Religion and family are two of the five major sociological institutions that derive culture, and Utah places heavy emphasis on both.
Family is one of the most powerful facets within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; it is one of the driving forces of eternal life and creates a great amount of pressure within the community.
This pressure causes many of the church’s “shining stars” to become inactive and recede from the sect of Christianity, leaving their families behind in the process. In other instances, individuals are forced to choose between their religion and their relationships with their family.
For a lot of members within the church, they feel stuck within the religion with nowhere else to go or turn to. For many LGBT members, the idea of excommunication brings about a fear of being disowned from family.
The church teaches it is perfectly natural to have same-sex attraction, but those who act on their attraction, enter into same-sex relationships, or actively support same sex marriage are sinful. For this reason, many LGBT and non-LGBT members within the church feel trapped within the religion and harbor ill feelings toward its practices.
Being a member of the church and a member of the LGBT community, I have become a walking contradiction within the religious community. I have watched as friends have hid their relationships from their families out of fear. I have heard terrible things first hand from members of the church about my “lifestyle.”
LGBT members are not the only ones facing discrimination; however, The hypocrisy within the church itself drives many of its members away. It’s easy to fall into this mindset of perfection is equivalent to righteousness.
Excommunication is a tactic of the church which has been well disguised. In popular culture, excommunication is more closely associated with Scientology, a religion in which members use science to “clear the world” of crime and injustice. Excommunication typically means a member is no longer welcome to church functions or sacrament meetings, but some members take it to an extreme.
Families will leave their excommunicated children, parents or siblings based off the idea that those who have fallen from the ordained path risk the eternal happiness of those close to them.
On the other hand, I have also known people who have had to leave their families to join the church. Before I was baptised, I did not tell my parents. I was afraid they would not approve, and there are people whose families completely disagree with their decisions to join the church.
Unfortunately, despite the great amount of influence both religion and family have over culture and each individual, there is a great disconnect between the two institutions. Families are ripped apart, and young adults are pushed into choosing between their past and their prospective futures.
Only when the two foundations are able to come together in a common goal is there going to be an open discussion between families and the individual deciding whether to join or break away from a sect of religion. This goal should be simple: the well-being of the individual.