Sign in to follow this  
LadyHanley93

Challenging church history question?

Recommended Posts

Spencer Kimball taught this idea in his book the Miracle Of Forgiveness about vicitms of rape. Is this what we are teaching our children about sexual violence? Doesn't this seem like a contradiction?

“Also far-reaching is the effect of loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation when there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one's virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”

- Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, LDS Prophet, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 196

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought I had participated in a similar discussion here before: http://lds.net/forums/topic/38849-why-is-virtue-more-important-than-our-life/?hl=%2Brhetorical+%2Bhyperbole#entry591158

 

After the previous discussion, I am leaning towards these kinds of statements as some kind of "rhetorical hyperbole". IMO, the truth is that we should extend much more grace towards sinners than these kinds of statements, taken in isolation, suggest.

 

Since your question seems to lean towards the effects of forcible sexual abuse and rape, I don't think that an interpretation of these statements that implies that it is better to die than be raped, or that an abuse victim is somehow at fault or stained by sin, is correct. 

I, personally, am not fond of these statements because of the way that they get misread and misapplied. I cannot speak for Pres. Kimball (or for Mormon in Moroni 9:9), but I don't believe that the knee-jerk "God/Prophets/Scripture are blaming victims for their situation" is at all correct.

Edited by MrShorty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought I had participated in a similar discussion here before: http://lds.net/forums/topic/38849-why-is-virtue-more-important-than-our-life/?hl=%2Brhetorical+%2Bhyperbole#entry591158

 

After the previous discussion, I am leaning towards these kinds of statements as some kind of "rhetorical hyperbole". IMO, the truth is that we should extend much more grace towards sinners than these kinds of statements, taken in isolation, suggest.

 

Since your question seems to lean towards the effects of forcible sexual abuse and rape, I don't think that an interpretation of these statements that implies that it is better to die than be raped, or that an abuse victim is somehow at fault or stained by sin, is correct. 

I, personally, am not fond of these statements because of the way that they get misread and misapplied. I cannot speak for Pres. Kimball (or for Mormon in Moroni 9:9), but I don't believe that the knee-jerk "God/Prophets/Scripture are blaming victims for their situation" is at all correct.

I was actually asked to read this book by my leaders since I was abused as a child. I understand it is a isolated quote but how do you think that makes me feel? It makes me feel as if I am not worthy enough for a husband. What happened to me was simply not my fault. Is it just me or does anyone else find this book to be psychologically damaging?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I assume it's the last sentence that you struggle with?  I note that President Kimball doesn't define what "a struggle" is. Is it calling for help? Is it pleading for one's attacker not to do what they're about to do / doing?  Is it taking reasonable measures to avoid situations where attack is probable?  Is it an attempt at bargaining ("take my jewelry, just don't hurt me")? Is it a physical struggle - to what extent? Is it something in between?

 

President Kimball did not write: "It's better to fight to the death against a rapist than to do otherwise."  And he could have written that, had he chosen.  I don't know his mind or what he meant beyond a literal interpretation that it is better to die fighting than not to struggle at all - which I agree with - not struggling in any meaning of the word almost negates the idea that it was rape.  I do know that there are many different ways in which women view (the possibility of) rape and what one should do if attacked.  And in my opinion, no one but the victim herself (well, and the Lord) gets to decide whether she chose the right response. If a woman fights to the death rather than be raped, that's her right and I refuse to find fault - indeed, I see no fault.  If a woman pleads for her life, or tries to bargain her way out of it, or calls for help, I find no fault with her choice.

 

No matter what else is true, if she survives it, recovery will be a serious challenge.

 

(After seeing your reply to MrShorty: I do not believe President Kimball intended your response.  "There is no condemnation when there is no voluntary participation."  You have said there was no voluntary participation.  Therefore, you are under no condemnation.  Perhaps the suggestion to read the book was to help you understand healing through the Atonement, forgiveness of your abuser(s), or the concept of restitution - you don't need to repent, your attacker cannot restore what was taken, yet something was taken, and the Atonement is needed to recover from that.)

