Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man: D&C 121 and 132

Laura Brignone (PhD, MSW) is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies technology and domestic violence. This is Part 2 in a six-part series on the domestic violence implications of D&C 121 and 132. Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 can be found here. 

Welcome back! Last week we focused on spelling out the problem of abuse described in D&C 121:1-6 and experienced in modern LDS congregations. This week we skip ahead to D&C 121:36-39. These verses describe a slippery slope into using the priesthood as a tool of power and control to commit abuse, along with consequences for priesthood holders who do so. This is one of the clearest, most poignant, and most powerful condemnations of abuse in all of scripture.

It’s also not straightforward to put into practice. 

Let’s dive in.

D&C 121:36-39

[T]he rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and […] the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man…. 

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

There we have it. Anyone who self-aggrandizes or abuses another person automatically loses the Spirit as well as their priesthood power and authority. This bright line protects both the integrity of the priesthood and the safety of non-priesthood-holders. 

In theory, anyway. Because, somehow, there’s this line church members and leaders hear all the time:

“I’m the priesthood holder so what I say goes”

General authorities like President Kimball, President Hinckley, President Oaks and others have called out and specifically named this argument “unrighteous dominion” many, many, many times, and they typically cite D&C 121:36-39 to do it. President Oaks noted that the model of leadership at church, where the presiding authority holds all the decision-making power, should not be reflected in family leadership. Elder Perry described spouses as co-presidents of their family, rather than a president and vice-president.

Yet, even some General Authorities have been open about their challenges in figuring out how to put this into practice. Why does this confusion persist? 

I think we can find some of this perplexity in grey areas that exist between strong statements like President Oaks’ and Elder Perry’s above and certain aspects of church practice:

Example 1: 

Church practice: In its ideal model of marriage, the Church describes men presiding over their families, with women presiding (or leading) only in their husbands’ absence or death. To make joint decisions, married couples counsel together and discuss the decision. After this, the husband acts as voice and, if necessary, tie-breaker for the decision. This mirrors the church’s president and counselor dynamic more than Elder Perry’s co-presidents model. [1]

Implications for abuse: Even within healthy relationships, teasing out the distinctions between priesthood leadership, gender roles, and the unrighteous dominion in D&C 121:36-39 can amount to norm-following [2] and prayerfully selecting whether male-led or co-equal leadership feels right in the moment. An abusive husband or father can exploit his role as presiding authority, voice and tie-breaker to manipulate what feels right (to him) in these nominally “joint” decisions — including pigeonholing his wife into having more children than she feels prepared to have [3], forcing his children to participate in saving ordinances they are not ready for, and more. The cultural implications of this means an abusive boyfriend may also say that he’s received inspiration that a woman should do something that gives him more power and control [4], and she may feel she has to do it because he holds the priesthood.

Example 2:

Church practice: As priesthood leaders in their home, husbands have more power to act on behalf of their relationship and family than wives. For example, a husband may answer at tithing settlement on his wife’s behalf, while the reverse is not true. In addition, local leaders often ask husbands to give genuine consent (i.e., permission) before extending callings to their wives. Men are also often present when their wives are given callings. Throughout the church, women are much less likely to be asked for approval — let alone genuine or prior consent — for their husbands’ callings. They are also much less likely to be present while these callings are extended. This resembles hierarchical leadership more than Elder Oaks’ patriarchal [5], equal leadership.

Implications for abuse: A married, male perpetrator of abuse can exploit this mismatch to manipulate the church experience against his wife. Because he can control his wife’s access to a temple recommend through her tithepayer status, as well as her service and relationship-building opportunities through her church callings, he has extensive leverage to isolate her, control her behavior, and bend her experience with supportive church relationships to his will. A perpetrator of abuse has even more leverage over children’s, vulnerable adults’ [6], or dependent elderly relatives’ church experiences and support. 

In other words, in many abusive LDS families, male perpetrators do not need to say “I’m the priesthood holder so what I say goes” for their survivor(s) to have that experience.

A note on LDS men who survive abuse

Because LDS church culture assumes priesthood holders inherently have more power than non-priesthood holders, many members (and non-members) believe it is impossible for LDS men to experience abuse. This can leave priesthood holders who survive abuse feeling isolated, ashamed, and left sometimes with the erroneous belief that if they had magnified their priesthood, they would have had power to stop the abuse.

This is false. The harm inflicted by another person on their mind, body or spirit is never the survivor’s fault. These choices and accountability belong only to the perpetrator. In addition, while most survivors of abuse are women and children, ~15% of adult domestic violence survivors are men, alongside ~85% who are women. Every adult was once a child, and boys and girls survive abuse with equal frequency. No survivor, male or female, adult or child, can stop abuse.

How do we actually say “amen”?

So defining when, precisely, a priesthood holder is exercising  “unrighteous dominion” is trickier than it sounds. But, even with these grey areas, there are many situations that still clearly cross the line into “cover[ing] our sins, or [gratifying] our pride, [or] our vain ambition, or [exercising] control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men in any degree of unrighteousness.” And for that — we’re ready. “Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”


Again, not so fast.

Members and local leaders (even non-members!) often assume priesthood leadership, an active temple recommend, and church activity tell you how righteous a particular priesthood holder is. Women and children who do not hold the priesthood are often defined by their relationship to a husband or father who does — especially when he is in a church leadership role (e.g., bishop’s wife, mission president’s wife). Because of this, a seemingly “righteous” priesthood holder who perpetrates abuse can mediate his survivor(s)’ credibility and church relationships. Doing so would make it easier for him to discredit the survivor, and harder for the survivor to find support. 

Yet abuse is likely perpetrated by priesthood holders within every LDS stake. Statistically speaking, this likely includes both a member of the high council and a bishopric member in any given stake. [7] This can really complicate things for local leaders — bishops and stake presidents — who are the only ones authorized to hold a priesthood holder accountable for unrighteous dominion. “I know [perpetrator’s name], and he’s a really good guy” can be a heartfelt response to a survivor’s report of abuse. Leaders may have had personal interactions or shared callings with the alleged perpetrator; they may feel deep and genuine respect for him and/or his service; they likely know him better than they know the non-priesthood-holding survivor. All of this can make local leaders reluctant to believe reports of abuse. While harmful and isolating to survivors, this difficulty is understandable. Many perpetrators of abuse have done inspiring, uplifting, transformative public work…and simultaneously perpetrated private abuse. For non-LDS examples, just see Pablo Picasso. Or Bill Cosby

A key tactic for many perpetrators of abuse is duplicity: acting one way around peers, mentors and leaders then another way [8] when alone with survivor(s). This duplicity is particularly strategic for high-status perpetrators of abuse and often leads to a “he said, she said” dynamic that can be very difficult to mediate at face value. In this setting, it can be helpful to know: meta-analysis of individual studies suggests that only about 5% of allegations of sexual assault are false, and rates of false domestic violence allegation are believed to be similar.

The paradox in a nutshell

D&C 121:36-39 is a beautiful, powerful, distinctively LDS scripture: “when [a priesthood holder] undertake[s] to…exercise control or dominion or compulsion…Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

And, statistically, every month, in every Utah stake, at least one 8-year-old is baptized by a father who is physically or sexually abusing them. To receive their first saving ordinance, this survivor must hold tightly to the perpetrator of their abuse as he immerses them in water.

And consider a joke about women’s ordination I heard often as a child. “I do hold the priesthood,” would say a woman, “every night, in bed.” [9] Statistically speaking, to access priesthood blessings and privileges, at least one woman in each ward’s Relief Society likely must hold, every night in bed, the perpetrator of her physical or sexual abuse. 

Neither survivor can let go; neither one can easily turn away. How can we truly say amen to the priesthood and authority of these men?


If you suspect you or someone you know may be experiencing abuse, the following resources are available to call or chat 24/7. Abuse is never the survivor’s fault:

[1] Personal disclaimer: When I heard this talk as a teen, it was the first time I had heard a church talk or lesson about equality in marriage that actually felt to me like equality in marriage; it was also the first time I “got” what D&C 121:36-39 could look like on the ground. I am both grateful and personally indebted to both this talk and this analogy — and I’m not alone. If talks like this weren’t so strong, the grey area between them and church practice wouldn’t be so perplexing. 

[2] I say “norm-following” because the logic connecting how these decisions typically play out isn’t consistent: Does the priesthood holder decide who prays? Yes. Who gets a blessing? No. Can a non-priesthood holder receive specific, direct inspiration on behalf of her child? Absolutely. Can she give a blessing to that child? Absolutely not.

[3] The fancy name for this is “reproductive coercion;” it covers any reproduction-related choice a person (almost always a woman) is forced into making, and it has hugely negative health, economic and relational repercussions.

[4] The quintessential example is “get married,” and women are sometimes warned against this. But it could just as easily be: take a job close to his work, disinvite her family from the wedding, sell him her car for a song, etc.

[5] “Patriarchal” is not the word I would have chosen to categorically describe an equal relationship, but continuing on in good faith…

[6] “Vulnerable Adults” means adults with physical or mental conditions that prevent them from living or functioning independently.

[7] Also statistically speaking, both the bishop and stake president are likely perpetrating abuse in about one out of every 250 wards.

