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If the church fixed things, would I go back?

A friend asked me recently if the Mormon church fixed all the things (Yes, ALL of them), would I go back? I’ve been saying that I’m still Mormon, that I still believe many Mormon things (that God answers the prayers even of children, that there is great potential in every human, that God looks on all of us as equal, that there is scripture everywhere, that God is truth and that we can find it in many places), so why wouldn’t I go back? It took a long time for me to sort out my thoughts on this. There are a lot of things that I think the Mormon church needs to fix and I don’t believe that these things are ever going to be fixed. But let’s sit with the idea for a moment.

What are the things I think need to be fixed (and I admit that this list is going to leave out things because I don’t see all problems for everyone)?

1. New revelation about the place of LGBT+ people in our community and in heaven.

2. People of color (and in particular native Americans) need to be equal leaders in the church.

3. Women need to be equal leaders in the church.

4. Racial doctrines in The Book of Mormon need to be revised with people of color at the heads of these committees.

5. Tithing and temple attendance must be decoupled.

6. Transparency in everything, financial, doctrinal, social.

7. Training for bishops.

8. No more hiding sex offenders under the guise of helping them spiritually. Victims must come first.

9. Polygamy must be disavowed and we must start having real conversations about what eternal family means.

10. Spiritual abuse/abuse of power via bishops and other leaders must end.

Maybe this list makes it clear why I believe this will never happen. If it happens, it will be long after my life is over. But it’s possible nonetheless that someday it could happen. I don’t know if the church would still be “Mormon” if it made all these changes, but sometimes names stick even after things change out of recognition. I certainly think Joseph Smith and Brigham Young wouldn’t recognize the church as it is today already.

So, the church has fixed all of these things. Let’s pretend that I’m still alive. Would I want to go back? Sigh. I have to admit that I wonder if at that point I would still be me. But let’s pretend that I’m some recognizable version of myself at that time. I might want to go back. There were things I loved about Mormonism. I miss some of them. Hell, I miss some of the ones that trigger me now. If I went back, I can’t imagine that I would allow the abuse that happened to me before. I’d just walk out again.

The problem with asking this question, though, is that I don’t think I’m looking for a church anymore. I don’t think I care about having the things that I miss. The only way I’ve survived leaving is letting go of my need for many of those things or replacing my need for those things with other things. And if I still had those, why would I need the church anymore? What would be the point? If I don’t believe it is the only way to heaven, then do I really care about potlucks and ministers coming to my house every month to make sure I have what I need? Do I care about music? Yeah, maybe I care about music, but I can just turn on the radio.

This isn’t to say that I don’t still want the church to change or that I’m going to stop asking it to change and asking for those who still attend to demand these changes. But once you’ve stepped away and you no longer believe that there’s a spiritual sword hanging over your head, I guess it’s hard to see the necessity of the church organization. I loved it and also I don’t need it anymore. I can find God just fine on my own. We have a good relationship, whoever/whatever God is.

So I guess I’m not going back.

Written by

Author of The Bishop’s Wife mystery series, The Mormon Sabbatical Podcast, Princeton PhD, fiction editor at Exponent II, autist, she/her

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