I am not putting up a profile on Mormon.org, for obvious reasons (i.e., they would not accept it for doctrinal unorthodoxy, and the fact that I am currently not attending church). However, for my own personal catharsis, I thought I would post my profile here. because I am attempting to answer all of the questions, this profile will be presented in a series of blog posts.
I'm a 31-year-old adult LDS convert from Catholicism. My favorite things in life are spending time with my husband, Lindt's chocolate truffles, Starbuck's Columbia coffee, and watching the A&E (Colin Firth) version of Pride and Prejudice.
Why I am a Mormon
I grew up in an extremely abusive family environment. I was drawn to the family focus of Mormonism as a way to rise above my circumstances and end the vicious cycles of alcoholism, abuse, and domestic violence in my past. I was impressed by the ideas of Institute and Seminary, and considered them great opportunities for allowing individuals to examine their faith critically. I really also like the local lay-ministry approach.
Discrepancies between the Mormon church's teachings and my own personal revelation pertaining to gender roles caused me to re-examine the role of organized religion and religious authority in dictating my personal decisions. As a result, I am currently taking an extended break from Church attendance. However, I have not resigned my membership because of the role that the Church has played in my personal development as a Christian. Although the Mormon church isn't what it claims to be, I find it to be generally a force for good. Hope springs eternal that the community will yet be so for me. Perhaps you can say that my continued membership in the LDS church is the triumph of hope over experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did your church previously practice plural marriage (polygamy)?
The existence of the practice in our Church's history makes non-believers AND believers really uncomfortable. At one time, plural marriage was held to be required for exaltation, which may explain why as many as 20% of active Mormons were in polygamous marriages. I believe that most individuals engaged in the practice were well-meaning and genuinely believed that they were doing God's will. I believe that Joseph Smith thought he was reaching beyond the grave to some greater salvic practice when he introduced it. Apologetic answers, such as that it was for "the widows and single women" are unsatisfying as well as disingenuous.
The best answer that I can offer is that Mormon leaders are no less human than the Catholic pope or your average Methodist minister. Mistakes were made in God's name, and people were hurt. I believe it would be good if the LDS church as an organization could apologize for its societal sins of the past (Mountain Meadows Massacre, the "Negro doctrine", excommunication of intellectuals, etc.). I also recognize that such expectations are unrealistic on my part, and may do more harm than good to the organizational health as a whole.
How I live my faith
I serve as the Ward Housing Coordinator and visiting teacher in my local ward, and attend some ward and Relief Society activities. My husband and I have an open home policy, through which we have housed numerous displaced ward and non-ward members who have had a housing need (Matt. 25:35). I am proud to say we have not lived alone in our home in the 3.5 years that we have lived there, sometimes hosting up to three displaced families at once. I also volunteer my time, talents, and energies to serving others within my Stake when asked or where I perceive a need. I take to heart the admonition to "mourn with those who mourn. . . and comfort those in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9). I also spend significant time discussing Mormon, Catholic, and interfaith issues and concerns in online communities.
I consider myself called to a personal ministry to "shelter the homeless" through hospitality and to increase compassion, tolerance, and understanding across religions through my online writing.
(to be continued. . .)