Monday, March 1, 2010

Apostates and Homosexuals

By Mister Curie

Since my disaffection I've learned that a lot of things in the "world" are nothing like I believed them to be. The Church, in its quest to rigidly define the path of righteousness, has created a lot of false bogeymen.  Take, for example, apostates and homosexuals.  These are two groups that the church counsels us to avoid due to their "sinful" choices, making us believe that they will recruit us to their causes.

MoHoHawaii recently listed three stereotypes of non-believers: (1) non-feeling, (2) intellectual, (3) evil.  These largely reflect what I grew up believing about apostates from the Mormon church: that they want to destroy the faith of others, that they intellectualize themselves out of faith, and that they desire to sin.  These apostates are pitiable creatures, "crawling over or under or around" the truths of the Gospel that they have either intellectualized themselves away from, or simply ignore in their desire to live a sinful lifestyle, but they must be avoided at all costs because of the poison they spew. Similarly, I grew up believing that homosexuals were evil individuals who chose to sin in the worst possible way and who want to recruit others into their sinful lifestyle.

It took becoming an apostate and realizing I am homosexual for me to recognize that I had been taught many false things about both apostates and homosexuals.  Upon losing my belief, I joined the New Order Mormon forum for "apostates".  There I met some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.  Largely these people did not desire to be sinful, they weren't evil, they weren't non-feeling, but I must admit many of them were very smart intellectual individuals.  The forum is largely a support forum for those who are reeling from the realization that what they have been taught all of their lives is not true in the way they believed it to be true.  They are hurt and frustrated.  Their plight is largely similar to that of homosexuals and they have adopted many of the same terms, including being in the closet and coming out.  The reaction of family and friends to their "coming out" is also similar to how many homosexuals are treated upon coming out.  These open "apostates" often face divorce, loss of other family relationships, and the desires of others to "change" them.  John Dehlin has fantastic series of podcasts at Mormon Stories that attempts to humanize the "apostates."  The Mormon Expression podcasts have a similar, although somewhat more angsty, focus. 

Similarly, homosexuals are nothing like I was led to believe.  Joining the MoHosphere and developing friendships with many of you, has been a fantastic, affirming experience.  The MoHo journey is not about the decision to become homosexual and there is no effort to recruit others to be gay, nor belief that such recruitment is even possible.  MoHos often struggle with accepting that homosexuality is not what they have been led to believe all their lives, sometimes leading to the contemplation of suicide.  Their plight of coming out of the closet and the reactions of spouse, family, and friends are well documented.  And the doctrinal contusions I see posted around the MoHosphere, frankly, border on apostasy.  Dismissal of writings of apostles and prophets as policy and not doctrine (including, but not limited to the Proclamation on the Family), failure to support the church's decision in Prop 8, wanting the church to change to allow homosexual marriage for eternity - these are all out apostasy.  MoHos go through the same things that the apostates on New Order Mormon are going through.  MoHos recognize that what they have been taught about homosexuality is wrong.  The apostates recognize that many of the things they have been taught about the church are wrong and they struggle to understand the new reality.

Being at the crossroads of these two great journeys, the world makes the most sense if the church is wrong about both apostates and homosexuals.  The reason the church leaders are so wrong about homosexuality is the same reason they have been wrong about racial equality, gender equality, and polygamy: because God isn't speaking to them in the way church members are led to believe He does.  There is no special link between the Prophet and the Divine that enables them to give God's will to us.  We cannot trust with blind faith in their guidance, believing that if we will only listen to the Prophet we will be guided safely home to the Celestial Kingdom.  The same thing applies to why the archeological and DNA evidence fails to support the Book of Mormon, why the Temple endowment ceremony largely mimics 18th century Masonic rituals, why there are multiple, conflicting accounts of the First Vision, and why the Book of Abraham does not match the translation by Egyptologists of the Egyptian funeral scrolls: its all human fabrication.  There are multiple issues with the church on all sorts of levels, apologists jump through hoop after hoop to explain them all.  But there is one hoop I can jump through that makes all the other problems go away, the church is not true.  The God I was taught to believe in, who loves me and wants to guide my safely home to His presence, is not the same God that would put so many false leads in history so that we have to rely on faith despite the physical evidence to the contrary.

As J. Reuben Clark stated, "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."

Or as Gordon B. Hinckley stated, "Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues."

Gordon B. Hinckley also stated, "Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing."


  1. I think the "no middle ground" mindset is the one that causes me to have so many issues. If the Church wasn't so rigid, I think that all the hoops to jump through would be easier to resolve, both in policy and doctrine. But because the Church declares "all or nothing", many of us see that and realize that we can't believe all of it, so I guess we can't buy into any of it. Many of us would like to keep some of the good parts and just pretend the bad parts don't exist. Many MoHos make the attempt, wanting to pursue life as a Mormon exactly, just with a same-sex companion. But the truth is that the Church isn't going to buy into that, no matter how much you state that you love the gospel, etc. Eventually they'll kick you to the curb despite the unrequited love many MoHos have for the church.

