Never Let Me Go is a novel that follows the life of a group of kids in a boarding school. It’s a weird school. They don’t learn stuff. They mostly just play around and do artwork. You eventually learn that these kids are actually clones, and they were created so that their organs could be harvested for transplants. The outside world doesn’t believe they are real people. You find out that the reason they aren’t taught math and science and the like is because they don’t need it. They are there to serve the population at large, and anything that would teach them that they have another purpose is pointless.
The thing is… they don’t know that they aren’t real people. They feel like they are. They have real interests and passions and lives. Overtime as they learn what their purpose is many of them accept it. It is their role, the reason for their creation, and so it is just what they do. They forget that they could be more. Only a few fight for a real life, for something better… but I don’t want to ruin the book for you.
I read this book for the first time in the midst of the hardest part of my faith crisis. And all I could think was, this is me. I’ve been taught all my life what my role is, and that my personhood is only a thing insomuch that I actually exist to edify someone else’s more important, more real, personhood. I remember when I was young—a “fresh from Primary” Beehive—sitting in Young Women’s while the teacher talked about being exalted to Gods and having our own planets. (This was obviously back before the Church was clarifying that this is not a thing.) I remember wondering how that would work for me, exactly. Do I get my own planet? Will my future husband and I both create a planet? But I realized immediately that there wasn’t much of a precedent for that. While I knew of the existence of Heavenly Mother, I’d never learned if or how she played any role in earth’s creation or whether she had any active role in my life on it. So, that left me with the conclusion that my future husband would create the world and be exalted as the God of it, and that I would be … his wife. That’s it.
This was reinforced when I went through the temple in my early 20s. And there witnessed men covenanting directly with Heavenly Father to inherit all that he has, and women covenanting with their husbands to be … their wives. That’s it.
It would seem that I’m destined to be a supporting actress forever more. And let’s not forget that in the temple there is nary a mention of Heavenly Mother anywhere, so I still had no notion of what this supporting actress role is really supposed to look like.
Yet later, in my mid-20s, things were complicated further when I married a man who had been married—and sealed in the temple—once before. I am not only just “wife” but have become “second wife”. With or without our own planets, this makes me less than even an appendage, and more of an accessory. For all eternity.
And as much as the church has backed away from the idea that “celestial marriage” equals polygamy, we’re still institutionally set up for it. Men can be sealed to multiple living and/or dead partners (as is my husband’s case), but women cannot. Not only is this allowed for men, but they are actually *discouraged* from dissolving a previous sealing when remarrying. And when they do remarry, a letter of consent from the first wife is still a part of the process, just as in days of yore when polygamy was alive and well in the early church and the first wife had to give permission. So, you’ll forgive me if I’m not really buying that eternal polygamy isn’t a thing because it still very much LOOKS like a thing.
You’ll also forgive me if my Celestial Glory looks an awful lot like my Eternal Hell when it is framed this way.
Perhaps you can understand why I’m a Mormon Feminist. Please try to understand why I seek for the ordination of women, and for knowledge of my Heavenly Mother, and for a direct access to the powers of Heaven. Understand why I don’t accept this given role that means I’ll be traipsing around after my husband and his first wife for all eternity. I’m begging you to understand why I seek for more light and knowledge from the Lord’s Prophet on these issues, because I believe that is the only resource I have. Don’t tell me to search the scriptures; I have scoured them. Don’t tell me to pray about it; I have pleaded, beseeched and wearied the Lord, and that won’t end until I have answers. Please don’t ask me to be silent about this, because that is like asking me to walk around with a gaping wound in my chest but could I please not let anyone else see the blood. All I ask for is answers, but I can’t get the answers if you don’t let me ask the questions.
Please don’t tell me to have more faith. Instead ask yourself if you would have the faith to sit in the space that I sit and not move. In fact, my faith is that if I seek after the mysteries of God, they will be given. My faith is that if I knock, the doors will be opened. Sometimes I am hanging onto that faith with white knuckles, but I’m trying so desperately hard to not let it go.
And please, please don’t ask me to leave. This is the gospel I love and cherish. This is the place that I have learned about my Savior and have come to know Him. I love this church so much. But please understand, when you bring up me leaving it is far from the first time I’ve thought about it. I battle with making that heartbreaking decision all the time. Please don’t push me in that direction.
Please just understand that I believe I am a real, whole person. I exist for more than just to donate to others. I need to do more than just play around. I need to learn all the things that any real, whole person needs to learn. And I want to learn the truth of the feminine divine and exactly what it is that I aspire to be for the rest of eternity.