Laying Down The Law: of Chastity, Justice, and Polygamy (Jacob 1-4)

Monday, March 9, 2020

In this episode, we discuss some pretty heavy topics. This is because Jacob seriously does in his amazing sermon. But be not afraid! The conversation we have about chastity, polygamy, and justice is lively, filled with passion, and at some parts pretty funny. We hope you enjoy listening and can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Book of Mormon video for Jacob's sermon. Watch it here.
  • The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: Haunting the Hearts and Heaven of Mormon Women and Men by Carol Lynn Pearson. Read more about it here.
  • A Year of Polygamy Podcast. Read and listen to more here.
  • The Book of Mormon for the Least of These by Salleh & Hemming. Read more about it here.
  • Amber Richardson's On Sovereign Wings Podcast. Read and listen to more here. If you'd like, this is the direct link to Channing's episode.
  • Womb Sisters event, "In Her Image". Womb Sisters will be making this workshop available online - definitely be looking for that announcement!
  • And They Were Not Ashamed by Laura Brotherson. Read more about it here.
  • Follow @kristinbhodson on Instagram for helpful and healthy conversations about sex and sexuality!

Scriptures mentioned in this episode:

  • Jacob 2:23
  • Jacob 2: 27
  • Jacob 2: 7-9
  • Jacob 2: 31-35
  • Jacob 2:28
Music used in this episode:

Poddington Bear "Sunset Stroll Into The Wood"
Chris Zabriskie "Everybody's Got Problems That Aren't Mine"

Transcribed by Maddie Daetwyler of @lightenprint

C: Hi, I'm Channing.

E: And I’m Elise.

C: And this is The Faithful Feminists podcast. We've saved you seat on the soft chairs. So join us today for a conversation about Jacob chapters 1 through 4 for the dates March 9th through the 15th, 2020. We're so glad you're here and joining us for this conversation today.

E: Welcome back. We're happy to start hearing from Jacob. And he really starts these chapters out with a bang. And because of this, we had to be pretty selective about which topics we were going to include in this episode, because we could have chosen from a whole list of things like pride and class and racism and familial prejudice, and the list can go on and on and on. So today we chose the topics of bittersweet justice, polygamy, and the law of chastity, because we felt like these were the topics that would resonate most with our audience. 

C: Oh, totally. So just to kind of give some background and some information and context for these chapters, Jacob starts off because Nephi has passed away. And so he's taking on the mantle of prophet and leader of the Nephites. And so in doing that, he starts off this leadership debut with this really beautiful and passionate sermon. And the church has started releasing some really nicely done Book of Mormon videos. And I'll be honest, I haven't watched most of them, but because these are some of my favorite chapters in the entire book of Mormon, I looked up the video for this chapter, and you guys I'm in love with it. It was really well done. So the video covers mostly chapter 2 in this video, essentially what happens is it opens up to this Nephite village, and the beginning scenes are some of the younger, adolescent men in the village, kind of bullying this disabled man who's walking around on crutches, and then it kind of cuts to the next scene where a woman is walking with her children to the main center of the village, where they are going to hear Jacob speak. And as she's walking over there, she turns and sees her husband kind of tucked away between buildings, who's talking to a woman and playing with her hair and it's a woman that he's romantically involved with. And so here's this wife, who's standing there watching her husband be intimate with another woman, and we happen to see Jacob, the prophet, walking in just a little bit behind her. And all of a sudden the prophet is now witness to this kind of interlude or this scene that's happening here between this wife and this husband, who's not even aware that people are paying attention to him. And so then everyone gathers in to hear the prophet speak, and he opens up to talk about the pridefulness of the community, how they're using their riches and things to elevate themselves above each other, and then further goes on into talking about the ways that men are treating their wives and how it's not okay. So we're going to cover a lot of this in today's episode, but that just kind of gives a really good overview of what today's episode is going to be talking about, and where in the scriptures we're at timeline wise and also in the text.

