Fine. I’ll stay. But I’m really pissed off.

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I broke two of my rules with that headline: I used the word “really” and I swore. But there it is.

Despite the implied message in that charged, clickbait headline, I’m not staying because I feel pressured to.

I’ve been busy over the last week or so. I’ve been reading dozens of blog posts, listening to dozens of podcasts, watching dozens of videos, responding to dozens of private messages, and reviewing hundreds of Facebook comments. I’ve been ruminating on it all.

So why am I staying?

For years, I’ve been exercising autonomy in my religious beliefs, believing what I wanted regardless of whether it was conventional or traditional. I’ve refused letting anyone else dictate what I could believe.

A few days ago, Mary said something that reminded me of this. She determined that she’s staying because she won’t let some men decide whether she stays or goes. I’m staying because I’m exercising my autonomy.

I’m not staying because I was told to, because I was told I was needed, or because I was told that I couldn’t be Mormon while not attending. I’m staying because I chose to.

As someone else said this week, if I leave, my voice diminishes. If I stay, my voice remains. Although, I haven’t been in a leadership position for nearly 7 years, I’ve still had opportunities to speak my mind. I’ve been a teacher for over 4 years now, which allows me to control the rhetoric. Even though I often feel alone, I still have hope that I can change dialogue, and new dialogue leads to new values, priorities, and paradigms. And when I’m no longer teaching, I can still share my thoughts and opinions. If I leave, all I have left for a voice is online (here, social media, etc), and the only ones who’ll listen are those who already agree.

I’m not just any Mormon. Despite not being born in the church, I consider myself Mormon culturally, not just spiritually. The Mormon sacraments are an important part of my life. The ability I have to participate in them as not just a recipient but a bestower allows me to participate in the sacraments of my children not as a bystander, but as a conduit. Something my Catholic ancestors couldn’t do.

If I left, I miss out on baptizing half of my children. I miss out on remaining my son’s hometeaching companion. I miss out on escorting my sons through the temple and seeing my daughters go through. I miss out on serving a mission with Mary. These are all milestones I find value in as a cultural Mormon.

I’m also staying because what became apparent to me this week is that there exists in the church many people who understand and fulfill their baptismal covenants to mourn with and comfort those who grieve, free of judgement and bias. I want to be one with them. While it’s a challenge to be unified in building true Zion in a church that’s so pharisaical, knowing that there are loving, compassionate people in the church makes me want to be part of it. Certainly, I can do that outside of the church, but I believe opportunities exist within the church for me. And the church certainly needs more communists.

Another reason I’m staying is because the esoteric aspects of Mormonism appeal to my heart. Deeply. And while I lament that much of the esoteric that was common in the early church of nearly 200 years ago has disappeared or been minimized, I recognize that the temple still contains it. While some might find it odd, I find it satisfying, and it serves as my connection to a time when angels visited the earth, people saw visions with stones, and spiritual fire engulfed entire buildings. By staying, I still have access to the temple.

It’s an odd circumstance. The Mormon church is one of the few Christian churches that puts restrictions on who can enter religious facilities, which forces me to follow their rules if I want to use those facilities. I stay, completely aware of this.

So why am I upset?

I’m upset because the new policy is abhorrent.

Let’s just set aside the fact that the policy was written by the church’s law firm and not the prophets, seers, and revelators. (That’s a blog topic on its own.) It’s ridiculous that the church now says that anyone in a same-sex marriage is apostate. It makes no sense. Gay Mormons can be supportive of the church in every other way (paying tithing, keeping the commandments, serving in a calling, home teaching, living the Word of Wisdom, and so forth), yet if they marry someone of the same sex, somehow that’s considered a turning away. If you’re going to list marriage as a sign of apostasy, why not list living common law as a sign of apostasy?

In addition, it’s hypocritical to mandate church discipline for marriage when there are far worse things (rape and child abuse for example) for which church discipline is optional.

Finally, limiting the children of gay parents from fully participating in the church’s sacraments is wholly unfair. The church is not actually concerned with protecting children; it’s using that as an excuse to punish its gay members who are parents. If the welfare of children was truly important, then things that actually damage children would be addressed. For example, making church discipline mandatory for those who abuse children or labelling child abuse as a sign of apostasy would be a start. By not taking action on things that actually harm children, the church shows us that its stance on protecting children is empty and meaningless.

