I have read with some sadness a few post on LDS blogs that have explored the idea of what sort of line would the church have to cross that would cause you to leave the church. I left a comment on one that seemed pretty profound to me, but seemed ignored by everyone else (which may actually be a good sign). The comment was a song lyric that goes, “The way out is the way in.” What I mean by that is that some event that would cause you to leave the church would (or maybe better should) be similar to what moved you into the church in the first place.
There can be several reasons why someone is a member of the church, I would like to bring up some examples to show what I mean by the above.
I, like many others. am an active member of the church because I have had a handful of real, meaningful, spiritual experiences that have made be feel ‘converted’, ‘changed’, or ‘born again’. So for me simply leaving the church would be an act of disloyalty to the God who provided these experiences. I simply could not dare to do that. I suspect that for many folks like me, it would take some type of personal revelation to leave. Almost no matter what the church might do or say, unless personal revelation says otherwise, the loyalty would remain. The way out is the way in.
There are probably members of the church out there that are members mostly for social reasons. They have friends or family members that are members of the church, so they have decided to be members also. For them the church is mostly a social network that is meaningful to them. I suspect for people like this, as long as the social aspects of church membership are favorable, they wile likely stay. But if the social advantages fail in any significant way, they will probably bail. Again, the way out is the way in.
Most people have a set of values that are important to them, and for a lack of a better term I might call this politics. For this group, the ideals taught by the church, or what they might call the gospel, is why they participate – the church seems to align with their political opinions and values pretty well. So as long as this general alignment is maintained all will be well. If, however, something changes, and their political opinions are violated by a teaching or action by the church, their continued membership in the church could be in jeopardy. You get the pattern by now, the way out is the way in.
I would encourage anyone who may be thinking of leaving the church due to some recent current events to ask yourself why you are a member in the first place. Some reasons are better than others. And hopefully you will not let something of lesser importance cause you to leave.