Not my Baby

This April, you won’t see us blessing our daughter in a church. Her father won’t hold her up, Lion King-style, in front of an admiring audience as I sit silently in the back pew. This decision makes us atypical among our Mormon friends. But I simply don’t like the message that the typical baby blessing projects—that Jang, as the head of our household, is the only one worthy enough to bless and present our baby before the congregation.

Let me just tell you how our family works; there is no head of the household.  Jang and I approach religious worship as we do all other aspects of our marriage—as equals.  That’s not to say there’s no division of duties; I recently became—gulp!—a stay-at-home mom.  Thus, by default, I get to make many of the day-to-day decisions on raising our kids. Jang is the “breadwinner” and full-time working parent.  So, although he asks my opinion on many work-related things, he does not consult with me on most decisions about how to run his law firm. It’s not because we necessarily believe in proscribed gender roles; this division of duties, for us, is about what is practical.

But excluding mothers from participating in baby blessings serves no practical purpose.  It is only about division, about demonstrating the “proper” priesthood order that governs the Church today.  In doing so, I believe the Church undermines women’s roles in creating and raising that baby; some would see it as another example of how women are marginalized in the Church today.

Let me tell you the thoughts that go through my head when I think about letting my daughter be blessed in the traditional way. For nine months, I suffered intense bouts of nausea, terrible acid reflux and exhaustion, before laboring to bring her into this world.  Since then, I’ve been her constant companion.  Often, mine is the first face she sees in the morning and the last one before she sleeps at night. In my divine role as her mother, I’m responsible for her nurturing, care and safety. Yet, on the day when she is recognized by my Church, and given a name and a blessing, I’m essentially nothing to her; I don’t even have the standing to be able to bring her before my fellow members and say, “Look! Here is my daughter.”  Nope; I’m just another face in the crowd.  Any adult Melchizedek priesthood holder, although a stranger to her, can participate in this blessing circle. But not me.

View More: http://kayla-brooke.pass.us/ava

I had the traditional baby blessing with my first child. I won’t apologize for this decision; my husband and I wanted to include our new ward in the blessing, because of their many kindnesses to us. Before the blessing, I remember asking the Bishop if I could record it, so that my son could later listen to his father’s words. That request was met with such a firm (if kind) no, I didn’t dare ask if I could participate in the blessing circle. Later, I regretted my choice.  I now firmly believe that there is no justification for prohibiting me, or any other woman, from participating in blessing her child.

The thing is, my ideas about revelation and blessings have come a long way since first blessing our son almost three years ago. I know now that every person, whether a priesthood holder or not, has the right to ask for (even promise) blessings upon their family. I’ve discarded the image of my husband as being the head of our family and the primary source of God’s revelation for us. As my children’s mother and primary caregiver, I know their spirits and personalities more intimately than anyone. And while I emphatically believe in the sacredness of priesthood blessings, and I believe my husband will receive revelation to guide our children’s future lives, I also know I can too.

And so, we’ve made a decision; this time around, we won’t bless our baby in a church. Her father won’t carry her ceremoniously up to the mount of revelation, leaving me behind with the masses. In this at least, I will not be a second-class participant in my children’s religious lives. Not only will I hold her during the blessing, I may even say a few words about my baby as well. Because, if I speak, it will be as a mother who prays over her children constantly, and who has already called down numerous blessings from Heavenly Father for her small family. Asking God for revelation and blessings, particularly concerning my children, is something I am entitled to do as a mother, without regard for any institution (religious or otherwise) on this earth. And so, if I choose to speak, I have no doubt the Spirit can be with me, as well as my husband, to give us direction for her future life. I don’t need for it to be officially recognized by the Church for the words to proceed from God. In conducting the blessing this way, I do not feel I’m undermining my husband’s priesthood authority; I hope I am complementing it.

I hope the blessing can be an opportunity for our family to establish healthy interactions, not only with the Mormon church, but with one another as well.  With this decision, I want to show my children that their father and I are equals before God, both at home and at Church.  And since that equality is not apparent in the blessings that take place in Church today, our daughter’s will take place where it belongs—in our home.

And I’m recording the entire thing, darn it.

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64 thoughts on “Not my Baby”

  1. Jackie!

    Your sweet little girl is darling! I like reading your blog you are an excellent writer. Over the past months I have read a lot of different posts like this on Facebook, Instagram and blogs of course. I respect you and Jang a lot. You are some of the smartest people we know. If you ever have time to sit down and chat I would love to. I feel that what I believe seems to differ so much from what you believe and for some reason I know that can’t be true.

    1. Kami, Good to hear from you! It’s been too long since we’ve seen you, so of course we should get together and chat. I don’t mean to undermine anyone’s experiences in Church, especially yours. I think it’s amazing how we can each interact with the Church in very different ways, but still believe in the same Gospel. I don’t believe I have the best or only perspective on our religion, just the one that works for me. 😉 Text me and we’ll find a day to meet up- I have to see your adorable Hudson in person!

  2. So beautiful. Nothing more power than a mothers love. Thank you for your beautiful perspective. The priesthood power should be divine and powerful enough to complement a blessing- not distract it. And it will be sad that this idea of mothers love will be faced with oppression and opposition by people who feel threatened by such a pure feeling and love.

  3. As I read through your post, I confess I perceived a significant number of statements/assertions/arguments that are based on what I am convinced to be false assumptions. But given that I presently lack sufficient motivation to address what I feel to be your perceptual and logical errors, I will merely pose a pair of questions to you:

    1) How do you plan on dealing with the reality that the Church will not officially sanction the blessing of your daughter, and that therefore she will not be entered into the records of the Church?

    2) When your children reach the age to qualify for baptism, do you intend to also apply to that ordinance the same logic you have put forth in this blog post?

    1. Thank you for asking me these questions; I appreciate that, even if you disagree with my point of view, you are respectful in asking for clarification. My main assertion is that I believe baby blessings, as currently conducted by the Church, send a message to my children that I’m not equal to their father– to bless them, to receive revelation for them, and to present them before the Church. I would say I am equal to their father in all three respects. I’m not saying anything I say during the blessing ceremony would be recognized by the LDS Church as an ordinance- and since a member of the bishopric will be present, and my husband will perform a baby blessing as well, I don’t think we’ll have any problems having his portion being recognized by the Church. When it comes to their baptisms, at this point I haven’t decided on what I will do; it will have to be their decision, but I know I’d like for them to be baptized in the LDS Church.

