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Confessions of a Mormon Girl

December 4, 2013

As you have probably already guessed, I am what you would probably call a devout Mormon girl.  Much to the chagrin of many of my friends, I am stubbornly attached to the church.  I will very openly tell you that I grew up in the LDS church, and my faith has been a major factor in building me as a person today.

By the by, if you’re thinking that this means that I am a perfect LDS girl who was married by 19 and had a baby by 20 and somehow worked my way through school while married and pregnant and my husband and I struggled through school but came out debt free and now live in a bright, shiny house with pictures of Christ and the temple on the walls and I am deeply shocked by swearing and fulfill all of my callings perfectly and work out in between chasing down children and making hot meals for my husband to come home to…

YOU ARE DEAD WRONG.

I am now well past 18 or 19, which in some areas of the LDS cultural world is considered prime marriage age to find yourself a return missionary who can take you to the temple.  I am still struggling through school, I am vaguely frightened by my baby nephew’s vomit and diapers and other various bodily fluids, I struggle a lot of days to get out of bed, let alone work out and be all trim and lovely looking, and I am busier checking to make sure that I have enough money to eat a meal rather than to worry about making a meal worthy of a cooking magazine cover.  And beyond that, I have made plenty of mistakes in my life and even (gasp!) sinned.

I am not your stereotypical Mormon girl.

And for the most part, I think people both inside and outside the church are willing to work with the fact that I am not “perfect.”

But in the last year, I have done something that a lot of people have issues forgiving, both inside and outside the church.

I got a boyfriend.  And then I got engaged.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Seriously?  You’re 22 and you’re engaged.  That fits pretty perfectly into the whole LDS stereotype.”

I am engaged to a young man who isn’t LDS.

I talked to a girl in church the other day who is seriously dating a man outside of the church, and she bombarded me with questions about how I do it because no one even really discusses the possibility of marrying outside the church.  So this post is for her and for everyone else who wonders how anyone could consider marrying outside their faith.

********

I have heard virtually every reaction out there to this change in my life.  A lot of it has been disbelief, wariness, anger, and there has been a fair number of looks that seem to ask me if I have special needs.  I’m not just talking about people inside my faith, by the way.  I’m talking about everyone.  My fiancé gets them too.

For me, the most common response is “Congratulations!!!  Is he gonna convert?”

For him, it’s “You’re dating a Mormon?  What’s that?  Do you get laid?”

And for both of us, it boils down to “Are you sure you want to do this?”

At first I found these questions amusing.  Then they were insulting.  And then they were downright hurtful.

Did I struggle with even dating this young man because he’s not LDS?  OH HECK YES.  Did he struggle with the idea of dating me and not even having the possibility of getting laid?  Uh huh.  Frankly, I think both of us went into it a little bit with the idea that it would be a good or interesting experience, not because we expected it to have benefits or have a temple marriage, or heck, to even last longer than a month or two.  And after so long of dating him, we get engaged, and what everyone asks is “are you sure you want to do this?”

The worst part was, because my fiancé isn’t LDS, there were and are a lot of people, inside of my own family even, who judge him more harshly because he didn’t come with the perfect prerequisites.  I hurt because I had to explain to the people I love that I am marrying this man, not because he can give me a temple marriage and so on and so forth, but because he is the man I love.  I found myself having to ask them (as I had had to ask myself on more than a few occasions), “What’s the point of a temple marriage if you don’t love the person?  I tried dating inside the church, and, well, frankly, a lot of these young men who have been to the temple are not necessarily worthy to be there.  And to boot, the vast majority of the LDS guys that I dated were not in it for me.  They were in it for my body or for the chance to be sealed in the temple, and because of both of those, often times they did not treat me with even human respect.  I became a commodity, and the worst part was, it was because it was a commodity they needed in order to achieve salvation.”

That’s not love.

I was so upset, having to explain this over and over, and over one short weekend I came home to my Mom and BAWLED to her about it.  And she let me cry and be hurt for a while and then my incredible mother reminded me that the reason people question my decision is because they care, and they are not sure how else to show it.

SO.  For all of you who wonder why and how I do this, how on earth I try to balance my faith, which places so much emphasis on a temple marriage, how we do without certain conveniences that would come with both of us having the same faith, I will explain.

