An Inactive Mormon's Reflections on What She Finds Valuable About the Church
A few months ago, as I was escaping the Prop 8 circus which was invading my ward, I started to attend a local United Church of Christ (UCC). This particular congregation has become a haven for gay people looking for a religious community, and for former members of stricter traditions looking for a more open and affirming vision of Christianity. A handful of Mormons are a part of this group.
Sarah, a Mormon woman in her 60s, current leader in this congregation, started attending this UCC a decade ago. I was talking to her after the service one day about my current struggles with church, and she started to reflect about what she valued about Mormon teachings. What she said surprised me. When I think about the good parts of Mormon teachings, I think of the usual – eternal progression, limitless divine potential, strong community, etc. She had much more specific reflections.
“You know, there are two things I really appreciate about my Mormon background and its teachings. I am so glad I was taught the importance of one partner, of working with your spouse through all the difficulties. My relationship with my Mormon husband has been enriched by our determination to stick with each other despite our different spiritual paths. We’ve learned a lot from one another over the years. And the other thing – I’m glad I was taught to not drink alcohol. Meditation is a huge part of my life, and if you drink alcohol, you can’t sustain meditation.”
OK, so I don’t know much about the relationship between meditation and alcohol, but I take her word for it. This is a woman who goes on month long meditation retreats where she doesn’t speak to a single soul for 30 days straight.
But I was struck by that first thing she talked about. I myself am in a marriage in which our spiritual paths have diverged a bit. My husband is a devout Mormon. I, on the other hand, have my doubts. I intend to stay an active Mormon on some level, but I also get great satisfaction and uplift from attending places like UCC. I feel God there, and I don’t intend to give that up. (Currently I go to both churches every Sunday).
Sarah’s reflections about ‘one partner’ and the growth that she and her husband have experienced by sticking together through all the transitions were comforting to me. I get queasy when I think of the disagreements that are sure to occur as my husband and I raise our children. It’s not going to be an easy journey, that I’m sure of. But I do have faith that when I’m 65, I too will be able to look back and see how much I and my husband have grown through our determination to navigate our diverse journeys in tandem.
Are there particular, specific Mormon teachings that you’ve found (maybe unexpectedly) valuable in your life? Do you have insights on how to navigate marriage when the spouses are different in religious outlook?