[8]  The parable of the unjust steward appears in the same chapter (Matthew 18) as Jesus’ injunction that those who offend little children would do better to have a millstone wrapped around their neck and be dropped into the sea. I’m not enough of a scriptorian to know if that’s a coincidence, but, as a family violence scholar, it is both gratifying and deeply appropriate to see them side-by-side.

[9] This joke is problematic on *SO* many levels.


  1. “priesthood power” is not a scriptural phrase. in the scriptures above quoted, priesthood is equated with “authority” — authority to draw on the “powers of heaven”. It is not that power itself. Just like with the earlier historical gloss supposing that Boggs’ extermination order actually gave legal authority to harass and kill mormons, this understanding of priesthood is historically incorrect, even if believed by the majority of membership today

  2. Excellent breakdown of these concepts. This should be standard learning in th church. Looking forward to the rest of this series.

  3. Years ago I wrote a post about this problem, and I’m still not satisfied with my conclusion: “No matter what personal revelation a woman receives [re: abuse], until a woman finds a higher-ranking man to validate her conclusion, her testimony will not be recognized as true.”

    It’s so structural. And it deprives women of so much agency, to tell them they can’t say “amen to the priesthood of that man,” only a higher-ranking man they get permission from can say that.

    How do women spiritually override bad Priesthood leadership?

  4. stephenchardy says:

    Carolyn: I agree that this is a big and truly systemic problem. I have long spoken out for, and sought for, women to have equal standing in the church as men, including holding the highest priesthood offices. Stunning, right?, that I haven’t been heeded yet. I speak as a white heterosexual male, raised in Utah, and used to the privilege associated with all of that. I have been a bishop, and a bishop’s counselor, high council member, and have held other various callings. If I were a victim of abuse, I don’t think that I could say “amen” to “that person’s priesthood” (if the abuser were a priesthood holder or anyone for that matter.) Like you, I could not say “amen” to that person’s authority, but I would need a higher ranking man “validate my conclusion” as you put it. My bishop or stake president both have the authority (in many circumstances) to say “amen.” So, like you, I am at the mercy of other men to seek justice for abuse. As I see it, the big difference between you and me (and it is significant) is that I have some institutional standing: my own male-ness, white-ness, and mostly priesthood-ness and “church CV” to vouch for or give credibility to my accusation. I think that men in the church may show deference to each other for many reasons, one of which is that any male in my ward could become the bishop next week. You could argue that I will build a trusting relationship, just in case. I have no reason to believe that any woman in my ward might be bishop next week, or ever. So, I have clear-cut advantages, But like you I still can’t just go and say “amen” to anyone’s authority.

  5. Jennifer Roach says:

    I am super passionate about this topic – and have plenty of skin in the game. But something isnt right here. You say, “Also statistically speaking, both the bishop and stake president are likely perpetrating abuse in about one out of every 250 wards.” I want to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but I dont see how the math adds up. If there are roughly 14,000 wards in the US, then almost 60 of them would have to have BOTH a bishop AND a stake president are committing abuse. That seems super unlikely. I would believe you if you said “one or the other”…but the assertation that BOTH are doing so seems beyond what the actual statistics of abuse show.

  6. Holly Miller says:

    We often talk about ‘unrighteous dominion’ as if it’s the opposite of ‘righteous dominion.’ A quick scan through made it look like ‘unrighteous dominion’ is used to refer to interpersonal relationships while ‘righteous dominion’ is used in reference to good stewardship over the earth. Any thoughts? Do you believe there’s such a thing as righteous dominion in relationships? Is that what a good priesthood leader does at church? Or a good Dad/Mom with the children? A good husband with his wife? Vice versa? Or is ‘unrighteous dominion’ actually just ‘dominion,’ and not something that should ever be employed between people?

  7. @Jennifer—I will definitely edit that footnote to note that any statistics around perpetration of violence have very wide margins because it is *so* hard to measure (and rarely done); this margin is even wider because it assumes rates of abuse by bishops and stake presidents are similar to what we can estimate for other men (and then taking into account different rates of violence in different regions, rates of DV vs elder and child abuse vs sexual assault, etc). But the math is right. Using both the sparse existing data on perpetrators and extrapolating from the much better data on survivors, I estimate that about 14 out of 15 men are not perpetrating abuse, and one in 15 are. Estimating a similar rate among high councilmen, all three bishopric members and stake presidents, and estimating 7 units per stake, I did the math from there. One of every two stakes with an abusive stake president would likely have a ward where a bishop also perpetrated abuse.

    Of course (now I’m just geeking out, feel free to stop reading), the total population of stake presidents is relatively small — based on your post and my assumption, ~2000 in the US. So the margin of error on this estimate is particularly wide — the actual rate of wards with both an abusive Bishop and SP really rises and falls with the number of abusive SPs. So it may be more meaningful to note that one in two stakes with an abusive SP likely also has an award with an abusive bishop. Which, based on proportions from other research, could be in the ballpark of 60 in the US. Good catch.

    Of note — when I say “abusive SP,” I should clarify that I’m referring to domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and sexual assault. I’m not referring to ecclesiastical abuse like embezzling church funds — or even behaving inappropriately toward congregation members in any way at all. They may do great at fulfilling their calling. They may also be doing less well behind the scenes at caring for their family members.

  8. It’s heartbreaking to suggest this… But in my experience, the stats given in the op are a bit on the conservative side. I’ve never lived anywhere in which I haven’t recognized forms of abuse in either the Bishopric or Stake Presidency. Those personalities who pursue authority within a rigid hierarchy are prone to control and manipulate others. And if they don’t get their wishes directly will often use more passive forms of abuse to control.

  9. @Holly — from a research standpoint, I don’t have anything for you. From a personal standpoint, though… maybe there was a time when “dominion” didn’t mean “power and control over another entity to the exclusion of their needs and wants” but I don’t think that time is now. So any dominion between peers (person-person, country-country, institution-institution) is pretty much…not good. An argument could be made for governments or institutions to have righteous dominion (we exchange certain freedoms for certain privileges), mayyyyyyybe for parents in their non-peer capacity toward their children (though that’s a slippery slope), and that’s honestly a great descriptor for our relationship to the environment, which really can’t do anything to help itself. But yeah, even aside from its literal meaning it has connotations of coldness and cruelty and I’m not a fan.

    I think you’re right, though, it’s a real part of the confusing grey area between “presiding” and “co-presidents,” probably, based on how we use the words today, somewhere to the left of “presiding.”

  10. @Old Man — I’m sorry. I wish it weren’t so.

  11. James Gandolph says:

    In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I ask you to use the full name of the church, when someone is called we are asked to put our right arm to the square if we sustain them. Then we ask, any opposed? .And again we put our right arm to the square if we do not sustain them. Have I ever been in opposition? Rarely. But at the times I did oppose, they took it seriously, they listened and they considered what I had to say. However, when people are called, it’s not an election. When we sustain a church leader, we pledge to do what we can in our power to support them in their calling if needed. My father is the executive secretary and so when interviews are done. He sits outside the bishop’s room to make sure no abuse occurs. There is a system in place.

    It hurts a bit to hear that abuse has happened. But at the same time, it also hurts that false statistics to the point that women have no agency is unequivocally untrue. Women most certainly have agency. They can choose their spouse, there isn’t as much pressure for them to serve a mission as there is for men. women are encouraged to get an education. Furthermore, men and women are encouraged to work as equal partners.

    To quote the author, “Yet abuse is likely perpetrated by priesthood holders within every LDS stake. Statistically speaking, this likely includes both a member of the high council and a bishopric member in any given stake. [7] This can really complicate things for local leaders — bishops and stake presidents — who are the only ones authorized to hold a priesthood holder accountable for unrighteous dominion.”

    There are several issues with this passage. First, there is no official source for the statistic. even in the footnotes. Yourself is not a reputable source. However, if this is a source by The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC), then it’s more probable. Until then. it’s completely false and you should be ashamed for issuing false material. Second, “bishops and stake presidents [sic] are the only ones authorized to hold a priesthood holder accountable for unrighteous dominion.” Again. this is false. Within an organization, whether it be the presidency of Sunday School, Relief Society, High Priests, Elders Quorum. etc. They function to not only call teachers, plan lessons but they also plan for the benefit under them. If there is anything unscrupulous, it is discussed. It is then forwarded to the bishop for review. The presidency of the Relief Society has this power as well, all of them women I may add. So to say the bishop and stake president are the only ones again is untrue.

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I go to church because I’m not perfect. If I was perfect I wouldn’t need church. I wouldn’t need Jesus Christ. Can I say with surety that every ward is perfect and feelings are never hurt? No. However, I can say that if people are abused, they are encouraged to talk about it. Hitting a child is abuse for sure. Giving a child a lecture that they shouldn’t do certain stupid things because you care for their wellbeing is not abuse. As a teenager, I hated lectures. I thought I knew better. But as I grew older I realized that those lectures were to help me be a better person and to set an example. We should take abuse seriously. But is that mostly quantified by the fact that people are actually being physically and mentally harassed OR is it people being upset that they’re being corrected to follow commandments and they don’t like it?

  12. I’ve done a lot of thinking about that phrase “Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” It sounds dramatic, but in my opinion, the Church has created an organizational structure and culture that has effectively /de-canonized/ these verses in D&C Section 121. I say this because, when it comes to a priesthood holder’s unrighteous dominion, we have a /stated/ remedy, but, except in the case of the most obvious, egregious and notorious transgressions, there is no actual way to implement that remedy.

