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Who spent decades begging church leaders to hold perpetrators and themselves to the highest gospel standards, begging teachers to think about the unintended messages of their lessons, begging victims to seek professional and spiritual help.“Think of a woman whose husband beats and rapes her.What feelings go through her mind as a Relief Society teacher [or Bishop] explains that it is the wife’s responsibility to maintain the spiritual atmosphere in the home and to support the priesthood? But maybe, gracefully, in a moment of frantic prayer, she feels the overwhelming love of God, that she is a beloved child who He does not want to be miserable. Beginning to grasp how bad it is, the woman turns to the first source she can think of: the source she is supposed to trust, the source she has been told to consult, the source she thinks might be able to offer an independent assessment and maybe refer her to counseling – her Bishop.She has been taught that her husband is the leader of the home, and she needs to respect his authority. Sometimes the speakers remember to include one fleeting sentence or paragraph of “except for cases of abuse” … She can’t map their vague and perfunctory words onto her experiences.She has been taught that if she just prays harder, submits harder, follows traditional gender roles harder, the problems will go away. I strongly urge you and those who advise you to face up to the reality that for most marriage problems, the remedy is not divorce but repentance.I was never contacted by anyone about the letter or my experience.I brought the matter up with someone I knew in the Seventy who had been my stake president several years before.Slowly, over that first year, I gave up being myself. Proclaim from the Temple-tops that God’s plan of happiness does not require marital martyrdom and misery.
I don’t care about how this fits into some broader #metoo narrative.Maybe she eventually finds the strength to leave anyway.But overcoming all of the general psychological difficulty in breaking off a relationship, plus the hurdles of dissolving a temple marriage, plus ignoring official Priesthood and perceived Apostolic advice – it’s nothing short of an Olympic feat. I don’t care about Porter and his relationship history.To these confused, despairing children and adults in pain, the teachers speak with the voice of the Church. My husband just screams at me, or gives me the silent treatment for weeks on end, or blames me for all of his problems, or isolates me from friends and family, but it’s not nearly as bad as rape and sexual abuse. After all, if she’s going to Many Bishops handle this moment with grace. Bless their serviceful hearts, but they have no experience in mental health, in domestic violence, in counseling.Such messages have a great potential for increasing their pain and despair.”Yes! They label the husband’s behavior as unrighteous dominion, as unacceptable, as abusive, as spiritually destructive. Hopefully, the Bishops’ own marriages are happy – but that means they have absolutely no frame of reference for toxic relationships.