Mormon theology, including temple covenants, along with pulpit and lesson rhetoric and cultural and community discourse place a strong emphasis on the family. It also focuses on our becoming as fully like God as we can, including perfecting the combination of strength and vulnerability, independence and relationality. In Mormon marriages, this means developing full intimacy with our spouses, which requires first a genuine intimacy with ourselves, facing our challenges and becoming whole. All of our theology and values point to this type of “becoming”—becoming one with God, within ourselves, and with our spouse. Yet, are there aspects of Mormon thought, culture, and practice that work against the development of genuine intimacy between spouses? And, if so, how might we come to better understand these in ways that will allow us ultimately to change them, but along the way, for ourselves, to at least transcend them?
In this episode, Carol Lynn Pearson, Stephen Carter, and Jennifer Finlayson-Fife join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a focused discussion of intimacy in Mormon Marriages. Pearson alerts us to the negative consequences of the persistence of polygamy in our doctrines, practices, and in the hearts and minds of many Latter-day Saints, leading to a terrific discussion that dives down several more layers and, ultimately, to our imagining a “partnership” future that has transcended the harm engendered by “patriarchy.” Carter takes us into several interesting areas related to gender roles, church structures, and ways that the LDS culture places “value” on and judges the success or failure of a marriage—all of which that work against intimacy. Finlayson-Fife lifts up examples and insights from her career as a marriage and family therapist working with Mormon clientele, along with calling us again and again to pay attention to the core gospel of Jesus Christ, what Christ pointed to, which is internal transformation and development not external performance.
The above is just a tease! There’s so much more! Dive in! And then please join in the discussion in the comments section below!
Carol Lynn Pearson, The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: Haunting the Hearts and Heaven of Mormon Women and Men (Walnut Creek, CA: Pivot Point Books, 2016)
Carol Lynn Pearson, Beginnings and Beyond (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2011). Contains the poem, “The Steward.”
Carol Lynn Pearson website
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife website; link to relationship courses
Sunstone, Perspectives on Polygamy Issue (includes Stephen Carter’s review essay discussed in the podcast)
Eugene England, “On Fidelity, Polygamy, and Celestial Marriage,” Dialogue 20, no. 4 (Winter 1987); link is to version on the Eugene England website (but it links to original if wanted)
Not mentioned in the show, but here is a fantastic article: Marybeth Raynes, “How Sex and Spirituality are Linked: A Developmental Perspective,” Sunstone, Nov 2011. It shares both via research as well as samples from poetry, lyrics, and other literature various levels of intimacy and the spirituality associated with it.