Over a year ago, I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon Church). For a while, I went regularly. I went to YSA stuff. I did everything possible. I didn’t feel like I belonged, though. Yes, I believe in many of the spiritual beliefs of the church. I always have held those beliefs, but I also feel like sometimes I’m lying.
First, if you ever go on Fasting Sunday, you hear people say, “I know this church is true” or “this is the only true church”. I believe the church is true, but I don’t think it’s the only true church. I don’t believe the president of the church is the only person who might have some kind of special connection with God. I was asked before I joined if I believed he was the Prophet, and I said yes. This is true. I think in a way of speaking he is, but I don’t think he’s the only conduit to God. I believe the Pope has a special thing with God. I believe the Dalai Lama does as well. I believe that there are people who have no major position in a church that have deeper spiritual insight than others who may have a major position.
On the first Sunday of every month, we’re supposed to fast for two meals. If we ever have a major issue, we’re encouraged to fast and pray. I don’t understand fasting. I don’t think of it as a good thing. Maybe it’s the fat girl part of me or the hypoglycemic, but I don’t see how deprivation of resources makes someone closer to a religious ideal. Yes, it may give you some kind of insight, but you’ll find that often times when your sugar starts dropping, you start having all kinds of interesting thoughts.
Tithing is something that I’ve gotten frustrated about because I’ve heard people say that if you have a choice between paying for food/rent or tithing, you’re supposed to pay the church first. The church is good, in some cases, about helping. Right now, they’re helping my family with physical things, like mowing our lawn, but when my father lost his job and we were about to lose everything, they weren’t there. They didn’t want to help us. Possibly, they blamed this on the lack of money for tithing, but how was my mother supposed to justify sending the only income that our family was receiving at that point to the church and not paying for our medicines or food or house payments? How can you justify telling someone that their life’s necessities aren’t as important as funding for a church that can afford to decorate temples in such splendor?
We’re not supposed to swear, but sometimes I just want to scream fuck or shit or some combination of about fifty words put together to express how pissed off I am or how happy I am or something. Maybe that shows a degradation of my speech patterns or that I’ve “watched too many R rated movies”, but I think it just shows that, at heart, I want to be human.
Every week, my “friends” from YSA (the same people who don’t call, write, email to find out where I’ve been for the past six months) send me a new Cause/Group invitation on Facebook, which is really the same invitation to a different group that supports the same thing. It’s always about focusing on the family, which is LDS for one man-one woman. Well, I’ve never said that I support legalization for only straight couples. I’ve tried to speak up to my friends to tell them that there’s this vast world out there with people who don’t just fall in love with members of the opposite sex and that these people deserve shots at having loving families, too. I don’t want to tell any of my friends that they can’t marry the person of their dreams, even if that person is the same sex as them. (Now, if the person is underage, then I do have an issue with that, but otherwise, I don’t have a problem with it.)
Of course, any time I try to speak my mind about ANYTHING I get shut down. I said I was voting for Obama before the Halloween dance last fall, and Jennifer and Jamie tried to use peer pressure to get me to say I’d only vote for Republicans. I was at the ward YSA’s Break the Fast and people were talking about politics, and I started to say something and the topic was changed. I’ve gotten in arguments with people from other stakes because I refuse to follow this one way of thinking. I don’t think it’s right that we should all have the same opinion because I’m a big believer in Free Will (or as the church calls it “agency”) and to take away my right to say that I want to choose my own path in life, seems like it goes in defiance of what God wanted. I also get frustrated at people trying to force me to believe Creationism and giving up a woman’s right to choose. I feel like in order to appease the members of my ward and stake that I am being asked to give up myself. I don’t want to do that. I rather like me. I know I’m liberal. I know I’m the girl who believes in equality for all and I don’t feel ashamed of that. I don’t feel ashamed of my beliefs in different things and sometimes I feel like people want me to. It’s like I’m supposed to give up who I am to be a part of this group so that we can all feel good about being similar, but I’m not similar. I want to feel good about being in a group that accepts me for who I am.
And we’re not supposed to have multiple piercings (I have 3 in one ear, 2 in another [used to have 3 in both, but one fell out and healed in like 2 days]) or tattoos. This is evident on tattooing and body piercing. BTW – this quote bugs me: “They will someday regret their decision.” Do you know what I regret about my piercings? That I don’t have more. As for tattoos, I would love to have tattoos. I really would. I like tattoos, but the reason I don’t have any is that my father would really and truly kill me if I got any.
And modesty? If I had the right body, I would totally wear “immodest” clothing. I like strappy tops. I like shorts. I like things that look like they’d be fun to wear. I don’t like the idea of wearing clothes that make you sweat like a pig during the summer.
But my main issue is that as a woman I will never get to be a church official. Yeah, I could repent of all my eccentricities and end up in the Relief Society leadership, but I don’t see how that compares to the possibility of leading a congregation or a stake or a mission or a temple or the entire church? How is it right that because I got a little extra on a chromosome that I’m suddenly not entitled to priesthood secrets?