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Friday, January 16, 2015

MMM: Seeds of Unorthodoxy

by Kristine A:

I had always been a strict orthodox Mormon, probably the Mollyest of Mormons. No R-rated movies. No second pair of earrings. I went to Ricks College and threw away all of my shorts and tank tops. I believed that womanhood = motherhood (and motherhood = priesthood) and that a woman's place was in the home. In 2011, after ten years of marriage and one IVF baby, against all rational thought we took a job cross country in Virginia that was a pay cut; leaving a house in Idaho we rented out at a $400/month loss and creating a need for me to work full-time. It didn't make sense, but we prayed about it and it felt right. Little did we know what lay in store for us in Virginia.

I think I can pinpoint the exact moment my faith transition began. I had a Virginia friend share some posts from Modern Mormon Men on Facebook and I began following MMM. Shortly after I read two posts about patriarchy, "The Modern Patriarch" and "The Reluctant Patriarch." I'd never even conceived that a Mormon man could not embrace patriarchy. I'd always embraced "girl power" and "proper roles of women" and had felt that unnamed tension. These two posts left me examining my own beliefs, and I ended up talking to my husband about how I never had been totally comfortable with patriarchy. He looked at me like I was Captain Obvious. Apparently for ten years he had struggled with the fact that I was not exactly submissive and easily entreated towards the presider of the home. He said he knew within a month of marriage that his successful, independent, confident, dynamic wife was not going to fit in the leadership model of the family he'd been hoping for, no matter how orthodoxly Molly Mormon I was. The conversation ended with his promise that the only purpose of the priesthood is to serve, so if I ever felt my daughter and I weren't being served enough by him - I should just let him know and he'd make course corrections. It may seem innocuous, but it was the first time I'd allowed myself to question whether anything my Church had given me was God’s will.

That one conversation led to the opening of a Pandora's box of questions. I soon experienced cognitive dissonance in two others areas where my lived experiences (working with massive Mormon mommy guilt amongst amazing Christian working mothers**) and answers to my own prayers (newsflash: God didn't want me to have more kids, but wanted me to be a woman of God without filling that role**) did not match up with the orthodox LDS answers I'd always believed. I opened my Teachings of the Living Prophets manual to the page about motherhood, and questioned how all of those teachings from prophets could clash with my lived experience and personal revelation. I soon found there were other Mormon blogs that weren't MMM. I learned about Rough Stone Rolling and started researching the parts of church history my orthodoxy had never allowed me to go. I learned that leaders could sometimes be wrong and make mistakes. I learned that doctrine and policy had changed a lot. I learned that I could rely on my personal revelation even if it conflicted with church teachings. In this process I found new eyes. I never once questioned my faith in God, His son Jesus Christ, and the atonement, but I was different. And it all happened in Virginia and because of MMM.

Once our stake president counseled my husband that our time in Virginia was to be a "pruning" in our lives. It was painful and necessary, and the changes God was making would enable us to grow and become who He wanted us to be. I agree, it was a transformative experience. I've become a more loving, understanding, and empathetic person. Thanks, Modern Mormon Men!


**This is an entirely other blog post, how God schooled me in the atonement and taught me the definition of an Eshet Chayil, Woman of God.

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Kristine A is a wife, mother, accountant, Pacers fan, ravenclaw, and reluctant Rexburg resident. She's probably most famous for making the front page of the Rexburg newspaper for wearing pants to church. She's most proud of the fact Joanna Brooks said she has ovaries of steel. She blogs at Confessions of a Moderate Mormon Feminist and tweets @_Kristine_A.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: Kristine A (used with permission).

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