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They have lovely gardens at the temple

I was born LDS. My family lines go back to Kirtland and Nauvoo. Yet, even with my history, one day (almost literally in one day) I realized that religions were man-made and stopped attending when I was 18.  I married a man who was never LDS.

However, I didn’t see the church as any worse or better than all the other religions and churches out there, so was not threatened when my mother or brother took the children to church on Sundays, nor when a classmate of my daughter took her to church youth dances. When my daughter wanted to join the church in high school, we didn’t stand in her way and even supported her decision, attending the baptism and providing a lunch afterwards. After all, this church was a good influence, right?

Flash forward to the pending marriage of this daughter to a very nice, very devout returned missionary. We had not considered this possibility. In fact, I am not sure that my husband even knew that such an exclusion existed. We were faced with the prospect of not attending this daughter’s wedding, and if we did want to support her with our presence, would have to drive 1000 miles to hang about while this most important day of her life was shared by her soon to be in-laws.

We chose not to attend. There were many reasons. One was knowing that we would be so unhappy that we would not be an asset on her day. Another was a dread of being excluded while others went in. And of course there was the traveling and hotel expense it would cost us to then be treated second class.

To my horror, I learned that the neighbor from up the street, who had been her young women’s president would be there. She was deemed more worthy than we were. This was particularly crushing.

My brother, who was a stake president at the time and lived within driving distance of the temple,  phoned me a few times... once to encourage me to “be worthy” to attend (I believe the status of my husband was left entirely out of that conversation). And once to try to talk us into making the 1000 mile journey.  I said, “No, we do not stand on the sidewalk while our darling daughter is being married.”

His response still amazes me, “They have lovely gardens at the temple.” How insensitive, how useless, and 20 years later I am still hurt, angry and amazed as I write this. My brother and his wife did attend and were the only members of her family present. At least she had them (oh and let’s not forget the neighbor).

For our part, we went to our respective jobs on her wedding day (being sure that everyone knew what day it was and why we were at work) and then went out for dinner together, more to celebrate our togetherness than the separation from our daughter. We now have five grandchildren who are temple bound.

A few years later my daughter and I discussed how awful it had been for her. She loved being married to her chosen man, but cried and cried on her wedding day that we were not there. She concluded the conversation with, “At least I won’t have to ever go through that again.”

“Yes, my dear,” I replied, “But we will.” I try not to dwell on the future pain of the grandchildren’s weddings. I prefer to only feel it when it happens, but it is looming, and soon.

It is impossible to heal from this. Even snapshots of her wedding bring back the pain.

Now, when I shop for wedding presents for my LDS relatives, I always mention to the clerks that we won’t be able to attend the wedding because the wedding is mormon, and we are excluded.

It is my prerogative to be sure to counteract any conversation with anyone who mentions how they admire the mormon church because it is so  “family oriented” by telling them .. “Yes, very family oriented, but only if one is worthy by church standards which means paying tithing and professing that Joseph Smith received gold plates from an angel.” One then sees the admiration fade from their faces.

I hope that this is one message that spreads out like ripples on a pond. It is very important to me to counteract the smiling church image and let others know of the barbaric power the church exerts when it excludes family, particularly parents who birthed, raised, supported, educated and loved their child more than anyone else in the world possibly could.... but who are welcome to stand in the “lovely gardens” on that child’s most important day.

Janet Rolfson
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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The temple and the sacred: Dutch temple experiences

