Sunday, February 16, 2014


Childrens I LOVE xxooxx. This is an issue that especially pertains to you in your life journeys right now. That was silly of me to write. It pertains to ALL OF US in ALL of our journeyings our whole stay here. I did not read the article by Elder Callister. This article was sent to me by someone struggling and wanting to know if they were taking the "EASY WAY OUT" by believing and supporting this therapist because the article written by Elder Callister just FELT wrong to her, was she just not able to negotiate her shame?...her REAL question being...CAN I QUESTION the teaching of a prophet or one of the brethren?

And then even deeper...she wanted to know HOW and WHY I became comfortable doing so?

My example of questioning and sharing it so openly has made some of the church leadership and others nervous. I smile as I think of how nervous Joseph Smith would have made them in his day...
well OUR DAY. Pretty sure he is still the same guy.

 Someone turning to ME as well as church leadership can be interpreted many ways. My interpretation: Anyone turning to anyone in helping to form a life choice/belief-- means they are not clear in their knowing yet and are looking for aid to sure up that knowing,--  they  are WANTING to start out on a BETTER if not BEST path. I am so grateful that everyone of us is here for each other as we stand in our unsureness. And then STILL as we stand in our KNOWING. I love that each of our lives is pretty much an open book for others to look in and see the fruits of our labors...our happiness. How awesome that we get to choose WHO we pattern our choices after while we walk the walk!!  May we all be the disciple and example of Jesus Christ and other GREAT HAPPY CHANGE THE WORLD people. As we do so our arms will be always open to each other. We will refuse to cast stones. We will share our truth as we understand it. We will eternally seek truth. We will live peace.  We will err. We will turn. We will err again. We will keep turning. But MOSTLY...we will LOVE!!!!! We will see each other in our perfection. When we see imperfection we will note that it is a mirror of our OWN imperfections and seek to change OURSELVES and not others. My testimony is that God's way is the best way. My testimony is that the God's ways look DIFFERENT on EVERY PERSON. Yes...there is a lot of common ground....but there is so much that IS NOT.

I have not been asked to slay Laban, translate gold plates, sit in a den of lions, deal with one of my sons murdering another, part a sea, take multiple wives.

I have had OTHER tasks that have felt to me just as large.

Imagine the largeness Natasha Parker felt as she stood as a fellow Disciple of Christ with another opinion in the article below that does NOT match Elder Callister's. Each is standing in THEIR knowing. WHAT IS YOUR KNOWING??

I hope you will think on what YOUR OTHER LARGE tasks have been so far in your short lives. Loveies...I can think of a FEW for EACH OF YOU!!!! And look how off the charts incredible YOU have been and are with your choosing with them!!! Yes. YOU ARE PERFECT !!! (especially to ME!!!) Your imperfections make you take notice, turn. As do mine. YOU ARE PERFECT!!!!

There is a lot MORE big stuff to come for us.

 My GODS BEG me (and YOU) to love myself  and above all else to be AUTHENTIC. Each of us has a voice to speak, decisions to move upon, a life and LOVE to create. I know that LOVE is the key to ALL OF IT!!! I am learning that love can LOOK so differently depending on where I am standing. Continuing to move and WALK a path is critical. Wherever each of you are right now is PERFECT. If you are happy---WAWOOZIE!!! If you aren't...start walking, turn another direction/decision.

 I am the girl who asks 10 people and reads 10 books. That is not YOU. Well... I WAS that girl.  I don't NEED to read so many books or ask so many people any more. Meditating has been such a gift to me.  I ask. I wait.  I listen to my heart burn with fire. I marvel at what is plopped before me.  I KNOW. I LOVE. I BE in my authenticity. I HAPPY!!!!!!
Ok...I still love me some 10 more books:)

Childrens xxooxx...I LOVE YOU that  aren't nervous about me. I wish that for others. I LOVE that you are always open for real heart sharing with me.  FEEL my path. I LOVE that you don't have to trust ME, TRUST GOD...and KNOW that THAT is WHO I seek. I am feeling like WE haven't had as much conversation about all of my differences in beliefs as I'd this is an invitation.

Yes, above I DID  compare my WANTING TO KNOW FOR MYSELF SELF to Joseph Smith. I love that you are ALL smiling right now. It occurred to me YOU may be having some of the same thoughts as my friend who sent the article...and this article addressed it brilliantly for me.

I really really appreciated everything she says below. Even and especially her words  in the conclusion where she agrees that "there is nothing constraining in God's moral standards"... WHO interprets WHAT those standards are??? YOU DO LOVES...YOU DO. You will have a knowing in your heart. It is my experience that our entire life experience is to LEARN TO LISTEN TO OUR KNOWING. And will feel like we have been asked to part the sea. I stand in one place experiencing all the consequences and caveats of decision making according to that belief until I am moved to stand in another and then another. This has been my way of growing my LOVE and KNOWING. I have been frustrated that I moving on my KNOWING doesn't feel LOVING or make others HAPPY. I have learned that we cannot do that for others. We have to create in our best love place and then let the love ripples tend to those affected on the path. Love WILL recreate any misunderstandings with others once we are all open to takes time. MOVE in your knowing. Until it changes :)  I do not live and choose all the truths I KNOW. I am human. I think I want to act on them, but then I don't.  I am working on it.  I trust the Spirit. The Spirit KNOWS my highest self chooses the highest truths I have encountered. The spirit will guide us continually in conjunction with our choices, our study, our seeings, our hearings.

