Guest Post: You Must Be Wrong

By DefyGravity

(DefyGravity just graduated from BYU in theatre education and history teaching. She’s a theatre addict, avid reader, anglophile and has been a raging feminist since she was in junior high, which fortunately hasn’t scared away her husband of 2 years.)

A few weeks ago a friend posted a link on his Facebook page: Ask Mormon Girl: I’m no longer an orthodox believer. How do I tell my parents? (Aug. 1, 2011). The writer was asking how to tell her parents that she was no longer an orthodox Mormon. Part of Joanna Brooks’ response was “follow your own truth.”

Someone took issue with the idea of following your own truth. His
comment on the post was: “I was also once filled with doubts for an extended period of time, and I appreciate how much stronger I became by working … through them. I disagree with one part of the advice given … : “Live your truth.”Since when do we encourage our fellow brothers and sisters to go down a path contrary to the clear teachings of the gospel?… Call me crazy, but I know the path to resolving doubts about the church is not to act or behave in a way contrary to gospel teachings. The scriptures, the prophets, and the Lord have make this very clear. Anyone with doubts about the gospel can overcome them by living the gospel and experiencing the blessings for themselves.”

For many, this comment is a good example of bearing testimony, but it blew my mind. I was amazed that this man felt he had the right, almost the responsibility, to dismiss any path outside the LDS church.

I responded by saying, in essence, that while he could to speak for
his own experience about a path that worked for him, that did not mean his path was correct for everyone else.  But even as I responded to him, I knew that in all likelihood, my claim that God can approve different paths for different people would fall on deaf ears (which it did). In order for this man’s truth to exist, everyone else’s must be wrong.

This is a phenomena I’ve observed recently in my interactions with
other orthodox Mormons.  A basic tenant of the LDS faith is that they are the one true church on the earth, that the only way to exaltation is through ordinances and priesthood that no one else has. This means that many members cannot accept any path outside of the church as correct.  In discussions with my bishop about some of my issues with women and the church, all he can do is insist that I am on the wrong path, that I need to repent, that I need to pray and get answers. I told him that I have prayed and received answers, that I believe my concerns are valid in the eyes of my Parents, and that my path towards a different kind of belief then that prescribed by the church is divinely sanctioned. He simply can’t accept that. In order for his truth, his authority, to be true, I have to be wrong. It seemed that his only options is to dismiss me, my concerns, and my answers because his understanding of the LDS faith does not allow their validity. Therefore, even if he wants to help me, I’m not sure he can.

I’ve had similar experiences in discussions with my dad. He tells me
that leaving the church will make me unhappy. I tell him that the
church is already making me miserable. But because the church is the only place with the full plan of happiness, he can’t accept that answer. I’m telling him I’m unhappy, but in order for the church to be true, I have to be happier with it then without it. So even as the words come out of my mouth, he doesn’t seem to understand them.

So here is the problem, and my point:

  • How can non-traditional or unorthodox members, those with questions and doubts, or those who choose to leave the church have discussions about their concerns with orthodox Mormons?
  • How can we create a dialogue when the core beliefs of the LDS church seem to create a space where dialogue about different paths cannot exist?
  • Or is my experience atypical? Is this a problem that only I’ve dealt with?

 


You may also like...

50 Responses

  1. Diane says:

    I have basically come to realize that if one chooses to leave the Church, it means leaving EVERYONE else behind. I have tried and tried to have conversations with people who still believe, but, ultimately they label me a apostate, an ANTI. To me an apostate, or anti is some one who wishes the church to end, I have never wished this, I have only wished that my leadership take responsibility and support those they knew were being bullied. That’s not being ANTI-, And that’s not even close to being and apostate.

    I don’t consider myself to be any of these, and now, when a member of the Church who is Ultra conservative in their views wants to call me that, I feel they better well earn the right to. Don’t call me ANTI- if you’ve only been a member for all of two years and you haven’t figured this stuff out yet, because as a member for only two years your still in the honeymoon period. Don’t call me anti when you haven’t even been to church in three years and you use your young children as the means to not to go. In other words don’t say your a devout Mormon when you act more like a once a year Catholic. that’s being hypocritical.

