I don't know if I will even publish this post, but there are so many thoughts on religion swirling around in my head and they need to rest somewhere. Earlier this week Tyler Glenn of The Neon Trees released a music video expressing hurt and anger toward the LDS church. It mocked things that are sacred to LDS members. I didn't want to watch it, but I did, because I have no self control. It left me feeling sad and hurt and angry, precisely all the things that Glenn is feeling and, I assume, is hoping that others feel too.
I have told this blog many times that I am Mormon. I have slowed down considerably on the religious posts lately because it is kind of a confusing, hard time to be LDS. There is a lot of doubt and a lot of confusion. In November the LDS church came out with a policy that said that children of gay couples are not to be baptized until they are 18. This was very hurtful to many people. I felt like facebook was such a hate filled place to be in those days following the announcement of policy change. A lot of people condemned the church and the policy, a lot of people defended the policy. There were horrible things said on both "sides". I didn't feel like I was on either side. I felt on the sad and confused side. I even had a blog reader email me, "What do you think of the policy? I'd love to hear your thoughts." I couldn't reply. My thoughts were too confusing even to me.
Watching the Tyler Glenn video this weekend I had the same feeling of sorrow and hopelessness that I did after the news of the policy broke in November. I feel like the LDS religion is being hammered to death lately. (Or doing the hammering?) Sometimes I feel like I haven't even caught my breath from the last big news story before I have to get ready for the next one. A lot of people are mad at the church and I understand that. A lot of people defend the church, and I understand that too. I don't understand the church policy released in November, no matter how many times the most stalwart and faithful of Mormons try to explain it to me. It just doesn't make sense in my mind and I have accepted that it probably never will.
There are people I love and care about deeply who have stepped away from the LDS church, largely in part to some of these huge issues that have been going on. I understand their reasons for needing to step away. I know that they are hurting and I know it is incredibly difficult to leave a religion. I also think it should be noted, though, that people who have chosen to stay in the religion are also hurting. It's not easy to leave and it's not easy to stay.
There is a scripture that says "by their fruits you will know them" and I cling to that now. (Matthew 7:16) I will know if this religion is working for me by the fruits- the way I feel, the things it leads me to do, the desires the teaching of the church give me.
I get frustrated by the things that are reported about Mormons on social media and news outlets. Yes, there is confusion and doubt, and yes there are people hurting. No, I don't understand why the LDS church has to be so strict on their policies toward gay people. No I don't understand why BYU culture thinks we need to report a girl to the honor code office if she has been raped and was simultaneously breaking honor code. There is so much I don't understand and I hurt over it. I am hoping and praying for a lot of answers on these issues.
There is so much good in the religion that is being totally overshadowed by all the big news stories. I have been a member for 21 years, I dedicated 18 months to learning and teaching this gospel in Argentina, I have sat through more hours of church meetings than I could possibly count. I KNOW this church. And I know there is good. The New York Times doesn't report on the families who make dinner for new babies in the neighborhood, or the youth programs that give teenagers a safe place to go and make friends every week. Buzzfeed doesn't care about the millions of dollars the LDS church donates for humanitarian purposes all over the world or the talk in general conference about helping refugees. There are not a lot of news stories about neighbors who help each other move or who volunteer hours of their time to teach teenagers and children or who show up to someone's house to give a blessing when a baby is sick. These are the fruits of the LDS church and this is why I am proud to be a part of it. This is what will not change. The LDS church to me is a place to go to become better people, to serve each other, to teach our children about love and kindness.
I can't understand or defend all the choices that have been made by LDS leaders. I do think they are inspired but I also think they are people who make mistakes. But I do know that I see a lot more good in this religion than out of it. And at the end of the day, the Mormon church encompasses all of the things that I want my children to know growing up- hope, peace, love, kindness, safety, JOY. I want my children to know that they are loved by their Heavenly Father. I want them to know that they matter. That they have infinite capabilities and talents. I want them to feel the divinity within them that enables them to be nice when they want to be mean, to have faith when it's easier to give up, to be patient when they are tired of waiting.
Questions, comments, concerns? Fire away.