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[Comments] (4) Why I stay: It's probably safe to assume no one reads this blog anymore, because I don't post very often. I normally find Instagram to be my safe place, because who doesn't love pictures of food, cats, cool scenery, and the like, without the vagueness, fighting, and incorrect doctrine that is Facebook?

But today something happened, and I feel like talking about it. Perhaps this is the perfect outlet; I get to say it, and no one will read it, and thus no one gets offended (again, a huge perk of not being on Facebook).

My Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has added to its handbook a new category of apostasy: same sex marriage. Now children living in SSM families cannot be baptized until they are 18, and until they disavow the sins of their parents. While the former makes me wonder, and the latter makes me curious (the who, what, when, where, why and how of the disavowal intrigues me), on the whole I've added one more reason to my list of why the Church just plain no longer works for me.

That being said, I stay. Don't get me wrong. I've often thought about leaving, if for no other reason than to make a point. The point being: you are wrong, and I therefore shun you. But really, that's a silly way to make a point. The Church continues without me, and I lose a part of me in the process.

So I stay. I stay because, despite this policy (the same policy exists for children from polygamous families by the way), despite the PR embarrassment we call Prop 8, despite the fact that we oust those that question things, despite the fact that Republicans=Mormonism, despite the fact that no one can give a good answer for why women cannot hold the Priesthood, despite the fact that I never knew until July that Joseph Smith married a 14 year old girl and translated the book of Mormon with a brown stone inside a hat, despite the lame attempts to explain the Priesthood ban as anything other than the flaws of good men, this is my home.

I currently have the calling of Gospel Doctrine teacher. Which means, during the 180 minute church block, I am effectively in charge for 40 minutes of that time, roughly 25%. I have spent the last year, during our study of the New Testament, to use this time to achieve the following: (1) Focus more on Christ and less on silly things that often takes up valuable church space, including missionary guilt, defending the family (whatever that means; no one wants to abolish families), and pornography for the 5,000th time; (2) Challenge the class to read the scriptures with fresh eyes, to see things they never saw before, even though they've read the stories since they were children; (3) Contribute to a class environment where their voice can be heard (ie, I'm a facilitator, not a lecturer); (4) Help us feel the Holy Ghost in class, and follow its promptings to be better people the next six days.

I personally believe I fail at this more than I succeed. But the fact is, I currently have the opportunity/responsibility to be the change I want to see in the church. And that is way more powerful than walking away and being forgotten within a week.

I also stay because I don't have all the answers. So while I currently am at odds on probably 20 or so doctrinal and/or procedural aspects of the church, I recognize that I could be wrong. And until I receive my own personal revelation on these matters (something I'm working on, but for personal reasons seems to take time for me), I just can't write it off. The truth is, despite these obstacles, the church has been good to me. I've learned inside this church the joy of giving, the humility of receiving, to wonder and awe at the notion of sin, forgiveness, and the atonement, and to find purpose in mortality. And while I know I could have learned these elsewhere, I learned them here.

So I'm sticking with my Church. Because I believe I have a part to play. I can show people by the way I live my life that the Church tent is big enough for all, that the Church is not threatened when people bring their questions or their baggage along for the ride, and that the Church can still be a safe place where compassion is the rule and not the exception. So I stay.


Posted by Leonard at Mon Nov 09 2015 10:53

I love you, John.

Posted by Sumana at Mon Nov 09 2015 11:13

Thank you for writing this and I am so sorry that this has happened. I love you.

Posted by Nathan at Wed Nov 11 2015 13:13

John, I check this blog once a week during lunch just in case you've posted something. And today you made me glad I did. I absolutely loved this. I have contemplated much the new additions to the Handbook, so it's been on my mind a lot. I'm trying to go through the new essays the Church put out as well, but they are long and I'm often tired when I start. But your humility and strength have inspired me and I'm on the verge of crying at my desk at work right now. I hope you can be the change you are seeking to make. I hope I am able to do the same in my ward in my calling. I made a point at Ward Council on Sunday to make sure that people know it's OK to ask questions about the additions and to not make people feel like they are less or worse members just because they have those questions. You were one of the people on my mind at that point, and I hope it helps in my ward in some way. Thanks for being who you are. Thank you for sharing your testimony. Thank you for being my brother. I love you so much and I wish you and your family all the happiness in the world no matter what you choose to do in the future. Know that you have a friend and listening ear in me if you ever need it. You are THE BEST!

Posted by John at Thu Nov 12 2015 12:43

Thank you Leonard, Sumana, and Nathan, and in particular thank you to Sumana for making time for a phone call the other day.

The more I think about this the more my heart breaks. But time has always been my friend in these situations, and I pray it will be so again. And in the meantime I do plan to be an example of one who can ask respectful questions.

I do plan to say, unless invited to do otherwise.

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