There’s nothing like finishing out the year on a post-repentance high! Time to confess my sins. My skill and proclivity for lying are my focus today. I’m sorry, Bishop, that I’m a lair. The gravest of my lies were told back when I was a true believer and follower and for that I am truly sorrowful.
Lying is a tricky thing. Is it a lie if you really believe it?
Most of my actions as a believer were sincere and I grant that the same is true for most believers. I believed when I said these things. But in confessing now, I am admitting that deep, deep down some part of me knew that I wasn’t being totally upfront. Something felt off even if I couldn’t articulate it at the time. I was following a pattern and a procedure handed to me by people I trusted. It’s only in looking back now that I can see that these were indeed untruths.
Here are some of the greatest lies I’ve told:
1. Saying, “I know XXX is true”
To be able to convince myself that saying this about any faith-based topic was honest I had to buy into the concept that feelings are an indicator of the truth. It’s an odd juxtaposition because I was told in so many other ways to distrust my feelings while at the same time being cajoled into basing some very important lifelong decisions on feelings. What I ended up with is merely believing what someone else told me about my feelings. Still, the word “know” as it’s used in Mormonism is the most dishonest thing ever said.
2. Claiming, “I’ve searched and studied other religions”
Of course I didn’t. What I usually meant was, “My parents or seminary teacher told me about other religious beliefs and why they’re wrong. My friends in other religion don’t seem as righteous or as happy as I am. Therefore, I’ve stood still, looked around and determined that what everyone else has told me is correct.” That was my research and study.
3. Agreeing, “Wickedness never was happiness”
This was commonly recited to convince myself that my current bland existence would reap greater rewards at some other time. “Wickedness” is anything Mormonism forbids, but it’s an entirely insular and narrow definition. It’s not based upon a large all-encompassing moral code that can be used as guidance in any situation.
Therefore, I ended up being an extremely “righteous” Mormon who was miserable but utterly convinced that I was happier than my neighbor who may have smoked, drank coffee or, god forbid, lived with his girlfriend.
4. Blindly repeating to myself, “I’m not gay as long as I don’t DO anything gay.”
Let’s face it, I knew it. Abstinence from sexual behaviors did nothing to make me feel less gay inside.
5. Denying to my then-wife right after coming out, “No, I’ve never been attracted to one your relatives or one of your friends’ husbands.”
I was telling the truth about the relatives. But some of her friends had some pretty hot husbands.
6. Parroting, “Tithing, the Word of Wisdom and Chastity are all MY choices. We’re not obligated in the church to do any of that. I’m not just blindly following”
I guess it all depends on how one defines an “obligation.” When Mormons say this, what they really are thinking is that you can be a Mormon and not actually behave like one. That would make you a Jack Mormon or a lazy active Mormon at best. But the truth is that you ARE obligated to do all those things if you want to be a participating Mormon. For example, merely not paying 10% of your income could land you outside looking in on your own daughter’s temple wedding. If that doesn’t make it an obligation, what does?
Missionary work clouds everything one does as a Mormon. But I actually said stuff like this as a missionary too. That was a blatant lie.
8. “I love the Book of Mormon. It has changed my life.”
The truth is that most Mormons barely make it past the first few chapters. I actually read a chapter nightly for several years. I now can’t articulate one good thing that came of that. Even back then I couldn’t have articulated what was so amazing and life-changing about it.
9. “We don’t believe in polygamy anymore”
What Mormons are thinking is, “We don’t PRACTICE polygamy anymore.” But that’s not the same thing. I knew it then and they know it now. As much as they’d like to distance themselves from their polygamist past, it’s still in the scriptures and practiced everyday in Mormons temples worldwide.
10 “There’s nothing weird or bizarre about the temple. We just don’t talk about it because it’s sacred.”
Sorry, there’s no way to spin special code names, passwords, handshakes, veiled faces, green aprons, bakers hats, death oaths (pre-1990), and party favor underwear into something reasonable. I thought it was weird the first time I went. I just became desensitized to it. Morphing it into something marvelous and wonderful in your brain is an exercise in self-deception. I used to teach temple preparation classes and so I used this lie a lot.