I don’t know what to say; I guess I’ll begin by saying that I never thought this would ever happen. I have loved the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints so much during my life. But now, honestly, I just don’t feel that way anymore. I had an experience with God that changed me in ways that I wanted so desperately to share – it was something that I had longed for most of my life. Having had that – having tried to share it – nobody wants any part in it.
The influence of the church lead me to have faith in God from a young age; He was so faithful and generous to me even as a young child. Though I still suffered and became broken, I experienced His influence frequently in my life through reading and pondering over the scriptures and other inspired writings from our people. Prayer and connection to God became part of my life and because of this I had many great experiences. I am very blessed to have had the Gospel as taught by our people – and our leadership – in my life.
Without the strength of the Gospel to become my anchor during the struggles of my life, I would have had other, less kind shoulders to lean on during this time when I would have been without God, and therefore, completely alone in my fear and pain. I cannot begin to measure the blessings our faith and our beliefs have brought into my life – I have had so much of it fill my heart with joy.
Where’s the problem, right? There is so much good! The Gospel is true. The issue that I have found in my thirty-some-odd years of living is that we have had some seriously damning perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and teachings that we have thoroughly imbibed and perpetuated. Years later, as I listened to the voice of the Lord, He guided me past some of these things – because I desired His truth more than anything else. In time He changed me, giving me experience that brought a revolutionarily different perspective. It filled my heart with joy, peace, and confidence before Him. But the image that God gave me directly differed from what I had been told and taught. I unabashedly threw everything out and started afresh holding only my personal experience, revelation, and whatever else fit in as authoritative. Then, throughout my studies, I found my new understanding to be validated in scriptures I had scarcely understood before and so much more scripture opened up and found power and purpose in me.
Even since then, I’ve since experienced even more of scripture – some of the less pleasant parts. As validating as those experiences might be, the word is sweet on the tongue and bitter in the stomach. I affirm that we have teachings, beliefs, and their corresponding behaviors that cannot be supported in scripture, nor by any experience I have had with the Lord.
Nevertheless, we minimize, dismiss, and try to ignore a pervasive, easily distinguishable syndrome of detrimental spiritual symptoms as random or coincidental. And though it manifests itself in different severities and patterns in each of the different congregations I have attended, much of it is as uniformly present as our teachings have been. I know that correlation isn’t causation, but I have yet to encounter an alternative explanation for our less-than-desirable peculiarities.
As a teenager I was able to pick up on all of these – what I’ll call – damnable threads from our culture and piece them together like a tapestry. While the church is quickly approaching nearly two hundred years, I have only been alive one-sixth of that time; yet here we are.
Tell me how.