I’m struggling with my faith. As many of you know, I’m a Mormon. I won’t bog this piece down with an explanation of the doctrine I believe, because despite my impulse to be a missionary (like I’d done professionally for two years), and to share all my church has to offer, that’s not the focus I have in writing this. You’re free to investigate it for yourself—in fact I encourage you to, because much of what my church does have to offer is fantastic and unique to itself, scarce to be found elsewhere. But, I must admit that lately I have a conflict of conviction.
The contemporary SCOTUS decision on gay marriage is partial for this, yet in a very indirect way. Weeks before, my wife and I had been talking about the lack of equality in our church’s administration and procedures. The doctrine isn’t sexist, but the way that things are executed can come off that way. Not much can be done without the supervision of a male, and that’s a relatively recent development, i.e., post-World War II. And since then, during the Seventies, an event referred to as Correlation has tightened the leash on many things on the Church—and although I used to argue that one of the main goals of it was to simplify the gospel instead of encourage members to get lost in deep doctrine and things that don’t rectify our salvation (albeit are way cool), it also sanitized much of our history from further publications, and took away much independence from the auxiliary arms, such as our women’s organization, the Relief Society. My wife introduced me to these things through Facebook groups she’d been frequenting and blogs (Feminist Mormon Housewives, Rational Faiths [and it should be noted that not all of the things posted we agree with, and we aren’t nearly as progressive as some patrons and posters]), and some of it I’d heard and answered in my own way without much internal hubbub, but some I realized is a legitimate form of inequality and confusion with historical precedent. In fact, the doctrinal waffling is my major grievance. Since our spring General Conference, these sentiments had slowly been building; and not until the SCOTUS ruling did I see that a surprising significant number of my friends had been agitated with similar things as I (or just the Church members reaction to it). One of my friends publicly announced his departure from the Church, and it was unmistakably linked to the late event. It seemed to me that for he and others it was the boiling point, and demanded he of himself to step away. A few weeks earlier, a married couple whom I had come to know through a libertarian discussion group decided that they needed to take a break from the Church; not as permanently as my aforementioned friend. Aside from them, I’d seen other friends post their veiled struggles, and I began to see that my wife and I aren’t alone. Kate Kelly was the epitome of Mormon discontent, and word was spreading that other bloggers (even those of a lesser popularity, male and female) were being excommunicated. Mind you, Kelly and others have counseled their readers to stay in the Church, and to not lose their testimonies. The disciplinary action taken against them isn’t in accord with why excommunication is supposed to be used: refusal to renounce and desist grievous sins or preaching false doctrine. And excommunication isn’t supposed to be a punishment; its intended to sever the member from covenants that hold them accountable and which reap spiritual consequences until they feel they want to recommit themselves to them and be re-baptized. Having questions isn’t ground for this. Rabble rousing for the sake of insurrection or to cause harm is one thing, and arguably warrants getting exed, but that’s not what these people were doing. Members of my Church have a history of being prejudiced against, and of being lynched, and of even legislation written for their extermination (some of these because of malcontent former Mormons), so there is a small understanding for suspicion; but that was almost 200 years ago! Needless to say, when bloggers and friends were getting called into their clergies’ offices, we all got nervous. I’m still nervous. Emily comments enough on these sites that I’m concerned she’ll get the worst end of it. Also, within the members of FMH‘s Facebook group, someone has been acting as a mole and reporting some to their respective bishops. I feel like I’m crazy saying something so similar to a movie script’s page. Is it really this serious? It’s the effing LDS Inquisition!
I love my gospel, and I love my church; I believe in The Book of Mormon with all my heart, and it is the core of my religious conviction. I still want to come to the chapel weekly and take the emblems of the Messiah and renew my covenants to always remember Him, keep His commandments, and take upon His name and act like his disciple. Yet, I feel hoodwinked by the system, and find in myself a resistance to immerse myself in my new congregation which into we’ve moved. I want to stay in the Church. It is my childhood home and culture. I began tapping this out on my phone as I sat in sacrament meeting and was literally partaking of the bread and water, and have been fat-thumbing and editing it for the entire three-hour block, through Sunday School and the auxiliary meeting. It’s—taken a lot of thought.
Please do not confuse this for anything more than a journal entry. I make no claims against anyone, only report my observation.
4 thoughts on “[descriptive inadequacy for the soberness and subject of this post]”
Man, I know the feels. What helps me continue is a conviction that I’m right. Arrogant perhaps, but I have no doubt that the “false traditions” that you mentioned in your post that continue today will continue to crumble as our generation sees the obvious paradoxes that exist between Mormon culture and doctrine (much of which as you mentioned was established post-WWII) We see this in both the religious and political orthodoxy today.
The thing that hurts me is when people like you or me (or the Van Allens) get alienated whether socially or ecclesiastically because of their doubts or convictions. I don’t believe that questioning these false doctrines amounts to apostasy. We need people like this in church so that church (especially 2nd and 3rd hour) doesn’t continue to be full of faith promoting rumors and vain repetition.
I’d kill for some Nevitt’s or Van Allen’s in my ward, and they would significantly help me with my desire to attend church weekly because I would be able to more easily draw meaningful discussion and analysis of the gospel from my time there. As it stands, it is difficult for me to attend. It is literally the hardest decision I make each week.
And that is exactly why we need millennials to stay in the church.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Correction: in the second paragraph I said “false doctrines” when I meant “false traditions”
LikeLiked by 1 person
You know what? I’m sitting in church again, in the same meeting I started writing the above, and realized for the inadequacies, I’m grateful that my church has such an emphasis on education, and family, and self-improvement by any means. I believe that Latter-day Saints have got to be some of the most well-rounded people, with vast achievements and talents. Many of the Eagle Scouts of the Boy Scouts of America are LDS. It’s known that the FBI aggressively recruits at BYU because it gets that Mormons are people of strong character in addition to the aforementioned attributes. I’m very pleased to belong to such a church, and must remember that in lieu of my doubts.