Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ritualizing Relationships

I have a friend who is seriously considering resigning his membership in the Church.  He told me that one of the main hurdles he has faced in doing so is his children:  he is concerned about what effect it may have on his already strained relationships with them.  You see, they have been raised to be faithful members of the Church.  What will they think if their father rejects much of what they have been taught?

But beyond this, he was concerned – at least for a time – about the temple ordinances that had “sealed” his children to him.  What effect would his resignation have on those ordinances, he wondered? 

But then, almost immediately, he realized that he was still giving credence to a belief system in which he had lost faith.  How strong the indoctrination!  How deep the roots had sunk (!) in a system that had taught him that his relationships with his children were dependent on rituals, rather than on strong, true and authentic emotions and experiences.

He pondered how he had bought into this system, which encouraged him to subject his relationship with his children to its demands, that taught him to constantly judge his children and himself, that “ritualized” his relationships with them.  (Wierdly, his thoughts turned toward the Malfoys and how the love they felt for their son had worked to redeem them from the outer darkness of Voldemort's dark world.)

How different things would be, he mused, if his religion emphasized that what “sealed” him to his children were not rituals in a building, but rather feelings of love and acceptance, of validation and caring, of tenderness and devotion.

But, alas, he knew that, as much as he might believe this, as much as he might wish this, there would be those among his children, not to mention his ex-wife and others, who would never look past the ritual and who would judge based on this myopic view.  This realization filled him with a certain amount of sadness, to be sure; but it also kindled within him a desire to nevertheless strive to overcome this toxic legacy and to seek to love his children all the more purely, not as means to an eternal end, but for the glorious persons whom they are and for the sheer humanity of doing so.  


  1. It's sad, but the mormon community is saturated with bad karma... and that's not even a slight of the church or doctrines. Lord help us!

  2. "love them...for the glorious persons whom they are and for the sheer humanity of doing so."
    The sheer humanity of doing so. This is so important. I'm not LDS, I'm catholic. I have a better than average knowledge of LDS, but must confess I'm confused by many things - sealing and expectations about eternity and the sheer effort being LDS seems to entail. I'm not very mainstream catholic, being gay and all. And am probably a universalist catholic, if there can really be such a thing. I believe the love of God is so enormous; I agree with John Langland, "But all the wickedness in the world which man may do or think is no more to the mercy of God than a live coal dropped in the sea." I trust that he loves me and wants me to love humanity as he does; for the sheer humanity.
    Thank you again. I appreciate your profound thinking and openness.

  3. To the best of my knowledge, the Church Handbook of Instructions (last edition I saw) said that the resignation or excommunication of a member did not affect the sealing of that person's children to the person. Seems a little strange, but that's what I read. And it's comforting if the person still places any faith in the ordinance despite resigning or being ex'd.