Category Archives: Mormons Gonna Morm

Why Consent is Not Enough

With widely publicized accounts of date rape and sexual assault, discussions about consent are big these days.

The Thames Valley Police even made a video explaining consent in what is possibly the simplest and most comprehensive way ever. It’s just like tea party etiquette!

While this is all good (and true and important) the fact that it’s a thing at all is depressing.

Why?

Because sex is actually, really, much more important than tea.

And having sex is really, actually, a much bigger deal than having tea with someone.

If the importance of sex was a generally understood thing, if our collective time and energy and money went more to understanding virtue than it did to a billion dollar pornography industry, we wouldn’t be in a crisis of consent.

Any man or woman who understands and values chastity does not “accidentally” rape his or her date.

Any man or woman who understands and values dignity, temperance, candor, and honor will be able to both set healthy boundaries and respect the boundaries of others.

But all of those things are preachy outdated and old fashioned. I am forcing my morality on you. Who am I to say what’s right and wrong? We get to pick our own values, even if that means being so casual about sex that all the sudden we have a spawning population of people who don’t understand consent. Ok, nevermind, we have one value: Consent. Because we still understand that rape is bad.

Consent, consent, CONSENT.

CONSENT IS EVERYTHING. So if both parties are consenting, it’s OK ,right?

Right?

No. Consent is not enough to make sex OK.

Consent is not enough when an abused and insecure 18 year old signs a contract for a porn film where violent degrading things are done to her for the entertainment of millions, a video that brings her pain and shame, and regret and people who “recognize” her for years to come. Her consent is not enough to make that sex OK.

Consent is not enough when a starving mother is offering up herself as a prostitute to feed her kids. Her consent is not enough to make that sex OK.

Consent is not enough when someone in a position of authority  (like, maybe, a teacher) has sex with someone subordinate to them. Or, you know, fourteen years old. Her consent does not make that sex OK. Regardless of what judges or academics say about sex with consenting minors.

Consent is not enough for any man and woman, to come together in this sacred way, and to play biological Russian Roulette*** that may create a child that they are not willing, ready, or able to care for, a child for whom they are not willing to provide a united mother and father, a child that they may literally sacrifice on the alter of their entitlement to do whatever they want–their consent is not enough to make that sex OK.

It’s not. There’s something more needed, and that something is Honor.

As a noun, Honor means “high respect, esteem, privilege.”

As a verb, honor means, “to regard with great respect.”

Noun application:

When we all see sex as an honor, a privilege, something that is of great value, not something you do with someone to be pleasant or sociable or because they paid for the date, guess what? Consent becomes a non-issue.

Verb Application:

When we learn to deeply honor, or regard with great respect, sex–it becomes something that we won’t do, and won’t even feel pressured or tempted* to do, with someone who isn’t our everything. In fact, when we honor sex to the point that it’s sacred to us, we may only have sex with one person over the course of a lifetime. We may end up only having sex with a person with whom we are willing and able to partner as mother and father to all children who deliberately (or not deliberately) come our way. When we honor sex, the sex we have is honorable, and in this mutually held honor, consent becomes a non-issue. We honor one another and the act of sex enough that it’s not happening when the both of us are not happening. When the honor is really and fully there, we don’t have to have lengthy explanations about the do’s and don’ts of serving tea–the do’s and don’ts of sex, to those who have a mature honor for sex, the “nuances” of consent are patently self-evident.

So. We can sit back and point out all the hypocrisies and shortcomings of the stuffy past societies that honored sex and valued chastity–“they were a buncha hypocrites! Look at the marital rape and the rape culture and the sexist double standard and this bad thing and that other bad thing!”

Oooor….maybe, just maybe, we can look at what happens when we combine the values we forgot about in the sexual revolutions of the 20th century (chastity, temperence, honor), with the values trendy now (compassion**, free will, inclusiveness). What kind of tomorrow would we have?

It would be a beautiful tomorrow. It could even be a tomorrow in which most people not only understood consent, but bigger things. Better things. Honorable, happy making, trauma mitigating, disease-eradicating things.

The End

*Yes, it’s possible, even in a highly sexualized world as a sexual being with sexy, sexy feelings. It’s possible.

**If we’re actually more compassionate…but that’s a discussion for another day)

***I don’t care if you were “safe,” or “fixed.” You’ve stacked the odds against conception, but you’re still gambling with the body of a possible Child. Your possible Child. If you 100% can’t handle a baby, there’s only one 100% solution, excepting in rare (1 in all of ever) cases of immaculate conception. And God gets consent before blessing the abstinent with children.