 I LOVE early in the article where she says "This is why it is so important to rely not only on prophetic teachings but also such doctrinal principles as personal revelation, intellectual study, spiritual study, and the influence of healthy approaches from therapists, parents, loved ones and others who would have our best interests in mind when coming to conclusions on such an important and sacred topic as sexual morality." And I add...any topic.

I'm always here for a conversation... this is  the good stuff.  I came here to get the GOOD STUFF. I came here to get it with YOU!!! xxooxx  No matter what I or anyone else says ...YOU have to come to your own knowing. SO MANY EXAMPLES AND WORDS out there to choose from. Gotta listen to your heart loves. Listen to your knowing. Listening...its a skill I am STILL refining. But I promise...when we misstep from misinterpreting or from not listening...YOU WILL BE PRODDED back to your path. 

This Momma LOVES YOU BIG!!!! Sorry for BOOK..make sure to STILL READ THE ARTICLE, K?? Excited for the conversations to come!

Morality? We can do much better than this…

I was shocked to read the most recent article on sexual morality that was just published in the March 2014 issue of the Ensign by Elder Tad R. Callister regarding a recent fireside he gave at BYU-Idaho, and have spoken with several other LDS professional therapists who were shocked as well.  I do not take the critique of a standing General Authority’s position lightly – but I cannot stand silent on what I see as an extremely harmful approach to the sexual education of our members.  Here are some of the things I take issue with:
  • Callister singlehandedly wipes away all evidence-based “best practice” methods or approaches, as well as any personal revelation for self or child by stating that, “One declaration (from God) trumps all the opinions of the lower courts, whether uttered by psycholo­gists, counselors, politicians, friends, par­ents, or would­ be moralists of the day.”  The problem with this approach, of course (discussed in General Conference by Uchtdorf), is that God’s “declarations” have been communicated and interpreted by fallible men – Callister included.  This is why it is so important to rely not only on prophetic teachings but also such doctrinal principles as personal revelation, intellectual study, spiritual study, and the influence of healthy approaches from therapists, parents, loved ones and others who would have our best interests in mind when coming to conclusions on such an important and sacred topic as sexual morality.
  • Callister refers to masturbation as “self-abuse.”  This is not an appropriate clinical term.  Self-abuse is a term currently used to describe unhealthy coping behaviors people use in order to manage overwhelming depression and anxiety (i.e. ritualistic cutting of the skin, pulling of hair, picking of scabs, burning of skin, etc.).  If you’re going to take a stand either for or against masturbation – please call it masturbation.  Also, to refer to masturbation as self-abuse shames a natural developmental process that begins in the womb and hinders an important relationship with self that needs to be developed in a shame-free environment in order to facilitate the transition into healthy marital sexuality.  He states that the Lord “condemns” masturbation – I have seen no evidence of this in any scriptural resource.  The only “condemning” has come from a religious culture at large (way before Mormonism even existed) and certain LDS prophets of old who have spoken on the subject (particularly President Kimball and Elder Packer).  But even Elder Packer demoted masturbation from “sin” to “transgression” in his address to young men back in the 1970′s.
  • Callister uses fear-based language and overall approach that is inconducive to healthy sexual education.  Although there is correct principle behind understanding the gravity of sexual responsibility towards others and self – using a fear-based approach to get this point across is not effective and usually contributes to problems rather than solving them.  He uses provocative imagery language (such as an Octopus’ tentacles coming to get you) that elicits anxiety, fear and gives Satan more power than he deserves in our daily cognitive existence.  When we teach through fear, we increase anxiety.  And anxiety increases the probability of unhealthy coping strategies: exactly the opposite of what we want when dealing with sexuality.  I cannot stress this enough!!!  For a culture that is obsessed with using an addiction paradigm to deal with pornography viewing, for example, we need to recognize that this fear-based approach contributes to the types of behaviors we are so desperately trying to stop.  As leaders and educators we need to knock it off!
  • Callister allows for no level of arousal or sexual thought as a natural part of being a mortal human.  He speaks of avoiding material that is “pornographic in ANY way.”  For many of my OCD clients this becomes an impossible feat (because it is defined rigidly) – they cannot enjoy a museum where fine art depicts the human body, they cannot go to work where there exists “walking pornography” through what is considered immodest dress, they cannot develop any tolerance to the sexual nature of the human experience.  This is just not a mature or realistic way to deal with sexuality and it gives sexual imagery more power than it would otherwise have if we could normalize the fact that sexuality has always been and will always be part of the human story – in art, literature, music, science, etc.   Again more fear: “No one can claim to be fooled by the effects of pornography, believing there is any such thing as an innocent glance. It is a poisonous, venomous, unforgiving snake that will strike the moment you take your first look and will continue to strike with a full portion of venom with each look thereafter.”  Goodness grief!  The imagery is just awful and anxiety producing.  If anyone spoke to my children like this about any aspect of sexuality – I would be incensed.  It uses inappropriate addiction-style language and promotes self-fulfilling prophecies which rob individuals of a more nuanced, agency-friendly approach to sexual experiences they may have had in the past or will continue to have in the future.  And even though he uses addiction language, he goes against current addiction treatment (AA approach) by stating “at some point willpower will be an indispensable ingredient—there is not a pill or counseling technique to solve every addiction.”  He is just not qualified to make these types of statements that can wreak havoc for those who are legitimately undergoing addiction treatment.
