in the OP. For me however, they are completely different and therefore the comparison is apples to oranges.
My employer has let me know via an employment contract that he is not obligated to keep me around and can sever our relationship for any reason, or no reason at all. Aside from actually hiring me, the rare pat on the back, and my annual cost-of-living raise, he hasn’t really done anything extraordinary to show appreciation. Nor have I done anything out of the ordinary, just what is expected of me. Our agreement is that I do X and get paid Y. Based on this summary, I don’t have any loyalty to my employer and view the employment relationship as temporary. He essentially feels the same way about me. Sure we’re friends and all, but decisions are made based on what’s best for the business and if that means I need to be fired, then so be it.
Church member perspective:
I go to church and do “church stuff” because I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Everything I have I owe to them. Everything I can get in the future is because of them. If I make a mistake, perform poorly, take a break, or am an “unprofitable servant”, I’m not going to be “fired”. They want me to stick around and are patient as I learn and improve. I feel a tremendous sense of loyalty and love towards them because of these things. I view this relationship as eternal, not temporary, and “feel it a pleasure to serve [them] and love to obey [their] command.”
I just retired working for the teacher’s union in Utah. As a man, I worked with many women who would talk about their frustrations with teaching in Utah public schools but also would talk about their lives at home and at church. What I observed was that there is a lot of quite and in some cases outright quitting in the church. I think one reason that was not talked about is the political atmosphere at church and at home with their husbands. They work with kids and see problems and then come home or go to church and all they hear is rants about how teachers don’t work hard enough, kids are lazy, immigrants are destroying our communities, healthcare is socialist and on and on. These women are expected to just listen and accept but they are thinking people and they don’t. While they may not outright disagree with their husbands or church leaders, they don’t believe them and when it comes to things where they are not directly supervised like voting, they vote differently. In other words their husbands and church leaders may preach the virtues of Trump, the women will nod and then vote for Hillary or Biden and just not say anything. I know this because they tell me knowing I won’t tell anyone else they know.
As for the church knowing these things, I’m sure they do. They have the data they just don’t/won’t share it. I also think that like many husbands, they are in denial. After years of putting women on a pedestal and talking about how righteous they are while at the same time not giving them anything of significance to do in the church, many women have had enough. They may not openly rock the boat but they think it and act where they can in direct defiance of what the men in their lives think they are doing.
Finally my wife is a teacher and she also hears the same things and being active in the union as well, hears it from teachers all over the state. There is a sisterhood among them where they defy what their husbands think. Is she like that with me? I imagine she is except that we have gone down this journey together and still talk opening about things we might not agree with and more often than not, I agree with her. Because of that, I’ve also quietly quit. The most interesting thing about it is that no one in my ward has really reached out with any authentic gesture and when our son was on a mission, they talked to us like I was the problem when in reality she was the one with the most anger. So the church may have the data but they just don’t get it.
“What’s particularly interesting to me as well is that I don’t know if the Church has a clue this is happening.” I think this is a valid point, because in most wards I’ve been in, the callings reliably change hands between the same few people over and over. Even when ward boundaries change (I’ve lived in the same place for 14 years and my ward has changed 4 times) those same few people are called over and over. Maybe it’s simply because they are willing, but I’ve seen too many people who are willing and eager to serve be passed over in favor of (dare I say it) the ward clique. The lack of engagement felt by many members is going unnoticed because of this phenomenon.
Compared to the level of overall activity and involvement the average active Mormon put into the local unit of the Church forty years ago (in hours per week or number of activities, for example), EVERYONE is quiet quitting. Less is asked for and expected of current members — and for good reason. Everyone is busier. Just the idea that the Relief Society should meet on Wednesday at noon every week and the Primary from 3 pm to 5 pm on Tuesday every week (this was how it was done back then) strikes the average younger LDS as almost insane.
There’s just not that much left to “quiet quit” from anymore. And at present almost no one cares if you do step back.
Everything you listed as an example of quiet quitting? I can check them all. I’m a 50-yr-old, life-long member who used to shake my head and sigh and pray for people like me, who I just didn’t understand how they could be so casual about the church, how they couldn’t see how they were being led away, how sad I was for them!
Pre-Covid I was already checking out, but it’s definitely true that the Covid church shutdown affected things, giving me time and space to really decide for myself how I want to “Mormon.” In fact, a new neighbor recently asked me what religion I am and I said, “Mormonish.” She laughed while I explained that there are things I embrace, and things I don’t and that how I practice my faith now is very different than many others who claim Mormon beliefs. It’s a lonely place, this Mormonish land, but I think it has to be. It has to be a place of solitude and personal contemplation, without anyone telling you you’re doing it right or doing it wrong. It’s a place to allow those who walk there the opportunity to really learn for themselves what they believe, how they feel, how it all works for them. It’s a juxtaposition to all-in Mormonism, where the community-centric vibe is great for having a sense of belonging, but not so helpful for allowing personal development of religious principles, relationship with diety, with humanity, and how that all fits with one’s own sense of self. At least that’s been my experience and maybe the place I call “Mormonish land” is really the same place anyone walks who thoughtfully and purposefully considers beliefs, traditions, constraints, structures, etc, placed on them by any religion or community, and how they will use those ideas going forward.
@bwbarnett, I agree with your point about the difference between an employment relationship and a relationship with God.
I differ, though, in conflating a relationship with God and a relationship with Church. In many ways I feel my employer cares more about me than the Church does, treats me better than Church does, provides me more community than Church does, gives me more opportunities to learn and grow and serve than Church does, listens to me and wants and acts on my feedback than Church does, and does more good in the community via charitable and civic work than Church does.
And, while as you note my employer can fire me for many reasons, I actually have more protections against firing than I do against the Church excommunicating me.
So for me, the comparison is actually quite unfavorable to Church, even though I certainly remain committed to God.
Very perceptive article. So much of it directly applies to me.
I have had so much life experience that has undermined the prosperity gospel narrative often presented at church. My two oldest sons attended seminary and got their Eagles and enjoyed full participation to a level. But they never believed it no matter that both my husband and I did, and we did all the expected things to support their testimonies. That was the beginning of my quiet quitting. What I learned is that what we are taught about parenting at church (that a good parent can make sure their kids serve a mission and are married in the temple) simply isn’t true.
I had some bad experiences with a bishop that were enlightening as well.
I learned a lot from these experiences and many more experiences because three of my children have serious disabilities. My family doesn’t fit in to the cookie cutter church.
I have prayed a lot and I feel deeply connected to God. But I just don’t see what God has told me in how our church is run. My knowledge was hard won, but nobody cares about my deep personal convictions. I am a strong leader that is underutilized. I have no ability to help change the church so it would be a better place for my family. It’s very hard for me to forgive the church for that.
So yes, I have stopped following church direction when it doesn’t make sense for my family. I no longer do those awkward missionary dinners. I love the temple, but I no longer push my over worked spouse to attend. I love garments, but yes I support change in the church. I want to be heard, but I am not interested in church authorities trying to persuade me. I know what I know.
In my area it seems like the talks from leaders are more and more about trying to control members use of social media, to tell us what to think, to tell us what to do. I support my leaders when they do good productive things. But because I am not a soldier in an army their use of their authority is uncomfortable and ineffective.
My bishop recently came over on his dirt bike. My husband and I talked about church politics like equals in front of our house. That approach is more effective for me. I just can’t stand to be told what to do, by people who aren’t interested in hearing what I have learned. While I still attend church, I have claimed my personal authority. They can’t get it back from me.
@chadwick, I’m not a big fan of the term either. But I’ve been thinking about this post re women for a while, predating the term, and thought it was a fun comparison.
@stephen I agree. I think the church relies on being a mediator of ordinances to hook people but the One True Church doesn’t resonate with many anymore. I don’t know that there is much they can do about community since much of those changes are simply changes to communities generally, although I do think investing in church buildings and activities instead of temples would be preferable.
@dave b, I agree re time commitments. But many items on my list aren’t relevant to time commitments (it doesn’t take any more time to wear garments than to wear gentile panties). They are more about emotional investment and loyalty.
@allison, I totally agree. I love “Mormonish”. I’ve said “unorthodox Mormon” in similar ways. I wonder – does this shift for you have anything to do with the church’s treatment of women / gender, or would it have happened with you anyway? Do you think it’s happening at a faster clip for women?
No taxation without representation! I was tired of donating resources (money, time, and effort) without having a voice in how they were used. Then I realized that the magical word “no” is more powerful than any priesthood holder’s demands. And then I left and took my talents with me.
I hadn’t put the term to it yet, but anecdotally I can share that I am one of the quietly quitting women that you have described. In fact, your list and descriptions almost perfectly encompass my current situation. While my spouse and I both agree that we no longer believe in nor are we dedicated to the Church and will not accept any further callings, it is because of my husband that we are even still attending at all. If it were up to me I’d have already stopped going all together, and if I weren’t concerned about my family’s reaction I’d have resigned by now too. My husband’s own personal situation with callings, assignments, and friendships keep us going for now, but we plan a slow fade-out and have already started attending less and not bothering with temple work, recommend renewal, or volunteering beyond our current minimal effort callings. We starting donating to more worthy causes many months ago instead of giving tithing to the Church. We’re actively pursuing social endeavors outside of the Church to give ourselves a social safety net for once we have left. Social connections (read: obligations) are basically the only thing keeping us in at this point.
As a woman I simply refuse to continue to give my energy and talents to an organization that doesn’t value me or consider me to be equal to a man. I justified it for all my life until the last year or so with all the usual excuses and explanations for why women’s roles are what they are and aren’t what they aren’t. But those excuses and explanations are ridiculous and insulting, and I am done putting up with it and done waiting for it to change (which will basically be never). For more than three and a half decades every important decision in my life was directed by what a bunch of men think is best for a woman. Women have the most pitiful lip-service of positions and grunt work to fill in the Church and have no real power or influence and never will. Even the eternal promises given to women are not equal to those given to men. I’m done with it. No loving God(s) would allow for half of Their children to be second class to the other half. Therefore, the Mormon God is not one that I believe in anymore. So apparently I have quietly quit. Hopefully within the next year or so I will completely quit.
Aside from my own personal anecdote, I am not observing the quiet quitting in the Church firsthand where I am, though I’d love to be wrong about that. I also don’t think the Church at large is paying attention fully to the quiet quitting where it is happening, because they tend to focus on what they measure, like temple recommend renewal and use. They are slow to notice other behaviors beyond tithing and priesthood advancement since those behaviors aren’t reported. Yes, they are noticing the lack of temple attendance, temple recommend renewal, and tithing decreases, but I’m sure they are missing the myriad of other ways that women in particular indicate that they have checked out or quietly quit.
Yes. They rotate the same people they trust and exclude the rest.
@Elisa – Wow, your employer sounds amazing! I wish more of us had employers like that. I agree that people can have a relationship with God outside of church, but I think it’s a different relationship than a relationship with God in church. Historically, God’s relationship with “His people” has been a covenant relationship. Of course, we are all “His people” or “His children” and He loves all of us, but His covenant people have enjoyed a more intimate relationship with Him, a relationship in which He is bound as we keep our covenants.
The Gathering of Covenant Israel is happening right now. Along with God’s promised protection, all the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are available to His covenant people. To be honest, I don’t know how these promises apply to “Mormonish” or “unorthodox mormon” members?? Do you and Mormonish people consider yourself part of gathered Israel? The identifying characteristic of Israel is having made and kept covenants with God. Can this be done outside of church? Just curious on your, and other’s, take on these ideas…
@bwbarnett: “Of course, we are all “His people” or “His children” and He loves all of us, but His covenant people have enjoyed a more intimate relationship with Him, a relationship in which He is bound as we keep our covenants.”
“The identifying characteristic of Israel is having made and kept covenants with God. Can this be done outside of church? Just curious on your, and other’s, take on these ideas…”
I think this mindset illustrates another very important reason why women are quiet quitting the church. Who wants to believe in this God? Most women recognize the harm in raising children in this model.
@Chadwick – Please explain what you mean by “Who wants to believe in this God?”. What kind of God do you think I’m describing?
This trend predates Covid. Just in the last ten years, you had a huge Sabbath Day observance push. Elder Bednar stated the reason behind it was that parents were modeling less committed behavior at home, which brethren felt were weakening the foundation for the rising generation. There have been large-scale jarring events that have alienated entire swaths of people. One was the OW stuff culminating in the exing of Kate Kelly. So many progressive women who were willing to go above and beyond to petition for higher women’s visibility within a faithful framework lost motivation to remain affiliated. Same with the November 2015 policy, where you had LGBTQ+ members and allies suddenly faced with a confusing and massive stumbling-block, with church leaders insisting that they were acting under inspiration and excessive concern for their fellow brothers and sisters. Even when President Nelson walked back the policy, he (and others) have made clear that members are expected to publicly embrace heteronormativity exclusively, with Elder Holland reprimanding BYU professors for not doing enough to promote the Church’s unpopular public positions. With the Be One celebration in 2018, you had President Oaks reinforcing the view that the priesthood ban was inspired, just adding to all the problems that month with the Church’s completely tone-deaf response to the apology hoax. They’ve continued at BYU and elsewhere to deny that the Church has any institutional responsibility for the racism that has festered in our culture, even going so far to denounce secular methods of addressing racism. Not to mention a whole subset of members alienated by the Church’s embrace of vaccinations in the Covid era.
All the while, the Brethren have doubled down on trivialities like decrying the Mormon nickname and (the subject of a recent 5th Sunday lesson in our ward) the importance of taking the sacrament with the right hand.
With the brethren so effective at undermining their own credibility, is it any wonder that many members are taking steps back? It’s hard maintaining an “All In” attitude when you are increasingly concerned by the messages you are supposed to be selling.
I’ve been a Relief Society president for three and a half years and here are some other ways I’ve observed (particularly women) pulling away:
1) Not coming to activities outside of Sunday. We are lucky if we have 10 people show up for a weekday activity.
2) Not willing to take on extra assignments. We used to rotate in guest teachers for our RS lessons because it’s a great way to get to know different women and I get one “yes” for every ten women I ask these days.
3) Opting out of ministering assignments. They’ll still ask for a ministering sister to be assigned to them, but won’t accept an assignment. I respect their boundaries (much to my counselors’ opposition) but I wish they’d completely opt out because our routes are incredibly lopsided now and puts so much strain on our few sisters who are ministering.
4) Not sending their kids to seminary. We have early morning seminary and even our seminary teacher doesn’t force their teenage children to attend. Very few parents of teenage children that I’ve spoken to find value in this program anymore.
5) Not actively encouraging their kids to attend church schools and/or go on missions. I think we’ve had about 4 kids go on missions in the last 5 years. We had six boys graduate from high school last year and to my knowledge, none of them are planning on missions.
I’m on the east coast so some of these things may be much more specific to our local area because we’re nowhere near Utah. But it does seem that many of the trappings of living a life fully immersed in the church–and encouraging your children to follow that same church-approved path–have markedly decreased. I don’t mean any of these as a criticism either, because I’m right there with them. I was already struggling when I accepted the call to lead the RS and I went into it with the fervent hope that I could be a voice for the women of the ward. And I’m leaving it with the firm conviction that, as a woman, I don’t matter at all to the church. I don’t know how long I’ll continue to attend once I’m released. My husband is more in than I am, so I will likely attend for his sake but I’d love to just quietly fade away. Crossing my fingers that I’ll get called to nursery next.
@bwbarnett: Go back to your comment and count up all the references to women. There are none (ok well, you did use Elisa’s name). That is why women are leaving, or at least quiet quitting (I hate this term, too, but here we are). They DO have a different relationship with God outside of the church, and it’s way better. Being part of gathered Israel as an accessory isn’t the selling point you think it is.
Are women quiet quitting? Well amongst my siblings and their spouses, I think about half of the women have reduced engagement in the church in the last 4-5 years. And my parents don’t know. Yeah, I call that quiet quitting. But the ratio is about the same for the men, so….
This topic is so important. Many good LDS are put off by the institution—its retrenching, its dogma, and its corruption. In discussions, I’ve learned that “quiet quitters” don’t want to disrupt or cause harm or disaffect others—they stay silent and inch themselves away. This, combined with the glaring fact that well-over 1/2 of the youth of the Restored Church leave before age 25, stands to witness against leadership—not against the Brethren, but the middle managers and administrators. It is tragic. I empathize for those who step away. I would rather we stay together in the domicile of our family wards and shelter from the corrupt LDS Establishment, but when corruption runs so deep, I can’t blame folks for stepping away.
The woman is given to Adam for discernment. How better we would be, if we accounted for discontent among our Eves.
@bwbarnett others have provided some answers here already. I agree with Chadwick that the concept of a “chosen people” is problematic.
More than that, though, I simply find the concept of “the gathering of Israel” to be irrelevant. It doesn’t resonate with me. Part of my distancing under Nelson’s regime is because he’s so focused on it and it’s just not something I care about.
Thank you @Mary Ann for your insightful comment.
“Just in the last ten years, you had a huge Sabbath Day observance push. Elder Bednar stated the reason behind it was that parents were modeling less committed behavior at home, which brethren felt were weakening the foundation for the rising generation.”
That’s probably the precise moment when my quiet quitting began. When the Sabbath observance push came out I was reeling from the disclosure of one of my children about their unbelief in the church. The pain of hearing Elder Bednar blame the parents for “weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home” was unbearable and his words just didn’t ring true to me. An apostle of Jesus Christ should be lifting me up, not kicking me when I’m down. Was I guilty of “weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home”? Who knows. No parent in the church is perfect, including those who serve in the highest leadership callings. But I did my best, as did my friends who have also had children leave. I really tried and was a dedicated parent and modeled active and committed church service. If there was any weak teaching at home it might have been due to my church service extracting so much of my attention (to be fair, I tried to keep my priorities in order, but still we all fall short), and it might have even been from some overzealousness. My child turned out great, just not active in the church. That’s a woefully narrow measure of success to look at church activity/temple attendance and not the whole person as we measure success in parenting. Maybe Elder Bednar’s line could be modified to “weak gospel teaching and modeling in the church.” That might more fully reflect why my child left, to be honest, as this child’s concerns centered on some troubling institutional failings..
But at that point I realized at some level that no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I give, the church will throw me and other faithful parents under the bus when it needs to. It will extract what it can from us terms of money and service. It will tell us to defer/sacrifice education and employment so that we can produce more children and give more unpaid service, but if any of us end up impoverished widows or widowers, help will be spare, even if the scriptures say that true religion is to care for the widows and the fatherless. Because somewhere in the scriptures it must say something about the importance of amassing enormous institutional investment holdings.
The church is in crisis with so many young adults leaving and instead of dealing with the crisis in straightforward ways that seek real solutions that strengthen the families it claims to support, it fixates on trivial matters, leaving many of us hopeless and thinking our time is spent better in other places.
I understand why people might question decisions/policy that don’t have a scriptural foundation, or maybe just a loose scriptural foundation, i.e., things that some might interpret as RMN’s personal opinion, but the gathering of Israel?? This is a pretty scripturally sound doctrine, and not just accepted among LDS, but among other Christians, right?
It’s irrelevant? It doesn’t resonate with me? It’s just not something I care about? Elisa, what are you saying? You may as well just say “I don’t care about the Second Coming.”
In Unions it’s called “working to rule”. It’s a form of striking in which the worker does everything required by his/hers job description or Union contract, but nothing more. The owner/manager class hates it because it relies on uncompensated labor for profit. Teachers are an example of workers who are engaged in many uncompensated activities (e.g. letters or recommendation).
I think quiet quitting at church has been happening for years. I’m unsure whether more women than men are quiet quitting–I see it happening for both genders, but I have no idea what the numbers are. Covid certainly appears to have worked as a powerful catalyst for all types of quitting and pulling back from church participation.
I don’t think that the effect of women’s employment rates over the last several decades should be overlooked (and it hasn’t been completely overlooked–there are a few comments about it already). When I was a kid, it was pretty uncommon for an LDS woman to work outside of the home. I think that this is why the Church was effectively run by women back then–they simply had more time (yes, I know they were busy raising kids then, but they are busy raising kids today, too). Today, well over 50% of LDS women work outside of the home. With so many LDS women working today, it is not surprising that they don’t have as much time, even if they wanted to, to devote to Church service as they had several decades ago. This reduction in time available for church service, would look a lot like quiet quitting. Add to that the better treatment women receive in the workplace–leadership opportunities, respect, equal treatment, etc.–and it’s no wonder that LDS women today often don’t want to invest more of their more limited free time into church service.
I think the 2 hour bloc, cutting ties with BSA, and “ministering” were attempts by leadership to make changes to things that weren’t effective and that they knew many members didn’t like. They probably hoped that these changes would improve the church experience for people and decrease the quitting. These changes honestly probably did help a lot of members, but it’s not enough. My week-to-week church experience is typically pretty lousy. While there is an occasional good sacrament talk, they are often just rehashed conference talks. The only good lessons are ones that ignore or significantly diverge from the Come Follow Me content–and we only have one teacher currently willing to do that. I tend to be introverted, so I’m sure that I take much of the blame for this, but I feel very little connection to other ward members despite having lived in the ward for years (the 10+ ward splits we’ve been through hasn’t helped). Even so, growing up, even into early adulthood, I felt a much stronger connection with fellow ward members. So many of the messages at Church seem to be cautions against “The World”–we had a special stake lesson on “The Family Proclamation” one month, and the 5th Sunday lesson on the “14 Fundamentals of Followed the Prophet” the next. Can’t we just declare both of these speeches/documents to be the false doctrine that they are, and throw them in the trash bin forever?
