Martine, a Belgian convert to Mormonism, shares what growing up in Belgium was like and how she and her sister end up converting to Mormonism. She eventually made it to the United States to attend General Conference and get her Patriarchal Blessing when her sister decided to serve a mission. Due to connections with several families of missionaries, she finds a job as a nanny and eventually makes it to BYU where she is reintroduced to Stuart, whom she’d briefly met as a missionary in Belgium.
Though he hadn’t known her well, Stuart instantly recognized Martine at a Young Single Adult (YSA) activity and things took off from there until he asked her to be with him for eternity. Martine happily accepts this proposal from an established, generational Mormon returned missionary. However, the engagement is soon jeopardized by challenges between Martine’s desire to follow the brethren’s admonitions not to put off having children (and wanting a dozen of them!) as the quintessential Mormon housewife with Stuart’s practicality regarding his ability to financially support children while still having several years of school left.
1741: Dealing with the tragedy of infant death as Mormon parents – Martine & Stuart Smith Pt 2
Martine & Stuart have their first child, Nathaniel, who was diagnosed with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare, painful, and ultimately fatal genetic skin condition. Caring for a child with EB is an immense emotional toll on them due to the constant pain the baby suffers with basic daily tasks like feeding & changing diapers. This episode delves further into the contradictions and complexities of Mormon doctrine around reproduction which made it difficult for Martine and Stuart to come to terms with Nathaniel’s condition. They felt guilt and self-blame upon his diagnosis, questioning whether it was punishment for wanting to wait to have children, or due to a “Saturday’s Warrior” type pact agreed to in the pre-existence. The doctrine of pre-mortal decisions and the effects on disabilities was also discussed, along with the contradictory messages about disabled or sick children and those who die before accountability.
As Nathaniel’s condition worsened, the couple sought healing through priesthood blessings, but were met with disappointment when they didn’t work. John discusses expectations vs. the reality of priesthood blessings and the theological justifications used when they don’t work. The couple eventually came to accept the idea of letting Nathaniel go, and he passed away. Martine & Stuart describe the emotional aftermath of Nathaniel’s death, including the funeral and how Mormons deal with death.
Despite some trepidation, the couple decides to have another child, which was met with mixed reactions from their community. Martine became pregnant again and gave birth to a healthy son. They later moved to Louisiana, where they became involved in their LDS branch and had a third child, Sarah, who was also born with EB. The episode discusses the routine of care for Sarah and the support they received from their branch. The second death of an infant affected their faith, with Stuart becoming angry at God and turning down a leadership position in the church. Despite this, Martine still wanted more children, and the episode ends with the couple meeting with a General Authority to discuss the deaths of their children and birth control.
1742: Progressive Bishop w/ an Unbelieving wife – Martine & Stuart Smith Pt 3
Martine and Stuart Smith are back in part three to discuss experiencing the “heavy hand” of Priesthood Authority from their Stake President; from false teachings affecting lives, being told not to watch a specific show he didn’t like, making youth “covenant” to go on missions and never date non-Mormons, only to see him be released and excommunicated for embezzlement. Martine had previously sympathized with the Stake President, who was sometimes unemployed and had five children. She later found out that he had put her membership status as “on probation” though she had never been notified as per policy, and that she had been “blacklisted” from certain callings. The couple began attending Sunstone, where they explored the gray areas of life and Mormon feminism.
During this time, they began to question the Church’s teachings, including the Plan of Salvation, which involved separating families more than bringing them together. They also researched the lives of polygamous women and the Equal Rights Amendment. Stuart, an intellectual, was called into the bishopric as an unorthodox member. They stayed in the Church for its utility, but also for their son’s sake. Martine became the RS Pres during the Sept Six Era, a time of more progressive leaders and scholars at BYU and at Women’s Conferences and in leadership.
Eventually the walls crack on their belief and Martine and Stuart find they can no longer stay in a church that goes against their values.
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