      1. Jackie, Francesca raises an interesting concern that makes me want to know more. Does your logic about baby blessings apply equally to priesthood ordinances, like baptism? If so, will you hold a baptismal ceremony at your home to show your son your efforts to baptize him are equally as valid as Jang’s?

        I’ve been having related discussions with another friend involving the priesthood. How do you view Jesus–prejudicial and sexist?

        Taking the texts of the Bible and Book of Mormon as true and accurate enough accounts, was Jesus showing invidious discrimination against women by never once ordaining them to the priesthood?

        Did Jesus establish an organization from the outset that suffers from the flaws you appear to be pointing out in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

    2. Although Im not the mother here I’d like to take a stab and answering these questions (with your permission Jackie)
      There is a false statement in your first question that ” the Church will not officially sanction the blessing of your daughter, and that therefore she will not be entered into the records of the Church”. So long as the family has permission from the Bishop and a member of the bishopric witnesses the blessing the clerk will enter and create a record for the child. Heck, even if three other MP holding witnesses who are not in the bishopric certify the ordinance, it’s valid. I know of may families that have performed the naming ordinance either at home, in hospital when the child is born ill, or even at another location altogether. Do not confuse “the unwritten order of things” with the Gospel or even Church policy.
      Secondly, both parents have a much more (though not totally) equal part in a baptism ceremony. The father may do the actual baptism but the rest of the meeting involves a lot more of the family as important players. I imagine this is why fewer mothers seem to be concerned about the patriachal overbearance in this ceremony than in the males-only, no-external input process for namings.

  4. In our ward they always h a v e the mom stand after the blessing to be recognized. And they mention how important mothers are in bringing up these beautiful children.

    1. That is a wonderful sign of appreciation Louisa; I’ve seen that done, and not done, for the mothers. I was briefly recognized with my first baby’s blessing as well. In the future, though, I’d just like to take a more active role.

  5. I came across this post on FB and absolutely love it. If I could do my daughter’s blessing over again I would do it exactly as you describe. Good for following the Spirit and doing what is best for you and your family.

    I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the history of baby blessings and the procedure has changed time and time again (at one point, parents weren’t even involved in the blessing at all). I believe the way baby blessings are done now is simply a product of culture and tradition, not how it should be or how God wants it to be. Too many people are simply content to go with the flow and not question whether the current practice is best for mothers, fathers, and families. Again, I admire your decision.

    Charla Willian, friend in Indiana

    1. I loved your comments Charla. I agree, I think the way we do baby blessings now almost solely reflects our culture, and not any doctrinally proscribed way of conducting the blessing. I know baby blessings are briefly mentioned in D&C 20:70; would you mind sending me links/info for your readings on the history? I’d love to learn more about the development of baby blessings! jball368@gmail.com

    2. She is NOT following the spirit. Heavenly Father would not tell her to disobey the way he has organized the gospel here on earth. Our Heavenly Father would never tell his daughters they are not valuable since they don’t hold the Priesthood. These feelings come from Satan. He wants women to feel like they are not equal and not valuable. We all have different roles to fulfill here on earth. This does not mean one is more important than the other. Our roles are complementary to each other.

  6. AMEN! I felt the very same way with our children. So…when the Bishop told us “NO” for every child – I wanted to hold them and I wanted it recorded. Weeelllll…we bypassed the Sacrament meeting thang and totally blessed all 4 of our children at home, in my arms, and we recorded every single one. It is a shame that the corporation church hinders a mother’s views and input. The main problem is…no one really even notices the gender inequality.

    1. Oh Liz,, I wish I’d done what you did from the very first! Kudos to you for realizing so early that you wanted to be a more active participant, and for standing up for yourself!

    2. We don’t notice a gender inequality because we don’t believe there is one! We accept the way that Christ organized the gospel here on earth.

  7. Jackie, while other members of the Church on Facebook are applauding your choice to not have Jang and other Melchizedek Priesthood holders bless your beautiful daughter I am left scratching my head.

    How do you reconcile the fact that D&C 20:70 instructs “Every member of the church of Christ having children…to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name” and the accompanying direction of the Church to have only Melchizedek Priesthood holders participate in that blessing against your choice to forego the blessing? Is it that you reject the scripture/ direction from the brethren? Or do you feel that it is misinterpreted? Misapplied? Outdated?

    And by posting your choices in your blog, do you hope to encourage debate, discussion or influence behavior? None of the above?? These are honest questions that arise as I read through your blog.

    To be direct, as we lawyers are, it seems to me that what you are teaching your children is that it is ok to selectively obey scripture and official direction from church leaders. The naming and blessing of children is the mind and will of the Lord as reveled through the Doctrine and Covenants and our living prophet who is the only man authorized to speak on behalf of the Lord as to the ordinances of Christ’s church. I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Doctrine and Covenants and of our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Thus, I follow the direction given by those two sources for divine revelation and have blessed each of my children in church.

    I gather from your post that you are replacing a revealed priesthood ordinance, with one of your own making, which is dangerous territory, in my opinion.

    I hope my comments are not too harsh or accusatory as Jang is one of my dearest friends.

    1. I’m sorry if that’s what I projected Sam- I do appreciate your directness. You’re not harsh at all. Jang is blessing our daughter with the bishopric present, so I don’t foresee any problems with it being recognized as official. I just wanted the privilege to hold my daughter and, if motivated by the Spirit, to speak a few words as well. I know the Church wouldn’t count anything I say as an ordinance. So I don’t see any conflict with the scriptures or prophets. Baby blessings are regularly done at home, and since we don’t want to cause any conflict with our local ward, we’ve chosen to have Ava’s at home as well. We can all still be friends, right? 🙂

      1. Thanks for your response Jackie. So, Jang is blessing your daughter with other priesthood holders but you are holding your daughter during the blessing? Has your Bishop given permission for you to hold your daughter in the circle during the blessing? And are you contemplating the pronouncement of a blessing on your daughter during or after Jang’s priesthood blessing?