  • Callister’s statements on modest dress are sexist and offensive to both men and women.  First of all “modesty” is only talked about in the context of clothing and it is only addressed to women.  He participates in classic “rape culture” ideology where the woman is responsible for the man’s sexual thoughts and actions.  This paragraph was truly shocking: “Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self­ respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.”  I am literally left speechless.
  • Callister speaks to the LGBTQ community where a life of celibacy and singleness is the expectation as a condition to worthy participation in the service of the Lord.  It is my strong position that this is not a healthy stance for any human who naturally craves and needs the communion of partnership.  It sets the Mormon LGBTQ population up for almost guaranteed failure – being put in the position where they are forced to choose between personal health or community acceptance and participation closely tied to their spiritual development and relationship with God (also part of personal health).  Are we at all surprised that our Utah LGBTQ youth lead the nation in suicide?  But this I do not only fault Callister on – it is the current position of our church and material for a different blog post all together.
  • Finally, Callister ends by saying that if we follow the advice given in the talk we will be “eligible for a spouse of like purity.”  I cannot emphasize enough how damaging it is for members of the church who have sexually explored outside the realms of marriage, then gone through the appropriate repentance steps to still consider themselves as “impure” because of their past actions.  And regardless of how many times we tell them that the atonement covers their sins – as long as we are measuring their worth by how “pure” (translation=virginal) they come to the table, they will suffer.  They often express to me their feelings of being ineligible for a “pure” spouse (meaning a virgin) if they themselves are not virgins.  And I cannot begin to number the amount of members who have reported either lying to their prospective spouses about their past sexual experiences out of fear of being rejected or having been honest, and then actually being rejected.  We put such emphasis on this value of purity that it wreaks havoc for our young adults on every level of the spectrum (whether they have only had one impure thought or they are chronically looking at pornography as a way to self soothe or have had premarital sex).  Purity is a principle much grander than behavioral actions we may have taken in the past – and until we start teaching this principle correctly, the honesty potential between couples will suffer.
The way that sexual standards are presented in this type of talk is unrealistic and sets people up for failure.  No one will be able to achieve them at the level of rigidity in which they are communicated.  And if they can, there may be other issues at hand – such as having an asexual response (an entirely different topic altogether).  I cannot stress enough how many of these types of rigid, shaming and incorrect sexual teachings are the core reason why so many of our members struggle with healthy sexuality, the ability to claim personal authority and the correct sexual education of the next generation.  Although I enjoy the work I do – I do not enjoy the fact that this type of approach coming from this type of authority guarantees that I will have no shortage of business as an LDS sex therapist for many years to come.  This article successfully sets us back about 35 years.
I fully recognize that my authority will never trump that of a general authority in the eyes of LDS members – nor should it.  I do not hold the priesthood because I am a woman, and my church callings do not include the stewardship over the church membership at large.  Therefore, I understand that my opinions shared on this post will largely be held suspect.  I accept and recognize this.
At the same time, I would hope that we would be more open in the church to exercise the correct principle of “councils”: the ability to invite others within our midst to dialogue and help with the needs of the church.  I would hope that general authorities would be willing to sit down with the many wonderful and faithful mental health professionals we have within our midst, and be open to different ideas and processes that would aid in the healthy sexual education, development and pleasure of our members.  After all, we share the same goal: healthy personal sexual development and appropriate, enjoyable sexual expression within the bounds of sacred commitment.  Adherence to the Law of Chastity; meant for our protection, enjoyment, relational health and development towards becoming Godlike.
Ironically, I agree with Callister’s following quote: “Contrary to much public sentiment, there is nothing negative or restraining about God’s moral standards. Rather, they are positive, uplifting, and liberating. They build relationships of trust, they enhance self ­esteem, they foster a clear conscience, and they invite the Spirit of the Lord to bless individual and married lives. They are the proven standards for happy marriages and stable communities.”  It’s unfortunate his approach didn’t follow suit.

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