Today was the first time I've been to Church in a while. I've always been one of the stalwart models of faithful youth in the ward, so it's been odd for them to see my string of Sunday absences. I've been gone for travel, and also to spend more time with my dad on the weekends, but the bottom line is that I do feel like an outsider and, more importantly, that my testimony of the Church is not what it once was. I do have a solid faith in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Plan of Salvation, Joseph Smith, the Restoration, etc., but I am uneasy with some of the Church's actions--and I'm not just talking Prop-8 here.
Many of you have blogged about similar sentiments recently. In fact, Scott wrote in his post 'Embers' that "...the press releases that issued forth from the Church Office Building felt more like the product of a Fortune 500 company’s PR firm than the words of a Christian organization—let alone Christ’s Church on the earth." I was startled when I read this because I had thought precisely the same thing many weeks earlier while watching some videos the Church had posted on the LDS.org site. It was an unsettling experience...sitting there, watching these videos of people professing many of the same beliefs I hold, but thinking, "This is not missionary work. This is not God's work. This is really good marketing, plain and simple." I had always, I confess, scoffed at the gloss and worldliness of other churchs' efforts to "reach out," so it was disconcerting (to say the least) to suddenly become aware of the increasingly corporate feel of my own beloved church!
Then there are all the issues relating to homosexuality. The contradictions, the suicides, the hatred, the distortions, the illogic, the alienation, the ignorance... While homosexuality itself was not the reason for my crisis in faith, it brought up so many questions--unanswered questions that I wouldn't be able to ignore even if I were straight.
Fortunately, I have a very close aunt who helps me with these issues. As both a forward-thinking, intellectual psychiatrist and a faithful mother of three in a beautiful family strong in the Church, she has been dear in extending true support and acceptance towards me (regardless of which road I end up taking). She did advise me not to rely solely on logic (I am an analytical person) but to consider it along with faith, since she had to do the same while facing her own struggles with inconsistencies in the Church. I accept her advice; religious persuasion, for me, relies on the knowledge of the head and the heart together. Of course, there are some leaps of faith that have to be made when the need for logic and evidence aren't enough--that is, after all, the ultimate challenge of religion--but I don't think that logic should be completely disregarded, either.
Anyway, I love the Church, and it was good to be back today. In spite of the prejudice and coldness, there is also much love and warmth. It's so confusing to be torn between these crucial parts of my identity. My primary objective in going today was to get my bishop's recommend for a patriarchal blessing. Hopefully I can have a clearer picture of my future after that.