Why I Left the Church

I write this as I sip my third cup of coffee of the day. Coffee had nothing to do with my decision to leave the church, but it is a nice perk. I’ve discovered a love for coffee and its magical abilities to turn me into a productive member of society in the morning (I am not addicted, before anyone suggests such a thing. This cup is decaf. I just like the taste.)

As I drink my coffee, I am not being swallowed up by the flames of hell. The devil has not taken up residence in my heart. I have yet to be hit by a bus, and none of the other horrible things I was sure would happen to me once I left the church have happened. Life is good and I am at peace.

Leaving the church is not a decision I came to lightly or impulsively. It has been a long time coming. It comes after many sleepless nights, many tears, much time spent arguing with myself. There were so many things that led up to it. There were issues of doctrine that I tried to ignore, but continued to weigh on me. There were points of church history I tried to ignore or excuse away because I thought I was supposed to. The sketchy church financial issues irked me but I tried to trust in the Brethren- maybe that property in Florida really would help to build G-d’s kingdom! I bit my feminist tongue so much I thought I would have permanent scars, because this was right. This church was where I belonged. And whatever bothered me, whatever gnawed at me, whatever I just couldn’t excuse away, I told myself it didn’t really matter.

Eternal things matter. Since I first joined the church I was committed to staying because I wanted it for my future children. I saw a haven for families within the church and I wanted that for my future kids. I wanted an eternal marriage; I wanted a community that would nurture my family as it grew. I wanted a place to belong now and in years to come. And sometimes, I really did have that within the church.

And then came the letter (https://www.lds.org/church/news/church-leaders-counsel-members-after-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-decision?lang=eng ) . I had a lot of thoughts about the letter, but the thought that sounded most strongly in my mind was “I cannot raise my children here.” This is not what I want to raise my children to believe is right. This is not what I want my children to believe about G-d. I want to raise children to be accepting of everyone, and to show love to all, including gay friends, family members, and themselves, even if they should happen to be gay (because yes, people are born gay, and I have no control over whether or not I have a gay child, and if I should have a gay child, I would love them and embrace them completely, no differently from how I would love and embrace any straight children I might have).

I wrestled with this as I sat in church, fulfilled my calling, read my scriptures, and did everything a good Mormon girl should. Maybe if I kept doing what I was supposed to, the confirmation that this was right would come. But it didn’t.

Two weeks after The Letter, a statement came out about Boy Scouts (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-comments-on-boy-scouts-of-america-resolution-on-adult-leader-standards) . I’ve always had issues with the church’s relationship with the Boy Scouts so one would think I would be happy to see they were considering pulling away. And I would have been happy, if it was because the church recognized the implicit sexist messages that stem from lauding of Boy Scouts when girls do not have a comparable activity (activity days are not the same!), but because this rethinking was coming as a result of The Boy Scouts of America deciding to allow gay men to be Scout Leaders, I was definitely not happy. Instead, I was sad, hurt, confused, appalled, and frustrated. Could the Church, which so unabashedly adores the BSA, be ready to sever ties because they were going to (however reluctantly) allow an openly gay male to volunteer to lead a troop? Could a move towards inclusiveness by the BSA really be so offensive to the church? And could I continue to be a member of an organization that would find a move towards inclusiveness so offensive?

I tried to excuse it away, but I had grown so tired of excusing things away. I asked myself, “how many more excuses will I make? How many more things will I have to make peace with, when I know in my soul that they are not right? How many more times will I be ashamed of my church membership?” I could not answer and the thought sickened me.

There is blatant discrimination in the church. We can call it by whatever pretty names we want, but at the end of the day, it is discrimination. And I could not be a part of it any more.

I followed the advice of James 1:5 and prayed to know what to do, and felt true peace in my soul about walking away. So I did. I started attending another church, and living life on terms set by G-d and myself. It was terrifying and anxiety-provoking but also exhilarating and freeing. I came to know G-d in new, amazing, and profound ways. I fell in love with the scriptures. I learned to embrace my authentic self and take newfound comfort in knowing that G-d loves the authentic me.

