I grew up giving a greater than normal dedication to my Mormon faith, but after a disheartening experience in the temple on my way home from the mission field, I completely lost faith in God and my religion. Over the next decade and a half I slowly reconstructed it to where it is now. I fall somewhere between an agnostic humanist and having faith (but not knowing) that God spoke to Joseph Smith as he stated. Therefore, I don’t view the gospel like the majority of members do. I now have an outsider’s view that I didn’t have before. This reconstruction of my faith allows me to feel like I still have a connection with the divine. I can honestly say that I see God’s fingerprints often in the lives of the members and sometimes the leaders of my faith, making me love my Mormon life.
There are many positives that come with this outsider’s view while remaining in the church. For example, I feel that I take more of a personal responsibility for my faith as I do not leave it in the hands of my leaders anymore. That helps me feel this greater direct connection to the divine which I stated earlier. On the other hand, probably the biggest negative of my position and being public about it is the judgment and ostracization that I receive from other members for not quietly getting back in line or keeping my differing opinions to myself.
All of this turmoil brings a dilemma to the forefront of my consciousness that I’ve been wrestling with lately. That is the ever-present responsibility in Mormonism to share the gospel. I’m divided between wanting others to experience the good in Mormonism that I love and wanting to keep everyone away from what I see as the bad. There are many good things, such as all the teachings that have helped me become a better person, and the practices that help my people be known for strong integrity, family values and caring service. On the other hand, I don’t want to introduce my good, Christian friends to what I view as harmful cultural practices. Painful examples would include: hyper-focusing on modesty by putting capped sleeves on little girls or even great works of art, un-Christ-like responses to people for having different opinions on fairly insignificant acts like drinking caffeinated beverages, playing with face cards or taking the sacrament with your left hand.
If I could share my version of the gospel and take them to a place where it was practiced, I could easily, openly and excitedly share that gospel. How great would it be to be a part of a ward where I knew everyone loved each individual despite differences in styles of dress, views of Church history or even the different ways we each sin. It would almost be…like Zion! Unfortunately I am in the minority and I don’t know of a place where I can enjoy the “big tent” Gospel of Jesus Christ without those harsh judgments or upsetting cultural practices. If I did, I would cry with the voice of an angel from the rooftops to bring others into the fold of such a wonderful religion.