Why I Stay: Claiming Mormonism in the Face of Doubt



Sometimes, being a Mormon is hard.

I don't mean that the expectations, assignments, duties, activities, and lifestyle is hard. They certainly are, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about identifying as a Mormon. Actually being Mormon.

It is very easy to dismiss someone going through a faith crisis. The presumption is that they want to sin or like finding fault, that they aren't praying "correctly" or reading their scriptures enough, that they are too prideful and too sensitive.

But this dismissal ignores the very real struggles of those who are genuinely searching for answers. They want to believe - no one wants to have their entire foundation crumble. They struggle because they find doctrinal or policy inconsistencies that they can't reconcile.

They struggle because a Church that is supposed to be directed by God once taught that black people were inferior and banned black men from holding the priesthood.

They struggle because divinely-inspired leaders have said and done horrible things, like comparing girls to pornography and telling rape victims that, unless they did everything to fight off their attackers, they would be better off dead.

They struggle because lessons on "virtue" are really lessons on sexual behavior.

They struggle because the refrain "God heals all things" callously ignores the real physical and mental disabilities that many will face their entire lives.

They struggle because the Church has actively fought against civil rights issues like same-sex marriage.

They struggle because girls are taught to be modest for boys.

They struggle because boys get the message that their impure thoughts and actions are caused by girls.

They struggle because expressing doubts can leave you isolated and ostracized.

They struggle because the Church banned children of gay couples from joining the Church until they are 18 .

They struggle because of the historical practice of polygamy that condemned women who wouldn't accept it.

They struggle because the Church is so concerned about its appearance that it will hide any sign of weakness or mistake instead of admitting them and forsaking them.

They struggle because female general leaders are not often consulted in major policies, including those in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

They struggle because sexual assault victims are directed to bishops who receive no sexual assault training.

They struggle because they learn that stories of heroism and honor that their testimonies are founded on have sometimes been exaggerated, if not constructed.

They struggle because the Doctrine and Covenants teaches that anything can be justified if God commands it.

They struggle because the oft-quoted phrase, "Everything happens for reason" translates to "God wanted me to be raped."

They struggle because...

They struggle.

These struggles are not trivial. They are not the vain imaginings of someone looking for trouble. They cannot be easily swept under the rug. These struggles represent real battles in life, most of which affect them personally, and hinge on understanding how an organization that claims to have the fullness of the gospel and modern prophets can ever accept morally questionable policies and teachings as Truth.

I see you. I hear you. I am one of you.

There are days that I wonder why I even bother. Conversations about the Church with me are
rarely going to end on a positive note. And sometimes I ask myself why I stay. And then I remember.

I stay because there are a few special moments that I cannot deny, no matter how hard I try.

I stay because a fundamental principle of the Gospel is that we accept all truth, no matter its source.

I stay because the network of social support can be a lifeline when you feel adrift and lost.

I stay because I don't like perfect people, and the Church is full of imperfection.

I stay because I believe in building from within.

I stay because I want much of what we teach to be true.

I stay because I recognize that putting anyone on a pedestal - your bishop, your home teacher, or your Church - is a mistake.

I stay because the Church is trying to do better, and I appreciate efforts to try to do better.

I stay because we believe in goodness, and mercy, and forgiveness - even if we're not the best at being good, and merciful, and forgiving.

I stay because I recognize that while the Gospel is perfect, the Church is not, both because the people in it are imperfect and because we have much yet to learn.

I stay because we believe that as the members become capable of accepting more Truth that we will receive more Truth. And that means that what we recognize as Truth today is incomplete, and that gives me hope for tomorrow.

I stay.

This post can also be found at A Believing Scientist.