Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hide Your Wives

Kim and I made our way to the stake center just before 4:30 this afternoon. My stake president was waiting outside his office door, asked our names and shook our hands, then invited Kim to sit on the couch while I followed him into his office. My bishop was sitting in a chair next to the stake president's chair.

Me:  I have already met with him and I won't talk to him about this again.
SP:  Okay. Well, you and I can visit for a few minutes and then I'll have him come back in at the end.

I shook my head. My bishop gathered his belongings and left the office and I took a chair. It's important to mention that I felt an immediate coolness in the air, or lack of the spirit. I sensed right away that he had made up his mind about me and that it wouldn't matter what I said.

SP started telling me everything he knew about me, which he learned from my bishop. He understood that I had been excommunicated before for committing adultery with another married woman. He knew I had also had an inappropriate relationship with another woman years before, although I had not committed adultery with her. He knew I had a girlfriend and that I'm divorced. I confirmed all of this. He then told me how he doesn't have a personal problem with gay and lesbian people, and that he knows several of them. "They're honest and law-abiding people and some of the greatest I know." Okay? After 10-15 minutes of him talking, unable to make much eye contact with me, he allowed me to speak.

Me:  I met with my bishop last week and I think it's important to tell you what I felt. There was never a moment of compassion and it definitely was not handled with the spirit of love. I felt as though he was interrogating me the entire time, ready to convict me at a moment's notice, and all of it was based on rumors. I have met with many bishops and stake presidents in my life, even about this issue, and each time I have always known where they stand. They don't condone my behavior, yet they always had compassion and the pure love of Christ. I struggle to know that this didn't happen last week with my bishop.

I don't remember what he said at this point, but eventually he mentioned that there were two reasons to be called in for a disciplinary council.

SP:  One reason is if you told me that you have a girlfriend and that you held her hand sexually (what the??!?), kissed, put your arms around each other, had sexual relations, etc. The second reason, and I'll ask you this in a minute, is if I asked you if you had sexual relations with her and you told me you did. But if you tell me right now, honestly, that you haven't done any of those things with her then I could show you in the handbook where it says we wouldn't have to have a disciplinary council.
Me:  I have struggled with the church a lot in the past 1 1/2 years. I just recently started coming back to church. I don't understand why I'm not being given the opportunity to approach you or my bishop with any confession I might feel necessary.
SP:  You're being given that opportunity right now.
Me:  No, I'm not. I feel as though you're trying to chase me away.
SP:  There are a couple of reasons for excommunication. One is to bring the person closer to Christ. The other is to protect the name of the church.
Me:  How is this bringing me closer to Christ? And how does this protect the name of the church?
SP:  Do you have children?
Me:  Yes.
SP:  How many?
Me:  Three.
SP:  Do you love them?
Me:  Of course.
SP:  Do you want to save them from harm?
Me:  Yes.
SP:  Would you allow someone to come into your home and teach them all about the benefits of smoking?
Me:  No.
SP:  Would you let someone shut themselves in a room with your children and smoke?
Me:  (confused). No.
SP:  Well, it's the same thing.
Me:  I don't understand how that correlates to my situation. I have thought protecting the name of the church meant that if I was in public, doing something terrible, and told everyone I was a Mormon then it would be frowned upon because people might get the idea that all Mormons behaved that way.
SP:  How did your relationship start with the woman you committed adultery with?
Me:  Well, our families were very close and they helped me through a rough time in my life. We grew closer as friends. I had told her and her husband that I am gay, hoping it would provide safety against a potential relationship with her. One day she told me that she wished she was the person who could take away my hurt, that could make me feel loved, at which point she said that she wanted to kiss me. We talked for an hour or so about what a bad idea it would be because we were both married and I wasn't sure she knew what she was getting herself into. We ended up kissing. Of course I knew it was wrong because we were both married.
SP:  If you hadn't been married, do you believe it would have been wrong?
Me:  No. But I know that the church believes it's wrong.
SP:  (somewhat relieved) Okay.
SP:  What about the woman you had a relationship with that you just kissed? How did that happen?
Me:  I didn't even know I was gay at that point. It was a difficult time in my life and she was a good friend who was trying to comfort me. She would hug me and eventually started kissing me on the cheek as I was crying. We started kissing on the closed mouth. I believe she was just trying to comfort a friend and it meant something completely different to her than it did me. That was all that happened.

