When Marriage and Motherhood Become Idols

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  1. This focus on motherhood and marriage as being the highest calling is just a way for the church to pacify women into accepting their inequality in the church as actually being equal.
    Although I am married and have children it doesn’t feel honest to me. While mothers and fathers are different, I don’t believe that motherhood is “higher” than fatherhood. Certainly no one seems to be saying Heavenly Mother is higher than Heavenly Father.

    I see your point that it is a form of idolatry because it detracts from the church’s central message and mission of living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Additionally it is burdensome even to married mothers when their experiences are less than ideal. A church truly supportive of women would be more honest about these topics.

  2. I have never seen a piece that absolutely nailed my feelings! As an infertile bride at 36, I endured a Stake Relief Society President in a Saturday night session say that if we women hadn’t done what what she had (which was to have 13 children), that we were toast as far as the eternities. Were it not for my non-member husband strategically placing his leg to block the pew, I would have left the meeting. It was like being stabbed in the heart. I spoke to my neighbor in the Stake Presidency and curiously enough, the next Stake RS President was a divorced lady who put herself through college was now a professor at the local university!
    I so relate to the hurt caused by the insensitive comments…thank you for this powerful essay!

    • “Were it not for my non-member husband strategically placing his leg to block the pew, I would have left the meeting.”

      i am so uncomfortable with this comment. it reads like you let a man physically restrain you at a difficult time, as though he was in control and not you. in the end, you stayed at a meeting where incredibly inappropriate comments were made, in effect giving your support to these horrible comments. why?

  3. This is such a great article. It needs to be required reading.

    Marriage, motherhood, and the nuclear family are the golden calves church leaders and members kneel before today. Young, impressionable girls are told that marriage and motherhood are the pinnacles of their existence, the measure of their creation, and that they won’t be living up to their “full potential” lest they devote everything they have to these roles. So many of these girls end up sacrificing everything about themselves to bow down to these golden calves, only to find themselves heartbroken and resentful when confronted with the brutal realities of marriage and motherhood. Then when the realization that marriage and motherhood don’t leave them fulfilled after they sacrificed their careers, educations, and identities in the process, that’s when we start seeing crises of faith, broken marriages and families, depression, and other mental health issues come into play.

    On the other hand, women who don’t have the opportunities for marriage and motherhood find themselves shunned, treated like outsiders, and lectured about how they’ve never been “sanctified” or had “any real trials or tests” because they’re not married and/or don’t have children. These women are seen as disposable, their careers, educations, talents, and time are not respected, and are relegated to eternal servitude and are expected to either be happy with it or wait and become Wife # 512 to some random, any old guy in heaven. That is, if they don’t cave into the pressure of marrying a single father, being seen as the wicked stepmother, having the poor stepchildren/poor “real mom” schtick forced down their throats 24/7/365, never being more than an afterthought in their own marriage, and playing a supporting role (since if you’re a stepmother, you just have to be okay with spending the rest of your life as the evil villain, and your husband, stepchildren, and his ex-wife are always expected to come before you no matter what) in their own stories for the rest of their lives.

    The reality is that girls and women outnumber boys and men not just in the church, but in the world as well. You could pair up every single straight male with every single straight female and still have several single girls/women left over. Lipstick, lectures about beauty and charm, and constant general conference talks and lessons about how marriage is the end-all, be-all can’t fix demographics. Not to mention that there is so much absolute dumb luck that goes into whether or not anyone gets married at all and the kind of marriages that result: some of the most despicable people I’ve ever met hit the jackpot in their marriages while some of the best people I’ve had the privilege of knowing either had their marriages crap out in flames or simply never had the opportunity for marriage in life. Church leaders and members need to stop teaching and seeing marriage and motherhood that is the ideal and what ultimately completes/makes a person. It is wrong to make a person’s opportunity for exaltation so heavily reliant upon the agency of others or conditional upon them agreeing to arrangements and/or doing things they are not comfortable with (being with a single parent, dating someone they are not interested in, compatible with or attracted to).

    The article concludes with Luke 15:31 – everything Heavenly Father has is ours. This includes the opportunity for exaltation. Heavenly Father’s blessings aren’t contingent upon whether or not we marry and have children. Heavenly Father loves us simply because of who He is and because we’re His children – it’s not because of anything we did or didn’t do. We need to start teaching this in church again, and knock down the golden calves that are marriage and motherhood while we’re at it.

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