"I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." So goes the song Mormon children have been honking out in Primary Programs across space and time. "I belong to" -- what an endearingly possessive little phrase. Some people think it's indoctrination, but I've always found it more comforting than cultish. The Church has me. I'm supposed to be here. It's drawn its initials and telephone number onto the tag of my shirt with permanent marker so I'm easily returned if ever misplaced. Because the Church is just a place where people belong. The claim is pretty integral to its whole thesis, when you think of it: each person is a child of God; God loves His children; He wants every single one to come back and be with Him. If the Mormon church really is the tool God uses to achieve this ultimate aim, then people belong there. I do, you do, everyone does.
But Thursday night, news outlets broke this story. The Church has now proactively excluded gay couples and their children from its fold. They've taken aside those families and told them "No. You do not belong to us."
My religion is now at odds with the values it has instilled in me from infancy. This inconsistency has left me confused, scared, frustrated, infuriated, concerned. All of the bad feelings. Think of it this way: Mormonism is a 100,000-piece Bob Ross jigsaw puzzle of the snow-topped Rocky Mountains. I love the picture on the box. It gives me warm tingly feelings in my belly. I've been working on putting the puzzle together for the past 22 years. The process can be challenging, but on a deep level it makes sense to me. As the years go by, I fit more and more of the pieces together -- and at very least I can see how every empty edge must have a mate jumbled somewhere underneath the huge pile I've yet to assemble. Then, Thursday night, some old dude (let's call him Neil) walked up to me, tossed a shark tooth onto my pile, and said "here is another piece to put into your puzzle lol bye." NO NEIL. NO. I CAN'T PUT THAT IN MY PUZZLE. WHY? BECAUSE IT'S A F☃CKING SHARK TOOTH THAT'S WHY. JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE OBSESSED WITH OCEAN PREDATORS DOES NOT MEAN I CAN FIT A SHARK TOOTH INTO MY ALPINE-THEMED JIGSAW PUZZLE. Anyway, thanks to Neil, I now have a stupid shark tooth floating around my otherwise-groovy jigsaw puzzle. It hides out and jabs my fingers whenever I try to reach for new pieces. Do I ignore it? Do I throw it out? Do I give up on the puzzle? Or worse, do I try to fit the shark tooth into the puzzle -- poking and stabbing it into other pieces until they become mangled enough to accommodate the foreign body? To stop with the weird-butt metaphors and make my point, this new policy (policy NOT doctrine policy NOT doctrine policy NOT doctrine *starts hyperventilating*) simply does not fit with the Mormonism I know and love. It's made of other stuff entirely.*
I had the sister missionaries over on Thursday night, before I learned about any of this. For their spiritual thought they asked me to reread Elder Nelson's talk, A Plea to My Sisters -- one of my favorites from this past General Conference. In it, he exhorts the women of the Church to make our voices heard. He tells us "we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith . . . who are courageous defenders of morality and families." This is me trying to be that, Elder Nelson. This is me speaking up. I love the brethren's good counsel. I'm grateful for their inspired leadership. But I do not accept this new policy. I once heard Elder Holland say that the Church can withstand a little false doctrine; what it can't tolerate is an absence of Christlike love. This new policy combines both of those things at the highest levels. It's a big old crack in the edifice of my religiosity.
So, dear brethren, fix this. Please. I'm not asking on behalf of gay people. Not for their children, either. This is a totally selfish request. Fix it for me because I'm afraid of leaving the place where I've learned the truest things I know. Fix it for me because I don't think I can become a bigot-by-association with an institution which proceduralizes discrimination against families. I don't know how you're going to do it -- the past days haven't exactly given me faith in your collective judgement -- but fix this because, right now, you're the only ones who can. You're my best hope against total despair. Please get this church back on the right track and please do it soon.
In preparation for a talk I'm giving next Sunday, I was googling the word 'meek' (I was thinking of doing this totally cool thing where I, like, *define* meek in my talk by, like, using the *dictionary* definition?!). One of the first things that pops up is a hella-corny needlepoint of the phrase 'If you think being meek is weak, try being meek for a week.' I'm going to take that sign as a sign. I'm going to try to give you time. I'm going to try to be forgiving and long-suffering and obedient. But don't expect me to ever fall in line with this bullshit and don't expect me to wait quietly for you to clean it up. Sorry for cursing. But seriously. This shit's fucked up.
*This isn't to say the church has never done stuff in the past which doesn't jive with me. There's a long list of non-groovy policies, practices, and decisions that I could lay out here. But somehow this one's combination of unnecessarines, contemporariness and officialness (← all made-up words) is especially galling. It's implementation reflects directly on the judgement of the present Church's presiding authorities.