Many years ago, in the verdant fields above their remote little mountain hamlet, two brothers were caught in the very act of stealing sheep. Since the livelihood of most of the villagers depended upon these flocks, the offense of sheep stealing was considered a very serious one. The law of their village decreed that the punishment for stealing sheep was to be branded in the forehead with the letters, “S T”, for “Sheep Thief”. Judgement was passed and the punishment was affixed upon both of these young men.

The older brother, unwilling to face the shame, and angry at the injustice of such a harsh punishment for one as young as he, left town and wandered from place to place for many years.

The younger brother decided to remain in the village. He lived with the truth of what he had done, openly displayed there on his forehead, for all to see and all to judge, as they so chose. As for himself, this young man decided to live as sincerely and honestly as he could from then on. Else what positive use would that constant reminder of his past dishonesty be to him?

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Whether or not the meaning of the letters was ever deduced by those around the older brother, we can only guess. But what is true is that over time, this brother became a resentful, angry and very bitter old man. One who excused his own unworthy acts and dishonesties, small or great. He justified himself in the face of what he ever viewed as the pride-blind and hateful condemnation of others. He was one who believed, to his dying day, that his punishment had been greater than he could bear, for ’twas unjust and overdone.

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The younger brother also grew old, there in the village. Like his brother, he too never married or had children, due to the mark on his forehead. But he lived each day the best that he knew how. Reviling not again against his revilers, but serving, loving and caring in what simple ways he could; ministering from day to day, shepherding his fellow men within the village.

One day a stranger came to town, and noticed an old man with a odd marking on his head, sitting on a bench outside the inn, gently laughing with a small group of village children. The stranger asked a villager what those letters on the old man’s forehead meant. S T. What could that mean? S T.

The villager looked over at the old man and, scratching his head, thought back for a moment. Hadn’t his parents said something about it? He could not recall it now. But what he could remember was all that he himself had known of the man. So, he turned to the stranger and replied, “I cannot rightly recall for sure, but knowing him to be a kind and trustworthy man, it can only mean Saint.”

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Epilogue

And then, sometimes, there is the THIRD kind of brother. Who is a little bit of both, and still hopes and struggles and works so that the sainted side will overcome the bitter side.

A THIRD brother who understands that even though THE LORD has fixed what was broken and filled in the cracks in his kintsukuroi style, THAT kind of brokenness, hurt and pain should not have to happen to another person. Especially not to an already sincerely penitent, openly confessing person, and absolutely not if they are young, with “miles to go before they sleep.

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A THIRD brother who recognizes that broken laws merit punishment… but questions the current policies which allow unlimited power put on  and near-blind trust expected of members toward those sitting at the local and stake level judgement benches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because this THIRD brother knows by personal experience that things can go very, very wrong not only on the individual’s side, but also on the Church representative’s side of the desk; and understands some of the reasons why that is.

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A THIRD brother who wonders if anyone else discerns that there is a difference between righteous judgment and unrighteous judgment… a difference between charitable, corrective discipline – determined in a unfeigned loving conversation and genuinely unified counsel together – and crushingly malicious punishment whose angry and vengeful intent, if it were possible, is not just to harm the penitent confessor but to utterly ruin and destroy him. A THIRD brother who wonders how those “Jericho Road” leaders (foolish virgins who operate within their own agendas yet in the name of the Church) are viewed by the Brethren. Because nothing seems to change. I mean, who’s REALLY the SHEEP THIEF?!

A THIRD brother who wonders how the unknowing, unprepared, trusting victims of Jericho Road LDS Leaders are viewed by the Brethren, whom she loves and still trusts. Please don’t tell me, like everyone else has told me, that I have to have “the humility to let go of old hurts and habits.” That my resentment of the long-standing, continued and repeated male ecclesiastical abuses in the name of Priesthood is my problem and not a Priesthood problem. That I have to leave the prayer circle so that, unbelievably, my grinning abusers and the Spirit of the Lord can remain in it. That I have to bear it, over and over and over again. Never to have my voice heard, never to be adamantly defended and never have the protection I was taught to expect; the righteous judgement and righteous justice I thought was part and parcel of the power of the Priesthood. Which is, that within the Haven that the Church purports itself to be, that I might have the separation and release of myself and my posterity and all other innocents within the Church from the obligation of forced association with the incalcitrant, incorrigible, proud and proven-to-be-false priests who know Him not and never will.  There was just one condition I asked for, the only one I felt I had a right to ask, when my ex-husband asked for reinstatement. It was that he let go of all claims upon my children and finally, finally leave us alone. My stake president told me I could not ask for that. Instead, I was told that this was my problem. My lack of forgiveness. My not being “in the mercy business”. If there is a millstone around the neck of Latter-day Saint men today, and I believe there is, that millstone is labeled Mercy. Better said, unconditional and unmerited Mercy, having not met the demands affixed thereunto, including those of Justice. Thus making the sacrifice of our Lord into a mockery and farce.

