Dear Mormon parents, tread lightly, your gay kids are listening.

Dear Mormon Friends,

I appreciate your loving, compassionate words and the way you have reached out to me. I love you and will always love you. I understand that for someone who loves the church and has a kind heart like you do that this is a hard thing. You have been posting responses to mine and sharing blog entries that emphasize a loving perspective while remaining true to your Mormon beliefs. You have to believe your leaders are right because they’re prophets. If they’re wrong, what does that mean? It’s scary and you trust them, so you try to find a way to bridge the gap. I get that.

Let me just say this: I have a gay child.

I left the church before I realized she was gay so that has nothing to do with why I left. But I was an active, believing Mormon raising a child that I didn’t know was gay. And I was living in California in 2008, so the Proposition 8 battle was raging. We sat in the pews every Sunday as our bishop read a letter from a prophet telling us to give everything we could to the cause of righteousness. Week after week testimonies were born of how hard everyone was working to stop the “gay agenda” and how they knew they were following the prophet and God. We heard talks on the sanctity of traditional families and why only male/female households fit into the plan of salvation. We heard how gender was an essential characteristic and each gender had a divine role that could not be changed by the whims of society.

Each ward member was assigned a list of people in the community to call. My list was several pages long. I was not asked if I would participate, I was simply given an assignment that I was expected to fulfill as I “heed[ed] the prophet’s voice”. I took that list home and stared at it for days.

I didn’t really know how I felt about same sex marriage. I’d never thought much about it before. I’d always heard it was wrong and that homosexuality was not part of God’s plan, but something in me didn’t feel quite right about what I’d been asked to do.

I pushed forward anyway.

I called several people on my list before I gave up. I hate making phone calls and I hated doing something that felt inexplicably wrong. It was if my heart was whispering to me, but the whisper was small and being drowned out by the voices I heard every Sunday at church.

I spent long hours after my Wednesday night Young Women’s activities with a fellow member of the Young Women’s presidency and talked about the issue. Neither one of us was comfortable. Neither one of us knew where we stood.

A few days before the ballot I agreed to participate in a demonstration outside my daughter’s elementary school. During morning school drop-off we would be highly visible. My daughter was in the first grade at the time and was excited to see what mom and the people she looked up to from church were doing, so she stood by me outside and helped by holding up a sign that said “Vote YES on Prop 8!” My green-eyed, freckle-nosed first grader. Of course she asked what we were doing and I explained it to her in the kindest terms possible.

Six years later I remember sitting in the living room of our new house in Texas as those same green eyes looked uncomfortably into mine before they quickly flitted to the side. In a quiet voice she said, “Mom, I think I might be gay.”

Now, we’d left the church at this point and I’d long since regretted participating in any way in Proposition 8. But over the next few weeks as I learned more about what she was feeling and how I could help her, the memory of that day outside the school returned to my mind. Over and over I pictured myself standing there, looking down on her as her brown hair reflected the golden light of the sun, mother and trusting daughter doing what our prophet asked of us, oblivious to what it really meant to both our futures. And I cried. Not just tears leaking from my eyes and gently rolling down my face, but big, ugly, heaving sobs that made me grateful all my kids were in school and my husband was at work. I could not believe that I had fought to banish equal rights for gay couples with my gay daughter standing beside me. Shame on me. Shame. Shame. Shame.

The LDS church’s approach to people who are gay, bisexual and transgender continues to hurt her. She’s tough on the outside and doesn’t show it to others much, but I know and love this beautiful girl and I see how it hurts her, even though none of our little family believes in the truth claims of the LDS church. It hurts because Mormons have always been our tribe and because we have so many family members and friends who still believe in the LDS teachings. It hurts because kids don’t understand nuance and so the message they turn back on her is that being openly gay is a sin. They tell her gay people shouldn’t get married. They tell her if she spends her life alone then god will reward her in the next life by fixing her so she’s not gay. Teenagers only hear the underlying messages and those are coming through loud and clear. She is wrong. She is other. She is broken.