How could I become more engaged in Church activity? First, we need better lessons and talks. There are all kinds of books available–written my members and non-members–that would be so much more engaging than Come Follow Me. I understand that if people aren’t assigned a conference talk that they are going to sometimes go off in the weeds, but I think members need to be able to feel more freedom to pick topics that mean something to them, to speak from the heart, and to share personal experiences in sacrament meeting. Secondly, I would really like to help people–living people (temple “service” for dead people is not fulfilling at all to me)–in meaningful ways. I live in a very wealthy ward. Bringing lasagna to the multimillionaire lady who just had a baby, working with the youth to pull weeds at the mansion of the retired tech CEO who just had back surgery (and don’t get me started about pulling weeds at the temple!), or scrubbing toilets for a church that could afford to hire someone to scrub the toilets isn’t very meaningful to me. Since the Church isn’t meeting these needs for me–I’m meeting them myself. I read books by Church and non-Church authors that really lift my spirituality (I often do this on my tablet in sacrament meetings and lessons as well as at home). I have also started volunteering to help at local schools in ways that I feel like I’m really helping people in meaningful ways. Maybe the Church was never meant to provide these opportunities for more fulfilling spiritual content and meaningful service opportunities, and I was stupid to put off finding them on my own for so long, but I think the Church could do better for its members in these areas.
bwbarnett, Elisa can answer for herself, but, the whole ‘literal gathering of Israel’ aside, you’re running into some problems when you say, if you reject ‘x’ (subset of ‘y’) you also thus reject superset ‘y’. Just saying.
@bwbarnett–Many Christians have lived and died for over 2000 years now believing that Christ’s coming was just around the corner. Many Mormons have lived and died for over 200 years now believing that Christ’s coming was likely to happen in their lifetime. Do I think that Nelson has special knowledge of when Christ will come again? Probably not. Do I think that Christ is likely to come again in the next 200 or 2000 years. Probably not (why is the next 200 or 2000 years any different that the previous 200 or 2000 years?). Am I going to change anything about my life because of a possible Second Coming? No. Am I going to try my hardest to live my life in a way that follows the teachings of Christ? Yes. Will I step outside of the Church if I feel that I need to in order to better lead a more Christian life? Yes. Will I participate more fully in the Church if I believe it is aligning more closely with Christ? Yes. Will the people the Church is supposed to be gathering be more attracted to a Church that provides rich spiritual growth and is truly serving their neighbor or a Church that provides limited spiritual growth and that seeks retrenchment and isolation based on un-Christlike doctrines and policies (including treating women as 2nd class citizens which is what this posting is about)?
Travis said: “This, combined with the glaring fact that well-over 1/2 of the youth of the Restored Church leave before age 25, stands to witness against leadership—not against the Brethren, but the middle managers and administrators.”
Between my last two bishops, one has a transgender child and one experiences same-sex attraction. My stake president who was released just weeks ago mentioned recently in church that he felt inspired to pay the various fees for a trans relative to change their name. Obviously “middle managers” vary wildly across such a large organization, but for me and my house, my local leaders are trying hard to be as inclusive as they can, while The Brethren seem fixated on warning me about the dangers of loving others too much. I believe that many (not all) of the middle managers and administrators in the church would accomplish great things if they felt fully empowered to place the words of Christ ahead of the General Handbook of Instructions.
farmerjosh is correct. While the op focuses on why women may be minimizing interaction with the church, we should note that there are also a large demographic of men reducing interaction a well. And think of recent returned missionaries, over half of whom will radically reduce interactions with the Church soon after returning home.
What causes this? I am not so sure this is about cultural war issues.
In my experience, the Church as a hierarchical organization relies on local leaders for inspiration for callings, priesthood advancements, etc. The callings and ordinations grant prestige in the community. Unfortunately, those local leaders will call, promote or “sustain” people they like or who feel “safe” or “in.” Regardless of of which community we look at, there is always an in-group. Getting “in” can be difficult, and those who bounce off it are more likely to simply reduce social interactions with the more powerful group into which they cannot gain admission. It is just too painful. And i today’s world, there is plenty to do rather than engaging in demeaning social experience. I bet if we closely observe any ward or stake, we could predict which families were likely to leave with a considerable amount of accuracy. It is almost as if people are called to become a “quiet quitters.” The community and church system can be stacked against them, even if they possess a high level of religiosity. I think social connectivity and belonging are more important for success in the LDS community than religiosity.
Me me me!!! I was quiet quitting before it was cool. I’ve been sole activity days leader for five years and just today was plotting how to convince the primary president how to give up on the program entirely for not meeting the needs of our tiny ward. We haven’t had an activity since May and it’s been lovely.
My husband is a seminary teacher and spends his free time cleaning church every few weeks. My kids are the ward primary superstars. I haven’t been in a temple since a sibling’s sealing a decade ago, and don’t bother with a recommend. There’s a lovely picnic table outside our building where I hide instead of going to RS/SS. I can’t handle sitting in a circle and I’ve turned down Sunday primary callings.
But we’re one of the strong ward families! 🙂
If you want to just skip to what I’m quiet quitting at go to point 7
This comment is my first and is being made with the express purpose to help support others that may be in my situation, who may be hurt and tried by decisions being made both in and by God himself, but who are still looking to fulfill covenants to love them back and not go on a murmur-fest, but feel voiceless and don’t know how to get her needs met (I’m a mother in her 30s and I for the most part love the plan and the work God has done and will do on earth).
Sorry if this is long but I hope it’s worth it. I am not quitting the church but I do find myself drifting from expectations because I simply have no other choice. Here’s my story and hopefully it will help those I mentioned as well as any invested in the church, I would have in the past never thought to publically complain except I am given no avenue to talk, there’s no confidential surveys I can ask for or people I can petition who don’t have the power to punish me…
1) I have been a member all my life but didn’t convert until girls camp/EFY. Now looking back I can see that the spiritual experiences were artificial (the changes in girls’ camp and pageants to move away from those kinds of things by the church a few years ago was very welcome). It was weird because as I was converting my family was going through a faith crisis, I decided I was going to be an example and soaked up every peice of advice on how to please God from every angle without any way to really judge what was true. I was told by teachers if the scriptures are true than you are set for life, no need to confirm anything else individually (once again thank you church for reducing the influence of some of these crazies in my life by shortening and simplifying church). My family wanted to send me to BYU to make up for the fact that they weren’t involved in my life, even though I wasn’t academically qualified for it, somehow they accepted me.
2)BYU was not better than my public west coast high school in terms of embracing spirituality. I had been hoping for a spiritual feast and instead was juggling the same viewpoints of the world with a much harder workload–I couldn’t believe how awful church schools were, they started out treating schools like holy insitutions (there was a high school in Kirtland’s temple) and doing everything they could to be at the top spiritually and academically, and now I was dealing with what wheatandtares called “mission drift”. It may have been part of God’s plan, but I was hurt. I wanted to please God because my grades and spiritually were suffering at BYU so I thought go on a mission (I didn’t, married too young for that, and they might have turned me down anyway since “if you have desires you are called to serve” isn’t exactly accurate anymore) and get married. I read everything I could on the church’s advice for marriage and I interpreted the counsel as just take the first active man and then be his junior companion. Everything happened really fast and soon I was married and I quit school in anticipation of being pregnant because I knew I couldn’t balance the hard pregnancies in my family’s genes with BYU warning me that my hard work wasn’t good enough and they were going to expell me. Besides their idea of making up for lost spiritual opportunities at BYU was to force me to attend devotionals and I wasn’t buying it as a valid solution–I wanted spirituality to permeate the classes and everything they did like Brigham Young originally advised them to, not stretch myself thinner by attending more things. I wanted to fulfil my mission in life by majoring in where I felt the Lord was leading me, but nope grades weren’t good enough to have that in my control–now that I was married and poor I had to live farther almost an hour away from classes because all the affordable housing was reserved for singles making me do even worse in school being married. I felt like the insitution had failed me. When I left school I was bullied by feminist students and lectured harshly by the bishopric and stake president for leaving BYU–I was told my salvation was at stake. No pregnancy for years, and my supposedly spiritual husband (which I based entirely on how involved he was in the church and how high his callings were) wasn’t really interested in supporting my desire to have a family or improving his fertility.
3) When I finally got pregnant life it was due to breaking a church counsel–I felt very strongly from God that going on welfare, AND NOT THE CHURCH’S would give us the nutrients we needed to have a baby (up until this point I had been eating cheap garbage, and the church’s food when we tried it was seriously lacking and for the first time I had access to wholesome calories and organic food). This confused me but it worked to my utter shock and hurt, wasn’t following church counsel the path to the promised land? It was a nightmare as I anticipated getting pregnant–too sick to even pray, I also got pregnant way late in life which ended up being a very poor circumstance for me (this is one peice of advice from the church that I wished my husband would have heeded, “have them young” said President Kimball). By this point my husband wasn’t madly in love and willing to support me making parenthood, pregnancy, and birth so much harder (the midwife started abusing me and my husband did nothing). Instead he just swung his priesthood authority around as an excuse to try and influence what I did as I tried to adjust to new parenthood, trying to tell me I couldn’t nurse my child because it would result in more diapers. I got multiple blessings from him and they felt degrading, they didn’t feel like the voice of God. At this time the church had started making concessions to movements such as Ordain Women and clarifying things with church essays and it empowered me. I didn’t exactly agree with OW, because I didn’t want to suddenly be told that I had to go on a mission and home teach or have something akin to threat of outer darkness held over my head if I didn’t comply, but I did agree that I needed to have my motherhood respected as equal and that the church had to denounce extremely sexist comments in the past like they did with racist ones towards blacks. I looked at their website expecting sob stories of children dying in emergencies and their mothers couldn’t bless them, but that’s not what it was about at all. I didn’t want the requirements of the preisthood and the whole pro-work pro-daycare culture of feminism or to embrace manditory military drafts like my husband supported because of my research I had done into child development and women’s health, so I became a different kind of feminist–the kind that wants men to respect motherhood and see it as sacred. So after years of thinking feminism was evil and following anti-feminist sites , I now said no because nothing was more important than making sure motherhood was given respect and that the children are given the best benefits from it given the mental health crisis going on.
4) At church I was given a very involved calling with the youth and expected to send my child with other people and then into nursery when this child was old enough, which was weird because of all the talks about the importance of motherhood and the speaking up against daycare and preschool were just being thrown out the window. Nursery did not do my child any favors. My child was badly bullied there and physcially abused by the other children. This child ran away from nursery and the leaders who were on their phones the whole time and showing children pop culture and violent movies there shrugged their shoulders as we had to recruit others to go out into the streets to find my child. The average nursery leader only served for a few months and they rotated them every week. My child was in tears because there was no security in nursery, weird strangers were coming in all the time and this child would come home with injuries. I wasn’t allowed to come into the nursery to help out, I couldn’t make food request for dental reasons–I was told to back off and given a mean text by the primary president telling me that I was a bad parent and that when my child was with them they commandeer full parental rights and I’m off-duty because this child is the Lord’s too. Any asking for some stability in nursery, like the same leaders every week and not get released so often was brushed off by the bishopric. Meanwhile the youth threw things at me, complained about not getting treats, and then ganged up on the bishop and demanded he release me because I was too boring. I was told that my lack of entertainment for the youth was endangering their testimonies so they had to release me. Meanwhile working with the youth that year opened my eyes to how much the programs of the church focus was on men, prepare for missions, make sure the family’s provider has a job, meanwhile it was like hell for me trying to figure out pregnancy, nursing, sleep, school readiness, etc… I also ended up in another calling that I didn’t feel good about and asked the bishopric why I was being called, they said it was from the Lord and you are never supposed to question or turn down the calling. Yeah I was released two weeks later because the other person in the calling didn’t want to work with me. Another one the leaders were giggling and gossipping and when I asked them about it they said “doesn’t matter because you’re not going to be in this calling for any longer”. I was sacrificing all this time for the church and my toddler and no one cared.
5) Meanwhile I spent hours every week reading church talks, and made sure I read the Book of Mormon first instead of the Bible which I had never read but gone through the former many times like a good Latter-day Saint everytime they were like read this before the end of the year or else, read this much everyday or else–I was totally obedient. I made sure to go through the Book of Mormon following the underlined words of Christ and reading the classic books written by general authorities. I tried every bit of advice I found to improve my life in the scriptures but felt no fruit, I became extremely tired of following every wind of doctrine and advice hoping for the cure to my struggling marriage and the hard realities of parenthood. I fasted like crazy and this just kept going on for years with no end in sight. I used every spiritual avenue I could and went to the temple often even though it broke my little child’s heart because this child didn’t know where I was being dropped off at babysitter’s houses. I wished I could take this child to the temple and nurse them, but no little kids defile the temple or something. I yearned to do little things to ease my child’s pain like just take my child to Relief Society instead of nursery, or hold my child during the name and blessing. My friend got to do it because her child was 2 years old to keep her still on her lap was seen as a reasonable request, but a baby was treated by the bishopric differently, it’s so holy because of it’s age that if you touch the child during a blessing you turn into a preisthood holder or something. I only say this lightheartedly because the circumstances surrounding it are too suspicious and ridiculous to take seriously, I promise I am reverent. In spite of all this obedience I felt so stressed I felt like I was almost being plagued by demons, I couldn’t sleep most nights even after years of night-wakings when my child finally slept through the night at age 6. Thankfully by the grace of God that torment was taken from me but I still grieve what could have been. I became ridiculously fat and despised by my husband who was angry that I was starting to suggest that the power of God had left him a long time ago. Any concerns I had about the way God was treating my pleas or the church was shut down super fast by him, he wasn’t going to tolerate anything that sounded apostate, pushing us further apart. General Conference didn’t help, at this time they stopped advertising that they had the answers to things and started encouraging people to look outside like going to a secular counselor at your own expense or time or turning to popular medical routes for health and well-being (kind of a turn-off to someone who considers herself a natural hippie holistic type and so much for the knight in shining armor approach they advertised when I was growing up).
6)God may be testing me, but after many years of no fruit and no hope for another child and just wanting to save the one child I have, I’m needing to refocus my energy. Our days are just getting more and more filled and it’s not like we’re adding things on, we’re just getting more and more innefficient. I’m trying new spiritual things while staying a member of the church–whatever works right? One example I have found refuge in history, I can see the hand of God overseeing the nations through it. The things that are coming next are amazing, no wonder our church needs to hold onto so much cash. Through it I realized that the church is still in Christ’s hands but there’s no telling where life and the counsel is going to go and if it really has me or those who I’m seeing suffer in mind or just the survival of the church. Unlike others I don’t say well the heirarchy doesn’t get…yeah there’s a little of that, but this is the same God that ordered people dead for the most innocent things in the Bible. And what am I going to do, follow Satan? I really don’t have any choice but to keep going, I reach for the low-hanging fruit to obey that don’t cause any trouble like saying latter-day saint. And I don’t want to get in trouble by breaking my covenants to defend the church, so I’m going to keep defending it but these have fallen by the wayside…
7) Ministering teaching to people I don’t know and are hard to contact, doing ministering reports (always at inconvenient times and I can’t really share private things anyway–there’s very little the presidency can do anyway, I think this is just an accountability thing), temple name research (I get my names from someone else who has time for that), sharing the gospel (If they ask I’m going to give them a realistic view, not the canned view I was taught in seminary–I need to know for sure that this will improve their life because they’re going to be baptised anyway), accepting callings that don’t fit my needs or lifestyle (I’m not aspiring to be called to a certain position), going on a mission someday (not happening–I’m going to listen to God tell me what my mission is not hope someone in the church guesses right), following the Come Follow Me outline outside of reviewing some of what my child is learning in class (I’ve got my own scriptures and my own order to follow that I’m interested in), and attending ward activities that don’t benefit us. And if someone says well you need to give everything you have to the church, I’ll say I am, but in my own way–it’s between me and the Lord how I grow his kingdom and purposes, it’s none of your business to prescribe that, but I’ll compromise and at least keep the temple questions. I tried letting counsel and advice run my life and I did not receive a testimony or the fruit that it works. You cannot require me to believe in things that I never received a witness of just because the Book of Mormon was made for our day and just because this church is the tool the Lord will use someday to usher in Zion. At some point there’s a weak spot in the dominoes and I have to identify it or my testimony will be built upon the sand. I want to be founded on Christ and not what others tell me. I hope others will not shake the dust off their feet because they are annoyed at my unique life experience.
@mountainclimber479 – Did believing that the Second Coming would occur in the lifetime of these people over the past 200 or 2000 years have an adverse effect on their lives? In a religious sense, living as if Christ’s coming is right around the corner seems like it would be a good thing, even if it doesn’t actually happen in our lifetime. Granted there may have been some who were a little too fanatical about it, but my guess is they were a small minority.
I know Elisa’s initial point was about quiet quitting among female members, but hasn’t the Mormon church been a quiet-quitting organization since inception? I don’t know what else to call a faith that counts among members all those who were ever baptized even if they never darkened the door of a church again. I have no doubt that, especially in Latin America, there are tens of thousands of people who were baptized and are still on the rolls but who still consider themselves Catholic and perhaps don’t even know the church includes them. The church claims roughly 16 million members globally and MAYBE a third are regularly active in some way. We don’t have data on the number of people who simply walked away from the early church after arriving from England and finding out that, OMG, polygamy IS being practiced, despite what the missionaries told me because the church never wanted to track that. What percentage of members followed Brigham Young out west? The church would have you believe it is most, but that’s highly doubtful. A large percentage quietly quit and let the ill-timed wagon trains leave without them. People vote most honestly with their feet, which is a concept the church has not fully grasped perhaps until now.
On a note related to how hard the church is working to keep members overall, I got a letter from the local bishop saying, in part, that they would be happy to process my resignation if I wanted to submit one. Is this leadership roulette or is leadership trying to unload the detritus?
Also, I actually attended sacrament meeting last Sunday for the first time in years for my nephew’s farewell and I can understand why people would lose interest. It was not compelling, but also, interestingly, when the planned part of the meeting fell well short of the apportioned time, the presiding member of the bishopric randomly called young men from the audience to bear their testimonies, and he also asked a young woman going through mission training remotely (sounds awful) to update the ward on her experience. It was such an odd, coercive exercise.
A while back I read a fascinating article in the NY Times comparing conservative religious communities: Mormons in SLC and Jews in NYC. The article noted that in both, for women in their 30s, the ratio of active females to males was about 3/1, making it very difficult for women to find a spouse and essentially turning the men into privileged children who could pick and choose among women who still wanted to marry. If that ratio were to change, it might make the church take notice and actually do something.
bwb, I’d strongly argue that living as if the 2nd Coming is right around the corner is a terrible way to live: remember when the Y2K scare happened? There are people who literally gave up because nothing mattered anymore. Plenty of people, I’d wager they would not work to create Zion; they would wait around for God to create it; they would not work to create a sustainable world; they would let God take care of it; they would not seek to answer difficult questions; they would just let God take care of it. Oh wait, did I just describe what so many people do today because they act on what you just said?
Thank you for sharing your experiences. I admire your courage in standing up and being yourself regardless of the pressure you feel
I am going to see God, whether I live to see the Second Coming or not. Why on earth would that change my behavior?
bwbarnett, you are basically arguing Pacal’s Wager again. If living as if Jesus is coming back tomorrow is good for you, then that’s a good thing. But there is no argument for it being a good overall because you can’t determine which religion is correct. You think yours is, but then there are the millions of people who differ. Also, as Brian points out, religious people tend to not want to change their perspectives or work very hard to affect change, instead dismissing mistreatment and inequity as the way God wants it, for which we also have no proof, even when applying the teachings of the very Christ you’re expecting any day now.
@bwbarrett–I have had conversations with a number of Mormons who said that we didn’t need to worry about protecting the environment or climate change because the Second Coming was around the corner. I’ve heard many Mormons condemn people who talk about the merits of birth control or reducing birth rates to reduce population growth on the earth because it is preventing spirits from coming to the earth spirits which need to come as quickly as possible so Christ can come as quickly as possible. I’ve even heard a few Mormons state that the reason they weren’t concerned about saving for retirement was because they expected Christ to come before they retired (and I know of one or two that are facing serious financial difficulties right now because of this)! So, yes, if you truly live with the mindset that Christ is coming really soon, so nothing you do in your lifetime is really going to matter, that can be a very bad thing for yourself and for humanity.