E: And during this whole sermon, Jacob really expresses how anxious and how really responsible he feels for the actions of his people. And therefore he feels called to address them in this large group setting. And so some of the things that he ends up talking about in his sermon, which it turns out to be just a straight up calling out of the men in the group, even though the men, the women, and the children are all together. So in verse 23, it talks about the men committing whoredoms and then justifying them because King David and King Solomon had many wives and many concubines, and so therefore it's okay if we do that same thing. And then also in verse 27, which I want to read for you. It says, (this is Jacob talking), “Wherefore, my brother, and hear me and hearken to the word of the Lord, for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife, and concubines he shall have none.”

C: So as I was reading through the Come Follow Me manual it says, what do you find in Jacob 2 verses 23 through 30 that helps you understand why the Lord has, in limited situations, commanded people to practice plural marriage? How does God feel about those who do so without authorization? And so, as I was reading this, I was like, what? Why is this question even in here? The entire verses that they've quoted here is Jacob talking about how polygamy is not okay. And I think it’s just so strange. What compelled the writers of the Come Follow Me manual to ask this question? Like, “Can we find a justification in the text that talks about times it is okay for people to practice polygamy?” And so I almost wonder, is the church a little bit anxious about our stance on polygamy when it's kind of being discredited and deauthorized right here in our very own sacred text?

E: So we wanted to engage in this conversation by asking the question, who gets to say if or when God authorizes polygamy? And guess who it is, it's men because men have the priesthood or men are prophets. So they're able to tell us when God agrees to polygamy and when God doesn't agree to polygamy, and that just sucks for the women because they're never in that line of communication with God, not to say that their personal revelation can step in, but they're not the ones calling the shots on behalf of God for an entire society. 

C:Right, because their revelation isn't recognized as being authoritative. And so just going along with that, I think it also begs the question, does a God of polygamy align with the God of love? Does the practice of polygamy align with our current understanding of the worth of souls? And for me, I think the answer is no, because overall in the culture, and from women that I've talked to, and from women that I've heard about, polygamy causes them a great amount of anxiety, and there's actually an author, her name is Carol Lynn Pearson, she has a book that is titled The Ghost of Polygamy, and I haven't personally read it, but I've listened to a few of her podcasts episodes that talk about the book, and talk about how she wrote it in response to just hearing women over her many years in the church talk about how polygamy has caused them and their husbands, this idea of eternal polygamy, right, that men can be sealed to many wives, but women can only be sealed to one husband, and are we going to practice polygamy in the next life, and she just kind of addresses, is this practice of polygamy, whether it happens here on earth or later on in life, is it healthful? Is it healthy? Does it honor the individual? Does it bring us the greatest joy and overall the greatest response to that is No. And so I guess a question that is just really weighing on my heart is, is polygamy ever justified? So the justification that's offered in the Come Follow Me manual is this brief little blip in the text that says, “If God wants to, He will raise a people up unto Him.” And somehow that's justifying polygamy. But even for me, I feel like that is not enough of a justification, because if we talk about the worth of souls, if one woman is suffering in the practice of polygamy, does it make it worth it? I mean, if God is a God of miracles, if God is so big, can God not raise up a people unto Himself without making women suffer in a marital relationship that harms them? I feel like if God really wanted to raise the people up unto God's self, they could do that without making women suffer in these relationships or participate in a relationship that they don't really want to be in. So for me, the answer to my own question is No, I don't feel like polygamy is ever justified, or at least a compelled polygamy. There are people out there who enjoy practicing polygamy and, like, great. If there's consent all the way around, I'm all for that. But as far as people or women, or even wives and husbands who are being compelled to embrace the practice of polygamy, I don't think that's healthy for anyone. And I don't think that it's justified. We can go through the scriptures and find any verse that will justify our specific viewpoint on any issue. So I think it really comes down to understanding the relationship that we each personally have with God. And for me, my understanding is that my experience as a woman matters to God. And so it's okay for me to feel like polygamy will never be, can never be, a justifiable practice. 

