I am currently an active member of the Mormon Church. However, in light of the new policy change by our church that declares marriage between same-sex couples apostasy and bars their children from participating in saving ordinances as well as receiving a name and a blessing, I can no longer deny that I am part of and support a bigoted and discriminatory church that systematically participates in the subjugation of others.
I am not telling you to stay, or to leave. What I am saying is that we need to acknowledge what it means to stay. I very much believe that if you are not willing to acknowledge your actions and choices for what they really are, then you probably shouldn’t act in those ways or make those choices. It is important to be honest about our decisions and their implications.
It is easy for many of us to justify remaining in the Mormon Church because we know the community and the teachings it promotes. But consider meeting someone else who belonged to a different group that promoted hate or racism. Personally, if their name was on the roll but they told me they didn’t really believe or support the group or they were staying to “fight from within,” I’d look at them sideways and question whether I could trust someone who could lie so completely to themselves. I shouldn’t hold myself to any less of a standard. I don’t believe you should either.
Many will say that because I openly object, I do not support and am not participating in these policies. Some will also say that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself because I am a woman and face daily discrimination at church as well. Others will say that my subversive actions and actions of protest absolve me from accounting for these policies. I reject these excuses. I do not need these excuses to cover my truth. Although I do not pay tithing as protest, I still attend, and my name is still on the roll. Sure, I don’t participate as others may and I set my own terms, but this is still a form of participation. Among other reasons, I am participating and supporting so that I can push for change and have a voice. This is what support looks like.
As I have struggled to understand my desire to maintain my membership in the face of this outlandish policy, I have been confronted with my privilege. This policy does not directly affect me, so I get to choose my response. I get to not fully partake in the pain that so many are feeling as their ostracization now extends to their children. Currently, I am choosing to be selfish. I could explain all the reasons that I don’t want to be the one to take my name off the record or how it is not the right time for my family, but it all comes back to the fact that I have decided that my own desires currently outweigh what I believe is the greater good. Apparently, I’m not willing to sacrifice what so many others are forced to and, thus, must admit my privilege.
This is a new position for me to be in. I should view this sort of support as unconscionable. As someone who has felt the far-reaching tentacles of the Temple and Priesthood Ban (without actually living through it), I know how harmful the codification of discrimination is and the long-lasting effects such policies have, even after discriminatory policies are removed. To be clear, I do not think that the new policy and the policies barring blacks from the Priesthood and Temple are the same. However, both of these policies are discriminatory, and discrimination hurts in all its forms and is never justified. Each discriminatory policy or doctrine has had varying levels of abhorrence, any level should be too much for me. Yet, I am staying. This is what support looks like.
It is one thing to be outspoken, which I am. Sure, I open myself up to the punishment of Church leaders and become a martyr of their whims, but it is an entirely different thing to fully embody my beliefs by advocating and committing to sacrifice on my own. I have decided that I don’t want my hypothetical children to participate in ordinances that all children can’t participate in, but I’m fine with that. It is not a real sacrifice. True and earnest sacrifice is when you are willing to give up something that is part of you or that you greatly desire for a greater purpose. As it stands right now, for a number of reasons, I’m not willing to sacrifice to that degree, so I need to admit what I’m really supporting.
This may change in the future. This may change in a month. I am seriously considering removing my name, but even if I remove my name, I will continue to go to the Mormon Church and support my husband. So, even then, I will continue to support the Church in my husband’s name. That will be what support looks like.
So, here I stand, with my head held high. I will not be ashamed of the decision that I have made. I am frequently disappointed in this decision, even if it does prove to be temporary. I’m disappointed that I’m not everything I once thought I was, but I’m grateful for this knowledge and a better understanding of myself. I am not ashamed of my decision, and I’m not sorry to be Mormon. If I were really sorry, I would stop being Mormon; I would remove my name; I would change my actions. But that is not where I am. So, I can’t honestly apologize.
Mormon Church, I support you. Despite it all, I am standing here not ready to leave. Yes, you broke my heart. Yes, it hurts that you are doing this to my siblings across this world, but, apparently, I’m willing to endure this pain. I’m even willing for those affected to endure this pain. But I’m not yet ready to endure the pain of leaving you. I have compared the cost of the sacrifice of leaving and the sacrifice of staying, and right now the cost of leaving is more than I can bear, so, instead, I will bear the burden of staying. My name sits on the rolls as one of the million that continue to carry the weight of your misguided actions, and, for now, I’m leaving it there.
This is what support looks like.