This essay was originally posted on the GailyMormon Blog
Edward Jones III
* ***** *** **** *****
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
May 11, 2015
Member Records Division, LDS Church
50 E. North Temple, Room 1372
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-5310
Dear Mormon leaders,
I am writing you this letter to notify you of my resignation from the LDS Church. I want to thank you for the many beautiful things your church has brought into my life, and tell you why I am leaving.
Thank you for fostering an environment in which I felt secure and loved as a child—surrounded by a large family of ward members who spent countless hours with me in church classes, Scout outings, youth activities, temple trips, and more, enclosing me in a protective cocoon of doctrines and teachings and friendship.
Thank you for creating a music-rich environment that caused my parents to enroll me in piano and organ lessons so I could aid in worship. These lessons led in turn to university studies in music and a lifelong passion for the arts.
Thank you for emphasizing scripture study, which exposed me early on to literary beauty: the ecstatic visions of Isaiah, tender lovers in the Song of Solomon, Jesus’ strange and wonderful stories, and images from the Book of Mormon: a lone whale in the depths of the sea, a tree whose fruit was the love of God.
Thank you for inviting me to Paraguay to spend two years as a missionary. I learned three languages, saw jungles and grasslands and immense waterfalls, met thousands of beautiful people, and shared their way of life, their sorrows, and their joys.
Thank you for my years at Brigham Young University, where I studied piano, wrote music and heard it performed, saw art films, taught Spanish at the Missionary Training Center, sang in the Mormon Youth Chorus, learned Latin and Greek, and met lifelong friends.
In spite of all these beautiful gifts, it is time for me to leave your church. Over the years, I have struggled to find a place in it, without success. For me, institutions are not “true” or “false” in an absolute sense, but can be judged by how well they fit with an individual’s values and needs. Certain of my values are simply inconsistent with Mormon church membership:
I value people of all sexual orientations. I am a gay man, and I have not found a comfortable place in Mormon theology or worship. I have come to see for myself that being gay is just as beautiful and sacred as being straight is. I am disappointed that the Mormon church has not done more to prevent many of its young LGBT members from committing suicide.
I value gender equality. As a feminist, I cannot in good conscience call a church home that denies priesthood and leadership roles to women at any level. I believe the Mormon church is impoverished by its failure to fully accept the leadership gifts of women. I am disappointed in the church’s refusal to embrace its own doctrine of a Heavenly Mother.
I value sexuality as part of the richness of life—as a means of self-knowledge and a way of connecting with others. My experience with Mormon sex rules is that they create needless anxiety and shame around a part of being human that is natural and beautiful.
I value scientific inquiry and have come to a place of agnosticism. Given a lack of any objective evidence to prove or disprove the existence of God—and given the presence of other evidence-based theories that plausibly explain life on earth and our place in the universe—I cannot say with any certainty that the divine exists as an external reality.
I value my spiritual autonomy as an individual. While many Mormons take comfort in a top-down structure in which God instructs church leaders and requires obedience of members, I see no reason for any human to intervene in my relationship with whatever divinity may exist. I have come to find spirituality in places that require no intermediary at all: the senses, the beauty of the world, relationships with friends and family, music, art, meditation, and more.
For all of these reasons, I thank you for bringing so much goodness into my life and I must part ways with you now. I do so with affection and with much interest in how the Mormon church will grow and progress in the coming years.
Please take good care of my family members and friends who remain deeply committed to your faith. I will carry them in my heart, as I hope they will continue to carry me in theirs.
With sincere regard,
Edward Jones III
P.S. Please regard the following as part of the body of my letter, above:
My full name is E********. I was born on *********. My Membership Record Number is ***-****-****.
This letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it is effective immediately. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to church rules, policies, beliefs, and discipline. As I am no longer a member, I request that my name be permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the church.
I have given this matter considerable thought. I understand the seriousness and the consequences of my actions. I am aware that my resignation cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws my priesthood ordination, and revokes temple blessings.
I hope to receive confirmation within a reasonably short time that my name has been removed from your records.