    As the saying goes, “for every right, there needs to be a remedy; and where there’s no remedy, there is no right.” We have general Church discipline procedures in place for bad acts, yes, but as the OP points out, our Church doesn’t actually facilitate implementation of anything to do with D&C 121’s sanctions negating abusive or malicious priesthood authority. Nothing to enforce governing in love and kindness, etc. Since there are no effective methods in force for a victim of unrighteous dominion to functionally say “Amen” (or even ask for an “Amen) to that man’s priesthood authority, there is no remedy. There is no “Amen.” It doesn’t actually exist.

    I truly wish that I was wrong.

  13. Jennifer Roach says:

    To further @Jame’s point…. Youth and child sexual abuse in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is less likely to happen due to some structural reasons. In a non-denominational church, for example, anyone can put themselves forward at any time to volunteer to work with children or youth. There may be a process they need to follow but almost no one will ever be turned away. In the very best case the church does a background check on them…..until you realize background checks are essentially pointless. (Most abuse is never reported – or is reported too late to ever end up on a background check.) So any pew-sitting member who wants to abuse children can easily do so quite soon after they walk through the door. The calling system of the LDS church is not able to week out 100% of predators, but an individual with intent to prey on children will find it much harder to be put in a position of trust where they could abuse teens or children.

  14. I was appalled by this BYU alumni magazine article actively promoting abusive relationships that fall clearly into your first example.

    The next time I was hit up for a donation, I explained that I could not and would not give any support to any institution that justified domestic and spiritual abuse. I don’t think it made any difference to either BYU or the Church, but I couldn’t do otherwise.

    @James Gandolph. My mother was an abused child. Her grandparents supported/excused the abuse. To the end of her life she made excuses about why what was done to her wasn’t so bad. You can say it’s different now, but I don’t see any reason to believe it.

  15. PSA: There are other posts that deal with abuse in ecclesiastical settings. This deals with abuse at home (statistics linked in post 1): the primary chorister forces his wife to sleep with him the day after she has surgery. The ward clerk who hits his son with a belt for leaving homework at school. The stake presidency counselor who siphons his mom’s social security money into a vacation fund.

    D&C 121:36-39 offers resonant doctrine against such abuse perpetrated by priesthood holders. Yet, compared to the church’s own high standards and Christ-centered exemplar, it faces a lot of structural barriers to implementing this doctrine as well as it would like.

    @Hunter: I definitely see where that worry comes from. My hope and faith is that the Amen is in there and just trapped by these structural barriers.

    @PWS: Wow. Sounds like the moral thing to do. Unfortunately.

  16. James Gandolph says:

    @PWS There was nothing in that article that promoted abusive relationships. Quote something in this article that does. If you can’t or give the excuse to me, “you’re a misogynist because you can’t see it,” then you inherited something. Someone who gives excuses and couldn’t get her facts straight. I’m being incredibly blunt here because most people who have something bad to say about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is because they’re disgruntled about something that happened to them. Their pride gets in the way, they feel justified, and they give facts without sources like this author here.

  17. Having worked with the statistics and individual experience since the 1980s, I’m tempted to jump in with what could turn into a book. I’ll leave it at this: coming from a place that believed the LDS world was different (better, less dangerous), because of its teachings and practices and structure, by the mid-1990s I felt disabused of that notion by too many close-at-hand experiences and stories. Since then, for 25 years now, I do not believe there is a basis for distinguishing the LDS world from the general population.

    On a different tack, are you going to address the donatism problem? Taking the “amen” seriously would put in question any number of sacraments and ordinances, under standard doctrine about the importance of priesthood authority.

  18. Geoff -Aus says:

    Amen means affirmation. In the context here I assume it means the end. For how long?

    In Australia abuse is a big issue. The Australian of the year Grace Thame was groomed by her maths teacher and repeatedly sexually assaulted when 15. In her state there was a law to protect victims of sexual assault from being identified, even with their consent. So her abuser could give interviews but she could not. She created a campaign “Let her speak” which got that law removed. Since she has been Australian of the year many other women have been going public, there have been marches, and work to make the country safer for women.
    One of the ideas that comes up in most discussions is that an imballance of power is creating an environment for abuse. The church creates an imballance for all women, and many men.

    The first time I had a TR interview with our present bishop he refused to ask the questions just kept asking questions for over an hour. He was fishing for something to prevent me getting a recommend. He did this twice, and then I went to the SP. He had been briefed by his father in law a previous bishop, which the handbook says is not OK. He has now been called as a councillor to a new SP.

  19. @PWS, thanks for the link to the article. I didn’t conclude as you did that it actively promoted abusive relationships. I think it highlighted a bad relationship, with a naïve faith-promoting anecdote of a woman following a bishop’s advice. I do think this is a terrible way for a magazine from a University to promote bad counseling. I think the evidence is pretty clear that bishops are not trained therapists and counselors and should not be dispensing marriage advice. Even if this couple were able to mend their problems, a bishop should not encourage a woman or a man to keep the family together outside of the context, which could include real abuse. And before any faithful members or apologists want to throw at me that the bishop is guided by the spirit, spare us all the innocent naivety. Bishop “roulette” is a real thing. Some men, irrespective of their calling, give good advice, some give terrible advice, and some are wise enough to know when to stay quiet and refer members to trained professionals. A huge problem with the church is a misplaced trust and reliance upon men called to authority positions. They are men, subject to weakness and mistakes as all of us. The calling does not change that.

    And beyond the topic of domestic abuses, or even ecclesiastical physical or sexual abuses, there is the general “abuse” of authority referenced in the scripture which can be manifest in diverse ways. Back to the BYU article, perhaps the husband abused his wife by forcing her to have four children in five years. And perhaps he was spiritually abused by being manipulated into believing he had to prove his righteousness to God and society through having many children in a short time period. I am not joking here. Many, many church members, men and women, have been indoctrinated into believing they must multiply, multiply, multiply to fulfill God’s plan. Is not that form of spiritual indoctrination a form of abuse? This is not to excuse or justify his behavior, but perhaps shed some light of understanding.

    Are any faithful church members willing to entertain the thought that just maybe even the apostles and prophets are subject to the same scriptural verses, that they are not immune from unrighteous dominion, and that they too have at times abused their authority? Are they beyond reproach? If they are untouchable, then the church really is a cult.

    @James Gandolph – Why get so preachy here? Over the years I have read posts and opinions here from extreme apologetic members, nuanced members, and ex-Mormons. I get it, we all bring different beliefs and experiences to the table. I too disagreed with @PWS conclusions. But I wouldn’t even begin to assume I understand her/his life experiences or experiences with the church to jump to some assertion of pride, being disgruntled, blah, blah, blah. Oh yeah, I guess I just judged you too. Yep. Silly me. By the way, I will call it the LDS church, or Mormon church, or the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or TSCJOJCOLDS, or simply the Church. Regardless of what Mr. Russel Nelson says, I can use any abbreviated form or commonly used nomenclature I choose.

    Preach away Brother, preach away!

  20. James Gandolph
    “Cora’s soft thoughts about divorce began early on, when Hugh decided unilaterally there would be no birth control and Cora subsequently bore four children in five years.”
    “For Cora and Hugh, unexpected counsel to Cora from their bishop had a profound effect. As their bishop was setting Cora apart for a new calling, he blessed her with “the courage and strength” to keep her family together.”
    Apparently Cora was the one who needed to change. At the very least that is excusing abuse.

  21. James Gandolph says:

    I would say when she got that blessing, I wouldn’t say that Cora needed to change. Perhaps she was praying because she was struggling. We unfortunately cannot control another’s actions. Perhaps the family was falling apart and Hugh, the way you describe it, did nothing. However, Cora wanted to keep the family together but was unsure how. Blessings are meant to give us strength and they’re sometimes not the answer we want to hear at first. I’ve been in those situations. In addition, when someone is given a calling, it can cause stress. “How can I have the time to care and be with my family and yet have this calling?” To quote scripture, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23

    Now here’s the next probing question, did Hugh ever receiving blessings or callings where advice was given? Yes or No.

  22. Sin is a very serious problem. Obsedsive compulsive behaviors over last and sexuality is a destructive force. Pornography is a plague affecting generations. Anger and outbursts of violence are tragedies that sow seeds of regeneration in the perpetrators and all too often the victims.

    Recognizing the heavy weight Christ freely bore, and his perfect willingness to plead for our forgiveness — for we know not what we do, is our only lasting hope.

    I’m not sure I follow the structural complaints over priesthood in these issues endemic to human nature, but I do agree it makes it all the more tragic.

    Men who hold the priesthood, indeed, all disciples of Christ need to look to him every week, and every day for a remission of their sins and truly strive to follow him.

    Study him. Study his prophets. Don’t excuse yourselves. Seek to follow him. No blame, just follow, receive mercy, and emulate.

