That means that the bishops whom Holderness and Willoughby confided in were not professional clergy trained in ministry leadership or counseling, but fellow church members who had received a temporary assignment to help run the church. Despite that lack of training, bishops are powerful figures for the LDS faithful as Mormons are taught to consult their bishops in all matters, spiritual or otherwise.
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Only men can serve as bishops in the LDS Church. A deep commitment to male authority, repeatedly emphasized in the theology and culture of Mormonism, can also reinforce behaviors and patterns that foster abuse and prevent women from coming forward. Mormon women are also in a theological bind when it comes to leaving their marriages.
LDS theology teaches that exaltation to the Celestial Kingdom — the highest form of Mormon salvation — comes from entering into a temple-based marriage with a fellow Mormon. Hinckley in , in a still widely-circulated address on marriage. While this would seem to be a reproach to abusive husbands, many Mormon women who have been in abusive marriages have recently come forward to say that church bishops instead placed the obligation for repentance on them. On the popular Mormon website By Common Consent, the comments thread for an article about how the church handles domestic abuse filled up with similar accounts from other Mormon women.
On top of all this is a general Mormon hesitation to seek help from outsiders and a habit of separation from the secular world. Given the history of prejudice and discrimination Mormons have faced historically, particularly in the 19th century, that instinct toward separateness has been reasonable, even advisable.
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But it can also keep Mormon women isolated from the very resources they need in order to identify, escape and recover from marital abuse. Still, the unique religious culture and beliefs of Mormonism may make LDS women particularly vulnerable to abuse and especially unable to find necessary relief.
Of course, a patriarchal system that reveres male authority, unbending loyalty to the community and a heightened distrust of outsiders is not exclusive to Mormonism.
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While the Trump White House is unlikely to fret over why so many alleged domestic abusers have filled their ranks, the LDS Church ought to seriously consider how male abusers have been protected and hidden within Mormonism. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
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