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Tracked Down! Families in Mormonism

Posted by nebula0 on October 29, 2009

So after having moved after having not been to church for over a year, I admit I had great hopes that we’d fly under the radar and never be tracked down by what is supposed to be our new local ward.  Most of our Mormon friends dropped out of the picture after we stopped showing up for sacrament meetings, so I reasoned that there would be no reason for our new address to enter the picture.  However it was only a week ago that an older gentleman came to our door and introduced himself as a neighbor ‘in our ward’ with, of course, an invitation to church.

What surprised me was not so much that our address eventually did get out, but my reaction to the visit.  I was deeply disturbed.  I realized that Mormonism threatened, at least in my own mind, our family harmony.  I am completely non-Mormon, I don’t even really think of myself as ‘ex’ Mormon.  I don’t feel related to Mormonism at all, good or bad.  However, my spouse considers himself a jack Mormon, even though he doesn’t accept its basic truth claims.  He feels some kind of cultural connection, as if he was born a Jew who disbelieves that Moses was a prophet.  It is for that reason I don’t want Mormonism an issue in our lives, I don’t want it brought up, I don’t want anyone thinking about it in our family.  We have such a happy, close family life and I am so pleased not to raise our children in the church, or any church for that matter, I don’t want this happy family ship perturbed.

If you are familiar with Mormonism you might find my sentiments ironic.  After all, isn’t Mormonism a bastion of happy, close families?  It really only works if all the members of the family are also active Mormons.  Only active Mormon couples can be sealed for ‘time and all eternity’ in the temples, and thus have their children ‘born in the covenant’ and thus sealed to them for ‘time and all eternity’.  And those promises are bound up with individual obedience to Mormonism’s gospel message.  So it is having one spouse an active Mormon and another not, or even worse, one who is non Mormon, is bound to cause stress on the marriage. 

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just a Mormon issue- interreligious marriages in general cause stress if one member of the marriage is committed to a religion.  But, Mormonism creates a unique stressor by stressing so much family unity, in the church.  In fact, a defective spouse can threaten the eternal possibility of the other.  It is a couple that is exalted to godhood through obedience to the (Mormon) gospel, not individuals.

Since nothing has come of the visit of the well intentioned older gentleman to our house, I have relaxed again.  But the episode has reaffirmed to me how far I have come in the matter of a couple of years in how I understand the very core of my identity.


5 Responses to “Tracked Down! Families in Mormonism”

  1. Hi Nebula,

    I don’t think we’ve met. I’m an evangelical Christian and I’m married to an active Mormon. Seth pointed me to your blog.

    But, Mormonism creates a unique stressor by stressing so much family unity, in the church. In fact, a defective spouse can threaten the eternal possibility of the other.

    Next to inquiries regarding special underwear, I think I get more questions about this than I do about anything else. I have a cousin who is a senior pastor at a church a few hours away from where I live and we were discussing my interfaith marriage yesterday. “Doesn’t having a non-Mormon wife cause your husband some difficulties in their view of eternity?” he asked me. I told him that my husband decided marriage to me was better than godhood. Darned if it isn’t true.

    Nevertheless, not being sealed to his family does make him a little sad from time to time. I sometimes wonder why my husband can’t just get sealed to someone else for eternity only. I mean, if I had been his second wife due to death or divorce, he would have a sealing and marrying a non-member wouldn’t have been such a big deal as far as the next life goes.

    Well, I hope your ward continues to leave you alone. I only visit my husband’s ward once a month. I don’t mind sacrament meeting or Sunday school, but man. Going to Relief Society once a month is once a month too often for me.

    • nebula0 said

      HI Bridget,

      Thanks for visiting the site. I think some couples have a more difficult time with this than others of course, as it is with any interfaith marriage. I can think of other religions which have extra theological baggage when it comes to marriage. For instance, in Catholicism a Catholic married to a non Catholic has an invalid marriage unless it can be convalidated (which usually a reason is found for it to be so) but that will not be a sacramental marriage unless the other individual is also a Christian (baptized according to the trinitarian formulation). Thus a Catholic married to Mormon on his view would be forfeiting the ability to have marriage a vehicle of grace (sacramental marriage) or even worse- if he is not able to have the marriage convalidated. So Mormonism is hardly the only religious tradition to have theological ‘issues’ surrounding marriage with outsiders.

      However, Mormonism is the only religious tradition I can think of which yokes earthly marriage with eternal destiny… which is at the very least fascinating.

      I’m glad you and your husband have found a way to work things out. I hope it continues down that path. I don’t blame you about Relief Society, either 😉 good luck.

  2. Nebula ~ Speaking of Catholics, have you heard of Juliana Boerio-Goates? She’s a Catholic professor in the chemistry department at BYU. Her husband, Steve Goates, is also a chemistry professor, only he’s LDS.

    She did an article in the Spring 1991 issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought on her interfaith marriage here. (Look for “I Married a Mormon and Lived to Tell This Tale: Through a Stained-Glass Window.”)

    She was a bit of a mentor to me as I was considering the interfaith marriage path. Really wonderful woman.

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