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Hi there! Welcome to my corner of the internets. I'm a 26 year old therapist, photographer, and shop owner currently living in Seattle, Washington. My online spaces are educational and lifestyle accounts dedicated to educating, engaging, and empowering women through digital art, home design, and travel.... with a touch of humor and personality sprinkled throughout. Stay a while!

Ask A Mormonish Girl: Part 5.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Happy Sunday! We're back for another "Ask A Mormon-ish Girl" post! For anyone new, this is a series where I talk about my feelings on religion, being member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka "Mormon"), and reconciling all of this with democrat/liberal values. My goal of these posts is to help you know you're not alone with your questions and concerns AND to actually talk about them and create some conversation past "just have faith and it will work out". Overall, I believe in imperfect relationships, both with people and institutions. This series documents my very imperfect relationship with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  


(P.S. Please subscribe via email to be notified of future posts!)


If you don't see your question answered this week, please keep submitting it! I will get to all of them eventually! Every Sunday I post a question box on my Instagram (@emmycoletti) and I will save it in the highlight "Ask A Mormon-ish Girl". If your question is too long (or you don't have Instagram), feel free to email me instead at emmycoletti@gmail.com





How is it possible to not see the church as black and white? Belief wise? As in, it's either 100% true or it's 100% false? 


I'm starting this post off with this question, because I want to link this scene from Friends that is honestly so relative. I especially love the conversation that starts at 2:20, with "you believe in something and I don't" and Phoebe calling out Ross's "obsessive need to make everyone agree with you". P.S. After 4:10, I don't agree with her outlook and criticizing someone for "caving". 


Overall, I think it's important to not see anything black and white. Nothing in life is going to be all good or all bad. Every relationship, job, experience, etc. is going to be somewhere in the middle, with both good and bad parts. I've talked about how our relationships with institutions are going to be similar to our relationships with people: imperfect. 


Specifically to the church, just reading up on mainstream church history with polygamy, black people not allowed the priesthood, etc., it's clear to me this church is being run by very imperfect people. And if it has been "wrong" about things in the past, I don't see why that would be any different today haha. I'm just curious to see all the policy changes that have been made by the time I am 80. 


If we're arguing religion null based on science, science doesn't necessarily have a better track record in the "right" category than religion. (Ex: It used to think the earth was flat, bleeding people out got rid of disease, the atom was the smallest thing, etc.) 


So, to roughly quote Mark Manson from the book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck: "Certainty is the enemy of growth... The more you try to be certain of something, the more insecure and uncertain you will feel. But, the converse is true as well. The more you embrace not knowing, the more comfortable you will feel in knowing what you don't know. Uncertainty removes our judgement of others. It also relieves us of our judgments of ourselves."



If your husband is not nuanced, how do you navigate the difference? Are you the only Mormonish person in your family? If not, how did/do they react to your views?


First and foremost, while I have chosen to be open with the whole internet about my beliefs and thoughts, I want to respect the privacy of my family and partner when it comes to what they believe. 

I think this question goes along really well with the Friends clip. In a lot of relationships (whether romantic partnerships or family/friends), I think we are the Ross: We feel closeness is dependent on how similar we are to each other and any amount of difference is taken as a bad thing. So, we obsess about making others agree with us and with tearing down any beliefs they have that are different from ours. However, this isn't actually healthy relationship growth. Let me nerd out on a theory of couple development really quick. (That I think can be applied to any relationship.)



So there are five stages of development couple's go through (as developed by Susan Campbell):

1. Romance:

  • Common interests are focused on and differences are minimized/ignored
  • Few demands are placed on each other
  • They identify as a couple/unit, and lose a little bit of their identity of self. (Kind of like how babies identify with their mom and don't realize she is a separate person.)
 2. Power struggle: 

  • Differences that were overlooked during the romance phase are now looked at
  • The identity as a couple/unit fades and they start to see themselves as individuals again
  • In order to survive this phase, the couple has to:
    • Acknowledge the differences
    • Forfeit the fantasy of complete harmony/sameness
    • Accept the partner without the need to change them

I'm going to interject here for a second and say that power struggle is what tears a lot of relationships (romantic or family) apart. When we're talking about faith/differences in faith, it comes down to those same principles: Can you acknowledge your family/partner/friend has different belief systems than you? Can you accept the differences and let go of this very toxic idea that we all have to think the same in order to have good relationships? Can we accept our family member's/partner's beliefs without trying to change them? And P.S. this goes both ways. An ex-mormon person trying to tear down someone's faith it just as annoying as a Mormon person trying to convert someone, in my opinion. 

Last 3 phases are less relevant to this question but I'll add them in: 

3. Stability: 
  • Partners start redirecting time away from their partner and focusing on their self development. 
  • Learn to balance intimacy and independence. 
  • The goal: Know how to be intimate/part of a couple without sacrificing your independence/self identity. 
4. Commitment: 
  • Partners embrace that both are human and have short comings. 
  • Acknowledge the good of the relationship outweighs the bad and commit to it. 
5. Co-creation:
  • Partners value and respect the separateness of the other. (I view this as supporting the partner's independence: i.e. hobbies that are away from you, spending time with other people, etc.)
  • The foundation of the relationship is not "need", but a genuine appreciation and love for the partner.
  • They support and respect each other and work toward mutual growth. 
So, I don't know if that helps answer the question, but the TL;DR of how I navigate differences with any relationship in my life is accepting that there are differences, differences are healthy, and not trying to change other people's minds. Likewise, I'm lucky to be surround by so many great people who, while they may not hold my same beliefs, are able to accept that I believe what I believe.

