not in Primary anymore

the things I could tell you: a response to yet another excommunication

The Things I Could Tell You

I don’t really care what you think about my religion, to tell you the truth.

That’s my nicest answer.

A go away disguised in indifference learned from years of biting my tongue before saying the biting words: you don’t know how wrong you are.

That’s me being nice.

Which says a lot about what happens when I decide not to be. Because, you see, I could tell you the truth. I could tell you about a Prophet who was persecuted in liberty jail and how I don’t really think that was persecution, because any mid-thirties man who marries a fourteen year old girl probably deserves some jail time.

I could tell you about another fourteen year old girl a hundred years later who couldn’t think of marriage because white dresses were obscured by white shirts and white bread that became a symbol of inequality, a symbol of the silence she learned to maintain.

I could tell you about that same girl, the girl who finally found a voice only to be told her speech put her on the darkest of pages of the anthology of the world, the same page Allen Ginsburg lived on when he talked about a fiery dynamo and the path to God.

I could say she was brave, or that she was too afraid to be scared. Too afraid that one day she would have a daughter who asked the same questions she did, who would beg forgiveness for being a feminist.

For daring to believe that God gave us chromosomes for a reason and that reason was to learn to breathe out the words of love and peace and the miracle of living, not to spend an eternity in the kitchen, the plural wife of someone who is too busy making worlds to make the world a better place.

I could tell you about another mid-thirties man who built a religion on do unto others and thou shall not cast stones and breathing out love instead of breathing in fear, or breathing in until the last breathe came out with the thirst for the good the world so sorely lacked.

I could tell you the not everything is white and black.

There is an awful lot of grey.

And not just the graying hair of men who call themselves disciples but are so afraid to love that they talk about sins and sinners more than they talk about peace. Of men who try to forget everything I could tell you.

Of men who were so determined to maintain the white that they exiled anyone who was black until 1978, and then called their revelation that God is not racist “love.”

I can tell you about a fear of swimsuits. I can tell you about how much I hate cupcakes. I can tell you so much more.

But instead, I don’t.

Instead I keep my precious silence that I learned at fourteen, folding my arms as the bread that was supposed to redeem me reminded me constantly that two Xs will never make a Y.

I tell you that my religion is not yours to worry about.

I say I don’t care what you think.

I say that I am fine, that my choices are mine, and that it doesn’t hurt, having it all taken away at the end, and standing on stage alone.

Because I don’t want you to ask what I could tell you.

Emma is a senior in high school living in Mormonville, Utah. She loves Arabic, art, and activism. Next fall she will be moving to New York for school.

9 Responses to “the things I could tell you: a response to yet another excommunication”

  1. Jewelfox

    The relationship between chromosomes and gender is more complicated than this essay suggests, both in that transgender persons do not always have chromosomes which correspond to their gender presentation and in that many apparently-cisgender persons are actually intersex. Or have various “syndromes” of different or extra chromosomes and things, not all of which manifest themselves in visible (or stereotypical) gender differences.

    • Teresa

      Really? Did you get the point of this article? She’s in high school for gods sake, let the girl express herself without you having to lecture her. I’m sure she’s aware of the manifestations of your point, as she sounds fairly intelligent, but leave her alone to get her thoughts off her chest! Geez.

      • Jewelfox

        I’m not so sure she’s aware, and this really isn’t about her. It’s about transgender and genderqueer Mormons her age, who will read this and feel bad again.

        For their sake, I left a correction without being combative or rude about it. I did not engage with the rest of the article. The whole point of the rest of the article seems to be that she doesn’t want to engage with non-Mormons.

    • emmatueller

      I absolutely agree that sex and gender are much more complicated than just chromosomes, and this poem doesn’t take that into account. I apologize, and will make sure to keep that in mind in the future. Thank you for pointing it out 🙂

  2. Teresa

    Emma, I think this is a beautiful way to begin the end of your silence. I wish you power and clarity as you travel your path, don’t give up, and don’t get discouraged by others who make you feel like you’re not “doing feminism right”. Listen to wise counsel, but mostly listen to your own heart. May you live true to yourself 🙂

  3. Donna

    I am here for you if you need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Or a kitchen to cook in! Love to you, my young friend!

  4. Anonymous

    Realize that Mr. Dehlin, but was it wrong of the church to oust a member who was stating that the Book of Mormon was a fraud and that the LDS Church was not the true church and that it didn’t receive authority from God? Not to mention the fact that he was telling the world that they shouldn’t believe in it because of this fact.

    With regards to your poem, I think that you’ve done a wonderful job of stating how you truely feel. Yet there are flaws. You suggest that women have been thought of for hundreds of years in every scenario. When Joseph Smith was persecuted in Liberty Jail, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he had married a 14 year old. He wasn’t the only one doing that then, nor is that a unique issue today. Young marriage happens, but that isn’t why he was persecuted. Additionally, you compare the black movement to the Mormon feminist movement. Please don’t. They aren’t similar, because the racial ban was the will of a council unable to do something without a unanimous vote. Women didn’t have the priesthood in times of old, and the church has stated multiple times that it intends to stay that way.


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