A few times he mentioned that he didn't think I understood his position, or my bishop's position. I told him I was very aware of how the church runs. I told him that if I were to commit a sin that I knew was against the commandments, that I would believe I would be subject to discipline. I still believe that it should be my choice whether or not to confess.

Me:  My bishop refused to tell me what he knew or how he knew it.
SP:  Well, sometimes we are bound by confidentiality.
Me:  The only way he could know that I was sexually involved with my girlfriend is if he had seen us with his own eyes, which he didn't. Nobody has seen me sexually involved with my girlfriend.
SP:  What does "girlfriend" mean to you.
Me:  It means a lot of different things. She's a very important part of my life. She's my significant other. Anything beyond that isn't your concern.

Somewhere during this time he told me that he doesn't feel I really understand the nature of God. I was livid.

Me:  I would NEVER presume that you, or anyone else, didn't know the nature of God. It's a very personal thing and my relationship with Him is my own. I would never tell someone else that they didn't really know.

He talked again about protecting the name of the church and I was still confused. At one point he said something that made me feel as though he was scared that I'd continue to have relationships with women in my ward/stake.

Me:  (flabbergasted and angry) Are you suggesting that I'll purposely find women in my ward/stake to have relationships with?
SP:  No, not purposely. But it has "just happened before," hasn't it?
Me:  (voice raised) Are you serious? So, I don't understand. If I'm excommunicated because of speculation, I'm going to still come to church. I'll still be around women. What then?
SP:  Well, at that point, if something like this happened again, you would no longer be welcome.
Me:  (starting to cry). My father has sinned a lot in his life. He would never be turned away if he started to go to church. I have a very hard time believing that if Christ were on this earth today that he would run His church this way. He wouldn't turn anyone away!
SP:  Do you read the Book of Mormon?
Me:  Yes.
SP:  Do you believe that it's true?
Me:  Yes.
SP:  Do you believe that God will send his wrath down upon those who are evil?
Me:  (did he just call me evil??) Yes.
SP:  Okay then.
Me:  This conversation is over. You will have to do whatever you feel you need to do but it will purely be based on speculation. I'm unwilling to discuss this any longer. (I stood up to leave).
SP:  Let me just read something to you.
Me:  No! This conversation is over.

I walked out the door and said to Kim, "Let's go," and she followed me out the door.

So, a brief run-down. I am evil. I am a predator. I will be escorted out of the building should this ever happen again. The meeting with my bishop last week, as well as my meeting with the SP tonight, was not started with a word of prayer to invite the spirit. Their minds were made up before ever speaking with me. The whole thing feels like a witch hunt and I'm very saddened. I guess time will tell what my fate will be.


Jessica said...

For you to be treated this way, there must be things that he knows (or thinks he knows) that he's not telling you.

Wendy said...

Unbelievable. My heart hurts for you.

Neal said...

i'm so sorry... :(

IceQueen said...

Disgusting. Don't understand how they think that this is acting how Christ would act. The Christ I believe in actively interacted with lepers, women caught in adultery, and all other sorts of people that had been cast out. He didn't freak out when he was touched by a woman who would be considered "unclean" because of an issue of blood beyond her control. He most certainly didn't cast people out of his presence who wanted to be there. On the other hand, he had very little nice to say about church leaders who were so caught up in rules and regulations that they lost sight of how to feed Christ's sheep. Sorry you have to experience this.

Ex Hubby said...

I am absolutely livid at the lack of compassion and Christ-like attributed shown by these two men. Seriously threatening her that she is not welcome? What are they going to do? Have the elders quorum physically escort her from the building?!?

I know that I need to let go Of my anger and be content in the knowledge that they will have to answer for their lack of compassion and understanding - but I'm not quite there yet.

I also wonder if they realize that their actions are affecting more than just one person. Do they think that I will be ready and willing for re-fellowship once my "evil" ex has been dealt with? Their actions are making it so I never want to deal with either of these men again.

FindingMyWay said...

Jess - he has said he not only "feels" things, but he also "knows" something. He refuses to tell me anything more.

ExHubby - I'm trying to let go of the anger as well. It's not a good feeling and I know it'd be better to turn it over to my Savior. It's an unfortunate situation and I'm sad that it's affecting more than just me. I hate that it makes you question and doubt. We can hang in there and be bigger people, I just know it. Let's just agree to avoid these two and we should be fine.

Thanks, everyone, for you words and support!

Anon said...

Your experience is common to so many others. The church's leadership is not love or acceptance, but about control and retribution. I hope you have found your way to peace and happiness.