E: And on a really simplistic level, polygamy is not about equality, because a man is able to be married or sealed to more than one woman. But is a woman able to be married or sealed to more than one man? And the answer is no. So, just from that stance, it's not an equitable arrangement. The other thing that's problematic for me is that in church history, polygamy has been set up as something that women need to participate in, in order to be saved. It's part of their salvation. And so tricking or manipulating or just coercing a woman into a marital relationship that she doesn't consent to because her whole salvation is at stake, that's a hard thing to say no to. When you think that your soul is going to be damned if you don't marry this man.

C: There are a lot of issues with polygamy and we don't have time in this whole episode to break them down. But those are just a few things to think about. 

E: And there are other people that do break it down. If you're interested in learning more about polygamy, we can point you to some resources. The Feminist Mormon Housewives did a whole series called A Year of Polygamy. And they kind of spend time with individual polygamist wives and explore their stories. So polygamy aside, why we think this chapter is about bittersweet justice is because it's a Jacob that's calling out the sins and the wrongdoings of the men, but the women and children have to stand and listen. And so the bitterness comes from the women having to listen to Jacob recount their pain right in front of them, but the sweetness comes from having someone witness and stand up for, or stand up with, you. And I wanted to read a passage from Fatimah Salleh and Margaret Olsen Hemming’s book called The Book of Mormon for the Least of These. And they have a nice commentary. It's a long paragraph, but it's for Jacob chapter 2 verses 7 through 9. And it says, “At first glance, it may seem strange that the woman have to sit through this meeting. After all, Jacob states at the beginning that this sermon is not for them, and that hearing the words will cause them additional pain. As Jacob acknowledges, these women are in a vulnerable place and they came to hear healing words for their wounded souls, not to be confronted by the failings of their husbands, sons, and fathers. So why doesn't Jacob confront the men in private? The answer, it seems, is accountability. By stating these words in front of the women, Jacob is making the men accountable to their wives. The women have to sit through painful words, but Jacob is wielding his power to bring them some authority and justice. This is a radical action given that the Nephite culture seems like other ancient cultures, hierarchical and patriarchal. Jacob is willing to shame the men in front of the women and children, an action that levels the power structure. There is a subtext to his call for repentance, one in which people with more social power are being held accountable to those with less.”

C: So one thought that I'm having about this is that the accountability is an essential part of this sermon because from here on out, the men are no longer able to go home and just pretend to split their lives in two. That all of a sudden here in this place, in this sermon, there's a collision and maybe a realization of the pain that it's caused, that sometimes actions that we feel like are affecting only us, for better or worse, are actually having a ripple effect across the other relationships that we operate inside of. And so that accountability aspect is really profound because of the content, because it's so painful, because the women in this group know so intimately that hurt that, yeah, it can feel like a reopening of a wound. At the same time, Jacob is not opening this wound to pour shame and darkness and hurt into this wound. He's opening it to pour oil, he's opening it to heal it. And I think this is demonstrated really well in that Book of Mormon video that I was talking about earlier, because at the end of this sermon, well, actually during the sermon, the man and wife that were shown earlier in the video in the scenes where the man was having an affair, the man turns to his wife and the wife like gives him a look of like, “Yeah, he's talking about you. Yeah. I know exactly what you're doing. Yeah. I'm pretty pissed about it.” And this man, all of the sudden, you can see it. It's just written all over his face. He puts his head in his hands and he just realizes, “Oh my gosh, I’ve hurt people. I've hurt people that I love.” And he's just overcome with this feeling of shame. And as the sermon ends, his whole entire family packs up their bags and just leaves him there, which, good. You know, if you're doing something like that, it’s okay for you to have a moment to just sit with yourself and be like, “Oh my gosh, what have I done?” But one of my favorite parts of this video is that this man after he's taken a moment, realized what the repercussions of the sermon and of his actions. He packs up his bags, gets up to walk away, and then turns back to Jacob who's still standing on the temple steps where he was giving his sermon, and he just has a such sorrowful look on his face, but Jacob just gives him this really gentle smile and kind of an encouraging nod of, “It's okay, you're going to figure this out and you're gonna make it through.” And you can just tell that just this simple gesture brings this man a lot of comfort and a lot of encouragement and he walks away. And as a viewer, you just get the feeling, or I got the feeling anyway, that he was like, “All right, I'm going to fix this and it's going to be okay.” And so even though this set of scriptures is amazing because it talks explicitly about the sins of men, I don't think the purpose is to say men are bad and awful and we relish in the fact that they're getting thrown in the dirt and talked about here. This is meant to be a compassionate and loving act, even if it is so hurtful for both parties.