The whole “gathering of Israel” rhetoric that Nelson so frequently talks about is very off-putting to me because it’s all about us, Israel, the righteous few, against them, “The World”, the evil majority. “The World” is going to keep getting exponentially worse from now until 10, 20, 30 (what is the number again?) years from now when Christ comes again. The “elect” must quickly (“hasten the work”) be sought out and brought safely to Israel (the Church) where they will be safe and watch while God incinerates “The World”. If this division of good and evil was really what was happening right now, then I definitely would want to escape the evil and find community and safety somewhere. However, despite certain Church leaders’ near constant claims of how “The World” is getting more and more evil by the minute, that is not my personal observation. By my estimation, “The World” has been steadily improving for decades, if not centuries. I believe that there has never been more good in the world than there is today. Think of all the advances in medicine, technology, racial, gender, and sexual equality, human rights, democracy (I’m talking long term trends here, not just the last few years), etc. I know it may be very hard for a Mormon who has sat in the pews all their life hearing sermons that The World is getting worse by the day to hear someone say that actually, The World seems to be getting better to them, but that’s really how I see things.
Rather than the good versus evil, us versus them doom and gloom “gathering of Israel” rhetoric that doesn’t appear to match my interpretation of reality, I’d prefer that the Church try to make itself into a light that shines brightly in the world. I’d like the Church to become a place where people were able to develop deep spiritual roots and whose members consistently brought forth good fruit by making the world a better place for everyone. If others saw this and were attracted to our Church and wanted to join with us, that would be wonderful. If you’d like to call a process like that “the gathering of Israel”, then I guess I’d be fine with that (we wouldn’t be true Mormons without wacky names for things, now would we?), but that is a very different process than what Nelson is referring to when he speaks of the “gathering of Israel”.
Brian, I think “right around the corner” is probably too ambiguous. If He is coming next week is quite different than if he is coming in 5 years. Anyway, I actually like how Lily put it, “I am going to see God, whether I live to see the Second Coming or not. Why on earth would that change my behavior?” Live life as if you are going to see God someday, either during your life, or shortly thereafter.
And while I know there are people who have the attitudes you enumerated, I think they are a small minority as I mentioned, but I could be wrong. Maybe most would have that attitude??
@bwbarnett in my experience, people use the 2nd coming as a reason to do nothing. “Someone’s suffering, you say? Well, it won’t be an issue anymore soon, so Imma sit back and relax. I have faith, and there’s nothing I could do before the end of days anyway.” Not a huge fan of that, or frankly of any doctrine that has people disconnecting from the edict to love one another.
> On a note related to how hard the church is working to keep members overall, I got a letter from the local bishop saying, in part, that they would be happy to process my resignation if I wanted to submit one. Is this leadership roulette or is leadership trying to unload the detritus?
similar situation here. I asked if they would stop adding me to group texts (which frankly I wouldn’t want even if I were going) and they said if I didn’t want them I’d have to resign officially.
@supernovia – Yeah I’m not a huge fan of that attitude either. It may just be that our circles of family/friends differ there. Most people I know who think the Second Coming will be in their lifetime do not have that attitude. They still invest in long term things, plant trees, have children, do things to help someone’s suffering, but I certainly see your point.
@jaredsbrother & supernovia: Your leaders are out of line if they are proactively facilitating/encouraging you to resign.
Elisa, I love you applying the term “quiet quitting” to Church. I think it’s very apt, and for largely the same reason. The workplace is an inherited patriarchal system; it was built for men and by men when single income households were the norm, and unwinding that is not easy. The key difference I see is that companies are really trying to unwind these problems; the Church mostly sees the status quo as “God’s way.” Women & men who dislike the overreach and control inherent in patriarchal systems are going to be the Betas of the organization, the quiet quitters. If you want your life to be about more than that one thing that would happily dominate and control you and force you to try to “out-perform” others in the organization for prestige and promotions (and you can tell me if that doesn’t sound like Church on some level, because it sure does to me), then you eventually have to determine your own boundaries, say no to forced friendships, don’t attend activities you aren’t interested in, don’t take the calling you aren’t interested in, and don’t give that talk if you don’t feel like it.
My own experience with American Express, where I had a high powered career for over a decade, was that I was far, far more valued and respected there. My contributions made a difference. I was in the room where decisions were made. I mattered. I always put my career ahead of the extras the church often asks of women, but I was also fully committed at church. It just isn’t a two-way relationship with the church. Women do not matter. At all. We are only an appendage to a husband, the ones responsible for raising the next generation and pinned for anything the church wants to deem a failure, even if we aren’t the primary caregiver. The best part of church, historically, has been the friendship and sisterhood. As time passes, though, this has become less and less a good place to find friends, and more and more a place where Trump enthusiasts can say any fool thing they want to, unchecked. A place where too many women who are left embrace the harmful self-deprecating, patriarchal, anti-woman narratives we’ve all been fed since YW. I get nothing out of this.
I went to lunch ten years ago with another Mormon feminist, and she said at that time that the church would “have to listen to all these women–it’s just not sustainable for them to ignore us!” I said, “Don’t bet on it,” and I further predicted that the Church would happily watch every single Mormon feminist leave the Church rather than make any changes to accommodate women. They don’t want women who aren’t happy with the status quo. It will just take a little while for them to run out of women willing to put up with it. Remember those awful women who said they wished Trump would grab them by the p***sy? There are still women out there who see their own status and value as a byproduct of the men in their lives; they don’t see women as equal. And the percent of women in the Church who still fit into that mold is increasing as the rest of us quiet quit or leave altogether.
bwbarnett: Count me as one who is not interested in the “literal gathering of Israel.” I also could not care less about the second coming. I do care about doing what’s right and moral, helping others, promoting the dignity of my fellow humans. I care about learning from and following the teachings of Jesus. My values increasingly do not accord with the things I hear from these specific current leaders, although I absolutely believe they are sincere in their belief in their prophetic calling. I just don’t share that belief. I am not interested in church services that conflate the GOP with the GOsPel, and at this point, that’s what’s on offer. It’s extremely disappointing. My adult kids are also not interested in what the church has become and don’t share its sexist, homophobic/transphobic, racist, patriarchal, conservative values. I wish things were different, but I must acknowledge that they are not.
It’s sad, but I fear you are right
Don’t be naive, bwbarnett. If local leaders are actively trying to unload dead weight, someone up the food chain planted the idea.
@Angela: Okay I added you to my list who are not interested in the gathering of Israel ;), just kidding of course. What is going on in the wards/stakes of some of you!? Bishops inviting you to resign and as Angela said, “…more and more a place where Trump enthusiasts can say any fool thing they want to, unchecked.” This is crazy stuff. I mean I know there are some insensitive Trumper’s (and liberals) out there, but if I were in a church setting and someone said something harmful/insensitive, I hope I would not let it go unchecked.
@jaredsbrother: I don’t believe that for one second. Your bishop acted on his own. I checked with a stake president after I read your story and he said just the opposite, that they are encouraged to help people keep their names on the records.
supernovia, if you change your phone number and email on LDStools, you will probably stop getting these texts and emails. They are completely out of line in saying you should resign if you don’t want their texts! That’s ridiculous.
I was in the RS group on FB (I really don’t know these people still after almost two years in this ward), but they changed the name of the FB group to something like “Neighbors and Friends in Christ” or something like that, and I thought it was an Evangelical group in the neighborhood I live which has a HUGE Evangelical church campus less than a mile away, so I left the group not knowing what it was. Well, apparently that was the RS group that someone renamed, and I can no longer add the group back, even if I could figure out the name of it which is no longer recognizable as related to this ward. There was also a political post on there from someone in the RS presidency about a meeting at her house with a candidate whose platform was to “unseat Mark Kelley,” and I support Mark Kelley. I don’t know why I would go to a RS activity to meet a political candidate whose goals I oppose, nor do I know why this is being discussed on a RS facebook group.
I also was asked for a ministering update, and we have only done it once (as a couple) over a year ago, and while the couple seemed nice enough, I just don’t know how to do forced friendships like that. Life is short. It’s not a priority. I don’t really see the point. I told the person that, and now I’m basically persona non grata, so I guess that’s fine. Funny thing is, if I had just said the standard Mormon lie “We’ve just been busy. I should get on that!” rather than “We haven’t done it, and I doubt we will, and forced friendships aren’t really my thing” everyone would think I was hunky dory. As Jack Nicholson said, we “can’t handle the truth.”
Fun fact, call it quiet quitting or call it menopause. Menopause is tired of lying about how things are. If you don’t want me to tell the truth, don’t ask.
bwbarnett, Here’s a terrifying thought for the patriarchy of the church: what if ALL the women decide that the gathering of Israel and the second coming don’t resonate with them, that they’re tired of doing all the work and having none of the say, that the celestial kingdom is unappealing, and that God’s plan holds no attraction for them whatsoever? That actually is what increasing numbers of women are saying right now. It’s fine to insist they’re all wrong, but at some point the glorious vision of the eternities the patriarchy has created for itself will be unsustainable. What do you think should be done about this? Do you change the church or just pound the pulpit harder? Does God’s plan need to appeal to women in order to work?
@Dot: “Does God’s plan need to appeal to women in order to work?”
Boom. Wish I could thumb this a million times.
And for me, as a feminist, I’ll also add that if if doesn’t appeal to women, it also doesn’t appeal to me.
@DaveW, I differentiate the middle managers of the institution from the middle managers of the congregation. The institution is clearly at war with the congregation—in some areas this is more obvious than in other areas.
It is easier and less time-consuming ($$$) to “gather Israel” in foreign lands, than to reach out to those among us in our families, our wards, and our communities. I don’t see much effort to gather disillusioned Israelites. Seems we just want to find new ones. Post-pandemic, activity numbers are devastating—yet, nothing has been done to reconcile those within the tent. This expresses the institution’s attitude toward the congregation. It says, “we don’t care and we don’t need them.”
Women in the Church breathe barometric pressure—they feel the storm before the flood. This OP is tragically right on target. I wish it weren’t, but it is.
Quiet quitting might not be such a thing if members were able to discuss and express thoughts and concerns more openly without being accused of unfaithfulness or apostasy. Feeling silenced and voiceless does not lead to stronger engagement with an organization.
Women, and many men in lower levels of leadership, often are not empowered with the resources they need to safely carry out their callings–for example, primary presidencies oversee teachers who have not received background checks before being assigned to work with children. These issues are real and do impact members as they serve in callings.
This line, Elisa, this line sums up the reason I don’t miss Church: “the gulf between how women expect to be treated in the workplace and world and how they are treated institutionally by the Church remains wide.”
At work, I’m an equal. I have authority and respect; I’m the only woman at my office at my level and the men respect me. At Church, I’m a service project because I’m a single mom. I can’t be friends with men at church because of the stigma attached to going beyond politeness with an unmarried woman. At work, I pal around and even go to lunch with men. Work is so much better for me on an emotional level than Church ever was. At work, men listen to me because they respect what I know and what I can do. At Church, men listened to me to learn how to resolve my concerns and put me back where I belong.
I read an article in the Atlantic about quiet quitting that explained the term a little better for me. I mean, it isn’t quitting if you’re still doing your job, it’s just ditching all the “go the second mile” pressure.
This is how the author defined it: “Burnout begins with unceasing demands and unmeetable goals—the kinds that employers thrive on as they squeeze their employees not just for their time and labor, but for their obedience, their humanity, and their souls. A lot of those demands are unspoken cultural expectations rather than actual work requirements, and they comprise the bulls*** that workers abandon when they quiet-quit.” https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/what-is-quiet-quitting-burnout-at-work/671413/
“Unspoken cultural expectations” are a huge part of the burden women carry at church (though it actually gets spoken). Support the priesthood; say yes to callings, and etc. I don’t know how often people get told to go the second mile anymore. The Church is pretty open about squeezing people for their obedience, their humanity and their souls. We have to set our own boundaries. The Church will never say we’ve given enough.
I have to say, I have always felt that African Americans were put in the most objectionable position by the church, and I thought it logical, predictable, that there are so few in the church now. The feelings and opinions expressed in this thread, however, particularly Janey’s moving comparison (Janey, your ability to really capture your feelings and experiences is exceptional) of how she is treated at work versus at church, has me rethinking that position. To most African Americans, I think Mormonism is wholly irrelevant, a curious and quirky American historical phenomenon that lines up perfectly with a racist history the country has yet to correct. But to more than half the church membership, the relegation and diminution of women is a daily reality that so many are now saying is no longer tolerable. I feel tonight like the church would do well to pay attention to the dissatisfaction of female members. This feels like an existential concern.
So many good comments and discussion – thank you. I’m traveling so can’t respond to all but would say to @bwbarnett that I do not believe in the version of the second coming that Nelson seems to believe in. You probably wonder why I engage at all when I truly don’t believe so many of the truth claims made—that’s a post for another day, but I believe in God, I love the teachings of Jesus, I love the concept of Christ, and I do think spiritual community is a helpful thing.
100 amens to Dot. A big flashpoint in my own faith transition was realizing that the promises of kingdoms and principalities and billions of offspring (as queen and priestess to my husband) was not even something I wanted. If I don’t care about Mormon heaven, why would I be particularly invested in Mormon rules?
@Dot asks: “What do you think should be done about this? Do you change the church or just pound the pulpit harder? Does God’s plan need to appeal to women in order to work?”
All great questions. I wish I had answers 😦 I’m interested in the answers to these questions too. I have a wife whom I love dearly. I want her happiness even more than mine I think. My happiness in many ways depends on her being happy.
A few comments I have regarding your questions… When someone asks, “Do you change the church”, or any of a variety of similar questions/statements, to me they are saying that Jesus should change His church or His doctrine. Now I know that not all of us break it down like this, but I do. I also understand that right now, Jesus’s church is administered by frail human beings, but again my belief is that Jesus trusts them with His church. From my perspective, asking Jesus to change His doctrine in order to be more appealing to *any* group of people (as it relates specifically to doing all the work and having no say, the Celestial Kingdom and God’s plan for them), seems very arrogant, presumptuous, and naive. “seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.”
Does God’s plan need to appeal to women in order to work? Yes of course it does. God’s plan was created for the salvation, exaltation and happiness of ALL His children, men and women. Perhaps there are aspects of the plan that we don’t fully understand as mortals living in a telestial world. Perhaps when we have a full understanding, the questions we have about the unappealing parts will be answered, the unappealing parts might be seen as part of a larger picture, might be complemented with other things we don’t currently know, etc., etc.
I’m confident that His plan works for ALL. This isn’t the first time it’s been tried, it’s just the current “round of the Gods”.
@Elisa – I’m actually very glad that you still engage and think you are wonderful for doing so. I’m glad that you love God and the teachings of Jesus. Very admirable… 🙂
What great comments and personal stories.!!!!!!! Thank you everyone.
We need to all tell the real stories and no more false faith promotion of the instuition.
I work in HR at a big company and have access to oodles of data on engagement, labor utilization, etc. Quiet quitting isn’t new at all (the name is) but has been present for decades. The difference now is that it’s not something a person just quietly does under the radar, but there’s a social acceptability to it. That’s not to say people are lazy or slackers, sometimes quiet quitting is just another way of saying “setting healthy boundaries”.
The difference between the church and the workplace is that an employee who checks out mentally/emotionally and eventually leaves can be replaced. A church member who does isn’t replaced on a macro level, at least not in developed western countries. Sure there might be a move-in who replaces a quiet quitter in a given ward, but they vacated a ward in California or Washington that doesn’t get a replacement. That’s the real problem for the church. And if they realize it at all, true to form they will realize it way too late to do anything other than complain about it after the fact.
@bwbarnett–Your feelings about current Mormon doctrine/policies/practices appears to be a very orthodox one. I think I understand where you’re coming from. I once felt the same way. Christ is leading His Church, and if His leaders every try to lead the Church astray, He will wipe them from the Earth.
My study of Church history and current Mormon affairs caused me to change my perspective. Perhaps this is Christ’s church, but if it is, He has leaders that are perpetually leading the Church astray, and not being taken away by God. Perhaps these leaders are inspired sometimes, but it seems like much of the time they are as clueless about God’s will for the Church as I am. The doctrine of The Trinity, Adam-God, blood atonement, polygamy, the temple/priesthood ban for blacks, birth control, etc. are just a few examples of things that Church leaders seemed to really get wrong–really, really wrong. One much more current example, is the Church’s views on gays. When I was growing up, according to Church leaders, being gay was a perversion that was a choice that could be repented of, all gay students were asked to leave immediately from BYU by the BYU president, and shock therapy was performed on gay students at BYU in an attempt to remove the gay. The Church still has a long, long way to go, but these days Church leaders say that people don’t choose to be gay, we should treat gay people with kindness, gay students are welcome at BYU (as long as they don’t act gay, sigh), etc. There are many, many, many other examples I could give. In any case, my study of Church history has led me to conclude that Church leaders, including the prophet, often have no idea what the will of God is for the Church and often make decisions that they feel are best for the Church but end up being very bad (i.e., they actually do lead the Church astray).
This view of Church leadership is very different from yours, but try to put yourself in my shoes, and pretend for a moment that you also believe the prophet is often as good as knowing the will of God for His church as you are. I don’t want to speak for Dot, but if you have this perspective, then maybe Dot isn’t saying that she just wants to subvert God’s will and come up with her own doctrine that is more appealing to her. Maybe what she’s saying is that Church kind of sucks for women right now in many ways, and in the absence of any direct revelation from God (because, remember, in my view, our prophets don’t seem to be getting a whole lot of this), maybe we could try out some changes that would make life in this Church for women a lot nicer. In fact, maybe Dot (and other women) have felt inspired from God about how the Church should change to be better for women, and they are very frustrated that Church leadership hasn’t been inspired in the same way (because they aren’t women, so it’s not a priority for them).
@elisa–“You probably wonder why I engage at all when I truly don’t believe so many of the truth claims made—that’s a post for another day, but I believe in God, I love the teachings of Jesus, I love the concept of Christ, and I do think spiritual community is a helpful thing.” You seem to be in a very similar place as I am regarding the Church and spirituality. I really would love to read a post that describes why you continue to engage.
My quiet quitting had a lot to do with waking up to the “lot” of women throughout history and currently. Cockamamie ideas like polygamy, and all former and current apologetics on it don’t even get a glance from me anymore. I’m looking at Iranian women this week cutting their hair and burning their hijabs. As I’ve stepped back at church I feel more connected than I did before to all women everywhere.
I still attend and minister. I’m just a different person doing it.
@bwbarnett, you stated “Perhaps there are aspects of the plan that we don’t fully understand as mortals living in a telestial world. Perhaps when we have a full understanding, the questions we have about the unappealing parts will be answered, the unappealing parts might be seen as part of a larger picture, might be complemented with other things we don’t currently know, etc., etc. I’m confident that His plan works for ALL.”
mountainclimber summed it up really well, but I’d like to add that the point is that as women we have been told over and over and over again our entire lives that “we just don’t currently know, we don’t see the larger picture, etc. etc.” And that is just not good enough. We have very real concerns that the plan you speak of does not in fact work for us. We have entire conference sessions wherein they tell us that our concerns and struggles are going to be addressed, and then during that session they are glossed over, ignored, and dismissed instead of actually confronted. We get told by apostles that we simply don’t know more about Heavenly Mother but apparently we know enough to be told that we shouldn’t pray to her. But as mountainclimber said, the apostles and prophets aren’t women and so seeking real answers to the things that matter for women is simply not something that they do, nor do they have the perspective as men to seek those answers from a personal standpoint, which is critical for truly understanding. So we are seeking out own answers and often finding them outside of the Church, because the Church has been really wrong about important things in the past. For many of us as women the Church continues to be wrong today about our worth, our contributions, our role, our future, and our status in the world and in God’s eyes.
I could have written this post. Every word of it.
I finally started my career, belatedly at the age of 39, and in my workplace women can lead men at all levels, and women can handle money. That simply doesn’t happen at church.
It becomes more obvious to me why the Church doesn’t want women to have careers. Once I gained a sense of my own value, well, there’s no going back from that.
Thought provoking post.
Am I quiet quitting? Probably not, or at least not quietly. But then, back thirty years ago before I married, or even back to forty years ago as a teen, I wasn’t quiet. I asked difficult questions in class, argued with the teachers, and was probably quite obnoxious. In singles ward in London I got dubbed the RS rebel by my housemates, and sometimes attended EQ instead. One memorable RS argument ensued during a lesson by the long suffering Claire Ferguson on the topic of compassion. And I had so had it with the nauseating quotes from men in the manual. And I gather she’s long gone while I am still here… I’m still puzzling over that… There was a space after I married when I tried really hard to do things by the book, but that was just destroying me.. I crawled out from that strange space and began blogging on W&T for a while, which provided an outlet, whilst I still did all I could in my callings. But I think I am now closest to quitting than I have ever been… just the material coming from the Q15 and Q70 level… I find I am yet again being loud and obnoxious in RS classes.. prepandemic there was a RS lesson on Oaks egregious talk about the woman whose husband was sealed to more than one woman, and then just a couple of weeks ago Renlund’s talk about not Heavenly mother. It’s not even as though HM is a concept I am so delighted to get on board with, but it is the constant dismissal of women’s concerns with such condescending head pats that gets me so riled. That and LGBTQ+ issues, having an adult child come out as non binary a couple of years ago at the same time as resigning their membership. Am I quitting? Quite possibly, but if so it ain’t quiet!
Mountainclimber and Katie: Yes, exactly.
