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What’s the price for speaking your conscience?

February 23, 2011

If your conscience isn’t in line with church teachings, you may be kicked to the curb.

This woman’s husband was disciplined for speaking out publicly in favor of marriage equality. I’VE spoken out publically in favor of marriage equality, and I haven’t heard a word about it from the local church leaders. What gives?

This woman also mentions how she and her husband didn’t feel like they could speak their conscious within the church. A fundamental human right is to have one’s own thoughts and beliefs, and to be able to speak those thoughts and beliefs. It’s too bad that this couple’s viewpoint was censured rather than acknowledged. What were their church leaders thinking?

A couple nights ago, I received a call out of the blue from a good friend whom I had taught at the MTC. Among other things, we talked about religion. He’s still active in the church, but he doesn’t necessarily believe everything about the Joseph Smith story. He remarked how one can’t openly express independent thoughts in church if they don’t promote faith. Indeed, I’ve had much more engaging conversation with church members tete-a-tete than you’d ever hear in Sunday school, Priesthood, or Relief Society meetings.  Why should this be? I suspect that reasoned debate is more encouraged in other faiths, particularly Judaism.

It’s not an easy thing to do—speaking one’s conscience. We are social animals, and the need to be accepted within one’s community can be overwhelming. But I’ve arrived at a place in my life where I privilege honesty over conformity, and expulsion from the “in group” is not too high a price to pay to lead an authentic life.

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4 Comments
  1. Velosity permalink

    How does your wife feel about your homosexuality? Is she okay with it?

    • Yes, she’s okay with it. “Okay” is a good word for it. She would like to be wanted more, and I try to be mindful of that and to initiate more. Really, she’s more concerned about what I share with our boys regarding religion than she is about my sexual orientation. I suppose if I were spending my time and energy into pursuing relationships with men rather than into teaching our kids to think critically about religion and the supernatural, then she’d be more upset about my sexual orientation. She knows that I’m committed to her, and this is what is most important to her. Good question, and thanks for asking!

  2. Velosity permalink

    Are you ever afraid that your loyalty to your convictions will affect your relationship with your wife? It would seem from the articles you write that she hold her religion very dear to her heart. When you openly mock something that is very dear to anyone, this will cause a chasm to form. Maybe not right away, but it will come little by little. Is this the price you’re willing to pay.

    • I would challenge the idea that I mock. I articulate a differing perspective from most church members, that’s very different from mocking.

      The question as you’ve written it implies that I must choose between my convictions and my relationship with my wife. Thus, if I want to stay married, I need to keep my mouth shut. This is an example of Christian privilege. Why not pose the question the other way around?

      The question could have read, “Are you afraid that your wife’s religious convictions will affect her relationship with you? It seems that reason and evidence are very dear to your heart. When she openly mocks what is dear to you by expressing her religious beliefs, this will cause a chasm to form. Is this the price she’s willing to pay?”

      If the question, put this way, sounds strange to you, good. It should.

      The reality is that my wife and I are committed to each other and we love each other, both in spite of and because of the unique qualities that make us who we are. Our relationship is strong enough to endure differences of theological opinion.

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