What Would An Angel Say, The Devil Wants To Know
On Sunday I attended church solo as my husband works every other weekend and can’t attend our 9am meeting block with me. Sacrament meeting was a missionary farewell that felt more like “This is Your Life” instead of an hour of worship. I tried really hard to put myself in the shoes of that mother who was sending her son off (to where I don’t know because him actually serving a mission was never mentioned, she was too busy talking about him being born prematurely) to serve the Lord for 24 months and how I would feel if it were me. That got me through the meeting, but honestly, my spiritual tank has been dangerously close to empty as of late. Working 12 hours a day and never seeing my husband except for when I kick him out of bed for snoring and am waking him up before I leave for the day has worn me down, and I needed to be filled, I needed to be replenished. It wasn’t happening. So, I made my way to Sunday School with the hope that there would be a teacher who would provide the class with a catalyst for a spiritual discussion that would get me feeling the way I wanted to feel, and was currently not. I needed spiritual stimulation! Having been a gospel doctrine teacher for 8 years, I was foolish enough to believe that perhaps that class would have been the place to find it. No such luck.
I’m not sure what the actual lesson title was, but the class instructor wrote “THE FAMILY IS UNDER ATTACK!” on the board and then proceeded to make a list of all the ills of the world that are attacking the family: the government, abortion, gays, the media, selfishness and then (ironically) pride. People in the class then took turns judging groups of people they probably haven’t had all that much interaction with and demonizing what to me felt like anyone who wasn’t Mormon. Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened next. I raised my hand and proceeded to word vomit on the whole class. I expressed my belief that maintaining a strong family unit was not unique to Mormonism, that we were not the only religion in Christianity or otherwise that took HUGE steps to help families stay together, and to stay strong. I also expressed my belief that by demonizing other groups of people we were doing nothing but falling prey to the evil pride we have preached so much against. I explained that this coloring of people as evil and unclean and a burden on a society that if it were ours alone would be without flaw did nothing but drive the mot deeper into our own eyes as we are so feverishly busy trying to get the beam out of everyone else’s. I expressed my opinion that we should keep our opinions about abortion to ourselves, that by saying someone is no good because they have experienced abortion or thought about it or support a woman’s right to choose an abortion was one of the most asinine, self righteous things I had ever heard. I said that we are so easy offended when people teach against Mormonism, when we are protested against at conference or when a temple is going up, but we are more than happy to sit in this class and do the EXACT SAME THING to people outside out faith. And then was when I started to cry a little.
Needless to say, there was what I like to call a “stunned silence” for a little bit. And then the teacher did what I probably would have done if I were teaching and said something along the lines of, “we’re not judging anyone.” Which, you know, was just a big fat lie. So, I sat there through the rest of the class silent (and that will probably be the way I sit through church for the rest of my life) and FLED as soon as the closing prayer was said.
Here’s my bright spot in all this. A little 65 year old sister followed me out and stopped me. She then thanked me for my candor, thanked me for saying some of the things she’d been thinking. She talked to me for a long time. Told me of growing up in Utah, hating the way people acted there, making her own waves. (In 1977 she told a relief society that she would rather her daughter marry a black man who would honor the priesthood if he could hold it than a blonde haired blue eyed returned missionary who didn’t honor that priesthood he had been blessed with. “You should have heard the gasps!” she told me.) It was good to talk to her. It was good to tell her, “Sometimes I think I’m just WAY to liberal to be Mormon!” and have her say, “I’ve felt that way for a long time.”
That night, I finally told my husband what had happened, and then I started the whole crying thing again. I told him about the feelings in my heart of not belonging, of feeling like I can’t speak my mind, that my thoughts and feelings are looked down on and I should be ashamed of how I feel. “Why did you marry me when I’m like this? Why did you marry someone who doesn’t belong anywhere?” He smiled that smile that he does, the one that makes me think he really does know everything sometimes, and said, “I married you because you belong with me. I married you because I love the way you think and I believe you can do nothing but good by sharing those thoughts.”
I still don’t know how I feel about what happened on the Sabbath. I don’t know how I will be received when I return to church this Sunday. What I do know is there has to be a place for me. There has to be a reason for my believing in this for so long, even when it would have been so much easier for me to simply walk away. But where is there room for a pro-choice, gay loving, liberal to the core brown girl like me in Mormonism?
Posted by Sarah Marinara