E: And Jacob doesn't hold anything back here. If we scroll down to verses 31 through 35, I mean, Jacob is saying, “Look, we know what you're doing, and God knows what you're doing. And God's not just upset about the thing that you're doing on the side. God's upset because God loves women and God loves God's daughters.” And there's a lot of emphasis and repetition on the word daughter. And I think Jacob is doing this to show they're not only women. They are God’s. They are Goddesses, but they belong to God as well. So when you hurt them, God knows that. God hears their sorrows. God sees them in their mourning. And if we scroll down to verses 32, I think The Book of Mormon for the Least of These text by Fatimah Salleh and Margaret Olsen Hemming, they say that these verses are some of the most explicitly feminist verses in the Book of Mormon. And verse 32 says, “And I will not suffer, sayeth the Lord of hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, sayeth the Lord of hosts. For they shall not lead away, captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction for, they shall not commit whoredoms like unto them of old, sayeth the Lord of hosts.” And if we jump down to verse 35, it says, “And behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brotheren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives and lost the confidence of your children because of your bad examples before them, and the sobbings of their heart ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.” And so this is a clear example of God standing in solidarity with women. And not only that, there is a direct line of communication that's opened up between God and the word women that says I, God, have been with you at all times. I've seen you. I've heard you. I know what's going wrong and I'm here for you. And I'm here to bring down swift justice, right now. And in that justice, the women are also served mercy. 

C: Elise, that was so powerful. This is why I'm in love with this chapter. This may be my favorite chapter in the entire Book of Mormon, it's so good. And one of the things that I found so frustrating and mind-blowing was as I was reading the Come Follow Me manual for my favorite chapters ever, it says, you know how it outlines the topics that we'll be discussing this week? Well, the very first topic that they got out of these chapters is Magnifying Our Callings. And I'm sitting there reading this, like, are you kidding me? This is one of the best social justice/feminist sermons we’ve gotten in our sacred texts ever, anywhere. And out of all of that, you got magnifying our callings? What? I just, I can't even wrap my brain around it. And so I'm honestly annoyed, because we lose so much, think about it. What do we lose when we ignore the radical messages of love and the calling out of privilege in our sacred texts, and diminish it to magnifying our callings and talking about the law of chastity? We lose so much because there are people who are living right now in our lives right now who need these chapters, because they speak to them. They speak to their experience. And for me, I am one of those people. Growing up as a child in a home that was abusive on every level, this is why these are some of my favorite chapters ever. I needed someone. I needed to see that God would stick up for me, that God would stick up for the abused and the forgotten and the manipulated. I needed to know that someone was looking out for me. And part of me is so in love with these chapters, because here it is right here, God, and God's prophet says, “I'm going to show up for you. I'm going to level the power structure and give you a voice, because I know that Me giving authority and power behind your voice is going to make the change.” And so, these chapters are just my favorite and I don't want them to be lost and forgotten underneath a palatable message of “Let's magnify our calling,” when actually reading through these chapters, that's not what this is about. These chapters are for the people who really need them. God, right here, is speaking to the marginalized. He's speaking to the abused. He's speaking to the women whose husbands are trapped in a pornography addiction. He's speaking to the women whose husbands have had an affair. He's speaking to the women who feel like they have no voice, and to ignore and push away these chapters, or swath over them with a paintbrush of “Let's magnifier callings,” and make it really brought in palatable is forgetting the people who need these chapters the most. So as you're reading through these or preparing your lesson or whatever, I really think that it's worth mentioning, even if just briefly, that these chapters are meant for people -- and they're meant for everyone, they're not just for people who've been through some kind of trauma in their lives -- but to not ignore these chapters and make them about something that they're not really even about. Does that make sense? 

Elise: This is so good. I'm feeling fired up. 

Channing: I am too. 