  23. James Gandolph says:


    Honestly, if you don’t care what the prophet has counseled us to do, assuming you’re a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then you do experience some sort of pride. I have been asked by the prophet, who has been called of God to call the church by its full name. I ask that you respect that. To answer your question, everyone that is called of God is subject to being removed due to unrighteous dominion. We are promised that if our prophet were to lead the followers of Jesus Christ astray, he’d be removed. We believe in first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Second, Repentance, Third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. Fourth, laying on of hands for the Gift of Holy Ghost. Love thy neighbor as thyself. You are my neighbor. Everyone who has commented is my neighbor. It hurts that people have experienced hurt. It hurts when my neighbor falsely accuses leadership in the church without sources.

    If believing in a church that invites to come to Christ and that I can live with God again if I’m faithfully, and that Jesus Christ paid for my sins in His Atonement, be afforded Grace if I repent and try to change is being part of a cult? If this is all true, I want to be part of it. I’m a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nothing would be able to convince me to leave it. Because though people in the church are imperfect, the doctrine is. That’s good enough for me.

  24. Thank you for writing so well about this extremely important, serious, and timely topic. My dear [female] family member has endured a terrible abusive LDS husband who charmed many to believe he was a fabulous, “good man” and a “righteous priesthood holder”. He played his role in public rather brilliantly. But, behind closed doors, he was a monster. He controlled every decision that was made. He didn’t allow her to take birth control because HE wanted her to “multiply and replenish the earth” as soon as possible. He had some kind of a tracker on her phone so he could monitor everywhere she was at all times. He literally watched her movements by installing home security cameras. He controlled all the money, and the car, and where and when she worked. She was supposed to always get his “permission” if she wanted to have a friend or family member come over, and they were only supposed to come if HE was there. If he came home early and found someone there visiting with her, he was livid and abusive after they left… and on and on. He emotionally, verbally and sexually abused her, all while saying he was using his priesthood authority to “reprove at times with sharpness… as moved upon by the Holy Ghost … showing love after”. And every time after he abused her, if she was crying he would give her a priesthood blessing, by laying his hands on her head and commanding her in the name of Jesus to “hearken unto the council of your husband who hearkens unto My Voice, and only knows what’s best for you.”
    Despite all his mind games and snares, she was able to realize she was being abused, and she was not safe,, and courageously found a way to escape with her baby.

    She was demonized immediately by the husband who told wild tales about her, and rushed to their bishop, who fell for it! So, imagine while this poor woman was trying to get into hiding she was receiving a slew of demeaning texts from her abuser, and also started getting a slew of text messages from her bishop calling her to Repentance for “abandoning” her “good husband” and urging her to “return and work this out” and not to “forsake” her “temple marriage covenants”, or give her child a “broken home”.

    Note to bishops: DO NOT DO THIS!

    Needless to say, she has massive trust issues with men, and especially with the entire patriarchal system of our church that has created a playground for misogynistic, abusive men.

    She recently rallied her courage and tried going to a new ward, eager to worship again, find solace and friendship and support during this devastating time in her life as she tries to rebuild and begins to heal. Relief! The new ward seemed welcoming, and the bishop immediately offered some much needed financial assistance and a food order [which she did not ask for or expect]. But, wouldn’t you know it, the bishop started being creepy. Constantly texting her! He is wanting to know all the details of her life, and details about how her husband abused her and details she is not comfortable discussing. He wants to tell her which job HE “really thinks she should take” [the one HE found], and tells her HE’S found a “much better place” for her to live [near him], tells her what decisions HE “feels impressed” she should make about her future plans. In addition to all the constant texting he requires she meet with him weekly in person 1:1 to “monitor progress”.
    Note to bishop’s everywhere:
    So, now she is feeling panic, and does not feel safe even coming into the church for fear of being cornered by the bishop! And she’s feeling like she probably needs to block him on her phone but he’s her spiritual leader, and what if he gets mad and won’t sign her temple recommend, or won’t allow her to have a food order that’s he could really use?! What should she do?
    This man thinks it is his personal mission to “fix” her life using his divine authority as her priesthood leader.. What he is actually doing is becoming another male authoritarian trying to take away her autonomy, not respecting her boundaries, re-traumatizing her, and definitely being yet another man exercising unrighteous dominion!
    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    But wait.. it gets worse.
    She courageously decides to go meet with the stake president to tell him how uncomfortable she is with all of the bishop’s texts and questions. She wants so badly to keep the church in her life, but she feels so much anxiety now and feels so unsafe. She hopes the SP will understand and can help the situation. But, the SP immediately gaslights her. He says he is certain she is “overreacting”. He doubles down by saying “I know Bishop ____ . He is such a wonderful man who would never cause any harm. He’s just trying to help you. I am sure you have misinterpreted his efforts.”
    She bravely says “He could help me most right now by not texting me! It is causing me so much anxiety. I asked him to please stop. And Look, he immediately sent these 4 more long texts demanding more info from me, even after I asked him politely to stop.”
    The SP does not even grasp why she feels so traumatized. He tells her that she just “needs to trust” the bishop and “pray for the spirit” and also shames her by saying she “should really be more grateful” because the bishop was being “so generous” to offer financial assistance. She left this meeting with the SP feeling utterly devastated, and sobbed in her car for almost an hour before she could even drive home. She told me that of all the devestating things she is grieving losing – her temple marriage, her innocence, her dignity, her home, her safety, her physical and financial security … some of the worst pain right now is losing her trust in the church she loves, and feeling like the church she grew up in, served a mission for, gave everything to,, has always followed and believed in has betrayed her. When she sought refuge inside the walls of her church from a terrible, evil storm, when she needed the church most to be her harbor, she was thrown right back into the middle of a new, violent storm! She bravely verbalized that no matter what, she cannot allow anyone to take her voice away ever again, to demean or suppress her, or make her feel like she is incapable of receiving inspiration or making valid decisions. She owes it to herself and to her child to trust her intuition and protect herself. And so, she has been forced to acknowledge “the church is not a safe place for me.”

    I am completely shattered because I know she is absolutely, 100% right. It’s a terrible, ugly, unjust truth. I also know she’s not the only one who isn’t safe with the Church. Which begs the question. If the Church of Jesus Christ isn’t a safe harbor for the most vulnerable, how is it even Jesus’s Church?!There are tens of thousands weeping over this reality .

    If the Brethern REALLY care about why our people aren’t attending church, maybe they should stop trying to lecture or guilt us back and focus on making it SAFE for EVERYONE

  25. Latter-day Soprano, one thousand amens.

  26. Anyone who is offended by anyone else saying or writing Mormon or LDS, or Mormon church or LDS church should check their own spiritual confidence and emotional health. If anyone is offended by that it is on them. Prior prophets promoted the terms and I refuse to believe that Elohim or Jehovah are so petty as to even care. I admit that I do not respect Mr. Russel Nelson. His ridiculous diatribe and rebranding was definitely a variable in my awakening to him as a conceited mortal man with no authority to speak for God. That is on me. But I do care deeply for hundreds of dear family and friends whom I love deeply and have shared my life with in the church. My larger point is to throw off the shackles of prophet and priesthood adoration. From bishops to prophets, abuses have occurred because too many people were willing to look the other way and defer to authority.
    Oh I am most definitely prideful, and I admit it. I won’t feign some false humility, as to the likes of Mr. Nelson or Mr. Holland and the rest of their friends in power. Can you not see the hurt and abuse the leadership perpetuates?
    “We are promised that if our prophet were to lead the followers of Jesus Christ astray, he’d be removed.” Hmm… so is that why Joseph Smith was removed at such a young age? Was he leading the church astray into paths of forced polygamy and adultery, secret societies of elitist powerful men, rejection of civil authority, violent protests against the freedom of the press?
    Look, there are thousands upon thousands of good women and men in the church. I suspect there are thousands of great bishops, stake presidents, and mission presidents. But, I advocate for critical awareness and respect for truth, personal safety, and individual freedom and empowerment in the face of authoritarianism. Authority must be checked and challenged. No mortal authority is safe. I follow counsel when it is good and sound counsel, irrespective of the source. I would that all do the same.

  27. @Latter-day Soprano: That story is what everyone needs to hear and internalize. The Mormon church and culture of authoritarianism, deference to Priesthood leaders, guilt and shame, and compulsion to fix people is toxic, toxic, toxic. Thank you so much for sharing. We should all learn from other people’s pain.

  28. I’m not convinced, Christian. You may need to write that book after all. :D

  29. “The Mormon church and culture of authoritarianism, deference to Priesthood leaders, guilt and shame, and compulsion to fix people is toxic, toxic, toxic.”

    I agree–there can be some increased levels of toxicity at times. On the other hand, I’m of the opinion that a lot of folks who find it overly toxic are overly resistant to counsel. But receiving counsel–even when it comes to us imperfectly–is part and parcel of participation in the Kingdom–it goes with the territory.

  30. Counsel is not the issue. The issue is counsel from men masquerading as counsel from God. That is the point That is the problem. That is, as I read it, a lesson to be learned from D&C 121. Now, the next question, the real trick, is how to distinguish between God and men. Ah. The leaders tell you they have the answer. But, isn’t that part of the conundrum? To put your trust in man to tell you how to know of God? Hmmm.

  31. Thanks so much for this post, and for all of the comments. Since some of the comments elided over this, I just want to state it out clearly: controlling your spouses reproductive / medical decisions is abusive, full stop. Abuse is an excellent reason to end a marriage.