The so-called clarification letter issued by the church certainly improves the lives of children in straight families with gay parents or children in gay families who have already received ordinances. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that this policy still targets a group of children in the church: those of gay parents.

And the policy clarification changes nothing for our situation. Our bisexual daughter, should she choose to marry a woman and have children raised in the church, would still be a target of the policy. I would still never be able to to bless or baptize those grandchildren.

And that hurts. My church has hurt me.

Last Thursday, it felt like my church sucker punched me in the gut. Today, those bruises are not gone. I don’t feel less angry. My decision to stay is not an admission that the policy was right. No, I categorically reject the policy. It is entirely wrong. I’m staying despite the policy.

Speaking of my daughter, some have suggested that I need to take steps to protect my daughter. That just stinks of patriarchal sexism. My 17-year-old daughter is an independent, strong young adult getting ready to go out into the world on her own. She needs no protection from her father. She can take care of herself, and she has done so.

So where does this leave me?

Well, I’m staying in the church with some conditions. I will not be silent. I’ve been a supporter of LGBT rights in the church for at least 12 years, but it has mostly been silent support. This summer, when our daughter publicly came out, I used it as an opportunity to publicly declare my support for marriage equality, that people should have the right to be in a monogamous, loving relationship raising children in a stable, nurturing home regardless of the sex of their spouse.

I will remain a strong supporter of LGBT rights in the church. LGBT Mormons need safe places to practise their religion. LGBT youth need support and encouragement, not rejection and being told by their leaders and parents that they disgust them and there’s no place for them in heaven. It’s bad enough that our society rejects LGBT people. Followers of Jesus shouldn’t reject them, too.

I’m not sure how sticking up for LGBT members will work in practice with my social anxiety, but I’ll try my best.

For the last six months, since my grandmother died, I have not been sharing anything on Facebook other than status updates. That’s changing as of today. I will return to sharing articles on my feed, especially ones that are critical of the church, that challenge conventional Mormon views. People need to regularly take inventory of how they view the world around them; they need to check the tint of their glasses. I no longer care how that affects the way people view me. I’ve made Mormonism work for me and I’m at peace with my relationship with God. What others think of me changes neither of those two things.

I worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience.

16 thoughts on “Fine. I’ll stay. But I’m really pissed off.

  1. Wow. Kim reading this actually disturbed me. What makes you actually think the policy was written by the church’s law firm and not by our prophets, apostles, seers and revelators as you put it. If you actually think logically about this and from a Christ centered point of view it makes total sense. It worries me that you are questioning our prophets and it makes me sad to know your position in church is a teacher, and I pray nobody I love is being taught anything so apostate like this from you or anyone of the like. In fact this made me think of a quote from Joseph Smith himself,

    “I will give you on of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity. That man who rises up to condem others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is on the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostisize, as God lives.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 156)

    1. If you think you’re disturbed, Amanda, imagine how I feel.

      James Ord mentions on this podcast that an inside source reported the policy was written by Kirton McConkie:

      http://athoughtfulfaith.org/church-policy-changes-and-their-legal-contexts-james-ord/

      It makes sense to me given that Kirton McConkie is the church’s law firm and that they specialize (among other things) in employee handbooks:

      http://www.kmclaw.com/practices-Employee-Handbooks-Practices-and-Policies.html

      What makes you think the policy was written by our prophets, apostles, seers and revelators? There is nothing to suggest that they wrote the policy changes. Sure, I’ll give you that they approved them, but we have no proof that they wrote them. If you want to believe that they did, that’s your prerogative, but that’s an opinion based on an assumption.

      I would love for you to explain the logic that allows this to make total sense because I’ve been trying to find logic in the inconsistencies for over a week, and I’ve found no logic.

      That’s just it: I’m questioning the policies, not the prophet. This an administrative move, not a doctrine. Just because they are god’s mouthpieces doesn’t mean they never make administrative mistakes.

      Even President Uchtdorf realizes that our leaders make mistakes:

      “And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when . . . leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes.”

      https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng

      The only thing I ever teach are things found in the scriptures, so you never have to worry about my teaching something apostate in my classes.

      That being said, ask yourself why it’s so important for you to hold so tightly to the idea that your leaders are infallible despite being human?