General Conference Eve in Seven Steps

The most exciting thing about today is that tomorrow is April first, the first (full*) day of the Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

General Conference is Christmas, Easter, and the Superbowl at our house. It’s a glorious time when sitting in front of a screen for 8-10 hours in a weekend is not only justifiable, but hands down the best way we could be using our time.

The refreshment and renewal we get in this weekend is unmatched by any vacation, any inspirational or motivational retreat you could throw at us.

Since lists are all the rage, here is my list of ways to get the most out of conference:

  1. Pray for the speakers to say what they need to say.
  2. Pray that I’ll hear what I need to hear (because 1)teaching and learning are interdependent processes, and 2)being interrupted and distracted by child needs is an inevitable part of our participation in conference)
  3. Take stock of questions I have, areas of my own character that need to improve, people I want to help but don’t know how, current concerns in child rearing that don’t have obvious solutions. Write them all down to keep in mind during conference.
  4. Ask for my heart to be prepared to understand what it needs to.
  5. Remind the kids that conference is coming, review steps 1-4 with them, and gear up the enthusiasm! (our kids are always excited for conference. It may be the outpouring of spiritual gifts and learning, or it may be all the treats they get to eat conference weekend. One way or the other, we all like conference.)
  6. Print off Conference Packets and activities for the children. It’s possible that toilet paper prophets are blasphemous, but by golly, they keep the littler people occupied so we can learn from prophets how to be better people, and therefore better parents.
  7. Draw up menu and grocery list for the tailgate conference party of the year! At least the first half of the year…I’m so glad we get to do this twice annually

 

*It started earlier, with the Women’s Session of Conference. Which is the best women’s conference in the world. And totally free.

The Sunday We Conquered the World and Survived the Apocalypse

Here’s what we did a few Sundays ago:

Made cinnamon rolls:

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Attended Stake Conference :

(No picture. Just a lot of wonderful learning from a lot of wonderful people. It’s possible that I spent part of it in the mother’s room chatting it up with a Sister in Zion-cum-beauty pageant winner about the plight of young refugee mothers and how she can help them as part of her platform. Yes, it’s wonderful and exciting stuff).

Made a carnal mess in the kitchen with beets and boiled bones:

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Conquered the world:

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Built shelters in the backyard, proving the offspring are ready for the apocalypse:

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Yep. We do love our sabbath.

The End.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things:Family Home Evening Chart

On Sunday afternoons, I try to sit down with each of my children for at least 30 minutes each, doing something with only that one child, hopefully inducing meaningful conversation.

Because, you know, relationships and whatnot.

The child gets to pick the activity.

Jane the Austen likes to write or read, discuss her favorite books, and geek out over musicals and 19th century history together.

Clive the Staples likes back rubs and feet rubs, cuddles, and drawing.

Mister the Rogers likes to make treats with me, particularly cookies or caramels.

Katherine the Great likes dramatic nonsensical conversations, singing, and dancing.

Lucy the Maude generally likes to nurse, and doesn’t really get formal one on one time. She gets her loving in by default. Thank the stars for breastfeeding, snuggles, and infantile unwavering delightful sociability.

 

One Sunday afternoon, Clive the Staples decided we needed to make a family home evening chart together. So we toddled on down to the basement, found an old 2X4, and set to work with a skilsaw, sander, woodburning pen, and drill.

And my oh my, did we ever make a family home evening chart!

Towards the end, Husband the Man busted out the router, because he’s the only one who really knows how to work that baby, and gave it a fancy beveled edge.

The tags are flipped backwards, because, you know, privacy, but you get the idea.

Now, every week as we rotate everyone’s tag to a new job, I am reminded of my sweet secondborn, and how terribly fast he’s growing up.

 

The End.

On Self-Cannibalism

One of the scriptures that always intrigued and disturbed me was this one:

And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. -1 Nephi 21:26

Forced self-cannibalism from the Savior of the world? I know. I know.

But like so many other things, trusting in God eventually lends itself to a better explanation than judging and dismissing does. So I trusted.

And one day, I was listening to the sacrament prayer and something clicked.

When we take the sacrament (communion in most faiths) what are we doing? We are eating the body and blood of Jesus Christ. His flesh and blood.

We’re not a faith that believes in transubstantiation, so for me, consuming the bread and water offered every Sunday is not a literal practice of cannibalism. But it is a literal saving ordinance.

My guess is that this scripture is not threatening to literally feed people on their own flesh and blood, but is speaking to something just as devastating and real.

What do we do when we take the sacrament? We are offering up our sins and shortcomings. We are offering up our pride and our need to be right, the faults we wish we didn’t have and the faults that we may cherish. We know we aren’t enough, that we’re completely inadequate to sustain ourselves. We are acknowledging that on our own, we will most surely die.

Without food, our bodies die. Without Christ, our souls die.

