A More Excellent Way

A few years ago, when I was preparing remarks to share during an upcoming religious service, it occurred to me that I had nothing to say. The religious views I had contemplated my entire life were no longer of interest to me. The intricacies of doctrine held no appeal. Truth claims were naive, futile and tiresome.

In a moment of determination, I sat down with a pen and a blank sheet of paper and resolved to work out my true convictions. I dug deep and searched for faith inside myself, unsure of what I would find. Withholding self-judgment as much as I could, I asked myself, “What do I really believe?” Continue reading

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A Voyage

YM, focusing on his mission, was tensely perched in the crow’s nest looking out for others who needed help in the open, turbulent sea. He knew his ship was taking on water but was distractedly unaware as to the severity of the leak: he was going down. A strong blast of wind caught the sails just right, and the mast buckled, throwing YM down to the deck and destroying the helm. Having noted the mobility of others’ ships, YM recognized that his situation wasn’t like theirs; they were progressing on their voyages while he had no mast, no sails, no helm, and was sinking; he was going nowhere fast. The storm tossed his ship back and forth, side to side, each wave bringing on more water and each gust of wind driving him in a different direction. YM decided to stop comparing his progress to theirs; he needed to act to save himself. Continue reading

The Room With the Universe

 

When I was a child you spoke of a room
Where the universe sat on a throne
And the stars and the planets and asteroid bands
Were etched into windows and stone

And the floor was composed of the gods we had known
In eons that long since had passed
Where you wrapped me in starstuff adorned with a cloud
And said love would be there if I asked
 Continue reading 

The Abrahamic Test

Two weeks after news of the exclusion policy broke, my bishop called me into his office. He is a kind man, and I know he means well, but he sees my life as a lesbian as one full of pain, sorrow, and sin. He’s told me before that he thinks I am strong to face this road, as if it was my choice, as if my sexual orientation is a millstone around my neck. He cannot see the joy in what I am, or the beauty- only the eternal consequences. I was nervous to be singled out this way, and apprehensive that what he had to say could offer me any comfort.

“Sister Bijtje, the Stake President has asked that I reach out to any members who may be struggling with news about the recent policy regarding LGBT members and their children. I wanted to make sure you understand that this is coming from a place of love and we have to trust in our leaders.” Continue reading

Of Pornography and Peace

In a way, modern pornography caught the Mormon church off-guard, and it wasn’t because no one saw it coming. When the ‘Net was young and ruled by AOL, NetZero and AltaVista, Mormon leaders were already warning male audiences of the dangers of the Internet and the enemies that lurked there. In October 1997, Gordon B. Hinckley sounded the alarm:

Pornography, with its sleazy filth, sweeps over the earth like a horrible, engulfing tide. It is poison. Do not watch it or read it. It will destroy you if you do. It will take from you your self-respect. It will rob you of a sense of the beauties of life. It will tear you down and pull you into a slough of evil thoughts and possibly of evil actions. Stay away from it. Shun it as you would a foul disease, for it is just as deadly.

I was 10 years old at the time he spoke these words, and I would hear this same message repeated relentlessly in the meetings I attended throughout my teen years. It was clear to me that the leaders of the church were terrified of pornography, and they intended for us to be as well. And it worked. Continue reading

Protect Your Bishop

What would it be like in chess if you spent the game protecting your Bishop, and not protecting your King?

Monday a friend and I made dinner while her husband played chess with the kids. From across the room I heard him instruct one of the children “protect your Bishop!”

it instantly brought to mind the Mormon Newsroom statement released earlier in the day about Utah ranking particularly high in the nation for child abuse, and the church released a statement about their policy for dealing with child abuse.  As I have only read the one article, I’m not going to address that policy or statistic hear today. However basically,  it was about the church protecting itself at the cost of children. I felt very similarly about the infamous policy released last November,  it feels like a pattern.

As the night progressed, my friend kept fishing for information on why I wasn’t going to church. I skillfully dodged that most the night, because I didn’t feel she was ready for that conversation.  I knew it was going to be horribly awkward when I told her I had resigned.

Finally the moment came, and I had to tell her. Continue reading