Growing up Mormon, you’re taught you either have to accept everything the Church teaches or reject it entirely. And now, you’re on the fence trying to figure out which side you want to be on, trying to figure out if you believe the Church is true or not (whatever that means).
I am not writing this in order to be one more person trying to persuade you towards one side or the other. I am writing this, however, in order to tell you that I think the best option is to be yourself, to be honest about what you do or don’t believe, and to do what you think is best for you.
This isn’t some grand binary decision, some major either or. In reality, there probably is no fence, there probably is much more than just two sides when it comes to these complicated social and religious decisions.
I think the best thing is to find out what you believe about Jesus, what you believe about the scriptures and the priesthood and the law of chastity, what you believe about evolution and fate and psychology and gender and sexuality. You can address each of these subjects individually! You can find that you believe in Jesus but not in the priesthood. You can find you believe in the priesthood but not in the law of chastity. It’s O.K.!
And in choosing what you want to do, if you enjoy praying, pray. If you enjoy having a drink, have a drink, too. If you enjoy going to church, go to church. And if you don’t enjoy those things? Don’t do them.
I don’t think life is about total obedience or total rebellion. I think it’s about finding out what works best for you.
I think it’s best to address each decision you make as if it was an individual decision, each belief you believe as if it’s an individual belief. The important part is that it’s what YOU want to do and it’s what YOU believe.
It takes away your sense of individuality and self-discovery when you say, “I have to believe or do this because I’m in the Church,” or, “I have to believe or do this because I’ve left the Church.”
There are not just two choices when it comes to your actions and your beliefs: the choice of doing and believing what Mormons do and believe or discarding everything you’ve been taught your whole life.
In reality, there are thousands of choices you have to make as to what you do and don’t want to do, thousands of teachings and ideas you have to figure out if you believe or not. Before being Mormon or Ex-Mormon, the most important thing is to be YOURSELF.
Only you know what’s best for you. Only you know what you really want to do and what you really believe. It doesn’t matter whether you end up identifying as Mormon or ex-Mormon or heterodox Mormon or whatever you call yourself.
Label yourself how you please, but don’t let labels bind you down.
And if you want to accept all of Mormonism, accept it all. And if you want to leave it all behind, leave it all behind. And if you want to do something in between, rejecting some things and accepting others? Well, that’s cool, too.
You just be you. You do what you do. There’s nothing wrong with being different. People might not like you for making your own path. They may try to convince you that the path of Mormonism is straight and narrow and that you’re either on it or off of it. If they feel that way, that’s fine. That’s their path. But that path doesn’t work for everyone.
It can be hard choosing the road less traveled by, but there’s nothing wrong with being yourself. In the words of Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”