        Again, what I see to be the danger in all of this is that the Church has provided a direction (i.e. blessing your child at Church with only Priesthood holders) and you are refusing to comply in the manner instructed (i.e. insisting on holding your daughter during the blessing and reserving a right to say something in connection with the blessing). And what appears to be your motivation for what I will call “modified compliance” is your resentment of the directive that excludes you from participating in the blessing.

        As addressed in your previous blog regarding apostasy, your public expression of your refusal to comply with the directives of the Church, even when couched in terms of “discussion” constitutes dangerous territory, because the implication or outright accusation of your post is that the Church got it wrong.

        Your premise, as expressed in your post, for not participating is that you: (1) are not allowed to bring your daughter before the congregation for the informal presentment; and (2) you are not allowed to say anything at your daughter’s blessing.

        As to the first point, there is no reason you cannot be the one who holds up your daughter “Lion King Style” (After all Rafiki wasn’t even Simba’s parent), or be the one who carries your daughter to the front of the congregation to hand her off to Jang, and most importantly, the “presentment” idea has nothing to do with the ordinance and is of no import.

        The second point is the most troubling because this is a priesthood issue. Jang will pronounce a blessing by the authority of the priesthood he holds. He too will not have an opportunity to “say anything” in the informal sense. So, your disagreement appears to lie with the “priesthood blessing” portion of the ordinance – as it is the only thing said during the ordinance. You do not hold the priesthood and therefore cannot pronounce a blessing during a priesthood ordinance. However, that does not preclude you from blessing your children or being a spiritual guide. The fact that you do not hold the priesthood does not make you anything less than Jang’s equal, nor should it. A man who honors his priesthood is a man who honors the equality of his wife.

        And of course we will be friends! As lawyers, if we could not be friends with people with whom we openly disagree, we would have no friends at all! By the way, l love the name Ava and I happen to be partial to half Korean/ half Caucasian kids.

      2. In regards to Sam Lockhart’s reply I would suggest that 1. Sam has no business to tell this family what to do because he has no position of authority over them
        2. he consider the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law – is there an actual church policy (not cultural tendency) that says women cannot hold their babies during a blessing? Men stand in a circle around people in a chair all the time. Why cannot the mother be in a chair and hold the baby while it is blessed? Any reason whatsoever other than convention by men?
        3. Comments like his are patriarchal in nature and speak to the cultural policing prevalent in the church. If I didn’t know any better I would say that opinions such as his tend to draw people away rather than bring them closer together.

      3. Kevin:

        In reply to your suggested reply :). Surely I have not told Jackie’s family what to do. Nowhere in my comments is there a directive to Jackie. However, inasmuch as Jackie expressed her ideas in a public forum that invites public discourse on the subject, I am sharing my opinion on the matter, albeit dissenting in nature.

        As to your second point regarding Jackie sitting in the circle and holding Ava, Handbook 2 specifies in section 20.2.2, “When blessing a baby, Mechizedek Preisthood holders gather in a circle and PLACE THEIR HANDS UNDER THE BABY.” [emphasis added] (I apologize for the all caps – it was the only way I could add the emphasis, i.e. no bold or italics avail.). It would appear from the plain language of section 20.2.2 that it would be impossible for Jackie to hold Ava while the brethren also placed their hands under Ava, unless she too were placing her hands under Ava as the surrounding priesthood holders. So, no, I do not believe that the mother’s exclusion from sitting in the circle is the “convention of men” unless you are referring to the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12. However, as you will note from my comment, I inquired as to whether she obtained approval from her Bishop. I do not purport to speak on behalf of the Church or to have any authority over Jackie and her family as that role is fulfilled by her Bishop and it is to him to whom she should go for direction and clarification as to the issues she raises in her post.

        I am not sure what you mean by my comments being “patriarchal in nature.” So, I can only guess that you mean that I am being misogynistic in some way. I assure you I am not. My wife is in every way my equal and not just because I say it is so. She respects me as the patriarch and I her as the matriarch, and we strive to give strict heed to the counsel of the messengers of the Lord. I hope that my comments do not drive anyone from the Church. In all sincerity I believe them to be consistent with the revealed word of the Lord.

      4. Thanks for your comments Kevin and Sam. I love being able to discuss these topics, so thank you for doing so openly and respectfully. I did not ask the Bishop for permission to conduct the baby blessing in this way, because I don’t believe I need it. I’m not interfering with the ordinance in any way, and I won’t include my comments as part of the ordinance. While the Church Handbook 20.2.2 is a valid instruction, I don’t interpret it as prohibiting women from holding their infants. Only an outright proscription (“women may not hold their infants during the blessing”) would convince me of that. I’ve heard of women holding their infants (at home blessings), I assume with the bishopric present. So the Handbook is interpreted both ways, with regard to women holding their infants. And, to Kevin’s point, I believe the entire baby blessing ceremony (not the blessing itself) is probably the convention of men- all the D&C provides for is that the infant be brought “unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.” A pretty bare-bones description, if you ask me; and the Church has filled in the gaps over the years until we have the baby blessings observed in churches today. This likely (although I do not know) arose out of a desire for uniformity- and the blessing outlined in the Handbook likely reflects these cultural beliefs (and not necessarily a revelation). I do not think the way we do things now, with baby blessings, is doctrinal or binding on me or my family. In fact, I believe there are many practices in the Church today that have arisen out of custom, even convenience, and therefore failing to rigidly adhere to them (e.g., not having the traditional baby blessing) is not a sign of disobedience or sinfulness- it’s just making a custom work within my belief system and values. I know that if we want the ordinance to be recognized by the Church, the handbook specifies it must be performed by a Melchizedek priesthood holder, who must say certain words, and in the presence of a member of the bishopric. We’ll be sure to adhere to these conventions, but I don’t feel I’m disregarding any divine counsel or acting solely out of resentment when I modify the ceremony (not the words of the actual blessing) so that I can be a more equal participant. I don’t feel I’m taking upon myself any special priesthood role or making the ordinance invalid in doing so. And, to be honest, I’m pretty excited to be able to record this moment, with a mother and father blessing their child in different, but complementary ways, for Ava to look back on in the future! Thank you for continuing to ask me questions about this, Sam, I’m glad you gave me a chance to clarify my views, instead of assuming what my thoughts and feelings were. Like I said, I love being able to have open and honest discussions about the Church and all its parts.

