Sunday, January 15, 2012

I'd like to bear my testimony of intelligence...

Today was fast Sunday, and the bishop was the first to bear his testimony since he was conducting. For some background info, I don't particularly like this bishop. After I, stupidly, told him I didn't like going to the temple and my issues with women and the church. He's a very black-and-white thinker, and was more concerned with getting me to think like him then understanding where I was coming from or my emotional well-being. He had me in every 2 weeks, and told me that I was going to ruin my marriage, that I'm too smart for my own good, that I'm proud and need to repent. Finally I refused to see him anymore; it was just pissing me off.

Today he bore his testimony on the dangers of listening to your mind rather then your heart. He seemed to believe that intelligence was opposed to spirituality, that you had to reject your intelligence in order to find God and feel the spirirt. He sounded so sure of himself, so sure he had thevonly right answers, so sure he was giving everyone listening exactly what they needed. I was absolutely livid. Who is he to assume he knows more about how God speaks then the rest of us, to think his way of finding God is more valid then others, the only valid way. If God Created us with minds, why would they be dangerous? Must one be unintelligent to find God? My experience tells me otherwise. I find God in learning, in intelligence, it things that make sense. The bishop, in his fear, dismissed my relationships with God, dismissed any relationship different from his own. That may not have been his intention, but he clearly believes that my connection to God is wrong and "dangerous." He's told me that I'm too smart for my own good in the past. Then to add to the "there is only one correct way" idea, most of the people who got up after him said similar things, including my mom.

So, instead of sitting there fuming, I got up and bore my testimony for the first time in over a year. I described how I find God, how my mind leads me to my Parents. I also said that we were created individually. Our Parents did that intentionally, and will communicate with us as individuals. They know how to speak with each of us in different ways. Everyone can find God in their own way, and don't need to feel bound by anyone else's experience, including their bishop's.

I got a pretty positive reaction. One of my BYU professors, who is the most intelligent and compassionate person I know (he's at BYU out of the goodness of his heart; he's taught at Cambridge,) said I made my point respectfully and clearly. A young woman asked my name because she'd written down some of the things I said. And a woman I work with in Primary said it had resonated with her daughter. I'm not trying to be cocky; it just proves that speaking differences can be helpful to others, which was my intention. I wanted to help people who might be feeling guilty for being different, or who might feel hopeless because the bishop's method doesn't work for them. I wanted to remind the bishop that he has stewardship over a group of individuals with varying needs and personalities, and needs to treat them as such. Granted, differences will also make people mad (see Caren's comment on my Feminist Mormon's Bucket List post.) But I've found courage I've never had before in speaking my truth to try to help other people. It feels more right, and gives me more confidence then anything in the church ever has.


  1. This is so fantastic! I'm so glad you got up. I was hoping you would. "If God Created us with minds, why would they be dangerous? Must one be unintelligent to find God?" This is one of my favorite things I've read on this subject, which is one that's dear to me. Thanks.

    1. I'm glad you liked it! This is very important to me too, and something that I feel is frequently misrepresented.

  2. "The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth"

    I find that very straightforward. :)

  3. This must have happened a while ago but since I'm just now reading it, I am in awe at your courage right now. The feedback you got strikes me too, I think I probably would have wanted to hug you had I been in the congregation. I don't know if I could do what you did, but reading your experience at least has me considering the possibility, so thank you.

    Annie B.