First:  One of the most basic principles of my faith is the right to choose.  I have never asked my fiancé to join the church because it would be more convenient for me.  That would be a lie, and one simply for the sake of the convenience of one person.  That’s just silly.  And if you’re LDS and thinking “But you could be saving his soul!  How could you abandon the man you love to hell?”  Uh, NO.  If the principle of agency was so powerful that (as we believe) in the pre-existence Satan was eventually cast out because he tried to force all men back to heaven without any freedom to choose, I don’t intend to do the same thing now here on earth.  The decision to join or not join is pretty much always going to be my fiancé’s choice.

Second:  We both learned very quickly what it means to sacrifice for each other.  He knows I don’t care for alcohol, but he knows for his sake I will be around the stuff.  He also knows that I will not drink it or kiss him after he’s been drinking it.  I have to sacrifice my pride, but he does not ask me to sacrifice my standards.  I do not get to have a temple marriage at this time.  But I will still be worthy enough to attend the temple on my own.

Third:  About that whole sex thing that people keep complaining about… Yeah, that’s not easy.  For either of us.  NATURAL URGE, PEOPLE!!!!  And I have to ask him to give up the opportunity to sleep with me (or with anyone else), and that is very difficult to do because I want to be able to give that to him because I care about him.  So I will let Cookie Monster teach you something that we have gotten to learn in the last long while.

Yeah.  It’s like that.  Dang, that cookie smells so good!!!  And we are both waiting to eat the freakin’ cookie.  It stinks, but it can be done.

Fourth: Same as I let him maintain the right to choose, he supports me with my faith.  Do we get really snarky and fight with each other about it sometimes?  Yeah.  And then we get over ourselves.

Fifth:  I would not be here without my faith.

I am not abandoning my faith to be with this man.  I am not letting my testimony go so that I can be with this man and be happy for a little while and then fall away from the church and be miserable for the rest of my life.  I realize that is often the horror story they tell during Seminary to teach you do never cross any line that you question might be bad because you’ll go down that slippery slope and be doomed.

I would not be at this point, engaged and planning to marry this man, unless I had prayed so absurdly hard and struggled with and questioned even the possibility of being with him and wondered if it was wrong.  I had been told for so long that marrying outside the church was dangerous and foolhardy, how could I not question if it was wrong?  But (because we believe in personal revelation), I got my answer, and it has been the same every time I have asked out of fear or frustration.

“This is happiness.  It only gets better from here.”

Peace.

Comfort.

“This is a good thing.”

********

I know that most of the world out there does not agree with my beliefs.  I know they seem illogical from the outside.  Faith is like that.

But I am also pretty sure that there are more young people out there in the world who are devoted to their faiths and who are forced to question every day whether or not they are okay doing something so socially catastrophic as marrying outside their faith.

Is it for everyone?

No.  Not necessarily.  I mean, let’s face it, a lot of the “insurmountable” barriers of our society ARE pretty hard to overcome.  Look at Romeo and Juliet.  6 people died before that play was out, and they didn’t even have guns or nuclear weapons then.

But it is possible.  And maybe, just maybe, it is not wrong.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2013 3:15 am

    This means a lot to me. I’m a guy whose wife had grown up in the church but decided to leave after we got married. I understand the frustration of feeling like I wasn’t going to be with her forever and then the understanding that it’s her choice. Now we have a balance, I attend church and try to do what I should and she follows her own conscience. Stay strong and don’t listen to those people that think you might be doing the wrong thing. As my mom said, “People will give you advice, sometimes you take it and sometimes you just have to fake smile and say ‘I’ll take that under advisement'” Thanks again for this and good luck and congratulations!

  2. Mark Kanos permalink
    July 20, 2014 4:39 am

    Thank you for this wonderful article. While I am not a member of the LDS church, as a devout Catholic in a similar situation you have really helped me gain an invaluable perspective about my own situation. Thank you and God Bless.

  3. Rivenheart permalink
    July 20, 2014 4:52 am

    I’m glad that it could maybe touch your life and perhaps help a little. Thank you so much for telling me. Take care.

