Content warning: reference to unspecified sexual assault.
This story is part of our Mixed-Faith Marriage series, exploring the journeys and insights of active Latter-day Saint women married to men who are not members of the Church or who have left the Church. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.
By Anonymous, California, USA
My first boyfriend was a poster child for the church: intelligent, active, and preparing to serve a mission. He’d shaken the hand of the prophet and held several youth leadership roles. He sexually assaulted me before and after his mission. He now serves as a bishop.
When another young LDS man in my ward repeatedly used sexually charged language about me in front of not only me, but half an Elders’ Quorum, I worked up the courage to speak to my bishopric about his gossip. They listened, but nothing changed. The young man began to stalk me, and damaged my belongings. I returned to the bishopric, and this time was more specific about the sexual content of the young man’s remarks and behavior. I was told that the gossip accusation was enough, and I didn’t need to “make up” a sexual component. The local LDS therapist told me I needed to go to church, but simply arrive late and leave early to avoid the young man. The bishop sent me a letter telling me I just needed to “date more.”
I did date more. A young LDS man told me he loved me, but “God didn’t want him to be happy,” so we could no longer be together. A young LDS man laughed in his car as I struggled to open the passenger door he knew was broken, and told me that God clearly wanted us to make out. A young LDS man told me that he “appreciated my modesty,” but I should take off my shirt.
I know so many good, loving, kind LDS men. But I also know so many cruel, abusive LDS men who embody Matthew’s dictum about the whited sepulchre. When a kind, intelligent, non-denominational Christian young man asked me on a date, I took a chance. I said yes. I dated him for a year. He respected my boundaries. He continued to be kind. He proposed, and I said yes. And I have never looked back.
We share a belief in the goodness of God and of the majority of humanity. We share an urgent desire to work together to improve the lot of our neighbors and our world. Most importantly to me, we do not share a culture of patriarchy and performative religion.
My husband will never assume he has the final say in our family decisions. He does not “preside” over me. He is not perfect, but if he proves hypocritical to his humanist, feminist beliefs, I can, if necessary, leave him without a community pushing me back into contact with him at every turn.
My worship is now personal and private. It’s between me and the Lord. Now that I’m out of the young single adult ward, I’m discovering the joy of church attendance being solely about God, with no awkward, distracting, terrifying social component. I attend church alone, but I attend it with full purpose of heart, and it’s more joyful to me now than it has ever been. I feel confident that God’s grace will make room in heaven for both me and my non-member husband, who daily does his best to live by Christ’s words.
When I first started dating my now-husband, I prayed to know if I should continue the relationship. I did not receive an impression from God one way or the other, so I chose to follow my heart and my head. I feel that I have, after the fact, finally received my answer. Through my loving, wonderful, imperfect marriage, God witnesses to me every day that I made the right decision for myself.