An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Friendly Divorce?

Our new home teacher decided to give us a lesson last month.
He dutifully opened his Ensign and
told us President Eyring’s message gave him some new thoughts about tithing. He
read a few quotes from the text and told us of the blessings he’s received from
paying tithing. George and I were uncomfortable. Even when I was a believing
member, I objected to the self-serving notion of paying tithing in anticipation
of reaping blessings.

When Brother deVowt paused for our comments, George said
that he and I have so many blessings we don’t ask for more; we just give
thanks. I agreed with our HT that generosity is a great virtue. I didn’t
elaborate on why I now choose to bestow my offerings elsewhere. We don’t care
to undermine our home teachers’ faith, but neither do we want to be proselytized.

At least our home teacher did not read the entire message
verbatim, then offer tearful testimony of its truthfulness as my Relief Society
visiting teachers did until I asked them to skip the message during their
visits. That request probably got me dropped from my own visiting teaching
calling.

I know George and I could have our names removed from the
rolls of the church and avoid contact with the faithful entirely, but we had
hoped to maintain a casual relationship with the church of our heritage. George
feels an attachment to the institution which has provided him with spiritual
experiences in the past. Neither of us wants to divorce ourselves from our
neighbors or place a possible barrier between ourselves and believing family
members.

Maybe we’re in the
position of a divorced spouse—grateful to be out of a relationship that wasn’t
working—but still bound by years of shared experience. Being good friends after
a split is a status few divorced couples achieve. It generally takes more than
a few years—and forgetting the past seems to come more easily to those who
leave than to those they abandon.

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Comments on: "Friendly Divorce?" (11)

  1. I enjoyed your comparison between a divorced couple and your relationship to the church. Very good article to read.

  2. Perfect! My relationship with my ex had many ups and downs, exactly the same as my relationship with the LDS Church. Most of the time we got along fine until he got in my business or overstepped his boundaries by messing with my kids heads. I, too, would have my name removed from the records if not for my mother and daughter. Mom is nearing 80 and my very intelligent (and Democrat) daughter is beginning to have doubts, especially concerning tithing and the patriarchy that confronts her weekly. If (when) she does make that tough decision to leave it will be difficult but not without much thought and preparation.

    As for me, being counted as a member artificially inflates the power of the SLC machine. I am a member only on that piece of paper.

    • I’m not sure that counting those of us who cease to believe and participate inflates the power of the church since we donate no time or money to the cause. It does inflate the numbers, but I wonder if that serves any purpose besides puffing up the chest to say, “My I’m growing!”

  3. fuzzyoctopus said:

    I’m afraid I may have traumatized my home teacher this weekend. He read the message “Brother, I’m committed” and started in on how we commit ourselves to the church we don’t get to change our minds or back out – our commitment is our word of honor and we can’t leave that commitment. The analogy given was falling/diving of a cliff – http://lds.org/ensign/2011/07/brother-im-committed?lang=eng

    I was nodding politely and listening. He got my husband to say something nice and my mother (who is visiting) and then pressed me – over and over- to say what I thought about the message. it was the wrong day. I snapped.

    “First of all, I don’t like the analogy because not everyone is interested in diving off a cliff into the ocean. i have no interest in diving into the ocean. And second of all, just because I got too close to the edge and did it once doesn’t mean I’m going to go back to the top of the cliff and do it again. Some of us are not standing at the edge hesitating, we dove off once, said “Well, that’s not for me” and gone home.

    • fuzzyoctopus

      Good for you! Your home teacher deserved being traumatized. What on earth made him think it was appropriate to go into your home, deliver a message, then try to force you to agree with it?

    • I love, love, love not having home teachers or visiting teachers. It stopped about two years ago. Now I don’t hide when I see them. They are my friends, not my teachers.

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