  4. Johnny Bloggs permalink
    August 19, 2014 10:36 am

    Hey Rivenheart,

    I wonder if you would mind shedding some light on some questions I have. I come from a pretty traditional culture from the other side of the world. I am non-religious but my values align with Mormon ones, especially the one about family ties, chastity & children. I have lived in the West, but do not agree with the morals in the general populace. I find Mormon women very attractive for their values & upbringing. I believe that being non-religious does not mean lowering your values; on the contrary. I would really like to date & marry a Mormon woman. I am not closed to joining the faith either, however that is a question which can be thought of when & if it comes to it. I have read how it has been hard for non-Mormons to be accepted in the community & add to that the fact that I am not even a Western man (well the fact is that it makes one stand out even more!). It is interesting to note that though the culture in my place of birth is conservative (most Eastern cultures are), to me the fact that people just follow the norm rather than make a conscious decision to appreciate those values. All of it looks terribly contrived & not sincere. Also I do not agree with many of their beliefs & ways, means that I can’t imagine marrying a woman from that part of the world. What kind of problems & pitfalls do you see in me trying to woo a Mormon woman? I am not into scripture, but I do practice chastity in my life & I do ‘buy into’ the idea of eternal love with that ‘one’ special woman. Btw I am also 29 & have a Masters degree & good professional prospects. To summarize I agree & practice the beliefs rather than read scripture; I am not a Mormon but am open to joining the faith; I am not Western (i.e. Caucasian & lets face it, most people like to marry into their own ethnicity) but intend to live in the West. Are these odds ‘insurmountable’? Coz I believe that at least a small portion of Mormon women have attained that rare & unique quality of being modern yet chaste, being rational & but also traditional.

    Thanks,
    J.

    • Rivenheart permalink
      February 24, 2016 4:48 am

      Dear Johnny,

      I’m sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. Two years might be a record for me. But in case you are still asking those questions, I will give you whatever advice I can, although I feel like it is not much.

      First: Just like with any woman of any faith or any level of morality, the most important thing is to treat her (and every other person you meet) with respect. The most critical thing to a woman is to know that you will always treat her as an equal human being whose thoughts and feelings are just as important and relevant as your own.

      Second: Having a particular faith or level of morality does not mean that whoever you decide to woo won’t be crazy. Everyone is crazy to some degree or another. The trick is to a) avoid toxic levels of crazy and b) to find someone whose crazy fits yours.

      Third: Figure out exactly what your priorities are. If you are looking for someone to marry, that is exactly who you will end up with. If you’re looking for someone to sleep with, that’s what you’ll get. But figure out ahead of time what it is that you want and if it is actually what will make you happy. (Hint: sometimes what you want and what will bring you long term happiness aren’t the same.)

      Fourth: If you decide to court a young woman of faith, respect her standards. Do not ask her to compromise them for your convenience. If she says no sex before marriage or that she doesn’t want to make out hard or anything like that, don’t take that as an opening for negotiations.

      Last: Be who you want to be first. I know that in many religious cultures there’s this belief that if a man is troublesome, he needs to get married and that will clear things up. But a wife cannot “fix” a husband and a husband cannot “fix” a wife. Be who you want to be ahead of time, and look for someone who has taken the time to do the same thing.

      Two years too late, but I hope it helps.

  5. February 24, 2016 3:45 am

    I’ve ended up reading this post a couple of times now – it is very open hearted and I’ve really enjoyed reading it.
    Not an easy confession… 🙂
    Wishing you the very best!

  6. LDS Girl permalink
    April 10, 2017 2:21 pm

    Well if it was me I would not accept it because in my father’s case (he was not a member of the church at that time but another church ) when he was getting married to this lady from the same church (first marriage ) alot of people were nagging him and asking if he was sure even down to the pastor tell him to wait at least three months before tying the knot but noooooo …… He was so adamant in marrying her right then and did he love her yes more than one else that’s why he did not listen to the multitude warning him. (turns out she was already pregnant for someone else )At times God sends people to warn or help us that is the answer to our prayers and I can almost bet that it was after you prayed that everyone became even more nagging. Yours could be the story of the tsunami guy he’s on a roof and prays for God to help him he has faith he shall be saved. God sends a helicopter he refused and said God would save him God sends Aeroplane he refused God will save him God sends a small boat he refused and say God will save him. He dies in the flood when he sees God asked why he was not saved. He is told did I not send the helicopter, aeroplane and the boat, not because I came not myself I sent you help. In your case it could be He sent Britney, Sarah and all who have your best interest at heart but because it was not Him you did not heed. God has many voices people especially our family is one of them. Not that you should listen to everything people say but when it comes to major things like marriage and alot of people are warning not that you should dump him but I would have to do some serious investigation and introspection before I tie that knot. Remember marriage is not only about love anyone can love unconditionally it’s about family to the 4th generation under the covenant. That is why the first Commandment is to love God and neighbour comes second. Why we do family history (it being said we cannot be saved without them ). I mean look at the story of Joseph Smith losing the 117pages God told him yes because he was not listening to the no. Think did you really get yes to that answer or it was ears that listened to the heart instead of what was was said by another.

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