Elise: Because part of me wants to be like, “Okay, you do want to read it as magnify your callings? Well, why don't you go ahead and stand up and magnify our own calling, which is to care for those who are being trampled upon, to take upon their burdens, to stand in solidarity, to speak up and to advocate for them.” So yeah, if that's what you want to say is magnifying your calling, go for it. But if it just means that you need to do a little bit more, like you need to keep better attendance records and need to keep going to church on Sunday, I'm not here for that. And neither is this scripture, and reading this scripture in that way is a disservice to the people who are implicated in the text. 

Channing: Yup. It steals from them. It is a literal theft to ignore it. And I feel like that is one of the greatest, I hate to be so impassioned and severe, but I feel like that is one of the greatest sins, to steal comfort and representation in a sacred text from the people who don't get it very often. That is stealing from the poor and humble in spirit. Do not forget them. You can't. God literally calls us to remember them, to clothe them, to mourn with them, to comfort them. And so part of me feels like, how dare you take away these verses and try to make them into something that will appeal to the masses, when really the masses need these scriptures. And so, yeah, I'm very fired up about it. Because it's important. And this is part of what it means to be an advocate for those people like me, and a bajillion people that I know in my real actual life who benefit from these verses. Don't take them away. Don't make them about something that they're not, give them with all of the power and the passion and the love and the comfort that they were meant to be received. And don't take them away. We need them.

Elise: After being so fired up about the bittersweet justice that appears in chapter 2, we're actually going to take a detour to a different part of Jacob's sermon that appears in chapter 2, verse 28. And it's just the first sentence of this verse that says, “For I, the Lord, God, delight in the chastity of women.” And I think at first read, you can be like, what are you talking about? Why do women only have to be chaste? What about the men? But I think just a few steps back and you can see that clearly this verse is not only about these women being chaste. Yes, God is praising these women for women for being chaste, because all of the men are being unchaste. And so God is condemning the men and delighting in the chastity of these women, but also calls men to be chaste as well. 

C: I love that context you provided, Elise, that yes, God is not just talking about the women. If we back up and look at the entire context of the scriptures, this entire sermon is directed at the men. And so I always think it's really hilarious when people take this one little verse completely out of context. God delights in the chastity of women. Um, no, I'm sorry. Go back and read Jacob chapter 2 and you can get your bum cheeks handed to you. Seriously. Okay? So let's try and keep this verse in its context. That God is delighting in the chastity of these particular Nephite women, but overall, because God believes in full equality, right? God delights in the chastity of everyone. And so that's a really good lead in to this next portion of our episode. As we were prepping, we knew the law of chastity was going to be coming up. And so we wanted to open this conversation up to our listeners and kind of ask them what they wish was included when we were talking about the law of chastity and what ideas they thought were harmful, and what ideas that they thought that we should do away with. So something that we wanted to do here is share some of the messages and thoughts that we received from those listeners, because as I was going through and reading through all the DMS in our inbox, I was like, “Oh my gosh, all of our listeners are so wise and amazing. And I just want everyone to know what these women are saying in my inbox. I don't want to be the only one that benefits from all of these. So as we go through and talk about some of these topics, we just wanted to share what these women have shared with us. And so one of those first comments that we wanted to address talk specifically about abuse. And so a listener said,” I wish we talked about sexual abuse as well when we talk about chastity. I think often women blame themselves and feel a lot of shame when the topic of chastity comes up, when it isn't their fault at all. Even if it's a small part of the lesson, focusing on how, if abuse occurs, the victim is not to blame, and not responsible for the abuser's actions.” I loved this perspective and as a personal victim of abuse and assault, I appreciated it. And I wish… I too have had this experience, where I have wished that there was an explicit doorway for victims of abuse and assault to kind of say, “Okay, wait, this discussion does not actually apply to me.” And so we kind of wanted to offer a little bit of clarity and also a little bit of an out for any listeners who feel like the law of chastity can be a kind of triggering subject, or you're not in this space where you can listen to it right now. If that's you, please turn this podcast off, please do something different. You don't have to sit through the entire conversation, but if you're feeling strong today and you're feeling like you can handle this conversation, we just want you to know with all of our love that this discussion that we're having today about the law of chastity does not apply to you and that the burden of proof and the burden of repercussions of the law of chastity are not yours to carry. And it's okay to let any of that shame go. And going along with that, I just wanted to offer another resource. Our friend, Amber Richardson, has a beautiful podcast that's called On Sovereign Wings. And her focus is talking about and sharing stories of survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault. And I actually was a guest on her podcast. And so there's an entire episode where I go through and share some parts of my story. And then, you know, also discuss kind of my journey through that. And Amber also has some response episodes that she creates with her partner, Tasha, who's a sex therapist, and is able to kind of unpack some of the themes from those episodes. So if you are a survivor, or you are someone who loves a survivor, or you just want to know more, Amber’s podcasts is, I feel like, an essential addition and a must listen, especially for women who are living with an LDS background. So I just wanted to point you in that direction before we move on, just in case that you need that today. 