I guess I just wish for believing Mormons to say, “You know what, I love my prophet and I love my church, but they’ve been wrong before and they’re wrong this time too.” Maybe that would soothe my heart a bit.

And remember, dear Mormon friends who are parents, and aunts, and uncles and grandparents, that child listening to you and learning from you might some day come to you and say the words that are terrifying them, “I think I might be gay.”

Or maybe they won’t. Maybe those words won’t be able to make it out of their mouths because they’ve heard you and everyone at church talk about the “gay agenda” and the “attack on the family” and “love the sinner but hate the sin” and they won’t be able to make those words come out. And then they might stew in shame and self-loathing, praying for god to fix them so they can be the way they’re “supposed” to be. And maybe it will be too much. Maybe they’ll seek some way out from the pain and shame they feel for being gay or transgender. Don’t make me say what can happen then because I worry about it. I know the statistics for LGBT kids. I know what can happen when teenagers feel shame and rejection and don’t see a way out. I worry about it all the time.

Please, dear Mormon friends, it’s easy to dismiss someone else’s pain, but it’s so hard when that someone is your child and you just never know. I never guessed I would have a gay child. Honestly. Never. Watch your words. Be careful what you justify. Take care with those little hearts.

Sincerely,

Your friend Cherry

Marriage = Apostasy


The newest LDS church handbook has an update that stood out to those in the know enough that it is making the rounds in Mormon and ExMormon circles.

Here is what it says: (screen shot procured from LDs.org by someone that has access to these books typically only given to church leaders.)

Note point 4. If you are married (same gender that is) you are now officially an apostate.

I get why they did this, they have to keep gay people from having a valid reason to be married in the temple. It is the homophobia of current leadership manifesting itself. Not unlike the same issue they had with interracial marriage did not that long ago.

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.
                        – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 10:110


Posts on the Fridge door have mentioned this before. You see one thing that seems to commonly run through church history is initial rejection of an idea until popular support reaches a point that it endangers the lively hood of the church. In this case they can still afford kicking out a few apostates. Even the tithing dollar loss is covered with things like massive 30 billion dollar plus real estate developments that are in the works.

So this move to cast out anyone willing to marry someone of the same sex is of course not that big a surprise from the religion that brought you proposition 8. It is however really ironic. Because you see you can be plural married today, right now in an LDS temple. I have a good friend that became a plurally sealed wife to her divorced husband because he got sealed to a new wife in the temple before they were ever unsealed. Yep thats right a divorce doesn’t automatically breakup an eternal marriage, not in LDS theology that is. Man can’t destroy what God has bound together ‘n all that. So if you are a guy (sorry this doesn’t apply to you ladies) you can totally have a second eternal sealing without nary a blip about undoing the first one. (ladies are required to get their temple sealing removed via proper authority before they can marry in the temple again).

I find it really ironic that the church that today bends its own rule 3 feels the need to create rule 4. Just to make sure those darn gays can’t get into the temples! That is the problem with polygamy, it never has really gone away… So all this its about the family 1 man, 1 woman stuff is really just a smokescreen. An excuse to justify intolerance and misunderstanding. As of today in the LDS church the penalty for gay marriage is now worse than the penalty for infidelity. So have all the gay lovers you want, just don’t make a family commitment with any of them! Families are that important!! <sarcasm font>.

It is getting so ridiculous that it is kind of entertaining, like watching a train wreck because sooner or later the tides will shift, just like they did with interracial marriage. Mark my words as profet. There are those of the rising generation that will see gay marriage in LDS temples one day. (I’m sure that will be at least as accurate as similar predictions of the second coming :))

left-comic

On Worthiness and Respect

Often when I point out the problems with believing in religion, particularly in the more specific cases like killing because ‘God said so’ or coercing young teens into marriage under penalty of eternal damnation should they refuse. Without fail the believer starts demanding I respect their faith.

