. . . . there I was writing my ex-wife a letter trying to explain what a Temple Marriage and Sealing is and what it means regarding our son. You see my current wife and I wanted her daughter, my older son, and our younger son, to all be sealed to us in the Mormon Temple. One of our many obstacles was my son was only 15 and needed the consent of both of his living parents. The other obstacle was my wife’s daughter was 18 and needed the same consent from her bio-father (even the Bishop had to look this one up. You have to be 21 to attend otherwise.) I was charged with the task of letter writing. In these letters I had to explain things to people who didn’t know much about Mormonism. I had give them enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not they wanted their children to be sealed to my wife and I.
In the middle of the letter, which I was trying to keep to one page, I put my hands down from my computer and thought to myself . . . .
It’s almost as if we need to have the missionaries come out and teach them the lessons.
How could anyone make an informed decision without all the facts at hand. I tried to give them the facts as best as I knew them. I explained that the children couldn’t be sealed to any other living parent. I tried to explain that it had no effect on the current custody situation. I tried to explain everything that I was taught about the temple that would fit into an 8 x 11 sheet of paper (allowing for the obligatory white spaces of course).
But I wasn’t taught much about the temple. What happens in the temple stays in the temple. Right? When I would ask questions I would get ‘You’ll have to experience it yourself.’ Or ‘We don’t talk about those things outside the temple. So I was the one to tell my ex wife and my wife’s daughters father about their children’s eternal progression. Yes. Me? A 1 year within the church.
When I got a call back from my ex-wife all she was concerned with was . . . . . Polygamy. She wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to take a couple of wives to the temple with me. Maybe she felt it would be hard to explain to her side of the family about her son’s father and his new sister wives. I viewed her concerns and assured her that that wasn’t going to happen. I was relieved that everything went smoothly. My wife’s daughter’s bio-dad gave his consent. My ex gave her consent. Everyone had their taste of Mormonism and was OK with their portion. But I didn’t realized how much of a Jagged Little Pill Mormonism was until I went out with the missionaries.
I was called on one night to go out to teach a lesson to a man with the missionaries. It was a Thursday (Don’t ask me to remember how I remember that detail because I just forgot). When the missionaries and I got to the door I understood why I was asked to attend this teaching. The gentleman was about the same age as I. He had pictures of his children on his fireplace mantel. They looked similar to mine. Actually he looked similar to me. We both come from African descent and we both have mixed race children. When the missionaries talked of subjects that where near to me I put in my two cents as best as I could. But when they asked me to tell this man about my Temple experience (this was months after our Temple trip) I think I told him too much. I felt he wouldn’t know what I was talking about until he knew a couple of things about Mormonism 102, Temple 101, Priesthood 102, and even a little Mormonism 202. I realized the information was too much for him to take. Not all I was saying stuck with him, I could tell by the glaze in his eyes. I realized there is a lot to take in with regards to Mormonism. Even one of the Oldest of our wards High Priests has no idea about it all. So how can we expect to have this man take it all in just over a couple of months. The meeting before last was about 3 or 4 months ago. We visited him just last week and Mormonism is still too much of a Jagged Little Pill for him to take. Maybe it will never be for him. So we must accept that contrary to LDS belief Mormonism isn’t for everyone.
I know one of the missions of LDS Missionaries is to teach people what they ‘should’ know so that they can be held accountable for their own salvation. But what they don’t tell people is that the Second President of the Church, Brigham Young, took about two years to accept Mormonism. Seems it was a Jagged Little Pill for him to take also. Heck it took the missionaries coming over for 11 years for me to become a member. And still there are jagged edges on the pill I take everyday. The Jagged Little Pill I Like to Call Mormonism.
Fantastic post Jamie…really heartwarming. I really felt for you mate.
“Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.” – William Congreve
I think polygamy amongst modern divorced mormons is a vestigial doctrine that will end up like the appendix in humans….its role and importance decrease over time but it doesnt go away.
