In general I don't feel like a bitter or angry person. I feel like I am pretty fair in my opinions on church and my experiences. I defend Mormonism on the points I believe are worth defending. But I also do not excuse the church or its leaders for real harm that has been done. Perhaps, on this blog, I tend to be more critical because of the subject of the blog... being gay and Mormon. Maybe if there were more things to praise the church for when it comes to this topic, it would be different.
My beliefs have definitely developed and changed over the last year. To some... it may seem like I've abandoned everything I once believed. That isn't true. It was actually before I came to terms with being gay that I was probably most critical of the idea that God existed. I was in so much pain and I had begged him for help for so long, I just couldn't see that there was such a being since He didn't seem to notice my pain.
After coming to terms with being gay and being okay with that, all of a sudden life was pumped into me and I attributed it to God. God finally reached out. Things were better. I no longer punished myself with the idea that God rejected me or didn't want me to be happy. I finally felt that God loved me. So at that point, I kind of forgave all the years of hurt, of repression, or guilt, of self-hate that was instilled in me through my religion. I concluded that it was my fault for not being open to the idea that God loved me the way I was... a total homo. That if I had just given God a chance to give that answer, he would have.
Hanging onto Mormonism also allowed me to set boundaries and differentiate myself from "those gays" that we grow up hearing about. The sex maniacs who party and do drugs. I was a different kind of gay... one with morals! I felt that I was some new class of gay and hanging onto Mormonism is what made me, well... better really.
But then I met people. Really good people. Some of them had gone down different paths than I had... paths that I didn't really care to travel. But as I got to know them it all made sense. There was no way I could sit there and judge someone for the choices they made because I had not experienced their life. And despite everything we might conclude about a person from a list of choices they make, these people were honestly good people trying to navigate their lives the best they could.
I began having experiences similar to the ones I had on my mission. Those being experiences that taught me that there were wonderful, happy, productive people living good lives despite the fact that they didn't believe in Mormonism.
Then I would go to church or I would talk to lds friends (both gay and straight) and they would speak against these people I had met. Things would continue to be said in church by leaders that would cause fear and even hatred when it came to the "gay problem." I would be reminded of the years of hurt and self-hate. There seemed to be so much intolerance and judgement. And yes, perhaps the problem really is rooted in misunderstanding... and so i tried to share my perspective with patience and love. But it still continues. There are so many people going through real pain because of things leaders of the church have said or taught. At what point does my defense of the church and the leaders start excusing them from the pain they cause so many? At what point do need to stand up and say, "this is wrong and I do not support it and cannot support leaders who continue to teach false ideas about gay people." And then at what point must you come to the conclusion that if the men leading a church are among the last to realize and accept that being gay is not an issue of choice and that we are gay because God created us this way, maybe it isn't true?
But then so what? Why not move on? Well... I guess I see it like this. People in the pre-civil rights era didn't have a thought occur to them that maybe their treatment of other human being was wrong and then just move on with life quietly. Someone had to speak up. Someone had to point out the inconsistencies and the injustice. Someone had to wake people from their sleep so they could open their eyes for what was going on around them.
Honestly I feel like the church could be true. It could be true if there was a revolution within. I love the Mormon Stories podcasts and I love that there are so many people that are so much more open to new ideas and information and to differences. The level of openness and honesty and transparency is SO comforting. I feel like the church COULD be a TRUE church. I don't know how much I believe in "the one true church" idea anymore. Christ never set up a church... and the basis of his message was love... unconditional love. In fact he criticized the leaders of religion, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and spent his time amongst the outcast, the sinners, the poor, the people "good society" isn't thought to be made up of. But if a church could actually embody the message of Christ, then I feel it would be a true church.
So now back to my criticism of the church. I do it because I am holding my leaders accountable for their actions (or non-actions). I spent two years of my life teaching people and converting people to this religion, and the rest of it telling people how great it was. I feel I have somewhat of an obligation to speak up when I believe that leaders are leading people in a harmful direction... and I wouldn't know that except that I myself lived it. I still speak up in the church's defense when someone says something untrue or misguided about it, so can I not do the same in the opposite situation? Am I cynical?