The Mormon Church Has Out-Mormoned Itself

by | November 11, 2015
filed under LGBT, My Reality

Old copy of the Book of Mormon open to title page

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?

1841 Book of Mormon open to title page” by ProsfilaesOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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  • Robert Keaney

    Dear Mrs. Critcher,

    I am deeply sorry for any pain that you have felt on behalf of the churches decision. This is a particularly trying time for many of us and I understand there’s allot of bad blood right now between the LGBT and LDS community.

    This whole matter has left so many of us torn up inside. One of our wards returned missionaries talked about how she helped renew a same sex couple while on her mission. She was so proud. We could all see the spirit was with her while she spoke.

    I’m so ashamed of who I am. She is so strong, so brave, and I’m nothing compared to some one like that.

    My Neighbor is torn up inside and I can do nothing. He served his mission, he tried to follow the game plan, and gave it his all. After years of pretending to be some one else he started to get depressed. Then he realized that god wanted him to be happy.

    But you can’t undo what they did to him . His heart is so pure. He is so much more devout than I. A thousands times more worthy of praise then I will ever be. He knows that god will never forsake him, he knows that jusus’s mercy is infinite, but he can’t forgive himself.

    I rememeber staring into his eyes. Calling upon all the verses I could remember to help him. Something, anything, hoping beyond hope I could get through. It couldn’t work. He knew every verse, he’d spent hours praying to the lord, and I could not save him from himself. I spoke about the miracle of atonement. Nothing could get through. I felt so defeated. So broken.

    My mind drifted back to what our foot ball teams youth minister taught us. About how it was our personnel relationship with god that mattered. About how if we gave ourselves to jesus then we’d be saved no matter what any one else said. We learned there that Jesus was actually against organized religion because people put their own customs before that of god. He taught us so much. I didn’t listen.

    So here I am. A failure. Other people have the courage to change things from the inside. But I’m not a mormon. My parents will never let me get baptized. The black sheep at the ward, the black sheep among the christians, the demon of others moralities.

    I”m so very sorry Mrs. Chritcher. Also you’re right as always. This is about the church’s view of the family.

    Jessica, I have a question for you. Which do you think is more harmful to a child. Being excluded from something or being taught their entire lifes that what their parents do is wrong. You know what I’m talking about. In this church we teach children what is right and wrong from a young age. What happens when they come home from seminary with all those ideas rattling around in their head.

    They see their parents kiss. But families are only between a man and a woman aren’t they?

    How will they deal with that. What will that make them feel?

    The cold hard bitter truth is that this measure will save many children form feeling what we feel. They won’t have to be twisted up inside. They won’t have to be ashamed of who or what they are. When they are 18 they can make a decision.

    Any ways, I’d like to apologize Jessica. I’m sorry.