    What is my truth, I left because I was forced to leave. I could no longer see myself supporting a leadership who clearly did not support me. I will not lie for anyone to make them feel better so that I can then go home on any given Sunday feeling like crap.

    Leaving Church does not make one unhappy, what makes you unhappy about leaving church is the emotional blackmail that comes with the decision to leave. Life for you will not be any different. I still don’t drink, smoke. I swear every once in while, but, hell, even JG Kimball use to swear.

    The real truth is and parents seemed to forget this is : Your dad’s truth, is HIS truth, it’s not yours and never will be. (and that’s even if you decide to stay.)

    • TWK says:

      In fact, leaving a church is the very definition of apostasy.

      Apostasy is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person.

      However, this post’s argument for relativism is an entirely different subject…

      • Diane says:

        TWK

        you are entitled to your opinion, but, no, the actual definition the church uses it that one must actively campaign against leadership. I have never done that, so you are wrong.

        Additionally, since you don’t know me, I suggest you keep caustic statements to yourself, I’ve earned my right to have my views and statements that you have just entered is meant to gaslight me and shut me down

      • DefyGravity says:

        I’m with Diane. When the church talks about “apostates,” they are talking about people who are campaigning against the church. They rarely talk about those who leave and say nothing because there is little context for such people within the structure. Those who leave are generally seen as offended, proud or sinners. Those who leave for legitimate reasons and don’t try to cause problems for the church are never addressed. So even if any one who leaves is an “apostate” by some definition, that is not how the church talks about apostasy. So those who leave the church but don’t campaign against it, as Diane defines herself, are not apostates according to the church’s treatment of the word. The point is how the word is used, not the dictionary definition.

    • Bobman says:

      Define “leaving the church”. Do you mean not being active? Not apostasy. Do you mean taking your name off the records of the church but still believing all of the doctrines (only wanting to be left alone by those who have hurt you so much)? That may be a bad decision (or not) but that’s not really apostasy either.

      Apostasy is the actual disaffiliation with the religion, or a departure from the doctrines and principles. If you don’t disaffiliate in your heart and uphold all the same core doctrines, only according to your understanding, then that isn’t apostasy either.

      I believe many in the church are actual apostates for judgments made against unorthodox members and ideas because they reject the central teachings of Christ of love and non-judgment and even reject the atonement under a wide range of circumstances.

    • Anonymous says:

      Diane, I understand that you have had some reasons to be upset with some people in the church. I am an active member, and am at times disappointed with some of the leaders in the church. I was a little disappointed that you called TWK “caustic” when he or she was just trying to point out that perhaps that was how some people saw the definition of apostasy. …and just as a note to readers and contributors on this blog, I often enjoy the open conversations that happen here, but it is definitely slanted. If someone wants to rip the church a new one, they are wholeheartedly supported, but the minute someone who supports the church tries to support that view in any sort of a passionate way, they are called ” caustic” or told that is not the type of conversation we have on this blog. Something to think about.

      • spunky says:

        It is unkind of you to describe the opinions here as “slanted.” The church evolved in a period of Muscular Christianity, therefore exhibits all of the characteristics and traits of a masculine-patriarchal based society that is limited because of its choice to associate with this worldly concept.

        Because I have a desire to serve in a better capacity than which I am now allowed, and because I desire to know more of God, and because I have absolute testimony that I am His daughter and should not be treated as a lesser soul simply because I was born female– does not make me slanted. I would say that it makes me an anxious and diligent servant who cares about the removal of worldly, Muscular Christianity-era rhetoric from the church so that true revelation can freely reign.

        I am convinced that you do not have the same desire to serve as I do; that is fine. But do not call me slanted because the desire of my heart is to serve at a greater level. If you do not desire to engage in a greater degree of service, then so be it. Do not judge and call my desire to serve in every capacity possible as “slanted”.