I have not been hit by a bus. I have not crumbled to a million little pieces. In fact, I’m stronger than ever. I am happier than I knew I could be. I have no regrets about my seven years in the church, but I also have no regrets about walking away. The church isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t for everyone at every stage of their life. I still love and respect the church members I have come to know, and will forever be grateful to the church for the people it led me to, and the blessing the church truly was for me for this period of my life. The church was where I needed to be for a while, but now I am in a new place, and I believe it is where G-d wants me. All is well.

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33 thoughts on “Why I Left the Church

  1. This was really beautifully said and so brave of you to share. It put into words so much of my own reasoning to walk away from the church as well. My dad is gay and i couldn’t in good conscience continue belonging to an organization where, should I have kids one day, I would need to explain to them that what the church said about their grandfather wasn’t right. Thank you for your post!

  2. I left the church a little over a year ago and was so surprised to find that the “spirit” was still with me and I found more peace and understanding outside the church than within.

    I’m proud of you for doing what you know is right even if it meant giving up on something you’d invested in so much of yourself. It’s hard, it was for me too, but I’ve never regretted it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

    Good luck to you! I’m happy for you, isn’t it great to remove all that cognitive dissonance. 🙂

  3. Thank you SO much for so eloquently articulating some of the things that are in my heart. I, too, have left the church after 30-something years in it, a mission, graduation from BYU, and countless vows that I’d never leave. And I feel so free.

  4. Sad to see you go… mostly for selfish reasons thought… got to be honest 🙂 Ill miss the memes and laughing and rolling my eyes with you about all the ridiculous mormon culture we are bombarded with all the time. Hope the best for you and ill stick around here to see where your writing takes you.

  5. You will be missed. Just repeat to yourself “I will follow God’s plan for me” and then be grave enough to follow it. ❤️

  6. I am sad and happy for you. I too have done my own thing and come back. I do not think the church is against anyone. I think they are for God and his laws… But that they also teach Christ like love. So many more people who you haven’t met have gay family members they live and still are strong members. Why can’t you have both?
    I am happy for you because… It is your journey and if you are happy then that is good too. I am really happy that you say you had 7 good years snd that you overall learned a lot and liked it. When people leave any faith and then mock or belittle their past faith/religion…. That is far from Christ’s teachings and sad. So that is why I say good luck on your future endeavors and may you alwAys have Peace. It is your journey not mine. I will miss you!
    Sincerely , always a sister in Christ
    SE

  7. I think what a lot of people within any organized religion forget (or don’t recognize the full potential) that spirituality and faith is so highly personal. I’m proud of you for trusting what felt right to you. Personally, I joined the church only a couple short years ago, but I run into a lot of the same issues you’ve illustrated here. I’m not sure if it’s in my highest alignment to leave yet, but I haven’t been going since those letters were issued… I think that says a lot anyway.

    And you’re so right–God loves us, no matter what. He wants what is best for us and will guide us to our true destiny, with or without being a part of any one religion, if we trust in that divine power that’s in all of us from Him.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. “Pride is the universal sin, the great vice. The antidote for pride is humility.” Words and counsel from a wise and great leader. When you are ready to come back, we’ll be right here waiting for you.

    • Your comment is so condescending, please rethink posting/saying things like this to people who leave the church. It does not help, it pushes away. And interestingly, it takes a pretty prideful attitude to think you know better about if the LDS church is right for someone else than they do. Your way is not the only way, and it is prideful to believe that your experiences and beliefs are more rift than someone else’s. How would you feel if someone you care about told you, “I’ll be waiting for you when you finally learn the truth about the church and leave.”? Food for thought.

    • Your comment is precisely why I, and many other ex-Mormons, will never return. That pride is cited as the main reason for people’s departure from the church is so hubristic it makes me sick. The church is hemorrhaging people right now, and the approach you’re taking is not enticing anyone to come back. Instead of verbally backhanding people, try to be a little more understanding.

