Sunday, February 8, 2009

Good for Families?

The LDS church loves to paint itself as family friendly. I used to believe it was because I chose to ignore what was right in front of me. The church tore apart my family.

Through the "every member a missionary" practice I was introduced to the church. Against my parents wishes I (a minor) was given the missionary discussions (my parents never knew). I was encouraged to disobey and deceive my parents (isn't there a commandment or something about honoring one's parents somewhere?). And even though it caused no end of conflict, broke my mother's heart, and strained my relationship with all my other family members I joined the Church because "God's will was more important than my family."

Much of the blame rests on me, of course. I was being a selfish, bratty teenager.

Over time my parents mellowed. Even though it was hard for them they acknowledged that it was my choice. But that didn't help me grow closer to them again. They weren't members. They didn't have the "Gospel" in their lives. They did things they shouldn't (coffee, occasional drink, *gasp*) because they didn't know better. [insert eye roll here] I was seeing them through different lenses now. And though I loved them...I couldn't appreciate them as much as I should have because I could only see them as "Mom, who isn't a member" or "Grandpa, who thinks the Church is a sham" (and, boy was he right).

And of course, it was my duty to try to convert them to the "One True Church." So my interactions with them (and with my inactive BIL and SIL) were always tainted with an element of missionary work. Gotta pray for them. Gotta be a good example for them. Gotta be extra nice to them (what? Shouldn't I be nice because it's, I dunno...nice to be nice?).

Now, after leaving the Church I'm seeing a whole new side to the "family friendliness." Certain family members are so threatened by our choice they have resorted to behavior that is insulting, juvenile, and somewhat frightening (even threatening us). Basically, they are not being at all "Christ-like." It seems in the eyes of some that not only are we not adults, and individuals with free agency but we are wicked and an evil influence.

Is it any surprise? When one believes that God will only allow a family to be together if everybody in it is perfect (or close to perfect) then of course he or she will feel threatened when someone in that family breaks that circle. His or her eternal life is being changed by the actions of someone they have no control over (what kind of God would allow that?). It isn't surprising then, when he or she then tries to exercise control over the "apostate" any way they can: guilt, fear, power-trips, faulty logical reasoning, etc. When "no success can compensate for failure in the home" and failure = not raising a large brood of children to marry in the temple, follow the church no matter what and raise another group of children to do the same that makes for a lot of miserable families who mistakenly think they've failed simply because a family member does not believe what they believe.