The missionaries tried to stop by a week or two ago. I was home with just my two children, wearing a strappy nursing tank top, and probably covered in baby spit. These were male missionaries, so of course they couldn’t come in. They said they were looking for my husband, I said he was at work, and they said they’d come back some other time.
Come Sunday afternoon, my husband said to me, “Oh, the missionaries are coming over tonight.” “What do they want?” I asked warily. “To share a message,” he replied. “Don’t worry, I warned them that this ‘message’ better not be an attempt to convert you.” “Thanks,” I said, and relaxed a bit.
The Right Way to Win the “Mormons Aren’t Christians” Argument
“Mormons, we think you are not Christians and say you are not Christians in the same sense that your church says and teaches that other churches that hold to the teachings of Joseph Smith are ‘not Mormon.’ When it comes to, for example, The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other groups that follow the teachings of Joseph Smith and practice polygamy, your church dogmatically asserts that these groups are ‘not Mormon’ and should not be known as ‘Mormon’ churches, even though these groups ‘strenuously object‘ to your efforts to label them as not-Mormon. You do this because their theology and teachings are different enough from your own to cause you concern, and you want to disassociate that from the ‘Mormon’ name. Likewise, your theology and teachings are different enough from our own to cause us concern, and we want to disassociate you from the ‘Christian’ name.” 
In the fall of 2010, I published an article in Mutuality that critiqued the opportunities available to women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In that article, I said (emphases new to this post):
On the ecclesiastical level, where Mormons practice a lay ministry and church responsibilities are shared among all members, the male headship pattern continues. LDS men are ordained to the lower priesthood starting at age twelve and the higher priesthood at age eighteen, but women are restricted from ordination altogether. Because of their non-ordained status, women cannot serve in a large variety of leadership callings including: apostles, prophets, bishops, stake presidents, and adult Sunday School directors. Similarly to complementarian church structures, most of the callings available to women revolve around leadership of other women and children. Church disciplinary councils are entirely handled by men, and men oversee almost all of the clerical work and management of church finances. Males perform virtually all of the ritual ordinances including baptisms, blessings of healing, and administration of the LDS version of the Eucharist. The only ordinance women are permitted to perform is a washing and anointing ritual on other women as part of temple worship, and even that is restricted to women who have no minor children living at home. Finally, missions work is considered a primarily male responsibility, with all capable men being expected to serve a two-year mission, typically at the age of nineteen. Women are allowed to serve an optional eighteen-month mission, but the minimum age required is twenty-one. In 1997, the president of the Mormon church plainly stated that the age limit is held higher for women for the purpose of decreasing the number of women who serve.
This pattern of androcentrism surfaces again in the church’s official Sunday School manuals, where female speakers and leaders are rarely cited, even when the topics concern women specifically. Twice a year, Mormon leaders gather to broadcast a series of messages meant as counsel for the entire church, but out of the twenty-nine to thirty talks that are usually given, only two of the speakers are women. Likewise, women are not invited to give the opening or closing prayer for these sessions. In the LDS church, women clearly have far fewer opportunities than men to offer spiritual guidance and admonishment to adults of both genders at the church-wide level.
In the past six months, the bolded things have been changed in favor of women. Women may serve missions at age 19 now, thus the number of women going on missions has increased dramatically, and a woman just offered a closing prayer in General Conference. Here’s hoping one will offer an opening prayer soon.
Obviously, church leaders are working through my list and gradually amending the inequalities that I was kind enough to point out to them.
You’re welcome, Mormon women!
 The source I cited in my article was Gordon B. Hinckley, “Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service,” Ensign, November 1997, 52.
I do think this couple is interfaith-lite in that the wife seems fairly agnostic. She acknowledges not going to church or being interested in church and at one point says, “If there’s a God up there…” At the end she says that she’s married to a Mormon and “has a family full of them,” so I assume that means she consented to raising the children LDS or letting the children convert to it. Those factors can take a lot of the tension out of an interfaith relationship, as opposed to a marriage between two practicing people of different faiths where each partner would like to see the children become members of his or her own religion.
I don’t entertain any delusions of the LDS church showing up on our door and asking to do a Mormon ad on my husband, but I would have difficulty doing what the wife does at the end of the video—saying, “I’m [name] and I’m not a Mormon.” I dislike identifying as a “not-a-Mormon.” I’d insist on being identified by what I am, not what I’m not.
Still, it is a great message of tolerance and respect for what one’s family members “believe or don’t believe,” and I’m pleased to see the LDS church running it. Kudos to Kenneth Barber and Christine Raldon (sp?) for appearing in it. You two have a beautiful family and I wish you nothing but the best.
Will we ever see an “I’m a Mormon” ad about a couple wherein one spouse has left the church and the other remains in it? I’d like to.
“NO!” Our daughter screamed. “I . . . don’t . . . WANT to go to your church!” She tilted her chin downward, crooked her hands into her armpits (like she was trying to put them on her hips, but was way too high—much funnier and cuter), looked up with her most defiant glare, and stamped her foot.
That was our household this past Sunday morning. The person she was yelling at was her father. The church she didn’t want to go to was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was my Sunday to visit her father’s church, so I wasn’t going to my church, either.
Here’s the thing: She doesn’t leave you or her church. What now? Do you focus on the difference or on the things you still love about her? Do you still try to be worthy of her love in every other respect?
Lots of people in this situation don’t. She nags you about the church. You sneer at her beliefs. Eventually religion isn’t the problem anymore. It’s just the battlefield where you fight over everything else.
Eventually your spouse is not the person you thought you married. But if you’re willing to abandon the person you swore to love forever over a shift in belief, then neither are you.
You don’t end up getting divorced because of religion. More than likely you divorce because one or both of you couldn’t tell the difference between control and love.
Numbers 26:33 And Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters: and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
… 27:1 Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah. 27:2 And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, 27:3 Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons. 27:4 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father. 27:5 And Moses brought their cause before the LORD. 27:6 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27:7 The daughters of Zelophehad speak with darkened minds and hardened hearts: thou shalt surely say unto them, Know ye not that my people are led by a prophet who doth speaketh with the LORD as one man speaketh with another? And know ye not that the law as pertaining to the division of the land was given by the LORD, and is just and pleasing thereof, and that if the LORD had wanted a man’s daughters to have possession of the land along with his sons, it should have been that way from the beginning? 27:8 And say unto the daughters of Zelophehad, thou shalt not lobby for thine rights, for thou shalt be virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy, and of good report, knowing thine roles and responsibilities as women and mothers. 27:9 And if thou dost not like it, thou shalt leave, and go out from the people of Israel. Therefore, let thy cries come before the LORD no more.
That’s how the Scripture reads, right? Right, General Young Women President Elaine S. Dalton? Right, Mormons on Facebook who keep on telling your fellow Mormons that it would be better for them to leave the LDS church altogether than to petition their leaders to let women pray in General Conference, because the church is led by God and if he’d wanted women to pray in Conference, it would be done already?
Look, there just isn’t a polite way to say this: you are in error because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God.