WALTER E.A. VAN BEEK
Tilburg University
African Study Centre, Leiden

One last field in which the Dutch temple experience is different from the USA one, is marriage. Church-wide the ideal start of a marriage is a temple wedding. In Deseret the temple sealing is the wedding ritual itself, with a reception afterwards as the social event. In the Netherlands (and that holds for most European countries) a civil wedding is required, as the Dutch do have an encompassing and efficient civil registration system (‘Burgerlijke Stand’). So the Dutch couples have two weddings, the first at the City Hall – or at a special venue functioning as civil wedding locations, usually a spectacular building imbued with history such as a castle. Conform the general Dutch trend of ritualizing public space 1  a large number of impressive locations has been officially registered as wedding venues for civil registration. Also, many retired public figures perform those ceremonies as part time volunteer civil servants. Thus, this civil wedding is orchestrated as an impressive ceremony, with all the friends and families present. For the majority of the weddings in the Netherlands, this is the ceremony; for the religious Dutch – nowadays a minority only – this is followed by a church wedding service. Like the latter category, LDS couples – a miniscule minority in the Netherlands – then leave for the temple, to ‘seal the wedding’. Even if the church puts the temple sealing into high profile, and a couple sometimes has to hurry from wedding to sealing to reception, the civil wedding still is important and ritualized. Formerly, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Dutch church performed a church service right after the civil registration, solemnizing the wedding in the chapel before a large audience, drawing large crowds who visited an LDS chapel for the first time. Though the missionaries had a field day in these services, the Church leadership advised against this particular practice, also in the Handbook of Instructions, as it would detract from the centrality of the temple. However, the experience of the Dutch Saints who married in these years and did have a wedding service in the chapel, was different: the additional services did not detract from but in fact augmented the sacred nature of the temple sealing. With the civil and the social aspects of the marriage taken care of, the couple oriented itself towards the temple, which became even more a sacred place, with the sealing viewed as the apex of series of rituals which led step by step from marriage for time only towards marriage for eternity. For them, the essential eternal nature of the temple ritual became more prominent by having temporal rituals first. This process was easier when the temple was far away and some time could be put between civil wedding and temple sealing. Nowadays the civil wedding – the real ‘wedding’ – functions more or less in the same way, as the temporal stipulation of an eternal journey. With the temple ‘around the corner’, the sealing becomes a private ritual inside a social wedding day, a moment between the couple and the Lord. Thus, in the eyes of the Dutch having ‘just’ a temple sealing does not replace a real wedding, nor would it render the temple more sacred, but instead would detract from the importance of marriage. 2

Here, an important consideration is that the temple rituals actually are not well suited for a wedding. The endowment is in fact an individual initiation journey, undertaken as an almost anonymous part of a collective of men or women, progressing into the direction of the divine. Life as a couple in this world is depicted in dreary terms, a necessary step down before attaining further exaltation, a depiction that is not a stimulating start for a life together. The actual wedding comes more or less as an afterthought in the form of a sealing without any personalization of the ritual, done rapidly. Even stronger, for many couples the marriage sealing comes long after the own endowment, ideally even, as the husband would be a returned missionary. In such a case the sealing starts with a proxy endowment, which has no relation at all with the wedding, a situation many couples experience as strange and disconcerting, and highlights the fact that the endowment is not suited for a wedding. Neither does the ritual of sealing itself in fact unite the couple, as the formula links an existing couple to the authority of the ‘New Covenant’, not to each other. The ritual is, in all respects, a sealing of a marriage, not a wedding. Anyway, the almost universal involvement of the personal networks of the newly weds, their family, friends, colleagues, that forms the core of the wedding rituals throughout the world, is completely absent in the temple. Viewing the character of the temple rituals and the absence of the social element, the LDS Church does not ‘do weddings’, just ‘sealings’. Thus, in European eyes, there is a definite room – even need – for an additional ritual, which better be Church managed, but if not, might be civil as well.