      • DefyGravity says:

        I don’t agree that anyone who speaks positively of the church is attacked. The problem I’ve seen, and that is present in TWK’s comment is the habit of some supporting the church to simply say “you’re wrong,” instead of stating their personal beliefs based on their belief in the church. TWK, instead of saying what her/his opinion of the definition of apostasy was told Diane she was wrong. Often those supporting the church follow a similar path of declaring others to be wrong because they disagree with the church, or because they disagree with the commenter’s interpretation of the church. Often people are reacting to others calling them wrong rather then to their belief in the church.

      • Diane says:

        Anonymous

        I defined TWR reference to me as being caustic because obviously he did not read, nor in my opinion comprehend what I had just printed and that was this, Nobody, Nobody, Nobody, whether liberal or conservative had the right to label someone as Anti-or apostate just because they no longer believe the same as you do. I will take that one further step because once people put those labels on us, it is meant to shut us down(emotional, and spiritual blackmail) and to keep us in toe with the rest of the membership.

        IN MY OPINION, when TWR gave his version of what apostate means he did so in an attempt to shut down conversation and to tell me I was wrong to feel and think the way I do. He was basically name calling. This was something that I said not to do, so , yes, his comment was caustic

      • Diane says:

        my comment got put below another by mistake and I want to add a few more thoughts

        People here support the Church, even those of us who have left, but, lets’ get real for a minute can we. I’ve herd your argument before that when someone makes a comment that supports the church, they get slammed.

        That’s really not what happened here so please let’s not get overly dramatic about it.

        For a Church such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to Proclaim that they love and include everyone, they sure do enough excluding all on their own. They have a slew of ugly words to use against people, ANTI-, Apostate, wicked, whatever superlative you want to use and then they (leadership) won’t take responsibility for any of the nasty stuff that happens they claim to have political neutrality on the Church web-site, but, honestly if someone were to ask me my opinion that’s a lie, those of us who are liberal or Moderate or somewhere in between are always left to feel that we are not in line with the rest of you.

        TWR did not get slammed, he/she came out slinging all on their own and they did it even after being told not to.

  2. Ingrid says:

    I have come into contact with a lot of people who have these attitudes as well, and it’s been very difficult for me. The way I deal with it is that I just tell myself that these people aren’t going to change their minds, so it isn’t worth talking about it to them at all because it just causes me stress. What matters above everything else is my honest, genuine communication with God through prayer. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what other people think.

  3. The whole “One True Church” message seems to get hammered into a mold it doesn’t fit – that the Church has all the truth, right now. Its a bad reading because it denies one of the basic tenet of the Church; that the Church has Prophets to teach us new truths. It also gets built into the idea that since this is the one true Church that other Churches have no truth at all.

    These are self-centered ideas that people use to think themselves better than others who do not believe the same as they do. Its not just a problem in this Church, but a problem for all.

    I don’t know how you go about finding orthodox believers who are willing to talk – I just try to be one. (Hopefully without being so self righteous 😛 ) A teacher is supposed to ask and try to answer questions, not cast out students. You do that and you’ll have no one left to teach but the choir.

    • DefyGravity says:

      I love your description of teaching! 🙂 so very true and a good reminder.

    • Amy says:

      Frank, I enjoyed your comment. I consider myself an active member and I try to follow the prophet. I also like what Brigham Young said about God’s truth. I wish I remembered it exactly, but basically that God’s truth encompasses all truth. I believe that there is so much of the truth everywhere, and one of the things I truly enjoy is being able to pick out those truths from so many different places. I think that so many times, as Mormons, we are scared of doing wrong, that we forget how much truth and goodness is out there, even if it doesn’t come right out of the church building. And when we do that, we put a fence up that may keep us in, but it keeps many other good things out. That being said, I feel like I am still able to follow the prophet and still am able to have non-LDS friends, and activities. I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive. My take though is that part of believing in God and that he has a prophet and personal revelation is the fact that God knows more than I do. When he gives us certain rules and guidelines, I am going to continue to follow them because I have followed them before and found that things work. But, it simply comes down to the fact that God knows more than me, but as I continue to follow, little by little, it seems like the reasons for certain things become clearer. It takes faith. If someone truly believes that God is taking them another way, I can’t stop them. But, is it so silly to think that God has a set of standards and laws for us to follow??

