Saturday, November 7, 2015

All the Hullabaloo

Explanation of photos: Indian head dress worn by my little Pocahontas for the Wax Museum; cute boys who came to visit me around 4:30 one afternoon...the elder was my student and the younger, if I'm lucky, may be my student in a few years; the deep-voiced and bearded man approached me at the Wax Museum declaring I wouldn't remember him but that I was his fifth grade teacher...I did remember him as soon as he revealed his name (SUCH a great kid!)...and that he's in college studying English and history, works at an office supply store, and is headed out on a mission...I asked his little sister to let me know when he gets his mission call and he volunteered, "I might just stop by and tell you myself!"; and a love note with treats handed to me Friday even though I was stressed out about finishing everything for the week...same kid fist bumped me before he left for the weekend. Our school hosted all these seventh graders on Friday who were job shadowing for some class they take at the middle school and I realized that no one has ever contacted me as their former teacher to see if they could shadow me for a day in the life of a fifth grade know, the insecurity sets in so quickly in stupid, weak moments like I had to blogfully remind myself that there are former students who seem to think of me every now and then.

Wow, so, the recent announcement from the LDS Church has some people majorly upset, both members and nonmembers. I'm left wondering why it wasn't even a little blip on my radar. Heard the news and didn't think much of it.

Perhaps it was because I had to wait for my own baptism? I was sixteen and my parents denied permission. I had to wait. Once I went on splits with the Sister Missionaries in Lehi and we met with a young man who had been born and raised polygamist, but who now seemed quite sincere about wanting to join the church. The missionary told me he would have to be interviewed by a couple of the apostles at church headquarters after he had completed/demonstrated some other things. You know, once I was asked by someone, "How did the Mormons ENTICE you to join their church?" I laughed! Nobody enticed me! Nobody even invited me to a youth activity or anything! I had to ASK!!! Once I started asking, they caught on, but it's not actually easy to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You have to study and attend and be interviewed and stuff. And all these folks crying because a child of homosexual parents can't be blessed in Sacrament Meeting...guess what? I wasn't blessed as an infant either.

There really is this rampant sense of entitlement in our culture (and I'm guilty at times myself). People want things NOW. People think anyone can do anything and everyone deserves everything. Sometimes we have to wait. And we can learn things while we wait.

Yeah, I heard the news and thought, "Oh, okay." The end. If you don't like the way the church does things, use your agency to leave. If you don't like the Honor Code at BYU, don't attend college at BYU. If you're homosexual and parenting a child who is showing interest in a church that does not condone your practice, why would you want your child to participate in that church which will teach your child that what you are doing is wrong?

Yeah, yeah, there are some that will say "my logic" is "flawed." I'm not here to win a debate so go ahead and pick on me. You win. Are you happy? I remember when my dad suddenly gave me permission to be baptized one evening at dinner. Between forkful's of salad he said, "You know, if you're so gung ho about that Mormon Church, go ahead and get baptized. I'm not gonna stand in your way." I asked if I could get it in writing. After dinner I called the missionaries and the bishop (it was a Wednesday night) and my baptism took place three days later. And then my dad grounded me from early morning Seminary because he thought I was spending "too much time with the Mormons." What he doesn't know is that someone smuggled a home-study manual to me at school and I kept up in seminary by reading at home during early morning seminary time. Anyway, I found myself between a rock and a hard place being LDS under my parents' roof.

After baptism, my parents told me I wasn't allowed to pay the church any money (tithing). This took me off guard because I really wanted to be the best member of the church! It didn't occur to me to discuss that with my bishop (or anyone else), so I decided to keep a ledger of the tithing that I should pay and then I set that tithing money aside in my bedroom. Mom and Dad would ask about it from time to time and ask to see my bank statement and I could honestly look them in the eye telling them I hadn't paid any money to the church. They just sort of didn't know that I would pay it all the second I turned 18 (and show them my statement). What I didn't know was that the church has this annual thing called tithing settlement where you meet with your bishop to declare your tithing status. Well, when I heard about these appointments for tithing settlement, I thought, "I just won't sign up because obviously I haven't paid any tithing." Well I was at the New Year's Eve Youth Dance at the church when Bishop McOmber snagged me from the cultural hall and escorted me to his office so we could take care of tithing settlement. I had no idea what to expect. I'm sure he knew I hadn't paid any because obviously the church wasn't seeing any donations from me, the teenage convert. I suppose he was going to gently teach and guide me about this important law from God. I was nervous because I didn't want him to see me as a failure. I wanted him to know I was trying to be as valiant as I could while honoring my father and my mother (that my days may be long in the land) by being obedient to them.

So, there I was, in the bishop's office sitting across from his desk. He smiled and asked, "Are you a full tithe payer?" I smiled back and began, "No, I'm not because my parents won't let me." And then I started bawling and the pitch of my voice got high and squeaky as I explained that I had written everything down in a ledger and that I HAD my tithing money in my possession but that I would have to wait until I turned 18 to pay it. And then he started bawling. He said, "Stay right here while I grab President Harrell from the stake presidency (he lived in our ward and was at the dance as a chaperone). Well. I knew I was in BIG trouble then if he was grabbing a member of the stake presidency! So they came back and the bishop asked me to repeat my situation to this member of the stake presidency (he cried too). So then...surprise! And I hesitate to mention this to people because I would hate for people to abuse the option (and actually, I don't know if the option still exists)...but let me go ahead and post it on my blog...they declared me EXEMPT. I was exempt from paying tithing! They explained that due to my circumstance of living as a minor under the roof of my parents, I was not expected to pay (but I still kept my ledger and paid it all on my 18th birthday, right after receiving my patriarchal blessing and getting diagnosed with pneumonia).

There were a few other conflicts such as going out to eat on the Sabbath and shopping at the mall or picking rocks in the alfalfa field to get ready for spring planting or other things that went against what I was being taught at church about keeping the Sabbath Day holy and other aspects of LDS doctrine (and culture). My bishop counseled me to go out with my parents and have a good time! He told me to enjoy spending time with my family helping them with work around our place and not worry about the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy until I was of legal age, even if it meant I had to miss church every now and then.

If these little things were troublesome to me, an independent sixteen year old girl, can you imagine the opposition an eight year old would face being active in the LDS Church while growing up with homosexual parents? The Family Proclamation, the Law of Chastity...and let's not even get started with Muslims who could be killed by their own family for becoming Christian.

I'm just not a debater when it comes to religion and politics, but I trust the leaders of the church to make sound policies as they are inspired to do. They act out of love and concern. They want to do things the Lord's way. They want what's best for all of God's children, not just the Mormons. One step enough, for me.


  1. I'm with you, I am not stunned or otherwise freaked out about this new announcement. I am, however, kind of disgusted at how it all came out, since someone decided to leak it to someone who has had many issues with the church and is now making waves all the time to "prove" his point.

    I love hearing your testimony about tithing and of the gospel in general. How awesome of your bishop and stake president to help ease your concerns about it and how amazing you are to keep a running total to pay later!

  2. You are amazing Jody. I love you and I love reading your blog!