Mormons dont believe in the divine necessity poygamy anymore and Mitt Romney finds it abhorrent. I cherish it as part of our history but also feel the same way. It is a difficult one because no one tells you this when you join the church and most women, if they knew this, I think would find it off putting.
Perhaps we have all been “Disneyfied” in thinking there is one person out there for us…on finding my wife polygamy would only be off putting and unless God came down and told me to practice it face to face I would not.
Hang in there Jamie…there are many of us in the same boat in terms of the jaggedness of Mormonism.
I have had much the same experience as you trying to explain Mormonism. I think people inside, partially in, or outside of Mormonism don’t really always do justice in explaining out beliefs due to the complex interlocking nature of our beliefs. It’s not that other religions don’t suffer from some of the same problems, but they often have the advantage of being widely known so it’s easier to explain through a quick cultural reference (i.e. like “being Saved” or whatever.)
Mormonism has cultural references too, of course, but no one outside the Church “gets them” and unfortunatley we often use language that is misleading due to the words having different meaning to other religions (i.e. calling ourselvers “Saints” comes to mind.)
Great post, Jamie. The temple sealing part was interesting . . . kind of like rain, on your wedding day . . .
2. I agree with you. Sometimes even being at a Priesthood Meeting is like inside baseball Or listening to computer techies talk with all the acronyms. I mean the men don’t even know what happens in Relief Society.
Nice work. I don’t know how any of us manage to stay sane sometimes, given the acrobatics you’ve described in your post. I know of similar situations in my extended family where appeals have had to go to the First Presidency to resolve some of these sealing issues…I look forward to your next installment.
Jamie, I think you’ve hit on a major part of the reason Mormon culture is so insular. There’s a bunch of stuff that you have to explain before you can even talk to non-Mormons about whatever Mormon thing you’re talking about.
I do much of my work on the history of the branches of Mormonism other than the LDS church. I live in the predominantly non-Mormon Midwest, and so whenever I’m talking to anybody what I’m working on. Most of the folks I talk to don’t know anything about Mormonism other than Utah, polygamy, missionaries, Mitt Romney. I feel like I have to hand them some Cliff Notes just to get to the basics.
I usually start, “Well, you know how there is more than one kind of Muslim, you’ve got your Sunnis and your Shi’ites. In that same way, there’s more than one kind of Mormon. There’s the ones you’re know in the big Mormon church — like Mitt Romney and the college kids in ties and bicycle helmets who knock on your door. Then, there’s the ones who are polygamists still, like on Big Love. Well, there’s also… blah, blah, blah…” Their eyes glaze over.
That was a paragraph before I could even introduce the idea of Strangites.
good times. My boss at work has asked me more questions about the church than I ever thought any one person would without actually taking the discussions. He actually now knows more about the church than many members…anyway, I digress. I liked your post and will be keeping my eye out for more. Stop by and say hi over at A Good Husband.
this got me thinking, as a soon-to-be divorced woman, on what i would do if my ex asked if i would allow our daughter to be sealed to him/his new family. the instant gut answer was a resounding ‘NO!!!’ if your ex was a member when you asked about your son what do you think her answer would have been?
She would probably say yes. She was never too religious even when we attended that Pentecostal Church.
Your post made me think: Why is it that the Mormon Church chooses to not discuss things that happen in the temple? I do understand that it’s viewed as “sacred” by those in the LDS church. However, if one had the freedom to discuss at length the various sealings/blessings that happen there, wouldn’t that have the possibility of opening the minds, not to mention the hearts, of investigators (and others) to more readily accept LDS teachings? I know that there is somewhat of a mention to the sealings, but, to be able to give a heart-felt description of one’s own temple experience, well, that could bring about a move that even the LDS church has yet to see. I know that the church teaches that one will know by a “burning in the bosom” that something is right. To me, for lack of a better way to describe it, feels like a warm feeling inside (no, I’m no longer LDS..as made known in another post). No one can take that feeling away from you, especially one who’s had a wife and/or children sealed to them in the temple.
I don’t know. Just makes sense to me, that’s all.
Vamos amigo, estos hechos y la prueba * * Quiero decir que es anuncio * lol: P