  32. Jennifer Roach says:

    Bishops are not therapists.
    But therapists are not Bishops – and can not do what Bishops do. I’m a licensed mental health therapist and love helping members of the church get tricky emotions and situations sorted out, but I can’t do what a Bishop can do.

  33. Let’s talk about the BYU article in some more detail:

    Reproductive coercion:

    Re: the BYU article, “Hugh decided unilaterally there would be no birth control…[Cora said] ‘I felt I didn’t have a voice in my marriage'” That is reproductive coercion. Reproductive coercion is abuse. It’s about power — who has, it, who doesn’t, and who faces greater risks of harm because of it. And its physical, financial and relationship consequences can be devastating. The article does not say much else about how this reproductive coercion affected Cora; however, she’s not the only woman in this situation. Let’s look at the research:

    Physical consequences: Using well-documented data around maternal health, women who have children within 18 months postpartum are at higher risk for miscarriage, infant or maternal death, and many, many other lasting adverse health consequences to the woman and her baby (among others, malnutrition, low birth weight and asthma for the baby; pre-eclampsia, pelvic floor disorders and more for the mother). See:

    Financial consequences: The more children a woman has, and the closer the births are together, the less able she is to retain or advance in her employment if she wants to. This not only reduces her financial independence in the immediate term, it also severely diminishes her future earning potential. Added to that, anecdotally, children are expensive, and the closer they are together, the higher the immediate financial burdens at each stage — eg., preschool for three children under the age of 5 is much harder on a family’s budget than if those same three children were to enroll in preschool one or two at a time. This makes preschool, daycare for a mom who would otherwise work, and enrichment activities less affordable and out-of-reach for families, and the burden of compensating for this, especially in traditional families, almost always falls on the woman.

    Emotional consequences: In the article, Cora did mention feeling “overwhelmed” by her parenting responsibilities, even though she loved being a mom. Are children overwhelming? Of course. Was her *level* of overwhelm something she chose? No. The intensity and mental health burden of raising children increases with the more children you have, and in traditional families, disproportionately skews to women for whom the physical, emotional and logistical demands of parenting are much greater. As a result, the decision of when to increase that burden *should* be the woman’s choice. Children can be isolating, even under ideal reproductive circumstances. The added physical complications of constant sickness in pregnancy or physical recovery from childbirth (not to mention the additional risks from short birth spacing), the added financial complications of forgoing supportive or enrichment activities, the added logistical complications of going *anywhere* — even grandma’s house — that increase the more kids you have — are very isolating. This isolation can be very, very damaging to mothers’ mental health, including concerns like anxiety, depression and more.

    Relationship consequences: The emotional, financial, logistical and physical consequences of reproductive coercion can ultimately damage a woman’s ability to participate in relationships with friends and family, and may reduce the amount these relationships are able to be a source of support for her and her children. It can also directly damage the relationship between her and her partner. For example, sex between partners becomes both less physically safe for her and possibly fear-inducing. In addition, as Cora described, women may feel resentment — or pain, or mistrust — for disproportionately or unilaterally bearing the consequences of the man’s unilateral decision.

    Reproductive coercion is abuse. It’s about power — who has it, who doesn’t, and who faces greater risks of harm because of it. The BYU article clearly described this, as well as describing efforts to help couples avoid divorce, even in situations of abuse.

    Mischaracterizing abuse as a relationship problem:

    The *other* problematic line in the BYU article was: “Hawkins believes there’s hope, even for those whose challenges might include the three As—adultery, addiction, or abuse”
    Abuse is not a relationship problem. It is the perpetrator’s problem. Domestic violence advocates recommend *against* couples counseling in cases of abuse, as it can very easily provide a forum to deepen and legitimate the perpetrator’s control over the survivor (often manipulated to that end by the perpetrator, as well). Many, many couples counselors, aware of this power dynamic, refuse to provide couples therapy to relationships experiencing domestic violence. See:

    Further reading:

    Click to access 12-Reasons-Why-Couples-DV.pdf

  34. @Latter-day Soprano. What a story. It sounds like your friend might still be going through this? I don’t know where she’s located or what resources she may have used, but, in addition to the national DV hotline above (and they can help you or her find local resources to her location), there’s a page for Utah-specific DV resources and — these services (available remotely) likely have some experience with the intersection of surviving abuse and LDS-specific concerns.

    In addition, if and when she’s ready for individual support through counseling, Psychology Today offers a great resource that lets you filter therapists by location, issue (e.g., domestic violence or abuse), religion, insurance and more. I set it to LDS abuse therapists in Utah just for an example:

  35. James Gandolph says:


    First, what hurt do they perpetuate? Is it the part where they say everyone struggles and if we turn to Jesus Christ it can be our Balm of Gilead? Or is it the part that we will be held accountable for our sins if we don’t repent an don’t try to do better?

    Second, if you thought it was rebranding, you’re sorely mistaken. It has always been called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Whenever you watch conference in big letters it says it’s by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Third, a diatribe is a moniker describing a list of complaints. To say our world is getting worse and must defend ourselves spiritually is not diatribe.

    Fourth, June 27, 1944 was martyred along with his brother Hyrum in the Carthage Jail by a mob with blackened faces so they could not be identified. If you read the Joseph Smith papers he writes of that commandment concerning plural marriage. He hated it. He did not want to follow it and sorrowed with his wife Emma. If I was commanded do something like that, I wouldn’t be sure if I could follow it. I don’t know how Israel put up with marrying four wives in Bible. However, if this is your argument why the prophet was removed, why did the practice continue until 1892 where a Manifesto inspired of the Lord to stop the practice was done? Yes, that’s in our history. We don’t practice it anymore and anyone who claims they’re one of us but practices it is immediately denounced.

    Fifth, you’ve contradicted yourself a lot you say you’re prideful and yet you seem to believe you have more experience and more common sense than someone who is in his 90s and still acts he’s in his prime. You cannot claim you can use any identifier and not respect the church. If you give other religions respect, I expect you do the same for me. I will not back down.

  36. I don’t have to respect anyone or anything. And nobody has to respect me. That’s just life.

    @James – You and I are worlds apart. Our disagreements aren’t going to be resolved on an internet blog site. I could go back and forth all day, point for point, and I suspect you could too. But that isn’t helping anyone. You can love JS and I can despise him. You can adore Nelson and I can ignore him. On, and on, and on. There is no argument to win.

    Good day everyone, go in peace, fight the good fight against abuse, wherever you see it.

  37. Latter-day Soprano, thank you for sharing that difficult situation here. And this line: “If the Church of Jesus Christ isn’t a safe harbor for the most vulnerable, how is it even Jesus’s Church?!”

  38. Earlier this week my wife was complaining about how all of the active Lds men that she has a lot of interaction with are push overs for their wives. Her father, my father, bothers, brothers in law, etc. She was saying how she’s disappointed with how never seem to push back against their wives decisions.

  39. James Gandolph says:

    @Tim If you can’t answer my questions as I have to yours then you are simply a coward. There is nothing wrong with disagreements. However, if you don’t have sound sources for those disagreements, they’re just petty

    @Laura. Thank you for your sources. I don’t deny abuse happens. However, I can tell you that just because a mother has a lot of children, they can’t have fun. I come from a big family. You are right it can cause financial strain. My dad used to be an air traffic controller and lost his job because he was given advice by his Branch President, the Church wasn’t large in New York and Long Island then, to not cross the picket line. It was difficult. He took on two jobs to show his family support. He did not miss one activity that my siblings, myself, and my mother were involved in. I verified this with siblings and they give me the same story, when he was not around I may add. My sisters because they were in big families wanted big families. My brothers-in-laws are respectful men and honored when they wanted to stop having children. Why? Because they talked about it.

    I get it. Some families aren’t like that, but that’s exactly the problem. Women don’t talk about their feelings directly to the “perpetrator.” Women are smart. They know if they are going to marry a scumbag or not. I suspect also as well that most couples before they get married talk about how many children they want to have. That is between them and God. It’s no one else’s business to pry into that person’s private life and the only ones they should tell it to is their therapist and the ones closest to them.

    In my honest personal opinion. people find fault with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because if they have a problem, they don’t discuss it immediately, they let it fester and thoughts bring certain things out of proportion. And in the case of women, they can’t handle the fact they have to be reliant on their husbands to make money.

    The fact of the matter is, women bear children. There will never be an instance where a man bares children. (A woman that makes themselves look like a man through surgery is still a woman. Period.) So best advice ladies, if you don’t want to marry a scumbag, you speak up and ask questions.

    I’m personally not married yet because I haven’t found the right one. I am picky. I pray about those decisions. I like headstrong women who know what they want and are willing to work hard for what they want. I like that independence. I like women who have a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. And I like women who are willing to talk about their feelings because I lack the ability to read social cues and will never be a mind reader.

  40. @James. I have to call this out: “Women are smart. They know if they are going to marry a scumbag or not.”

    No. They don’t. Maybe some, sometimes. But so many do not. And repeating that sentiment amounts to a form of victim blaming. Because the message it sends to women in abusive relationships is they should have been smart enough to figure out the man was trouble before they got married, but since they weren’t it’s their fault they’re being abused and now it’s too late to back out. ITS NOT THEIR FAULT AND ITS NEVER TOO LATE.

