I just watched a fascinating episode of Amish: Out of Order which described a young girl wishing to join the Amish! The show typically chronicles the lives of those who leave that sect so this was a bizarre detour. Nevertheless, it made me wonder what I’d say to an audience of people who were considering joining the Mormons.
Along the same vein, a Yahoo group which I subscribe to has recently entertained the question,
“If and such a time the prophet of the LDS church received some kind of a revelation allowing faithful gay and lesbian members of the church full rights and priviledges, including getting married for time and eternity in the temple, would you go back?”
My emphatic “no!” would be no surprise to anyone who visits my blog frequently. In December 2010 I wrote a blog post titled Why I Won’t Return to Mormonism, but that was a rather serious post and there’s more to it. After having been out for 7 years there is a laundry list of simple, minor things that I currently enjoy which I couldn’t as an LDS member.
Here’s what I’d be giving up if I returned and what you’d be giving up if you join….
- Tank tops, sleeveless shirts, shorts – When I exited Mormonism I lived in San Diego. I now live in the desert. There’s nothing quite like wearing weather appropriate clothing. Bare shoulders and no undershirt top my list of the benefits of not being Mormon. Everyday life is more comfortable not being Mormon.
- My underwear – Whether it be different colors, different styles or different material I love my underwear choices each morning. They’re more comfortable than Mormon garments and more weather appropriate any time of the year. Thank the universe for briefs, boxers and boxer-briefs! Again, everyday life is more comfortable not being Mormon when you can wear Aaronic Priesthood underwear.
- 10% of my income – This was the most immediate “blessing” I enjoyed upon exiting; and the funny thing is that I never really bristled or had any difficulty paying tithing back then. I can’t fathom doing it now. Being unemployed right now I wonder if I’d feel pressure to pay tithing on my meager unemployment benefits. Man, that’s messed up!
- More willingness to give to other charities – Mormons typically pay tithing, fast offerings to the LDS church and call it a day. I was very hesitant to give more to anyone else. I think most Mormons are the same. But today I more freely give to someone on the street and to charities which document and publish how they spend my money. I give a lot less than 10% of my income but the small amount that I do give does a lot more good for the world than paying Mormon tithing ever did.
- Full weekends = 2 days! – Mormon Sundays don’t count as a weekend day in my book. Often there are more meetings and more work done on Sundays than on a typical work day. It’s exhausting for men and women.
- Time – In addition to having full weekends, I never attend boring meetings today…ever. I do whatever I feel like on Monday nights. I read books of my own choosing without feeling guilty that I’m not reading the scriptures instead. Without a calling, I’m not expected to “volunteer” my time doing something I never really volunteered to do such as home teaching, teach lessons, help people move, etc.
- Coffee and Alcohol – I love my coffee and I like to drink alcohol socially. My 19, 25, or 35 year old self would have been horrified to read my saying this today. It’s called growing, changing and maturing. I certainly could live without coffee and alcohol, but I wouldn’t want to.
- Loud laughter – Now, to be fair, most Mormons ignore this instruction but there’s no denying that temple-going Mormons are commanded to avoid loud laughter. There was plenty of laughter during my time as a Mormon, but I hated that nagging thought that maybe we were going too far when a giggling attack hit. What a stupid instruction to give people!
- Peace – I’ve learned to plan for and create immediate peace without the need to go to the temple and sit in the celestial room for 15 minutes. I can find it right here, right now without reading the scriptures, praying or going through the self-flagellating repentance process or partaking of the Sacrament.
- Real friends – Throw Mormonism in the mix and friends instantly become potential converts. “Every member a missionary” works its way into the subconscious of every Mormon/Non-Mormon interaction and that pollutes everything. As a Mormon I’d be tolerating those who are different than me rather than accepting.
- Saying NO – When obedience is the first law of heaven, it becomes extremely taxing to ever say no. That carries over into every aspect of a person’s life. I love the freedom to say no when something is crossing a personal boundary or when I just don’t feel like it. Ironically, I have much less need or desire to say no without the confines of Mormonism.
- Watching whatever damn movie I want regardless of the rating – Yeah, I was one of those who obeyed the counsel not to watch R rated movies. I’ve been catching up and enjoying some wonderful works of art since then!
- A lot more perfect moments due to a lot less striving to achieve perfection – I think this explains itself.
- Freedom to be myself and less angst over being an “example” to others – And oddly enough I believe this makes me a better person, more honest with fewer resentments…and even odder yet, that’s probably a much better example to set for my children.
- Honest answers for my kids – Whereas I used to be concerned about how the church or God would want me to answer the wild questions my kids would throw at me, I now feel completely free to tell them what I actually think would help them live happier, healthier and more productive lives.