This is a comment I left on a friends blog. I think it addresses some key issues. I wanted to share it here.
The more and more I read your blogs the more and more I want to point out that I think your biggest problem is that you have confused the culture of the church with the doctrine.
If you or your friends, including ATP and who else may be reading this reads this comment and if I can say one thing that you will take serious and ponder, I ask that you read this. I will repost it to my blog and I seriously would like to have comments on it. Please know that I'm am trying to write you with true love and reassurance. I feel I know your heart even if we don't see eye to eye.
A. The doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way that we will ever come to the Savior. It is true. It is THE ONLY way to gain exultation and salvation. The atonement is the key.
B. The Church of Jesus Christ is true. It is divinely led by inspiration. Christ is at the head of the Church. It is led on Earth by men who are inspired but who are also NOT perfect.
C. Mormonism is a culture. There are many good and wonderful things about this culture. But there are also many things that are dogmatic that aren't true. And yes a lot of the culture is at odds with the doctrine. You can be as good a Latter-day Saint living far off in the littlest branch with not the slightest bit of Mormon Culture. As long as you live the doctrine and keep the commandments.
There are three parts that I've spoken about. I want to make it clear. They are connected. But only the first is Eternal. The second will lead you to and keep you true to the first. The third is only a product of both, but in itself its worthless. That's why being culturally Mormon won't save you.
There are things that are true that are doctrine that to be honest are hard to accept because they go against our own personal desires and wants. There are things that we are ask to sacrifice in obiendence. There are things that we need to accept as true in faith. And there are things that aren't really that important.
There are things like Pres Monson said in the Priesthood session are like little strings that we carry in our pockets that will keep us from the things that are really important.
There are things that keep people from being friends that shouldn't. And yes there are people that if you listen to them will convince you that things that are true are false and that a key element of agency is the ability to choose without fear what is wicked and what will rob you of eternal blessing and that because we aren't to judge others we have a license to sin with out any consequences.
But there are also those who some would call monsters who are just wounded souls needing love and acceptance and tolerance. Most of all they need to feel like they are children of God and not spiritual orphans. I know I need to forgive some of those people who may have offended me as those who are simply lashing out because of hurt in their own lives.
I don't know what else I can say. I accept you as a friend and brother. It's up to you to accept me. I can't help what you think of me, but I have all the power over what I think about you.
I wish you would realize that the gospel is true. That the church needs people like you to help those who do struggle. You can be the most faithful member of the church. You are a smart guy, you know the difference between culture, dogma and true doctrine.
Keep the faith, pray, stay close to the Spirit. Reach out. A friend of mines mother once gave him good advice about choosing friends. If you are spending time with people who you know are are doing things that are wrong. Just be careful. If your good habits rub off on them, awesome. You may be the only light they have in their life. But if you risk having their bad habits rub off on you then you need to be careful and may need to step back.
At any rate, everyone needs love and acceptance even people like me. I'll keep you in my prayers and I will always consider you a friend.