Also, this European ‘double’ wedding solves a huge and persevering problem inherent in the Deseret way, which is the absence of non-member family and friends at the relevant ritual. The internet is replete with powerful (and justified) complaints of parents who could not participate in the wedding of their child after he or she converted to Mormonism. Nobody takes the post-temple reception for a wedding. If there is one reason why the LDS church retains the image of a sect, it is this exclusion of parents from their child’s marriage celebration. In Europe the major parts of one’s social networks are outside the church, so here the civil wedding is absolutely essential. Thus the non-member kin and friends fully participate in the wedding, which is all for the better. After all, the Church is in Europe closer to being seen as a sect anyway, and having just an exclusive LDS-only temple wedding would be a devastating argument for it really being a sect.3

1 -  P. Post & A Molendijk, Holy Grounds 6,7.
2 - Also, in Europe many marriages occur between spouses from different countries, including the USA. In many of these cases all kinds of ad hoc arrangements have to be made in order for the marriage to be legal for all concerned. This always involves a civil wedding of some sort, also for those Europeans who marry in the USA.
3 - Here I follow the definition of Stark & Bainbridge of the cult-sect-denomination-church continuum, which focuses on the relationship with the surrounding culture, Stark, R. & W.S. Bainbridge, The Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival, and Cult Formation (Berkeley, University of California Press,1985).
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Why?

Why is the question I was asked on facebook about  my participation in the petition.  I guess my first question would be as to whether you actually read the petition itself -- in addition to some of the introduction and/or comments.  If you haven't, you may have misunderstood what the goal of this petition is.  It is DEFINATELY not to get the church to change anything about who can and who can't enter the temple for any of its ceremonies, etc.

What the petition is asking for is something that I actually thought a lot about over the years as my kids were approaching the age of marriage, and personally felt it was a policy the church could and should change.  Since there are many countries in the world who require a civil ceremony before the temple ceremony, as they don't recognize temple weddings "officially", and since in those countries the church allows couples to have those civil marriages (to which any and all family and friends can be invited), it is obvious that this is a "policy", not a "doctrine" or "revelation", etc. 

I have never understood why the church has this rule in America, but not in these other countries -- since there is no doctrinal reason why couples here couldn't do the same thing.  In a church that consists of so many converts, and where so many families have non-member parents or siblings or aunts & uncles, etc., I think members are historically very insensitive to the very deep emotional pain this causes for many families.  When the child of non-members becomes converted, their families are stunned and crushed when they find out they will not be able to attend the weddings.  I assure you this is not just a minor problem to them -- it is major -- and causes very bad PR for a church that is known for being so family-oriented.  No matter what the child tells them (which usually boils down to "that's just the way it is"), none of it helps them feel better, and when they are told they are "not worthy" to be there, you can imagine the shock and hurt.  They don't understand why there can't be a civil ceremony first, and then the religious one.  And when they find out that this is allowed in other parts of the world, they become even more unhappy about it.

When one thinks about this all logically, one is forced, I believe, to acknowledge that there really isn't any reason to have this rule -- nor to "punish" the couple by demanding that they wait a year to go to the temple.  If they are temple-worthy, how does having a civil ceremony make them unworthy?  It seems to me that anything the church could do to foster and support an entire family at this very important wedding time would enhance the church's reputation with non-members, and create a "warm-fuzzy" rather than hurt and anger.

I don't know how often -- or if any -- times your family has been confronted with this dilemma -- many Mormon families have not since their children are marrying other long-term Mormons, but there are many, many families who do have to deal with this.  I can't tell you how many people I have heard say that if they had to do it over again, they would have married civilly -- even if it meant they had to wait a year to go to the temple -- because they now understand how very badly their parents and/or siblings were hurt.  It's not an imaginary hurt.  It's real, and it's long-lasting -- and does nothing to further the church's goal of helping this convert bring their family into the church.  I was asked to join an email group that consists of parents who have a child that has converted to the church -- and are having a very difficult time understanding the doctrine and/or the changes they see in their children.  I was asked to join so that they could hear from me and a  couple of other people who can answer some of their questions -- and help them understand some of the intricacies of the doctrine.  I think you would be very surprised at the level of pain and personal offense that is felt by these people when it comes time for their child to be married in the temple.  It causes hatred towards the church.  And it does not help when their child can't give them any really good reason for being excluded from their child's marriage because of an arbitrary rule that the couple can't go to the temple for a year if they get married civilly, and there forces the couple to choose to exlude parents, etc. because they DO want to get married in the temple.  And no, the reception does not make up for it with these families.  Now you and I know that many of these parents are probably as nice, pure, and worthy as the Mormon parents, but can't be there because they aren't members.  I have NO problem with this and really see no reason why any member of the church should --  and again --it's not the purpose of this petition to change THOSE rules!