 

PS: Nowhere, IMO, does President Kimball call a rape victim a sinner.  I believe "more favorable position" is not in relation to sin or repentance, but in relation to recovery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only have a second, but I'll come back and write more later. I just wanted to let you know I totally get it. I hate that quote. I'm a survivor too.

I can't imagine why your leaders thought that would be helpful to you. Ugh!

You saw Sister Okasaki's talk right? And I can share some more helpful material later when I have more time.

For now, just know you are not alone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Something that might help people who have not been traumatized better understand why Lady Handley and I find this quote so troubling:

Imagine that you have just been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and you have a young family. You are afraid of what will happen to your family l, and to your body and a myriad of other related concerns.

Imagine your Bishop comes to your hospital room, puts his hand 9n your shoulder and says in a gentle tone, "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger"

While technically what he said is true, its really not what you need in that moment and n9 matter how well intended, it seems cruel.

You may say but no one would actually be so oblivious. No not with cancer, but when it comes to trauma, most people are painfullying oblivious to the needs of survivors. Without meaning to they say things that are equally painful and then blame the survivors for being overly sensitive and taking offense.

I'm speaking generally about experiencs that span years, this is not directed to anyone in this thread. It's a general explanation of a reoccurring problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited) · Hidden December 19, 2015 - anti-LDS propoganda
Hidden December 19, 2015 - anti-LDS propoganda

Many Mormon women seek out their bishops for assistance after experiencing sexual violence.

In 2006, Helen's* boyfriend raped her in one of BYU's dorms. Unsure of where to turn, Helen went to her bishop, who gave her The Miracle of Forgiveness by church prophet Spencer W. Kimball. Published in 1969, Kimball’s influential book contains an exhaustive list of sins that Mormons need to repent for, including a section on “Restitution for Loss of Chastity.” When Helen got to this section, this passage jumped out at her:

Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated or contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one's virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.

Helen says The Miracle of Forgiveness text made her feel "horrible, like I had failed and was now dirty and broken because I didn't fight to the death."

But Helen's bishop didn't stop with The Miracle of Forgiveness. His action plan included required weekly meetings with him, withholding the sacrament from her, forbidding her from holding a calling, and barring praying in church meetings or activities until he felt like she had repented. After nine months of this, Helen's bishop was finally satisfied.

http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/college-age-mormons-sexual-violence-religious-problem-84637.

Edited by LadyHanley93

Share this post


Link to post

Well, that's extremely depressing and discouraging.  The things the youth in that article were taught, are not what I was taught.  I know they are not the things one of my brothers believes (never discussed it with the other brother), though I don't know what he was taught in priesthood classes - I wasn't there, after all.  (NOTE: When we were youth, we were in extremely low-density Zion - far from Utah.)

 

Clearly a lot of people in the church have a long way to go to get their heads on straight about these things.

 

(I still don't think Pres. Kimball was blaming the victim, but maybe my interpretation is skewed because I was never taught the things people in that article were taught.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fight or Flight are responses known to most people, but there is another lesser known response to trauma....freeze.   The "choice" of which one to use happens on the sub-concious level out of our control.  If your sub-conscious decides for any reason that fight or flight will not save you or could make things worse, it will freeze instead.  Animals and humans have this reflex.  So whether or not to "fight" is not a conscious decision.

 

Too many survivors of sexual assault (again I'm talking generally, this is not directed at anyone in this thread) are made to feel ashamed because they didn't "fight back".  Especially if it was date rape, or an acquaintance they feel or are told that it wasn't really rape if they didn't fight, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  

 

Here's an article about FREEZE response: http://www.thebestbrainpossible.com/fight-flight-or-freeze/

 

Further, when someone is mugged, we tell them not to fight back, just give the mugger the wallet in order to save your life.  Yet in a situation that is even more terrifying, we expect women to have the presence of mind to fight back?  Why not appreciate that they did what was necessary to stay alive?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some things are worth your life to try and protect, your wallet is not one of them. I think one way to take that statement in the op is that this is something that's worth your life to try and protect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes but it is your subconscious that makes the decision how you will protect yourself.  We don't consciously choose to make our heart rate increase and our body prepare for fight of flight....likewise we don't choose consciously to freeze.  I trust that Heavenly Father understands this, He is the one that designed our bodies this way, now if we could just get people to understand this.

