37. BEING MORMON

Excerpt from “My Lovedance”

Yes, I was Mormon as a teenager. And yes, we were married in the Mormon temple. And my friend’s family was Mormon. And one of my sisters is still Mormon.

Being Mormon was my idea. It least that’s how I remember it. Going into high school was difficult enough, but having to watch over my sisters, well, that was nearly impossible. The only church at the time with an active youth group was Mormon. And they preached no alcohol, no drugs, no sex before marriage. Great! If I could figure out how to get my sisters into that Mormon youth group, well, they would be a better influence than the influence of the sex, drugs and rock and roll crowd.

So I invited the Mormon missionaries to the house. It was a no-brainer. They were handsome young men in suits. My sisters were 11 and 13 and very fond of handsome young men. And one was IN LOVE with Donny Osmond. Her side of the room was purple and plastered with the teen idol. Like I said…a no-brainer.

And we were baptized. Me, my three sisters, and my mother. My father thought we were nuts. He hadn’t succumbed to the Catholic pressure and now we were switching teams. My mother joined to keep an eye on us. Well, she didn’t just join, she kind of took over. Led the young woman’s group…really, kept her eye on us.

And it worked! No one got pregnant before marriage. No one got in trouble with drugs or alcohol and not with the law. And I no longer had to be the shepherdess of my sisters. Thank goodness.

Now being a good student, I took Mormonism seriously at the time. I read the book of Mormon, their Doctrines and Covenants, and the bible (for the first time, since Catholics don’t have bibles, at least we didn’t).

The good thing about being Mormon was the sisterhood. The bad thing was the patriarchy.

I had the same issue with Mormonism as I had with Catholicism. I needed no man to intervene on my behalf. Why couldn’t women hold the priesthood? At that time, black men couldn’t hold the priesthood either. Which wasn’t fair in my eyes, rather prejudice, I felt. I’m not sure why, something to do with Jesus being white…but I knew that was wrong…cause in spite of their pictures…Jesus was brown, way darker than any of us. At least the Jesus who had been visiting me since I was little was really dark.

Oh, and another thing about Mormonism. I didn’t believe in the whole save yourself for marriage thing. I saved myself for my soul mate. Once I found him, well, we were sixteen and seventeen, spilling over with hormones, and we loved each other. I was saved…by love. My torturer was anorexia and reconnecting to love saved me. Thank God for Steve!

But I still wanted to get married in the temple. Why? Because I liked the idea of being sealed for eternity. It seemed like we had searched forever to find each other. Perhaps a sacred marriage ceremony would insure we wouldn’t get separated again.

So Steve joined the Mormon church. As he says, “I wanted you. And would do anything to make you happy.’ And that’s what I thought would make me happy at the time.

The church felt like we had community. And then we moved away. But being Mormon meant instant community wherever you are. So we found a stake center. That’s what Mormons call the place they meet. Mormon temples are for sacred ceremonies like marriages and baptisms for the dead. Yes, the dead are baptized and then married. That’s why the Mormons are so into genealogy…to find their ancestors and seal them all into one great big Mormon heaven. Now that’s how I remember being Mormon.

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