      5. Jackie- Thank you for your reply as it clarifies your position. I think I now understand your distinction – scripture vs. Handbook 2. It appears that you accept certain portions of Handbook 2 as “requirements” and other parts of it as a reflection of cultural norms and convenience. However, how do you decipher between the two? Handbook 1 & 2 are at the very least guidance from our priesthood leaders whose counsel we are called upon to follow. So, it logically follows that we should be obedient to those things outlined in the Handbooks.

        More to the point, you said that if the instruction were proscriptive, i.e. saying you can’t hold Ava during the blessing, then you would comply. Of course, it is unreasonable to assume that administrative handbooks can address each scenario with such specificity. In other words, it would be impossible for the handbook to say, mothers can’t hold their child during the blessing, little brothers can’t hold their siblings during blessings, you can’t bless twins as the same time, etc. Instead they can provide general rules and parameters that address the bevy of scenarios such as the ones I started to list above. Handbook 2 section 20.2.1 titled “General Guidelines” does just that by stating after quoting D&C 20:70, lest there be any confusion, “In conformity with this revelation, only Melchizedek Priesthood holders may participate in naming and blessing children.” In your response to my comments you stated that you are looking to be “a more equal participant.” In my mind, the foregoing instruction is as proscriptive as it gets. You are looking to participate, which is specifically prohibited. And any doubts regarding a Church sanctioned event, such as naming and blessing a child pursuant to D&C 20:70 should be resolved by your priesthood leader, i.e. the Bishop.

        Of course, non Church sanctioned blessings or ordinances are another subject entirely.

        Again, thank you for your thoughtful responses.

      6. Sam, thank you for listening to my explanations. It may seem like parsing words, but the reason why (in a conflict between my principles and Church procedure) I feel I don’t have to adhere strictly to the Church Handbook is doctrine v. procedure. Doctrine should be followed because it arises out of binding revelation; procedures do not always have to be followed because they arise out of convenience, custom, etc. Much, if not all, of Handbook 2 does not qualify as doctrine. To help me understand this, I found the Church’s recent explanation of what constitutes doctrine to be very helpful: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine. So, the principle I’m following here is this: I want to show my children I am an equally respected participant in their religious lives. If my principle conflicts with the practice (which may or may not be supported by the Handbook) of mothers not holding their children during baby blessings, I’ll stick to my principles and either 1) hold my baby anyway during the blessing, or 2) not have a baby blessing at all–and still feel like I’m being obedient to my faith. Now, if, as you believe, Handbook section 20.2.1 prohibits women from participating in the ceremony by holding their baby, I would rather not have a baby blessing than be barred from participating. Because the Handbook has been modified over the years to address questions of procedure, such as this, I think it is reasonable to expect the Church would, if needed, clarify the language of that section to emphasize women cannot hold their babies during blessings.

        Jang and I are still working out the details of how we’ll conduct the blessing. The actual blessing, to be recognized by the Church, must be performed in a prescribed manner. Since I’m not sure that prescribed manner would bar me from holding my child, I think I’ll just hold the baby and see if the bishopric objects. Anything that follows before or after the blessing is fair game, and outside of the purview of Church authority, and so I’ll probably say a few words then.

      7. Jackie- I have enjoyed our exchange and thank you for your continued replies. What has been most interesting to me is the number of women who feel slighted by the naming and blessing process. It is a shame that any ordinance or blessing in the Church would make someone feel left out. Though, I do not think that acting in what I perceive to be contravention to the process will reconcile those feelings or convey the right message to Ava. Instead, when it comes to ordinances and blessings where your Bishop presides I think it is best to counsel with your Bishop to resolve your concerns of being left out. I do not believe Ava will look down on you or consider you to be less than Jang because you did not participate in the naming and blessing process in the way you describe. Instead, I think the take away for Ava is how wonderful it is to have a father who is a worthy priesthood holder pronounce a blessing on her by the power and authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood and a mother who supported her father in exercising his priesthood – much in the same way that Jang supported you during your difficult pregnancy. Just as you described in your previous post, you are equals fulfilling different roles, but who support one another in fulfilling those, sometimes exclusive, roles.

        In any event, you have a beautiful family and I wish we lived close enough to see you guys in person!

  8. Amen, amen, and amen! Thank you for writing this post. I’ve never read your posts before, I was linked her by the ordain women Facebook page, and I am glad I was! Thank you for so clearly explaining what I have known to be true for a long time. As I was reading this, the spirit testified to me that right now, up in Heaven, our Heavenly Mother (praise Her name forever) was raising her fist in solidarity and saying “preach daughter, preach!” I know Heavenly Mother will bless you for your courage and faith to stand up to the Man.

    I completely agree that you are justified in wanting to be acknowledged for the life you created before God and his Church. It is so sexist that women are completely forgotten in this process. It reminds me of how Heavenly Mother played a critical role in our creation (Her children), and when it came time for God to tell the world the story of creation-HE DIDN’T EVEN MENTION HER! In fact, He’s never mentioned Her, EVER! I mean, we only know about Her because we are in- tune enough for the spirit to teach us those truths. It kind of blows me away how sexist the whole plan seems to be.

    So hopefully your words will inspire all of us women, including our Heavenly Mother to play more of an active role! Perhaps during the next round of creation our Heavenly Mother will stand up for what you and I know to be right (according to our current, short-sighted, socio-political beliefs) and compel our sexist Father to be mentioned in the scriptures, and perhaps play a more visible role, so that true equality will prevail. Or better yet, perhaps when you become a heavenly mother, you can rule, and your husband can be the silent partner, and you could choose a daughter to play Christ’s role instead of a man. Then, maybe women will finally be equal to men.

    Thank you again for affirming what the spirit has been telling me for years. Your story of being forgotten, even though you did all of the work is so true of our Heavenly Mother also. May our Mother bless you and your family with her Priesthood forever.

    1. Thank you tommy! I’ve always wondered, like so many, why the scriptures are silent about our Heavenly Mother. The fact that they’re similarly mute about most female contributions makes me think it is a reflection of the writers’ biases and culture. I know so little about her, but I’m making it the study of my life to learn all that I can. I’m glad there are people like you who ask these questions too. Bless you.

