Suffer the Children

So yeah, this blogging thing has been going smashing the last few years huh?! I guess I needed to find motivation and I thought I had found it with Bri’s diagnosis of Eosinophilic Esophagitis in May. But apparently that wasn’t enough. I’ve started a million posts that I abandoned because they felt frivolous or self absorbed. And then Friday happened. Friday my mom called to ask me if I had seen the latest message that had been put out about a change in policy in the Momon Church. I was born and raised Mormon. Stayed in the Church for 13 years after my parents marriage dissolved because of my father’s sexual orientation. I stayed after my brother Michael came out I stayed after I married a Catholic. I stayed after my father was excommunicated. After several years of marriage and realizing that I was becoming more and more disillusioned with the Church and many of it’s positions and policies I made the decision to become a Catholic. I joined the Catholic Church in 2007 but I never bothered to remove my name from the records of the Church. I guess in a way it was just an act of defiance. I no longer recognize the Church’s so called authority on this Earth so why take the time, why bother to resign? It was just a formality and I didn’t see the point.

And then Friday came the phone call that rocked everything. That reminded me that while I had thought I had moved on from the Mormon Church, while I thought I had let it all go I was only fooling myself. Because their decision to no longer allow children of LGBT individuals to be given a name and a blessing after birth, or be baptized and Confirmed until the age of 18 absolutely rocked me to my core! The Church that I thought I no longer cared about, that I no longer felt held any tie on me had shattered my heart into a million pieces! My story with the Mormon Church is already written but let’s just play a little game of “If, Then” for a moment.

Let’s imagine this policy was in effect in 1990 when I was baptized. At that time my father was still an active, closeted man and he preformed my baptism. But by the time I got to the age of 12 and entered the young adult program my parents had seperated, my dad’s sexual identity questions were very public and divorce was imminent. With these policies in effect the Church would have grounds to deny me a Temple Recommend, which would have kept me from being able to join the other youth in my Ward on Temple trips. Our youth group did 2 a year and sometimes more like the trip that my MiaMaids class took to the St. Louis Temple one year. Now, people will say “Oh you still would be included. You could go on the trips you just can’t go in the Temple itself.” So I’d be allowed to go along on the road trip and once at the Temple I’d be sat in a room with a chaperone while everyone else was preforming ordinances in the rest of the Temple. That would take 2-3 hours, sometimes more. Then I’d get to sit on the bus or in the van on the way back home listening to them all gush about how wonderful the Temple was; How awesome the experience was. How the Holy Ghost was so strong and the Temple was the most beautiful, peaceful place in the world. And I’d get to smile as I held back tears and say that I’m so happy for them and the experiences they got to have and yes I had a great time too, sitting in a room, by myself, reading the Scriptures and copies of The New Era magazine and the Ensign.

Let’s imagine that this policy was in effect when my brother Christopher turned 12. Under these new guidelines the Church would be allowed to deny him the Priesthood because of his father. A relationship that was already tense and beyond strained would have become even more damaged. Our home would be denied what are seen as the blessings of the Priesthood because of the actions of a man who was no longer a member of the Church, nor a member of our household. My brother served a 2 year mission at the age of 19 in Walla Walla, Washington Spanish speaking. I cannot imagine that would happen if this policy had been in effect then.

Let’s imagine this policy was in effect when my youngest brother Michael turned 8. My father had fallen off the face of the earth by this point (quite literally). He wasn’t involved in our lives at all, in fact we didn’t know if he was alive or dead. But Michael would be withheld the baptism that had already been participated in by his brother and sister, the baptism that for years the Mormon Church has claimed is the ordinance that fully initiates one as a member of the Church, once again because of his father. A father that wasn’t even active in his life, but whose lifestyle was still holding his family back from eternal, salvation giving ordinances of their Church.