    And just to layer on here, a LOT of conservative / Muslim / evangelical / Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint women do not know the man is scum because their faith actively teaches them that too much emotional or physical intimacy (including living together) before marriage is a sin. And I’m sure Laura has the stats handy, but actually living together and starting having sex is a major major major relationship dynamic change and a lot of abuse which does not show up when dating, or in public spaces, or only together for limited times suddenly explodes when the couple is constantly in the privacy of a shared home.

  41. Laura, thanks so much for expanding on reproductive coercion. It’s not a form of abuse that is commonly discussed.

  42. Jennifer Roach says:

    @Latter-day Soprano and @Laura…Just a note on the Psychology Today website that Laura recommended. Therapists pay to be part of that service and being listed there only means a person paid a fee. (Full disclosure: you will find my listing on there too!) Nothing is verified by Psychology Today. In other words, you will find unlicensed therapists on there, under-qualified therapists, etc. Therapists who want to list their faith can do so, but just because someone lists LDS as their faith does not mean anything more than that they checked a box.

  43. NotThisTime says:

    “Some families aren’t like that, but that’s exactly the problem. Women don’t talk about their feelings directly to the “perpetrator.” Women are smart. They know if they are going to marry a scumbag or not. I suspect also as well that most couples before they get married talk about how many children they want to have.”

    This made me feel physically ill. I had a sister who went through a very similar situation to Laura’s friend (controlling, no birth control, mental/physical/financial abuse, Bishopric took husband’s side). I don’t understand how anyone can see this is a ‘talking’ problem. Do you really believe that if she’d just talked more, her husband wouldn’t have kept her pregnant, taken all her money, and isolated her from her family, friends, etc, all while she was having a mental breakdown (after the birth of child 4 in 5 years). “Perpetrators” (why is that in scare quotes, anyway, do you think these people really aren’t perpetrators?) don’t let their victims talk. Nor do they listen. But we can.

  44. Re: The BYU article: While there’s no question that certain behaviors and actions should be categorized as abuse–we should be careful not to assume that all instances of marital abuse should constitute grounds for divorce. With divine aid the couple (in the story) was able to salvage their unhappy marriage–which leads to my second point:

    We should be careful in how we pit the general against the specific–especially when the “specific” is a matter of revelation. While it may be true–by the best information that can be brought to bear on the subject–that the coercion exercised by the husband constitutes abuse it was not the will of heaven that they should divorce.

    So, IMO, let the article stand as an example of how difficult marriages may be salvaged–especially with divine aid. And if need be, let BYU produce a separate article having to do with the dangers of marital abuse.

  45. @Carolyn: Whew, yes. We’ll get into this in more detail in D&C 132, but yes:

    You can’t profile the “type” of guy who will be abusive. Abusive behavior cuts across class, race, religiosity, social status, anything else you can name. Abusers frequently put on a charming front to their partner and the rest of the world to get what they want. Anybody can crave power (or “dominion”). And anybody can look to their partner to take it.

    Complicating things further, the red flags of abuse are easily confused with passion, puppy love and devotion. Some women may know they’re entering a risky marriage or relationship (and they may have rational reasons for doing so, which we’ll discuss in a few weeks), but that in NO way represents the majority of women who enter marriages or relationships with a partner who abuses them.

    Case in point: Abuse very often starts after marriage – among sexually conservative and non-conservative couples alike. People are generally on their best behavior while dating, and it can be strategic for the perpetrator to wait until the survivor-to-be is legally bound to him before abusing them, as this makes it dramatically harder for them to get out (this also goes for elder and dependent adult abuse):

  46. @James: “Just because a mother has a lot of children, [doesn’t mean] they can’t have fun” – well…yeah. Whether they’ve experienced reproductive coercion or not, mothers generally love their children and enjoy them a good amount of the time (see Cora’s description in the BYU article about how much she loved being a mom).

    The problem with “reproductive coercion” isn’t the “reproduction.” The problem isn’t even the risks and complications that can come with having kids – as long as those risks and complications were the woman’s choice to take on. The problem in “reproductive coercion” is the “coercion” – the woman _doesn’t make the choice_ for which she bears the consequences. You describe that your sisters _chose_ to have their large families. That is wonderful — I’m so glad their reproductive agency was respected. No one should be forced to have a bigger or smaller family than they want. I’m glad their choices brought them joy.

    When you describe your sisters’ relationships vs “families [that] aren’t like that,” where women feel some amount of resentment when they “don’t talk about their feelings directly to” their partner – you’re describing a different type of marriage. You’re describing an unhealthy marriage, where one or both partners have low self-efficacy around meeting their own needs, whether independently or in collaboration. That can also lead to lots of fighting and resentment. And you’re right — communication and other relationship-building tools help with that.

    But that’s not abuse. Abuse is about power and control – who has it, who doesn’t, and who bears the consequences. When one person (“Taylor”) has the power and control, and the other person (“Drew”) bears the consequences, Taylor has no reason or need to listen to anything Drew says – due to the abuse in their relationship, it’s Drew who will bear the consequences.

  47. @Jennifer and @Latter-day Soprano: Sure. Here’s a more detailed step-by-step on how I usually recommend people find a therapist:

    Finding a good fit with a therapist isn’t a given; you want to put in a little bit of time to find one that has the best chance of really being able to help you. And once you start working with a therapist, it’s always okay to change:

    1a. Psychology Today is a really good resource because it lets you filter and narrow down what you’re looking for by gender, issue, insurance, religion, and all sorts of things. I’m not aware of any other resource that does this. It’s also pretty user-friendly. If you start there and pick your filters, you’ll get a list of therapists.

    1b. Your insurance should also have a list of all therapists they cover in your area. This is usually harder to navigate, but therapists on it are a _bit_ more vetted for their credentials (not for their quality or fit with you) you can definitely use it if you prefer.

    Once you have your list:

    3. First, look at their credentials (this will be done for you if you look at an insurance list). Something with an “L” in front (like LMFT and LCSW) will generally be pretty reliable, because that means they are licensed and held to a particular set of professional standards and practice ethics. Depending on the situation (clinical mental illness, domestic violence), there are specific specializations that can also be really good (e.g., PsyD).

    4. Second, read their profile (this will probably not be available on an insurance list). Does this sound like the kind of person you think you might click with?

    5. Google/Yelp the ones that look like they might be a good fit and, where possible, read the reviews.

    6. Schedule a call. Most therapists will do a brief (usually 10-30 minute) get-to-know-you for free, so you can feel out if they will be a good fit.

    7. When you think you’ve found one that will be a good fit, schedule an appointment.

    For abuse survivors, this is an especially good idea, because it gives them agency and empowerment over the process.

  48. @Christian – Yeah, that’s a problem. The church’s approach seems to be to say that the validity of an ordinance, priesthood blessing, etc., is valid as long as the person performing it has been ordained (whether or not he is worthy) and the faith of the person receiving it is pure. it just accrues as sin on the unworthy person doing the ordinance/priesthood blessing. Basically as described here:

    This raises a *number* of different questions, and I would suspect connects to the reasons @Hunter feels this section has been effectively de-canonized (@Hunter, feel free to chime in). However, this is the way I’ve seen it play out, Alma holding the priesthood does provide a pretty reasonable rationale (though the apostasy happening because all the priesthood holders became wicked doesn’t quite), and I don’t know that there’s a different approach that doesn’t lead to absolute chaos.

    Also, thanks for expanding my vocabulary. Now I know what “donatism” means :-)

  49. Therapyisgoodforyou says:

    Psychology Today does verify license and credentials. In Utah a victim of domestic violence can qualify for free therapy. Volunteers of America and Family Counseling Center are two non profit agencies that can assist domestic violence victims with therapy and resources.
    Section 121 states that “it is the nature and disposition of ALMOST ALL men” to exercise unrighteousness dominion when given a LITTLE BIT of power. This should cause all of us to pause a recognize this scripture is suggesting that abuse of power is the norm not the exception. We need to listen to victims and help them instead of defending institutional power that favors men.

  50. Jennifer Roach says:

    @Therapyisgoodforyou…PT allows unlicensed clinicians to pay to be listed there. I know this because while I was working as a pre-licensed clinician I paid to be listed there. It’s a great site in a lot of ways- and this is such a side conversation to the main point – but people who are unlicensed clinicians can and do pay to get listed there. Would-be customers should just be aware.

  51. @Jennifer: Sure. I think that’s important to clarify from the outset, though, because there’s a big difference between pre-licensed (in training, etc) and unlicensed clinicians.

    Pre-licensed clinicians are in formal training programs and their clinical care is offered under licensed supervision — like medical residents in exam rooms. It’s generally as safe as licensed care, and I know many clients who have received exceptional care from pre-licensed (in-training) clinicians. Your mileage may vary, of course, but it’s valid care.

    Unlicensed (rather than pre-licensed) implies some amount of unethical misrepresentation. Like if the life coach in my ward could pay to be listed on Psychology Today — even though she’s presumably good at her job — that would be misrepresentation of credentials she doesn’t have (and isn’t training to receive, and isn’t supervised by) and deeeeeeply unethical.

    @Therapyisgoodforyou — thanks for chiming in with those resources. And good to know about DV survivors qualifying for free therapy in Utah. What a great policy.