 

We need to stop blaming women, and women need to stop blaming themselves for "freeze" response.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone here believe that we have a rape culture in the Mormon Church? Slut shaming? Victim blaming? I am very scared to read all these horrific things happen to women and then have to repent. I forgive my abuser however this is not an act of God that perhaps god planned this in my life. It's called Free agency and Every human being has the right to use it for the good or evil in this world.

Edited by LadyHanley93

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone here believe that we have a rape culture in the Mormon Church? Slut shaming? Victim blaming? I am very scared to read all these horrific things happen to women and then have to repent. I forgive my abuser however this is not an act of God that perhaps god planned this in my life. It's called Free agency and Every human being has the right to use it for the good or evil in this world.

 

Oh I have so much to say on this, but I really should be asleep right now.

 

For now Hanley, let me tell you that what happened is not your fault (in NO way), and you're not alone, you have people to reach out to, and your Heavenly Father loves you.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone here believe that we have a rape culture in the Mormon Church? Slut shaming? Victim blaming? I am very scared to read all these horrific things happen to women and then have to repent. I forgive my abuser however this is not an act of God that perhaps god planned this in my life. It's called Free agency and Every human being has the right to use it for the good or evil in this world.

 

I do think we have rape culture in the church, but the problem is not the gospel--not the teachings of the Savior, but the culture (and much of this is adopted from our larger American culture.)  Here is an example, of what I mean that rape culture is not part of the gospel.   Elder Holland gave a powerful talk about immorality in which he stated:

 

I have heard all my life that it is the young woman who has to assume the responsibility for controlling the limits of intimacy in courtship because a young man cannot. What an unacceptable response to such a serious issue! What kind of man is he, what priesthood or power or strength or self-control does this man have that lets him develop in society, grow to the age of mature accountability, perhaps even pursue a university education and prepare to affect the future of colleagues and kingdoms and the course of the world, but yet does not have the mental capacity or the moral will to say, "I will not do that thing"? No, this sorry drugstore psychology would have us say, "He just can't help himself. His glands have complete control over his life--his mind, his will, his entire future."

To say that a young woman in such a relationship has to bear her responsibility and that of the young man's too is the least fair assertion I can imagine. In most instances if there is sexual transgression, I lay the burden squarely on the shoulders of the young man--for our purposes probably a priesthood bearer--and that's where I believe God intended responsibility to be.

 

http://www.familylifeeducation.org/gilliland/procgroup/Souls.htm

 

Elder Holland also said:

One who uses the God given body of another without divine sanction abuses the very soul of that individual, abuses the central purpose and process of life . . . In exploiting the body of another - which means exploiting his or her soul - one desecrates the Atonement of Christ which saved that soul.

 

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/10/personal-purity?lang=eng

 

 

He was speaking about a couple having sex outside of marriage, but imagine if immorality is that serious, how much more serious is the sin of sexual assault?

I can assure you this is a matter the Lord takes very seriously.  Bishops (and other human leaders) may make mistakes, but rest assured that the Lord will be the final Judge and He will make things right.  

He assured us of this in D&C 98  (pay special attention to vs 44)

 

41 And if he trespass against thee and repent not the first time, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him.

 42 And if he trespass against thee the second time, and repent not, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him.

 43 And if he trespass against thee the third time, and repent not, thou shalt also forgive him.

 44 But if he trespass against thee the fourth time thou shalt not forgive him, but shalt bring these testimonies before the Lord; and they shall not be blotted out until he repent and reward thee four-fold in all things wherewith he has trespassed against thee.

 

 

 

I have not forgiven my abuser (for his more than four offenses).  Forgiveness is my goal, but this verse assures me I don't have to rush the process.  

 

Earlier in my healing journey, I had so many questions that I could not find the answers too.  It took time, but I finally did find the answers, and then I wrote a book for others who are searching.    if you are interested, send me a PM, and I will send you an ebook copy (free).  

