I left the Mormon church in 2005. I unapologetically refer to it as a cult, and not a single Sunday goes by that I am not thankful to have escaped. It feels strange, so many years later, to be shaking with rage at something the church has done.
In a move that seems archaic, even by Mormon standards, the church recently announced that same-sex marriage is now on par with apostasy – total renunciation of the faith. That part isn’t actually very shocking. The Mormon church has always been, in my humble experience over 17 years of indoctrination, extremely homophobic.
The part that is so abhorrent and soul crushing about this new policy is that children living in same-sex households may not be blessed as babies or baptized.
A blessing in the Mormon faith is similar to a christening. The baby is dressed in white and displayed in front of the entire congregation during a special prayer. It’s a Mormon’s symbolic welcome into the community. The baptism happens at age eight. Being old enough to understand right from wrong, a kid is given a clean slate, and officially inducted into the church.
But for kids with gay parents, these childhood rites of passage are now put on hold until the age of 18. There isn’t a single other “sin” for which a person’s children could be thus ostracized from the congregation. Not one. In fact, the Mormon’s second Article of Faith (a series of statements about the religion that children are encouraged to memorize in super culty fashion) states that “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” So I guess now they’re going to have to revise that one and add, “unless you’re gay,” at the end.
Maybe they should add that to all of them, just to be on the safe side.
I shouldn’t let this bother me. After all, it doesn’t really affect me anymore. But I can’t let it go, because I know what it’s like to grow up in that religion. Even doing everything “right,” you’re still made to feel guilty.
I’ve been free for just over a decade, and I am still recovering from the damage the Mormon church has inflicted on my capacity to stand up for myself, my sexuality and relationship to my body, my ability to trust others, and, trivial as it may seem, my relationship with coffee.
If I could find one single person to blame (or sue?) maybe that would give me some closure, but at it stands, all I can do is continue to heal at my own pace. And that’s with a fairly vanilla childhood and hetero parents. This new policy is going to cause psychological harm to children and their families by marking them as second-class citizens.
I don’t think this is actually about homosexuality. I’m pretty confident that this is about the church’s antiquated gender roles. The man in a marriage holds the priesthood and acts as the head of the household; the woman is in a separate (but just as important! they always remind me, it’s just as important) role that involves mom stuff, and from what I have observed, an extraordinary amount of emotional labor. I guess if there were two husbands, they wouldn’t be able to decide which one is actually the boss, and if there were two wives, there wouldn’t be anyone to tell them what to do. Plus, imagine the confusion during the Mother’s Day program: which mom will get the token thanks and wilted carnation?
I am always impressed by people who try to change the church from the inside rather than jumping ship. If religion brings people comfort, I would not want to take that away from them. And, as someone with a large Mormon family, I can understand wanting to stay for the sake of loved ones. But for my part, I don’t think the church can be fixed or saved. At least not fast enough to help all of the people who are going to be harmed by this new piece of doctrine.
That is, unless all of the Mormons who have personally told me they don’t hate gay people would prove it by standing up to this spiteful, bigoted policy.
Am I excommunicated yet?