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The Woman’s CES Letter

How many women was Joseph Smith married to?

How many of these women were under age 16?

How many of these women were married to other men?

How many of those other men were sent on missions by Joseph Smith just before he proposed marriage to their wives?

When did Emma find out that Joseph Smith was marrying other wives?

When did the Fanny Alger affair happen and how does it relate to polygamy?

What is the context in which D&C 132 was written?

Why are there only three women named in The Book of Mormon (and one of them is Isabel the harlot?)

Why were women once allowed to give healing blessings during childbirth and now are no longer allowed to do this?

Why did the Relief Society once have separate funds, decision making, and leadership and now no longer do?

Why isn’t the Relief Society President given the title of “President” as an honorific, as men are?

Why do mission presidents only have “wives” or “companions” and not co-presidents?

Why are male and female missionaries treated differently by gender rather than skills and personalities?

Why are women leaders not invited to the priesthood session of conference to speak but the male leaders speak at women’s conference?

Why don’t women pray in General Conference with anywhere near the frequency of men?

Why was there ever an idea that women shouldn’t pray publicly in church or conference?

Why do women speak so little in General Conference?

Why do men tell women what it is to be good women but women never tell men what it is to be good men?

Why is the marriage vow in the temple between men and women still different?

Why did women ever covenant with their husbands instead of to God?

What does it mean to be a priestess? Why is it not the same as a priest?

Do we still believe that polygamy is the law of heaven?

Are men still considered to be in a different role vis-à-vis their children than women and if so, what does that mean?

Why does it mean to preside in the home?

How do we prevent women from feeling obliged to stay in abusive marriages if that is there only way to heaven through the sealing power of their husband?

How do women who are raped avoid being blamed, shamed, and forced to repent for rape because bishops do not understand what rape is?

Why do we not talk about consent in sex, but only about marriage within the church context?

Are women expected to “give sex” to men on any level, if they are married?

How do we create better models of happy sexuality for men and women within the church?

How do we make sure that sexual abuse survivors are not stigmatized within a church that talks a lot about sexual purity?

How do women act with authority in the church?

What does it mean to say that women have the priesthood through their husbands or through other men?

If women have the priesthood, why can they not act with authority? If they can act with authority, why not over any men?

Who is Heavenly Mother and what does she do in heaven and in what way is she a mother?

Is there only one heavenly mother or more than one heavenly mother?

What does it mean to say that gender (or sex) is eternal?

Do we still believe that we can become gods? If not, then what does eternal progression mean? If so, then what parts of the church are really important elements in this process?

What does godhood mean for women? Does it mean childbirth forever? Does it mean taking care of babies forever? In a non-physical realm, what is motherhood?

Will women participate in the creation of worlds in an eternal realm? Did women participate in the council in heaven before this life? If so, why are women not part of current church leadership councils? If not, why not?

Is God a respecter of persons? If sex does not matter to God, then why is it so important that God is male and the prophet is male?

If God wanted to call a female prophet, could He? Could Heavenly Mother? If She cannot, or if She is always in agreement with God, what does that mean for our ideals of marriage?

Will sex hormones still be part of an eternal body? If not, what difference will that make?

Is the Plan of Salvation the same for men and women?

Why does it sometimes feel like women are an after-thought to much of Mormon theology and ritual? Why are women not the central figures of our ideas of growth and progress?

What is the proper role of a Mormon woman after motherhood and child-rearing are completed tasks? Is motherhood ever properly to be considered finished?

What about single women? What is their place in the church and in the after-life? Is the best we can do to tell them that they will be married to someone they’ve never met in this life?

What about women who can’t have children? What about women who don’t want to have children?

Is being a woman the same as being a mother? If it’s not, what is it?

Why is gender eternal?

Why do we need to see marriage as eternal?

What is gender if not attached to physical bodies?

Why are so many of our conceptions of God tied to masculinity and fatherhood?

Why aren’t women included in disciplinary councils as men are?

Why aren’t women asked to weigh in on reinstatement of sexual offenders?

Why do we imagine that men will be able to be sealed in heaven to multiple wives, but women who have been widowed must choose between their husbands? Why do we imagine that God can deal with men’s complicated lives, but not women’s?

Why do women give their new names to husbands but men do not give their new names to their wives?

Why are women asked to speak in an altered fashion (no purse slamming) to men, but men are not asked to change their way of speaking to women?

Why do young women have so many more rules of modesty than young men do?

Why are young women interviewed about sexual matters by an older man?

In what ways do our stories about young women who polygamously married Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (and others in our past) encourage grooming behavior in both older men and younger women?

Why were the budgets for Young Men and Young Women so disparate for so long?

Why is Heavenly Mother not considered part of the Godhead?

Why were women of color not allowed to go through the temple during the time period of the “priesthood ban”? Why not call it an “exaltation ban”?

If God sees all as equal, as The Book of Mormon claims in many places, why are there so many different levels of authority for different people, of different genders, races, and sexualities?

Why do we not have women of color in any of the General Presidencies of the Primary, Young Women’s, or Relief Society?

Written by

Author of The Bishop’s Wife mystery series, The Mormon Sabbatical Podcast, Princeton PhD, fiction editor at Exponent II, autist, she/her

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