Bwbarnett: Many women are no longer interested in participating in an unappealing church in order to earn a way into an unappealing heaven. So if this is God’s plan, and neither God nor God’s leaders care to address women’s concerns, then there will simply be fewer women in church and, I suppose, in heaven. I just don’t see how that’s a win for God.
There’s a lot of evidence for quiet quitting in church history, so I wouldn’t dismiss this article because there are no statistics backing it yet…
After all the disappointments of the early church Brigham Young started what they called the reformation because so many people had burnt out. Then after all the young families being forced to support missionary dads and polygamy persecutions and the financial failures of the perpetual emigration fund, church attendance plummeted. They even voted out an apostle, Reed Smoot, from public office because they didn’t feel the church had their temporal welfare in mind and pretty much ignored a lot of counsel. President Oaks said he remembered when there was only 20% attendance and church meetings were way less reverent than they are now.
I think a third wave of quiet quitting is happening because they always happened after we were told to sacrifice like crazy and we’ll get blessings and there’s not much to show for it. With the mental health crisis and more children being born later in life at the same time there are loud quittings there have to be quiet quittings as well,, it’s just common sense. Take senior missions–my husband’s parents went on one and my parents were working like crazy to save up for one while we couldn’t find people to babysit for dates and marriage counseling and there was potty training that sapped up all of my energy and disappearing naps. I sure could have used some help, several of our siblings were losing their mind over the stress of parenthood. But families are being sacrificed for busywork that helps the church yes, but I was told that no other success in life compensates for the family’s failure–which is it church??? So much for the whole don’t take care of your grandchildren, go on a mission instead, they’re better off without you and God will be their grandparent instead. Yeah we’re told that widows and fatherless have God for their husband and dad but we still have to do the work or they’ll suffer. Senior couples do wonderful work for the church, but it’s a little hard to justify me being excited to go on one someday when I’m headed for a train wreck in life and at the end of my life when I am trying to pick up all the peices of a failed life mission and make something of it, I’ll be pressured to find meaning in going through a traumatizing mammogram and papsmear and blood tests and whatever else they make you go through to go…wait for it…go around and test outlets in church buildings like a friend of mine did.
Even though I am a woman I think we should also talk about men quiet quitting too, I wouldn’t wish a mission on anybody who doesn’t want their agency taken away. My heart breaks for all the people who are told the way to fulfill their preisthood oath to share the gospel is to have their mission call by a board of doctors (not the general authorities) redirected to the Bishop because they were too neurologically or physically embarassing to appear in front of people (and they can’t decide for themselves that a service mission would be a better fit, a hired not a called-by-the-Lord department gets to decide)–and have the bishop and their parents decide by picking something out on JustServe (yes this is how it’s done, the call isn’t directly from the general authorities, and no the disabled person isn’t allowed to have the final say) that might not have anything to do with the church or people. Like cleaning up cages at an animal shelter. They are not allowed to live on their own (must live with parents) or wear their badges outside their assignment lest someone ask them about the church. These people are then asked to report back on job skills they gained without any inquiries into any conversions. The only benefit they are allowed to have is date, curiously if you are reassigned to a service mission after starting a proselyting one you can’t date, only the people who started out on one can–another one of those mysterious rules. One of my nephews was so glad that he lived before they automatically reassigned people who didn’t make the cut to service missions. He said that he was glad to have a choice instead of being made to serve. I’m so glad they got rid of the envelopes, can you imagine gathering everyone around to have an opening party only to have someone’s face fall when their embarassing medical issues are revealed to the world and then forced to talk about it at church twice? If I was on wheatandtares when they had the whole why do we have missions I would say it was to out people for marriage purposes. No wonder they can date on service missions, they’re going to need a huge head start with the church officially labelling them like that. I’m not saying this isn’t inspired, I’m just saying we should look into missions as something that is killing enthusiasm. Even people that go abroad and speak English in a safe country can come home seriously depressed after having missions overhyped to them.
Hang in there everybody, I love and sympathize with you all! God is still in charge even if he disappoints.
@Katie and mountainclimber479: I hear you! I think it is worthwhile for all of us to discuss the various things we discuss here and to share opinions, ideas, sorrows, questions, etc. Ultimately though for me, we are all just a group of above average 3 year olds discussing things like quantum physics, anatomy and psychology. So while I can spout off some possible ideas about why The Plan might be more appealing to women once our “eyes are opened”, or why LBGTQ issues will be taken care of somehow, or how our black sisters and brothers will be compensated for all the poor treatment they have received, or provide apologetic answers to the host of questions out there, some of which were mentioned by mountainclimber479, the real answers/solutions/truths are yet to come. Sorry if this sounds like a cop out, but unfortunately it’s the truth of our current situation here.
I’m not saying we should just all give up trying to solve problems and find answers. As I mentioned in the beginning, I think it is worthwhile for us to discuss things together. What I am saying is that in my opinion it is foolish to think that The Plan of an all-knowing and all-powerful God won’t work, like a 3 year old telling Einstein that there’s something wrong with his formula. So rather than looking for parts of the plan that I think don’t work, I would prefer to assume they work and look forward to finding out how. How does one exercise faith in a God who he thinks might have a flawed Plan? Wouldn’t a flawed Plan indicate that there were something He missed? Maybe He isn’t all-knowing after all?? Things break down pretty quickly in this line of thinking, don’t they?
I think you nailed it from both a woman’s and a man’s perspective. For far too many people, the church as an institution has become less appreciative of service, commitment and personal growth than secular institutions (in your case American Express). As our culture has shifted in various ways, some church leaders have used forms of coercion or even neglect as means of enforcing what they consider the markers of religiosity. When for so many Latter-day Saints, their capitalistic employers are more kind, more appreciative of who they are and more committed to what people can become than their religious community is, well… that might signal a problem.
Thank you for sharing these experiences. You make some good points I never thought about. Certainly, pressuring young people to serve missions and making such a big deal of those who go, really puts pressure on parents and young people. It certainly puts a mark on families where adult children do not pursue that path.
I think the first step in changing this would be to make all missions optional, and allow missionaries to choose service missions based on their own decisions.
As you describe it, the current system is demeaning and infantalizing to those with disabilities.
@bwbarnett, “So rather than looking for parts of the plan that I think don’t work, I would prefer to assume they work and look forward to finding out how.” That’s awfully easy for someone to write for whom it suits so well. you must realize that your comment reads like Someone: “Hey, I hurt.” You, “Just part of God’s mysterious plan.”
And you are constantly, conveniently leaving out how many times the issues we’re talking about here HAVE CHANGED. You don’t see actual people here in the process, just pure, unfiltered God in everything leaders do and say, which, by the way, is anti-agency, anti-atonement, and anti-doctrinal. But hey, pick your little quote about how perfect revelation is for Church leaders even though it doesn’t work that way for anyone else. Sure, take away everything messy, and natural, and good about us trying to figure things out. But realize that you and everyone who thinks that way is hurting, hurting, hurting people (including yourselves) along the way with such ignorance.
Maybe your wife really is cool knowing that you’ll get to have sex with lots of women in the next life while she produces baby after baby after baby after baby for eternity and that you will get prayed to in the next life and those same children will be told to never speak to her again. Maybe she truly is cool with that. But, you know, simply dismissing women and men for whom that doesn’t seem to be a part of the Gospel is sort of a jerk move. Or how about any LGBT+ people. Or black people. Look, your empathy smacks as, in Hedgehog’s words: “condescending head pats.” The very fact that you won’t wrestle with these issues is exactly the reason this post was written: men like you (as evinced by your comments) simply can’t see any reason that women might have difficulty in the church. That’s fine. But it doesn’t make you right. And it doesn’t make the brethren right, who, by the way, have changed their tunes numerous times over the years and issues such as this. Which YOU STILL DON’T ADDRESS!
The problem with this line of thinking is it ignores the fingerprints of man on the church. Their are scrolls that have been found that show the original Christian church divided into 2 parts, one that had women leaders and a rotating lay clergy, and one that was essentially the Catholic church. For instance, female leaders like Mary Magdalene, and The last wrote their own gospels, but they were eventually destroyed as heretical by the orthodox church. So it’s debatable if it really God’s plan that women should excluded from leadership, or if this was just a result of the misogyny of the culture of that time.
After all, Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene. She was called the apostle to the apostles. Apostle just means someone who brings a message. A good source is “The Gnostic Gospels” by Elaine Pagels
@Brian – You’re so far off in your attempts to describe who you think I am. Some of the things you’ve stated are blatantly false and contradict what I have actually said while most others are inaccurate assumptions. I’ll leave it at that.
@bwbarnett. Sounds good to me. I’m fine having what we have each written here stand. All the best!
@bwbarnett–“What I am saying is that in my opinion it is foolish to think that The Plan of an all-knowing and all-powerful God won’t work.” I’m not saying that there isn’t a Plan (although if there is a Plan it may be a *whole* lot different that what we here in Church), and I’m not saying that if there is a Plan that it doesn’t work, what I’m saying is we (and “we” includes me, you, Nelson, Oaks, etc.) don’t even know what the Plan is, not even close. We’re all “seeing through a glass darkly”. If we don’t fully know what the Plan is, and we see people around us suffering, what is wrong with taking steps to make things better for them? Letting women participate equally in the decision making process at all levels of the Church would not require a change in Church doctrine (if it were me, I’d go all in and give women the priesthood, and truly make men and women equal, but I’ll back off of that to make my point). Allowing gay people who followed the “law of chastity” (i.e., they only had sex with the person they were married to) to fully participate in the Church (take the sacrament, hold callings, etc.) would not require a change in Church doctrine (again, if it were me, I’d let them get sealed in the temple, and let “God sort everything out” later on since that’s the answer we give to women when their husbands are sealed to multiple women). When we don’t have any idea what the Plan is, and we see people around us suffering, we should help them!
Very well written article, Elisa: My sincere compliments. I’m observing “Quiet Quitting” everywhere I turn; in the Church. This absolutely includes myself. I recently told my Bishop (quite a good guy, really) that I would no longer be participating in “Ministering” and that I neither wanted to be an assigned friend to anyone – nor wanted any assigned friends to my family. Personally, I view this phenomena as an amazing example of people pulling the power back to themselves.
bwbarnett: I believe the whole concept of “Gathering of Israel” is absolute hogwash….and nonsense. There’s not a mass gathering anywhere – but there is a great deal of cross migration (of all of kinds of people) all across the World. The Church has little (to nothing) to do with this phenomena…
“we (and ‘we’ includes me, you, Nelson, Oaks, etc.) don’t even know what the Plan is, not even close. We’re all ‘seeing through a glass darkly’.”
I think we share some common ground here, though I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that we aren’t even close or that the Plan is a *whole* lot different than what we are taught. It might be, but my belief is that the general ideas are accurate and there are some details that need to be seen without that pesky dark glass.
“If we don’t fully know what the Plan is, and we see people around us suffering, what is wrong with taking steps to make things better for them?”
Nothing is wrong with this in principle, especially for the groups of people we have mentioned in this post. How to alleviate the suffering and/or what constitutes “making things better for them” is usually where disagreements arise. I’d also like to add that this idea, or ideal, of a life void of suffering is a fantasy (I’m sure we all can agree on that). Of course, it’s human nature to try to avoid suffering, but suffering, failure, sin, and sorrow are part of the Plan and most of the time, they are our best instructors. Sometimes I feel like people here who don’t agree with me think I have never suffered, failed or sorrowed — that I picture myself on my high-horse speaking down to all of you. Not true at all. While my sufferings, failures and sorrows may differ from women, blacks and minorities, I still have them. I’m not going to say my form of suffering even comes close to that of others, but it’s still there. And I sorrow for the sufferings of others.
“Letting women participate equally in the decision making process at all levels of the Church”
“Allowing gay people who followed the “law of chastity” (i.e., they only had sex with the person they were married to) to fully participate in the Church”
On issues like these, I would first like to be told what the “why’s” are behind the current Church policies. What are the reasons why women are not allowed to participate equally in the decision-making process? Regarding this issue in particular, I think the Church has made significant advances here. Women are included more than ever before in many of the councils in the Church. Their input is asked for and included in the decision-making process. It’s not perfect yet, but moving toward the ideal you suggest. What are the reasons behind the policy that women are not allowed to hold the priesthood? What are the reasons why monogamous gay people are not allowed to fully participate in the Church? I would want answers to these types of questions in order to form an opinion on whether the policies should be changed.
But as far as seeking to alleviate suffering, I’m with ya.
Thank you everyone for your comments, even if you disliked mine, I get why and I don’t hate you for it. I’m not the best writer, I brought up men not to diminish women like me, but aren’t they quitting at higher rates with more female members? I don’t want to dismiss the female experience (I’m a woman too) at all, just pointing out the obvious, there are less men, so why? It’s possible to empathize with everyone, people on the furthest left of the spectrum and the right, men, women, people with unwavering faith, people who are just done and confused and suspicious of it all, members and observers. I love you all! Even though I have a lot of hope (hence my user name) I get that God’s chess-playing is hard to watch and it’s difficult to discern where people have stepped in. Changed rules are frustrating but there’s a chance they were allowed because the purpose of this life is to test people and God’s not going to fix that yet. The church is still a limited club, it’s always been that and he seems fine with that. I’m like okay God…so if you are just, how are you going to fix the extremely low number of black members? Some of us have hope not because we really do, just because we can’t quit with how horrible life is and we need God bad and hope is our only option. In my struggles I have connected to God, albiet by a thin string, and I have some ideas on how God is going to fix things or why he allowed it because I felt that God revealed it to me personally but I don’t want to stir the pot (this is more directed to well intentioned people like @bwbarnett) when people are hurting bad. For example I may not be a career type feminist, I love the idea of being a heavenly mother, and I’m not interested in pointless leadership positions in the church, but I can empathize with people who don’t have the bishop look them in the eye and look at their husband instead or have read horrible past quotes that left women completely powerless in every sphere, including little spheres that women who don’t ask for much should at the very least have power over like their salvation or their calling to nurture. But there’s a reason women don’t walk out at the high rate men do; it’s worth talking about and not assuming that there’s no reason any woman could stay or that we’re held hostage. One single lady in my ward who is far left (she wears fauci gear–kind of silly but I don’t despise her for it, it makes her unique, we all have something to contribute) told me about how the church once advised women to allow their husbands to make all the final decisions like decide when bedtime is in one of the past church manuals–things like that hurt her hard (and stung me too, yikes, how did my mother who believes in empowering women ever put up with all that?), but she always left a message of hope, like telling me about the scripture in Isaiah/Nephi where God says he’ll put the women on his shoulders and carry the men in his arms someday, talk about an interesting role reversal! So maybe that’s why we women stay, we have more hope; let’s spread it, but do it with tact and real reasons to have it instead of c’mon, just be faithful, because that’s not working on this thread. Still quiet quitting in some areas because I’m human though and I can’t do it all.
“God’s a kid with an ant farm, lady. He’s not planning anything.”
– John Constantine
Bwbarnet, maybe you don’t realize how your comments sound because you are so used to the church giving women condescending head pats, that you do not see how dismissive your attitude is and can’t even see that you are blaming the victim when you suggest that we just don’t understand God’s plan. You think because it comes from the church leaders, that it comes from God and cannot be dead wrong. But, you are like the three year old discussing Einstein because you and the general authorities are men discussing women’s experience. You know no more about women’s experience than a three year old, but you are SURE it is us stupid women just misunderstand God’s plan and when we do understand it, suddenly it will all make sense. Maybe you need to consider that women know what we are talking about when we say that the church’s plan for women just doesn’t work.
So, let me give you an example. I was abused sexually by my father. The whole way the church treated him and how it treated me made me feel like God hated me, like God loves his sons and hates his daughters. In order to save any relationship with God, I had to leave the church. I can’t give you a quick description of the whole thing because it would be a book and happened over a 40 year time span, and like trying to explain the theory of relativity to a three year old. And then you tell me that I just don’t understand God’s plan. No, a bunch of bishops and a bunch of general authorities do not understand God’s love for his daughters. They do not understand child sexual abuse and what a victim needs to heal. They heaped love on my father and treated me, TOLD me that I was worse than he was because, oh gee, I had some emotional damage caused by my father and their blaming me and coddling/loving him sure didn’t help me heal. The church treated him as if he had infinite worth and treated me like garbage. The temple and everything about how the church treats women compared to how it treats men is the problem, and it is not a loving God’s plan. So, either I accept your God who is an a**h***, or I say that our general authorities do not understand God’s plan. But don’t pat me on the head and tell me that I don’t understand God’s plan. Yes, I am an extreme case and the church doesn’t fail all women as bad as it did me.
Everything Brian said about how people say they are hurting, and you tell them it is how God wants things is correct. It hurts them even more when you tell them it is how God wants things, because then they are supposed to believe that God wants them to be hurt over and over and over. I know you say that you are not like that, but that is how your comments sound. You are part of why I just cannot be in this church, and you can’t even see it.
I know you are just repeating what the church has taught you and trying to maintain faith in it, but the church blames those people that it fails rather than look at it own failure. And while you may not realize it, you are blaming the people that the church is failing, because you see them as not having as much faith, instead of seeing that they have the courage too see what the church refuses to see.
God’s plan would work for all God’s children. So, if the church’s program isn’t working for women, maybe, just maybe it is the church that is wrong and not the women.
“the Plan is a *whole* lot different than what we are taught”–A key part of the “The Plan” as presented in the Church on an almost weekly basis is that the prophet speaks for God and cannot lead the Church astray. There is a popular primary song that I loathe that says exactly that (“Follow the Prophet”). There is overwhelming evidence that this is not true. If it is true that Church leadership is often wrong, then this is more than a tiny “detail” that the Church has wrong in its depiction of The Plan every week.
-“a life void of suffering is a fantasy”. Of course, the longer a person lives, the more sorrow they will face. There are things that cause sorrow that we can control, and there are things that cause sorrow that we cannot control. We can’t control if a child is born with a birth defect or someone gets cancer. We can try to help them, but we currently can’t make the situation better. On the other hand, if someone breaks a leg skiing, we rush to their aid and get them to a doctor who more often than not can fully heal them. The Church doesn’t have to shun gay people and treat women as second class citizens–this is the kind of suffering that we can control.
“On issues like these, I would first like to be told what the “why’s” are behind the current Church policies.” Wouldn’t we all? The orthodox Mormon answer is just to accept that everything in the Church is just as God wants it to be right now (this is God’s One True Church, after all), all questions will be answered later, and all suffering will be worth it in the end. Given Mormonism’s murky history, I would ask you to be open to the idea that current Church policies/doctrine might not reflect God’s will and might just be be based on the cultural traditions or opinions of prophets. The Church’s own essay on the priesthood/temple ban on blacks admits that the ban may simply have come from Brigham Young following the prevailing cultural racial ideas of his day (an opinion I agree with). Uctdorf gave a GC talk (a talk that may have something to do with his removal from the FP when Nelson became president) just a few years ago in which he clearly admitted that mistakes have been made in Church history even at the highest levels of Church leadership. Here’s Uctdorf’s quote: “To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine.” Nelson gave a talk claiming that the policy of exclusion (children living with gay parents couldn’t be baptized until they were 18 and renounced their parents’ “lifestyle”) in 2015 was inspired of God and then gave a talk claiming the rescinding of the exact same policy of exclusion was also inspired of God when it was undone in 2018, almost certainly due to the volume of negative reaction from membership (Really? Two completely conflicting actions within a 3 year period were both totally inspired of God?) If this is God’s Church, then perhaps the answer to some of your “why” questions is that He doesn’t direct every last detail of the Church, He allows leaders to go way, way off course some times, He expects the membership of the Church to speak up when they are suffering and see things that don’t feel right, and He expects Church leadership to listen to Church membership, do what is right, and make the necessary changes.
I’ve quietly quit the Church. They demand a lot and don’t provide any answers or help for my particular set of challenges. My question is: does anyone care?
@Lily–For what it’s worth, I care that you’ve quietly quit, Lily. I don’t know you personally, but I suspect that your reduced activity is a big loss to your ward–and most of the “magic” of the Church happens at the ward level.
… or, adding to mountainclimber’s very well-structured comments, God is not interventionist or doesn’t exist. These are also possible.
To his highly relevant examples, I would add the one that for me speaks volumes: Nelson’s insistence that the word Mormon is offensive to God. This is clearly a pet peeve of a rather arrogant man who could not wait to have the power to change it. How, otherwise, to explain why Hinckley not only accepted by actively embraced and promoted use of the word before Nelson decided it was a “victory for Satan.” The abrupt about face, similar to that made regarding the exclusion policy, treats members like children who will just accept anything the guy says, and apparently they will.
@Anna I’ve been here at W&T for several years, and I have learned a lot about how other people see things. I consider it a very valuable education, and I’m grateful to many here for helping me learn. However, something that has bothered me since I began commenting is when my comments are mischaracterized, when words are put into my mouth, and when false assumptions are made about me. I try hard not to do any of these things, but I’m sure I fail sometimes. Some of this might be inherent in the form of communication that forums are, and if so, I think we take should that into consideration when responding to someone, and perhaps give them the benefit of the doubt.
You said: “you are blaming the victim when you suggest that we just don’t understand God’s plan” – Mischaracterization. I didn’t say women don’t understand God’s plan. I was suggesting that ALL of us don’t understand it fully. Your mischaracterization makes it sound like I, as a man, am doing some “head-patting” to you women.
