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(Reblogged from Oct 13, 2010)

I didn’t recognize it as such at the time but I think that’s because I was used to it.  I was accustomed to feeling contempt from others.

Contempt is an intense feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless.  Contempt is also the state of being despised or dishonored. Just like you hardly notice a particular brand of car until you start looking into buying one and then they appear everywhere, a straight person most likely has no visibility to the contempt directed at gays in society generally but most especially in the LDS Church.  Women don’t recognize the contempt with which they are treated.  The general membership don’t recognize the contempt which the highest leaders have for them.

Probably the biggest signal of contempt is indifference.  An inferior person hardly needs to even be regarded.  I see indifference when homosexuals and science say they were born that way and church leaders deny that possibility.  I experienced indifference when I attempted to discuss homosexuality with bishops and church leaders  and they got a glazed-over look in their eyes and quickly changed the subject.  I saw indifference when the topics leaders were interested in discussing were shirt color, ties, facial hair and anything in watered-down, approved lesson manuals.  But the difficult questions  in my life were off-limits.  The best I ever got was being handed a pamphlet wherein an LDS church leader talks fondly of a missionary beating up his gay companion.

The LDS position on homosexuality has supposedly improved since when I was young but I don’t think it has risen above contempt.  Homosexuals still are something lessor-than and despised if the best they can expect is life-long celibacy and being changed in the hereafter.

But I don’t think gays are alone in being the objects of contempt from LDS leadership.  Women,and intellectuals also earn low regard.

I felt contempt as I began to question doctrines and search for answers.  There is no place for questioning.  Ask a current Mormon and he or she will claim that questioning is possible in the LDS faith as long as you don’t try to teach others, but in what context?  You can’t talk about it with anyone.  They will accuse you of sin, being offended and breaking temple covenants of “evil-speaking.”  If they are being honest, there really is no context for dissent and questioning in the run of the mill LDS person’s life.

Because contempt declares your superiority, it is often a somewhat enjoyable emotion.

For LDS members it works especially well. One can feel and show contempt without actually confronting that person and causing contention (A big no no for Book of Mormon reading members).

I recall one experience that made all this contempt that I’d been sensing all my life coalesce into one great whole. My wife and I had reached an agreement that I’d remain somewhat active and go to church with her, but that I wouldn’t have to accept callings or do things that violated my personal boundaries. In my last weeks as a strong member on the outside and soft apostate on the inside, I was confronted by the EQ President in the foyer between meetings.  He wanted to corner me on doing my  hometeaching (which I wasn’t doing and had no plans on doing).  As I hemmed and hawed and tried to satisfy him with non answers, my wife walked by.  I don’t think she could hear our conversation but it probably wasn’t difficult to figure out.  Her facial expression will forever be locked in my memory.  It was pure contempt.

Oh, I’d seen that face many times before, but probably not in this context and probably not so unintentionally.  It was like everything came together and I understood.  Our “agreement” was a losing game.  Somewhere inside her, my lack of conviction for my stance caused her to lose all respect for me.

You can’t respect someone when he has allowed you to strong-arm him into going against his core beliefs.  You can’t respect someone when you know that he is living on the outside in a way that is inconsistent with how he feels on the inside.  It causes you to feel superior to them and their worth to you becomes zero.