A few months after my husband and I moved from Arizona to North Dakota, but before we had officially resigned our membership, the Mormons tracked us down, as they are famous for doing. (FSM help any Mormons who need to enter the witness protection program.) I wasn’t home when they came calling, but my husband answered the door and the exchange went something like, “We’re just checking to see if there’s anything we can do for you.” “Nope, we’re just fine.” (Shut door.)
Soon after, we received a letter in the mail. The gist was: We stopped by your home but were not received. The bishop of your former ward informed us of your “situation” (I had been re-baptized after being excommunicated, but hadn’t had temple blessings restored), and we are eager to assist you on getting back to the path of eternal progression and returning to your Heavenly Father.
Enclosed was a copy of a conference talk by Elder David Bednar: “And Nothing Shall Offend Them.”
I read through Elder Bednar’s experiences visiting inactive members:
As we talked, eyes often were moist with tears as these good people recalled the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost and described their prior spiritual experiences. Most of the “less-active” people I have ever visited had a discernible and tender testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. However, they were not presently participating in Church activities and meetings.
And then I would say something like this. “Let me make sure I understand what has happened to you. Because someone at church offended you, you have not been blessed by the ordinance of the sacrament. You have withdrawn yourself from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because someone at church offended you, you have cut yourself off from priesthood ordinances and the holy temple. You have discontinued your opportunity to serve others and to learn and grow. And you are leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children’s children, and the generations that will follow.” Many times people would think for a moment and then respond: “I have never thought about it that way.”
My reaction was a stunned, “You think that’s why we left?!”
Leaving the Church over offense is portrayed as something akin to a stubborn, pouty child, whose pride and fragile ego prevent her from doing what deep down she must really want and know is right. And if the Church were really all it was cracked up to be, indeed, ‘twould be silly to forfeit all that bliss over the foibles of imperfect members.
I didn’t ditch the Church because some blundering member hurt my feeling, but I admit it: there is much about Mormonism that offends me. I wouldn’t continue a relationship with a person I found persistently offensive. Why should I apply different criteria to an institution?
The notion that the only way I get to be with my husband in the afterlife is if I agree to have trillions of babies forever, and even then I might have to share him with a few other women, is offensive.
Being told that if my views and feelings conflict with Church leaders or doctrine, I am by default wrong, is offensive.
Being strongly “encouraged”–if not outright “commanded”–to oppose a civil rights movement that would allow people that I love to be able to call the people they love family, is offensive.
Being told that racist policies of the past weren’t really racist is offensive.
Finally, there’s the whole claim to authority and the idea that priesthood leaders speak for God. I think I could cut LDS leaders a lot more slack if they would come out and admit that they’re just human beings doing the best they can, but they claim they’re getting revelation right from God, for what God wants for us here and now. Church leaders have made many changes since the Church’s founding, and for the better, but where they lose their credibility for the claim of receiving revelation is that when it comes to positive change, they always seem to be behind the curve compared to the rest of the world.
So, please, don’t claim to know when you don’t. And don’t claim to be talking to an omniscient God when it’s pretty obvious that you’re making it up as you go. That’s called lying. And being lied to is offensive!
So there you have it. I was offended, and that’s why I left.