"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: I Left the Laestadian Revival Movement . . .

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I Left the Laestadian Revival Movement . . .

I just found this essay online and am very eager to share it with you. It is by a Finnish woman from Ostrobothnia who left the Laestadian faith ten years ago. I hope she finds comfort and healing. I love her candor and sense a kindred spirit.

Here is an excerpt:

It was emphasised at services that it is not about rules, but rather the fact that a Laestadian wants to operate in a certain way. I recall how I preferred to speak about desires, rather than rules. I was pained to read newspaper articles about things that Laestadians “were not allowed to do”. The question was about what I wanted to do or to choose!
But whose desire was it really all about?
I was not asked what I wanted, or what I felt was important. For instance, the negative stance on birth control was taken in the late 1960s at a meeting of preachers, where only men were present.

I knew already at the age of 13 that I did not want to be the mother of a big family. It was not until I was over the age of 20 that I said out loud that I cannot stand the idea of a big family. My friends answered that “you can’t know in advance what it will be like”.
I was supposed to simply trust that God would give me exactly the right number of children, even if I did not use birth control.
I knew that my mind could not handle such an experiment. I simply did not want to become pregnant reluctantly. My thoughts did not find resonance, because they resounded with the voice of reason, not that of faith.

Some felt that faith is that people are encouraged to push their reason aside in big matters. For me rejecting reason would have been an abandonment of my own psyche.
I was not ready to bend at all in the birth control question, or to hide my opinions. The security of the Laestadian community began to turn into insecurity.


  1. So true! Growing up, I could never picture myself with a big family, or married to a laestadian man because I don't know who all my relatives are. I'm happy that I left, and can decide when I'm ready for another child. Poor ladies who have problems with their pregnancies, and then have to keep having more and more. That must be hard! Then when the doctor recommends that they don't have more for health reasons, they have to go to the preacher for approval. I cannot imagine letting someone else control the number of kids I have!

    A little story about rules--The LLC is during mission work in some African countries such as Togo and Equator. (I'm not sure what other countries) Once in awhile, they men who have been there give slideshow presentations for the congregation to see what is going on there. I remember being at one when I was about 16-17. I noticed that all the African women were still wearing earrings. After there is a discussion, and someone asked "when are they going to be told that earrings are sin?". The reply to that was "God will reveal it to them". How silly is that! If you've been taught all your life that there is nothing wrong with earrings, you are not goign to suddenly think "they're bad", unless someone tells you that, right?!

  2. Thanks for posting this. The part that resonated with me the most was the following:

    Maria urges Raakel to drink alcohol, saying “you have to understand what all of this is”.
    When Raakel asks what it all is, Maria says “Nothing, Just ordinary!”
    I've posted about my first experience with alcohol before, but I was struck by the concept of "ordinariness." Instead of things being good and being bad, the third category of neither good nor bad but just "ordinary" is the first step in seeing things in more than black/white thinking. And the feeling when something that was previously thought of as very black suddenly gets realised as merely ordinary --mind blowing.

  3. That's true, Tomte. They're neutral. It's how they are used is what makes the difference.

  4. mia from the llc5/18/2009 08:52:00 PM

    The comment about earrings being sin caught my attention. Most Laestadians will tell you that there is no "list of rules" of what they can and cannot do. I say there is...and this comment just underscores my belief.

    Earrings used to be one of the ways we could "tell" if someone we didn't know was an "unbeliever" or not. Makeup was another. There is definitely a list that they use to deterine if you are in or out, and unfortunately it has nothing to do with if a person has accepted Jesus as their Saviour.

  5. Yeah, they will say they're not rules but thats not true at all. Apparently if one is believing in the right way, they won't desire to do things such as wearing earrings, or makeup. I don't think God judges what is on the outside, but rather what is on the inside.
    On Sunday my husband, daughter, and I went to our friends church. My husband had been there a few times before, and I'd been once. The church members and pastor are all so welcoming! And the children didn't stare at us the whole service! I had a hard time getting up the courage to start going to a new church. I felt like they would judge me for what I was wearing, or what family I come from. I felt like they would tell me that if I didn't follow their rules, I'd go to hell. Does this sound familiar? Well, I'm so happy God gave me the courage to go, because it was nothing like that!

  6. This woman actually physically left the community only a couple of years ago, as she writes toward the end of the essay. She left Laestadianism in her MIND years before she actually left physically. Goes to show how hard it is to leave such a community/belief system. For some, even though they have discarded the belief system it still takes years to actually physically leave for fear the sure sadness and pain on both sides, and for fear of the anticipated changes both good and bad.