E: So first we kind of wanted to take stock or do kind of an inventory of what we have when it comes to chastity, or what does chastity mean? And if we look to the church, chastity means sexually pure or remaining sexually pure. And if you're not sexually pure, then you're dirty and that's really shameful. And what came up really frequently in the comments on the stories was this idea of the “chewed up gum” mentality and one listener comments, “It's not an all or nothing situation. If you or a loved one makes a mistake, it doesn't mean they don't deserve love and forgiveness. Breaking the law of chastity doesn't mean no one will want them. They can heal and move on.” And this is in direct response to the “chewed up gum” mentality, which comes from these kinds of really scary, really intense Sunday school lessons, or they would often happen in Young Women's, where the leader unwrapped this piece of gum and says, “This is you, you're so white and you're pure, but if you make any type of sexual mistake or if you engage in any type of sexual act before marriage…” and then they chew up the gum and spit it out and they say, “Do you want this piece of gum now? This is who you are. You're just this chewed up, disgusting, worthless piece of gum and no one will want you from here on out.” And it's so dangerous, and it's very startling, and it's really traumatizing. And so I think this listener's comment is saying, “Look, it's not all or nothing. You're not a fresh piece of gum or a dirty chewed up piece of gum. You can heal and move on, and there's no crumpling or chewing involved.” 

C: Yeah. And sometimes it's not a piece of gum, right? Sometimes it's a piece of cake that they smash. Sometimes it's a nail in a board, but they all carry the same message, that somehow sex ruins you. And like you said, Elise, it's a hurtful and traumatizing thing and it can have lasting repercussions. And we had a listener write in and experience that. She so graciously gave us permission to share, so what she told us is this, “The chewed up gum mentality is what kept my mom from leaving an abusive marriage for 68 years. Her mom was aware she was being abused, but she told my mom that if she ever divorced, she would be like chewed up gum that no one would want. Because of this comment, my mom wasted the majority of her life staying in a very harmful marriage. She finally had the guts to divorce at age 84. I can only imagine my grandma has rolled over in her grave a number of times, wishing she had never passed on the harmful chewed gum analogy to my mom.” Doesn’t that suck? 84. You spent 68 years in a hurtful marriage all because of this object lesson that was taught in young women's class, that you're ruined. It just doesn't make sense. And somehow you can be ruined in marriage or outside of marriage. It just makes me want to cry. That's not how it is. That is not how I want it to be. 

E: And so what often happens is that women go to a huge extent to avoid being chewed up gum, and one listener wrote in and said, “Avoiding sexual sin is actually prioritized over, taking the time to be sure you are choosing an eternal companion you are fully compatible with. There is cultural pressure to hurry up and get to the temple before you “mess up.” I think this comes from the underlying sense of fear and shame associated with the way the law of chastity is taught.” And so what we see with this “chewed up gum” mentality is shame, it coerces or manipulates people into fearing their sexuality. It doesn't allow people to embrace it, and it places a lot of anxiety over making mistakes, and doesn't ever address the healing, growing, changing parts that can come. 

