Awhile back, one of my three readers asked me what I thought about the LDS Church, given that Mitt Romney is a choir boy therefrom.
It happens that I personally brushed up against this particular branch of religion many decades ago, when I was a late teen. I can't remember if this was before or after God told the church's bishop that black men could be Elders.
I had a high school boyfriend who was deeply dedicated to the LDS church. As I was dedicated to the boy, we talked about his church quite a bit. It seems that at a dark time in his family's life, some missionaries had come to the door and amended things. (Apparently this family patch was incompletely applied, because my boyfriend lived in the projects with his mom and four siblings, Dad having disappeared.)
My boyfriend loved his church, and he was deeply distressed that he didn't have the money to go on mission. He had to work to help support his family -- and the church, which skimmed ten percent, whether it came from Marie Osmond or the kid making milkshakes at the Dairy Queen.
One night my boyfriend asked to talk to me outside my house. He was deeply agitated. He had met with the leader of the local LDS church to confess that he had committed the sin ... the sin ... he couldn't say the word, but it has to do with self-pleasure. The church leader chided him and suggested that he either get me to convert and marry me, or dump me and keep himself in a state of exhaustion with a cold shower nearby.
I really liked the guy, but I was 18 and a newly-minted college freshman. I also was skeptical of a church that had such a low opinion of turtledove love (my term, I like it better than "masturbation"). I became further skeptical when I took a stab at reading the Book of Mormon, which seemed to me incomprehensible.
Still, I thought I should suspend my disbelief and attend church with boyfriend a few times. I thought I was in love with the guy, and although the prospect of a hasty early marriage did not appeal, I wasn't ready to dump him.
I attended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Sunday service twice.
It wasn't the crazy extra book that appalled me.
It wasn't even the rules against turtledove love.
It was the women.
Here is what I saw on those two Sunday mornings: Profoundly exhausted women sitting in pews with stair-step children (as many as eight in one case), often holding another baby, or pregnant. Whew. When you're a young girl at life's doorstep, you need only take one or two good looks at that to run in the other direction, screaming for The Pill.
When I demurred from further immersion in the LDS church, the boyfriend dumped me. After crying over him for a few days, I got to thinking about the bullet I'd dodged.
I often think about that bullet today. I can still picture those wretched mega-moms, slumped in the plain pews, fighting to stay awake or to keep the kids quiet, or to contain the squirming toddler despite a bloated, pregnant belly. What kind of life is that? What kind of church sets that up as an ideal, in an overpopulated world?
This is a site with a big, broad, flexible outlook, so I say, if you want to be a Mormon, knock yourself out. But every time I look at Mitt Romney, I wonder whether he was successful in the daunting task of abstaining from turtledove love. I also wonder if I want a president who looks at such a thing as a sin. After all, he does belong to that church. And that church lists its sins. And why does he only have a few kids? Suspicious. He should have about a dozen.
Church of Jesus Christ of LDS? Not for me. And they must know it, because I get Jehovah's Witnesses at my door all the time, and I've never gotten a pair of those pinch-faced Mormon missionary boys. If I do, I will be hard-pressed not to torment them with questions about turtledove love.
I've labeled this post with an alternate spelling for Mormon. I suspect I will be using this alternate spelling in future posts about Mitt.