Sunday, December 9, 2012

going to church with my boyfriend

Last night, the choir I sing with put on a concert at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland (pictured above).  After the concert, Ryan and I decided it would be interesting to attend Sunday services.  A big part of the reason for me wanting to attend is that it's a gorgeous church with a fantastic organ and beautiful stained glass windows.  I kind of wish Mormon churches weren't so cookie cutter and utilitarian.  There's something about worshiping in a beautiful space that's so much more appealing to me.  Another reason for wanting to attend is that it's a progressive Christian church and is up front in its messaging about being LGBT friendly.  As I've thought about it, it's interesting (read: sad) that churches need to specify that they are welcoming to diversity.  I'm sure the LDS church would say that it also welcomes diversity, but maybe doesn't realize how some of their actions/messaging speak louder to the contrary.

I haven't really attended many other church services in my life.  I went to a Catholic funeral in high school and I went to maybe one or two evangelical church services on my mission in Brazil, but that's about it.  Possibly one of the my favorite parts of the service was singing happy birthday to Agnes, who turned 95 today.  Agnes was beaming and held up both hands and waved at everyone.  Completely precious.  The music was also so much better.  Having a professional play a real organ with guest musicians playing Vivaldi and Dvorak in a string quartet didn't hurt.  It was also nice that any time politics crept into the shared messages, it was politics that I agreed with.  I'm used to cringing or bracing myself any time politics comes up in talks or lessons at church.  It was also just nice to be at church with my boyfriend.  My (Mormon) bishop has told me that Ryan is welcome to come to church with me, which is nice, but there's something about the idea of being there with him and knowing that many or most of my fellow ward members would consider the relationship inherently broken, unhealthy or sinful that doesn't sound appealing.  It was nice to be with him in a church setting that sees the relationship as just as good and healthy as any other relationship.

I suppose it sounds like I'm ready to ditch Mormonism for the UCC.  I wouldn't say that.  There is some bizarre (and perhaps masochistic) part of myself that enjoys swimming upstream in Mormonism.  I also think there is some richness and mystery to Mormon theology that isn't present elsewhere.  I guess my approach to truth could be summed up in the following excerpt from one of Joseph Smith's sermons: "Have the Presbyterians any truth?  Embrace that.  Have the Baptists, Methodists and so forth?  Embrace that.  Get all the good in the world, and you will come out a pure Mormon."


  1. Had my aunt not passed away last year, you would have met her there today. She was a member of that congregation her entire life and sang in its choir.

    I was thinking today about how little we could embrace music more during church. We are apparently doing two musical numbers because of Christmas. I wish we did that ever Sunday.

    (and you sounded great last night.)

  2. There is so much that I love about this post. I feel the same way about the richness and mystery in Mormon theology that appeals to me. I wonder why that is on a regular basis (I even love that why it appeals to me so much is a mystery). Though I am in a "traditional Mormon marriage" I also feel that I am swimming upstream in Mormonism, though I guess you could say that I am doing it silently. I sit so often and feel that only a fraction of myself fits into Mormonism (it fits so comfortably though) and then there is that part of me that I feel will never fit completely into Mormonism. It is that part of myself that I wonder what to do with.
    I love that you found a beautiful spot to be with your boyfriend, and that you found some truth there.

  3. Ha ha, I love your last paragraph. I think the very nature of Mormonism draws in those of us who like "swimming upstream" ideologically, theologically, spiritually.

  4. I love this. I also love that your Mormon bishop welcomed Ryan to come with you to the ward. Progress! I wish we had more beautiful churches and more liberal politics, but like you, there's something good for my soul in being challenged.

  5. Jane, it is also sometimes a mystery to me why Mormonism appeals to me. I can think of some reasons why, but none that are completely satisfying.

    Sara, JaneAnne was telling me that her father-in-law and his partner go to church there as well.

  6. embrace what is good in the world :) you should read john muir. he was totally about finding what was good in the world in nature, but he has some awesome words of wisdom.

  7. Great quote. Interesting your bishop said Ryan could come to church with you. I wonder what he would say about you two holding hands during the sacrament or the talks. Wonder how "ok" he would be with it then.

    But I agree with not wanting to ditch the LDS church. I just can't see myself feeling as at home as I do with the LDS. I may feel judged, but it is home for me, and I feel has the most truth.

    I enjoy watching your example of balancing your life Jon. Thank you!