Friday, April 13, 2012

Defending the Church

At work the other night, a coworker and I were discussing our families--specifically, relationships that are strained because of some unspoken barrier.  She was using the example of her grandfather, who tended to neglect his family because of the influence of his second wife.  I used the example of my parents, whose interactions with me have been awkward over the past few years because I left the church.  She'd heard that I was Mormon before but we'd never directly discussed it.  Because it was the first time we'd talked about it, her curiosity got the best of her.

"So," she asked, "Does your dad have more than one wife?"
"No," I said.  And then I came across a weird problem.

When I got similar questions while I was in the church, it was imperative that I answer in defense of the church.  (Tell her we don't practice polygamy!  If you have to mention a time frame, make sure to emphasize how long it's been since we stopped!)  But I didn't have to do that.

"That hasn't been officially practiced since 1890-ish," I said.

She had no idea.  She felt really bad for not knowing.  She apologized profusely for misunderstanding and for offending me and for being ignorant, etc, etc.  So I put her mind at ease by explaining that there were still plenty of fundamentalists practicing polygamy and that some people in the church still practice it in secrecy.  That's not something I would have said five years ago.

It was very strange to remember the reflex to defend the church and deliver diplomatic answers...and ignore it completely.  It's very nice to be free of that impulse.

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