You said: “you are like the three year old discussing Einstein” – Totally agree with you.
You said: “but you are SURE it is us stupid women just misunderstand God’s plan” – Putting words in my mouth. I never said “stupid women”, I never thought it, nor do I feel that way AT ALL.
You gave a personal example of your abusive father and the church essentially supporting him and not you. I understand your personal example MUCH more than you think. I have been trying to help my wife reverse the effects of an almost identical experience for the past 35 years. As I read it, it was almost identical. I’ve shed many tears for her. In fact, I’m wiping away tears right now as I write about it. I am genuinely sorry that you experienced this too. This was a false assumption, but I can’t blame you for this one. What are the chances you and my wife would have had very similar childhoods?
You said: “You are part of why I just cannot be in this church, and you can’t even see it.” I really hope this is not true. I hope that if we were able to know each other outside of W&T, you might change your mind. Maybe not, but that is my hope.
You said: “So, if the church’s program isn’t working for women, maybe, just maybe it is the church that is wrong and not the women.” – I’m willing to admit that you may be right. I don’t know with 100% accuracy. If the FP and Q12 announce sweeping changes, I’ll be onboard. But as has been said by me, and kind of snidely by others, I am choosing to trust the Apostles. I wish I weren’t mocked for my choice to follow them.
bwbarnett: “What are the chances you and my wife would have had very similar childhoods?” From what I can tell, a lot of women have had very abusive situations in their lives. It’s not at all uncommon in the church or out of the church. It’s just not talked about much in most forums.
When my sons determined that they weren’t interested in what the church was offering, my first thought was “Well, if THEY don’t want it, who does? It sure isn’t designed for my daughter!” I can’t push her to embrace second class status and marry a person who might be great despite the outdated teachings about gender roles or who might believe he has the right to “preside” over her instead of being an equal partner. There is truly nothing for women in this church, and it’s gotten worse post-pandemic (no community) and post-Trump (overt sexism, racism, homophobia are now mainstreamed). The only people my daughter’s age who use racial slurs are the Mormon kids. That should tell you something about the church right now.
Hearing from men, 95% of the speakers and 100% of the “real” leaders (with lifetime appointments and stipends) at General Conference how valued women are is laughable. We aren’t blind. We also know what they mean by “valued.” We are valued as an appendage, someone to bring a husband glory while we change diapers, do dishes, and smile serenly. Hearing E. Oaks laugh at women who want to know whether they will be forced to live in polygamy in the eternities, making a literal joke out of our pain, that’s just another nail in the coffin, and coming from someone who exemplifies male privilege in the church, an actual practitioner of eternal polygamy, is incredibly galling.
I appreciate that you really don’t want things to be like this. Your willingness to listen is encouraging. I think most men in the Church don’t want women to be as sidelined as we are, but it’s just too little too late. You can’t be led by a gerontocracy of all men, mostly white, and expect different results. Nobody checks their power. They literally believe every idea that pops into their head is from God. It’s like the scene at the beginning of the last Emperor where the castrated monks take the little Emperor’s stool bucket and smell his feces in rhapsody, knowing that this is divine because it comes from him. I don’t begrudge the monks their spiritual rhapsody, but I’m just not buying that what they are smelling is divine. Maybe they are happier for believing it. I just don’t.
@bwbarnett There is no “gathering of Israel” or second coming. It’s a fairy tale. Move on with your life. Do some good in the world right now.
@mountainclimber479 – Your last comment… well said. When I think of The Plan, I think more of Creation, Fall, Atonement. I think of covenants with God through saving ordinances, repentance, and enduring to the end by keeping the commandments. I think of things related to resurrection and life after death. In terms of The Plan, prophets have their place, but their primary responsibility is to TEACH The Plan, to spread the good news, and to point us to Christ, not necessarily that they are an integral part of The Plan.
“On issues like these, I would first like to be told what the “why’s” are behind the current Church policies.” Wouldn’t we all?
You say, “Wouldn’t we all?” I think the difference is that you seem to be fine moving ahead with changes, significant changes, without having those “why’s” answered. I don’t want to make false assumptions here 😉 but it seems like the attitude among some here is something like, let’s just try it out and see if it works. For some situations, I think this is a great approach. For others, not so much.
You made a case for the argument that the top leaders of the Church, throughout the history of the church, have made mistakes. I agree that they are not perfect. I don’t think I have stated or even implied that I think they are above making mistakes. If we were somehow able to add up all the correct decisions (God’s will) and all the incorrect ones (not God’s will), I believe the scale would HEAVILY favor the correct decision side. So, from a purely logical standpoint, regardless of the possibility of a very rare incorrect decision, I would choose to follow the Prophet. The danger comes when we sense a mistake has been made, or even when one is admitted to, and we decide to stop listening/hearkening to the Prophet’s voice. That’s the danger. We are no longer being guided by a Prophet through whom the Lord guides his people. Now I know the Lord can and does guide us as individuals, but there must be some things that come through the Prophet that don’t come to individuals. Else why would the Lord have prophets??
@Angela: as always, I appreciate your comments.
bwbarnett: “If we were somehow able to add up all the correct decisions (God’s will) and all the incorrect ones (not God’s will), I believe the scale would HEAVILY favor the correct decision side.” You know who probably wouldn’t see it this way? Gay people, black people, trans people, and increasingly women.
“Now I know the Lord can and does guide us as individuals, but there must be some things that come through the Prophet that don’t come to individuals. Else why would the Lord have prophets??” Entire reformations are built around this question. It’s why the Catholic Church for centuries insisted on Latin for mass, and why the Gutenberg press was the biggest threat to organized Christianity that ever happened. Once people could read the Bible without a priest telling them what it said, they could see that what they were being told wasn’t what the Bible actually said. That is literally the same thing happening to teachers in our church if they bother to actually read the scriptures directly vs. the inaccurate representations and spin we see in our manuals. Fortunately for the Church, most people don’t read and don’t really know how to read critically even when they do bother to read. As to why we need prophets–beats me. I really don’t see why we do. We have personal revelation, and the church-wide revelation is handing down stinkers like the 2015 policy of exclusion and doubling down on gender roles that sideline women and telling us that the priesthood ban was all God’s idea. We’ve got leaders taking swipes at evolution and willing to blow up accreditation of various BYU programs because they don’t want to help trans people with voice therapy and they don’t want to allow gay students to pursue chaste dating like hetero students can. We have apostles literally participating in hate organizations like the World Congress of Families, advocating for anti-gay legislation in less developed countries.
But you know what? Prophets have always been fairly bad at being God’s mouthpiece. Jonah (who I don’t really think qualified, but we’re told was a prophet) ran away because he hated the people he was supposed to convert. He was actually mad when they did convert, so mad that he sulked under a tree after succeeding. The Apostle Peter didn’t want to allow people to join the Christian church until they were circumcized because he saw Christianity as a sub-religion of Judaism. He was proven wrong after disagreeing with Paul; each of them had different factions on their side. It threatened to tear the church apart. Isaiah goes off on women for wearing jewelry (anklets and earrings), mocking them for “mincing” in how they walked (sounds a lot like “walking while female” to me), saying that God will expose their “secret parts” and physically destroy them for it. Since women living in a patriarchy were financially dependent, prized primarily for their attractiveness and fertility, and were forced to dress in highly feminized ways, the fact that Isaiah chose to take aim at them tells you what he thought of women. You know how much has changed since then? Not much. E. Ballard, about a decade ago, told single women that they needed to dress to impress and they probably weren’t married because they weren’t wearing makeup or making themselves attractive. “Even an old barn looks better with a new coat of paint.” And of course, everyone courtesy laughed at this misogyny.
You know who needs people to believe in prophets? Prophets. Since the church-wide edicts can only speak to a rule and not the exceptions, and since all our lives include exceptions, I’m not sure why we “need” them. We have the gift of the holy ghost and we also have brains. We should all BE prophets. We should seek after having moral authority, not abdicating it to others. Our church leader roles are primarily administrative, we just don’t admit that. Brigham Young briefly admitted that, but then he liked power a lot and sort of backtracked into a theocratic dictator afterwards. The best leaders are the ones who listen (ours don’t), who advocate for their people (we’ve been told the church only faces forward–we have to obey and listen; leaders lecture, they don’t listen), and who adapt to changing circumstances (as others have pointed out, we have changes, we just don’t admit it–instead we have leaders proudly claiming that they do not and cannot change because they can’t lead us astray). I will agree with that. Only we can lead ourselves astray by handing over our moral authority unquestioningly.
@bwbarnett–As a missionary I taught the 1st discussion of the old “rainbow” discussion set so many times. Note the name of the 1st discussion: “The Plan of Salvation”. First principle of the 1st discussion: God. Second principle: Christ. Third and fourth principles: prophets (ancient and modern). I understand your point when you say that the role of prophets is to communicate The Plan to the world, but prophets are always presented as, to use your term, “integral” to The Plan. Why would they be the 3rd concept introduced by missionaries in the first discussion on “The Plan of Salvation” if this is not the case? There is no way you can convince me otherwise. (Again, I get how they are just the communicators of The Plan, so you don’t need to explain the rest of The Plan to me. However, if prophets screw up when communicating the will of God, that’s a big problem.)
The Church heavily stresses how important prophets are. The Church teaches that prophets might make a mistake here or there, but don’t worry (wink, wink), they will never get any big issue wrong. The types of mistakes prophets have made are never named by the Church, but they are always spoken of as really minor things, like the prophet might choose the wrong shade of off-white for the walls in the celestial room for the new Manti temple–trivial matters like like. Prophets certainly could never be wrong on big things like women’s status in the church or LGBTQ issues. If they were, God would immediately take them from the Earth. Since prophets are always right on the important things, just always follow whatever they say, your status in The Plan will always be safe, and you will always be in the right. That is a very comfortable world view to live in–I fully understand it since I used to live in that world myself.
The problem is that I believe that that view of prophets is wrong. A number of examples of big mistakes have been listed in this thread already, and there are many, many more (many Church members aren’t even aware of these things since they are very rarely mentioned in Church lessons). If the reality is that prophets are frequently wrong on big issues, then this is a huge deviation from The Plan as presented week in and week out by the Church.
If you want to wait until the Church understands why gays aren’t welcomed in our congregations and why women have 2nd class status before the Church makes any changes, then you are probably be going to be waiting a very, very long time. In my opinion, the most likely “why’s” for these questions (LGBTQ and women) are because of cultural traditions and personal opinions of prophets. However, even though Uctdorf has acknowledged that Church leadership has made mistakes, the Church almost never, ever admits to its mistakes by name–even Uctdorf didn’t dare list any of the mistakes he was referring to (was he censored by others in the Q15?). Even if the Church does decide to change its stance on gays or women, don’t expect to get any answers to your why questions until decades after the change, if ever (think about the priesthood/temple ban–the whys for discriminating against our black brothers and sisters for 100+ years aren’t fully answered yet, 30+ years after the change).
It would be great if God would direct His Church in the way the Church wants membership to believe it does, but in the absence of this type of revelation, then what are we to do in the meantime? Women have suffered as 2nd class citizens of the Church for generations. Are we really just to sit by and wait for answers to your whys that will likely never come, or can we do our best and make a change? Almost all gay Mormons are forced to leave the Church in early adulthood due to current Church policies. Studies have shown that people that don’t have long-term partners aren’t as happy as those that do. Are we really supposed to just sit around waiting for an answer to the “why” that is probably never going to come while so many of our gay brothers and sisters are depressed, attempting suicide, and literally forced to leave the Church? You seem to prefer to allow people to continue to needlessly suffer until God reveals the answer to his prophet. I’d prefer to end the suffering now. I believe prophets often do their best to direct the Church in the right direction, and they often do this without direct revelation from God. Likewise, they could greatly improve the lives of women and LGBTQ people in the Church, even in the absence of direct revelation from God (remember “Do what is right”?). Yes, there has been some good progress on women’s status and LGBTQ people over the past few decades, but it’s not enough. Why does a Church with a prophet always have to lag so far behind “The World” when it comes to doing the right thing?
Yes, I think you and I differ on how frequently prophets are wrong. Again, I get it. I used to be where you were. I actually liked it better in many ways when I believed like you did. Unfortunately, reality didn’t match up with the Church’s teachings on prophets, so I was forced to change my worldview. I will say this: the closer a prophet stays to the words of Christ, the less likely he is to be right, and the farther a prophet deviates for the words of Christ, the more likely he is to be wrong. What is it that Christ Himself had to say about women’s roles in the Church and homosexuality again?
Obviously, I meant, “the closer a prophet stays to the words of Christ, the more likely he is to be right, and the farther a prophet deviates for the words of Christ, the more likely he is to be wrong”
I understand why some of our leaders are so terrified about the normalization of LGBT acceptance. They believe it is contagious, not in a real “infectious” sense. I believe it was Glennon Doyle who said “Being gay isn’t contagious. Freedom is.” There was someone in an online forum who said she felt like she was hanging on to the church by her fingertips for years, terrified of what would happen to her if she fell. When she finally let go, she realized that the ground was right below her feet the whole time, and it was more like stepping off a curb than falling off a cliff. That’s more or less what Glennon Doyle is saying. Sometimes we are sacrificing a lot because we are just afraid of letting go.
That brings us back to the quiet quitting idea. As employees, we have thought we have to be at every work dinner, we have to walk around with a smile plastered on our face 24×7, we have to take feedback cheerily, be grateful for every raise, even if it’s a disappointment, agree with our boss who takes credit for our work, stay late, come in early (or at least pretend to), and it feels necessary. It is like walking around all day clenching your butt. You don’t realize you were holding in that stress until you unclench it, and then you realize how much easier life is and how much happier you are. Maybe all that clenching was giving you a firm butt, maybe it was just wrecking your back.
@Angela says: “As to why we need prophets–beats me. I really don’t see why we do. We have personal revelation…”
Without prophets, there is no church, no organized religion, right? I think this may be the natural conclusion to your statement. And there may be many here who would applaud that. To me it sounds like a recipe for disaster – welcome to the Middle Ages kind of disaster. Is there organized religion without some sort of “supreme commander”? Do you know of a period in the earth’s history where people did not have organized religion but called upon God individually for personal guidance? I’d be interested to see how it went for them.
You say: “We should all BE prophets.” – I actually love this idea. Maybe not the same way you do (getting rid of the Lord’s called prophets), but in learning how to hear God’s voice for ourselves. You may remember the story of Eldad and Medad in Numbers 11. After the spirit of Lord had rested upon them, they began to prophecy in the camp of Israel. Prior to this, I believe only Moses prophesied among the people. Joshua witnessed this and ran and told Moses, asking him to forbid them. Moses essentially responds: “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that His spirit would rest upon them.” Sounds like Moses desired something similar.
@mountainclimber479: Yes I remember those missionary discussions! 🙂 Point well taken.
You’ve said a few times that you’ve been where I am and so you understand pretty well where I’m coming from. I’ve never been where you are, so I don’t understand where you’re coming from. Here’s a flurry of questions. Don’t feel obligated to answer all of them, or any of them if you don’t want to, but your answers may help me see your point of view on prophets better and maybe the reasons why you argue the way you do (the good argue, not the heated, angry argue)
What is your belief as it relates to prophets in general? The last 4 or 5 LDS prophets, what do think of them? Did God call/prepare them as prophets or was it just a coincidence that they happened to live longer than the other Apostles? Do you listen/hearken to them now? Why or why not? Do you think Joseph Smith saw and spoke with God and Jesus Christ? Does the world need prophets? Why or why not?
bwbarnett: “Without prophets, there is no church, no organized religion, right? I think this may be the natural conclusion to your statement.” I think you are overlooking the fact that the majority of Christian religions do not have prophets. Mainline Protestants do not. Anglicans do not. You could argue that Catholics have a “prophet,” but the Pope is kind of like what we have and kind of different. Being elected, being allowed to retire, these are differences. Catholics also don’t believe the Pope is in constant conference with Jesus, although their doctrine does state the Pope is infallible (but he is viewed as fallible by members despite the doctrine). The Pope model is probably the only other Christian sect (aside from very small movements) that has a single leader backed by a council of top leaders, aka “prophet” by our definition. These other sects manage by councils or are completely disaggregated. They see their churches as communities of disciples, endeavoring to follow the teachings of Christ and to come together in worship.
It’s funny to me how easy it is for Mormons to dismiss other religions as illegitimate and to simply forget that they’ve actually all been more successful much longer than we have. It’s fine to believe Mormonism is the *best* one or the *most* true, but to conclude that without prophets there is no organized religion is to overlook the millions of non-LDS Christians entirely. They simply don’t have prophets. That we do is quite exceptional, but by their fruits ye shall know them. Many ex-Mos in online forums say “We have prophets who don’t prophesy (which leaders have now defined as “warning,” because they do that), seers who don’t see, and revelators who don’t reveal.” These roles are largely administrative, which is frankly how organizations run, and churches are no exception.
An observation, bwbarnett, the Middle Ages were a disaster in the Christian world, which was largely ordered around the divine right of kings and a church that deferred to the king as God’s mouthpiece– a prophet of sorts. The Middle Ages were the golden age for Islam, which has ever only had one prophet who was dead at that time. BTW, the Buddha actively discouraged his followers from treating him as a God or prophet. He promoted the idea that he was a man only, as does the Dalai Lama now. Yes, both are often worshipped as more than human, but then that’s the tendency of humans to want someone to guide their own decision making.
@Angela: I am not familiar with the leadership structures of other Christian, and for that matter, non-Christian religions. However, outside of the Pope, my understanding was that there were not many, if any, who claimed to have something similar to what we call our prophet. I definitely stated my opinion/question incorrectly. My point was to contrast some sort of leadership structure vs. everyone receiving their own personal revelation. The latter is what I thought was a recipe for disaster. The sects that you say are completely disaggregated, what are some of the more well-known ones? Would they fall into the category of “everyone kinda doing their own thing”?
bwbarnett: Most Evangelical churches are run independently. There is no HQ that oversees them. The pastors run things at a congregation level. There is in some cases a loose sort of coalition of churches, but they have completely separate oversight, including fundraising and budgets as well as curriculum. That’s just a structure question. As for personal revelation vs. institutional revelation, they might have doctrines they agree to, but what really sets the tone is community norms, and franky, that’s the case with Mormonism too.
Interestingly, a recent poll shows that 42% of Evangelical pastors have been seriously considering quitting since the Trump era, mostly because they disagree with the direction their far-right congregations want them to go, against the actual gospel and steering into grievance politics. These congregations don’t want to be challenged, which has normally been the responsibility of the pastor, to inspire Christian-oriented change in their flock. Instead, the congregations want to be told they are God’s people, and that they are in a noble fight against “the World.” They don’t want to have to examine their racism or their sexism. They want to be told that God hates whiners, and the real enemies of God are the liberals. The things they want pastors to say and do are willingly being done by some who are happy to fill these voids. These same types of rhetoric are leaking into our congregations as well, sometimes even in dog whistles at General Conference.
When you say you think “prophets” get things right most of the time, I’m wondering what examples you have of this, and are these things that are administrative, procedural, or prophetic? Or do you see all three of these as “prophetic”? Mormons tend to consider anything prophets say & do as being “prophetic” and feel a need to defend it, but when you compare it to what other churches say & do, it’s often quite similar without anyone claiming prophethood.
@bwbarnett–I experienced a faith transition many years ago. It was a pretty gradual and easy transition that occurred over the end of my high school years and into college and mission. I was moving into adulthood and needed to understand what I really believe as opposed to what I’d always been taught by my parents and the Church. I basically pulled everything I’d been taught off of the wall, examined it, and kind of decided if I accepted it (1) as truth–it went back on the wall, (2) something that I was going to need to examine more before putting it back on the wall, or (3) something that was false which I just tossed out forever. In the end, and this is how things still are today for me, decades later, I discovered that there were only 2 things left on my wall. Those two things are: 1) I absolutely believe that there is some kind of life after we die. 2) I absolutely believe that there is a purpose to our lives, and that purpose is mainly to love others. I tried and tried to pull those 2 remaining things off the wall, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake those 2 things off. I really have no logical reasons to believe those things, no empirical evidence whatsoever, but for some reason, those things are built in to me in a way that I just can’t unbelieve them. Those 2 things are rock solid for me, but everything else is a matter of faith/doubt –in some cases more faith than doubt, and in other case, more doubt than faith. The teachings of Christ are something I have a lot of faith in–they align very closely with my conviction that our purpose is to learn to love others. Prophets, well, I have a lot of doubt about a lot of things prophets have said/are saying. Blood atonement would be an example of something I just threw in the trash–I’m convinced it’s wrong.
With that introduction, I don’t mind briefly answering your questions:
“What is your belief as it relates to prophets in general?” Prophets would be great if they actually reliably spoke for God. I believe I had good reasons (and I’ve cited a number of them in this thread) to believe that they don’t terribly reliably speak for God. Most of my examples are from modern prophets, but I find a lot of issues with ancient prophets in the scriptures as well. I’m willing to listen to and consider what prophets say, but I’m not sure they are any more reliable source for the word of God than you or I. Any organization needs a structure of some sort to hold it together. That is much of what prophets do in our Church these days.
