My husband (then fiance) and I had some really strong, pending questions about the recent changes for women and the temple. I thought that maybe this GA could give me some insight. I approached this Elder after the leadership training and asked, making sure I was kind and respectful in my tone: “Do you know why the changes were made? Was it because of revelation or was it because of so many women who voiced their opinions? Or both? If that’s how God wanted it to be, why wasn’t it like that in the first place?”
Then this GA looked at me, and said (something along the lines of) “It’s dangerous to doubt the revelations given to the prophets and his apostles. We need to focus on things that are important. And that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ— Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. I appreciate your question.”
AND THAT WAS IT. I felt as though I was slapped in the face. He told me that changes in the temple are only “small details” that are unimportant. I felt as though he was calling me out for having doubts.
The next session of Stake Conference, I sat next to my fiancé and cried, and cried, and cried! My fiancé was SO mad at the GA’s response, that he walked up to the Elder and asked him the same questions that I did.
Almost word for word, this general authority said the same thing to my husband. “Don’t get caught up in the unimportant details.”
I felt like I was having a faith crisis.
After the temple changes I went to my bishop and asked if I could have a redo and get the new, better covenants.
He said that he figured I was probably grandmothered into the new ones.
When I expressed that I wanted to covenant with God instead of my husband, he said, “Well… your husband is kind of like an embryonic God!”
The temple is the most blatantly sexist experience I’ve had in my life. Not only was I pressured into covenanting to my husband when he covenanted to God, I was ordained to be a Priestess to my husband when he was ordained a Priest to God, I wasn’t allowed to even pray without veiling my face first, I had to tell my husband my new name but wasn’t allowed to know his, my husband literally acted as the Lord taking me through the veil, and I covenanted to hearken to my husband when he covenanted to hearken to the Lord, but when I expressed my concerns about it I was COMPLETELY gaslighted by everyone I talked to. They said I must have heard wrong, or they don’t remember that, or their wife is fine with it so what’s my problem, or what kind of abuse did I suffer to make me not trust God, or I should stop thinking and just enjoy it. It was never even a possibility that the temple makes second class citizens out of women. Never a possibility that I, as a woman, paid attention and saw an actual problem.
The first time I went through the temple in 1975 I remember feeling a heavy weight pressing my head down when that covenant happened. My parents were temple workers and since it was a live session they were the witness couple, and often afterwards they were Adam & Eve or my dad was Satan a lot, so that part has been a good memory for me, but I never got over feeling pushed down every time I have gone since.
I am great with symbolism. Going through the temple was PAINFUL, and confusing. I honestly assumed that SURELY I didn’t understand it. Surely.
It took me over ten years to realize that I had understood, and wasn’t alone in my concerns.
This was so much of my experience with the temple and the church at large. Surely I was just missing something deeper. Surely everyone else had already come to grips with these issues. Surely I was just behind. It took me years to realize that I wasn’t the problem.
The first time through the temple messed me up. My veil wasn’t see through at all. I felt completely shunned.
My aunt even asked me, as I was sobbing, if there was anything I needed to talk to the temple matron about. I later found out she meant to ask questions, but at the time it felt like she was accusing me of sinning and that I needed to go confess my sins. The whole thing was awful and I couldn’t even talk to anyone about it because one else had had a similar experience as me. They all thought I was being ridiculous.
Pro Tip: Recognize that how women experience the temple can differ greatly from how men experience the temple. Shaming and gaslighting women who talk about the recent temple changes is unhelpful. Validate and listen to women when they share their feelings about the temple.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)