Today’s guest post is written by Holly Welker. Opinions shared on guest posts may not completely reflect the positions of the blog’s author.
Holly Welker is a writer and a critical analyst. She is the editor of Baring Witness: 36 Mormon Women Talk Candidly about Love, Sex and Marriage and has been interviewed on Mormon Mental Health in regards to her experiences when she was an LDS missionary.
Yesterday I wrote about what it is like to be questioned about why I stay affiliated with a religion that is “harmful” (or the other side of the coin being, why don’t I leave if I’m not happy within the church). Today, Holly writes about what it’s like to no longer be active in the church, still care about Mormonism, and be continually asked why issues from within should still matter to her. I want to clarify that these questions, when asked with sincerity, are legitimate. And depending on the level of intimacy one shares in a relationship with someone — appropriate. However, I’m addressing the times when these types of questions are used to either silence, shame or invalidate others we disagree with. Too often those who have left hear the following type of condescending statement: “they leave, but they can’t leave the church alone.”
In a conversation about the LDS church, someone asked the almost inevitable “why do you care — if you left?” question of someone else. I never cease to be shocked by that question. It displays such insensitivity and profound lack of imagination.Why shouldn’t I care about the culture that produced me? Why shouldn’t I care about the culture that many of my loved ones remain in? Why shouldn’t I care about something that many people find plain old interesting?
The person who asked the question claimed, “If I left something, I honestly wouldn’t care anymore.” I wonder how she is so sure.
If you left a marriage, perhaps it’s true that you wouldn’t care about the marriage. But would you still care about the children that marriage produced? What if you had really loved your mother-in-law? Would you still care about her? If you found out that she was in the hospital, would you be upset? If you found that your ex-spouse was mistreating someone else the same way they treated you, would you merely shrug it off in indifference?
And if you honestly didn’t care about any of that, would that make you a good person? Would it make you a better person than someone who did care about their children from a failed marriage, their ex-mother-in-law, and the person their ex found to mistreat after them?
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org. She authors the Mormon Therapist Blog, hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, writes a regular column for Sunstone Magazine and is the current president of the Mormon Mental Health Association. She has 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.