Moving to British Columbia from Alberta has really given me the opportunity to really break out of my comfort zone. The social circles and relationships I have built up in the church are no longer holding me back from my expressing my views in a public forum and bringing these views to the attention of local leadership in the church. The relationships that may have been strained as a result of my views on everything from modesty, nudity and masturbation no longer hold me back as those people, while still good friends are no longer people I spend time with due to being in BC while they are in Alberta. Being here has allowed me to re-establish myself and break out of my shell. This has led to the point of being at a critical crossroads in my relationship with the church of which I am a member.
My life in the church has been one of tremendous blessings and benefits. I have received support, love, peace and happiness within the faith I have been raised in for the greater part of my adult life, if not all of it.
Now I find myself confronted with a seemingly impossible decision. My temple recommend has been taken, while not fully unexpected still frustrating because I feel as if I have done no wrong. While I can recognize that, yes I have brought this on myself by being public in my views and drawing attention to them by telling my Bishop, I feel and know that if I did not speak up on matters of concern to me and millions of others in the church then It would only have fostered boiling resentment and frustration. I would never be able to have peace in my heart and mind knowing I was sitting back and saying nothing while my children’s well-being was at risk. Considering the conversations I have had with other members, I have not spoken anything that was not already being thought by many. I have only had two people outside of local leadership who disagree with me within the church that I have spoken to. There are many more who agree with me and support my position. From my conversations this is a common position within the church. (see https://gospelperspective.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/a-lie-of-masturbatory-proportions/)
I am now at the point that because I have expressed my position publicly I must now choose between keeping silent on issues of concern to me, or speaking up and being denied access to full membership and temple worship. I hate feeling like I am being censored, told to be quiet or else. I can’t ever see myself denying my feelings on the matter, nor can I say there is no possibility of ever feeling this strongly about anything else again. At this point I basically have three choices
1: Keep quiet and never speak on matters publicly where I disagree with church teachings or policy, and gain access to the temple again, admit I am wrong and promise to sustain all teachings in the future.
My biggest concern with this scenario is that If I were to go back and admit any wrong doings it would not be completely truthful to myself, My God or my Bishop. What I have written and spoken on publicly is from my heart and with the desire to protect my children and bring awareness to this issue. To go back and ask forgiveness for acting in the interest of my children and to help others be aware of the dangers in how these issues are dealt with would be a greater sin than simply staying quiet on the matters and complying with Church expectations.
With respect to matters that affect my family directly this is the only issue that has any direct impact which is why I have spoken up on it rather than other issues which are just as harmful. I have seen the effect the churches LGBTQ policies have had on others. I have a personal friend who is Trans-gender, whom I baptized, that has left the church due to how the church deals with LGBTQ issues. Another friend of mine has a Lesbian daughter, others I know have similar situations that have affected them negatively as well.
2: Stick to my convictions, and risk further action on the churches part up to and including ex-communication.
This scenario would end all opportunity for me to attend the temple, partake of sacramental ordinances, or baptize my other children when they come to the age of accountability. I would have no membership and none of the opportunity the church provides for me, my children as a result would be denied the same.
3: Preemptively end my membership, giving me the freedom to write and speak as I see fit without having to deal with pressure from leadership in an attempt to control my message.
Sadly this would also limit future opportunity within the church for my children and family as well. I want to be able to baptize my children, even If can’t go to the temple, that at least is something that I want to be able to do.
None of these options are realistically ones I want to deal with but I now must. It seems the one option I would like is to agree to disagree, continue to live by the standards of the church as I do now (even if I disagree with some of those standards) and maintain all the rights and privileges full membership comes with. However that is not an option that has been given to me.
On my way to work as I was listening to music on my phone, One of the Tea Party’s songs came on called waters on fire. Some the words to this song certainly describe in a way how I am feeling at this moment. Slightly changed to reflect for myself, I have taken liberty to add some comments and explanation of parts of this song regarding how I am feeling on this matter.
Here we are one last chance (Meaning the church and I)
Can we share this final dance
If I stay it falls apart
It’s sad but true
I’ll break your heart
I shouldn’t stay here with you (meaning the church in my case)
For all you know (meaning the church)
What was, what is will now be
For all the world to see
I feel no shame, I was to blame
Water’s on fire
I feel no shame, I will not change
(The) Water’s on fire
You thought the truth was only you (meaning only the church has truth and no one and nothing else)
My love or desire (Meaning that surely my love and desire to be part of the church will keep me aligned with church thinking)
I feel no shame, I will not change
(The) Water’s on fire
The challenge now is to reconcile my concerns with the expectation of the church and its leadership so that I may be able to enjoy full membership. Given that there are other issues that I feel I need to speak out about, I feel that I cannot commit to not writing about such things again or other issues that I have strong concerns about.
I am committed to living the gospel no matter how much I may disagree with church leadership on any given issue, policy or doctrine. I do understand that speaking my mind publicly in the way that I have may not seem that way to some, however it was never intended as a public display and lack of support or refusal to sustain church leadership. It was and always will be meant to express concern over what I have felt is an injustice to millions of members around the world. I will continue to write about my beliefs, faith and the gospel and express concerns in order to promote discussion on issues of importance within the church.
The church is such a big part of my life, it is sad that It has come to this. I can only hope and pray that things will work out in the end. There is nothing more for me to say in opposition to teaching at this point. I will let others carry the torch of those issues which affect them.
For now however, I will not make any decisions and work closely with my Bishop to bring reconciliation so that I may once again have the opportunity to attend the temple. What that looks like remains to be seen. I just hope that we can come to an understanding of each other so that we may be able to move on without issue.
What I cannot help but wonder at this point is regardless of the outcome will I be happy with the church or satisfied with maintaining membership at all. Even assuming things get resolved and full temple blessing are resumed will I be happy? Will I want to continue in the church. I have no desire to leave but after the way I have been dealt with I feel that my feelings, opinions and concerns are not welcome in this organization. What is left for me but dis-contentment and unhappiness?
I want to believe that I can be happy long term with a final resolution but I am not sure that I can truly say that is the case. It’s frustrating because I love the gospel and the church but can’t help but wonder if my independent thought and expression of thought is truly welcome. How long will it be before I am called in to question over my stance or position on any given issue in the future?
Please take the time to share with me your thoughts on this matter. Your comments are welcome.