C: So in response to kind of this inventory that we've taken and that we've received about what our current working understanding/teachings are of the law of chastity, we wanted to kind of brainstorm some ideas and garner some ideas from our listeners about what we can do instead. How can we change the conversation about the law of chastity to reflect some more healthy attitudes towards that? So, one of the themes that we noticed that was really shining through when we asked listeners what changes do you want to see were along the lines of, we want sexuality and sex itself to be celebrated, to acknowledge and honor our sexuality. And I loved this comment that one listener wrote in. She said, “Strong feelings of attraction and wanting to be physical with someone are a normal part of our development and embodiment. I feel like that's what gets glossed over so much.” And honestly, I, personally, Channing, I can't agree more. It gets glossed over a ton. 

E: Yeah. And we even talked about this in the episode that's titled Bikini Body Eve. We talked about how amazing our bodies are and they're God-give,n and because our bodies are God-given, that also means our sexuality is God-given and our feelings and our arousal and just everything that goes on in having a sexual, pleasurable experience, that's also from God.

C: I attended an event with Womb Sisters, just this last Saturday, literally yesterday, and during the event we practiced writing affirmations for ourselves. And we went around the room and shared ours. One woman shared something that I felt like demonstrates this idea, but also really spoke to me. Her affirmation was, “What I want and what my body wants are good, because I am good.” And I think taking that perspective towards our sexuality and towards the law of chastity can be a really healthy and empowering way to kind of reverse some of the shameful messaging that we've received about our bodies, and received about the urges and sexual needs that we have. Your body's good. And so what you want is good. I don't know. I was just blown away by the simplicity of it, but it rang so truthful to me. 

E: Another listener commented, “While I understand the law of chastity is important, I wish there was less shame and mystery surrounding sexuality in the church. We are not taught to have a healthy relationship with sex for fear that we will choose to partake before marriage. We are so scared of sexuality, especially in women, and that is more damaging than premarital sex will ever be.”

C: Holy crap. Yes. What is it about a sexual woman that we're also afraid of? We’ll unpack that someday later, I'm sure, we don't have time for that here, but, oh my gosh. There's so much we could talk about there. One final comment that I felt like was really important to include about this conversation of celebrating is this listener's comment. She says, “We need to talk more about the fact that sex is good, normal, and healthy. We talk as if it is terrible, and then expect girls to want it. The moment they're married, it doesn't make sense, especially if they've been conditioned to be wary and afraid of it.” And for me, our attitude towards sex is not like a light bulb or a light switch. You can't turn it off and on, your brain doesn't work that way. There’s a book titled And They Were Not Ashamed, and it's kind of a self-help book for sexuality and marriage. I don't particularly love it. But there is a section that I felt like really changed my understanding about some of the harmful ways that sexuality is talked about in the church. And there's something called Good Girl Syndrome, where women, all of a sudden, after being taught all their lives that sex is bad and you shouldn't do it and you should just avoid it, that when they do get married and all of a sudden, literally overnight, this expectation of their sexuality has changed. Women have a difficult time participating in sex at every level. And sometimes some parts of these women who have an issue with this “Good Girl Syndrome” often still feel, even though they're within the bonds of marriage, a lot of shame about sex, about pleasure, about all of the things that go along with intimacy, because it doesn't work like that. Your brain just can't turn off and on all of the programming that you've received around sex and sexuality overnight. It's just, it doesn't work. Something else that we notice a lot in the comments was that half were really excited about this analogy and half were not in love with this analogy. And it is the crumpled up $20 bill analogy. And if you're not familiar with it is an object lesson that is kind of in response to the whole smashing the cake or chewed up piece of gum that is taught in Young Women's lessons. So usually the teacher will hold up this nice, crisp, beautiful $20 bill that they probably had to go to the cashier and get crisp off of the bankroll. And it's beautiful and perfect. And so they basically say, “This is you, chaste and pure.” And then all of a sudden, you decide to have sex or do something not chaste or pure, and they crumple up the $20 bill and then they say, “But it's okay. Eventually, at the end of the lesson, the point of the lesson is that it's okay, it's still $20. Your innate worth has not changed. You're still $20, crumpled up, whatever. You’re still worth this amount of money, it hasn't changed. And so for me, personally, I tend to fall on the side of, I still hate that analogy because this is the thing. Sex is not dirty. Sex is not bad. Sex is sex. It's pretty neutral. And so we as members of the church, and we as humans, have kind of attached this sort of morality to it that sex is bad sometimes, but good other times. No, honestly sex is sex. So for me, sex is sex, it's pretty neutral. And, your innate worth is not tied to sex. So even if you are, or you are not, sexually chaste or pure, you are not a $20 bill, crumpled up or not. You are a person, you are a woman, you are a child of God who loves you and sure, your innate worth doesn't change, crumpled up or not, according to the analogy, but you are not a dollar bill. It has no meaning. And so for me personally, I just want to do away with this whole crumbled up $20 bill analogy. It doesn't work one way or the other, because sex is neutral and your innate worth doesn't change because it's always good. 