      1. Thanks for responding. You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about Heavenly mother, and how she is not mentioned at all, and I find myself with a dilemma. If it truly is oppressive and sexist (i.e. eternally wrong) that our Eternal mother is not even mentioned once in any scripture- Why would God let that happen? Unless He himself is a big sexist? (In which case, I don’t want to believe in him.) I mean, I know the bible is prone to error- But if I truly believe in the restoration of all things- Then Heavenly Mother most certainly would be mentioned in our time, in the fullness of times, Right? But she’s not….Why would God let culture and bias hide such a critical eternal truth?

        It seems that if I carry my logic through, if Heavenly Mother exists, and the reason she is not mentioned is because of bias, culture, and ultimately oppression…then I don’t think I can believe in the God who lets that happen. I mean, it’s one thing that God let’s bad things happen, but this is something more, this is an eternal cover up, a conspiracy that God has either passively or actively allowed to be perpetuated since the beginning of time. And ultimately this whole notion of God and Priesthood is a fraud. It doesn’t add up. It doesn’t compute.

        But maybe not. Maybe if I alter my perspective, try to remove my own bias, I can see the other side of the coin that says if Heavenly Mother exists, and I really do believe in revelation and the restoration of all things, and I exercise my faith in God, perhaps she is not mentioned for specific reasons that I am yet to understand?… Then, Maybe God isn’t a sexist after all? Maybe I’m just a selfish fool who trusts Kate kelly too much, and God not enough? Maybe in God’s grand design the omission of Heavenly Mother is no more oppressive and sexist than the current establishment of the priesthood? and instead of being a seeker of truth, I find I have been kicking against the pricks the whole time?

        Perhaps I need to weigh these two options more in my mind to find the real truth.

      2. I agree tommy, it’s hard to see God as being a partial God (and He says He isn’t); but how is it “just” to leave us with no information about our Heavenly Mother, if She exists? Perhaps it is just a matter of timing, or there is some greater purpose behind it, like you’ve said. I also think about other seemingly unjust things that God allows to happen- poverty, hunger, wars and crimes- on a daily basis. There are countless children, abandoned by or taken from their families, who know nothing about their earthly parents, much less their Heavenly ones. And even within our own Church, for most of the last century He allowed men to deny an entire race of people (blacks) access to priesthood ordinances. Thinking about all the injustices in the world, I have to view God (if He is just) as being hands-off in so many things; and often, I think there isn’t a greater purpose to the injustices in the world (like being denied knowledge of our Heavenly Mother). The dilemma I am trying to reconcile in my mind is how can He be the God of “tender mercies” while there are people who are literally dying all over the world; why does He care about finding our car keys, and doesn’t help a woman find her lost child?

      3. When you look at what people have done with, in and to God’s name it must be very difficult for him to tolerate that. Look at the first 3 of the ten commandments to see how important this is to Him. I have been told (for whatever it is worth) that Heavenly Mother is not mentioned in the scriptures because He loves her so much that it would pain him so badly to see her name and person defiled in the same way his is so routinely. Of course this is possibly as valid an explanation as ‘we had polygamy because there were more men in the church than women at the time’ however, it may help to give some beginning of understanding.

      4. I’ve heard that explanation on Heavenly Mother too Kevin; I also have no way of knowing if it’s true. I have another popular explanation of polygamy for you: there are more women than men in heaven. Yep. Apparently we’re just more spiritual.

      5. The comments mentioned about our Heavenly Mother kind of bothered me. Tommy mentioned that one day maybe she will “stand up for what you and I know to be right”… wow. First of all, I doubt she would need to “stand up” to anyone. Then we talk about writers’ bias? Our Heavenly Father inspired and directed these men to write these words. If He wanted Her mentioned, He would have told them to mention Her! If they did not listen, he would have commanded it. If the commandment wasn’t followed, He would find someone else to write it! Have you ever thought that the reason She is not mentioned is because Heavenly Father, her husband respects and loves her so much, that he didn’t want her name taken in vain like his is, Or to be degraded like he has been? Maybe She is so sacred and respected by Him that He has protected Her name. God has a reason for everything. He has a reason that he doesn’t mention his most holy companion. Why do we think that we know better than He?

  9. This blog is all about you and how you feel; how you have spent and will spend so much time being everything to her. Aside from priesthood ordinances, does your husband get to do anything alone with her?

    1. I must admit, Sherry, this blog is my outlet, where I can share my feelings and thoughts. I’m sorry, it probably seems very self-centered, but I don’t try to speak for Jang here. He does spend time with her, and is a loving father. But because she is so young, I take care of her the bulk of the time.

      1. Since you do almost everything for her, why is it such a bad thing if your husband gets to do one thing with her, without you? You did get to experience her inside of you for 9 months and give her life. That’s a pretty awesome and spiritual experience. I know some men feel left out of this experience. Unfortunately there is no way men can ever experience this. They will never be able to nurse a baby a develop those special bonds. But I guess that’s not enough for you. You need to take this special experience away from them because it’s all about you. You need the recognition for the 9 months you carried her and so forth. You can do what you want. You can try to interpret the handbook however you want but The Lord knows your heart and he’ll judge you accordingly. Personally, I’d rather err on the side of being obedient to what the prophet has asked of me. I pray and hope you are not headed down the slippery slope and you end up leading your children astray. The fate of future generations are in your hands.

      2. Try to avoid judging. I just don’t believe I’m disobeying any higher law by making this experience more inclusive. Participating in the baby blessing is not my reward for nine months of pregnancy, it’s a demonstration that Jang and I stand together as equal participants in our children’s religious lives. Fortunately, Jang gets to bond with our baby in many ways.

  10. I enjoyed reading your post and perspective of a mother. I must admit I have never considered the point of view you have expressed though I can understand how you could feel that way.
    As a father of four I personally felt that the baby blessing paled in comparison to the millions of close interactions my wife had with each of our children. At times fathers can feel marginalized by the mother-baby relationship because it is so intensely close. Men often cannot provide in the same way women can in the early days to weeks of life and they can feel like they’re on the sidelines – cheering always, supportive always, but nonetheless feeling somewhat inferior and at times helpless. For fathers that feel that way, the baby blessing is an opportunity to be a purposeful and contributing partner. Men cannot carry a child or experience the birthing process (for better or worse) but a worthy priesthood holder can experience the giving of a name and a blessing. It’s not that women can’t do that either (I believe they can), it’s just that with women doing everything these days, men also want to contribute and feel empowered in their families. For some, the baby blessing is a way to do just that.