  52. 1. The Donatism question is interesting because it forces us to be explicit about the nature and limits of priesthood authority. I won’t waste folks’ time here with much explanation, but I think there are ways to resolve the problem without creating chaos. The short of it is that is that priesthood is nothing more (and nothing less) than a way to make God part of our community. Priesthood has meaning only in the context of our relationships with each other and with God. It is a means of sanctifying what we do together in pursuit of the sacred. When we acknowledge priesthood authority, we commit to creating a community that aspires to God’s way of living. Read in this way, the end of Section 121 is a description of what our community should be like. Whatever power priesthood authority has is actuated by our love for each other. We can isolate ourselves by “unrighteous dominion,” but we can’t nullify the effects of love.

    I know that this is not the way many of us usually talk about priesthood. But we ought to! I think the single most important LDS teaching about the nature of priesthood is in Section 121: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood.” That is a bedrock principle for me in my church experience. It is a solid principle to teach those who struggle with overreaching priesthood leaders, because it is both scriptural and true.

    2. Obviously, Laura’s excellent advice on how to choose a therapist is not workable as a guide to choosing a bishop. However, when I seek help from a bishop my basic assumption should be the same as when I seek help from a therapist: I am responsible for my own choices, and I must not surrender that responsibility to someone else, no matter how much I might want to.

    I am even responsible for evaluating whether the pastoral relationship or the therapeutic relationship is helpful to me. That’s a difficult and complicated principle, but there is no other way to get to the other side. A competent therapist understands that principle and helps clients embrace it. Unfortunately, many bishops don’t understand it, and as a result they are limited in their ability to help.

  53. Loursat,

    The complete passage you quote reads:

    41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

    42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

    43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

    44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

    So there is power and influence that can be maintained by virtue of the priesthood–so long as it is done in a Christlike manner. Indeed, if it is not done in a Christlike manner then there is no power in it as the priesthood is an order that seeks to imitate the Savior–and is therefore only operative when he is satisfied that our emulation of him is acceptable.

    Re: Bishops vs Therapists. It’s true that Bishops typically do not have the training of a professional counsellor. And so, in those instances when a Bishop feels ill equipped to provide the help that only a trained clinician can offer he should not hesitate–as a general rule–to encourage those within his stewardship to seek help from a professional.

    That said, as much as I (personally) appreciate the dedicated service of those therapists with whom I’ve had the privilege of working–because of my own mental illness–I have had powerful experiences with my priesthood leaders that have helped me in ways that I could never have experienced with a professional. The bishop has a peculiar set of priesthood keys in his possession–and when he utilizes them in righteousness they are powerful beyond anything that the world has to offer.

  54. I finally got around to reading this post and I’m glad I did. The 3rd comment, Carolyn’s, from yesterday (at 10:29am October 15,) had this link (below) to her post from Feb 2018 where she wrote about the thorny problem of all-male groups administrating for women survivors of abuse, and I clicked it to review her take:

    How do women spiritually override bad Priesthood leadership?

    Her take can be summarized by this single sentence from the post:
    “ No matter what personal revelation a woman receives, until a woman finds a higher-ranking man to validate her conclusion, her testimony will not be recognized as true. “

    Imagine my surprise when I skimmed through the comments and found some of my own. I had forgotten. The biggest surprise to me was that I had the mental energy to organize my thoughts and write them coherently. The next biggest was that, at that time, I was (still!) pretty clueless about covert abuse. February 2018 was in the before times when burnout wasn’t my daily burden, and faith, hope & charity were easy and plentiful. It’s very difficult to overcome the effects of abuse when you cannot recognize it. The church (and the world also) is full of covert abuse and the abusers range from small-time occasional perps to full-blown narcissistic masked liars. Not everyone is an abuser, but it is unbelievably common. Also unbelievably common is that most people perpetrating abuse think they’re doing a righteous act, and completely miss the terrible impact of their actions. My use of the term ‘unbelievably’ is quite intentional. Most of the time, abuse survivors’ reports are held to be suspect and not taken seriously without outside corroboration. (“It’s he-said, she-said; whaddya gonna do?”)

    Here’s a few things, when a narcissistic manipulative liar is the primary abuser involved, that are abusive:
    Gaslighting is abusive.
    Repeated gaslighting is aggravated abuse and equivalent to stonewalling.
    Stonewalling is abusive.
    Supporting an abuser and ignoring their survivor(s) is abusive.
    Counseling an abused person to work on their relationship with their abuser is abusive x 1000.
    Not believing a survivor is abusive.
    Surviving abuse of this kind can be compared to the trauma level and CPSTD that are found among victims of violent sexual assault.

    Many of the comments here can perpetuate abuse to a survivor.

    Among church leaders we have a terrible track record of understanding the problem enough to help survivors. Even survivors will misunderstand and then internalize guilt that is not theirs to bear. Overt abusers are hard enough to detect, but covert abusers (the ones who only use non-physical means to control their victims, and groom the rest of the people in their life) are masterful at appearances. They are good guys in so many ways, except for being entitled manipulative liars to the survivor(s). However, a trained investigator can interview a survivor and their abuser and determination satisfactory credibility. How many priesthood leaders are trained in this? Zero.

    I have precious little to offer this discussion. Some of you don’t need my advice, and some won’t accept it, but what I have said is valid, and if you don’t think so, perhaps some self reflection and a hubris check might help you.
    Humility and humiliation are very different things. If you want to learn more, you have to start listening to victims and survivors.

    At any rate, administrative fairness, justice, and mercy won’t happen without some women, who understand this, in authority.

  55. Laura and Loursat, I think it would be a threadjack here but I’d love to see a separate discussion about priesthood authority and power. There are several threads (disclosure: I have written about and explored several of them). One way it plays back into the project here is that (in my opinion) generations of incorrect doctrine and thinking about priesthood authority have contributed to LDS priesthood holders having an unhealthy view of their importance. A false self-importance can cause or aggravate domestic violence.

  56. MDearest,

    Do I still need a hubris check if I only disagree with half of what you say?

    The half that I agree with is: we’ve got a lot of work to do in the church.

    The half that I disagree with is: your overestimation of how bad things really are.

  57. Does MDearest need a higher-ranking man to validate her conclusion, Jack? Apparently she does, which kinda proves her point.

    Don’t try to tell her that her experiences aren’t real, or that things aren’t that bad.

  58. I’m struggling with finding a way to say this clearly. I’m hoping this will communicate what I’m trying to say.
    Understanding and then believing what someone else is saying is difficult if it doesn’t match with my own experience. Understanding someone else’s experiences requires me to be able to put myself in the other’s person’s experiences. If I don’t have any comparable experiences, that can be hard!
    If I am someone who fits the expectations for my society, I likely don’t have many experiences that make it easy to understand what that society is like for those who don’t fit those expectations. I quite simply don’t face the same challenges. Understanding their lives and experiences will require some hard work on my part.
    Women and girls have a very different life in Mormon culture than do men and boys. (Mormon used deliberately to differentiate culture from the gospel.) It can be hard for men to understand what those differences mean in women’s lives because they truly don’t have women’s experiences. Mormon culture works for men in ways that it does not work for women. Recognizing that reality does not necessarily mean we are questioning the gospel. Mormon culture is not identical to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    If I have a hard time believing that someone else’s experiences can be real, maybe I ought to take a look at my willingness to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; yea, and willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things.”

  59. Ardis,

    I don’t think MDearest was talking so much about her lived experience as she was trying to lay out the problems of abuse in general terms. I would never suggest to anyone who is an abuse survivor that their pain and suffering is not as real as difficult as they say it is.

    Maybe, I’ve misread MDearest’s comment–and if so I apologize. But I don’t think it’s wrong to have differing opinions on a subject when it is set forth in conceptual terms–especially when it sheds negative light on the church without the support of any robust documentation.

  60. Jack, you’re making a lot of comments here, which I suppose might be okay if that’s what you need to do. (I’m not one of the people in charge of this site, so if the owners disagree with me about that, then so be it.) However, you need to understand that it’s hard to take you seriously when you fire off so many comments that show a failure to read and think about the things you’re commenting on. It’s just not believable that a reasonably sensitive reader could miss the personal nature of MDearest’s comment after taking even a moment to reflect on it. You might do better here if you would take more care.

  61. Well, I admit I’m a rather staunch social conservative. And so I’m going to come at these problems with a different mindset than many of the commenters here at BCC. So that’s probably the biggest reason for my seeming disconnect with the theme of this thread. I just disagree with what some folks are saying–and I don’t think it’s solely because I don’t know enough about the subject–though I’m certainly willing to be wrong.

  62. Yes Jack, let’s blame it all on your political ideology.

    The problem is that most of us (in the church) have never fully thought through the ramifications of power and authority within the church. Speaking politically, Americans instinctively limit power or authority. But the minute Latter-day Saints walk through the church doors we become so hierarchal that those without power and authority are simply ignored. Adults who are educated professionals suddenly feel the need to ask for permission on trivial things. They behave like children. And in doing so we set up those with power to abuse that power.

    Women, children, introverted individuals, any person who does not fit the traditional LDS mold… is a target.