There are proponents of this plan who argue it’s for the protection of the child and their relationship with the parent who is living at odds with the teachings of the Church. I can tell you this new policy does nothing except pit children against parents and parents against the Church. My brothers and I had a very hard time reconciling our relationship with our father in the confines of the Mormon Church. For years our relationships were nearly nonexistent because we bought hook line and sinker into the party line when it came to homosexuality. That was damaging. And knowing that his lifestyle was preventing us from receiving ordinances that we wanted would have destroyed us. We would have been more than happy to disavow him and his lifestyle practices in order for the Church to accept us fully, to welcome us with open arms. They would have gotten exactly what they wanted. But that in the end is not about our protection: It’s about them! It is about them getting the last say in a war that they have lost!

I’ve heard proponents say that baptism at 8 isn’t big a deal and maybe they’ve made baptism more of a thing over the years than they should have. OK, then you agree to not get your child baptized at 8 too. In solidarity, since it’s not that big of a deal, just decide that you won’t make a big deal out of it with your child. You’re just going to tell them “We’re not going to have you get baptized at 8. We’re going to let you wait til you’re 18 and decide for yourself.” But you won’t, because in your heart of hearts you know that the Church believes that baptism is a necessary step in the ladder of Salvation. If a child dies without being baptized we have faith that God is merciful, that he would never condemn a child who hadn’t gotten to be baptized yet, but you wouldn’t take that chance would you? And the thought of it makes you sick to the stomach. And it should! Because as much as they want to backpedal and say “Well, maybe we’ve made baptism into a bigger deal than it is,” you know that that is not true!

I’ve heard proponents say that those of us who are sick and horrified by this policy change are blowing it all out of proportion. Especially the part about disavowing the practice of homosexuality because all they have to do is say they know homosexuality is wrong and that’s that. Clearly, they’ve missed the line about having to move out of their home in order to prove that they truly disavow the practice of homosexuality. Let’s ignore the fact that these kids are still kids, 18 years old. Many of them will still be in high school. They can’t live on their own. They can’t make a living for themselves. Where are they going to go? I hope the Bishops and other ward members are going to be ready to take them in and support them emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually. And I hope Ward Mission Funds start getting more donations every month cause you’re gonna have a bunch of kids who have no one to pay for their missions, because you know, you’ve now made them turn their backs on the people who raised them, who loved them, who brought them to you to begin with. But I guess the ends justify the means if the kid goes on a successful mission and comes home with a couple baptisms under their belt!

I’ve heard proponents say that people shouldn’t be so easily offended. That either the Church is true or it isn’t and if it is than you do whatever you have to do to get by in this life and live faithfully to the Church and it’s teachings and policies. Well, I say how sad! This is not about being offended. This was my life people! This was my family! We didn’t make these choices for ourselves! And during our time we endured our own persecution and ousting in the Mormon Church. But this takes it to such a higher level! The Church is literally hanging a scarlet letter around the necks of these children and saying it’s for their protection so that they can sleep at night. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since this policy change was announced. I am horrified and devastated and so utterly broken by this and by the rank and file members who are defending and supporting these policies There are no words that have been able to comfort me or bring me peace. There is nothing Christ-like about this. Nothing loving, nothing compassionate.

And my resignation letter will be officially submitted to Church headquarters this week. It’s time to let this part of my life go. Time to move on from my past and stop letting it haunt me.I still have friends whom I deeply love and admire who are Mormon but I cannot sit by and watch what I believe to be the ultimate discrimination be put on the backs of innocent children under the guise of protection. I have known for a long time that homophobia was alive and well in the Mormon Church, I just never thought they’d use the children as the scapegoats in their fight. I am done! And I will no longer be polite. I will be labeled an Apostate anyway so I will be vocal and outspoken against the Mormon Church. I know I will loose friends in the process but I guess that’s what I have to be ready to accept in order to find peace and comfort in my life once and for all! I am proud of my family. I am proud of my father and love him and my soon to be step-father very much (who, bytheway have been together for 20 years now!). I am proud of my brother Michael and his wonderful husband Scott and the incredible fighters for justice that they are. I am proud of my brother Chris and his partner Josh and the life they have created together. I will not today, nor ever disavow them or their love just to please a Church body. We get one family, one shot at this! We have to do it right!  The bear has been unleashed…and she will not apologize!

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5 thoughts on “Suffer the Children

  1. Pingback: One Week Later | 2 Parents, 4 Kids, 1 Chaotic Wonderful Life

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