Don't be a Ross haha. Don't waste your time trying to convert people to your way of thinking, unless they directly ask. Likewise, be like Phoebe and shrug people off when they come at you, trying to convert you to their way of thinking.


Do you wear garments? Do you go to the temple?


I debated answering this question and even wrote out a whole answer where I went into detail about what I do/don't do right now haha. However, I am deleting it because I don't feel like what I personally do or don't do is relevant to you and what you decided to do or don't do. 


My relationship with all things church waxes and wanes. Sometimes I am more into things that others, and if I know anything about the internet, it's that the second I say: "Here's what I do!" I will be grouped into a box and people will comment on anything I do that's outside of that box haha.


I will say, I have not been to the temple since they made the changes and once the pandemic is over, I do plan to go. I am very curious about the changes and want to see them for myself. 


Why can men be sealed to many women, but women can only be sealed to one man?


So first things, first, lets go over the official church rules: When women are living, they can only be sealed to one man. However, once they are dead, they can be sealed to all the men to whom they were legally married. Men can be sealed to all their wives while they are living and dead. (Church handbook link here.) 




Why women can only be sealed to more than one man once they are dead? Here are my thoughts (note: thoughts, not the official policy/explanation from the church). Women used to only be able to receive "blessings" through their husbands, so it makes sense that in order to get women more access to the blessings, men were allowed to be sealed to more than one woman. However, with the recent wording changes in the temple, I am curious if this policy will eventually change and women will also be able to be sealed to more than one man while she is alive. (For temple wording changes, read this Salt Lake Tribune article at your own risk, I don't think it says anything the church wouldn't want to be known, but I know how worried people get about talking about what goes on in temples.) I think women only being able to sealed to one man is a leftover patriarchal idea from when feminism was still something to be feared haha. 


Also, as I'm sure someone will bring up, the wording doesn't talk about men being sealed "to women". You'll note it's "men can have women sealed to them" or "women can be sealed to men". So men are the subject/object of power in both situations. I know this bothers people, but honestly to me I'm like, what else do we expect from a religion that still has so much patriarchy? Lol. 


I'm having a hard time feeling ok in my calling because I have differentiated in many ways from many areas/topics within the church. I know at some point my testimony will be "different". How do we handle callings of leadership in the church (especially with youth) when we are so hurt by and against many ways in which this church is led?


I've had similar feelings to this and the conclusion I've come to is this: If we are believing that callings are inspired from God, and that God knows us individually, then I'd say maybe you're in that calling because God wants those kids to get a little bit of a different perspective haha.


I've also just accepted that if I get released from a calling because people don't like my perspective, then so be it. 


What are your thoughts on the cultural expectation for kids growing up into the church to get baptized when they turn 8?


I haven't thought too much about it, honestly! I mean, I guess how much of a decision can an 8 year old make anyway? I don't find it too different from baptism in any other church, as far as consent. Baptizing a baby and a child is kind of in the same boat for me. I guess I'd hope that parents explain what it means and then let kids decide what they want to do. Instead of assuming their child wants to get baptized and talking about it as if it's going to happen, without even asking the kid what they want. But, I think most 8 year olds chose to do what their parents want, in either direction. I think kids catch on to a lot more than we realize. 


That being said, if a child chooses not to get baptized, I obviously hope that decision is met with respect, as with anything else! 


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Ok, that's all for this week! I did get some questions about LGBTQIA+, but think I want to make that it's own edition! So I'll save those for a another week. 

That's it for this week! Kinda a hodge podge of random questions, but it was fun to switch it up! Make sure you check out my past posts for answers to the following questions:


For all questions garment related, click here


Click here to read the answers to: What things do you struggle with? What keeps you in the church? Do you feel like you are welcome in the Mormon community?


Click here to read the answers to: I'm scared about the temple endowment and initiatory and what I understand to be a 1/2 lack of informed consent. What can I know about it/where can I find information to be ready beforehand? Why do Mormons think that wearing bikinis or crop tops is a sin? Thoughts on new age practices? (Yoga, meditation, crystals, psychics and that spiritual energy that can be found in physical objects.) I totally believe in it, but some members say that's against Mormonism. Do you believe the church is true?


And click here for last week where I answered: Have you ever been treated like you're dangerous for questioning? How do you stay nuanced? I feel so much guilt to be in or out. How to deal with church when you're an "evil democrat"? Do you have advice for dating outside the church but wanting to keep the same standards (i.e., no sex before marriage, no drinking, etc.) Is staying in the church the end all be all for salvation? How do you feel about the members relationships with prophets? Sometimes it seem like they put the prophet's words above Christ's teachings. Talking to boundaries/family around how you love your faith vs how they think you should? How did you decide to stop wearing your garments? Do you feel unqualified to attend the temple because you don't wear them? What are ways converts can come off wordly things such as coffee, since we have to? How do you feel about paying tithing?



Until next week!


XOXO,

Your Mormon-ish Internet Friend,

Emmy Coletti


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