Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Children in limbo

Yesterday, two things happened. 

I found the original text containing a quote from Joseph B. Worthlin, a former member of the LDS quorum of the twelve apostles, that Ex-#Nightmare had posted on Facebook just after my release from Happy Towne Psyche Ward nearly two years ago. The quote reads: 

"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude."

At the time of its posting by my ex, these words were an awful stinging slap. I couldn't understand what he thought he'd lost. After a year and a half of marriage I fled this man, who had teetered wildly between emotional remoteness and strict control of my every move with demeaning reprimands, physical and sexual threats, and hungered-for roller coaster bursts of affection and meager kindness, for my safety and the safety of my children. We left behind home, friends, financial security, and the support of our religious community. Prior to my flight, my words were always dismissed when I approached the bishop. My plea for help in dealing with repeated verbal cruelty, an attempted sexual assault, physical abuse that covered almost everything short of blows fell on deaf ears, and I assumed God's ears were closed as well. I'd been shamed as the "crazy," sperm-hungry, pre-menopausal wife who hadn't tried hard enough to "make her marriage work" by my ecclesiastical leader. And so reference to the compensation of the faithful for their losses seemed to me a blatant statement of my ex-husband's righteousness and an implication of my wayward nature in my desperate departure. 

When I re-encountered the passage yesterday, however, I felt the tables had turned. Here I am, saturated in love, acceptance, health, self-determination, respect, support, friendship, and a bright future. Indeed, I have found compensation, and I am glowing in it. My husband is the kindest, most Christ-like person I know. He is patient and gentle, compassionate and fair. My concerns are his concerns. My happiness is as important to him as his is to me. 

And then M— came home from seminary. Her teacher had been fielding questions about doctrine from students, many of whom are in a general sort of faith-crisis stir over recent essays about changing policies and former practices of the Church. I don't want to go into these. I settled my mind about unpleasant historical choices of former prophets some time ago, and frankly, I have no problem accepting that even men of God are fallible. I believe in an infinite atonement, and Christ only has imperfect people with whom to work. M—'s teacher, on the other hand, isn't in my boat. He was trying his misguided best to smooth over the hard problems in the faith, and failed. Twice. 

First, he told the students that if they couldn't accept plural marriage as instituted and implemented by Joseph Smith Jr. to be from God, divinely directed and ordained, that they should just leave the Church. Not keep praying to understand—leave. Second, he tried to insist the equality of women to men in the sealing ordinance by telling students that his widowed mother was sealed to both his dead father AND her new husband. This is what got me scratching my head. At the moment, and for as long as is historically documented, women don't have equal access and utility of sealing that is afforded to men. It's a present fact in the universe. 

You can get a better sense of this ordinance and its purpose here, here, and here. Keep in mind that the latter is information not distributed openly to anyone outside of LDS clergy. Read: men. But because of wikileaks I have access and I reference the handbook often on hard issues, because when you want to understand the Church's policies, there is no better source than the Church itself. I poured over the section on sealing policies this evening, re-clarifying my understanding of sealing ordinances for living women. And then I read policies on sealing of children to their parents. The section is long, so I will quote only the passages that stopped me cold.

"A living woman may be sealed to only one husband. If she is sealed to a husband and later divorced, she must receive a cancellation of that sealing from the First Presidency before she may be sealed to another man in her lifetime…
If a woman who has been sealed to a former husband remarries, the children of her later marriage are born in the covenant of the first marriage unless they were born after the sealing was canceled…
Children who are born in the covenant…remain so even if the sealing of the parents is later canceled…
Living children who are born in the covenant…cannot be sealed to any other parents.
If a member has requested a cancellation of sealing, she may not schedule an appointment for a temple sealing until receiving a letter from the First Presidency giving notice that the cancellation has been granted.
A husband and wife who were married outside a temple may be sealed after one full year from the date of the civil marriage."

I don't know if I'm pregnant, and I won't for another week or so, but if I am the baby will be due September 7th. Mr. PNU and I will celebrate our first year of marriage on October 3rd. We are aware that sealing cancellations take a long time. This is why we chose to be married civilly; our bishops felt it unwise to wait. But if I am not granted a clearance and a child is born to me and my husband, in an eviscerating twist of irony that child will be born, sealed to Ex-#Nightmare. 

Tonight, after this unlikely turn, my husband and I lay holding each other on our bed in silence. He came the closest I've ever heard to speaking openly against those in authority, but still begged me not to leave the Church over the matter. Strangely enough, the reason I am so hurt by this latest revelation is because deep in my heart I do have faith. I do believe. Choosing to leave would be wrong for both of us, but our predicament certainly doesn't help our struggles over matching cultural inconsistencies with doctrinal truths. Mr. PNU shook his head that he had felt prompted that having a child with me was right, would bring us closer together, was the will of the Lord. And now that child may not be eternally tied to him at all, but rather to a man who disdained my fertility, my role as mother, and my desire to continue bearing children. A man who told me repeatedly that I was "not needed for that."

My husband and I completely bypassed the ward clerk and texted the bishop. He'll see us Thursday evening. We're prepared to bully proactively toward a speedy course through paperwork. I am hesitant to pay much heed to how my body whispers.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to say a thing or two to that seminary teacher. Also, I'm dying a little inside for you and Mark having to deal with this. I will keep your family in my prayers. And I believe that a loving Father in Heaven will work things out for you.

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