|The Ostara Supermoon ~ taken from my porch|
And so I have talked with my friends about their reasons and their choices. Like I said, these are intelligent people whom I respect, and when they explain their choices then I start to think. I start to ask questions too.
It's not that I'm asking questions with a malicious intent, nor that I'm looking for flaws with the church or excuses to leave it. I have no desire to leave the church--I never have--but some things are coming up that I am struggling to reconcile, because they're in my head now. Some of them are pretty big questions, and I can't just turn off my brain.
And so I think.
I realize that this really got going last summer, and that I was somewhat depressed at the time. I know that depression (for me) brings with it a real lack of feeling. As in, I just don't care much about much of anything. The combination of lack of feeling with the raising of questions about my church was unquestionably a troublesome duo. I really struggled for a month or so, until in August we went in for our temple recommend interviews. I'd felt a little awkward about going in actually, because I wasn't feeling sure about some things. We only have the interviews every other year, so I didn't remember exactly what was in the questions. I'm the sort of person who is honest to a fault, and if I'm really troubled about something I'm not going to say that everything is ok, so there was even that nagging part of me that wondered if I had any business seeking a (re)new(ed) recommend in the first place... However, when it came down to it, as I went through and answered each question with my Bishop, and then a few minutes later went through them all again with the Stake Presidency counselor, I felt with absolute certainty that this church is exactly where I need to be. In spite of my concerns about certain issues, my basic testimony seems to be intact, and was bolstered by the reminders in the interview.
I am not asking for things to change, but I am trying to understand why some things are the way they are. For example, I know people who are agitating for women to have the priesthood. I don't feel a need to do that--I never have--I'm ok with how things are; but these agitators do raise some logical questions, and so I would really like some nice logical answers for why women don't have the priesthood, you know?
So I still think about things, like I said, I can't just turn off my brain. So I wonder why the church is legally a corporation rather than incorporated as a church (which is what most religious organizations do). If our righteousness and salvation are between us and God, then why is there so much official checking-up on each other, from taking attendance in sunday school to holding interviews every year to officially state whether you've paid a 'full' tithe? Why do there seem to be conflicts between scriptural teachings and certain practices of mainstream LDS culture? (eg: "love one another" verses anti-socialism, or the political actions against homosexuals*) Why are there double standards about things? (eg: piercings or tattoos = evil and disrespectful of our bodies; but botox, boob jobs, and circumcision = totally acceptable?) My dad and my husband have both had church leaders give them grief for wearing beards. How is that anybody elses business anyway?!
I have shared this questioning of mine with a few friends. Some of them are asking some of these questions themselves, but others have warned me that this kind of thinking and asking is dangerous and will probably lead to apostasy. Pardon?! Talking about things or asking questions doesn't make me an apostate. As a matter of fact, I think questions are a healthy part of discipleship: Joseph Smith's asking of questions was precisely what instigated the organization of the church in the first place, and we've been told over and over by leadership to seek personal confirmation about everything.
Several people approached me after my post about delving into paganism, warning me that it was a path into darkness. I appreciate the concern with which the warnings were given, and what I trust was concern on the part of the person who reported me to the Bishop (who then called me in to ask some very awkward questions to 'check' and 'make sure' that I was not 'going off the deep end'). At the end of the day though, my spiritual path is mine, not anyone elses. I prayerfully and thoughtfully seek direction for myself and my family. I instigate and participate in conversations (even debates) about some of these awkward topics in order to try to make sense of things that trouble or confuse me. I am hoping for some answers at General Conference, but ultimately the responsibility for my testimony is only mine.
I think that any group of people will have a certain amount of human error inherent in the system; even church organizations. I do believe solidly in the gospel of Christ however, and I know without question that personal revelation can be relied upon to guide us in all things. So I'll keep relying on those things, and I'll keep ignoring the naysayers all around me.
|at the beach, taking in the mountains, waves, and wind|
*For anybody who is wondering, yes, I do think that homosexual behavior is deviant, and not acceptable in God's eyes. However, in light of solid scientific evidence (from multiple sources) that same sex attraction is inborn (rather than being a choice), I am troubled by how to reconcile the whole thing. The behavior may be a choice, but if the attraction is not, then isn't it asking a lot to ask someone to act against their nature? It seems something akin to saying that shortness/blondness/autism is a sin...and really, that's just messed up. I do not have any answers on this one. It is one of the things that troubles me.