    1. I really like your perspective Kevin; I hadn’t thought, before you and others commented, that a man might feel marginalized in the whole birthing and care-giving process. I know my husband was mostly worried about me because I had a difficult pregnancy, and now only shows appreciation when I take care of little Ava. Together, we decided to do the blessing this way, but you’ve made me seriously think that I need to find ways to make him feel like he can be an important part of her life now, even when she is so young. Thank you again for your insights!

      1. I agree that you should be able to record your baby’s blessing (we don’t ask the bishopric if we can or not, I sorta just did it on my own! Bad? Oh well!) but I do agree with Kevin. I think that women get so much of the baby “perks” and men don’t have very many. Giving them the chance to do some important things on their own, I think, gives them something important that they did in their child’s life. Of course, I think it depends on the husband too. They may feel that they’re not on the sidelines and may be glad they didn’t have to participate in the pregnancy and birth like we did! You never know!
        Personally, I have never felt unequal to my husband. If anything, I think he might struggle with me having “all the power” in the home. I try and give him chances to have important things with the kids and I think that the Priesthood gives him that chance. He gets to give the kids blessings, he gets to do ordinances. I don’t believe that women can’t do this but I don’t know if it’s just not for us right now because in the age we live in, men need something to help them feel as connected to their children/God as we do. I feel like having kids has given me an insight into our Heavenly Parents. Not saying that if you’re not able to have kids that you won’t have those insights too and also that men can’t but I’ve just noticed how much I’ve grown because of carrying and having children that I know my husband will never have the chance to experience.
        Anyways, this is already so long and I hope I don’t offend you or anything at all. I can tell you are trying not to offend anyone in your decision too! I think it’s important for women to feel appreciated because it feels like we do so much but no one even recognizes it and it’s not easy. Women are always under appreciated and men get the “spotlight”! Okay, this is way too long but I wanted you to know I don’t “hate on” any of the decisions women make. I may not understand everyone’s decisions but we can all talk civilly and kindly to each other.

      2. I agree Tiffany; it’s very rare to see respectful dissent in public today. You express yourself so respectfully and clearly, I don’t think anyone could think you were being hateful; only a class act. I’ve asked Jang if he wishes he could be more involved with Ava right now, but his answer is always that he’s happy with me taking care of her right now. I think he feels there’s not much he can do to interact with her- but with our older son, he loves playing with him and is pretty involved in his life. We both try to give each other breaks from parenting on the weekends (because, let’s face it, parenting is tough!), which hopefully means he feels like an equal participant. You can’t take a break if you’re not helping, right? Anyway, I really appreciate your perspective and my hope is that, in doing the baby blessing in this way, we can highlight both his involvement in Ava’s life, along with mine. But, I do have to say, because of your comments (and Kevin’s) I’ve determined to be more sensitive to his feelings and making sure he feels included in Ava’s life right now. So thank you!

  11. I’m a complete stranger here, but one who has struggled with similar issues. I applaud your decision to exercise your authority (we’d call it “keys” in the church) to make the decisions for your family. You and your husband know what is best.

    My children are a little older than yours so I can tell you with experience that, in the future, there will be some instances where additional conflicts arise that may not be cured by the solution you are using here. For instance, if your son is ordained, the ordination will take place either in a church meeting or a meeting at home that is attended by and presided over by a member of the bishopric (you can check Handbook 2 on that).

    The way my wife and I address this conundrum is to follow the church’s restrictions (namely, only I participate in the circle), but we include her words in the blessing. A week or so before the event my wife will write down what she would say if she were giving the blessing. I memorize those words and include them in the blessing. I do not make a show of our practice – for example, by saying “now I will give you your mother’s blessing. I simply include the words.

    We also make sure that my wife is front and center for all ordinances at church. I won’t begin an ordination, confirmation, or baptism until she is undistracted and as close as possible to the event. Also, for baptisms, while the church has two priesthood holders as witnesses, for our family’s purposes we include my wife as a witness. So after performing a baptism I look to the priesthood witnesses for their approval on behalf of the church. But I also look to my wife for her approval on behalf of the family. If any of the witnesses instructs me to (including my wife) I will conduct the ordinance again.

    1. What a wonderful compromise you and your wife have made, thank you for sharing that with me! I admit, I worry about having to confront these same issues in the future. I generally try to avoid conflict, and that is why we decided to bless our baby at home and away from a situation that would be uncomfortable for many people in the ward. I will still say my own words at the baby blessing, but, like you pointed out, I’ll probably be precluded from similar participation in future ordinances. I loved your suggestions very much, we may just do the same things, so I can still be included but not step on any toes.

  12. When I was blessed as a baby, my mother sat in her pew and took notes of what my father said. Later in life, she shared with me the things that were said. Beyond that, her notes served as a springboard for more revelation that she received for my guidance. Yes, my dad was the one who performed the ordinance, but my mother was as much a part of it as Oliver Cowdry, Martin Harris, or Emma Smith were a part of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Without the scribes, the Book of Mormon would have been words lost in the air. So it is with the baby blessing I received. My mother’s notes of that blessing are a blessing that keeps on giving.

    Furthermore, recently a councilor in my stake presidency said that when he was preparing to bless his children, he and his wife prayerfully counseled together on what should be said in the blessings. Like my mother, his wife was an equal partner in the baby blessings.

    This whole notion that if the mother isn’t standing in the circle holding the baby is kind of silly when one thinks of the role she could be playing in helping to plan the blessing with her husband and in taking notes of his words, and then giving further revealed interpretative council later in the child’s life. Whoever taught you that you are left out if you don’t get to stand in the circle did you a terrible disservice.

    1. Also, one other thought. I have never been taught by the Church or anyone in it that mothers can’t receive revelation for their children. In fact, I was taught on numerous occasions by numerous people in a variety of places I have traveled that mothers have a right and responsibility to receive inspired council for their children. This blog seems to imply that the Church teaches otherwise. Maybe the author was misinformed by someone along the way, or did not understand something correctly. Her statements look kind of like a straw man argument; I hope she is not intentionally trying to use this line of persuasion.