  9. Thank you for your honesty and openness. I too have left the church, going from a super strict Molly Mormon to a “liberal” believer to an ex Mormon. I learned about your Tumblr when I was already out but really enjoyed it anyway because I related to your frustrations. I hope you continue to find happiness and peace.

  10. Ooph. That effffffing letter had me screaming curses at G-d during the drive home afterwards. Literally. First time I’d ever done that.

    Love and best of luck to you.

  11. (That said, this last General Conference was pretty great, despite the sooooops boring new GA callings — not exactly inclusive, but not *not* inclusive. Which I think is progress. I’d recommend a listen if you find yourself in the mood for non-infuriating Mormon church stuff.)

  12. Also, how do you know people are born gay? Seriously, I’ve kept a close watch on what comes from the scientific community on this…and they still haven’t found a “gay gene” (proof that it’s a purely genetic condition). Seriously if you’ve got evidence that perhaps I haven’t seen please post a link. This is important because this life changing decision you’ve made seems to hinge on whether or not people can be born gay.

    • It’s not just about whether or not there is a gay gene, whether they are born that way or not. It’s about treating everyone with dignity, even if you disagree with them. Kind of difficult to make the argument that you do when you call other families that are not hetero-normative “counterfeit.”

    • The bit about being born gay was parenthetical, not the main point. The main point was how the LDS church treats LGBTQ folks. That someone was born some way or wasn’t is no excuse to deny them compassion and full humanity. If someone says they’re gay, I don’t care if they were born that way or not. I believe them and I respect their way of being, the end. That the LDS church is unable to do this, THAT is the problem. Putting aside the other things about the LDS church I take issue with, even if someone should convince me that “gayness” was 100% voluntary, I would still be 0% more likely to rejoin.

  13. I have enjoyed Amen Already and, from the turn of mind it revealed in you, I have thought that if we met irl, we would have good conversations. I enjoyed your gentle humor even after I myself left the LDS church a little over a year ago. (I left because of some of the same issues you cited.) It has been hard and still is sometimes, but it and I aren’t a good fit any more. So anyway this is my note of “I feel you, Sis.” You must do You, since a) no one else can, and b) it is impossible for you to do anything else. Maybe we are both going to hell now, but everyone goes to *someone’s* hell, if you think about it. 😉 Until then, be well.

    • There’s a difference between biology and genetics. There is plenty of proof about the biology of homosexuality. It is not a genetic condition nor is it inherited. There’s a big difference.

  14. Thank you for sharing this. I have many similar feelings and I’m right on the edge of walking away. My heart aches as I read this because I know that you did not come to this decision lightly. So much love to you as you move forward with your life.

  15. So much of this is my story as well. Thanks for sharing. While I no longer believe the church is true, I hope that changes are made in the future that allow for more inclusiveness and eliminate the “us vs. the world” environment. Especially on the LGBT front.

  16. Thank you for this thoughtful post! It mirrors my own experience pretty closely, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Thanks for this lovely blog; good luck with your future! I think it holds many lovely things.

    • Your comment is filled with bias and superiority. I hope you find peace in your own journey and respect for the journeys of other people.

  17. Thank you for your honesty, humor and writing. I’ve always loved how you question to find peace rather than accepting on blind faith. I struggle with some of the same issues. I hope to be able to resolve them without leaving the church, but hey, we each must find our own way. Best of luck.

  18. I testify that our Savior’s love is not something that waxes and wanes according to our obedience to or rejection of His commandments. He does not distance Himself from us in trial or draw near to us in peace. He is always near to us. Whoever we are and wherever we go, He is with us. Even were we to willingly subject ourselves to the very powers of hell itself He would be beside us, suffering with and for us, always loving and always willing to do anything and everything in the hope that we might let Him deliver us from those forces that seek to forever bind us and drag us down into endless misery and destruction.
    He is eternally committed to us. He loves us completely and without reservation. He is always with us. It is up to us to listen, to answer, and to let Him direct our paths.

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