I want to examine this. First lets talk about what they really honestly believe. In the LDS faith from which I originally hail.1 They have a doctrine known as the plan of salvation. It pretty much lays out the fundamental beliefs of the Mormons in terms of how things are gonna go down.

Here is a picture:

Some of the cool ideas of this plan is that we are fundamentally immortal beings. Which is a comforting thought when faced with the reality of death and difficulties experienced in our lives. In general the Mormon’s don’t have the typical ‘Hell’ of other christian faiths. Let me explain. All those kingdoms on the right side of the pictures are called degrees of glory. The Hell of the bible, where weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth go on is actually that non-kingdom at the bottom of the diagram called outer darkness. Mormons are generally proud of this ‘inclusiveness’ in the after life for all God’s creations. You see pretty much everyone is guaranteed to make it at least to the Telestial Kingdom, immortality is a free gift to everyone thanks to Jesus.2 Eternal life (living with God in the CK) on the other hand requires you to specifically follow the Mormon teachings and be part of the Mormon church.

To end up in outer darkness, you have to know without a doubt that the LDS church is the one true one. You must have personal undeniable revelation to that fact and then become an apostate and fight against it. Being a person that had some pretty incredible spiritual experiences that I now think were cognitive faults of my own brain, I could possibly fall into that category. That is if I am wrong and the faith I have left is in fact God’s approved one. But if I am not like Satan and the 1/3 of souls sent there and this plan is legit. I am likely headed for the TK or the TrK (Telestial or Terrestrial Kingdom). You see the CK is the top tier. To get there, you have to accept a mortal baptism via correct authority which is only in the LDS church. To be in the top of the top, you need to also be temple married in the LDS faith sealing your family together for all eternity. It is a pretty grand vision of family being forever connected in this life and the next… You get it all, essentially you get to be a God and hang out with Gods. Just so long as you are worthy.

You see to be worthy of going to the temple, you have to believe in the church. You must pay tithing, you have to believe JS was really a prophet, (even when he told 14 year old girls they needed to marry him) You must assert a testimony of belief in the whole restoration story the church presents you to get this ultimate blessing. You must undergo a temple worthiness interview with your church leaders where you clearly assert these things to be even allowed in the the temple and thus the top of the CK. But if just don’t buy the LDS is the one true church story and you think Joseph Smith was a con man but you are still a good person you will get the TrK. If you basically sucked it up here on the earth, killing, committing adultery, drinking coffee and generally sinning without repentance, then the TK is where you go. It should be noted that the TK is generally believed to be like the earth is today minus all the bad stuff. So pretty nice place actually.

Now a really important thing to understand is that if you don’t make it to the CK. You don’t have any family in the next life. In fact if you are not sealed in the temple, then the family relationships you have here do not persist after death. This is the great incentive to be worthy of the best blessings God has to offer. All good Mormons strive for the CK. That is what they mean when they say families are forever. 3

I keep bringing up the word worthy in this post because that is very much the general fundamental belief of an LDS person. You need to be worthy to make it to the CK. This leads a person that embraces this belief system to look at non-mormons or non-believers as not worthy. Now if you might be thinking (as most non-mormons do) ‘that is pretty pretentious!’ Well it is, but it is so engrained in the faith that the believers don’t realize how pretentious it is at all. It’s just the way the world works to them. If fact, even once I could no longer believe it was the one-true-restored-plan-authorized-by-Heavenly-Father. For quite a while I didn’t realize how pretentious and judgmental that belief was.

