I am a 5th generation Mormon, primarily through the Benson and Parkinson family lines.
I was raised in Katy, TX, served a mission in Guatemala/Tempe, AZ, and attended BYU as an undergraduate. I married my wife, Margaret Weber Dehlin, in the Washington D.C. temple, and worked for 15 years in the high tech industry, including positions at Bain & Company, Microsoft, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 2009 I left my career in high tech to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical, counseling, and school psychology at Utah State University. My clinical and research interests involve the nexus of religion and mental health. My master’s thesis focused on developing a treatment for religion-based obsessive compulsive disorder (i.e., Scrupulosity). My dissertation focused on the experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Mormons — with a specific focus on the prevalence, ineffectiveness, and harm of sexual orientation change efforts for LGBT Mormons and former Mormons.
I have deep love for the LDS church, for its members, and for its former members. At present, I consider myself to be an unorthodox, unorthoprax Mormon. I believe in many of the central, non-distinctive moral teachings within Mormonism (e.g., love, kindness, charity, forgiveness, faith, hope), but either have serious doubts about, or no longer believe many of the fundamental LDS church truth claims (e.g., anthropomorphic God, “one true church with exclusive authority,” that the current LDS church prophet receives privileged communications from God, that The Book of Mormon and The Book of Abraham are translations, polygamy, racist teachings in the Book of Mormon, that ordinances are required for salvation, proxy work for the dead).
I do not believe that anyone has any idea what God and/or the afterlife are really like (if these things, indeed, exist at all). And so, while I respect non-judgmental forms of religious belief, I believe that believers walk by hope/faith alone (not knowledge), and that non-believers are to be respected for their courage to disbelieve. I believe that when science and religion collide, science almost always wins and religion retreats, and that this historical fact should lead religious people to respect/embrace, and not fear/reject science and reason.
I believe that many LDS church leaders have good intentions, but I am deeply troubled by their historical and current treatment of women, racial and sexual minorities, and scientists/intellectuals (see here for Example A). I am also troubled by their historical and current approaches to faith/doubt, sexuality, the pursuit of vast commercial interests along with financial non-disclosure, the coercion/shaming of members through the withholding of temple and priesthood privileges, and the current culture of leader worship within the LDS church. I believe that the discouraging of criticism of LDS church leaders is possibly the single most pernicious and damaging aspect of LDS church culture — and that sunlight and candor are ultimately the best disinfectants.
I am dedicating the remaining years of my life to: 1) helping minimize the harm, and maximize the good within religious and secular cultures, and 2) helping those who are transitioning away from religious orthodoxy find joy, meaning, and fulfillment in their lives, families, and communities — whether within, or outside of a formal church structure.
I am currently in the final year of my Ph.D., and am scheduled to open up a private psychology practice in the Fall of 2015, focusing on: 1) religious faith transitions, 2) marital conflict due to religious differences, 3) religion-related anxiety (e.g., Scrupulosity), 4) sexual issues in a religious context (e.g., healthier and more effective approaches to sensitive issues like masturbation, sexuality, and pornography use), and 5) providing support for LGBT individuals from a religious background. If you are in need of help in one of these areas, please feel free to contact me. I will do what I can.
Finally, I am a happily married father to four wonderful children: Anna, Maya, Clara, and Winston. They, along with Margi, are the most important parts of my life — and I am working every day to be a better husband and father to them. Some days, I feel like I am actually making progress in this regard. Will keep trying.