No Room in the Blessing Circle

baby blessing - men

I watched her as she proudly carried her baby son into the sanctuary, oblivious to the stares of those who may have been critical of her attire, her hairstyle, or of the fact that the father of her child was nowhere to be seen. She was excited to be a part of the LDS Church, having been baptized in the middle of her pregnancy, and was eager to share her newly minted testimony with her baby son.

I watched her as she stood holding her baby son, with a look of expectancy, clearly waiting to have the circle form around her and her son. Instead, the circle was formed without her and her baby son was taken from her arms by  one of the men from the circle while another one of the men stepped away from the circle long enough to escort her to a seat.

I watched the look on her face change from absolute joy to confusion to anguish. I watched her expressive face as her emotions and feelings battled for supremacy. I could see that one part of her wanted to insist on being included in the circle while another part of her wanted to be happy that her baby son was being blessed, even if she was excluded from the circle. I watched as the latter part seemed to win the battle.

I sat and listened to the baby blessing and I thought about how this beautiful baby boy was in a circle that included no one who was related to him. I thought about how, if his biological male parent (even though he was acting more like a sperm donor than a father) walked into the sanctuary at that moment and announced who he was, he would have been able to join in the circle. I thought about how his biological female parent who had carried him for nine months and who had given birth to him was denied that privilege.

I thought about the disconnect between celebrating families while at the same time denying her and her baby son the ability to participate in his blessing as a family. I could come up with no reason that made sense to me for denying either of them that privilege and I wept for her, for her baby son, and for all of my sisters who had been denied the opportunity to participate in their children’s blessings.

I left the sanctuary that day with the look of anguish that was on her face etched in my memory. I serve a God of love and I do not believe that blessing a child without including the mother is an act of love or that it is divinely inspired. Instead, the memory of her face serves to strengthen my conviction that the fight for the ordination of LDS women and for the inclusion of women in all aspects of our faith is divinely inspired.

20 responses to “No Room in the Blessing Circle

  1. Reblogged this on This, That, and a Third! – Thoughts from Bryndis and commented:
    This piece almost wrote itself as I watched the anguish of one of our sisters as she was excluded from participating in the blessing circle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I serve a God of love and I do not believe that blessing a child without including the mother is an act of love or that it is divinely inspired.”
    One more example of policy that was created by men, for men, about men. When women have no vote about policies, policies are made that exclude them, hurt them, and marginalize them, even when the policy makers are good, well-intentioned men. It’s just human nature — when half the population is denied a voice, their rights are diminished. This story breaks my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is heartbreaking, isn’t it? I have four children and chose to bless most of them at home so I could hold my babies. It’s stupid that we have to make that choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never understood how motherhood can be such a sacred, divine calling, yet we are excluded from our child’s second ordinance (the first being birth) as if we are not still bleeding from bringing them into this world, as if our physical, mental, and emotional sacrifice is empty without being male since that’s the qualification to participate.

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  5. heartbreaking and unnecessary cruelty – my religion

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Genuine inquiry…I thought the blessing circle was made up of priesthood holders, hence the purpose of excluding the mother. From the article, it sounds as though any male can participate, priesthood or not, LDS member or not. Is that correct? Is this clarified in the handbook?

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    • They used to allow even non-member males to join the circle if the baby is his. I’ve been out of the church for a long time, but I remember that they changed this finally to only priesthood holders. Back then, the women’s argument was even stronger (because of the inclusion of a non-priesthood holder male being allowed in the circle). As soon as they “got” as hypocritical that was (because women were making it known) they rewrote the policy. Unless they have changed it back (which I highly doubt) since I’ve left.

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  7. Is it expressly prohibited for the mother to hold the child during the blessing? I’ve never seen it done but now I’m questioning why.

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  8. Pingback: No Room in the Blessing Circle | Well-Behaved Mormon Woman

  9. Once I had a bishop who, after a baby’s blessing, asked the mother to stand so that she could be recognized as the mother. It was his way of including her and making her feel part of the ceremony. This was central Ohio around 1990 and it truly touched me. I believe he was inspired and do know that he helped bless the lives of women on the days of their babies’ blessings.

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  10. bryndis–thank you, beautiful and heartbreaking. amanda, my experience is that nonmember father could not stand in the circle. he held the microphone.

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  12. Thanks for putting such a fine point on this awful exclusion of mothers from the blessing of their babies.

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  13. This is such an important and heartbreaking story, thank you for sharing.

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  14. I have observed with my own eyes and in my own ward the inclusion of the mother in the blessing circle. At the invitation of the bishop, she brought the baby forward and held it in her arms during the blessing. Astounded, I asked afterward how she talked the bishop into this privilege. Her answer: “It was his idea.”

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