So that is "why" I support this petition.  I do believe that the church could bring itself all kinds of good will and friendship from non-Mormons if they would simply allow people to be married civilly first -- if they choose to -- and then allow them to go to the temple as soon as they can get there.

Sue Emmett
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Some Are Not Worthy

This is not an easy story to tell for it rips my heart, weighs heavy on my chest and brings tears rushing each time I think about it, let alone talk about it.

I was married at the time I became pregnant; nine months later and 21 hours of hard labour to give birth to my one and only child – a darling daughter.

When she was only a toddler (1 year old) her father and I separated and subsequently divorced.  Through the years I was the one who loved, fed, clothed, comforted, educated, encouraged, supported and at times disciplined her all while working to keep a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and clothes on our backs.  The buck stopped with me.  Through no fault of hers, her father was an absent one who she finally was able to reconnect with when she turned 18.

Much to my surprise sometime during her college years she stumbled upon The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I, not being a follower of organized religion, did some research and although not convinced this was a path suited to my high spirited, intelligent, creative, talented, educated only child; I supported her right to choose her path and destiny.

From the age of three she was a dancer, actress, musician and singer and I had the pleasure of making every one of her costumes – so I assumed I would also have the pleasure of helping design and make her wedding dress.

Imagine the horror I felt as a mother to discover I would not be able to attend her wedding or have any significant role in her life from that day forward.

I had not encountered that tidbit of information during my research of this path she had chosen.

To me a wedding is about two families coming together to celebrate the joining of two young people in love about to venture out into the world together, but still needing some guidance and support from those who love them.  It is about standing up and being counted to support and encourage them not just on that day but for the duration of the marriage.

When that day is marred by the idea that some are “not worthy” (my soon to be RM son-in-law actually said those words to me) to attend the joining it sets up a whole set of unspoken (and sometimes spoken) hierarchies which even time, love and support cannot overcome.

It is exclusive and divisive rather than inclusive.

So in my opinion this particular practice is clearly NOT about families.

When I suggested to my daughter that she be married in the church first so all our relatives and friends could attend she responded that then she wouldn’t be able to be sealed for one year and that would not be a good thing.  This clearly put me between a rock and a hard place for I had raised her to respect and adhere to the rules and regulations of any organization she belonged to.  How, without being a hypocrite, could I possibly insist on her going against one of the clearly most sacred rituals of her chosen path?

So out of respect for an institution/organization, which clearly does not respect the parent/child bond, I stepped aside and gave them my support and love which I continued to do.  But given that now I am banished from their lives, it is clear that their belief system does not reciprocate that respect. 

Maybe, just maybe, if we had come together as a family to plan and celebrate this union it would have strengthened our relationship. This ritual (and others) teaches and encourages disrespect and alienation of those who have different beliefs which then contributes to division and discord rather than unity and harmony.

Truth Renaissance
Edmonton, Alberta
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Tears of Joy, Tears of Heartbreak

I come from a small, very close family. We did everything together -- we even joined the Mormon church together, when I was a child. In adulthood I decided to join a different church, and it caused some heartache in my family -- largely because the Mormon church's teachings about the consequences of leaving the church are divisive and frightening. However, once my family realized I was the same person I had always been, this obstacle was overcome, and we were able to remain as tight-knit as always. It would have been unthinkable for us to miss major events in one another's lives.
 
Until my sister's temple wedding. We both cried as the realization hit us that I would not be allowed to attend. As a faithful and obedient member of the Mormon church, the only acceptable path she could take was to be married in the temple. According to her beliefs, were she to marry civilly first (thereby allowing my attendance and that of most of our non-Mormon extended family and friends), she would have to wait a year to be sealed to her husband in the temple -- and thereby risk putting the eternal nature of their family in jeopardy.
 