E: Yeah. I think the take home here is stop doing object lessons when you teach the law of chastity, because none of them are helpful. Or none of the ones we've talked about here. So if you think you have a really good one and you think it does something positive or new or radical, like we've talked about in the podcast, we'd love it to hear about it. Finally, we can start including consent into our lessons and conversations about the law of chastity. One listener commented, “We have a right to personal revelation about what is and what is not okay for our body, and to learn to trust ourselves more when it comes to physical affection. We have a right to say No when we aren't comfortable.” I like the emphasis that's placed on personal revelation here because it does tie it back to a gospel principle, and it says, we have full autonomy over our body. And so if we're not feeling comfortable with something, even though we might have a relationship with someone or you might trust them, it doesn't mean that anything they do is okay for us. We get to choose what's okay, and what's not, and we have the power to say no. 

C: And along with that, you can change your mind. Just be because you said yes one time does not mean that it is an all access pass to everything else. And even if you're right in the middle, or you said yes before, but you've changed your mind since, you still get to say no. And I think that this idea of consent and adding it into our lessons about the law of chastity, it gives the women power, not even power back, but it showcases to them the power that they already have, the power of a full sentence of No. Period. And so adding consent into your lesson, I'm sure you can work it in, it just showcases that women can be an active participant in their own sexuality, and in their own choices in intimacy, and in their own relationships. And so, as we're looking at things that don't work, and things that could work, I think this is a valuable inclusion that is definitely worth considering. 

E: And if you're feeling really jazzed up about switching up the ways you talk about the law of chastity, or you're looking for more information about healthy sexuality, as it relates to the church, we really, really encourage you to go visit Kristen B. Hodson’s Instagram, because she is always posting tips. She's really active on Instagram and she has great information and a lot of good resources for how to approach these types of conversations with your children, or have these types of conversations with your spouse, so that both of you are able to feel empowered and entitled to pleasure in your sexual relationship.

E: We're really glad that we could have this conversation with our listeners and also include it in our podcast about what ideas are harmful and the ideas that we should do away with when we talk about and teach the law of chastity, but there's also a lot of potential. And I felt really hopeful and encouraged when we were going through the comments because people are starting to celebrate and starting to welcome new ideas about the law of chastity and embracing their sexuality as full sexual beings from God. So thanks for allowing us to include you here. And thanks for participating in this part of the podcast episode

C: Friends, we're so glad that you listened and you joined us for this conversation, and that you got to hear us talk about some of the best chapters ever in the whole entire Book of Mormon, and that’s not even an exaggeration. We got to share our thoughts about bittersweet justice, about polygamy, and about the law of chastity. And we're just really glad that we can share this time with you, share thoughts with you, and as always, we want to hear from you. So if something about this episode spoke to you, we'd love to hear about it on Instagram. Send us a DM or talk about it in the comments, either way, your feedback is really good for us. And kind of going along with that, I also wanted to tell you that if we were in middle school together, I would totally 100% send you a note with a box that says, “Do you like us? Check Yes or No.” And if you do, if the answer is yes, I really hope you would leave us a review on iTunes. Just tell us what you think, and the more reviews that we get, the higher that we can rank in the podcast listings and the more people we can help with this podcast. So we just love you, and we're so glad that you were here, and can’t wait to see you next week. 

E: See you next week.

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