Guest Post: I Broke Up with God Because of the Temple. Now What?

by Nona.

Fifteen years ago, I became troubled about polygamy in the early church. As a faithful lifelong member, I brought my concerns to my district president at a temple recommend interview. He chastised me, told me that polygamy was the heavenly order of marriage and that the only problem with the practice was the jealous feelings of women like me. He encouraged me to read Doctrine and Covenants Section 132 and visit the temple and assured me that these resources would resolve all of my concerns.

Following his advice unleashed a crisis that would take me over a decade to work through. In those scriptures and through the temple I learned that everyone who had told me my whole life that God loved and valued me had been lying. The more I searched and pondered and wrestled with the issue, the more I came to believe that, as a woman, I was thought of by God as a lesser being. I also began to doubt my place in the eternities. To fear heaven.

I spent YEARS crying, praying, talking to church leaders, reading scripture, at times literally lying on the floor in despair. And at the end of the day I could not resolve this issue in any other way than to decide (primarily on the proof of every word uttered in the temple) that the district president had been correct. That, according to Mormonism, women are in fact lesser than men. If God wasn’t even willing to covenant directly with me–what did that say about me as a human?

Eventually, I realized I couldn’t live that way any longer. For the sake of my own mental, spiritual, and physical health I had to cut my emotional and spiritual ties to the church. I had to decide that it didn’t really matter to me. I let my temple recommend expire. I quit wearing garments. And while I continued to attend church, (because leaving the church is such a process–leaving the church would cause rifts in my family and social network) I quit looking to the church or God for moral guidance. Instead I turned inward. I began deciding for myself what the right choices in my life were.

And I became happy.

In order to become happy, I had to turn my back on the God who was hurting me. I kept the people in my life, because I truly believe that most Mormons are good, well intentioned people. It was God who had hurt me. It was God I couldn’t trust. It was God I left behind.

These changes leave me doubting that decision, but at the same time–I really couldn’t have lived like that for another five years as I waited on the changes to come. And I can’t just forgive and forget and go back. It’s too late for me. For the sake of survival, I let go of my faith. I can’t get it back now.

I’m really not sure I want to.

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6 Responses

  1. Feather Botts says:

    That’s what I did too. But it wasn’t just the temple. It was the gay problem, the support of war, the pretended embrace of “the Negro” after years of prejudice, the bland lessons, the money wasted on missionary work, the Book of Abraham and refusal to admit it was a lie. And so much more.

  2. Ziff says:

    I’m sorry your experience has been so tough, Nona. Your decision now makes a ton of sense. If the GAs are going to (finally) fix some of the most blatant sexism in the Church but then act like it’s no big deal, it kind of suggests to me they still believe in a sexist God. So it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to go back.

  3. Carolyn Nielsen says:

    Thanks for your touching and thoughtful post. Personal spirituality is a journey, not a predetermined destination. It’s good to hear from a fellow traveler.

  4. Ari says:

    Why do they always characterize women’s distaste for polygamy as “jealousy”? That’s hardly the problem. It’s the insult of learning that Mormon theology assumes that we are only worth a fraction of what a man is worth.

  5. MB says:

    Nona, thank you for sharing this. Your words resonate with me.

  6. jettie says:

    Those of us who were around when the temple was finally opened to people of all races can kind of guess why nothing is being said! We remember. We remember how the church tried to pass it off as revelation, but really there were those who fought for civil rights and were punished, just like women who fought for gender equality were punished. Then all of a sudden a most precious institution–BYU–was about to lose accreditation as a university and BAM, the Lord decided to grant temple privileges to people of all races and priesthood to all men. Uncanny that timing, eh?

    And now we have women leaving the church in record numbers due to gay rights, child safety/interviews, and abuse coverups (notice membership stats aren’t being read aloud in conference anymore?), when BAM, the Lord has suddenly decreed that we don’t have to cover our faces or be as subjugated to men in the temple as we used to be. Gee how nice of Him. But the timing is again uncanny. So how could the leaders possibly phrase their explanation to the women without looking sheepish? These men are doing damage control here, plain and simple. We older women who lived through more than one of these mea culpas-disguised-as-revelation, we know what is going on. If the day ever comes that gays are given equal treatment in Mormonism or women are given priesthood or leadership, we older women who have seen this pattern will know exactly why, and it won’t be because of revelation–it will be to satisfy some desire of the men, which is why I won’t be back to receive it. I am tired of these games and have already left this fold. I wish my Mormon sisters well in trying to fight the good fight, however. You all are stronger and hardier than I am. Decades of fighting and getting nowhere, only to see these guys cave without a word so disrespectfully generations later was too much for this old gal’s heart.

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