“What do I think of Benson, Hunter, Hinckley, Monson, and Nelson?” They are mostly administrators. None of them has received or even claimed to receive significant revelation for the Church (with possibly the exception of Nelson, and I have issues with most of the things that I can think of that he has claimed to receive from God). Hinckley was definitely the one whose teachings I felt the best about (and I guess, probably Monson, too). Hunter wasn’t a prophet very long, and I’m a little young to have followed his teachings as an apostle very closely, so I can’t say much about him. Benson was a right-wing nut case, who said a ton of things I totally don’t agree with before he was prophet, but somehow managed to mellow out as president of the Church. There are a lot of things that I agree with that Nelson teaches, but there have certainly been a handful of real stinkers that I don’t agree with. If Oaks becomes prophet, then I have *a lot* of issues with things that he has taught as an apostle over the years–his views on LGBTQ issues, first and foremost. Here is a quote from Hinckley: “Let me say first that we have a great body of revelation, the vast majority of which came from the prophet Joseph Smith. We don’t need much revelation. We need to pay more attention to the revelation we’ve already received. Now, if a problem should arise on which we don’t have an answer, we pray about it, we may fast about it, and it comes. Quietly. Usually no voice of any kind, but just a perception in the mind.” It sounds like Hinckley communed with God in much the way I do. He did not converse face to face with the Lord each week in the temple, nor did any of these other 4 prophets.
“Did God call/prepare them as prophets or was it just a coincidence that they happened to live longer than the other Apostles?” I really have no idea. I mean, if you’re talking about the prophets we have now, where becoming prophet is basically an aging contest, I kind of doubt God has anything to do with that. Current selection into the Q15 seems to have a lot to do with your connections in the Church mixed in with some luck, but I am open to the possibility that God could be involved in this sometimes even if it doesn’t really normally seem like it. If you accept Joseph Smith as a prophet, then it’s quite a bit easier to argue that God had a role in picking him.
“Do you listen/hearken to them now?” I’m willing to listen to them, but I will evaluate what they say on my own. I had a seminary teacher (and I know he’s not alone) that would always teach that we needed to always pray about GC talks we had questions about so that we’d know that they were true. The thing is this seminary teacher taught me that there was no other possible conclusion–if we still had doubts, we were just to keep on praying until we knew it was true. While I agree with a lot of things said in GC, I think that things have been said by apostles and prophets at every GC that I can recall that are just plain wrong, and no amount of further praying is likely to change my opinion. The Church doesn’t currently leave much room for members to believe that prophets teach things that are wrong. That’s frustrating.
“Do you think Joseph Smith saw and spoke with God and Jesus Christ?” As I mentioned above, there are only 2 things that I’m pretty sure of. Joseph Smith’s First Vision (I assume you’re referring to the First Vision here) is not one of those 2 things. As I’m sure you’re aware, there are multiple accounts of the First Vision with very significant (despite what FairMormon says) discrepancies between them. It is a matter of faith (and you can’t have faith without doubt) for me whether the First Vision occurred or not. I think that it is a beautiful idea that God somehow worked through Joseph Smith to create the Church that has done so much good for so many people. That goodness is one of the main reasons I continue to engage with the Church. How much of what Joseph said/did was of God and how much was just Joseph is an open question for me.
“Does the world need prophets? Why or why not?” Again, I think it would be wonderful if God was reliably communicating His wisdom to prophets. I just don’t see that this is what is actually happening much of the time (see Hinckley quote above). It seems like God more often than not wants us to use the power He’s granted each of us to figure out how to do the right thing and to love others. Let me flip the question back on you: other than the 1978 change to allow blacks to enter the temple and to hold the priesthood, what important truths have Mormon prophets taught in my lifetime that I couldn’t have learned by just studying the Book of Luke (or really any one of the 4 gospels)? (I’d also argue that studying the Book of Luke would lead any careful reader to want to end the priesthood/temple ban as well, so maybe that change doesn’t count as something we needed a prophet for, either). For the record, The Family Proclamation would most definitely not be an example of truths taught by prophets in my lifetime. That document is used to justify second class status for women and LGBTQ people in the Church, so it should be relegated to the trash bin.
It’s really interesting to me that bwbarnett hasn’t actually addressed any of the issues brought up in the post, but continues to double down (and triple, and quadruple) on exclusive truth claims.
One of the most astute things a church leader has said in the past several years was Elder Ballard saying that it used to be enough to sort of bear your testimony in the direction of tough questions, but that doesn’t work anymore. That’s precisely what’s happening here.
I wanted to mention that in President Nelson’s first press conference he stated the we have no infallibility doctrine. He said he himself is fallible, and so was Joseph Smith. I am deeply grateful he made this honest and clear statement.
As I have studied more I have found many contradictions in the scriptures and I have come to accept that the prophets who wrote scriptures, and even the Catholic leaders who compiled the Bible, leaving out accounts that support women’s authority, were all fallible.
This doesn’t mean there’s no value in the gospel or the church. It just means we need to evaluate each thing taught ourselves, through prayer, pondering, study, and being brave enough and mature enough to do this for ourselves.
It is child like to see things in a black and white, true or false way and to expect men to make decisions for us.
It is mature to humbly accept the reality that there is no certainty, only many grey areas, and that each of us is responsible to make these decisions for ourselves, rather than put it on the authority of another person.
The feedback loop is relentless. The church is true because the prophets are real because the church is true because the prophets are real because the church is true because the prophets are real …
@Joni – Please list three things I have avoided addressing.
I know we’re beating a dead horse here, but @bwbarnett you mention the need for a “supreme commander” and talk like that person is the prophet. Well there is another religious sect that has a supreme leader who is supposed to be seen as a type of prophet (not their own definition, but would fit the Mormon one in many ways), and if you’re following human rights news this week you’ll know it’s not a system that works well or promotes equality, harmony, or freedom. Of course I’m talking about the Islamic Republic of Iran, where many women and supportive men are risking their lives to loudly quit the faith they were forced to have. I have family members through marriage who are living in that oppressive hell right now. I can tell you from first hand knowledge that while the Mormon role for women may be more benevolent than the Iranian way, there are far more frightening parallels and similarities than there are differences. I have much more in common than you can imagine with the Iranian women I’ve gotten to know in how we were taught, the expectations placed upon us, the roles we’re expected to fulfill, how men dictate to us what we should wear, the voice we don’t have, and so much more.
I’m obviously not saying that life as a woman in the church is the same as the oppression that Iranian women live with in a terrible regime, but my point is that simply having a supreme commander or leader who claims to be God’s one true representative is no indication of a system or church that works or is true. This is especially the case for the groups who are not given power and authority, like women. And trust me there are many Iranians who follow and believe in their supreme leader with even more faith and conviction in his holiness and rightness than people do in the church with pres Nelson. When a church or system requires us to rely upon the validity of one person’s (or group’s, mullahs in Iran function really similarly to the Q12, first presidency, and Seventy) claims to speak for God, then the personal opinions of that one person/group will always prevail and potential for corruption is extreme. I know you’ll say that God would never allow our prophet to lead us astray, but I encourage you to ponder on the fact that Iranians devoted to Islam believe the same thing about their “beloved” supreme leader and they believe it by the same power of the spirit that the LDS do about Pres Nelson.
@katie, that’s a chilling parallel. I’m afraid that the Mormon patriarchy is only different from Iranian patriarchy, or Afghani patriarchy, or FLDS patriarchy in degree – not in kind.
There is no such thing as benevolent patriarchy.
Completely agree, Elisa, and Katie, I hope your family members are ok.
One interesting thing setting these protests in Iran apart is that men are also participating in fighting for women’s rights—rather than just telling them to be patient and one day they’ll understand everything.
(Brian’s earlier comment comes to mind: “And for me, as a feminist, I’ll also add that if if doesn’t appeal to women, it also doesn’t appeal to me.” We need many more Brians in the church.)
@Joni – I wasn’t being flippant in my request for three things I have failed to address. I’m not avoiding anything purposefully. I thought I had been responding to most of the questions that came my way. I’d love to attempt to address anything important I’ve missed.
@mountainclimber479 – Thanks for be willing to share all of that.
You said, “I tried and tried to pull those 2 remaining things off the wall, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake those 2 things off. I really have no logical reasons to believe those things, no empirical evidence whatsoever, but for some reason, those things are built in to me in a way that I just can’t unbelieve them. Those 2 things are rock solid for me”
I love this! We have this in common, except I have more than those 2 things on my wall. 😉
Loved your Hinckley quote that began with “Let me say first that we have a great body of revelation … We don’t need much revelation” I agree with his statement regarding general, church-wide revelation, especially as it relates to new revealed truths.
You said, “That goodness is one of the main reasons I continue to engage with the Church.” – Glad you continue to engage.
You asked, “other than the 1978 change to allow blacks to enter the temple and to hold the priesthood, what important truths have Mormon prophets taught in my lifetime that I couldn’t have learned by just studying the Book of Luke (or really any one of the 4 gospels)?
I agree with Pres Hinckley just like you on this one. I can’t think of any ground-breaking new truths that have been revealed. Many of the inspirations/revelations I can recall would fall into the administrative/procedural category. Some, like the Family Proclamation and the recent Restoration Proclamation essentially testify of truths already espoused by the church and/or make it clear where the church stands on these issues. For me, much of the talk from our church leaders recently has been more along the lines of counsel, encouragement, and pleading to improve our lives, our faith in Christ, strengthen our foundation, etc. I know it’s a stretch for some to categorize this as revelation, but there are plenty of scriptural examples of a prophet being commanded of God, sometimes through an angel, to basically just share a particular message.
Again, thank for sharing.
@Katie – I have heard of the protests in Iran. I’m 100% in favor of them – people fighting for freedom!
I don’t remember ever mentioning the *need* for a Supreme Commander. I asked, “Is there organized religion without some sort of ‘supreme commander’?” Poor choice of words on my part I suppose. I was wondering what religion might look like without some sort of leadership structure.
But in response to your last post, I’m in total agreement. I disagree entire with how Iran is governed. I also admit that there are similarities between the LDS church and Iran gov’t, notably the ones you mentioned, and I agree that a system like that always carries with it the possibility of corruption. However, one of the biggest, and most important, differences I notice right off is free will vs. coercion. Where the church promotes free will, Iran promotes coercion – hence the violent protests over the years.
Totally—women’s free will is supported all over the place in the church. Women are consulted when bishops, stake presidents, etc, are chosen; they are consulted when budgets are set. They choose the relief society officers at every level of the church, create lesson manuals that are specific to issues women face, choose the counselors and teachers in the organizations they run. They make their own choices in clothing and underwear and don’t have to report to any sort of authority about it in order to receive certain privileges. No coercion whatsoever. Freedom all around.
I’m so tired.
bwbarnett, do people have free will who fear punishment of some sort should they depart from the institutional mythos and cultural norms? Serious question.
And we are free to think and say whatever we want without other members judging us, taking away our voice and callings at church too…. Right. Even the basic items honoring female leader’s agency are often ignored and vetoed by the male above her. There’s no woman who can take away a man’s temple recommend
@bwbarnett–I would argue that LDS women aren’t repressed to the degree that Iranian women are has a lot more to do with the fact that the Church is headquartered in the US and is subject to the US Constitution, not because “the Church promotes free will”. Let’s think about some of the things the Church does to women when it can get away with it:
1. The health insurance provided to Church employees does not cover birth control for women. The Church is one of the only employers in the US that doesn’t cover birth control.
2. Up until a few years ago, female seminary teachers were fired as soon as they gave birth to a child. Here is Q&A from CES from 2012:
Question: What happens to a female seminary teacher who has a baby? Can she continue teaching seminary?
Answer: She stops teaching seminary when she has a baby.
Question: She is fired?
Answer: No. Female seminary teachers understand this when they are hired. They know that they will only work as seminary teachers until they have children.
Question: Do they have the option of continuing to teach when they become mothers?
Answer: They do not want to keep working full-time after they have children. They want to stay home with their children.
3. My daughter went to girls camp for two years in the middle of the summer. There were no males at the camp other than the required “priesthood presence”. The girls could not wear swimsuits to swim in the lake–they had to wear a shirt and shorts over their swimsuit. By the way, swimming was the only activity wear shorts were allowed. All other times long pants were required. The stated reason for this was “ticks”. The ward posted pictures from scout camps where most of the boys were wearing shorts and no shirt around camp the entire time.
4. LDS women are not allowed to hold any activity at all without a man being present. If the women want to have a RS dinner at the chapel, then a man must be in the building. The reverse is not true.
Given these examples of what the Church does to women when it can get away with it, I challenge you to do a thought experiment and imagine what life would be like for women if instead of becoming part of the US, Utah had been allowed to become its own country. That is, what would life be like for women in Utah if it were a true theocracy like Iran? I could absolutely imagine things like:
1. Women being fined or jailed for not wearing modest clothes that covered the garment area. A dress code violation is what sparked the current protests in Iran.
2. Abortion would certainly be illegal, and violators would likely be severely punished.
3. Women with children–and likely all women–would not be allowed to hold public office. It’s a theocracy after all, so if you don’t hold the priesthood, why would you be allowed to participate in government.
4. Women with children would not be allowed to work.
5. Women could be punished for “disrespecting the priesthood” (i.e., talking back to men). This would include discussions with their husbands.
The first few seasons of “A Handmaid’s Tale” really drew me in more than most any other television series usually does. In case you haven’t seen it, this show depicts a dystopian society where the US government is overthrown by the extreme Christian right which creates a new government with an extremely repressive Christianity-based patriarchy. I finally realized the reason this series was so enthralling to me was because the show depicted (yes, maybe a bit on the extreme side) how I imagine things would go down if people like Packer, Benson, Oaks, Nelson, were running both the government and the Church in a theocracy.
@jaredsbrother asks: “do people have free will who fear punishment of some sort should they depart from the institutional mythos and cultural norms? Serious question.”
Serious question indeed! I’ve been trying to put thoughts into words here and as I think through it, more questions arise. I guess I haven’t thought deeply enough about this idea of free will vs. coercion. I mean of course I’ve thought about it and been taught that the war in heaven was primarily about this, but when you try to compare something like the Gov’t of Iran and the Church, it’s not just a simple discussion. There is some complexity that only comes out as you attempt to make the comparisons. I’d love to explore it with you (and others) in a spirit of sharing/learning.
Here are some thoughts I’ve had:
We all have free will – we can all choose what we do. The protestors in Iran have free will and many are exercising it now.
Choices have natural consequences, so when we make a choice, we are also “choosing” the consequence.
– An Iranian woman chooses to go in public w/o wearing a hijab. Consequence: she is arrested and thrown in jail by the morality police.
– A church member chooses to stop paying tithing. Consequence: Bishop will not renew a temple recommend when it expires.
We could come up with a long list of these choice->consequence pairs for both a highly controlling gov’t and the church, and really any situation in life. So, “yes” in this way Iran and the church are similar, but I guess this is just how life is in all situations we may find ourselves in. We always have free will, can make choices and there are consequences.
So where does coercion come into play? Or does it? If we always have free will and nobody can force us to do anything, is coercion really a thing? Maybe there are levels of coercion, like the threat of pain, torture, death. Or… perhaps coercion is really the absence of choice. It seems like in order to create an environment with an absence of choice, the creator of such an environment would need to have pretty strong control of the information, the truth, the knowledge, that was available to the people. The creator would need to control the curriculum and the education of the people.
Anyway, just my thought stream on the subject so far. Happy to hear your thoughts on it.
BTW, I don’t have any ulterior motives here. I’m not trying to lure anyone into some particular line of questioning in order to prove a point. I’m not hoping that someone says something or agrees with something I’ve said in order to say, “Gotcha!” I’m just interested in discussing free will and coercion.
I have come to understand that I had participated in coercing myself to the level that I was afraid to see and know my own thoughts about the imbalance of power between men and women in the church.
I am not sure if there’s anyone specific to blame in this, but what I have come to see in myself is almost a sort of “brainwashing”. I wish I could describe it better. But there’s a kind of compulsion when the culture so strongly reinforces conformity, and punishes speaking out for anything at all that varies from conformity
bwbarnett: You mentioned that choices have “natural” consequences, but a lot of what we call “natural” consequences are actually coercion. There are absolutely some men in the Church who would justify violence against women whom they deem immodest. I have actually heard this in Gospel Doctrine, a teacher saying that a woman was raped, but given how she was dressed, that it was her own fault and what did she expect? I heard a woman in fast & testimony meeting decrying the Stubenville rape victim (who was passed out drunk at a party, then violated and filmed by boys at the party) because she had “ruined the lives of those boys.” These are not “natural” consequences. They are instances of victim blaming, and this is what social coercion looks like, justifying controlling women through the use of violence, and treating the women as the ones who were in control of the “consequences,” not the criminals who violated them being in control.
The Church has, in the past especially, talked a lot about our “free agency.” Within the last ten years, that has shifted to “moral agency” to stress the idea that choices come with consequences. Fine, in theory. Subsequent to that rhetorical shift, the Church has continually increased coercive efforts to control member behavior. A very egregious example is that professors at BYU are now required to sign a document agreeing that they can be fired for private disclosures made to their bishop, ergo, anything the bishop doesn’t like (political views? LGBTQ allyship?) can result in the person being fired, all based on input from someone who does not work for their employer, a temporary, untrained religious leader. The waiver they must sign even states that the standards that could result in them being fired are subject to change without notice. If you do not agree to this, you simply cannot apply to work for any of the BYUs. This is a new change *this* year. They are trying to coerce existing faculty into agreeing to waive their rights also, so that they can fire LGBTQ allies, primarily, but it remains to be seen whether they are able to force this or not if people didn’t agree to it up front. Additionally, E. Bednar has preached in Idaho that church members don’t really have “agency” because we made our one decision at age 8 when we were baptized, and so at this point, we no longer have freedom to choose. If we don’t obey leaders exactly and agree with them on every point, then we are violating our covenants and subject to “consequences.” This is not the gospel I grew up learning, and I suspect that it’s not what you were taught either. It’s autocratic theocracy.
There’s so much that could be said about coercion.
Am I “free” to make a choice if someone else determines what my options are? Am I free to make a choice if I’m taught that there’s someone outside myself who has better access to God and so I should defer to what that person says? Am I free to make a choice if I’m told my whole life that my biggest priority must be children and family? Am I free to make a choice if I’m given a calling on the spot, with no one telling me beforehand why I’m being asked to meet with an ecclesiastical leaders and I’ll face social consequences for saying no? Am I free to make a choice about how to spend my money if my failure to pay tithing means I can’t attend a kid’s temple wedding?
These are just a few examples. I’m sure people can come up with more. And remember that we are hardwired for connection and feeling isolation from your “tribe” is experienced as an existential threat.
I get that every institution / family can have an outsized influence on its member’s choices, but there is a distinction for high-demand religions where IMO an ethical line is crossed. And if you map the LDS church to the definition of a high-demand religion … it fits the criteria.
@mountainclimber479 – I don’t think the church is, as you say, “trying to get away with” as much poor treatment as US law will allow. As for the relationship between the church and the US Constitution, my belief is that The Lord established this country, and its Constitution, so that His church could be established here. Don’t kid yourself about all the health insurance providers that provide birth control coverage. They may want to sound like they are being magnanimous, but they’re really just hoping to prevent pregnancies, which cost them much more than the birth control coverage. It’s a business decision (and also a matter of complying with the Affordable Care Act as I just found out.) That said, I was not aware of the church’s health insurance, but it doesn’t surprise me since it goes against the doctrine of multiply and replenish.
I’m not sure what to think about the other examples you provided. Perhaps outdated policies? It makes me think of the little warning I see right before Bonanza that says something like, “This program contains outdated cultural depictions. Viewer discretion advised.” I don’t watch Bonanza, but it comes on right after M*A*S*H 😉 Some of those things may be local leaders’ decisions. The “man-must-be-present” thing for me has always been about men’s role as “protector”. I’ve never seen it as a sort of monitoring or power thing. I have however seen a monitoring thing with regards to men. A member of the High Council is required to attend all men’s region basketball games, maybe even weekly stake basketball games, although we haven’t played basketball for a few years now due to Covid.
Regarding your thought experiment invitation: As was said earlier, there is always the possibility of corruption in organizations of human beings, but I personally don’t believe that if the church were autonomous, that the things you describe would happen. This, of course, is based on my deeper conviction that Jesus is ultimately in charge of His church, not the men who currently comprise the FP and Q12.
Angela, can you provide a link to the E. Bednar talk in Idaho that you referenced?
@bwbarnett–“the church is, as you say, ‘trying to get away with’ as much poor treatment as US law will allow” I didn’t say the Church would try to get away with as much poor treatment of women as possible. I was trying to say that if the Church feels it knows what is best for women, it won’t hesitate to enact policies to attempt to coerce them into its approved behaviors if it can do so within the law. I cited some examples as proof.
“my belief is that The Lord established this country, and its Constitution, so that His church could be established here” Whether the Church needed to be established under the protection of the US Constitution or not is off topic. I was just saying that thank goodness the Church did not develop as a theocracy–the Constitution prevents the Church from using government power to enforce its will on women–because I feel that it may look a lot more like Iran if it had.
