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.