Jeff was all-in and served with gusto. He learned to overlook things on his shelf and assumed that since others who knew more than he did could stay, he should trust them. Over time the issues on his shelf piled high until he learned more about “the treatment of and attitude regarding LGBQT+ people.” He decided that he had to leave to maintain any integrity and be an example to his kids by leaving. He’s now happier than ever, giving his kids what they need and enjoying his freedom.
I grew up in Utah County, and was a pretty good Mormon. I was a convert in some senses, as I wasn’t active as a young kid and my ex-wife did the whole “flirt to convert” thing. But when I joined, I went all-in. I was a ward missionary in several wards and wanted to become a bishop. I was doing well with it. I was a Mormon.
I was willing to overlook things like inconsistencies, especially when I would look at the writings of people like Hugh Nibley. They knew more than I did, so who was I to argue? They were able to square the circle and so should I. I was physically in, mentally out for several years, as I’d found too much wrong with the church, and it eroded my belief in the church.
When I was a member, I believed that anyone who left did so because they were offended. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m not Mormon because I don’t believe in what the church teaches and feel that it has moral failings that a religious organization should make an effort to address. As a member, I believed the church to be the paragon of morality. But then I found out leaders from the beginning had been dishonest about so many things.
But the thing that broke my shelf was the treatment of and attitude regarding LGBTQ+ people. I found it reprehensible that apostles would incite hatred like Holland did with his now-infamous “musket fire” talk at BYU. And when I learned that BYU had carried out conversion therapy during Oaks’ tenure as president—and that he blatantly lied about it—I knew I had to leave.
I had planned to stay on the records of the church for the sake of my kids, but I realized that day that I could be a better example to them by maintaining my integrity and leaving the church for good.
People like my kids don’t know what they’re agreeing to when they join the church. It’s wrong to have someone agree to follow certain rules for their whole life when they don’t know what it really means to pay tithing, wear garments, take time to go to the temple, clean the church, etc. for their entire life. My kids deserve to know.
Why did I leave? I wanted to have a healthy relationship with myself, my spouse, and my kids. The teachings of the church ate away at my self-image and any feelings of self-worth I might have had. Now I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I finally feel like I matter. I feel like I can give my kids what they need. I feel free.Jeff
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