This weekend has been trying for me.
Since the church’s policy change regarding same-sex marriages was leaked on Thursday, my Facebook feed has been like a firehose regarding reactions to the changes. I tried to read so many thoughts, article, and blog posts in an effort to help me figure things out.
It didn’t work that well.
Instead of direction and guidance, I received anxiety and depression. There were times on Friday and Saturday when trying to respond to claims or viewpoints that I found myself shaking and had to stop.
Even going to the temple Friday night didn’t help. In fact, my endowment session felt like a two-hour stupor of thought. I drove away from the temple as lost and depressed as ever—a far cry from the guidance and inspiration I had received the week before.
A lot of emotions have run through my heart and mind. I’ve been upset, confused, hopeless, lost, abandoned, hurt, sad, lonely, disgusted, sick, and so many more.
As a parent of an LGBT child, I’ve struggled to know what to do. My daughter left the church earlier this year, but the changes still hit me hard, and I’ve been seriously considering throwing in the towel.
Before this weekend, I never fully understood what people go through when they wrestle with the decision to leave the church. Something I’ve learned is that it’s a complex decision with no easy answer.
In fact, two years ago, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed this very topic in general conference:
Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.
Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the Church.
I can say with frankness that the last paragraph describes me. As the church as grown more evangelical and my understanding of the actual Gospel has become more Christ-centred, this growing divide has become problematic for me.
But there are aspects of Mormonism I love and that I can find in few other places: an anthropomorphic God, a feminine divine, the masonic temple rites, seer stones, visiting angels, continuing revelation, and the list goes on. Scriptures like D&C 18:10, D&C 93, Mosiah 4, and 4 Nephi 1 resonate with me.
So I continued on, focusing on what is right.
But this policy change and how it could affect my future grandchildren feels like the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back.
And I find myself once again contemplating leaving. This time, however, it feels so intense. I find parallels even to the faith crisis story I shared 8 years ago.
But here it is three days later, and I haven’t found it any easier to decide what I’m going to do.
There are so many factors at play in me head. As I’ve commented several times, the church is like a cherry pie: it tastes so good, but it has pits.
Here are some of the things that make it taste so good to me:
- The symbolism in the church found in baptism, the endowment, the Sacrament, and various other places.
- The temple
- God being a resurrected, glorified man who is our father
- Having a mother in heaven
- The example and teachings of Jesus (arguably this could easily be found elsewhere)
- The unique teachings in Mormon scripture, specifically how we should treat others
- The brotherhood of a quorum
- Continuing revelation
- A personal relationship with God
I’m not going to list out all the pits, but I will say there are many, and some of them are big. Despite the common rhetoric found among its members, the Mormon church is not perfect.
So I find myself in the middle of various forces pulling me in these two directions: all the positive trying to keep me in and all the negative trying to push me out.
But there are some other things that are making it difficult to make a decision:
- I worry about not being able to baptize my three younger children
- I worry about not being able to be an escort when my two boys go through the temple
- I worry about Mary and the children following me
- I worry about leaving Mary to take the role of a single mother at church on Sundays
- I worry about never being able to go to the temple again, the one thing remaining that ties us to the esoteric church of 200 years ago
- I worry about not completing temple ordinances for my ancestors, something I have been working on for 25 years.
- I worry about others having to come to my home to give Mary and our children blessings
- I worry about being the last person in my family to go on a mission despite being the first
- I worry about what it would mean to my parents, who were my pioneers
- I worry about what it would mean to those I taught and baptized on my mission
- I worry about not being able to give my boys the Melchizedek Priesthood, something my dad was never able to do for me.
- Related to that, I worry about not being able to be ordained a high priest by my dad, the last chance I have to get my priesthood lineage from him
- I worry about satisfying those who already expect me to leave
So, for anyone wondering what I’m struggling with, it isn’t about trying to reconcile my beliefs with the new policy to rationalize it. I think it’s wrong. Period.
No, I’m struggling with so much more and with something far more complex.
And I don’t know how long it will take before I have my answer, nor what will happen when something like this happens again.
What I do know is that it’s not an easy decision for those who decided to leave the church, and we should be careful about judging them when they do.