Here's the amazon link so you can read more about it.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

I will say that I've had some experience with this as well.  But I don't think anything I say about that will help, except to say that I can empathize.  

 

On the other hand, a young woman once shared something with me that may help.  She had been abused.  She grew, healed, and dealt with it.  She really was a remarkable young woman -- the kind that everyone wants to be their daughter.  She felt she got to the point where she was "over it".  Certainly, her daily activities were filled with joy and she didn't actually hurt most of the time.  There was a forgiveness in her heart that I wish I could be filled with.

 

The rest of her story is not for the public.  So I'll PM you her story because I think it is important to understand something.  

 

I don't believe Kimball's statement was a "blaming the victim" mentality.  He used a word differently for his day than we do today.  "Chastity".  He equated it with "virginity".  Today we make a distinction; he did not.  That may be causing some confusion.

 

It is true that once you lose your virginity, that's it.  There is no gaining it back (as with my young friend's situation--or anyone's for that matter).  But chastity is something that can be regained by proper repentance, etc.  And if it was forcibly taken from you (via rape) then you never lost your chastity.  Your virginity may have been taken, but your heart was pure.  You had no desire to participate.  Therefore, there is not condemnation.

 

The final statement -- it is better to die -- I believe is just meant to emphasize how important it is.  It was in no way meant to say, "well if you didn't die in the process, you were obviously a willing participant."  NO NO NO!!! That is not what he was saying at all.

Edited by Guest

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The final statement -- it is better to die -- I believe is just meant to emphasize how important it is. It was in no way meant to say, "well if you didn't die in the process, you were obviously a willing participant." NO NO NO!!! That is not what he was saying at all.

This nearly perfectly echoes my thoughts, I could not figure out a way to convey it. I'm glad you were able to express what I couldn't!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to be kind of blunt here. If any of y'all feel you may be triggered by bluntness on this topic, please feel free to skip. My intent is to offer what I see as a reality check, but I certainly don't want to cause undue pain.

Does anyone here believe that we have a rape culture in the Mormon Church? Slut shaming? Victim blaming? I am very scared to read all these horrific things happen to women and then have to repent.

No. If you want to know what a "rape culture" looks like, I can link you to some Youtube videos of Yazidi women being auctioned off to the highest bidder that I promise will curdle your blood. That's rape culture. As Mormons we may have room for improvement in the way we talk about things, but I find it frankly offensive that someone would make such a cavalier accusation.

And while I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that every priesthood leader deals perfectly with every sex abuse case, it doesn't hurt to point out that LDS bishops are barred by covenant and--in many cases--by law, from making the kinds of factual disclosures that would be necessary to refute specific accusations of misconduct.

And, let's be honest--based on the article you cited, feminists generally have no problem with public shaming as a deterrent to behaviors you see as undesirable. The disagreement is merely regarding what kinds of behavior are worthy of shaming. And for my part--call me old-fashioned; but IMHO unchastity and lust, in both men and women, ARE shameful.

Something that might help people who have not been traumatized better understand why Lady Handley and I find this quote so troubling:

Imagine that you have just been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and you have a young family. You are afraid of what will happen to your family l, and to your body and a myriad of other related concerns.

Imagine your Bishop comes to your hospital room, puts his hand on your shoulder and says in a gentle tone, "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger"

While technically what he said is true, its really not what you need in that moment and no matter how well intended, it seems cruel.

Fair enough, but some things *have* to be said regardless of whether the hearer considers them "helpful" in the moment. And of course, there's a wider audience than just the immediate sufferer.

Let us take a different analogy: let's say I went walking through Chicago's toughest neighborhood in a suit coat made of hundred-dollar-bills, and the predictable thing happens, and I get mugged. Yes, it's a highly violative experience that should never have happened. Yes, I have a fundamental right to wear my money coat wherever and whenever I want, and not be judged. Yes, society needs to change to the point where I will be safe and respected regardless of how desirable others may find me or my assets. But the reality is that there *are* things that people can do to reduce (not eliminate, but reduce) their chances of being mugged; and we don't stop talking about those things or shut down neighborhood watch programs just because it may trigger victims of past muggings to unduly blame themselves.