I wanted to be there for my sister and support her as much as I possibly could, so I went with her to the temple. I choked down tears when, after we said our goodbyes in the lobby, I watched her in her beautiful gown, face full of hope and anticipation, disappear through a door into the inner sanctum. It felt like my heart went inside with her, and the rest of me was left outside, empty.
 
I waited for hours, trying not to think about what I was missing, trying not to worry that my sister might be missing me. After the ceremony ended, the guests began to come out into the lobby. Very few of them knew my sister intimately, as I do; even fewer, I'm sure, would give everything for her, as I gladly would. But they had been allowed to witness the most important moment in her adult life thusfar, while I was excluded..
 
Perhaps the hardest part of the day was when the guests came over to greet me. Most of them knew me from my years growing up in the church, and with the best of intentions, they began to relate the story of my sister's wedding to me with joy and enthusiasm. I smiled and hugged, and while I was filled with happiness for my sister, those tears of joy mixed with tears of heartbreak each time someone told me about a detail, a moment, something beautiful that had happened -- moments I had missed, and could never get back.
 
I have never discussed my feelings or experiences of that day with my sister or parents, and I probably never will; I don't think any of us could bear to relive it. Also, the day was about her, not me, and I would never want to add to the sadness my family already experienced because of the Mormon church's absurd policy -- a policy which, by the way, has no basis in doctrine, and doesn't even apply in many countries.
 
My beautiful family joined the Mormon church in large part because it proported to strengthen and support families. Had we known then what we know now -- both about temple polices, and about what the church teaches regarding members who leave -- I am confident we all would have taken a long second look.

Anonymous
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Isn't it about family?

I served a mission in England in the mid 70's and have long been aware of the discrepancies in church policy.  My husband and I married in the temple in 1978 with no family members present, since we are both converts. It was difficult, but we felt like we were doing the right thing.  If I had it to do again I might go for a civil marriage and get sealed a year later.  

The decision to wait a year is complicated not only by the pressure of what people might think but also by the “what ifs”.  What if one or both partners die in that year?  What if a child is born? When you are young, the pressure of what others might think is a lot greater than when age has mellowed you, but the “what ifs” are still there.  When my oldest daughter and son married in the temple, it made me sad that my sweet mother, who traveled so far to support my children, could not witness their marriages.  It also made me sad that my younger children were excluded. My daughter-in-law, also a convert, had no family present for her wedding. My own children had only their parents (daughter’s wedding) and 1 sibling (daughter at son’s wedding) to represent the family.  

Thank you for creating this petition; I am happy to sign it.  It may not change a thing, but it feels good to me to speak out with others about something that has bothered me for many years.  I plan to mention it to my co-workers when I go to the temple for my weekly shift.  It is right to reserve the sealing ceremony for recommend holders. But it is wrong to allow some to be married civilly first, surrounded by their families and to deny this opportunity to others.  The people who make these policies must live in a bubble.

About 7 years ago a recent convert in our area married an active member civilly and got sealed in the temple 3 months later on the anniversary of her baptism.  I did not realize until then that exceptions were made for converts.

Mary

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The Heartache


Many years ago, I found myself, a faithful, believing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, watching my soon-to-be daughter-in-law and her dear mother hugging and crying. You see, I was ‘worthy’ to attend the temple marriage and she, a non-member was denied the opportunity of seeing her youngest daughter married. I knew that all her mother would have needed to do, at least one year previously would have been to join the church too and then she could have shared this wonderful moment with her daughter.