Now a couple of years later one of my sons was judged not worthy by a bishop who was counseling his girlfriend to break up with him because he would never be worthy to take her to the temple (since he is no longer Mormon). Thinking about that I realized for the first time just how pretentious this belief is. It is so bad I have found that most Mormons themselves won’t admit they believe it when pressed. Thing is, in church, at home with family and people that believe the same this language of worthiness vs unworthiness is used all the time. But try this, ask an LDS person if they think a muslim or atheist is worthy of marrying their daughter and watch them dance around that word. You see they have been taught their whole lives what makes a person worthy. And it starts with being a believer in the LDS faith first and foremost. Instead of an honest answer based on the churches teachings you will get all sorts of talk about common goals and same desires stuff instead of a straight forward answer. As a friend of mine known as the Croc says. The doctrine they believe in is so bad they won’t even admit they believe in it.

So why all this discourse on worthiness? It’s simple, you see I have some family and friends that completely believe that I am not worthy of God’s highest gifts.4 They believe that my boys are not worthy of the love and affection of girlfriends that are LDS. They fundamentally are 100% sure the LDS church is true and that means by extension anyone not Mormon is not worthy in their eyes. So when I am told that I need to be more respectful of their religion and faith, I’m sorry but I just don’t see it that way. You see in their eyes, unless I am Mormon like them I am not worthy of being a member of their family in the eternities. That is what 100% belief in the LDS plan of salvation means wether you like it or not. To say otherwise is dishonest.

So If I am not worthy to be your family or your friend for all eternity, maybe you should think about how you would feel were I to believe the same thing about you… Would you be all fine and dandy with me thinking that? Would you still want to hang out with me with that understanding hanging forever in the background between us? Maybe if you my dear believing friend or family member think about what you really believe, you might begin to understand why getting asked to a baby blessing, or a family baptism or any other church related event that your life revolves around isn’t the spiritual wonderland to us that is to you. Because if you are honest with yourself you really believe we’re not worthy of your presence in the next life. Now tell me again why you think I need to respect that belief?

 

 

 

  1. Variations of this exclusivity demanded by religions are in all the abrahamic faiths, in some ways LDS is more inclusive, and since I know that one well it is my example. The examination if very applicable to most religions when you get down the doctrinal basics. The only religion I know of that is truly inclusive is that of the Fridge 🙂
  2. This is essentially equivalent to the doctrine of Grace in other Christian faiths. In Sunday School I often taught the TK would be exactly what the Christians expected, wonderful place to live with Jesus in charge. Only the LDS ended up in the CK where Elohim (Jesus’s dad) took charge personally.
  3. The fine print to this claim requires you be a temple going, temple wed Mormon, otherwise no soup for you!
  4. Some family and friends don’t believe it whole heartedly and have told me in private that they aren’t really 100% sure, they often go to church for other reasons that I did not. (I personally was deeply in the 100% sure category.) Is in any wonder that I feel closer to those individuals than the ones that make sure I am aware of how strongly the believe they are right about their faith?

Naked Shoulders And Sex In Heaven

“Today is the first day I’ve worn a tank top and not had my mother’s words in my head telling me I look like a “whore” or a “bitch in heat.” Actually, I feel kind of cute! Which is good, because I’m meeting up with my folks in Park City tonight and I’m wearing a tank top.”

This post was from a friend a couple weeks ago. Like many women I know she is moving on past the body shaming and modesty baloney her religion poured into her psyche as she grew up. Unfortunately that is easier said that done. The next post said this:

“Well shit. I’m about 45 miles from seeing my parents and now I’m feeling anxiety. Hot face, cold hands and short of breath. Ugh!”

In my past life I would have said that feeling of angst is the holy ghost telling her she was making some evil mistake revealing her shoulders for the world to see. Now days it is easy to see this is simply conditioning caused by hearing her mom call other women slutty and a whore for the way they were dressed. You see when we are children we naturally look up to our parents. We take in the example they set like a sponge. If our parents are prejudicial we end up filled with prejudice. This is not anything new, child abusers were often abused as children. Racists people raise racists kids. Just like good parenting begets good parents the opposite is also true.

