Women’s Roles – This has always been a sticking point for me. From the time I first entered the Young Women’s program I was annoyed with the things we did for activities and were told were important. We spent many activity days making cookies or doing crafts or some other kind of homemaking activity. I was never really interested in those things. I wanted to be doing the things the boys were doing in Scouts. Things like hiking, camping, sleeping in snow caves, etc. It seemed that the Scouts got to attend several camp outs a year and the young women were limited to one camping trip that usually involved irritating activities like decorating your tent or your camp t-shirt. The reasoning given for the Scouts seemingly endless activities was that they were not really affiliated with the church and were a separate entity that the church simply endorsed. However, callings were (and continue to be) given by the LDS Bishops to leadership positions within the church as well as fund raisers sponsored by the church etc.
So that’s where I came from. As I grew up I found myself disagreeing more and more with the LDS church’s stance on women’s roles. I put myself through college, got a degree in Computer Science, started a career and excelled in the business world. I got married and continued to work. Neither one of us were ready for children and so we have put that off as well. I do not work because we need the money and can not figure out another way to get by. I work because I enjoy it, because I feel I have something special I can give to the world and because I need to feel a certain amount of independence. My feelings on what a women could (and possibly should) be constantly conflicted with what I was learning every week at Church. I did not agree with statements like the following from the “Proclamation to the World”.
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.I felt (and still do) that it is the Mother and Father's combined responsibility to care for the family and to provide for the household. Each couple should be left to determine the best way to divide those responsibilities between each other. Members of the church may counter that current prophets have encouraged just this, however, lessons are still being taught in church every week as doctrine, such as the following from Spencer W. Kimball as taught in the current manual for the Marriage and Family Relations Course.
Some of them are quite willing to help earn that lavish living by continuing employment after marriage. They consequently leave the home, where their duty lies, to pursue professional or business pursuits, thus establishing an economy that becomes stabilized so that it becomes very difficult to yield toward the normal family life. Through both spouses’ working, competition rather than cooperation enters the family. Two weary workers return home with taut nerves, individual pride, increased independence, and then misunderstandings arise. Little frictions pyramid into monumental ones.I was absolutely blown away by this. So now, not only was I not to work when we had children, I shouldn’t work after marriage either? I just could not agree that a woman's duty lies in the home. Further, if the argument is made that this is not the the official position of the church, then WHY is it still included in the current lesson materials?!
Also, as I consider the possibility of one day raising children, I have to ask myself if I want my girls to be taught the same things I had learned as a young woman regarding women's roles. The answer is a very simple, "No".
Stance on Homosexuality - I do not believe that marriage can or should only be between one man and one woman. I believe that everyone should have the same right to the pursuit of happiness as I do as a heterosexual. I am constantly frustrated by the church saying on one hand that they do not get involved in politics only to contradict themselves by encouraging members to vote for or against certain laws that will limit the basic rights of the homosexual community. If I am following Jesus’s example to “Love one another” than how could I possibly say that a homosexual person should not find love and happiness in their own lives in whatever way they can? Their choices do not hurt me, or my family or the LDS church. About a year ago we had dinner with a couple in our neighborhood and the topic of discussion turned to this. They asked how I could reconcile my membership in the church with my beliefs on marriage and homosexuality. The only answer I could give them is that I could not.
The Temple - Okay, I have to be careful on this one, I really don’t want to offend any faithful Mormons out there by addressing this topic, but since it is one of the reasons I left the church, I feel I must address it. For me, the Temple experience felt like signing my life away before I was allowed to read the fine print. No one will really tell you what ordinances you will be making in the Temple before you go, and it is considered wrong to attempt to research it outside of official church sources. A few minutes into the ceremony they ask if anyone would like to leave to raise your hand and they will escort you out. However, at this point you still have no idea what you are getting yourself into so how can you possibly know to raise your hand?
My first experience in the Temple was only a couple weeks before my pending Temple marriage. The invitations were sent and this was one of the last steps I needed to take before the big day. I was nervous about it and didn’t really feel ready, but I had to go in order to be married in the Temple and I HAD to be married in the Temple. That is just how it is done. When I came home after that experience I just cried. I was so frustrated. I hated wearing the garments and I felt completely overwhelmed by the whole experience. I didn’t feel any of the feelings I was supposed to feel, like peace or happiness or anything. I just felt bleh. Needless to say, I can count on my hands how many times I went back. Now that I have been out of the church for a while and have had time to research the Temple ceremony, I have found other problems with it which I will not go into. If you would like to know more, simply google "LDS Temple Ceremony" to research some of the issues on your own.
No Conviction of Joseph Smith - I never had a strong testimony of Joseph Smith or felt convinced that he had really seen what he claimed or that he had really translated the Book of Mormon. I did try and gain my own testimony of this. I had learned my entire life that if I just kept doing all the "right things" and believing and praying that I would eventually gain that testimony that everyone else seemed to have. In temple interviews I would say, "yes I believe that" because I did believe it. But I never felt I had that strong feeling about Joseph Smith that I have heard so many others express in their testimonies, but I wanted it to be true and I really tried to believe that it was. I never felt I could say "I Know" this is true about anything in the LDS church. However, when I left the church I told those closest to me that it really didn’t matter to me if Joseph Smith did those things or not, because I felt that the LDS church of today was not true. At the very least, not true for me.
Open Discussion Not Tolerated - This drives me CRAZY! Issues would come up that I wanted to talk to my friends or family about and everyone would treat me as if I was evil for wanting to know or questioning a certain position of the church. A church that claims it is the only true church should be able to stand up to the most careful scrutiny. But as soon as you ask questions or disagree with something stated as truth by the :LDS Prophets, you are labeled “evil”. A fine example of this comes from a Mormon Times article I recently read.
Evil speaking of the Lord's anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true.The Only True Church – I have never been able to reconcile that the LDS church believes it is the only true church on this Earth. It always made more sense to me that there are multiple ways to God and that everyone needs to find their own way to be spiritually connected, whether that be through Jesus, Allah, Buddha or ??? I was always frustrated by the focus of “Every Member a Missionary” when I felt that if my neighbor was not Mormon and was happy, then who was I to interfere? If they were happy with their current path, why should I try and convert them to Mormonism?
Book of Abraham - Several parts of the original Book of Abraham have been found and translated by present day Egyptologists. Their translation does not match Joseph Smith’s. Being a scientifically minded person, this is a problem for me. If he didn’t correctly translate the Book of Abraham then how can I believe he actually translated the Book of Mormon? For more information on this, Wikipedia provides a decent look at both sides of this issue (or just google, "Book of Abraham" for other sources).
African Americans and the Priesthood - This never made sense to me. Why would African Americans not be able to have the priesthood in the church and then in 1978, God suddenly changes his mind about the matter and decides it is OK after all? Especially for something that very obviously should have been OK throughout the church's history, a church that preaches "love thy neighbor" and encourages its members to follow Christ's example. It always seemed to me that the church's stance prior to 1978 was just simply racist motivated by the fears and prejudices of the times. I could not reconcile that it had anything to do with God or revelation. The United States had changed and the LDS church had to change too or risk losing its members and the respect of the community. However, the prophets and apostles continue to stick by the "revelation" story when they really should just come out and apologize for making the same mistakes so many others made at the same time. Mistakes made by men, not by God.
Honest With Myself - When it came right down to it, I had to be honest with myself. There was just too much of the LDS doctrine, history and scripture that I did not agree with. I could no longer align myself with this organization and feel good about it. I had to leave in order to maintain my personal integrity.