      I’ll leave you with this:

      “When ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ comes from [the prophet], the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.” Elder Charles W. Penrose

  2. “That being said, ask yourself why it’s so important for you to hold so tightly to the idea that your leaders are infallible despite being human?”

    That’s a Straw Man Argument, Kim. Amanda is not claiming infallibility for our leaders. Normal members of the Church do not claim infallibility for our leaders. You claim it for us! That is intellectually dishonest.

    Neither do we claim the dichotomy that you see in your mind: either one thinks the prophets are infallible or they must question everything because they probably know better than the prophets anyway.

    The key point here is that you continually reject the prophets over and over again with your heretical views. The prophets are not infallible, but they do guide us the right way and set standards for doctrine. You’re rejecting their guidance.

    Do you not think the policy was carefully considered? Do you not think that homosexual behavior is sinful and morally wrong? I’m guessing you would answer No and No. If so you are rejecting the counsel of God in the first instance, and the plain doctrine of the kingdom in the second. It takes an impressive kind of sophistry and philosophical maneuvering to spout the things that you do and still claim to be committed to the religion.

    You said: “That’s just it: I’m questioning the policies, not the prophet. This an administrative move, not a doctrine.”

    This whole statement is an absurdity, because the policies come from and are approved by the prophet! If you reject the policies, you reject the prophet. Jesus said, “He that rejecteth? me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth? him: the word? that I have spoken, the same shall judge? him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent? me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:48-49). Jesus was a representative of the Father, just as the prophet is a representative of Christ (D&C 1:38). Also, administrative policies stem from and are based on doctrine. If you have such big problems with the policies, it is almost certainly because you have a problem with the doctrine, and its ultimate source.

    Here you accused our Church leaders of lying and being deceitful: “The church is not actually concerned with protecting children; it’s using that as an excuse to punish its gay members who are parents.”

    Really? Well, that’s not what the Church said. So your persistence in believing that is tantamount to accusing the top leaders of the Church of lying. Nice. But hey, don’t misconstrue that as questioning the prophets, right Kim?

    It may seem to you that you’ve claimed the moral high ground here, because you’ve come to believe that political correctness – and not the teachings of scriptures and prophets – is the true and living faith. But normal Mormons will reject you as a heretic. I dare you to speak openly about your thoughts in your classes that you have the misfortune of influencing; or next time you give a sacrament talk, read this blog post from the pulpit; then watch yourself get roundly rejected. Why? Because what you are saying here is heresy among Mormons and within the religion of Mormonism.

    1. Are we playing fallacy poker, Ryan? I’ll see your strawman and I’ll raise you red herrings, ad hominem, appeal to authority, no true scotsman, and begging the question.

      But you’re right. I made some assumptions when Amanda she questioned my claim that the leaders didn’t write the policy then said that she was worried that I was questioning the same leaders. She very well may not consider them to be infallible.

      I’m sorry, but I’m the world’s authority on what’s in my mind, and I wholeheartedly assure that the dichotomy you say exists there doesn’t.

      The key point is that I continually reject the prophets? Really? That’s the key point? Out of this entire issue, the one thing that else revolves around is whether I reject the prophets. That’s is an odd reading of this post and the broader issue. Regardless, even If I did reject their guidance, why do I watch conference twice a year, write down their words, review their words, and apply them in my own life so I can become a better Christian?

      No, I don’t think the policies were carefully considered. Considered? Possibly. Carefully? No. If they were carefully considered, surely someone must have seen the inconsistencies and hypocrisies inherent in those policies

      I think homosexual behaviour is sinful and morally wrong in the same way I think heterosexual behaviour is sinful and morally wrong.

      So, because I don’t think these policies were carefully considered then I reject the counsel of God? Whoops. Looks like I forgot the hasty generalization fallacy in my first sentence of this comment.

      Sophistry and philosophical manoeuvring? Why? Because I believe some things differently from you? Everyone must believe precisely the same things to claim to be committed to Mormonism? That’s ridiculous.

      Oh, please, just because I reject what is effectively an administrative policy in an employee handbook does not mean I reject the prophet. Now, who’s creating dichotomies? And again with your hasty generalizations: just because I reject a handful policies by no means I reject the doctrine. And tell me, if the policies are based on doctrine, upon which doctrine is the policy based that we use kitchen ovens for warming only or that we not have any open flames in our meetinghouses?

      I think it’s ironic that you are accusing me of accusing the leaders of lying and being deceitful. I did no such thing.