So you see my friend angst over her dress is not uncommon at all after you leave a religion that controls even the way you dress. However it is also the first sign of finding true freedom. Just take a look at these women fleeing ISIS that have even a stricter drive for modesty in their faith than the Mormon one.

I find it no small coincidence that there are similar female only rules inherent to these two faiths. You see Joseph Smith knew well the religion of Muhammed when he said:

““I will be to this generation a second Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was ‘the Alcoran [Koran] or the Sword.’ So shall it eventually be with us — ‘Joseph Smith or the Sword!’ ”1

One major similarity between these religions involving women that I found in my studies is the type of afterlife sex one gets. Now I am the first to admit that I have a bias in this case. You see from ages 12 to 16 I had a bishop that went into all sorts of sexual territory in interviews to gauge my worthiness. At the end of those sessions he consistently told me that the number one reason I needed to remain pure and chaste till marriage was so I could have sex eternally in heaven after you die. He made sure I knew that only the top tier of the celestial kingdom got that privilege.2 If you didn’t make that goal, then no more sex for you…. forever.

So you see as a hormone drenched teen that was pretty important to me. So I set my sights on a chaste temple marriage and eventually attained it. Sex forever is worth a little postponement in this life right?

Personally I think the reason for sexual control in religion is simple. Sex is a driving behavior, right up there next to things like breathing and eating and sleeping. When you commit a person to give up that need you immediately trip a cognitive trap in their brain. Once a person gives up something they want badly they have to deal with the dissonance it creates. They must justify the reason. It serves the effect of driving the belief deeper because it must be true, otherwise you wouldn’t have made such a sacrifice….

So when it comes to deeply held beliefs is it any wonder you find so much zealotry in Islam a place that also promises eternal sex for one man with multiple wives in paradise for the faithful? Is it any wonder that the ‘porn shoulders’ my friend was sporting that day she expressed her freedom from oppression is actually a term you will hear in Utah? Bare shoulders are that suggestive? Guess what! They are to the guy that swore them off! Just like these ankles are worth a second look.

checking out the hotty

Eternal sex with lots of wives is not a dead LDS doctrine either. I’m sorry ladies if you think it is. Mormons still believe in polygamy, they just wait till you are dead to practice it.3 Don’t take my word for it. Listen to a general authority answer the question:

There really are lots of problems with polygamy when it comes to the LDS faith. Most women I know are sure it isn’t gonna happen ever again. And quite a few men I know have confessed they hope for it after they die. But what does the doctrine actually say? Here is a tidbit for you. Let me know if you find this has been rescinded anywhere.

“In the spirit world there is an increase of males and females, there are millions of them, and if I am faithful all the time, and continue right along with brother Brigham, we will go to brother Joseph [Smith] and say, ‘Here we are brother Joseph’…. He will say to us,…. ‘Where are you wives?’ ‘They are back yonder; they would not follow us.’ ‘Never mind,’ says Joseph, ‘here are thousands, have all you want.’”  – Apostle Heber C. Kimball4

Ask yourself now if Romney’s binders full of women comment is like looking up his freudian slip!

Consider this. Maybe the real reason that her ‘porn shoulders’ made my friend both cute and nervous has everything to do with the way sex is portrayed in the religion, and not even a smidgen to do with reality or modesty or any other reason that is tossed out by the believer. It is possible isn’t it that this standard of modesty that so pivotally affected my friends life only applies to women? Because otherwise how would you have heard all about the modesty uproar over the mormon on the left verses the mormon on the right. Think about that for a bit.


To wrap up this topic, I have a question for the females to whom this standard seems to unilaterally apply. As a woman do you really like the idea that other ladies are constantly judging you on your dress and your look for not conforming to the norm? Is that really the way the world works? Should it be the way it is? I don’t think so. From what I have discovered after leaving the culture of my religion it isn’t that way out there in the scary world at all. In fact after my friend disclosed both her joy and angst in the her new found freedom of expression another close friend piped up and told her to not fear because she would love her no matter how she dressed and that true friends didn’t treat each other that way. My porn shouldered friends reply…

“I completely agree. I love you too! And all of the women I’ve met since leaving the church. The friendships are so much more authentic. [The Profet] should write about it!”