      1. I’m so glad your mother had such an active role in your baby blessing; it makes me happy when couples counsel together in raising and blessing their children. My main objection the the current practice, which is of course my point of view, is that in public it separates the spouses: one, the father, being entitled to receive revelation for and publicly present his child; and the other, the mother, being the silent witness to it all. You raise a good point; I’m sorry if I implied mothers are taught at Church they cannot receive revelation for their children. At Church, I have been taught, and believe, that mothers can receive revelation for their children. But the Church handbook 2 only provides for the father’s words during the baby blessing to be included as part of the ordinance. So (to me at least) whatever we are taught otherwise, on its face the baby blessing, at its best, minimizes the woman’s participation in her children’s spiritual lives. At its worst, it places them in a secondary role to their husbands because they do not have standing to speak or otherwise participate during it. I realize now that many couples have found ways to privately include mothers in the blessings, which makes me glad.

      2. But my point is that it is the world which teaches you to view your role as being secondary or minimized or somehow unimportant. No faithful member of your ward is going to think you are unimportant in the spiritual development of your children. You are not the first to write about this exact same thing, but those who started this idea of holding the baby put forth the straw man argument that the mother is treated as a second class member because she does not have a visible roll in the blessing of the baby. And straw man arguments are a tactic used by Korihor and many apostates who have come since him. You would be wiser to follow the pattern the Brethren have taught in Handbook 2 of how the ordinance is to be done. Giving strict heed to the council of true messengers is safer than listening to those who speak evil of the Lord’s anointed. I suggest you do it the way my parents and stake presidency did, on Sunday in front of the ward; I think in the end it will be a much more fulfilling way for your whole family. Plus you won’t be putting an extra burden on a bishopric member who already spends long hours away from his family.

  13. While I appreciate your desire to follow what you feel to be best for your family I hope you can appreciate my experience as well. Our first child was a the typical Fast Sunday fair. It was sweet and perfect for that time. My husband being a new member needed that experience, the experience of his new brotherhood supporting him on his new path. Our next two were not typical at all. They were done outdoors under a canopy of evergreen trees with nothing but family. Both close and extended. Both were perfect! Our last? Was Fast Sunday in church surrounded by family and friends. I don’t think there is any one “right” place. It is up
    to you and your husband. However, when given a name and a blessing, to me it is more about the child and the new family that is her ward that will indeed help guide her through the years. The times when her parents know zero and that one certain adult will be her safety net. I have several
    friends over the years who for whatever reason have always made this an in home family celebration. I don’t believe anyone begrudges those choices. With all I’ve said, it boils down to, as sweet as a father giving their child a name and a blessing it is not a saving ordinance. The place just doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter if you say a few words, record it or even hold your daughter.

  14. Oops, one last point. An important point. As I near my sixth decade as a member I’ve had some great Bishops, some so so Bishops an one outstanding Bishop as well as one Bishop who was so cruel and condescending toward so many women it was hard to go to church. My point? They’re human. They’re not perfect by any means. I’m sorry your Bishop was curt toward you and your request. Please, from experience don’t let his human shortcomings color the perfection of the priesthood he holds. It’s hard. Been there done that. Best wishes on your journey as you raise your family in an ever changing and tumultuous world. The gospel is true!

    1. I so appreciate you sharing your blessing experiences Kacy, and admire your open-mindedness. However one blesses an infant, it should be a celebration of life and family (and if that includes your ward family, so much the better!) I actually love that bishop. He is such a sweet man that I wasn’t resentful of him for refusing me, although I very much wanted to record the blessing. Thank you for your words of encouragement!

  15. Great post! I am not Mormon, but this attitude needs to permeate our places of worship every where. You have taken an unpopular stance and often that is a hard place to be. Keep going mama!

  16. You mentioned how you have already sacrificed for your baby, more than your husband has. You also mentioned that you are the largest role in the care giving of your baby. So what is so wrong that your husband has this one moment of glory of presenting this baby to the ward. I can guarantee that you will receive many more times of recognition as her mother than he ever will as her father as she is growing up. I find it a little selfish.

  17. Did you think to ask the wives of the bishop and his councilors how they feel about giving up yet more time from their husband to satisfy your desires when every other mother in the ward has their babies blessed at the church?

    Also, Handbook 2 does not make provisions for doing the blessing differently in the home than at the church. It says that only worthy priesthood holders may participate in the blessing. PERIOD. Holding the baby during the blessing at home is still not within the instructions given by the Prophet. Your bishop needs to stick to what the instructions say in the Handbook, and not be so quick to take time away from his wife.

  18. Sorry to comment again but I did want to say that I really appreciate the way you’ve gone about this. It has not been hateful in any way, you respect other people who disagree, and you are trying to do what you feel is right even if other people may not agree which is what we’re all trying to do in this life! We are all trying to do what is best for our families and I know people are concerned with the authority part of this but it sounds like their concern is more of a “hey we care” rather than “you’re going down”. Although I don’t completely agree (there are aspects of it I do), If I were your friend, I’d totally support you and show up to the baby blessing. We all need to be more loving. I think a loving Heavenly Father understands you’re trying to do the best. It’s just like anything in this life, you’re trying to figure things out.
    I wish you the best and that you have an amazing experience. It looks like people have been pretty respectful on this chain and I’m glad! I’ve read a bunch of stuff today where I’m wondering where, people who preach the whole love and tolerance don’t practice it online which is sad. We all have different opinions but we don’t need to bash and be rude!

  19. We did both of my sons’ blessing like this. We invited our bishop and closeset friends. Then we had a party afterward. If I remember right we did it on Saturday.msomeone asked if you felt the same way about other ordinances, but this isn’t an ordinance. It’s a tradition and it’s not a requirement. We were in two different wards when we blessed them. And neither ward cared at all. I doubt you’ll have a problem getting her blessing done in your home.

    1. Thanks Julare, I’m hoping I don’t meet much resistance. I agree, so much of the baby blessing is just a convention that has arisen over time. I’m looking forward to making this a more intimate affair and creating a new family tradition.

  20. A few things that may, or may not be helpful (I don’t know you and you don’t know me, so it will be easy for you to just ignore any or all of this, and that is okay):

    1. Recording policies in the church are more about past days and outdated recording devices that distracted from a sacred setting or ordinance than anything else. An ipad in the congregation or smart phone in the pocket can record without any of that, and so I would just do that when you want, and not ask (that comes from a former bishop). I recorded my daughter’s talk before leaving for her mission and that was a great blessing to grandparents and other family members who could not travel to be there and to my daughter, years after, who needed to hear, in her own words, the faith and teaching of her prior self.