      Maybe it does seem that I’m claiming the moral high ground. The thing is though, I wasn’t. I can claim something is wrong without saying I’m morally superior. I can say that I disagree with something someone has issued without thinking they are spiritually inferior to me.

      Funny that you should accuse me of heresy. A friend and I were talking just hours before you commented about how no one had called me a heretic yet.

      Okay. I’m tired, and I still have a lot to do. If you’re going to respond again, will you please do your best to keep your emotions in check, so we don’t have another response filled with logical fallacies that I have to waste time debunking?

      Calling my integrity and testimony into question does nothing to move the discussion forward except perhaps in your own mind. Moral superiority indeed.

    2. No. Many of us–including “normal Mormons”– do not believe the policy was carefully considered. Our prophet is unwell, Public Affairs was apparently not informed of the changes, and the policy is counter-doctrinal and counter-scripture.

      It is not heretical to worry when leaders of a church bearing the name of Jesus Christ adopt a policy forbidding children from the waters of baptism.

  3. Amanda does not believe that the Church leaders are infallible, Kim. I know her personally and can say that without any doubt. Also, I can honestly say that I’ve never met a member of the Church (who is of sound mind) that would attribute the infallibility to prophets such as you impute to faithful members.

    “I’m sorry, but I’m the world’s authority on what’s in my mind, and I wholeheartedly assure that the dichotomy you say exists there doesn’t.”

    You’re right, I can’t pretend to know what’s going on inside your head. Your mind is quite a mystery to me, I must confess. But if you’re so liberated from that dichotomy in your mind, then why do you propose it as though it is the case? I don’t see any effort on your end to understand people like Amanda or I (or others that represent the mainstream of the Church). All you have offered is caricatures.

    “The key point is that I continually reject the prophets? Really? That’s the key point? Out of this entire issue, the one thing that else revolves around is whether I reject the prophets. That’s is an odd reading of this post and the broader issue.”

    Yes, Kim. That’s the crucial issue here. That fact that you can’t see that as the most pressing problem is the reason you’re struggling so much.

    “So, because I don’t think these policies were carefully considered then I reject the counsel of God?”

    If the scriptures are true, then it would appear so: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38).

    “If they [the policies] were carefully considered, surely someone must have seen the inconsistencies and hypocrisies inherent in those policies”

    I see. If the policies were carefully considered then the Church leaders would have concluded the same way as you would have. But they haven’t so they haven’t considered carefully. You must be one amazing person, Kim Siever, to be so much smarter and spiritually aware than the prophets.

    “I think it’s ironic that you are accusing me of accusing the leaders of lying and being deceitful. I did no such thing.”

    You absolutely DID call the Church leaders liars. I pointed that out clearly in my previous post, and you glossed over it. I think it’s ironic that you’re now lying about not calling them liars.

    Absolutely I question your testimony, Kim, because people with a strong testimony do not hold the views that you hold. The actually BELIEVE what the religion teaches.

    Why do you watch Conference and write down their words? I could guess. Let me ask you: Why do you reject the very same words when they don’t suit your sensibilities? Do you tell yourself that it’s okay to deviate from the doctrine because you write down notes at General Conference and love Jesus?

    If you believe that homosexual behavior is not sinful then you do not believe Mormonism. That’s a fact.

    You said: “I think homosexual behaviour is sinful and morally wrong in the same way I think heterosexual behaviour is sinful and morally wrong.”

    The Church teaches: “Like other violations of the law of chastity, homosexual behavior is a serious sin.” (Gospel Principles Manual, p. 227).

    The scriptures say: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination” (Lev. 20:13); “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” (Rom. 1:26-27); “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Cor. 6:9); “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7).

    But you don’t like those teachings, so you’ll ignore them. You’re right, and the Church is wrong. Was that the lesson that you scribbled down in your Conference notebook?

    By claiming that the leadership of the Church is wrong on issue X, you are absolutely claiming moral superiority over them. You are saying that your moral judgment is better, just by the very fact of your objection. Well, I don’t think Kim Siever is morally superior to God’s prophets. And I certainly don’t think he understands Christ or his doctrine better than they do.

    “just because I reject a handful policies by no means I reject the doctrine. And tell me, if the policies are based on doctrine, upon which doctrine is the policy based that we use kitchen ovens for warming only or that we not have any open flames in our meetinghouses?”

