“I…would…try to pray it out of me”

Impact:  I was raised in the church, went to BYU, then served a mission in South America. After returning from the mission field, I became a RS Pres, then I was in Young Women’s, Primary and most of the other jobs that most wards have. I was very active. I struggled my whole life with knowing I was gay, but would go to the temple and try to pray it out of me. That never worked, but I tried to remain faithful. After so many years of trying, I can be honest and say, I was not happy, I didn’t feel the peace of being faithful so I made the decision to leave the church after talking with my parents and telling them I was gay. They were incredible. They said they always knew and that they just wanted me to be happy and if I could only love a women, then I had their support. While I did meet someone and we both continued to attend church, for a while, it just became too much. We both felt we had to step away. So step away we did.

My partner was the one who starting investigating the church and would share things with me. At first I didn’t believe what she found and I said it was not true what was being said about Joseph and the current leaders. I grew up in Maryland, so I was aware of some of the history, such as Joseph had multiple wives, even that he had told Martin Harris that he was to give his wife to Joseph. I was taught it was only a test and Joseph never took her away from Martin. I knew about Eliza R. Snow and was told it was a spiritual marriage only. So when I started doing research and found that Joseph had been arrested for fraud, that rocked my belief pretty badly. Then to learn he actual took other men’s wives, even one that was 8 months pregnant, that was bad. Then learning that he married a 14 year old and Emma was not aware of any of this. Then learning that their are multiple versions of the First Vision, I felt betrayed and lied to about early history and if I was lied to about that, what else was the church lying about?

My dad was Stake President when Ezra T. Benson came back for a Stake Conference. He stayed the weekend with us and there were lots of talks at night about all the issues. One particular discussion was about blacks and the priesthood. Ezra told us that it was because blacks were cursed because of Cain. That just felt wrong to me on so many levels and I wondered how I could feel such darkness from a man that at the time was President of the Quorum of the Twelve. It just didn’t sit right with me.

When I was young I remember hearing the amount of tithing that was paid, the fast offering, the expenses of the church. It was read in Stake every six months. Then it stopped and when I asked why, I never got an answer. I was told it was not for members to know, which struck me funny because we used to be told, so why change it now. Obviously, the church was becoming more wealthy ever day and that wouldn’t look good. My faith crisis really came when I decided to live my authentic life the way God created me. I struggled because I thought the church represented Christ’s gospel as he taught it.

So it was like being true to myself was betraying my faith, but at the same time, I had such a peaceful feeling that God supported me in being who he created. So I was happier living my life than I ever had been, but felt I lost part of me with the church. When I found out that most of what I was taught growing up was a lie, I felt I could leave and be at peace. I guess now I’m just angry that I spent a lot of years thinking there was something wrong with me and that I was a sinner. Even though I never did anything wrong, wrong that I would have to see a bishop for at any rate. I don’t feel the need to get others to leave, because I feel that is a personal decision each person needs to come to on their terms.

I’ve learned to be the best spiritual being that I can. I’m glad I was raised with the values that I was, so no regrets there. I don’t regret going on a mission because it was such a great life experience for me on so many levels. I don’t wish the church any ill will, I just wish they would be honest. I do believe one day they will see that it is going to crumble if they don’t stop and begin to admit the truth.

Name: Joni

Date: 16 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: LGBT issues, General, Polygamy, Race and the Priesthood

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