Thursday, August 7, 2014

Things Fall Apart, Things Come Together

We recently resigned from the LDS (Mormon) Church, and this post is a brief explanation of our family's situation.  

To some facebook friends, this may be a surprise, but it's actually old news.  We left the church four years ago, though we only recently sent in our letters of resignation. Our intent is to live an authentic life, and as part of that process, we want those who care about us to know where we stand on one of the most important matters of our lives.  We hope not to lose any friends over this, though we're aware that could happen.

Here's the nutshell version:  Elizabeth and I left together, along with our three kids; after much studying, pondering, praying, researching and meditating, we came to the excruciating conclusion that the LDS church is simply not true; we are happy, healthy, and hopeful for the future; if you are facing a similar journey, we feel your pain, and will support you however we can.

Here are the most relevant details:
  • Elizabeth and I left together, along with our three kids.
  • We did not leave for reasons of sin, pride, or taking offense.  In many ways, our lives look pretty much the same as they did 4 years ago. We have a simple family life that revolves around our kids, our community, and our jobs.  
  • We left because after much study, pondering, prayer, and meditation, we came to the conclusion that the church is not true. Perhaps it may be construed as "true" in the sense of promoting human values such as love, service, forgiveness, community and family. But many churches and systems of ethics promote these same values. However, we do not believe the LDS church is true in the manner it presents itself, as being the only true church on the earth and the only pathway to salvation.  Once we came to that excruciating conclusion, our personal sense of integrity required us to leave, no matter the fallout.
  • We feel that the church's track record in its treatment of women, minorities, and gays is poor and that its history, doctrines and policies often do harm to individuals and families, even to the point of family destruction and suicide.  We realize that many women find great fulfillment in the church and do not feel mistreated in any way, which is great, and we believe them.  However, we feel that the simple awareness that Joseph Smith had at least thirty-three wives, eleven of whom were concurrently married to other men, is all that anyone needs to know to discern that there is something wrong at the core of Mormonism in regards to women.  We are not willing to allow our daughter to grow up in a religious environment where acceptance of that doctrine and history is okay, and where women are still not allowed to hold positions of priesthood authority.
  • We don't regret having been raised Mormon.  There are many wonderful values, relationships, and experiences that we gained that will always be central to our lives.  We are happy to have served missions, gone to BYU, been married in the temple, and served in various callings.  At the time, our worldview told us those were the most important things we could have been doing, and they were important steps on the journey to where we are now.
  • We view our leaving as part of a larger journey into spiritual awareness.  We are not afraid of the future or what happens after death.  We feel reverential awe and humility towards the scientific and artistic truths of our human family, the earth and the universe.  
  • We are happy and healthy.  Our children are thriving.  While there are many struggles we face that are common to all families, we love each other and love our lives. We have new awareness of how precious this life is, how precious all of our relationships are. We intend to make this life count, to do good and leave a legacy of love.
  • We respect our family and friends who choose to remain Mormon.  We had to leave based on our sense of integrity, yet we recognize that many friends choose to stay out of their own sense of integrity.  We honor them, wish them well, and hope to remain friends.  We all have to navigate our own path according to our conscience.
  • We harbor no ill will towards towards any current or past leaders or members.  We believe that nearly everyone is just trying to do the best they can.
  • As is our nature, we will be vocal in standing against injustice and advocating for what we think is right.  We don't consider ourselves "anti-Mormon", but rather pro-truth, pro-justice, pro-love.  I may occasionally post items or thoughts that I feel are important and would like to share.  If you disagree, I invite you to either engage with me in respectful dialogue, either public or private, or to just ignore things that bother you. Please consider that if you haven't unfriended me in the past four years, I doubt you'll find a compelling reason to now. In most ways, we're still the same old Mark and Elizabeth you've always known.
  • One of the main reasons we are posting this here is that we are aware that some of our friends may be silently struggling with their faith at this moment, and others may one day question things that now seem so certain  If this is or will be you, please don't suffer in silence.  We have walked that lonely, terrifying road, and we will walk it with you if you would like.  We will engage you without judgment in whatever circumstance of faith or doubt that you find yourself.  Seriously.  Reach out.  We could use the companionship, too.  Beyond the darkness of this moment there is an exhilarating, soul-expanding journey ahead, and you are not alone.
  • Finally, leaving was one of the most difficult, most courageous, and best decisions we have ever made.  That may be hard for some to understand, but we feel that if you could see things the way we do, you would respect us for the integrity of our choices, even if you disagree with our conclusions.
Thanks for listening.  Health and happiness to all.  

Peace out.

Mark and Elizabeth

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