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Forgotten Sacrifices

Within the LDS population there exists what I would call the voiceless often silenced minority. There is voice that rings out for those who pioneered with Brigham Young and went on to settle the Salt Lake valley and the regions surrounding it. Whether you believe the church was lead by a prophet or not, there is little to dispute the courage of the early pioneers. Due to the vigilance of Church leaders their voices and their stories will never fall silently into the dust. But there are others whose lives have been examples of great courage and strength, and whose journeys didn’t last a few months or a few years, but lasted a life time and in some cases impacted more than a single generation. These are the Saints the church would rather forget. These are the Saints the church sweeps quietly under the rug in hopes that little if any light will shine to tell their stories. Because with these stories comes tremendous accountability of the church, and as you may have heard, that which is truthful, is not always useful, especially when you set out to run a huge PR campaign like the “I’m a Mormon” adds we are being hit with.

I don’t begrudge the women in the ads for their careers and success. I think they are truly blessed to have been born in this era and not a previous one. And on one level it’s refreshing to see, but on another level I have found it deeply disturbing in that it illustrates how quickly the church will toss those who have sacrificed their entire lives and never ever say “we were wrong.” Or “we are sorry.” Or what should be at least palatable to them, “thank you.” Where are the women who could stand up and say, I have a college degree, and my hearts desire was to be an engineer, but I was a mother during the 50’s 60”s 70’s or even 80’s and while all my peers where pursuing their dreams and careers I chose to follow God/the church and stay home to raise my kids because I believed that is what God had called me to do and my family would be better for it.

To pursue a career in that era of the church meant you didn’t care enough about your family and you where selfish. “No success outside the home can compensate for failure in the home”.  We were taught over and over that you couldn’t be successful at both. And yet, here we are with the church showing brilliant women who by the very lives they live prove the church was completely wrong. Shhhhhh, let’s just quietly walk away from that doctrine ignoring the countless lives that where changed forever, give no apologies, while we paint a new prettier picture of the church for our PR campaign. It is far more appealing to the world isn’t it?

Where are the “I’m a Mormon” ads with people saying “My great grandmother was a strong faithful woman who loved the Lord so much she lived in a polygamous marriage with all of it difficulties because she was taught it was how God wanted her to live whether she like it or not, but she would be blessed.” Where are the black members saying “my great grandfather served faithfully in the church for 74 years knowing he could never enjoy full fellowship with his white brothers, but stayed faithful to God because he believed in the validity of the Book of Mormon.” Where are these people- being quietly swept under the carpet with everything else in the church that may be true but not useful?

I cringe when I think about what may lay on the horizon. All the suicides of our gay brothers and sisters, men and women living a life of celibacy, never laying down at night in the arms of someone they love, feeling safe, warm, and loved. No, the Church will just sweep them under the carpet because they were born in an era when the church taught ignorance about homosexuals just like it did when forcing women into polygamy, denied black men and all women the priesthood and expected women to be indentured servants in the home. Out of respect for the lives of these people I don’t want the church to evolve. At the moment the church accepts gay people generations will be swept under the carpet and the sacrifice they have made will never be acknowledge because to acknowledge it is to admit placing an enormous burden on its gay members and that might lead to an apology that we know from our history is never going to come.
If I sound angry I am.

I am a gay LDS stay at home mom. When I believed the church was “true” I believed I was living the life God meant for me to live despite the challenges placed before me. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree and even and as a young girl never pictured myself as a stay at home mom, but to live the gospel to the best of my ability.  I drank the Kool-Aid. I believed being gay was simply my cross to bear and as long as I followed the gospel God would make me ok, happy even. Everything about my life was sacrificed on behalf of doctrines I believed at the time were from God. Turns out I was created this way for no other reason than it’s who I am. But 50 years of my life has been spent living a life that I was not made for. I love my family and would give my life for them. But I am left holding a bag of “what-ifs”. All I hear when I see these ads is the silence of generations who have gone before and the current muffles of those who are sacrificing in silence.

 As much as I would like to see the church outdate itself and fade into oblivion I know it won’t. For as long as history has been recorded man has sanctioned the right to hate others in the name of God.  So to church leaders I would like to say stay ugly. Stay hateful. It’s your legacy. But as the world moves forward and out of such darkness at least we will be able to easily identify you-the racist, the sexist, the homophobic. You will be found firmly entrenched in your ignorance inside four walls that bare the marquee “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”.

But, take heart because the world will finally look upon you as “a peculiar people”. At least then one of your prophecies will be fulfilled.


Gail Knickerbocker said...

Excellent post. I too was duped for many years. I am a SAHM of 11 children. 20 years of child bearing plus 20 years of child training. Before I was converted to "the truth" I was NEVER getting married and never having kids. I will not say I am now sacrificing, as I was sacrificed years ago and I am suffering the consequences of that experience currently. I now do ONLY that which makes me happy AND I have lost so much confidence in my ability to function in the business world that my husband is still the breadwinner and I am still a SAHM.

Anyway, thank you for acknowledging those of us who have been swept under the bus.

jen said...

Wow. What a powerful post.
I believed my job was to be a stay at home mom... but luckily for me, I have been "cursed" with the inability to bare children.

Sometimes I feel just like you, "Stay ugly," but I also think of all the people they hurt, and I want that to stop.

Anonymous said...

Interesting an highly arguementative post from a blog called the "peace" writer. I don't know what rock you live under but everyone in this church sacrifices! Everyone! Even dare I say it the men gay or not!

Anonymous said...

Obviously you missed the focus of the article. Sorry it must have been over your rock. How do the sacrifices you make as a member compare to the people in this article? Not just the gay ones. Enlighten us with your heart wrenching sacrifices that are specific to only men in the church. As a straight man who has served in this church for 30+ years, I can't wait for your tale of tears.

Anonymous said...

"So to church leaders I would like to say stay ugly. Stay hateful. It’s your legacy."

As is lying about and denying those non-useful truths. My heart breaks for all those sacrifices -- now so useless to the church that the sacrificers gave their all for, who are so unfeelingly swept under the rug in favor of good PR.

You strummed my heartstrings with this beautifully articulated post. Thank you.

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