    I think it’s a lot more than “a handful of policies” that you take issue with, first of all. I mean, who are we kidding here? Next, I’d be glad to answer the question about the doctrine underlying the kitchens: “But, verily I say unto you, I have appointed unto you to be stewards over mine house, even stewards indeed.” (D&C 104:57). That is, we are to safeguard the assets of the Church. You have some real trouble seeing the big picture, don’t you? That’s why you’re so accepting of sinful perversion like homosexuality.

    “Sophistry and philosophical manoeuvring? Why? Because I believe some things differently from you? Everyone must believe precisely the same things to claim to be committed to Mormonism? That’s ridiculous.”

    It’s not that you have to exactly match everything little thing that I believe about doctrine. What I believe is not relevant. It’s that you have to believe what the Church teaches, Kim. You don’t. That’s how I (and others who give you a hard time) know that you’re not committed to Mormonism. The same goes for any “ism” – if you don’t adhere to many of its fundamental concepts then how can you say that you’re committed to it?

    No true Scotsman. Sounds like you’re too scared to take my dare, because you know how badly you would be exposed publicly. I’m sorry, it’s just that ANY normal member of the Church reading this would see immediately how out-to-lunch you are. And it’s not because of my personal idea of what a Mormon should be (i.e. No true Scotsman), it’s because you deviate widely from the Church so much that your thinking is not parallel to it. Talking to you is like stepping into the Twilight Zone where everything is upside down and backwards.

    “Funny that you should accuse me of heresy. A friend and I were talking just hours before you commented about how no one had called me a heretic yet.”

    No, it’s not funny. It’s pretty darn serious. If you have so many people – members of the Church – telling you how far off track you are all the time, maybe that should be a signal to stop and consider your worldview. It’s clear that you can’t adequately defend it. I’ve already conversed with you enough about this topic and communism to know that you haven’t the ability to back up your reasoning with scripture or doctrine or anything. That, of course, is because you’re plain wrong. My recommendation is that you resolve to follow Mormonism.

  4. What saddens me is pointed criticism of Kim proves he is right. He is struggling with a faith crisis. He may be on his way out but even if he is we don’t want to push him out do we? Can we cut him some slack and let him express his feelings and accept them with a bit of compassion? He doesn’t need to see mean spirited attacks right now. It sounded to me as if his family has already received the cold shoulder.

    Perhaps Kim is right about Mormon culture being mean spirited and critical, and judgmental. Where is the love? Can we disagree with Kim and still love him and fellowship with him and encourage him? He made a pretty big concession to stick with it. Let’s give him some space to find his place again. Let him catch his breath. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

    Remember that we will be judged by the measure we use. If we judge by the gallon we will be judged by the gallon. If we judge with a teaspoon we will be judged with a teaspoon.

    The way I see things.

    P.S. The church does not take official positions on politics so I don’t know how we can be absolutely sure Communism isn’t OK. Even if communism were misguided I don’t believe political beliefs impact our salvation, at all. If Jesus were here I doubt he would be a Republican or a Conservative.

    1. “He is struggling with a faith crisis. He may be on his way out but even if he is we don’t want to push him out do we? Can we cut him some slack and let him express his feelings and accept them with a bit of compassion?”

      Yes, I agree that it is too bad. But it’s a situation created by his own views, which views I have taken issue with. If he didn’t hold the views he does, he wouldn’t be having this faith crisis. Indulging him in them, therefore, is doing him no favors. The solution to his problem is to change his views to the truth.

      “P.S. The church does not take official positions on politics so I don’t know how we can be absolutely sure Communism isn’t OK.”

      In response to this I will defer to the First Presidency:

      “The Church does not interfere, and has no intention of trying to interfere, with the fullest and freest exercise of the political franchise of its members, under and within our Constitution…. But Communism is not a political party nor a political plan under the Constitution; it is a system of government that is the opposite of our Constitutional government, and it would be necessary to destroy our government before Communism could be set up in the United States…. To our Church members we say: Communism is not the United Order, and bears only the most superficial resemblance thereto; Communism is based upon intolerance and force, the United Order upon love and freedom of conscience and action; Communism involves forceful despoliation and confiscation, the United Order voluntary consecration and sacrifice…. no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist. We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism.”
      (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, Messages of the First Presidency, 6:17-18).

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