The account below is a composite of the stories of two individuals, male & female, disfellowshipped & excommunicated, currently under discipline & long reconciled to the Church. They are known to the M* editors, but at least one has requested their name be withheld.
The authors hope that their response to the hurt they endured during their respective times of distance from the body of the Church might inform those who feel estranged from the Church over the matter of same gender marriage.
Bishoprics have been instructed to read a letter from the First Presidency sometime in the next two Sundays on the issue of homosexual marriage, and our responsibilities towards the Lord (first) and towards those who struggle with or disagree on this issue (second). The Bloggernacle, as you can imagine, is abuzz with proposed actions in response. How could they do that? Who’s hands were forced? Who is responsible? And, most often, how are we to deal with the hurt?
It is the last of these that we want to address, because we have something to share on this subject. You see, we have each been disciplined by the Church. As a result of our respective messy divorces, Priesthood leadership became involved. We were each in our time cut off from full fellowship with the Church.[ref]Divorce, alone, is not cause for Church discipline in the LDS faith.[/ref]
The losses you experience when this happens are real. When the fact of the discipline was inappropriately revealed to members of our families, we felt betrayed by our leaders. We know what it means to be buffeted by Satan. Nevertheless, the Lord has been with us and provided strength and comfort in other ways.
Others in our circumstances have simply left. But we continued to attend Church.
As one of us relates, “The three hours during that block meeting after I was [disciplined] were the longest three hours of my life. Everything reminded me of what had been taken from me. When the meetings ended, I returned home and wept. And the next week, I did it all over again.”
We continued to go to Church despite the pain we felt because there is no where else to go. Peter was right. No other place has the words of Eternal Life. No other place is where God wants us to be. He wants us at Church.
To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, it is more important that the Lord has His Church upon the Earth than that we happen to be members of it. The Gospel is true, even if remaining dedicated to the Church might cause us a season of pain. Every tear we cry will be dried by Our Savior. In the meantime, the only thing for us was to endure and beg Him to stand by us and give us the strength to do what we needed to do until the day when we could rejoin the fellowship of His Church.
So to all of those who wonder how they can deal with the hurt from the First Presidency letter being read this Sunday, we can only testify that we and others do hurt and have hurt. Despite that hurt, we will be there this Sunday and every other Sunday thereafter – because there is no where else to go. We encourage the same for each of you – hurting or no, there is no other place for you to be this Sunday than in Church. Trust the Lord to carry the hurt that you can’t carry and to mend your wounds (whatever they may be and however deep they go). But go, be in Church, for that is the place to go to find the words of Eternal Life.