Thursday, January 12, 2012

Religion and Marriage: Why my husband doesn't go to church

I promised some updates on how my husband and I are balancing my non-denominational Christian faith with his less active LDS background, and here they are. There's a lot to write about so this will be a series of posts spread over the next few weeks and months as I participate in some discussions with local missionaries and attend services to have my questions answered.

Why my husband isn't active in the church:
(My wife loves me and is letting me proof read this and I'll be commenting in purple where I want to. OH! and by the way, hi everyone ~waves~)

While my husband considers himself a member and believes the LDS church is the true church, he has had some problems over the years with members of the church.
When he was younger, SCB went to his Bishop and confided some struggles he was having in a confessional sort of way... He was a bit shocked to find that some of his more private concerns were made known to his mother when there was no need. (At the time I was suffering from depression and having a hard time of it, and I could understand the bishop telling her if I wanted to kill myself, which I didn't, but he told her something else that she had no need or right knowing.) At this age trust was a big thing for him and this was kind of strike number 1 on his active participation in "church culture." ( not to mention the general scorn i "earned" from my peers for living in southern California and not being able to look "rich".)

Strike 2 came a little differently. For awhile the church "highly suggested" (IE not made a social leper) every male to become a missionary at age 19. It wasn't until a few of my husband's older brothers had already completed their missions that the church decided to modify that "guideline" and make missions more voluntary.  Most young men continued to choose to do so out of tradition...(or because they actually wanted to spread the gospel) but when my husband was given the choice, he chose not to go.

He felt he wasn't prepared enough and at that point in his life he was struggling with other issues and he felt that a mission would do more harm then good. (Essentially I didn't really know what to do with my life at all. After managing my depression to some degree, I was astounded that i had actually lived through it. I was floundering with what to do with myself because i felt that i shouldn't have lived that long to begin with.) But he soon found out that his choice not to go wasn't good for "church culture" and the looks and whispers began. The common belief where I was living at the time was that if you didn't go on a mission, there had to be a BIG reason why. Since I didn't have any apparent medical problems, the people in the area leaped to the conclusion that I must have sinned in some MAJOR way so as to prevent me from going... because just who wouldn't wanna go on a mission if they possibly could?  (can you hear the sarcasm in that last bit?)

When he was older and he and his family moved to Utah (actually i was living in Utah when i was having to decide to go on a mission or not), which has a large LDS population, he found he continued to struggle socially and couldn't fit in. Then he saw how other members of the church continued to treat people he really cared about in a negative way (namely his/our best friends in Utah). Some very nasty lies that I will not even detail on this blog were spread about our friends throughout their wards. (two separate incidents happened to both friends and in both cases no one believed either of them) As a result, they became really isolated by the community and no longer felt welcome to attend church events or even sacrament meeting because of the starring and the whispering... even when one of their ward's Bishops stood up and told the congregation the truth it was a little too late and it was obvious that the damage was already done to the family. While his friend eventually returned to the church after a year of not attending, his wife has stayed away and can't bear the idea of going back to that particular group (and because they live in Utah, they can't choose to go to another ward unless the boundaries are re-done because everyone is assigned a church since there are so many members in the area). This was strike 3.

So he was no longer attending and hadn't for years.

(it also didn't help that more than once there were comments made in public along the lines of "how nice of you to join us"  dripping with sarcasm  when I did come just because i tend to be quiet in public settings and not participate with people i consider strangers.)

(thanks for letting me join in and hope you enjoyed the commentary and clarifications. ~waves bye-bye~)

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