    There is another tragedy I see… Those with power recognize, build up and mentor those with whom they share a common connection. That is why in one stake, over half of ward bishoprics and stake leaders were accountants or small business owners. The Stake President was a CPA. Voila, a gospel based on accountancy! No one else need apply! The same thing occurs regarding race, culture, sex, political affiliation, social class, etc. When regular human beings are granted power, they rarely delegate that power out to lift everyone. The build the Utopia of their dreams, which frequently turns into a purgatory for everyone else.

    We are a long ways from Zion!

  63. Old Man,

    Come now, brother. My sociopolitical ideology is a reflection of me–not the other way around. I’m willing to be considered a Neanderthal because of my views. I take full responsibility for what I believe.

    As I’ve stated above–we’ve got some work to do in the church–we’re not perfect. Even so, you’re view of the church’s operations vis-a-vis the priesthood is a bit too cynical for my tastes. The church is better than that–much better. And there are a lot of people who feel the same way as I do about the church–I’m not a one-man band.

  64. Well, Jack, I tried. I pointed out that you have a serious problem with mischaracterizing what you read here, and you responded with more of the same nonsense. Being politically conservative does not turn a person into an incompetent reader, so that can’t be the reason for your behavior. It seems increasingly likely that you’re trolling. I will stop feeding the troll. Apologies to everyone for my mistake.

  65. I try to be a staunch disciple of Christ. Sometimes that calls for social conservatism, sometimes it calls for Christ’s flaming radicalism. Sometimes I’m inattentive and oblivious to what’s called for in my discipleship. It’s a gift when someone points me toward a hubris check, especially if they do it gently.

    I was pretty clear that I was speaking from my own experience, but didn’t see anything remotely useful for me or the readers here, to parade painful details before the court of public opinion. I know of many women who share similar experiences, and for that reason alone, I think it’s suitable to talk about it in general terms. As well, general terms are also more useful for someone doing a hubris check on themself.

    Robust documentation is not my job, though all of my claims about behaviors that are abusive are supported by research that I have investigated for my personal gain. For those who wish to educate themselves, re-read the OP with a different attitude, or follow the link to Carolyn’s post of February 2018. She’s an intelligent writer and has clearly delineated the issues, none of which have changed in the past 3 years. Or review both— Carolyn and Laura both teach the same lesson about the unfixable problems of male-only priesthood authority, each from different perspectives. Or ask women you may know irl who can trust you to believe them. They’ll help educate you. Just see that you don’t exacerbate any trauma they may share with you.

  66. Loursat,

    I simply stated that I disagree with some of what has been said here. Why is that nonsense?

    I can certainly be playful at times but I’m not a troll. I’m deeply concerned with how some folks–in my opinion–mischaracterize the church–and at times I’ll chime in if for no other reason than to remind folks that you can’t get away with saying some rather outlandish things about an organization that is beloved by so many without expecting some pushback.


    I’m sorry if I’ve misread your comment. Even so, it seems to me that after you touch on your personal difficulties — and I’m truly sorry for the burdens you carry — that you present a scenario that paints the church in quite a negative light. And so while you are not obligated to provide documentation on the subject I have every right to object to what I believe is a faulty characterization (on your part) of the church vis-a-vis the topic at hand.

    All of that said, what I’d really like to do is end by agreeing to disagree–with the clear understanding that folks like me are bound to chime in when they feel that the church has been unfairly judged–even by well meaning people (such as the folks on this thread).

  67. So, what exactly does “Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” actually mean? Does it mean that Heaven no longer recognizes ordinances performed by him? Has he lost all authority in the sight of God, permanently or temporarily, regardless of lack of church court action. We usually think of amen as signifying “so be it”. Okay, so, so be what? Does it happen immediately at physical abuse? or verbal abuse? I assume it is repentable, but since amen is the final word in ratifying prayers and ordinances there certainly is an element of closure associated with it.

    I really don’t fully understand the phrase, but I find it seriously scary. Any thoughts by anyone?

  68. NotThisTime says:

    “I’m deeply concerned with how some folks–in my opinion–mischaracterize the church.”

    It is a very hard truth for me that many, many members take this approach. We are talking about people’s lived experiences, but because they don’t match your lived experience mine are invalid, wrong, mischaracterizing. Why can’t they just be different because people are different and their situations are different?

  69. NotThisTime,

    I’m not talking about individual cases. Of course we should have the utmost sympathy towards all who have suffered from abuse. Even so, what I think tends to happen because of the sensitivity of this particular issue is that we make assumptions about the institutional practices of the church that go beyond what the real facts on the ground indicate.

    I think we put the cart before the horse sometimes by assuming that the are cases of abuse in the church because of its institutional structure rather than the fact that it (the church) is populated by fallen beings. Now that’s not to say that everything is perfect as it is–no. We need to make adjustments and continue to find ways to better protect members from damaging influences.

    That said, what doesn’t sit well with me is the idea that unless sweeping changes are made–or better yet–because sweeping changes are *not* being made in favor of a few concerned members that the Lord’s anointed are incompetent–or just plain out of touch with reality. IMHO, that’s looking beyond that mark. We need to trust that the Lord knows what he’s doing–and that he isn’t going to allow a system to be put in place that fosters rampant abuse in his Kingdom.

  70. Jack, you are not only mischaracterizing the comments of others, their motives, their devotions, but also of the church itself, pedestaling it beyond recognition. Please for the sake of all of those you are so abusing, stop it. Of course we will push back when you do so to those we love here and the church we love as well.

  71. The way I read verses 41-42 is that true power and personal influence cannot not be maintained because of the priesthood. Rather, personal influence comes about by persuasion, gentleness, love, kindness, etc. Christlike attributes lead to true influence, not authority. As a corollary, personal influence can be had by anyone regardless of priesthood office or lack thereof.

    Unfortunately institutional influence is a different story, and as the OP points out this ties into how misbehavior is handled sometimes less than ideally.

    Verse 39 is a sobering reminder that almost all of us over-use authority and under-use persuasion, gentleness, love, kindness, etc. Hence coercion and abuse.

    As defense against the pernicious line “I’m the priesthood holder so what I say goes” that the OP brought up, maybe we could all memorize verses 41-42 and quote them to each other often ;-)

  72. This topic is so important. I learned a lot from both the OP and many of the comments. Thank you. I want you to know that I hear you and I believe you when you say these experiences happened to you.

    Jack: Nobody here is talking theoretically. Everyone is sharing their lived experience. Here’s the thing. We will always have bad people with us, there’s just no getting around it. The scriptures make that clear. Yes, the bad people that commit these abuses are part of the problem. But the real problem is good people doing nothing. Good people, like yourself, essentially telling victims you don’t believe them, calling victims liars, justifying bad behavior so that victims are afraid to come forward. I invite you to start believing people when they share their stories. If victims were believed, then people would be held accountable for their actions. That is how things get better.

    Under your way of thinking, where we discount victims and keep reminding everyone how wonderful church is, how do things get better?

    Let’s start putting people before institutions.

  73. Brian and Chadwick,

    I’m trying to be done here–but I guess I’m stuck in my own rabbit hole.

    Let me just state for the record: I have acknowledged that abuse happens in the church; that abuse survivors deserve our utmost sympathy; that we need to continue to make improvements within the church in order to protect its members from abuse; that bishops are not equipped with the skills of professional counsellors; etc.

    And let me further acknowledge that I know the pain and suffering and destruction that abuse causes in the lives of those who’ve been crushed by it. Without going into the details–let me just say that it has had a devastating effect on my own life. So when I say, I know, I really mean it.

    Even so, the central idea that I’ve tried to convey — and I’m sorry if I haven’t made myself clear — is that in spite of the problems I’ve acknowledged within the church–it is a far better organization than some commenters on this thread make it out to be. The stories of members who have found solace and healing within its institutional framework as it currently stands — just within the last year — would fill a tome the size of a telephone book.

  74. @christian, Loursat and larryco — really interesting comments; I think we’re all looking at the same question. Loursat, that’s a really interesting approach to a non-chaotic solution. Like the salt of the earth — the priesthood is to provide savor, not flavor. If we incorporate a little bit into our ordinances and rituals it invites God in and lets us savor God’s presence among us. If it’s the center around which all the other ingredients of our ordinances and rituals revolve…we get into some trouble.

    So in that case, yeah. Any degree of unrighteous dominion, selfishness, etc., would invalidate a man’s priesthood authority. Literally any at all. But he would have to interfere with God’s love being made manifest through the ordinance in order to invalidate the ordinance itself.

    Still a whole lot to untangle there, but a really interesting start. We will pick this thread back up.

  75. NotThisTime says:

    Jack – I don’t think anyone is trying to argue that the church is lacking in benefits, spiritual support, and healing. It’s not a zero-sum game here. I bet each of us that have had terrible experiences at church have also have deeply inspirational, connect-to-diety, fully supported moments as well.

    It’s just that this thread isn’t about the amazing moments. It’s about something very serious that isn’t working and by not working is actively causing harm to some people. Your comments then come off as agreeing that there are those harmed but with lots of caveats, (but… even so… that said…) as if the injuries don’t matter and nothing should change because some people are only having the positive experiences.

    I’m hoping this isn’t what you are intending, but it is how you are coming off.

  76. [mod] – We’ve reached the law of diminishing comments on this thread, so I’m going to shut them off. Tune in later this week for Laura’s next installment!

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