Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Time to have "the talk"

This morning I came across an article from Cosmo Magazine, written by a girl who has decided she wants to fight BYU's "ban on sex." Normally, I stay out of controversial arguments directed to/about BYU, because I don't really care. I don't go to the school. I don't necessarily have any loyalties to it.

I have hesitated to say anything on here about feminism in the LDS culture, because I have friends on all sides and the last thing I would ever want is to say something that would hurt anyone's feelings. For the purposes of this post, however, it seems necessary to address it. I am, what could probably be considered the anti-feminist. So perhaps my understanding of the movement is skewed, and if that is true, forgive my ignorance--but as I understand it, the feminist movement is all about empowering women. About women raising above where they feel society has placed them. Which I will assume is where Keli Byers takes a stance. In her article, she states she is a member of the "Young Mormon Feminists, a group that's not endorsed by the Church or BYU. We talk about how the Church doesn't see women as equal to men and how BYU is slut-shaming. The school's honor code forces women to dress modestly — no skirts above the knee — supposedly to help men control their thoughts. The group helped me reclaim my sexuality and realize my sexual assault wasn't my fault. I'm now in a questioning phase with the Church. I still think the idea of committing to someone for eternity is beautiful, but the Church could use improvement in the way it treats women.

I 100% believe she can do whatever she wants, and be a part of whatever group makes her happy or feel better. Such is her prerogative. And my issue isn't even really her petition against BYU. I have many thoughts about that, however, I don't want to beat that dead horse about BYU being a private institution and that no one is forced to go there, and choosing to go there means choosing to uphold the standards it has taken on, because its not exactly a secret that BYU is a school where many many students choose to attend for its high upheld standards...then again, maybe I do.

My real issue is the light, or I guess more appropriately darkness, that has been cast over the Church and its treatment of the sexually active or assaulted. She addresses both.

When she talks about her own sexual assault, she mentions that she is banned from church. No one is banned from church, leastwise someone who has been sexually assaulted. I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for 21 years. Not once, in any capacity, have I been taught that one that has been sexually violated is dirty. Never. So perhaps she misunderstood her bishop, or misconstrued his words, and obviously I wasn't there, and I can't say anything first hand, but I do know that we are explicitly taught that that type of violation is something a victim will not and can not be held accountable for. If anyone has yet to read The Miracle of Forgiveness, I would highly encourage it. I know it has been addressed that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is advised for those who are and have been victims, because the Atonement was made for so much more than sins. It is for all hurts, all pain, mending broken lives, putting hearts and souls back together--whether they were broken by our own actions, or the fault of another. It is all encompassing.

Now, I would like to address this next part with the utmost humility. I have avoided talking about sex on here for the very reason that I believe it is sacred. In terms of her call for accepting a sexual lifestyle. The way I see it, she either feels that only men are allowed to be sexual and have sexy time without consequences, or she wants it to be acceptable for everyone to be sexually active. Either way you look at it, as far as I can see, it's wrong. I know for a fact, from men I know personally, that if they are caught having sex under contract, they get kicked out of BYU. They are breaking the contract, the promise they made to be chaste while living in BYU housing, attending the university. And let's also address real quick, that if you are married, BYU doesn't care if you have sex--as long as it is faithfully and within the confines of your marriage. So it doesn't ban sex. It bans promiscuity. The Church, likewise, teaches that sex, outside the bands of marriage is wrong. Not because sex is bad, or because the Church wants people to be miserable, but because the very act of a husband and wife making love is the ultimate sign of love, and we believe it is as close as we mortal beings can get to the glory of God in this life. We believe sex is the intertwining and union of two souls. That is why it is viewed with such seriousness and severity if it is abused. I think it's a little silly for her to proclaim herself to be "just a sexual person." If you talk with just about any human being with a pulse, they will tell you they want to have sex all the time. Now, depending on the person, some are practiced and capable of managing and controlling the urge to jump into bed with everyone they have ever loved, liked, or for some people, anyone who is willing. The bottom line is, everyone is sexual. To one extent or another, everyone is, and to pretend you alone are the only one who loves to make love, is ignorant and incredibly naive. I don't have sex because I believe that it is an expression of love, vulnerability, and happiness that I only want to share with one person, for all eternity. I don't have sex because I can't personally bear to give that much of my heart, that part of myself, to anyone but the one man that I know will love me unconditionally always. Because I still believe in that once in a lifetime, forever kind of love. Because I am confident. Because I know that my body is a sacred gift that was loaned to me by the Father in Heaven, and that I get to choose who I get to share it with. And, because I only want to merge souls with one person, completely, beautifully, indefinitely.

I don't mean to tear this girl down, as it would appear she is having serious struggles. I can't imagine the kind of pain she must feel to undergo a struggle of faith. I just feel, as a member of the LDS faith, especially as a woman, I want to proclaim with everything I am, that I do not feel oppressed. My understanding of the gospel is that our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of His children with perfect equality. I know that He doesn't love men more than women, and I know that if He intended for women to hold the priesthood, we would. God's laws cannot be changed or altered by man. That is an eternal and fundamental principal of the gospel. I have never, ever felt like I am less than another. I would encourage anyone who feels differently to search their scriptures, pour their heart out in prayer, and build their relationship with Heavenly Father. I testify that every soul is precious in the eyes of God, and that if we all will let Him, He will show us how incredible true that is.