Since I was thirteen, I have had a best friend named Zac. After graduating together from high school, Zac left for two years to serve an LDS mission and I went on to college. Zac’s two years aren’t up yet, and for the duration of his mission, we have been emailing to keep in contact. Because Zac is one of the closest and most genuine friends I have ever had, in my most recent email to him, I told him that I had left the church because my beliefs about spirituality had changed. I reinforced that I loved him, would always be his friend, and really, am still the same person that I always was.
Between his promises of hell fire and concern over whether he was capable of maintaining a friendship with me or not, Zac told me the same thing dozens of people have told me since I started my blog:
“The people aren’t perfect, but the Church is.”
Zac, upon looking up my blog and reading a few entries, insisted that my anger and issues towards the Church were misdirected. He (like most Mormons) can understand me being angry at a person for something they say, but refuses to comprehend my anger at the roots and reasons behind why a person said that thing.
I believe the opposite of Zac: People are miraculous phenomena and everyone is trying to do the best they can with what they have been given. People are perfect. The Church is not.
A single prophet cannot be to blame for the invasion of spirituality, the encouraged sexism of a patriarchal society, or the refusal of equality to people of other races or sexual orientations. You cannot blame a single person for the problems that ARE the Church: Sex shaming, demanding 10% of your income, or telling a divorced woman that she is still sealed to her abusive husband in God’s eyes so she had better find another husband before she dies because women can’t get into Heaven if they’re unsealed and single.
I haven’t replied to Zac’s email yet because I don’t know how. Despite the sadness I feel, I still love and respect him and the fact that he is currently drenched in indoctrination while serving his LDS mission. He’s more a victim of our culture than I am because he doesn’t realize it yet.