“Don’t kid yourself about all the health insurance providers that provide birth control coverage.” Sure, fewer pregnancies probably does save health insurance companies money (I guess–I don’t know the numbers). That’s beside the point. The point is a lot of LDS women that have the Church health insurance would like access to birth control, and the Church absolutely refuses to buy it for them because they are supposed to bring as many babies into Mormon families as possible. The Church is forcing these women to purchase their own birth control. In other words, the Church is trying to coerce women to have more babies (by withholding funds to purchase birth control) rather than leaving that choice to them like almost every other woman in the US gets.
“This program contains outdated cultural depictions.” Yeah, that could be the Church’s motto. In fact, the Church might want to replace the “Visitors Welcome” signs it puts on all its chapels with a sign that reads, “Warning: this Church contains outdated cultural depictions. Join at you own risk.” The Church is almost always 40 years behind “The World”. It starts by resisting the cultural changes made by “The World”, excommunicates those who advocate too stridently for change, and then fully embraces the changes 40 years later with no apologies to those it hurt while resisting the change. I’m convinced that the Church is eventually going to treat women and LGBTQ people as equals. If prophets are speaking for God, why isn’t the Church ever ahead of the curve instead of perpetually lagging behind?
“The ‘man-must-be-present’ thing for me has always been about men’s role as ‘protector’.” Umm….This program contains outdated cultural depictions. Women can protect just as well, and sometimes better, than men.
“I’ve never seen it as a sort of monitoring or power thing.” There is more history to this. The Relief Society used to be an independent organization run by women. In the 1970s, this changed, and the Relief Society was made an auxiliary under priesthood leadership. Many women were very unhappy about this, and were trying to run things “the old way” in their meetings. To counter this, the Church required a priesthood leader to be present at all RS meetings to keep the women in line.
“Regarding your thought experiment invitation” To be clear, I wasn’t saying that changing Utah to a Mormon theocracy all of a sudden in 2022 would immediately cause all the repressive changes to occur. LDS women wouldn’t stand for it in 2022. However, if Utah had become a sovereign nation when the Mormons arrived led by a Mormon theocracy, and if that theocracy had been operating for the last 170+ years, I think it would be very, very interesting to see how similar Utah was to Iran in 2022. That’s the thought experiment.
A pattern is becoming more and more clear with your comments. Others have already made note of it. You appear to be an orthodox member who truly believes that the Church and its leadership are nearly infallible. God is leading his One True Church, and God doesn’t make mistakes. When you approach an issue, you seem to assume that the Church’s position is correct, and you look for arguments to defend that position. I get it. I’ve been there. It is very hard for anyone to be truly objective when expressing opinions about any religion. Either you’re a believer or not, and it’s very difficult to completely eliminate these biases when discussing any topic, especially controversial topics. You are probably frustrated with me because you feel that I’m always assuming the worst about the Church (this is not true, but I can understand why you might feel that way). I would challenge you that before you choose to argue that the Church must be right on any topic to consider that sometimes the Church might actually be wrong. Maybe you already feel like you’re doing that, and that’s fine, but it sure feels to me like you always assume the Church and its leaders are right and are just trying to defend their position rather than considering the possibility that they might be wrong sometimes (do you think the Church has ever made a really bad mistake?). Again, Uctdorf’s quote, “To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine.” Remember, it’s OK for the Church and its leaders to be wrong sometimes. This does not mean that God is wrong. The Church is run by people, so it is bound to be wrong sometimes. The Church and its leaders are not God. The Church and its leadership really, really wants membership to equate the Church with God these days, but they are different things.
I often seem to come in at the tale end of these discussions so don’t have anything unique to add. Great post and great comments. This one really did touch a nerve though and I think the term quiet quitting fits very well. I’m definitely in to that but since I’m a senior citizen of this planet and also a woman I’m practically invisible in the church anyway so won’t be missed. It was also made easier by the pandemic to decline callings that would put a woman of age in physical contact with the masses. My husband sometimes did sacrament at home but that’s dropped off too. We still mostly ‘attend’ our ward via YouTube.
And as for bwbarnett declaring – “ The Gathering of Covenant Israel is happening right now. Along with God’s promised protection, all the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are available to His covenant people.” How well is that going? Not very well I’d say.
Too many things no longer align with my core values – mainly how the church treats women and LGBTQ+
I love Allison’s descriptive of Mormonish – made me laugh out loud and sounds fitting to where I’m at too.
@di, thank you for sharing your perspective. Such an important point about the invisibility of aging women in the Church.
@mountainclimber thank you for many patient explanations of your position. I agree with a lot of what you say.
Don’t even get me started on the Church insurance and birth control. And for people who’d defend that insurance practice – this is a sensitive topic that I recommend people don’t defend unless they have REALLY done their research. There are a lot of really awful stories about it. DMBA Stories has a FB page and I think an Instagram page that collects stories from women who’ve been harmed by the denial of coverage. Personally I am not cool with people minimizing this as it hits too close to home.
@bwbarnett I always appreciate that you remain kind even when you are clearly in the minority on comments here :-). That’s rare. I do think there’s a point where people have such different sets of assumptions that it gets hard to even communicate because we’re not operating from the same understanding of facts. But if more people were willing to keep asking questions and stay curious instead of being afraid of losing their testimony if they get exposed to other ideas, we’d all be better for it.
@bwbarnett – I second Elisa’s comment. I rarely agree with what you say, but I sincerely appreciate your graciousness. I hope you continue to post and participate in this forum. All the best to you.
I also want to chime in briefly about the DMBA contraception policy since I am a physician who has many patients on DMBA insurance. This policy is truly an abomination and a source of serious harm for thousands. Contraceptives are an essential health care need. DMBA is the only insurance I deal with that doesn’t cover it routinely. To me it speaks volumes about the deep and wide misogyny at work in church run organizations.
An observation about the big sabbath push mentioned here. I never had a problem shopping, playing golf or going to a movie on Sunday. Before the big sabbath day push I pretty much had the theater and golf course to myself and the stores were pretty quiet. After the push I have trouble getting on the course at all on Sunday, the theater parking lots are packed and the stores are pretty busy.
Sorry if this is a repeat, i think my comment disappeared.
I am a 60+ year old convert who was very active for 45+ years. I “quiet quit” right after being released as bishop. I had questions and reservations before being called and serving as bishop and interacting with SP’s, Area Authorities and Apostles only convinced me that my reservations were correct. After I was released I took a very low profile calling that had no interaction with other people and took about 20 minutes a month.
Also a note on the big sabbath day push a few years ago. I used to play golf and go to movies on Sunday because the course and the theaters were empty. After the push i cant get on the course and the theater parking lots are packed. Any outdoor recreation is packed as well. I think that people learned that they could enjoy themselves on Sunday.
Fascinating discussion. Now I have another idea for a post.
And I echo several other commenters who thanked bwbarnett for his graciousness when he’s in the minority. I do appreciate your viewpoint and civility.
bwbarnett, thanks for taking the time to answer my question. I will concur that you do seem like a good egg. I also agree with mountainclimber that your responses in this forum pretty much all circle back to the same end point: the church is true, Christ sits at the head, the leaders are inspired and speak on God’s behalf. I do wonder why you waste time responding to individual topics when your response rarely varies from the same circular logic, but then it’s not my time to waste.
As for free will and coercion, the topic of the initial question, I can hardly disagree with anything you wrote. I think you pretty much established a base that few could disagree with. Yes, every person has free will, and yes, there are consequences for decisions made that oscillate between mild chastisement and death. The issue I have with the church is that it promotes ‘agency’ as an institutional virtue with such frequency that you’d think they invented the concept. One knock on Mormonism is that it takes what you thought you already had–an eternity with your family, personal agency–and then sells it back to you. If even God is subject to universal laws, I would argue that action/reaction, choice/consequence, laws of thermodynamics are some of those.
But if agency is such an important principle, why would an organization regularly make bad-faith efforts to inhibit people from exercising it? That seems really hypocritical and I think the church is reliably obtuse on this matter. And we’re not talking about losing a temple recommend for not further filling the coffers … uh, paying tithing. In that situation, there is a stated policy, everyone knows it, and violation of the policy has an expected outcome.
I’ll use an example that I often think of. D. Michael Quinn was a Yale-trained historian whose professional life was effectively ruined by the church because he wrote accurate books on church history. He had his free will to publish said books and the church tried to coerce him into not doing it anymore. The church failed. Was he warned in advance that publishing said books might cost him his membership? I don’t know. I don’t care. To punish him for sharing accurate historical data is to behave in some ways like the Iranian government; this action elevates the state (the church, in this case) over the individual, which has that lovely fascistic aroma, it suggests that the organization is quite afraid of facts, and it is intellectually dishonest in a way that signals that the organization can be trusted to protect itself but not for much more.
As others have effectively detailed above, when your station is life is defined for you, as it so often is for women in the church, how much free will do you have? There are, I must add here, neuroscientists who believe that free will is not a thing–nobody really has it, but our brains are sophisticated enough to act as though we do. If you have mostly Mormon clients, only Mormon friends, a large and devout Mormon family that goes back to pioneer stock, how much free will do you have? Is there a point at which the level of coercion is so severe that it renders fee will a moot point? I think perhaps there is, which makes the current actions in Iran that much more respectable, moving, and noteworthy.
@mountainclimber479: As I said before, thanks for being willing to share your thoughts and to have a civil discourse with me here. I really appreciate. Your description of me in your last paragraph is pretty accurate, well done 😉 However, I’m actually not frustrated with you at all. I’m grateful for your input. I consider it valuable. Also, there have been times in the last several years when I didn’t just automatically assume the church was right, so it’s not just automatic acceptance 100% of the time.
@Elisa & Freckles: Thank you.
Regarding church insurance, prior to mountainclimber479 mentioning it, I had no clue that there were “issues/problems” with it. Anything I could say about it would be pure speculation. I’m sorry that it is adversely affecting some people.
I worked for BYU for 20 years and was on birth control for endometriosis. I’m single, my gynecologist had a send a note to DMBA every year saying I was on contraception for medical reasons and not birth control.
I’m a little sad this thread got derailed because I was very interested in the quiet quitting aspect of other members.
Bwbarret: Finally I believe whole heartedly in the gospel of Jesus Christ but I honestly believe these leaders are not doing what’s right.
@lily people are still welcome to share their experiences with quiet quitting! I too have been very interested to read those.
@bwbarnett–Thanks for the friendly and civil dialogue. Actually, I feel like I was merely civil, while you were the truly friendly one, so please feel free to revel in a moral victory over me on that front. In fact, you were so friendly at some points, I was really wondering if you were trolling me, but I just didn’t think a true troll would say things quite the way you did.
It would be wonderful to be able to have these types of conversations amongst ward members (and with Church leadership!), but unfortunately people are generally shunned at best or ex’ed at worst for doing so. It’s refreshing that people can be safely open and honest on a forum such as W&T. I echo several other recent commenters in saying that your friendly dialog is welcome, and I hope that you will continue to participate here on W&T.
bwbarnett: I concur with those who are thanking you for civil discourse, and in fairness, I do think that most of the church members I know would be polite in person (even those who say some pretty outlandish things because they think they are in the orthodox majority), similar to how you’ve been here. Being polite online is much, much harder, and you’ve been able to accomplish that.
Here’s a link to the Bednar talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmErOV9oQZ8
Here’s another one (different location): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLJLte99o90
I dont have time right now to listen to the two versions to determine which is the most forceful anti-agency talk. He also infamously claimed that “there are no homosexual members of the Church,” in a talk decrying any labels other than “child of God.” He’s incredibly tone deaf and also has some serious blind spots. All leaders are subject to this type of critique (I say all kinds of things that wouldn’t bear scrutiny, but then again, nobody cares what I think, and I don’t consider my words binding for other people), but he is particularly bad. He also once stated, “I AM scripture,” which kinda tells you all you need to know about his humility, IMO. He also continually calls sex the “procreative power,” even when it doesn’t involve any potential for procreation, which I think is weird, but these guys love alliteration, even if it obscures meaning.
He has also really pushed the idea that families whose kids leave the Church are at fault because the family didn’t push it enough, and only if the parents force the kids to do all the Mormon things consistently will they prevent their kids from “straying,” and if the kids stray anyway, it’s the parents’ fault for being insufficiently committed to Sabbath observance. Thing is, you can always ratchet up Sabbath day observance, to the point that your kids hate the Sabbath with a passion because they aren’t allowed to wear normal clothes or watch TV or have friends over or even do their homework. It’s just an impossible moving standard that Bednar used to heap guilt on parents for things that are simply not in their control, and the more you try to control, the less likely it will work. In short, it’s just bad parenting advice, dressed up as prophetic counsel.
Not that this thread was about Bednar, but when I moved to Arkansas I began to hear story after story of his time as a church leader while working for the University of Arkansas. Quite honestly, I’ve never heard of a more checklist, black-white, superficial mindset of any leader than what he was while here. And comments he’s made only suggest he’s continued.
I will link this back to the main topic be saying that the Nelson, Oaks, Eyring, Bednar, hubris (smugness, really) has greatly contributed to my own quiet quitting.
Thanks for the kind words all of you! Thanks Angela for the link to Bednar’s talk. I’ll listen…
Really good points about the use of force in parenting in Sabbath day observance and other areas of religious observance. In my family unfortunately we have specific histories of family members this was tried on throughout their childhood and it didn’t work.
Following Jesus Christ by loving them, setting an example, honoring agency, being patient and never practicing unrighteous dominion is much much better regardless of how it ends up. I am the only person I can control. I am the only person I should control.
It is just wrong wrong wrong to teach parents they can and should control outcomes. It’s not only morally corrupt, it backfired and is completely ineffective at helping build a relationship with God.
Like with present problems in Iran.
When in Ejypt we asked our driver why there were no women driving cars? We were told women were too sensitive to drive no only cars, but donkey carts, or any other form of transport. This was at the ordain woman time and one of the 12 had said the virtually the same thing. My wife commented just degrees of patriachy.
Natural consequences are where something happens naturally, not where someone intervenes. If you drop something it falls natural. It is not a natural consequence that you can’t get a TR if you don’t pay tithing, that is a man made rule.
BWB perhaps you could write a blog on how to take over and become the centre of a blog and admired for being civil while you do it. I am jealous.
I think that what happened in this thread is a neat microcosm of what the original blog post (remember that?) is about. When a male commenter didn’t feel that his contributions were being valued, he said something about it, and lots of people rushed in to reassure him. When women in the church realize our contributions aren’t being valued, we don’t bother to say anything because we know there’s no point, we are second class citizens anyway.
@Geoff-Aus says: “BWB perhaps you could write a blog on how to take over and become the centre of a blog and admired for being civil while you do it. I am jealous.”
Haha. I totally get it. I thought perhaps comments like this from you, Dot, Joni (so far) might come in. My initial comment, and maybe a few after my initial comment??, were on topic. Inevitably it seems, something I say is challenged/questioned and my response takes the discussion slowly off topic, and then sometimes way off topic. I’m not sure what to do about this.
I have read through other posts with 50+ comments that I have not commented on, and it seems like several of them go off topic too, so it seems like the idea of going off topic is pretty normal for busy/hot posts. By choice, I don’t have a ton of forum or social media experience. W&T is pretty much it for me.
Is it the going off topic that is a problem or the “admiration” as you put it or that I commented too much on this post. Happy to make adjustments if I can.
@Angela: I listened to those E. Bednar videos. I had actually listened to the first one before. My mission president, Carlos Agüero, is actually the translator on that one. He translates for many of the GA’s when they are in South America. Anyway, in that first video E. Bednar explains that after entering into a covenant with God, our agency is enlarged. We move to a “representing Christ” situation and our agency changes. He asks something like, “Do we have the option not to pay our tithing?” and then responds “Nope. It’s breaking a covenant. It’s not the exercise of agency anymore”. He asks, “Is this making sense?”. In all honesty, it wasn’t making complete sense to me, so I can see where you’re coming from. I mean I kind of understand where he’s going with it, but it raises some questions for me that I’d love his clarification on.
@bwbarnett–One thing that could help is if you are commenting on a thread that is discussing problems with the Church (as the OP is doing when it is discussing why some women aren’t participating in the Church like they used to), advocating for possible changes/improvements in the Church, etc., is that you could state up front something like, “Disclaimer: I believe that this is God’s church, and I believe that God is directing His Church on a daily basis through the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve apostles. I believe that God is perfect, and so is His Church. God will certainly never let His chosen leaders lead His Church astray. When discussing perceived problems with the Church, I always start and end with the assumption that the Church’s position is correct. If you debate with me that there are flaws or problems with the Church, I am always going to try to find a way to defend the Church’s position. Remember, God’s ways are not man’s ways. Please keep this in mind when engaging with me on this topic.” You may think I’m being sarcastic, and maybe my suggested statement doesn’t truly reflect your position so edit accordingly, but I’m actually serious.
If you go back and look at the (multiple) places where this thread derailed from the OP because of one of your comments, I don’t feel like you made it clear in the beginning that you are pretty much always going to say that the Church and it’s prophets are always correct. It is perfectly valid to believe that the Church is always right. I will be the first to admit that there is the possibility (though it seems remote to me personally) that the Church and its prophets are always right, and I should just be more humble and faithful and fall in line. There are many members of the Church that do fervently believe that prophets are nearly infallible. That said, it appears to me that, unlike you, most of the commenters on this blog are open to discussing the possibility that the Church and its leaders make mistakes, are sometimes slow to make positive changes, etc. If you could somehow preamble your comments to reflect your personal conviction that the Church and its prophets are generally always right, that might help keep discussions on track a bit more. That doesn’t mean people won’t necessarily respond to you, but at least they’ll know where you’re coming from and could potentially reduce the length of debates as a result–there’s no need in dragging out a discussion where one side is trying to use logical arguments, and the other side doesn’t need to rely on logic because they are taking God’s side, and “God’s way is not man’s way”. If I were to comment on a more orthodox Mormon blog, it might be helpful for me to state upfront that I believe that prophets sometimes make big mistakes, and this topic might be one of them, so keep this in mind if you want to engage with me because the general assumption on that blog would be the commenters believe that prophets don’t make mistakes. I’d likely be kicked off of most faithful Mormon blogs really quickly for saying that, but you get what I mean, and you won’t get kicked off of W&T for stating your view of prophetic infallibility (at least I don’t think you will–I’m not in charge–but people get away with saying all kinds of stuff here). I’m not at all saying you have to do this, but you did ask for suggestions on how to help posts on this blog stay on topic, so that’s my 2 cents.
@mountainclimber479: Thanks, I’ll try to incorporate something like that in my comments when I feel I might derail the post.
…I think I have a longer comment stuck in moderation (and it’s a good one!!!)
@jade I don’t see it anywhere.
A bit of a bright light (on the topic of women in the church and the many reasons why they would “quiet quit”). Several months back our stake in Minnesota had its conference. I had planned on attending the adult Saturday evening session (because I usually end up enjoying that session MUCH more than the Sunday general session). The program had been emailed out and I’d ignored it (because…well I don’t know).
That evening I showed up, sat next to my friends, and immediately took out my phone and began to wait for the meeting to begin. As I was engaged in the internet (maybe reading W&T?) and ignoring what happened around me, I suddenly heard a WOMAN’S voice. I looked up, surprised. The stake relief society president was conducting the session! It was awesome.
Why was it awesome? Well, in no particular order: “why not?!”… She was poised and acted like it was no big deal… There was no pomp and circumstance and no self-deprecating jokes…and she even forgot to thank the organist and chorister and had to do it later (just like I had had to many times during my time as a counselor in the bishopric).
This particular church meeting was the most spiritual church meeting I have ever attended. And, it was actually only in part because of the relief society president conducting. The first talk was actually given in tandem by the second counselor in the state presidency and his wife. They both stood up together at the microphone, and in a well rehearsed and yet very organic talk, talked about their faith journey as their son returned home after honorably serving a mission and came out as homosexual. They talked about how their faith had been shaken, and how they were still working through rebuilding that faith. Other speakers included a recovering drug addict, a young couple who struggled with fertility issues and miscarriages, an immigrant, and several other women. It was like the light was different in the chapel that evening. Everybody was uplifted.
I left that meeting and commented to my friends that every church meeting really should be like that one was.
Two other bright spots:
1) in our ward the relief society president attends all Sunday morning bishopric meetings.
2) the stake relief society, YW, and primary presidency members are included in the high counsel speaking circuit (i.e. they visit the various wards on a rotation just like the high counselors).
I’m hoping beyond hope that these changes stick, spread, and expand.
Until then, visit MN!
