Those of who read this blog faithfully, or know me well, or, really, talked to me for at least 30 seconds when I'm in a mood, know that I really struggle with living in Utah. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one of the big ones is the overwhelming influence the LDS Church, of which I am a member, has on the political, social, cultural and governmental spheres of the state. From the perspective of one who grew up with only two or three LDS friends and went to college in a city that had one singles ward, adusting to life in Mormonville was rough. And it hasn't gotten easier over the years.
However, I need to say something loud and clear: I am a Mormon. I am a Mormon because I choose to be, every day of my life. With all of my heart, I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. That unbelievable story about a 14-year-old boy talking to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ -- I believe it. That Jesus Christ died so I could repent of my sins -- true. That the purpose of this life is to prepare me for something greater -- eternal life with my family, through the sealing power that is exercised in the temple, and with Heavenly Father -- I know. That I'll see my dad again and that he'll be whole and so will I and we will have pure joy -- all 100 percent true.
The difficulty I have here isn't with the gospel. Living in Utah requires dealing with the LDS Church as an entity like unto any other -- one filled with bureaucracy, lobbyists, good people, bad people, public relations, paperwork, interpretation, growth and unreturned phone calls. There are legislators who won't vote on contentious issues until they know what the church says. There are zealots who write to me and to the paper under the (mistaken) impression that questioning a move by the church is apostate. There are lawmakers, role models and leaders who are LDS who do very unChristian things. And because we're all so concentrated here, there are many, many more of each of these groups, until it becomes suffocating.
In short, I struggle with the people. I struggle with the culture. But not the gospel. I have been blessed in that, while certain aspects of membership in the LDS Church have not always been simple, the gospel as a whole has never been a sticking point. And no matter how I feel about LDS culture, I will always be a Mormon.