I'm not writing this to argue with his feelings. I don't question his sincerity or his earnestness. But (you saw that coming, right), I feel SO frustrated when people tell stories in church about people--themselves or others--who have become inactive or left the church altogether because they were offended. The story usually ends with either 1) the return of the prodigal in a twisting of what that parable really means, or 2) judgmentalism strikingly similar to that of a person standing on the Rameumptom. (Good tangent story here.) The problem isn't in the telling of the story. The problem is devaluing the person in favor of the needs of institutional integrity and reinforcing groupthink.
Removing oneself from a situation because someone said or did something offensive is totally legitimate in my book. Everyone has a limit to their patience. And it doesn't matter whether the offensive comments or actions where intentional or not. In Mormon culture, almost inevitable judgment and assumptions are made about the person who was offended. The offended person is deemed weak, unworthy, prideful, rebellious, faithless, bothersome. Some might even label them dangerous. Whereas the person doing the offending is seen mostly a divine instrument to test the patience, faith and devotion of the person who was offended.
Turning the tables, what would the Mormon cultural response be if I excluded a Mormon friend from a social event because it was a wine tasting because I didn't want them to feel uncomfortable? What if my Mormon friend felt offended because they were excluded regardless of my "good intentions?" Wouldn't Mormon culture dictate that being offended in that circumstance be justified because "How dare that unrighteous hedonist not invite you and allow you to just bring some sparkling apple cider rather than cut you out of a social event!"
What about being offended by something because the intent was to hurt, belittle or push away a person? Isn't being offended in that kind of situation justified and even a healthy short-term response? Granted, long-term bitterness and resentment over being offended can eat away at the soul. But being dismissive of someone because they haven't "gotten over it" within what we believe to be the correct timeframe is unworthy of a person professing to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The confusion of personal righteousness for personal spirituality is one of the things that can lead to offensive treatment of others. The systematic exclusion and vilification of gay and lesbian members is an example (and that's not even getting into the treatment of bisexual, transgendered or people who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity). But the Mormon culture of exclusion extends to anyone who doesn't fit within the narrow band of "acceptable" or "worthy" or whatever term might be used. There are exclusions based on the word of wisdom, the number of ear piercings (women), wearing a non-white shirt to church (men), racial and ethnic background, the divide between descendants of Utah pioneers and converts, frequency of temple attendance, whether you have a temple recommend, political affiliation and belief; the list goes on. As of last General Conference, it also seems to extend to wearing flip-flops to church.
The need for acceptance can compel many a Mormon to return to regular participation in the church feeling the pressure to proclaim how utterly miserable life was without the constant involvement of the church. Many fear confronting their questions and misgivings about the church out of fear of that same supposed misery. As though somehow the only way to true spirituality is through regimented attendance at church meetings and unquestioning obedience to church authority and culture. Fortunately, some people of note in the church don't ascribe to this limited view, but it seems that most do.
Perhaps that view of spirituality works for some people. It certainly doesn't work for me. Believe me, I've tried it. This isn't some "casting the church away lightly" exercise. I poured my soul into it. The church just doesn't work for me like it does for others.
As I've built my friendships, support network and sense of spirituality apart from the church, I've felt much more fulfilled. I'm finding what works for me. That may offend the sensibilities of some in the church. I guess like most things, it's a mater of perspective. Cue Obi-Wan Kenobi telling Luke Skywalker "You're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." Maybe I should tell the deacons quorum instructor I had as a kid that his use of Star Wars analogies in lessons at church opened the door to my disaffection. May the Force be with you.