LDS Mormon Sexual Abuse Rape Victims





LDS Sex Abuse Victims Beware

The Book of Mormon clearly teaches that rape deprives women of their chastity and virtue:

Moroni 9:9 "... For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue--"

If the Book of Mormon is true, then victims of sexual abuse have reason to believe they have lost their chastity and virtue.

It is easy to understand how the stressing of the importance of being "pure and chaste" is warped into the importance of "virginity". Virginity has long been considered the token of purity and virtue. To loose the one, acording to Mormon teaching, is to loose the other. Young girls and boys are taught from early on in the Church that only a girl who is a virgin is good enough to marry in the temple.

Unfortunately, many self-righteous and insensitive men in the Church have absolutely no clue as to how such a mis-teaching of a valuable principle (sexual restraint/abstinence) would affect impressionable young minds. Young girls and adolescents who have been sexually assaulted, either as children or teenagers consider the loss of their virginity or sexual innocence to be the loss of their chastity and virtue. Through molestation and rape, they have instantly and irrevocably become "tainted and used goods" in their own eyes and the eyes of their peers through no fault of their own. And to heap great insult and injury, it was (and continues to be) the instruction of the Bishop to help the person who has "lost their chastity" to identify their part in the transgression and what they need to repent of. (Perhaps they wore suggestive clothing, or behaved in a sexually provocative way, for example; and thereby must assume a measure of blame for the crime which was perpetrated on them.)

"The victim must do all in his or her power to stop the abuse. Most often, the victim is innocent because of being disabled by fear or the power or authority of the offender. At some point in time, however, the Lord may prompt a victim to recognize a degree of responsibility for abuse. Your priesthood leader will help assess your responsibility so that, if needed, it can be addressed. Otherwise the seeds of guilt will remain and sprout into bitter fruit. Yet no matter what degree of responsibility, from absolutely none to increasing consent, the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ can provide a complete cure."
- Apostle Richard G. Scott "Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse," General Conference, Ensign, May 1992

Victims of rape or sexual abuse frequently experience serious trauma and unnecessary feelings of guilt. Church officers should handle such cases with sensitivity and concern, reassuring such victims that they, as victims of the evil acts of others, are not guilty of sin, helping them to overcome feelings of guilt and to regain their self-esteem and their confidence in personal relationships."

Of course, a mature person who willingly consents to sexual relations must share responsibility for the act, even though the other participant was the aggressor. Persons who consciously invite sexual advances also have a share of responsibility for the behavior that follows. But persons who are truly forced into sexual relations are victims and are not guilty of any sexual sin."
- First Presidency Letter to General Authorities, Regional Representatives, and other priesthood leadership, 7 Feb. 1985

The Prophet David O. McKay is quoted in President Kimball's book as follows:
" . . . Your virtue is worth more than your life. Please young folk, preserve your virtue even if you lose your lives. Do not tamper with sin . . . do not permit yourselves to be led into temptation. Conduct yourselves seemly and with due regard, particularly you youg boys, to the sanctity of womanhood. Do not pollute it."

The Prophet Heber J. Grant is also quoted in President Kimball's book:
"...There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity -- realizing that chastity is of more value than anything else in all the world."

Later in the book, Kimball again addresses the matter of Chastity with the elsewhere mentioned paragraph:
"Also far-reaching is the effect of loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is absolutely no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one's virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle."

Considering these quotes, it is clear that virtue is equated with chastity. One cannot struggle against another and lose their virtue if virtue means "their intent to be good/righteous". No, the message which is clearly being portrayed is that of chastity and virtue being synonymous.

Now, imagine the terrible shame and overpowering guilt a child or young teenager might feel for her "cooperating" with her abuser to protect a younger sibling, or prevent harm from coming to a family member? Imagine the survivor's guilt knowing that the teaching of the Prophets of God is their life is not as important as their virginity/chastity/virtue, that their parents would rather they be dead than live with the shame that their child is no longer a virgin, no longer chaste, no longer virtuous.

"If he burglarized, he should return to the rightful owner that which was stolen. Perhaps one reason murder is unforgivable is that having taken a life, the murderer cannot restore it. Restitution in full is not possible. Also, having robbed one of virtue, it is impossible to give it back."
- President Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference, Ensign, November 1980

Believing this Mormon teaching can have negative effects on both individuals and communities. The October 17th, 2003, Deseret Morning News headline reads "90% of Provo rapes not reported to police." In the report, a BYU police officer explains that religious beliefs are the reason:

From the article:
"[BYU Police Officer Arnie] Lemmon said most Provo residents are religious and have a tendency to stigmatize discussion of sexual assault and sometimes to demonize the survivor."

"[The Mormon rape victim] said something that blew me away. She said, 'I should have died before I let him do that to me,' " Lemmon said. "I was troubled that she had to believe that."

"Lemmon read from a letter written by a BYU rape victim who shared a similar belief. "I'm a perversion to the good saints of my church," wrote the victim, who said she wished she were dead. Tragic thoughts like these are common among rape victims in Provo, Lemmon said."
- Deseret Morning News, Friday, October 17, 2003, "90% of Provo rapes not reported to police,",1249,515039389,00.html

So it's fair to say that Mormonism gives victims reasons to hate and blame themselves for their abuse. The popular book Mormon Doctrine declares, "Better dead clean, than alive unclean. Many is the faithful Latter-day Saint parent who has sent a son or daughter on a mission or otherwise out into the world with the direction, 'I would rather have you come back home in a pine box with your virtue than return alive without it' "
- Mormon Doctrine, Second Edition, Page 124

Anyone who knows someone who has been raped or sexually molested knows that most victims feel "dirty", and intense shame and guilt. And we are taught that such feelings of shame and guilt or feeling "unclean" are promptings or messages from the Holy Ghost that we have done something wrong. This only further reinforces the unhealthy teaching that virginity and sexual innocence are the same as chastity and virtue; and that loosing them is worse than death... that it would have been better for you to have died, than to live having lost these things.

"If we do whatever is necessary to become morally clean before the Lord, we will be able to “stand with confidence—unafraid and unashamed and unembarrassed—in the presence of God. This is the promise held out to every virtuous man and woman”
- Apostle Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, page 66 and Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, page 73

So if someone doesn't feel unashamed and unembarrased, then are they virtuous?

"From the beginning of time, the Lord has set a clear and unmistakable standard of sexual purity. It always has been, it is now, and it always will be the same. That standard is the law of chastity. It is the same for all—for men and women, for old and young, for rich and poor. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob tells us that the Lord delights in the chastity of His children (see Jacob 2:28). Do you hear that, my brothers and sisters? The Lord is not just pleased when we are chaste; He delights in chastity. Mormon taught the same thing to his son Moroni when he wrote that chastity and virtue are “most dear and precious above all things” (Moroni 9:9)."
- President Ezra Taft Benson, BYU Devotional, October 13, 1987, New Era, Jan. 1988, page 4

Are these deep religious beliefs healthy or harmful to people?

"Of all crimes, sexual abuse of children is one of the most devastating to the victim—whether or not there were multiple occurrences, and regardless of the extent of the abuse. ... Those who are victims of such abuse often grow up with deep, unresolved feelings of guilt, unworthiness, anger, and betrayal. ... Desperately afraid and unhappy, they may fear that by reporting the abuse they will be tearing the family apart.. “All I could do,” says one victim, “was hope something would happen to make everything ‘all better.’”
- Maxine Murdock, “Hope and Healing,” Ensign, Jan. 1993, page 62

For more analysis of Mormon sexuality read:
Sexuality Within The Contemporary Mormon Experience by William M. Gardiner

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