However, my surety of this position did not stop the empathetic tears I shed as I watched them and held the young bride’s hand as we walked sadly away from her mother along the path that led to the temple doors. I was not the rightful person to be taking this role; I had not earned it just because I was a member of the same church. My daughter-in-law was willing to make this sacrifice; one of many to come, in order to be married in the temple. She had been taught and believed that this was the right place for a marriage ceremony to be performed, even if that meant leaving her parents out of the picture. Had she chosen to be married civilly the one year penalty would have kicked in and would have postponed their temple sealing. It would not have occurred to me at that time that her agency and right to choose her own path and the way she was to be married was being subdued by obedience to those in authority. Couples could make a huge difference by non-compliance to this authority, but the guilt and judgment they would experience could be too much to bear for them and their families. Others might think that they were ‘unworthy’.

The Difference

One year after I learned for myself that my belief in the church was a dream; a way of life and certainly it was not the one and only true church; my beautiful, LDS niece invited me to her wedding. I was delighted to be a part of the celebration; watching these two innocent, young love birds gazing into each other’s eyes, smiling nervously yet with complete confidence in their future together. They listened carefully to the words of the marriage ceremony, responding in soft voices that they were willing to make this commitment to each other for the duration of this life. What? Read that again – not time and eternity? Why not? Were they unworthy? Rebellious? What was the difference in this case? My lovely little niece is blessed to live in England where the laws of the land require a civil marriage ceremony first, before the temple sealing. I’m not sure that members of the church who live in other parts of the world where this requirement is the case, realize how lucky they are. They do not have to make a choice between beloved non-member relatives and a temple wedding; they get to have both. After a short and fun reception the young couple, accompanied by people who share the same beliefs traveled to the London Temple where the sealing ceremony that is important to them took place. Because this is no longer important to me, I did not mind being left out of this ceremony. The part I was interested in most was the one I was able to participate in along with my 2 other non-member sisters my mother and other family members. It is still a treasured memory for me.

The Question

Why? Why do couples in other countries get to do it this way while members in North America do not? Just because the church CAN make rules that it has to be this way does not mean that they have to be so mean spirited as to take away the couples’ right to choose by punishing them with a one year wait for the blessing of a temple sealing.

Jean Bodie
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Standing Outside


The LDS Church advertises itself as a family oriented church; but let me tell you about my experience with the family values LDS Church. My daughter joined the LDS church and was later married in an LDS temple. We, her parents along with her entire immediate and extended family were excluded from the ceremony. People who were virtual strangers to her were present; we were not allowed to be there. Why? The LDS church prohibits non-members from entering their temples, even for family weddings.

Follow up:

Several people advised us to get over it or do what we needed to do to be “worthy”. The problem with that insensitive advice was that I figured I already had.

Nine months of pregnancy, ten hours of labor, sleepless nights of worry, and the hugs and kisses to make the little hurts all better doesn’t count?
How about helping her learn to walk, ride a bike, drive a car? Does attending every parent-teacher meeting, school performance and piano recital count? Going on school field trips, supervising school assignments, and musical instrument practice? Helping her pick out her a dress for the prom? Cheering as she accepted her high school diploma? Moving her into her college dorm? No?

How about holding her hand through months of difficult medical tests and doctor visits, then spending weeks 24/7 next to a hospital bed to see her through a life-altering illness? Doesn’t count? How about the time spent discussing life choices? Rejoicing over triumphs and accomplishments; consoling over losses and disappointments? Even accepting choices I deeply disagreed with? After a lifetime of expressing unconditional love and support in all the tangible and intangible ways only a mother can; I was judged “unworthy” and excluded.

I suppose I was naïve to have ever thought that wedding ceremonies are celebrations to which everyone who wishes to share a couple’s joy should be welcomed; not judged and excluded on the basis of religious affiliation.

The LDS church’s exclusionary policy extends to church members who are considered “unworthy” in some way. Several years ago, a friend was excluded from his daughter’s wedding because he had fallen behind in his tithing. In other words, a father (and lifelong member of the LDS church) was denied permission to be present at the marriage of his daughter because he owed the church money.

A simple solution would be to encourage couples to marry outside the temple and have the temple sealing later. However, LDS couples living in the United States are actively discouraged from considering this option.

