You aren’t alone. Many of us have been exactly where you are. When you called, you didn’t have to say much before I understood. You’d encountered the Fanny Alger story. You’d been taught Joseph Smith’s polygamy began in Nauvoo, not Kirtland, and with Emma’s consent, not behind her back. Your image of Joseph Smith is shattered, and with it, your trust in the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These men who pushed a scrubbed clean narrative of Joseph no longer seem incorruptible. You feel broken. What was certain no longer is. With each breath, your pain reminds you of Emma’s pain.Continue reading “Dear LDS Woman, on Discovering Joseph Smith Deceived Emma”
Some faces I can’t forget, like the girl from my freshman ward at BYU who habitually confessed her sins to me after she confessed them to our bishop. I barely knew her. She was my age with piercing blue eyes and, when she spoke, her voice sounded as southern as any I’d ever heard. The first time she asked to speak to me privately, her demeanor revealed I shouldn’t decline. I soon found myself sitting outside on a bench with her as she sobbed a confession of sexual indiscretion. My hand reached for hers, and I wondered why she had come to me.
Over the next months, she and I met several times, always at her request and usually soon after she’d interviewed with our bishop. The sins she confessed to him—and then to me—were typical sexual sins for single, LDS people our age: masturbation and “allowing” a boyfriend to grind himself, fully clothed, against her until he climaxed. Fearing I’d misunderstand, she stated emphatically that she remained a virgin. Continue reading “The Indecency of Female Confession to Male Church Authority”
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” ~Alexander Den Heijer
LTD: I have an abiding interest in helping LDS people understand the perspectives of those who leave their fellowship. What follows is a guest post, written by a dear friend, explaining what began her journey away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
As everyone in my life knows, I was 100% dedicated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its doctrine before I left the Church. In the LDS Church, I developed a close relationship with God and Jesus. I read scriptures diligently and the spirit taught me. Some might think anti-Mormon literature got to me, or I succumbed to a progressive agenda. Most may think its “the gay thing,” because I’ve come to terms with my own sexual attraction. If I’m honest, the Church itself is what propelled me to where I am now. The Church is its own worst enemy.
You see, I would go to church, and the lesson that was taught was the exact opposite of what I had just read in the scriptures or what God had spoken to my heart. Continue reading “When Jesus is Outside the Boat”
IN 1980, I BECAME A STUDENT at Brigham Young University, not long after the American Psychiatric Association reportedly removed “homosexuality” from its list of mental and behavioral disorders. To say the declassification had caused a stir on campus would be an understatement. Religious ire was up, and, throughout my years at BYU, both student and professor alike interpreted the change as “the world” normalizing sin and as Satan “winning over the hearts of men” in the last days. In my campus congregation, I was often reminded I’d been reserved for the spiritual battles to precede the second coming and to figuratively suit up.
So I girded up my loins just like my peers, full of devotion to God, even though I’d given the topic of homosexuality exactly as much thought as was held within the pages of Spencer W. Kimball’s The Miracle of Forgiveness.Continue reading “From Error to Apology, or The Path to Grace in a Homophobic Faith”
To all the transgender Mormons, post or present, I want to make something clear: there are some things wrong in contemporary Mormonism, but you are not one of those things.
Our nearly 200-year history has bloated with one particularly harmful idea, namely that authority is external rather than internal. By this I mean that, as Latter-day Saints, we accept and celebrate the idea that someone else has authority that we don’t have. It starts in the family where tradition places the father as patriarch and final word. The bishop has authority we don’t have and the Stake President out-authorities him. Ultimately, we accept that one man (the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) holds the keys to the Kingdom of God on earth and in him rests all authority. The preference for external authority is so deeply ingrained that internal authority is viewed as highly suspect and we’re cautioned that it leads the “very elect” astray. Continue reading “The Problem of Externalized Authority: A Response to the Mormon Gender Binary”
A recent Sacrament meeting in my ward focused on developing unity. Unity is a topic that often occupies my thoughts because, when I look around my ward, what I notice are the faces I no longer see. Unity isn’t what’s happening in today’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Division is increasing. The orthodox stay. The heterodox leave. As an openly heterodox member, I’m getting more and more lonely in the crowd. Continue reading “The Struggle for LDS Unity”
For most Latter-day Saints, the answer to the abortion question is a resounding no. Yet, the official Handbooks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clearly state that abortion is allowable when:
- Pregnancy resulted from forcible rape or incest.
- A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy.
- A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. (See 24.1.4)
In a recent Salt Lake Tribune article, Peggy Fletcher Stack demonstrates this stance on abortion suits the faithful of both political parties. The unanswered question, then, is how most practicing LDS came to their strident opposition to abortion. Continue reading “On LDS Abortion Exceptions and the Angel Mother”
Dear Straight Latter-day Saints,
To be clear, I am one of you, both because I am heterosexual and a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When the reversal of the Policy of Exclusion (PoX) became public, I, like you, celebrated. My celebration, however, was cut off by the fierce growl of the wounded and weary LGBTQ Mormon and post-Mormon community as it carried across social media. The reversal, they said, didn’t make anything better for them. The PoX was gone, but the Theology of Exclusion remains. I’ve spent this week in reflection, reading as many LBGTQ voices as I could, hoping to understand them with clarity. Today, I’ll share some thoughts, from one straight person to another. To do this, I must indulge in a personal story, one that is unflattering to say the least. Continue reading “Open Letter to Straight Latter-day Saints From a Straight Latter-day Saint”
I vividly remember apostle Russell M. Nelson’s April 1990 General Conference address in which he reminded members to use the proper, full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I remember because I agreed, having never been fond of the nickname “Mormon” for either Church or member. Today, as president of the Church, Nelson is reiterating his sentiments by asking both members and non-members to drop “Mormon” entirely. In its stead, he’s sanctioned the use of “The Church of Jesus Christ” and the official Church website will soon become churchofJesusChrist.org, a move that a Salt Lake Tribune article indicates seems innocuous to some outside the Church and offensive to others. What the article doesn’t note is the feelings of Latter-day Saints about the removal of their identity from the URL. Continue reading “The Problem with Uncoupling “Jesus Christ” and “Latter-day Saints””
In less than a year and half, Russell M. Nelson, as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is managing to do something I hadn’t expected: he’s bringing hope back for many who had lost it, especially after the Policy of Exclusion became part of formal Church system. The hope I speak of isn’t perfect—and it’s far from full-grown—but the seed has taken root and the seedling seems to be pushing through the soil. Continue reading “The Restoration of Hope”