There may be better ways to have these conversations about rape and self-defense and staying out of bad situations--but the conversations themselves do need to happen. Part of recovery from trauma is accepting (or at least acknowledging) the world in its imperfection, and not insisting on putting innocent people at risk just so that the victim doesn't have to confront his own insecurities.

And when I see the most militant of these radical feminist activists demand we *not* train people to avoid situations where the likelihood of rape is increased, the cynic in me can't help but ask: which political and social groups benefit if the total number of rapes in this country maintains, or increases? Which groups lose their power and funding if sexual assault becomes less of a problem? Why would someone *not* want young LDS girls empowered with the knowledge that they can say "no" to a would-be sexual partner?

Because, statistically, the forcible rape rate is down from 37.1/100,000 in 1995 to 26.4/100,000 today. Yet, we're being told that a problem whose incidence has actually been reduced by nearly 30% in twenty years, is somehow getting worse and that we need to tone down our discourse on chastity.

Cui bono?

Edited by Just_A_Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do think we have rape culture in the church, but the problem is not the gospel--

 

 

I find this to be a highly offensive comment.  This comment offense the character of every honorable male in the Church from the Prophet on down.  It should also offend every woman that loves respects those honorable men, as leaders, husbands, brothers, and/or sons. 

 

A rape culture would teach that is ok for rape to happen and it is just the natural way of things.

 

This is the precise opposite of every teaching, every talk, every lesson and every book the church and its culture has ever produced.  If you read the book Miracle of Forgiveness and you somehow got the impression that President Kimball was giving the thumbs up to rapist and the act of rape then you need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

 

Now while the churches desire to have women be aware of the possibly and be proactive in trying to protect themselves from this horror, might have had a few missteps and miscues from well intentioned leaders... But that is a night and day difference from a "rape culture" that teaches that it is ok for it to happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to be kind of blunt here. If any of y'all feel you may be triggered by bluntness on this topic, please feel free to skip. My intent is to offer what I see as a reality check, but I certainly don't want to cause undue pain.

JAG, while I generally enjoy your posts and agree with you, in this case I've elected to take your advice and skip this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find this to be a highly offensive comment. This comment offense the character of every honorable male in the Church from the Prophet on down.

No offense was intended. If my comment offends you then you vastly misunderstood me.

For clarification, I was referring to incidents like the post Lady Handley shared of girls who are raped being asked to go through the "repentance process".

And past incidents many of us have heard of of Bishops not contacting the police 8n molestation cases because they felt they could handle matters better themselves. Fortunately the Leaders put an end to that.

I was also referring to the tendency to blame the victim which is common in our society within the church and without.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Do you know specifically of cases close to you where a bishop has asked a rape victim to repent, or blamed her? I hear claims like that, but in all my time in the church with all the bishops I've had I have literally never heard of this actually happening, and I have a hard time believing any bishop I've had would take that approach. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do, and it was a beloved Bishop so I was quite shocked.  I think the problem was simply that he didn't believe it was "rape".  That's the problem, especially in cases of date rape.  It can become of case of he said, she said.  He says it was consensual, she says it was not.  

 

I've heard of other situations in the church, people I know personally, that left me speechless--in that case, a much beloved Stake Presidency member.  

 

I still love that Bishop and Stake Presidency member; I simply recognize them as human beings who don't have training in dealing with these kinds of situations (I mean they are not therapists).  Tragic for the victims, but I just have to put my trust in Heavenly Father that He will make all this right in His due time.

Edited by LiterateParakeet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone here believe that we have a rape culture in the Mormon Church? Slut shaming? Victim blaming?

  1. I am sure some do, but I think they're full of politically-correct baloney and should be summarily ignored.
  2. Not sure what you mean. Do you think it's not shameful to be a slut?
  3. Probably some, but a culture that encourages personal responsibility will always have some amount of victim-blaming.
Edited by Vort

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this