“Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by” (Ensign, May 1971).
I was never allowed to consider not getting married. From Spencer W. Kimball: "No one who rejects the covenant of celestial marriage can reach exaltation in the eternal kingdom of God." Kimball goes on to quote from Doctrine & Covenants 132, where we learn that those who don't marry can't receive exaltation and instead are ministering angels. Lest you think this is a nice consolation prize, Kimball sets us straight: "Some might say, 'Well, I’d be satisfied to just become an angel,' but you would not. One never would be satisfied just to be a ministering angel to wait upon other people when he could be the king himself."
But missing out on the Celestial Kingdom was almost secondary in my mind as motivation for getting married. I never considered not getting married because getting married is the only way you get to have sex.
Not that I don't love my husband and my children, but I would have preferred to have consciously chosen to have a family instead of being funneled into it.
What if I hadn't spent my teen years feeling like I was worthless because I didn't fit the Church's mold of an ideal young woman. A few days ago, I came across this article about the Church's revamping of their Young Women's program, and I'm still reeling. This quote was truly nauseating:
The booklets are pink. "We are excited about the color of pink, because we think these young women are pink. They resonate to the softness and the femininity of that color. We want them to understand that they are soft, they are unique, they are feminine and that they don't have to be like the boys."
I was not soft as a Young Woman. I was not pink. I did not fit, and I thought it was because of something wrong with me. In my deconversion story, I talk about being tomboyish and not liking or relating to women in the Church. It wasn't until after I left that I began to realize that I could be feminine and not be stupid and weak. In recent years, I've been able to embrace my girly side and form some female friendships. What if I'd had that message as a young girl, that I was as good as a boy, that feminine doesn't have to mean timid or deferential or submissive or incapable?
I never got to dream about what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was already picked for me: wife, mother, that's it. Sure, Mormon women are encouraged to get an education, but they're also expected to sweep it aside as soon as a husband and kids show up, which is supposed to be as soon as possible. How was I supposed to get excited about any kind of career, knowing it would be "unrighteous" of me to actually pursue a career? Any career training a Mormon woman receives is "for emergency use only," a backup plan if your husband dies or for some other reason can't be the provider. Otherwise, the prophets have proclaimed: "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children." And choosing not to be a mother is unacceptable.
What might have been? How much further along might I be in my education? How much more emotionally stable, had I not had to undo all the damage of my early years?
Were it not for the LDS Church, a young woman from Florida would almost certainly not have decided to attend Brigham Young University, would not have met a young man from Missouri while there, would not have decided to get married and start having children right away, eleven in all, including me.
Despite all its evils, in a very real way, I literally owe my existence to Mormonism. Whatever else may have been, it would not have been me.