The Church Doesn’t Want Me

Yesterday I was reading a touching blog post about the experiences a girl named Lauren had growing up gay in the LDS Church. Her struggles struck me deeply, and I tried to imagine what it would be like to feel completely out of place in the church. As I read Lauren’s experiences I had a profound realization: I too am out of place in the church.

The Church doesn’t want the real me; they want some false, fake version of me that doesn’t exist.

The Church doesn’t want the real me because the real me believes that

  • I have no right to tell a gay couple that they can’t get married
  • I have no right to force my belief system on anyone else
  • Woman and men are equals in every sense of the word, and that this view needs to extend beyond lip service; it must be shown in action too
  • Churches should use their money to help the poor rather than building gaudy temples and shopping malls
  • We should be addressing the LGBT suicide epidemic in Utah, not ignoring it
  • The Church turns women into sex objects by telling them that they become porn when they dress in a certain way
  • The Church turns men into sex objects by telling them that they are sex-driven creatures who will become rapists if they look at porn even once
  • Smothering your sexuality, rather than embracing it, is dangerously unhealthy
  • Porn isn’t inherently bad
  • God’s true church (if such an organization exists) should be up front about its faults, rather than hiding them away in obscure essays on its website
  • The Book of Mormon isn’t a historical account and was likely a fabrication created by Joseph Smith
  • Having dark skin isn’t a curse from God
  • Love is sacred, and that means not getting engaged after a few weeks/months. It also means being with somebody that is truly important to you.
  • Emotions are not a valid way to discern truth
  • No man should tell a woman what to do with her body
  • Middle-aged men with no formal training should not be asking teenagers about their sexual habits, especially behind closed doors
  • People should never give 10% of their income to a multi-billion-dollar church before feeding their children
  • A black and white, good and evil view of the world is not only fallacious but downright dangerous
  • Close family and friends should never be excluded from a marriage ceremony
  • Joseph Smith was wrong to marry multiple women. Choosing to marry teenagers and other women behind his wife’s back was utterly despicable. All of this spits in the face of the church’s “marriage is sacred” rhetoric
  • It is wrong for any faith tradition to force its beliefs on other people
  • Any divinely-inspired church should focus primarily on helping its members become better people rather than worrying about whether they masturbated last night

If I were to advocate for any of these things openly, I’d risk excommunication. It’s happened to others and it sure as hell could happen to me. The Church doesn’t want members who think for themselves, they want members who will submit to the church’s will, regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

Unfortunately for them, I refuse to bow down. I would rather live authentically and be frowned upon by my friends and family than to live miserably as an inauthentic shell of myself.

 

Note: I am in no way trying to imply that my struggles are comparable to Lauren’s. While my experiences in the church are difficult, I’m confident that Lauren’s are more strenuous by a significant amount.

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3 Thoughts

  1. “The Church doesn’t want the real me; they want some false, fake version of me that doesn’t exist.”

    I’ve felt this way. I actually had a decent relationship with my local ward, but a very poor relationship with the institutional LDS Church.

    After my mission, I attended a YSA ward and built up many friendships with the people there. After a year or two, my beliefs had changed considerably, and I stopped attending everything except for ward sports night. I made several attempts to return to active church attendance after my faith deconstruction. I knew I couldn’t be active in the Church without being authentic, so I was fairly clear, when asked, what my beliefs were and weren’t (for example in interviews with the Bishop, or with home teachers). I seldom attended Sunday School or Priesthood, because I wasn’t interested in torturing myself over whether I should or shouldn’t challenge claims being made by teachers (many of whom I knew and genuinely liked). I sat on the couch in the foyer, mostly, and read books that fed my spirituality, such as Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” and Phil Zuckerman’s “Living the Secular Life.”

    Sometimes people would sit down and talk with me. I built a stronger connection to several of these people as we had genuine conversations about life, the universe, and everything. But I couldn’t escape the fact that in order for me to survive (barely) as an “active” member, I had to relegate myself to the foyer. I felt that I was not valued for my gifts and talents; I was viewed mostly as one who “struggled with his testimony” or “had doubts about the church, and couldn’t get over it.” I never had particularly unpleasant interactions with anybody in that ward, but I felt that I didn’t belong. Sitting on the couch wasn’t a sustainable solution to my desire to be authentic, be actively involved in the community, and connect meaningfully with people.

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    1. Thank you. This is exactly how I feel. I’ve tried to force myself to get back into the church scene for the community, but every second is pure torture because it kills me to be unauthentic. Nobody inside the church understands it. It kills me to see false things being taught as truth. Ultimately I don’t feel like the church wants the real version of me, they want the happy go lucky true believer version of me that died two and a half years ago.

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