(this is the comment I mentioned above)
I appreciate you recognize the lack of data, but this article rang true to me because I am one of the quiet quitters you described. I am an HR Director who enjoys so many opportunities to contribute to my workplaces at the executive team level. Yet I got to church and feel like a child. I am 36 years old, married with 3 kids. I was the ideal/faithful Latter Day Saint girl my whole life until my early thirties. Now I wear my garments 50-70% of my waking hours (I work out every day and some days just appreciate how it feels to wear panties), drink black tea, have changed how I pay tithing, got a helix ear piercing, don’t attend the temple at the moment for a lot of complicated reasons, and am very much into supplementing my spiritual learning with other sources (read the baghavad Gita and Dhammapada this year and am astounded at how spiritual truth can cross over religions, aligning with much of our best lds doctrine). I attend church every week, participate in special musical numbers, read the scriptures and come follow me and do my ministering to a lower income sister in the ward. Although a lot of what I don’t do gives me angst in the context of how things are presented at church (in terms of what I should be doing), I am overall happier and feel more spiritually in tune with myself and God, and closer to Christ than I ever have been. I suppose I am learning to listen to the spirit/my own inner knowing, instead of outsourcing to leaders/authorities/organizations, and taking full accountability for my life and journey. It’s scary, it’s liberating, but I definitely feel like I am quiet quitting and many people at church around me or the church as a whole doesn’t know or doesn’t care. I am going to be interested in what my young daughters do (12 and 9) in the future, after being raised by me, if the church doesn’t make some meaningful shifts.
I’d say over 60% of us women who are still attending church have already left in our minds and hearts. They think they’re worried now about losing the youth? Who on earth do they think is behind that trend? You’re losing the youth because you’ve already lost the moms. They should be terrified.
We’re tired, and we’re done. We’re tired of being the ones who schedule, plan, prep, set up, run, and clean up the activities. We’re tired of being the ones who do all the registering kids for seminary and EFY and camps, all the driving youth to and from activities, and remembering the napkins and making all the flyers. More than anything else, we’re tired of being brushed off, not listened to, minimized, ignored, and exploited. We’re tired of running faster than we have strength, and then constantly being told that we need to serve more. We’re tired of working ourselves to death, only to be told that we need to work even harder in order to “qualify” to be with our families forever.
We’re treated far better in our jobs and in our homes than we are in the church. They seem to think that they can just flatter us and put us on some imaginary motherhood pedestal, and that somehow that makes it ok for them to drive us into the ground from exhaustion. They think they can mollify us with all this “equal partnership” talk. We don’t have amnesia – dude, I’m old enough to remember all the talks from the 70s that made it very clear that women were NOT equal partners (see Spencer W. Kimball’s talk “Home, the Place to Save Society, 1975 January Ensign, still up on the church’s website).
Whenever a general authority says in conference that LDS women “are incredible” I’m like “Yes, we know we’re amazing… what do you want from us NOW!??” It’s always followed up by yet another demand on our time and sanity. Well, we’re not our mothers. We have bank accounts and college degrees and jobs … and husbands who wash their own socks.
The church will suck away all your time, energy, and mental/physical health if you let it. We saw what it did to our mothers. Too many of us found out by personal experience as well.
The church’s prescribed path for women is a one-way ticket to a permanent inpatient mental health facility. We simply won’t do it anymore.
You want 5 dozen cookies for tonight’s activity? Call a dang bakery and go pick them up yourself.
@Marie54321, I agree with a lot of what you’ve said, and especially this: “They think they’re worried now about losing the youth? Who on earth do they think is behind that trend? You’re losing the youth because you’ve already lost the moms.”
I remember a couple of years ago I was totally burned out, lonely, and on the verge of being done with Church. I was in an RS lesson and someone made a comment about how “we are one generation from the Church disappearing, so we MUST focus on the youth” and basically not worry so much about adults. And I was thinking, “what do you think will happen to the youth if their moms leave???”
Admittedly, this post describes me perfectly. While “Quiet Quitting” may be a new term, I began the transition out of full commitment years ago. As an LDS woman, you are not encouraged to work; education is only for “exigencies;” all valuable pursuits are in the home; childcare and domesticity are valued above all else; and your ultimate worth boils down to your husband’s callings. (LDS female definitions of power: Bishop’s Wife, Stake President’s Wife; Mission President’s Wife.) This prescription leaves LDS women little room for personal, cognitive development.
Recently, I’ve been able to get a job, run a business, and finish my master’s degree. I felt like I had been wedged in a corner my entire life. But now I feel like an actual adult: Paid, respected, intelligent, and competent. I found what I was looking for because the church did not offer it. If it had, I would probably have stayed.
But now, the last thing I need in my life is more unpaid work. In that regard, I am not seeking any involvement at church and dread the concept of giving the priesthood to women. Doing so would just further burden women who would prosper more abundantly outside the church environment. Let the men have the priesthood and let the women move on.
The whole of the second to last bullet points resonated with me so strongly it’s scary. I’m extremely far from Salt Lake City and a female leader caught in not one but two patriarchal systems (the church and the US military, the military generally doing far better than the church) I’m exhausted from arguing with male leadership who refuse to accept my experience, talents, feedback, and concerns as valid. It’s exhausting and it’s hard to not feel done with it all. And yet these leaders stay. I’m sure I’ll give up or be asked to leave before they are.
Here to raise my hand as another quiet quitter. I’m a mom in her early 30’s that took the path that many of us affluent, suburban Utah young adult women do: put my own career and education on hold to support my husband as he got started in a demanding career, had kids, and devoted many hours a week to Church callings (Primary, for me.)
When I got married at age 20, I really believed that if I always put my husband and kids before myself, I would be happy. I believed that our family would be able to afford for me to be a stay-at-home-mom and that I would love being a stay-at-home mom. I could finish my degree when I was older, “just in case” and I could serve in the temple often once my kids left home so I wouldn’t get bored. I believed all of this because it’s what I was taught, explicitly or implicitly.
Throughout my 20’s I struggled to shove down feelings that gnawed away at me about the Church’s views on my LGBT brothers and sisters, the roles of women, and other tough issues. I tried everything, but I just couldn’t reconcile my conscience.
I was looking for Christ but was confused when Church doctrines or policies seemed to contradict some of His teachings.
However, I still did everything that was asked of me. I spent at least 10 hours per week (I’m sure it was more) for six years on my calling as the Primary President in a ward with high needs. At one point, I was also the chorister, the secretary, and a teacher-at the same time. I cleaned the Church’s toilets, I spent my Saturdays at the training meetings, and I made the brownies.
And then, over the last few years, things just…changed. I didn’t feel fulfilled or happy as a stay-at-home mom. Being “behind the curtain” of my ward leadership often left me feeling discouraged and like a second-class citizen because of my gender. I loved my husband and children more than anything else, but I realized that I had value outside of my roles as a wife and mother. I was smart, I had ambition, I had empathy, and I wanted to make the most of it.
I struggled and am still struggling with two big questions: what do you do when your conscience just isn’t in line with some of the teachings of the brethren? And, do we really have a direct line to God, or do the prophets and apostles stand in between?
I don’t have all the answers, but I just decided that from then on, I would live in line with my own conscience and focus on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ above all other gospel topics.
That has meant being more engaged with my religion in some ways and less in others. I feel closer to Christ and His teachings, and I’ve lost any interest I ever feigned in the “gathering of Israel” and other Restoration concepts that just don’t resonate with me.
I have serious theological concerns about the idea of tithing and the word of wisdom being prerequisites for salvation, the structure of the Church, and other issues.
I’m still working things out, but I am starting to live in line with my conscience. And I’m happier. I feel at peace. I feel closer to Christ. I’m even applying to graduate school. I still love the Church, and I still want to be a part of it for the rest of my life, but I need to do so on my own terms.
It is hard to know what would be helpful to say in this situation. I hear sadness, resignation, capitulation, and depression. All the bad things people say about the present-day church are correct. What we have is a reenactment of the Jewish Sanhedrin which Christ strongly disliked, and they returned the favor. If you feel the same way today, that Christ felt about his then-current religious leadership, then you are in good company.
The church today is far different from the gospel which Christ taught, and which the New Testament saints lived. Starting with Wilford Woodruff, for the last 126 years, the church leaders have tried to take all the fun and excitement out of the gospel for the members so they can have it all themselves. That includes taking about $1 trillion in tithing money, none of which they were entitled to receive. If the Relief Society had at least a $20 billion budget every year, I can imagine that the women would do a lot of good things and our entire society would improve.
I can’t tell if people are looking for the right answer or if they are simply done with the whole question. There is an answer to the question, but does anyone still care?
A shout out to those sharing their ‘quiet quitting’ stories!
@ Marie54321’s line “They think they’re worried now about losing the youth? Who on earth do they think is behind that trend? You’re losing the youth because you’ve already lost the moms,” rings true on many levels. To top it off, I know several adults (with young children) who have recently left and they have told me explicitly that if they didn’t have young children, they would have stayed because their parents were still alive, they had good friendships at church, etc. They did leave, however, because they couldn’t bare to raise their children in such a hostile, mentally and psychologically unhealthy environment. They did FOR their kids!
Much support to all the women in the world.
And many calls to all the men in the world to break down the patriarchy so it doesn’t have to be this way.
I read this article and thought, “Yes! THAT’S what I’m doing.” But as I think through it, it’s not really. The church (Not God) quiet FIRED me the minute I was born a girl. It just took me 3 and a half decades to hear it. I have struggled for many years with my second class status, and the fact that contrary to the words of the prophets of my youth motherhood was not unadulterated joy and completely fulfilling for me. Then my husband was called as the bishop. I once believed, as another commenter said, that being the bishop’s wife would bring me social capital. It did not. In fact I think it somehow gave people the licence to say the quiet part out loud. I’d go to the temple and people would greet me, “Why are you here? Where is your husband?” I’d go to church and sit in the middle somewhere, and no one would sit within 10 feet of me. I was released from my calling. My husband’s counselor told he he would never ask me to speak in sacrament meeting. The obvious message from multiple messengers was, “We don’t want you here. Go home and do dishes. That’s all you’re valuable for in this Kingdom.” So I went home and found places that would value me. I got a job. I found a women’s group at a different church to socialize with. I found a place to volunteer that values my talents and contributions. I still go to church and have a temple recommend, but it’s a rare occasion I experience Christ there. And although I have been careful not to show my doubts in my daughters, they’re not stupid. They can see for themselves that their brothers are values at church and they are not.
I may be quiet quitting, but it feels more like being quiet fired. The church has always, and will always want my husband’s contributions more than it wants mine. Every time we move to a new ward my husband is immediately extended multiple callings as I wait months and months for anyone with any power to notice I exist. (I have been told by primary presidencies in multiple wards that they submitted my name immediately but were told no repeatedly as I sat for months unused.) This was only magnified when my husband was called to be Bishop. People started to greet me at church with “Where is your husband?” I’ve even been greeted at the temple twice with “Why are you here? Where is your husband?” I was told repeatedly by my husband’s counselor (despite my protests) that I would never speak in sacrament meeting, so long as he was chosing speakers. I was released from my calling. People even stopped sitting by me at church.
As my time, talents, and voice are repeatedly rejected over decades, God has guided me to offer myself to Him outside of the church. He has repeatedly encouraged me to find places to volunteer where my talents are used, my contributions valued, and my input sought out in a way they never have been at church. He dropped my dream job in my lap without my even applying for it. I couldn’t possibly apply for it after all of the indoctrination I received in my youth from prophets as well as local leaders that working outside the home was an evil, selfish choice. I accepted the job and found that my joy increased, my children were blessed, my mental health improved, and my marriage was strengthened all in contradiction to the words of the prophets. I discovered that some organizations treat women as equals, rather than pretty little work horses.
I still go to church, and have a temple recommend. But I seek my relationship with Christ elsewhere.
I’ve tried my best not to infect my daughters with my doubts, but they’re not stupid. They’ve noticed since primary that their brothers are valued more at church.
Michinita I can relate to your feeling of just not being wanted when you have a desire to serve. I realized it pretty young and was sad but it did help me see that I could serve without a calling in the community and in my work and that is how I serve the Lord primarily.outside of my family.
I’m thinking the church leadership is aware of this happening with the *single* women, but not the married ones. Young, unmarried women are opting out, simply because there is no place for them if they don’t have a husband and kids after a certain age. That trend has been very obvious, and I don’t think the church quite knows how to handle it. They’ve made attempts, with lowering the female missionary age and all that, but it hasn’t really worked.
Used to be that female members were a lock for life. You’d lose a ton of men in the ‘freedom’ gap between them turning 18 and going on a mission at 19, but the women stayed strong, even if they wound up the odd spinsters sitting in the back since there literally weren’t enough good mormon men to go around, or else they’d marry a non-member and spend their entire lives diligently attempting to convert that man.
But not so much anymore. Instead the single women are just opting out.
And now it’s spreading to the married ones who should actually fit, or at least traditionally always did, and I don’t think leadership has quite caught on yet, or knows how to fix it.
I feel like the flip where now the “jack mormon” is the wife, while the husbands stay involved comes down to the church being able to fill a person’s fundamental needs.
Before, a single woman or one married to a non-member felt like they were missing something. They weren’t whole, they were second rate. Increased devoutness and involvement in religious activities filled that fundamental need to fill the gap for socialization, a male presence, and to feel feminine. Married ones felt a measure of pride and fulfillment at being ideal wives and mothers, and attended for the prestige of that. But men could take it or leave church, and often left it when it became too much work. If they ever came back, they could easily pick up one of these leftover women who were desperate to have the whole shebang at last.
Now, it’s flipped. Modern men really, really rely on the church to feel masculine, wanted, needed, important, and manly through the traditional roles. So they are clinging more to church involvement than ever before, because it’s fulfilling a fundamental need they’re lacking. But women have started to feel whole without church acting like spackle to fill their gaps. They’re wanting and expecting fulfillment as women, not wives and mothers, and aren’t getting it. They are realizing they get more from elsewhere, and therefore opting out. Their needs aren’t being filled, so their interest has waned and attentions wandered away.
@skitenoir, that’s an insightful observation. I tend to agree.
I also think people are just tired and want someone else to take care of it.
They don’t want all the extra work of callings and preparation and volunteer service and cleaning. They’re tired and burnt out from giving and administration, and resent being rewarded by being the one and only person who does their calling with even more work and worse callings.
I got sick to death of “leadership” roles by the time I was 16, since it was always, always, always me. After a while, I just started saying no, because I just wanted to show up, enjoy myself, and go home. Why was it always me who had to plan every activity and get a bunch of ungrateful people to cooperate?
In a typical church, there are paid clergy and staff who handle all of these tasks, so the majority of the grunt work is taken care of, and any volunteer work from the congregation is simply that: voluntary.
That sounds absolutely wonderful.
To just show up, participate, and go home, without having to plan everything, set up, deliver the entire activity, or clean up while trying to herd cats into helping out. The church has billions of dollars, surely they can spring for some janitors? Or maybe hire (and pay!) retirees to handle some things?
I’m sure women, who traditionally did the majority of this admin-type work, deciding to pass on taking on such tasks in favor of showing up and going home appears as “quiet quitting”.
I am an empty nester and in the past have dedicated lots of time to whatever calling in the church (leadership and otherwise) I happened to be in. I have also always had a fulfilling career outside of church service. I feel lucky that in my chosen career men and women are afforded respect, leadership opportunities and promotion based on performance, not gender. Following my faith transition ( I was in my late 40s), I became awakened to the wide gap between how women are treated in the church versus my professional life. (I honestly don’t know how I didn’t see it before the awakening?!) I also felt disillusionment in regards to the church’s narrative of their own history and approach to current cultural issues. Because my life is entwined in the church community and I love the people in my church community, I have had to reframe how I think about my participation. I approach the church as a place to exercise my commitment to Christ. I try to offer service accordingly, but with boundaries that I feel comfortable with. I have taken back my own authority and decide for myself what aspects of the church I feel comfortable following and what aspects I can let go of. I hope for a day that the church will find the courage to make changes to create a more egalitarian, honest and welcoming place for people. I often wonder how many women there are like me, who have quietly changed their commitment to the church, but are still in the pews. I have enjoyed reading others’ stories on this post and am happy to know that I am not alone. Thanks for the great post Elisa!
You faith transition sounds so so similar to mine. I also have come to see the imbalance of power between men and women in the church. I think I couldn’t allow myself to see it for a long time. I had a series of negative experiences with a bishop which should have opened my eyes to the fallibility of leaders and how the hierarchy and patriarchy of the church system doesn’t always protect women from unrighteous dominion but rather can leave them vulnerable to damage from it. Often these are good men that actually mean well, and cannot see the problem with their control and micromanaging of women, because of their acculturation in the church.
I also couldn’t allow myself to see it. For a long time after that experience, even after I had healed and even forgiven and reconciled with the people involved, I had this niggling feeling in the back of my head I couldn’t identify. Finally through journaling and prayer, one day I came to see the imbalance, and also to know that I could no longer it accept as God’s will for the church and for me.
Spiritually, I have so much I want to contribute as a mature spiritual leader to my church community. Instead, I sit in silence while younger men who haven’t had my experiences, try to authoritatively tell me what to do from the pulpit, without any understanding of my circumstances. It’s good to have a place to share these experiences. Thank you to the Wheat and Tares forum.
Someone posted about quiet quitting over on the exponent for people interested in more stories: https://www.the-exponent.com/guest-post-quiet-quitting-church/
In 2018 President Nelson gave a talk to the women of the church and said “My dear sisters, we need you! We ‘need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices,’” said President Nelson. “We simply cannot gather Israel without you.”
To the idea that women’s voices are not heard, I have to say that hasn’t been the case in my experience as ward RS president. Our bishop asks me often for my input and I lead out in ward council regularly. I have had times when I’ve disagreed and my bishop said, ” you have the primary stewardship over the sisters in the ward, I’ll defer to you judgement on this matter.”
Last week we had a regional stake conference with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve which included a Saturday afternoon 3 hour training by this Apostle. The meeting was for all RS, YW, Primary presidents, Bishops and Stake presidents. He specifically asked all the 80+ bishops in the meeting to sit down with the RS, YW and Primary presidents in the next 2-3 weeks and ask how he can better incorporate their views, ideas, and understand what they need to have happen in the ward. He said, “Bishops, if they shower you with praise, ignore it. Ask them to really think about what you as a bishop can do better for the women in the ward.” The following Sunday in ward council our bishop invited me and the two other women to meet with him in 2 weeks.
This might be a case of “you see what you look for” but in my case, I don’t see women being devalued and ignored. I see women leading out and making a difference in my ward and stake.
@Tanya, thank you for recognizing that this is *your* experience. It’s not the experience that many have. In fact, that your region spent so much time telling bishops to include women in decisionmaking suggests that previously they were not …
As for Nelson’s talk, I have a hard time taking it seriously when he gives so few women the mic at general conference. We don’t need more women to speak. Women have been speaking for a long time. We need more men to listen.
I am glad to hear this is happening in your area. However, I would like you to consider that all the power to make women heard rests in the hands of the men in leadership.
If the church President didn’t want women to be heard, he could have chosen to say something different. If the member of the 12 didn’t support President Nelson’s comments he could have chosen to give lip service to the topic but not give specific directions to the 80 plus bishops.
The 80 plus bishops can still choose to nod politely to all the information from the sisters, and then do what the Bishop feels is best. Bishops are free to micromanage their wards in any way they choose. This is their right. They have the veto power.
Of course many good bishops choose to delegate and listen to women, but they also are granted power from the church to completely ignore them.
Test this yourself. If you have a problem with your bishop visit your stake president. Explain the problem. Your stake president is a former bishop and is in place specifically to support bishops. While he may mention your concerns to the bishop, the bishop will remain in place and with all the power to choose what he does next.
I am encouraged by your post. I hope such an improvement occurs all over the church and helps, but I know it won’t solve the problems because they are structural and power based.
There will still be Bishops that aren’t comfortable with strong women and delegating. Such bishops will still choose the primary president’s counselors without consulting her, they will still choose the music for Christmas and disregard the advice and even tears of the chorister. They will still have the power to veto entire programs planned by any women’s presidency.
Women who are in leadership are a certain type of woman that meets the needs of LDS men in leadership, and makes them comfortable. Often they are women that rarely if ever disagree with any man about anything. A woman who speaks up or comes from a family or background that doesn’t fit the norm is not called to leadership and will never be heard even if all goes perfectly with the scenario you have described. Women who do speak up are often released sooner rather than later.
No man in the church has to have a woman’s seal of approval in order to have a temple recommend. Ponder who has the power in the church and who does not. This remains true even if priesthood leaders treat women perfectly. We still remain subordinate, unequal, and without the same opportunities for decision making men have in the church
“To the idea that women’s voices are not heard, I have to say that hasn’t been the case in my experience”
I might have said those exact words a couple of decades ago. Then a serious problem arose in my area that the local male leaders continued to minimize. Women had to fight to be heard and even then the solutions were poorly executed.
I came to a gradual realization that until women are given equal power within the organization there will be serious problems that could have easily been avoided. Women’s voices matter and without real power their voices will *always* be limited.
Yes, President Nelson gave a talk about how women’s voices need to be heard. How many women spoke in the General Conference session where he said those words?
I went to a Baptist church for over a year as a favour to a neighbour whose nephew was the preacher. The misogyny was brutal. I fled a few sermons sobbing. I was the only single woman there. A man also tried to get. me to meet him in the middle of the week to talk about Calvinism. Of course I declined as I knew he wanted something else. I promised God and Jesus that I would never set foot in a Baptist church again. Even Beth Moore finally called it quits. The church is a snakepit now.