I recognize that there are some Mormons who confront many of the same issues I have, but still believe in the church, or, at the very least, stay in the church. Sometimes I fail to understand them, and sometimes they fail to understand me. Here are some of the common questions a stayer may ask a leaver, and my answers.
So the church isn't perfect. So what? Why expect perfection?
I'm not looking for a perfect church or one true church--everyone and everything has flaws. Fine. But at least acknowledge mistakes and problems, apologize for them, and learn from them--don't cover them up, deny them, and pretend like all the damage that comes from them is the fault of the victims. This is what the church has done. I don't expect to find another religion that is perfect and has the "true" conduit to God, just as I do not expect to find the "one true marital relationship" that I should emulate. But I do expect a religion, or any organization or relationship, to serve and help its members, not abuse them. An abusive situation should be fixed, and left, if necessary.
Why don't you feel an obligation to stay in the church and try to improve it?
When I was questioning, I saw a "brain drain" where all the people actually educated about the church were leaving. How could we ever improve it if everyone who sees the problems leaves? I desperately wanted to stay in order to help. People have tried that, and have given up for many valid reasons. For some people it's not worth the fight; there is just too much baggage and too much compromise of integrity and conscience to stay and support such an institution. The church just doesn't allow for a grassroots approach; it quashes "arc-steadiers"; it excommunicates; it correlates.Why worry about the Truth of the church? Why not focus instead on the Good of the church?
There were two parts to my leaving: First I asked, Is it true? For me, the evidence pointed to NO! And then I asked, Is it good? Can I stay anyway? If no church is "true," why not just stay in the one I was raised in and avoid the pain and heartache of leaving and hurting my family? I asked myself, Does the church uplift, edify, strengthen, and make my life and the lives of my family better? My answer was, No, actually, it doesn't. In addition, it hurts intellectuals, women, homosexuals, youth, the drug-addicted, ethnic minorities, the down-and-out, the poor. Even though most of those labels don't apply to me personally or to my family, they apply to many human beings. I must support them over the institution that hurts or ignores them. It took my attending one other church's service one time for me to realize the Mormon church is not bringing the most joy. Not even close.
There are opportunities for service in the church. Why not stay and serve?
Serve who? The dead? Service in the church is bringing your non-member neighbor cookies and smiling at them (in hopes, of course, that they'll eventually convert); it's teaching in Sunday School stuff you don't believe; it's acting as ward clerk and knowing everyone's private financial matters for a church that demands 10% but doesn't give any of it back (or let us know where it's going); it's exacting confessions from people whose only "sin" was acting on their love and natural, biological drive. How about participating in soup kitchens instead, like so many other churches do, to help keep the hungry and homeless alive? Plenty of service opportunities are out there outside the church, and most of them actually involve helping others.
Surely you can engage with Mormonism on your own terms. Why not approach it cafeteria- style?
Is there really that much flexibility? I can be a recommend-holding woman who wears slacks to church? I can be a non-believing member--who has to discuss my personal spirituality to an acquaintance I would probably have no other reason to talk to (bishop)--and be kept from holding any significant role that has any possibility to actually change anything, even at the ward level? (Oh, but I forget, simply by being female, believer or not, I am already stuck in that position.)