    2. The priesthood authority, as exercised in performing ordinances in the Church today (and a baby blessing is an ordinance) functions under priesthood keys. While your husband holds the authority to perform the ordinance to give a name and a blessing to your child (in the manner prescribed by the Church), he does not have permission to perform that ordinance outside of those keys. Those keys are held by your bishop, and that permission and performance of that ordinance is under his direction (right, wrong, like it, not like it, that is the way it is). The bishop can authorize that ordinance to be done at home or some other place and time than a sacrament meeting, but he, or one he assigns (a counselor) should be there if at all possible. So, again, if you want to bless and name a child under “the church prescribed way”, you don’t have other options than to involve your bishop (in many ways, we submit, even as we submit our wills to God, through his servants).

    For the vast majority of active members, they are okay with that and work within the prescribed direction of the Lord’s Church and have a wonderful experience in that. For some, I understand that they would like to introduce other things (like having a mother hold the baby while being blessed, having family members who are not worthy be allowed to participate, etc…). Bishop’s have some flexibility in these things, but not much, and it really can be a difficult position to place an imperfect man in at times.

    Now, families can decide to go outside of the priesthood keys and do ordinances in the manner they feel best. While that is discouraged, there is really nothing any church leader can do or even should do, beyond counsel, to stop that. Even the creation of a membership record would not be influenced by that (we create records for children eventually whether they are blessed and named in the church or not –that is just a common trigger to do that, but it is not required for a membership record to be created).

    So, you and your husband have a decision to make –submit to the Lord’s leaders and the prescribed order of things within His church, or do your own thing. The consequences, frankly, in this ordinance, are not huge (as was pointed out, it is not a “saving ordinance”), but “doing your own thing” will become harder (and require much larger deviations from you and your husband and children) in future ordinances (like baptisms, confirmations, priesthood ordinations, and temple ordinances). So, as some have suggested, it would be wise to think ahead and consider what is down that path.

    3. This will be hard for you to take from a stranger, so ‘gird up your loins’ for this feedback: Your obvious capacity for articulating your views (you are a very good writer) suggests an honesty and a maturity that is a mismatch with your overall thesis. Communicate what you did in mature and educated language, but the true message, I think, if you are honest with yourself about it, is very immature and even selfish. The true communication buble above your head screams “I did all of the hard work, here, darn it! Now give me the recognition and attention that I deserve! And give it to me in any and every way it can possibly come!”. Again, you seem to be better than that (but what do I know, I am a complete stranger).

    1. Even though you’re a stranger, I appreciate your suggestions and input. It’s always helpful to “get outside of yourself” and hear other people’s perspectives. Thank you for your explanation of why recording devices may have been prohibited before, and should be permitted now; this is a point I think most people can agree on. A blessing is a special event and wanting to record this moment is only natural. I’m glad you could record your daughter’s mission farewell talk. You are absolutely correct about priesthood keys; we always planned on having a member of the bishopric present, again, so that it could be conducted with priesthood authority and therefore be recognized by the Church. I’m glad you clarified that a membership record would be created for my daughter whether she were blessed or not; I assumed this was the case, but it helps to hear it confirmed by someone in a position to know. 
      After girding up my loins, I read and re-read your third paragraph. I do want to be recognized; but not just for my hard work. I want to be recognized as Jang’s equal by the Church. It may seem silly, and could be an immature viewpoint, but having the Church publicly recognize that we are equal in rights and authority over our children is very important to me. Appearances during a baby blessing are important because they convey messages about how the Church allows men and women to share rights and power. In the Church, men have all, or nearly all, the power to make decisions. Take the baby blessing, for example; as her mother, many feel I must ask permission from the Bishop to participate as I wish to. And so it follows with every other ordinance that will be performed; all, to be valid, must receive the stamp of approval from the Bishop. In a conflict between my desire for greater participation, and the Bishop’s view of “how things ought to be done”, he always has the trump card—do it my (the Church’s way) or we won’t recognize the ordinance. [Of course, in this I am equal to my male counterparts. So I can’t take too much exception to one person having all the say; only that this one person may not appreciate my point of view, as a woman wanting greater involvement]. Now, I’m not advocating to replace my husband in baptizing or confirming our children; but I also sometimes think, “Why not, someday?” I’m still up in the air on my feelings about women being ordained to the priesthood, but I do believe women’s ordination would do much to alleviate gender inequality in the Church. I don’t think equality will ever be fully achieved until women have the priesthood or some comparable Church-recognized right to act in God’s name and with His authority.

      But I’m still young, and teachable (I hope!). So, as I said, I really do appreciate your insights as a seasoned member of the Church.

  21. I refused to bless my two children at church, opting instead to bless them at home. I informed the bishop beforehand in each case what our plan was and why we were choosing to bless them at home, and I invited the bishop and stake president in both cases to attend and participate, as I did with my father. And in both cases I recorded the blessings on cassette tapes as I gave them. I set up my professional Sony field recorder and professional Sennheiser microphone on a boom stand pointed at my mouth, hit the record button, and proceeded with the blessings. Now my sons and my grandchildren will have copies of those precious blessings, which include the beautiful sounds of my two sons whimpering and cooing all the way through. NOBODY tells me what I can and cannot do in my own home, with my own family, and with my own priesthood. Don’t let any bishop or stake president shoot from the hip and tell you that it’s not permitted. They do not have that degree of authority.

    1. Thank you Daniel! I admire you having the courage to stand up for yourself there. I’m most definitely not making the same mistake the second time, and I’m recording the blessing!

  22. I just wanted to add, that there is no prohibition against you recording your baby’s blessing and even storing it in your family archives. In fact the Handbook (both vol. 1 and 2) says nothing on the matter at all. This again seems to be a matter of tradition.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful responses Daniel! It’s always nice to hear another person’s expertise on this subject. I did not know that three MP holders can operate as witnesses, if the bishopric were absent. Of course, we’ll invite the bishopric- but it seems like having the Bishop’s permission is what counts, if the naming blessing is to be seen as valid by the Church.

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