- To talk of fewer things.
- Not of consent or where our friends went.
- No voice…nor choice.
- Just cabbages and kings.
After a 2 1/2 year faith journey, I’m stepping away from the church. This morning, with tears in her eyes, my wife said, “Honey, there are other ways to serve Jesus than advocating for his laws and a safe place to discuss them.” In her wise and kind way, she was giving me permission and support to follow a different path.
It’s time. It’s consumed me.
I have blogged…as an active, believing church member. I’ll continue to blog…as a believing member who has stepped away.
Do I support my wife in the church? Of course. But, she has not been there much lately.
Do I support my kids and grand kids in the church? Of course and absolutely.
Do I support my bishop and stake president? Fine, fine men. They are doing the best they can within the system they have been dealt.
Do I support my friends who remain active? If it blesses their lives, that is exactly where they should be. Good for them. They have my full encouragement.
Do I support my friends and family who have left the church? That’s pretty rhetorical at this point. Whether atheist or Christian..believer of not…we understand and empathize with each other completely.
Acknowledge That People are Leaving
This has been a sticking point over the past 26 months. It was that long ago, when I first reached out to the local leaders. I was encouraging them to create a safe space for those with questions. In that first meeting, I was told that I was the only person who was questioning.
Over the intervening 2 years, many members of our ward have left. The leaders may be clueless as to who several of them are. Except for one couple, I have had lengthy and deep communication with all those on the list below.
Family #1: Two years ago, this bedrock couple was open to outreach. Today, they are simply gone.
Family #2: Super active and involved for decades. Now, gone. The one family I have not personal spoken to, yet.
Family #3: Have since moved from the ward. Few know of their disaffection. They want it that way.
Family #4: Struggled in gut wrenching pain and loneliness for months. Finally, left the church without discussing anything with leadership.
Family #5: Another family who moved on from the ward and on from the church. Again, few know and they want to keep it that way.
Family #6: They contacted me a few weeks ago. Long discussion. Not coming back. Don’t want to discuss with anyone else.
Family #7: If the ward doesn’t know they are gone, they are not paying attention.
Family #8: That’s me….my wife would have to speak for herself.
Our ward and stake leadership is not aware of all the names behind these family #’s. They seem to be in denial. Never-the-less, they are real. If this is happening in my own ward, imagine what is happening all around the world.
Recently, I had the following conversation in a social channel.
Here are the feeling that I presented.
- Nobody cares that people are leaving.
- Nobody will discuss reasons why people are leaving. Our heads are deep in the sand.
- Nobody knows what the temple covenants mean. We are forbidden from discussing them in the open or in classes.
- It’s forbidden to discuss church history and doctrine at church… The essays are not to be brought up.
- Local leadership is going to follow whatever the church says… No suggestions from the congregation.
Perhaps this is the case in your ward or stake, but it’s important to realize that not everyone’s experience in the Church is the same. Where I live, our ward and stake is very concerned about those who are leaving, and is taking steps to try to better understand them, their needs, and how to better serve them.
No one is forbidden from speaking about temple covenants. In fact, it’s part of the temple preparation course. It’s in the manual. Some may feel uncomfortable speaking about it, but there’s no prohibition. Those who think there is one simply need to be better educated.
I’ve had several discussions on difficult gospel topics at Church. In fact, the new Teaching in the Savior’s Way training is much more open about student questions and discussion.
Input from ward members is certainly a desire. A couple years ago, a seventy visited our stake conference and said that ward councils should be including as many people as we want to include. It isn’t just for leaders, it’s for the ward. If you want to hear anyone’s input on what needs to happen in the ward, invite them.
This man’s ward and stake is going to be OK. Their approach is badly needed everywhere.
What Would Bring Me Back?
A voice. To be treated like a valued adult. Not as a child.
Now, off to the great adventure of attempting to follow the teachings and example of the babe in the manger.