  2. I think the worst part is shaking off the slavery effected by the "all or nothing" mental blackmail. It's infiltration into our consciences come in at least 2 forms:

    1. There are some aspects of the "Mormon life", like families, good Christ-like values, etc., that many gay/bi LDS wish to keep, but feel like they no longer can 'coz they don't accept all of the Church's program of living.

    2. There will almost always be a form of guilt that we "might" be compromising ourselves for eternity.

    Anybody who has gotten over this hump are automatically my heroes.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not homosexual, but I am an apostate, and I have to say that I view everything differently now that I no longer believe in the Church. It’s as though I have taken off the rose colored glasses and I now see things as they really are. And you know what? It’s pretty damn nice! I appreciate different people and the uniqueness they bring to the world. Can you imagine being in the Celestial Kingdom with a bunch of stuffy Mormons. Seriously, that is not heaven to me! I’ll be where the fun people are. I hope I see ya’ll there:).

  4. Mister Curie - I kind of feel like we are taking the same steps at the same time these days.

    I realize even as I say things like, "I still consider myself Mormon." or "I still love the church." that to a degree I am rationalizing and hanging on. I so wish that there was NOM path. I so wish that there was a third way, but Hinckley said it. His quote really pushes people off of the fence.

  5. I've always had a hard time with those Hinkley quotes. It leaves the impression of prophetic infallibility but in the same breath we declare the humanity of the men who lead the church. Which is it? Is there room for error or isn't there? You can't have it both ways.

  6. I think what's been said really boils down the issues already brought up. If the church weren't so rigid, if it weren't all or nothing, if we didn't have to accept(/sustain) everything church leaders state, would we be in our current state? I really doubt it and rely more upon my current expectations of what will make me happy. Humility quickly morphed into something destructive for me, so I had to choose my happiness when others looked down on me for my homosexuality.

  7. Hinkley was wrong. Period. So was that guy who said something about obey the prophet and if he is wrong it will be on his shoulders not yours. And whoever said that the B of M is the most correct of any book every written. But somehow, strip away these and similar, and I think or hope there is something left. Which is why I attend church once a month, so that by church definition I am "active," and am reminded of why I "hang on" and find some pleasure in doing so.

  8. @Grant Haws - I agree that the "black and white" mindset is a problem in the Mormon religious community. I highly recommend the "cafeteria" approach to Mormonism with taking the good parts and ignoring the bad parts. New Order Mormons are attempting to find that middle way in Mormonism. However, it is particularly difficult for MoHos whose middle way involves finding a same-sex companion because the church will likely discipline/excommunicate those members.

    @Other Species - There are definitely people who swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction when they become disaffected with the church. I'm still struggling to find where the pendulum should be myself. Those who have found a way are also my heroes.

    @Girl - Agreed. The world is a fantastic place. I, for one, am glad I have taken off the blinders.

    Reina - I agree that finding the middle way is hard/impossible with dogmatism coming from the leaders and being ingrained in so many of the members. It doesn't help that there are orthodoxy tests (temple recommend interviews) to remain in complete fellowship in the church.

    @GTBF - My catholic wife is fond of saying that Catholics profess the Pope is infallible, but don't believe it, while Mormons profess the Prophet is fallible, but treat him as infallible. The "follow the prophet" mantra taught to children in Primary and the emphasis placed on obedience certainly falls on the side of prophetic infallibility, and I think the leadership mostly just wants us to fall into line with whatever they say (whether or not we think about it first, as long as ultimately we follow). I think the declaration of humanity is simply a way to get around the problems in church history and church administration without everyone's faith falling apart (not that it prevents it for all of us).

  9. @Santorio - (whose comment appears to have disappeared for some reason), the difficulty for me is that once you strip away all the problem areas of the church, you basically strip away everything that makes Mormonism unique.

    @GMB - (whose comment has also disappeared), the rigidity in the church leadership and social context of the church definitely present problems. I am glad that you have been able to choose happiness for yourself. I'm reaching for that, but the going is sometimes painful and slow. Part of that process is letting go of believing what the church has told me will make me happy and figuring out for myself what brings me happiness.

  10. I've got an experiment that I'm working on. The next time a TBM reminds me of the humanity of the leadership of the church, I'll ask them to prove it by telling me of some of the leaderships mistakes. It is one thing to tell me they are only men, but it is another to understand what that means.

  11. @GTBF - that sounds like a fun experiment. Perhaps I'll try it as well. Let me know what responses you get.