And I did, because authentic is exactly the way it should be.

 

  1. read about that here and here.
  2. I don’t think this was his own idea mind you. There are several indicators in scripture and teachings of apostles and prophets to found this doctrine on. For example. “Eternal are the purposes of God; never-ending progression is provided for His children, worlds without end” (James E. Talmage, “The Eternity of Sex,” Young Woman’s Journal, Oct. 1914, 604)

    “Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory” (Joseph SmithTeachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 300–301).

  3. They can even be sealed to two women in the temple that are alive at the same time so long as they get a legal divorce. I personally know one post mormon that was still sealed to her husband in the temple after he divorced her and married again in the temple for a second sealing. You see for a woman to get a temple divorce takes special permission that goes all the way to the top tier of the faith. Women can’t be sealed to another man after a legal divorce without this. But the dude? No such limitation. Seal away!
  4. Journal of Discourses, v. 4, p. 209

Remember To Have Tolerance And Love For Our Mormon Neighbors

I just read this announcement from the LDS church in regards to the gay marriage stuff. I’d been thinking about an appropriate response when I stumbled onto this nearly perfectly made point on social media.1 The Fridge works in mysterious ways and we are often inspired unexpectedly so enjoy the light of the open door and feast on the sustenance therein:2

I just need to clear something up. I don’t hate Mormons nor am I bigoted. I love all living creatures and believe that Mormons should be treated with kindness and compassion. I do not support violence against Mormons or discrimination of any kind. However, I also believe in science and as such I cannot support Mormons’ “rights” to marry and raise children. Science has shown us that this is detrimental to both the children involved and society at large and I cannot pick and choose which scientific evidence to believe.

Science has shown us that Mormon children are much more likely than average to be depressed in their lifetime. Utah boasts the highest suicide rate in the nation among 18-24 year old men and has one of the highest rates of overall depression. LGBT youth raised in Mormon homes tend to fare especially poorly and often bear lifelong psychological scars. Also, girls raised in Mormon homes are far less likely to complete college or achieve financial independence than their non-Mormon counterparts.

Conversely, there is empirical evidence that other demographic groups tend to raise children who fare better than average- same sex couples, secularists, Asians, etc. Because I support science, I believe that such groups are the only people who should be permitted to parent in America.

Plus there’s the fact that the Mormon temple ceremony is degrading to women and that the sealing was created with the specific purpose of propagating polygamy, polyandry, and even child marriage for Mormon church leaders. Pioneer journals show us that these marriages were often coerced and that the girls and women who entered them suffered horribly. While Mormons are not currently advocating for the reinstatement of these practices, by allowing Mormon marriages, we are embarking on a slippery slope that opens the door to this possibility. How can we in good conscience allow this?

Again, I have absolutely nothing against Mormons and am not judging them for their lifestyle. I understand that many of them were born into their faith and did not totally choose it. And I am very accepting of Mormons provided they commit to lifelong celibacy as that is the only way to guarantee they will not reproduce. There’s nothing hateful or bigoted about supporting what science has declared is best for society.

SmithNauvoo marriage

  1. Sarcasmness is next to godliness, thus saith the Fridge
  2. Shared with permission and desired anonymity. I added the links and did a little formatting is all.

Guilt and Shame for Being Normal

Many Mormons believe they have been told by God, through His modern prophets and apostles, what things they should and should not do. Deviation from these tings is considered sin. What Mormons often fail to realize is that those of us who no longer follow the tenants of Mormonism typically reject their concept of sin. However, the years of conditioning and subsequent guilt and shame associated with anything once thought of as sin, often remains.

