Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why I Won't Leave the Church Alone

People who leave the church are often accused of not leaving the church alone. Church members and leaders act all offended that people are angry at the church, as though they in no way deserve anyone's anger. Here's the problem with that; they church won't leave those who leave alone. So if they get to stick their noses in my life, I get get to stick my nose in theirs. If the church wants people who leave to leave the church alone, they should follow suit.

This breaks down into two issues in my mind. First, there are the church members who won't leave you alone. Second there is the fact that the church has inserted itself into EVERY aspect of your life, and felt justified in doing so. Detangleing yourself from that is an extensive process.

First, the church will not leave people alone. If you haven't been to church for a while, people comment, as though you didn't know you'd missed church and they are providing you with vital information. People who never speak to you at church make a point of telling you haven't been to church and that they missed you. How is that possible if they never speak to you when you are there? Then they send all kinds of people to your house who don't know you, and are frequently only there because they are supposed to. They have never exchanged words with you and will likely never do so after they are released from having to visit you. (Yes, I'm being a bit snide. I actually really like my current visiting teachers, but that was after I requested a change.) Then if they find out you are struggling, the bishop calls you in every couple of weeks and is passively aggressively threatening until you tell him you won't meet with him any more. So if the church can send people in to comment on my life and pass information about it up the food chain, I can comment on what the church does.

This is not my primary point however. The church feels okay inserting itself into every single aspect of my life. It has rules about everything I do and think. It feels it has the right to tell me:
-What I can and cannot eat.
-What I can and cannot drink.
-What I can and cannot wear.
-What I can and cannot wear on Sunday.
-What I can and cannot do on Sunday.
-What I can and cannot watch.
-What I can and cannot read.
-What I can and cannot listen to.
-What jewelry I can and cannot wear.
-What words I can and cannot use.
-Who I can and cannot date and marry.
-Who I can and cannot be friends with.
-What I can and cannot say and write about the church.
-What I can and cannot say about the church in public.
-What jobs I can and cannot take.
-What my role and purpose in life is.
-What I can and cannot do with my husband in private.
-What kinds of birth control I can and cannot use.
-Who, when and how I could date.
-What my family will look like.
-What my priorities should be.
-What I can think about.
-What God I should worship.
-What church I should attend.
-What leaders I should listen to.
-How I spend my money.
-Who I give money to.
-How I spend my time.
-How I might raise my kids.
-What my relationship with my husband should look like.
-What I should study.

There is nothing in my life the church doesn't feel it has a right to make a statement about. For most of my life, I've been following those rules because I was Mormon. But now, I need to figure out which rules I want to keep and which I don't. I never got a second ear piercing because the church said I wasn't supposed to. But now that I'm sorting through what I do and don't believe, I also have to sort through the rules as well. I couldn't think of a good reason for not getting a second piercing, and I wanted one so I got one. I've chosen not to drink at this point, because there are legitamate health and family reasons not to.

But since there is not a single aspect of my life, it's going to take me some time to parse out what rules I still want to follow. And since the church feels justified in inserting itself into every part of my life, I feel just as justified in inserting myself into every aspect of the church. If they don't want me there, maybe they shouldn't be as involved in my life and decisions.

7 comments:

  1. I have a person on my VT route that has actually requested the church not contact her anymore. I feel guilty trying to squeeze our way in there.
    I had my nose pierced a while back and took it out because of church... three years later I still wish I hadn't.

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  2. Amen, DefyGravity! It's definitely ironic behavior on their part.

    @Blythe: random question from a random stranger if you don't mind: I'm thinking about piercing my nose, but I've heard they close up really fast if you're not constantly wearing a ring or stud. Is that true?

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  3. Well put!

    I think it's part of the "persecution complex" that the leaders of the church try to foster in its members.

    "Why does everyone who isn't us hate us so much, it's not like we're trying to impose our values on the rest of society! Religion should be beyond criticism, especially a religion that corrects the falsehoods and lies of all the others!"

    Then they close the meeting with a song portraying them as soldiers conquering the world with their righteousness, and none can stand against them!
    Jeez, just leave them alone! It's not like they intend to roll forth and fill the whole Earth...

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    1. I'm sitting in church listening to someone talk about how people hate the church right after I read your comment. I had to giggle.

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  4. And then we sang "We are All Enlisted" you nailed it!

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  5. You heretic!!

    I got a cartilage piercing last march.

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    Replies
    1. I think those are cute! But I'm afraid of pain... Did it hurt?

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