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

Return to Atkinville

The question is this:

Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue—to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the Temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein, both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people (all of which of themselves would stop the practice);

or, after doing and suffering what we have through our adherence to this principle to cease the practice and submit to the law, and through doing so leave the Prophets, Apostles and fathers at home, so that they can instruct the people and attend to the duties of the Church, and also leave the Temples in the hands of the Saints, so that they can attend to the ordinances of the Gospel, both for the living and the dead?

Wilford Woodruff

President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, November 1, 1891

 

This was a traumatic episode for the Church. Years of teaching and preaching and digging heels in over the revealed religious sexual practice of polygamy almost led to the demise of the church. The Mormon identity was polygamy. And despite our best efforts over a century to scrub away the polygamy, the Mormon brand of polygamy is still embedded in the nation’s psyche despite the generations. Now that’s the kind of brand identity staying power any ad agency would die for.

Continue reading