Mom took it hard when my sister, at the age of 22, rejected the religion they raised her in. 26 years later, when I rejected the same religion, it wasn’t so bad. At least, not that I observed. Mom is pretty passive aggressive about my sister’s lifestyle and the lifestyle of my two nieces who were raised mostly agnostic and have lived a life of what mom thinks of as “sin.” At least behind their backs she is, never to their faces. So maybe mom took it harder than I thought and I just don’t know.

As is typical with many Mormons, I was always wary about letting my parents know about anything I did that was not “in harmony” with the teachings of the LDS Church. I was fearful of the guilt and shame that would come with such revelations. Nor did I want her talking disapprovingly of me to somebody behind my back.

Many Mormons believe that a major reason people leave Mormonism is because they think that person wants to “sin” – that person wants to do all the forbidden things. The reason they think this is because many who leave often quickly begin to try those things that were formally out of bounds. However, since they are no longer under beholden to the religious entity that formerly restricted them, they are free to have new experiences.

Not surprisingly, when I left Mormonism, I had not had much experience with alcohol. It took over a year after leaving Mormonism for me to unshackle myself enough from the concept of sin to think about trying alcohol. I had sampled several beers from a good friend who brought them to me. One I liked was Wasatch Brewing’s “The Devastator.” It has 8% alcohol, so, in the state of Utah, it can only be bought in the state liquor store.

My city has only one state liquor store. I had thought about swinging in there but had been a little worried about people I know seeing me pull into the parking lot. Drinking alcohol in Utah is perfectly legal. I was not contemplating an illegal act, yet I was worried about the guilt, shame and gossiping my actions might cause. After quite a bit of inner turmoil I eventually built up the courage to do the dirty deed.

I drove in to the packed parking lot and luckily found a place front and center. I turned off the truck and set the key on the seat. I was a little nervous, so I sat there for a moment. It looked pretty harmless in there and I didn’t seen anyone around I knew. So I crawled out of the truck and went inside.

There was a nice array of beverages but I couldn’t see the beer. Mostly hard liquor. I remembered as a teenager going to a friend’s house whose parents had some brandy in the basement (“for medicinal purposes”) and I had some. I loved it! So I looked for some brandy. I found it and continued wandering the aisles, furtively looking around every so often. I eventually found the Devastator. I grabbed a six pack and went to the checkout.

As I stood in line I checked my front pocket and noticed my keys were not in my pocket. Well, most of the time in town I don’t lock my door, so it wasn’t a big deal. I paid for the alcohol and went out to the truck. Sitting on the seat were the keys. But the doors were locked!

Ugh!

I had recently divorced and walked away with a motorcycle, some books and woodworking tools. Being late winter I was borrowing my parents’ truck. It just so happened that I was living in my parents’ basement apartment. At home, in that apartment, were not one, but two extra set of keys to that truck. Right on top of the fridge. A simple phone call to my parents and they would have brought me the keys – no problem. But there I was, in the parking lot of the state liquor store.

Less than half a block away was a locksmith. But that would cost $40 and my parents could be there in less time time than the locksmith would and it would be free.

But how would I explain where the truck was, I wondered. There was only one reason for that truck to be parked in front of the only building attached to that parking lot. How could I experience the shame I would feel if my parents found out that their son was purchasing and consuming alcohol?

I jogged over to the locksmith. $40 and 15 minutes later I, a 48 year old man who was doing something perfectly legal, drove out of the lot.

I successfully avoided the guilt and shame of disappointing my parents. Instead, I felt shame for having lived in a religion for 47 years that would impel me to hide the real me from those I loved most. Mormonism values conformity and uniformity in their attempt to make cookie-cutter clones and they use guilt and shame to achieve it.
It has taken two years to begin to live an authentic life of freedom and individuality. I have shed most of the guilt and shame. And one day I will laugh with my parents as I share this story with them. But not today.