I’ve written seventeen drafts of my resignation letter and sent none of them.
I’ve skipped church for months on end because I couldn’t walk into a building without being unspeakably furious.
I’ve declared willingly that the rally at City Creek Park on June 26 was one of the best hours of my life as I was able to hug my friends, family, fellow MoFems, brothers, and sisters as we celebrated the right to marry.
I’ve mourned as my church tried to take that celebration away from us.
I’ve written and studied and prayed endlessly about my role as a Mormon Feminist and an LGBTQ activist, and come to almost no conclusion.
Almost being the operative word.
The only answer I have found so far is Jesus. MY Jesus is a revolutionary and radical, who had the crazy idea in first century Palestine to just love everyone. Be kind to everyone. To stop the persecution of women and children, of the ailing and the restless, of those discarded by the rest of his society. My Jesus toppled tables in the temple when the religious authorities misunderstood the words of his Father and Mother. My Jesus suffered little children to come unto him, no ifs, ands, or buts, and told anyone who tried to stop him to get the hell out of his way. My Jesus taught that the only two commandments that mattered in the slightest were to love God and be good to each other. Frankly, I think my Jesus was a badass. He is the kind of God and Saviour I am proud of worship, follow, and try constantly to emulate.
The Church of “Jesus Christ” of Latter Days Saints, on the other hand, makes me wonder if I’m wrong about my Jesus.
Last night, I drafted my eighteenth version of my resignation letter after I read about the new LDS policy of refusing to baptize, confirm, or even name the children of same-sex couples (http://kutv.com/news/local/lds-church-to-exclude-children-of-same-sex-couples-from-membership). I can’t come up with the appropriate words to describe why this new policy is so repulsive. I can’t even describe why I’m so angry, except by pointing out the irony of a church that claims to worship Christ barring children from its membership. Because I can’t believe Jesus, who said “suffer the children, and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14), had anything to do with this policy. In fact, after yesterday, if I know one thing to be true about the LDS church, it is this: it had nothing nothing nothing to do with my Jesus.
I think my Jesus would be flipping tables right about now.
(That’s also what I’m inclined to be doing.)
I don’t have any solution and I don’t even know what I’m doing next, other than writing yet another resignation letter that I will probably never send. Because the problem is, I love my religion, my church, my scriptures, and my culture. As angry as I have been and probably will continue to be at the church, it’s also my home. And, especially as I’ve moved away from Utah, I’ve been so grateful to have a Mormon heritage and community to give me roots. But today, I feel like this heritage is a black mark, this community is becoming a curse, and these roots are binding me to institutional policy that makes me sick. But the problem is, I love my religion.
Yet, I have to love my Jesus more.
And love myself more. Possibly most importantly, love my family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and brothers and sisters in Christ more than an institution that is seeking to discriminate against (and, frankly, harm) those in need to love.
I believe with all of my heart that Jesus would love people first— always first— and make handbook revisions never. All my Jesus ever wanted to do was convince people to be a little bit better to each other and it seems like the most disturbing perversion of his gospel to use his name to force families out of their faith. The LDS church is at odds with my Jesus, and, when forced to choose, I will always choose following my Jesus over following an institution. In this case, at this time, the LDS church is wrong. The God I believe in loves everyone and Christ would never exclude anyone from his gospel, let alone a child.
And I say these things in the name of my Jesus, Amen.