Those who do decide to include all those they love in their wedding ceremony and marry outside the temple are penalized by church policy which requires them to wait one year to be sealed in the temple. However, this waiting period is not church policy in the UK, France, Germany, Japan and many other countries. (It is not even a consistent policy within the US.)

In those countries, church policy allows couples to marry in a ceremony outside the temple and to be sealed in the temple on the same day or another day. They are not required to wait the one year period. In the United States, couples who do not live within an easy day’s drive of a temple are permitted to marry in their hometown and then travel to a temple to be sealed. Again, they are not penalized by a one year waiting period.

If the LDS church is unwilling to allow non-LDS family and friends to be present at temple marriages (and I don’t think they should be forced to), they should eliminate the one year penalty. This would allow for a more inclusive ceremony and would be consistent with its own policy in other countries and other areas of the US.

I have lived and worked with LDS people for more that twenty years and have found Mormons to generally be kind people; I am not “anti-Mormon”. To those LDS people who disagree with me’ I ask that you at least try to understand that I speak from a mother’s hurting heart. To those LDS people who do agree, I know that you have been counseled never to criticize church leaders even when you think they are wrong. However, I ask you to remember all the examples history gives us of how only when people find the courage to speak do things change.

If LDS church leaders are serious about their part in healing religious divides and honest about their public pro-family stance they must change their policy. It is time to stop coercing couples into insisting that the people they love stand outside LDS buildings with broken hearts.

Jolene Arnoff
Lindon, Utah

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Void left by the Church


I was born a Mormon to a TBM mother and a believing but sometimes questioning father. I liked everything about the church and participated eagerly for 50 years. I grew up on a dairy farm and graduated from USU in agriculture. I have been involved in agricultural sales all of my career. I have been stake missionary, ward mission leader, ward executive secretary, scoutmaster, ym president and bishopric counselor. I felt like I committed my all to each position that I held. I was a missionary in Japan in the early 70's. I married in the temple and have 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls. Three boys completed missions. The 4th is in Dallas/Ft Worth-Spanish speaking now. The oldest girl married in the temple. The youngest is in high school. Two sons have married in the temple.

Seven years ago a brother-in-law introduced me to the idea that the church might have some skeletons in its closet and I proceeded to look. After 2 years of extensive study, I came to the conclusion that the church could not support its claims and I quit participating other than attending on an ocassional basis. Three years later I resigned. As I moved away from the church my wife moved closer to the church and our relationship began to crumble. We are still married. We live in the same house, but essentially go our separate ways. We have very little interaction that one would consider healthy in a normal marriage relationship. She seems to get reinforcement from going to church and talking to church leaders. It has been difficult for me to know what I need to do to meet her needs in this changing relationship.

At this time I am involved in cycling, backpacking, canoeing, and in the winter, snowmobiling. I have a dog that is a great friend. Through my religious trials I have participated quite a bit with the Postmormon organization and I recently attended the exmormon conference (2008). Several of my adult children pulled me aside and inquired abut the direction I was taking. I tried not to bring up the historical and doctrinal things that bothered me but mentioned vague generalities. I wanted them to find it on there own rather than feel like I had influenced them, especially where spouses were involved.

Last February/March (2009), my oldest son called me with some concerns. Big Love and the depiction of the temple ceremony were making headlines. Some coworkers that knew he was Mormon were asking questions and he was unable to answer them to their satisfaction. He went on line and searched as I had done. His wife agreed to study with him and they came to a similar understanding. They no longer participate in church on a regular basis and are continually looking for positive ways to fill the void left by the church. His leaving has created an interesting atmosphere in our family. It was just me for a while that was the black sheep. Now there are two more and it tends to create a division.

We are working to overcome the challenges that come with traveling this path of life. At this time our marriage relationship seems to be improving.  I was born and raised in Lewiston (Cache Valley), Utah and have lived the past 26 years in Preston, Idaho.  Feel free to use my name.  I used to be hesitant but not anymore.

Bruce Spackman
Preston, Idaho

 
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