We need Him like we need bread and water. The act of eating and drinking in remembrance of Jesus Christ is the act of inviting Christ to come inside us, to sustain us and fill us, to provide us with the nutrients necessary to keep our souls functioning down the cellular level (do souls have cells? I don’t know).

The things we eat and drink become the matter that composes our bodies. The blood in our veins was once tap water, the calcium in our bones was once milk and spinach and oranges. Our food becomes our body.

As our souls continually eat and drink Jesus Christ, He becomes part of us. His Spirit, His Atonement, begins to inhabit us, becomes a part of our spiritual make up in the same way that the food and water we drink becomes our own bones and blood.

In the same way that our bodies cannot survive without food, our souls will not survive without Jesus Christ. If we reject Him, from whence can we be nourished, sustained, redeemed, and ultimately transformed?

We need His Love and Law and Atonement. It feeds us, sustains us, and, when accepted again and again and again, it ultimately becomes the stuff that every particle of our soul is made of. We become part of Him, and He becomes part of us, and His Grace is big enough to support and sustain us, and our growth, indefinitely.

The God of all creation has offered us literally everything. He has offered us His Son. If we reject that, what does God have left to give us? He’s already given us everything, and so by definition, there’s nothing left to give. We are left to ourselves for sustenance.

If we look to ourselves for morality, forgiveness, redemption, we shrink. We are too small, too inadequate, to feed ourselves. Dictating our own right and wrong, passing justice and defining mercy for ourselves, we will shrink. There is not enough of me to sustain me, to justify me, to redeem me.

Drawing from my own intellect for righteous law, drawing from my own mercy for redemption, drawing from my own love for my pain, is ultimately as futile a practice as drawing from my own blood to alleviate my thirst, or drawing from my own flesh to sate my hunger. It’s perfectly and utterly self defeating. It’s completely unsustainable.

When we reject the Savior, what do we have left? Ourselves. We are remarkable, wonderful, and worthwhile beings, but we are not spiritually self-sustainable. We are dependent, feckless creatures, and in choosing the Savior, in choosing and applying the atonement, we may slowly come to understand just how much has been done for us (and the rest of the human race), how much is being done for us (and the rest of the human race), and how much will be done for us (and the rest of the human race). We can’t outgrow our smallness if we don’t even realize we’re small. We cannot overcome our own helplessness when we don’t accept the help and tutelage on offer.

We are living in famine, but there is a table spread before us, with an invitation to take as much as we want; the offering is infinite.

So let’s eat.

A Few of My Favorite Things: Temple Quilt

Shortly after Husband and I got engaged, Mother in Law called me up to ask what color I wanted our temple quilt to be.

“What’s a temple quilt?” I so eloquently replied.

Come to find out, a temple quilt is an incredibly gorgeous, thick quilt featuring the Portland temple, where we were married, surrounded by flowers, our names, and anniversary.

A temple quilt hand quilted by family and friends.

My mother was awed when she saw it, and proudly told me she got to work on the temple in the middle. Sometimes I look at the temple in the middle and imagine her hands embroidering it.

At one point, I sat on the floor of my future in-law’s house and learned to bind the edges of the quilt while watching Teahouse of the August Moon with my beloved future sister-in-law.

Our temple quilt covers our bed and every morning, as we spread it out, it reminds me of one of the best decisions I ever made.

To the remarkable hands that made it, most especially our beloved mothers’, thank you.

Happy Sabbath

A few Sabbaths back*, Jane the Austen and Mr. the Rogers were sick, so I stayed home from Church with them and Lucy the Maude. Husband the Man took  Clive the Staples and Katherine the Great to Church, where they were (reportedly, miraculously) well behaved in the pew while he gave a talk.

Lucy the Maude, the invalids, and I curled up on my bed and watched Sound of Music, whilst I had a theological texting conversation with a friend. Because Sunday!

Later, Mr. the Rogers wanted to build an elevated block city with me while Jane the Austen took an epsom salt bath. Lucy the Maude and I joined him on the floor for urban development (a city for dinosaurs and the occasional horse) and Jane the Austen eventually also joined us, snuggled in a blanket,. Pajamas, and bathrobe, reading Harry Potter.

When the three churchgoers got home, I left to go visiting teaching. I should know better than to leave husband alone with the kitchen, because when I came back, I found he’d been playing with the food (and the children):

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Reason 443 of Why I am Married to Husband the Man

He took the adorable deviled eggs home teaching to feed those he serves.

Ladies and gentlemen, home teaching is hot.

So is husband the man.

I love the sabbath.

Happy, happy sabbath.

 

* I binge write this blog on weekends, so you never actually get our family’s adventures in real time.