In The Church but not Of The Church

We Mormons love this Christian motto: We strive to be in the world, but not of the world.  The idea is that we shouldn’t cut ourselves off from society; we don’t move onto compounds, we grace society with our presence and thus we improve the world with our special spirits.  But we have to guard ourselves against worldliness.  Being “of the world” implies being shallow, shortsighted, sinful.

This idea has always rubbed me the wrong way because I don’t think the world is such a terrible place.  We Mormons don’t have a monopoly on goodness, as much as we like to think we do.  I’ve been in TONS of Relief Society lessons in which the discussion devolves into a group rant about how wicked the world is.  TONS.  Mormons LOVE this subject.  LDS people love to get together and talk about wickedness in politics, in high schools, in the media, and in every institution of higher education except the church schools.  It drives me BERSERK.  These kinds of discussions are almost always ridiculously self righteous, even paranoid, with an end-of-days tint and a persecution complex.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been mulling over the idea of being in the church, but not of the church.

It’s been almost a month since my last post here.  I’ve been putting off posting.  I wanted to organize my thoughts better before I sat down to type them out.  I feel like I’m in an intense place right now with my relationship to the church.  I read The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance and loved it.  I found Elna Baker’s voice so refreshingly honest and funny, and it meant a lot to me to read about another LDS woman who struggles with belief.  But then in light of the fact that Ms. Baker has recently taken a break from being Mormon, I’m less inspired by her than I’d like to be.  Then I watched John Dehlin’s excellent presentation about why people leave the church.  These are all the reasons Knox broke with religion about 5 years ago.  But the end of the video spoke to me in a new way.  Dehlin mentions the idea that some people learn all these disturbing facts about the church and its history, but they still feel a familial/social/ancestral connection to the church as well as an obligation to stick around and try to make it better.  That’s where I am now.  I know I can never shut the church out of my life, and I don’t think I would want to.  I’ve been spending a lot of time on Feminist Mormon Housewives, both the original blog and the facebook group, and deriving a huge amount of strength from the fact that I’m not alone in this.  Now I’m reading The Book of Mormon Girl and Joanna Brooks is like my new role model.

All of this has been so healthy, and it has helped me prepare for the last couple of days: some uncomfortable discussions online about the stupid modesty note-passing incident as well as another short meeting and email from Bishop Ellsbury.  He pulled me aside on Sunday to follow up.  I told him I was still planning to go ahead with the surrogacy, that I still felt good about it.  He told me again that he counsels against it.  Then, a few days later, he emailed me a copy of The Proclamation to the Family.  He recommended I revisit it, which I did.

Ok.  I’m just going to come out and say it: I HATE the stupid Proclamation.  Honestly, almost all my major beefs with church doctrine are found in this one document.  Marriage is between one man and one woman (HAHAHAHAHAH WTF IS UP WITH OUR TEMPLE SEALING PRACTICES THEN, HUH???) and women belong in the home and every baby needs one father and one mother and watch out world, God is going to punish you if you break our archaic rules. AAAAAARGH.

I should probably go ahead and put this out there:  I’m on some hormones.  I think the high doses of estrogen are making me a little extra emotionally reactive.

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4 thoughts on “In The Church but not Of The Church

  1. Jenna says:

    Hi I just stumbled on here from fMh. It’s so good to know I’m not the only one who gets frustrated with the hate on the world lessons and the narrow-minded Proclamation. I just wrote a very emotional post on my blog on this, and was feeling quite alone in my dissent. So thanks for writing this.

    • Hey Jenna! Thanks for your comment. It’s great to hear that I’m not alone.
      Heading over to check out your post now!

    • Well, I just tried like 50 bzillion times to leave this comment on your “Stone Throwing in Relief Society” post, and I couldn’t get past the capcha filter. So I guess I’ll just post it here and hope you see it!

      “YES! I loved this post! I know I’m just a stranger who stopped by here, and I don’t know your whole story. But in light of some other comments I’m just going to stand up and say GOOD JOB, Jenna. There ARE problems with the self-righteous, woe-is-us, “the world is soooooo wicked” victim mentality in the church and ESPECIALLY in Relief Society. It doesn’t sound to me like you need reminding that the church and gospel are separate or that these women are actually nice, good people. It’s perfectly ok to recognize others’ misplaced judgement. Recognizing judgement is not judgement in itself.

      Discussions of the world’s sins in Relief Society are totally unproductive. There’s no place in our church for this kind of discussion, and it makes my blood boil. Thank you for making the comment you did in RS. Maybe somebody who was there will remember your words and will think twice about spewing some vitriolic hate doctrine out of “righteous” indignation. We Mormons are absolutely justified in criticizing our own culture. We are NOT perfect, and it’s ok to look for room for improvement.

      GREAT post.”

      • Jenna says:

        Thanks for the support! I agree (obviously) that the bashing discussions are unproductive. They lack kindness and . . . well, everything I would want from a gospel discussion. It’s so nice to find bloggernacle friends! Good luck with your surrogacy (if giving your body like that isn’t charity, I don’t know what is).

        And, yes, those capcha filters are pesky sometimes 😉

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