Hard Mormon Conversations at Church

I recently had a conversation about conversations.  I wondered aloud if there was a (safe) place in a church-sponsored environment where members could have open, honest conversations about hard Mormon topics – such as homosexuality, women’s priesthood, birth control, chastity for older singles, excommunication, temple marriages, etc.

I maintained that it could happen, but the 5 other people in my group said, “no way”.

What do you think?

 

 

Suzette

Suzette lives in the Washington DC area and works as a Professional Organizer. She enjoys blogging and serving on the Exponent II Board. Her Mormon roots run deep and she loves her big Mormon family which includes 20 nieces and nephews, 6 sisters, 5 brother in laws, 2 parents – and dozens of cousins. Her favorite things about church are the great Alexandria wards, temple worship, and all things Visiting Teaching.

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6 Responses

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I have been to one such event. It was a voluntary 3-hour activity. The normal 3rd hour classes were held, but there was an alternative class for people who struggled with the temple. Mostly we spent the whole class with everyone sharing their struggles. Nothing was resolved, but just being vocal about it was a strange experience. I did not feel like the church is the place for that conversation, we’re just too used to following a script at church. I think church limits the kinds of conversations you can have, especially if an authority figure is sitting at the front of the room. I have also been in a few firesides where the stake president tried to respond to questions and concerns about homosexuality. They did not go well. The presidency mostly gave the rote answers, and people did not feel heard. The most honest and helpful time when I’ve seen hard things discussed at church is simply in testimonies, which are naot back-and-forth discussions, but honest sharing of a person’s own reality.

  2. Mindi says:

    I think hard conversations could be had in any of those places as long as people are willing to create the space for them. I’m at home after having one such hard conversation in our Relief Society today (Elder Oaks’ talk – The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood). Different viewpoints were shared (even totally opposite from each other) but I believe everyone felt heard and hopefully understood.

    My perspective is probably skewed due to the ward & stake I’ve been in for the last 20 years, but, like I said earlier, these conversations can be had as long as people are willing to create the space for them.

  3. Michelle says:

    I think it’s pretty difficult to have these kinds of conversations in a church-sponsored environment. We’ve done it my ward, though. Soon after Kate Kelly’s excommunication, my bishop hosted a group discussion to discuss women’s issues and told everyone that he just wanted to listen. We had about 20 people there and (true to his word) the bishop seemed mostly concerned that he had a good understanding of everyone’s feelings. There were a wide range of feelings and opinions, and a mix of very active to less-active to ex-Mormons present, and everyone was very open and respectful. It was a good night. I think I had a couple of them on different nights so anyone who wanted to come could.

    He’s also tossed around the idea of another such discussion night about chastity and LDS singles (I attend a mid-singles ward), though nothing official has been planned. I live in a pretty unique area, but I do think it’s possible to have these kinds of conversations in the church given the right circumstances.

  4. Michelle says:

    Sorry, that’s “I think HE had a couple of them on different nights…” Typo. 🙂

  5. Katie says:

    Anyone who would discuss those subjects among friends or in a Church setting would be either censured or possibly experience Church discipline in our conservation stake in the Salt Lake area. If you don’t espouse the Tea Party line, you quickly lose friends and are labeled as a “communist sympathizer.”

    • Patty says:

      I agree. It really depends on your ward/stake situation. I feel like I am the farthest “left/feminist” in my fairly conservative California ward. But I have lived here a long time, am married to a rather conservative man, and show up and follow through on my responsibilities. I really weigh what I have to say before I speak, but have spoken up to defend gay/lesbian friends and to object to “appendage” being characterized as positive (!!!). Prop. 8 was a nightmare.

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