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So my now fully reinstated, temple-veil-worker abuser walks the decks of the Good Ship Zion. He has not left me or my children alone. He has continued to wreak as much harm and havoc as he can (Matthew 7:16), continuing to commit spiritual, emotional, mental, financial and legal abuse upon me. I no longer have any recourse at all within the Church, now that he’s “back in good standing”. One of my children has now lost all faith and confidence in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, even to the point of not believing in God anymore. I attribute much of this directly to my abuser’s deliberate choice to break the Court order in our Judgement of Divorce that he be allowed no electronic contact. Instead, he surreptitiously provided my son a device, and, cloak-and-dagger style, taught him how to lie. By these means, my abuser seduced away my boy within the sanctity of my own hometaking away the heart of my son in a crucial moment of his adolescent development. Gleefully, maliciously, removing him from the parents who truly loved him and had Willard’s best interest at heart: Jeff and I. This is exactly what I feared would happen. When that evil and designing person was manipulating his way through the Church Discipline system, playing all men involved like his own personal chess game, all for the sake of his reinstatement, I warned them all that he had planned this whole process and was insincere. It was for the welfare and protection of my children, and others like us that I did so. I knew my abuser would prey upon us and others in the future. So I pleaded that my abuser not ever be reinstated… but if that he had to be reinstated, that it wouldn’t be until after both of my children, my pearls of great price, were adults. But I was ignored. So were his other Latter-day Saint former wives. And not one of my ecclesiastical abusers has ever valued my eternal joy and happiness enough to care, and DO SOMETHING TRULY EFFICACIOUS, let alone “literally [kneel] in front of me, [begging forgiveness] and talked to [me] heart to heart.”

Where Your Heart Is

A self-portrait my son took, shortly before he left.

A THIRD brother who has only found peace in concluding that, in the end, she and others like her must just be viewed as the friendly- fire, collateral damage for the Church’s much-touted feature of having a lay ministry. Because obviously nothing is being done, and nothing has been being done for decades. A THIRD brother who wonders why the loss of even one soul – whom we have been taught is of such of great worth to God – could ever be acceptable to the 15 men sitting in the top presiding priesthood Councils of the Church. A THIRD brother who knows what Jesus of Nazareth thought about all these things, because he taught them during his lifetime.

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And so, that THIRD brother, having already been through the branding, but having been healed by Another’s stripes, DARES these Judges to try and find a reason to do that to me again for speaking out and saying ENOUGH with the unlimited, unencumbered powers of forehead branding given to judges who, too many times, have not cultivated the constant influence of the Spirit enough to overcome what they lack in vetting, training,   counseling experience and ultimate external monitoring and accountability . (Samuel 16:17, Isaiah 58:5-12, Micah 6:7-8).

Let’s do this thing some other way. Like maybe the way it used to be done. My last hope, at this point, is knowing that President Russell M. Nelson is the father of many daughters, NINE of them… and, frankly, knowing what a phenomenal woman stands by his side in the powerhouse personage of Wendy L Watson Nelson.

I found this quote by Brigham Young:

“Confess your faults to the individuals that you ought to confess them to, and proclaim them not on the housetops. Be careful that you wrong not yourselves. Do you not know that if a good person is guilty of committing a crime he thinks that everybody knows it, and is ready to confess here, and there, and everywhere he has an opportunity?

I do not want to know anything about the sins of this people, at least no more than I am obliged to. If persons lose confidence in themselves, it takes away the strength, faith and confidence that others have in them; it leaves a space that we call weakness.

[STEWARDSHIP OVER YOURSELF]
If you have committed a sin that no other person on the earth knows of, and which harms no other one, you have done a wrong and sinned against your God, but keep that within your own bosom, and seek to God and confess there, and get pardon for your sin.

[STEWARDSHIP AT THE FAMILY LEVEL]
If children have sinned against their parents, or husbands against their wives, or wives against their husbands, let them confess their faults one to another and forgive each other, and there let the confession stop; and then let them ask pardon from their God.

[VARIOUS AND LARGER STEWARDSHIPS OUTSIDE THE HOME]
Confess your sins to whoever you have sinned against, and let it stop there. If you have committed a sin against the community, confess to them. If you have sinned in your family, confess there. Confess your sins, iniquities, and follies, where that confession belongs, and learn to classify your actions.

[BE DISCREET]
Suppose that the people were to get up here and confess their sins, it would destroy many innocent persons. Does Texas know about it? No, nor you about one another, if you will be wise and confess your wrongs where they ought to be confessed, and keep the knowledge of them from every person it ought to be kept from.

[DON’T HAND LUCIFER MORE ARROWS THAN HE ALREADY HAS]
In this way you will have strength against the enemy, who would otherwise buffet you and say, “Here is your wickedness made manifest,” and would overcome you and destroy all the confidence you have in yourselves and in your God.

[CONCENTRATE ON BUILDING YOUR OWN RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD]
If the Lord has confidence in you, preserve it, and take a course to produce more. If the Lord had a people on the earth that He had perfect confidence in, there is not a blessing in the eternities of our God, that they could bear in the flesh, that He would not pour out upon them. Tongue cannot tell the blessings the Lord has for a people who have proved themselves before Him.

That we may have confidence in Him, and He in us, let us take a course to create it, that He may open the heavens and pour upon us the blessings and power of the Holy Ghost.”

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I wish the precious principles that President Young taught here, that are matched in the book, You Are Special, by Max Lucado were still taught in the Church.  

For if it were, I believe we wouldn’t be where we are now,
with people feeling compelled to retell their abuse stories
out of desperation to enact change.
Because their original cases were, apparently,
neither confessed properly,
considered carefully
nor heard and responded to correctly
in the first place.

Just how did we turn into something which, at first glance,
could be likened unto
a cash-indemnities-based (i.e. upon condition of paying tithes)
clerical confessional system?

 

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Bless me, father, for I have sinned

What a hot mess.

#protectldschildren
protectldschildren.org

 

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Stone, I will not carry you

What if… just what if… the thing that Jesus was writing in the sand was the name of the man who had schemed beforehand… who had deliberately seduced and entrapped the woman for his own use and purposes … one of them being so that he and his brethren, in their secret combinations… could use her as fodder to bring before the Christ… in order to entrap him and then accuse him of unrighteousness?

To which the Savior essentially responded, through his finger upon the sand, as he had once done before, through his prophet, Samuel: “Thou art the man.”

 


 

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