      • DefyGravity says:

        But do you have to be a member of the LDS church, or any church, to know and follow those standards? Can God only commnicate rules to one person to pass on? If we are entitled to personal revelation, why do we someone besides God telling us what to do?

  4. Bones says:

    With knowledge comes understanding.

    Those in the Church are typically so fully immersed in it, that it is everything–their circle of friends, their social activity, their weekend free-time–EVERYTHING. Many of these orthodox Mormons simply don’t know how to relate to anyone who doesn’t believe and act as they do. And as a defense mechanism to protect their beloved Church, they fight against outside sources of goodness, beauty and holiness.

    I taught French for almost 20 years. My students in French 1 came to my class (northern Utah) completely ignorant of the world outside of their own. When I taught them anything about France–it’s people, its culture, its traditions–their first reaction would always be, “that’s dumb.” They were ignorant and thought that by putting down differences in the French culture, they were ensuring their own culture’s superiority.

    This ignorance, joined with their immaturity made them believe that for their beliefs, traditions and customs to be “right” those of the people of France had to be “wrong.” They were too young and ignorant to know that there could be two (and many, many more) “rights.” Later, through experience and exposure, they would come to appreciate and even stand up for the French.

    I say this just to illustrate that when you leave your own ignorance behind, and realize that there are many paths, you may have to be understanding of those around you who come from a point of ignorance and immaturity. I don’t mean this in any way to demean anyone.

    • DefyGravity says:

      I like you’re analogy. I’ve traveled in Europe quite a bit, and saw a lot of my peers put the “this is different from home therefore it’s dumb,” card. When I was student teaching last year, the teacher I worked with taught French when she wasn’t teaching drama and I would sit in on her classes. She did a lot to show that different cultures were fun and exiting, which I thought was awesome. Maybe I should take that route, show that what I’ve found it exciting to me… rather then arguing about what I don’t believe.

  5. Corinne says:

    In every faith that I’ve been acquainted with there have been members who are open to differences of belief among members of that faith and those who have been closed to them. Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist (even though it espouses the many paths philosophy) Hindu, Jewish.. the list goes on. To accomodate those differences many faiths have congregations that differ, orthodox members attending one church/synagogue/mosque/temple, more liberal ones attending another, literalists in one fold, figurativists in the other, traditional services at 8 am, modern ones at noon, the iron rods in one congregation, the liahonas in another, the established traditionalists in one worship service, the social activists at home in another etc. etc. etc. The challenge of LDS religious practices is that we don’t divide up according to our take on scripture or doctrine. We all attend together. That means that always one or more group is going to feel misunderstood, out of line, or ostracized, or judged as wrong unless everyone is perfectly loving and open to understanding. And since we are not all perfectly loving and open to understanding….

    I have lived in congregations full of free thinking liberal mormons where traditional mormons have been reduced to tears while trying to teach a RS lessons to women in attendance could not accept their take on it. And I have lived in congregations full of traditional mormons where free thinkers have felt alone and judged. The sense of isolation and being misunderstood and judged can go equally both ways.

    How do you create the dialogues you hope to create? By understanding that not everyone in our diverse religious faith is able to do so and understanding that having every person whose approval you wish for (be they family members or ecclesiastical leaders or cool people or whatever) also be a person who understands where you are coming from, is not possible. Not everyone comes to that place at the same time. Some don’t until the next life if they do at all.

    The question for me is, am I that kind of person who does that kind of understanding and loving? Am I calm enough and loving enough to not be exasperated by others who totally misunderstand what I am saying or fear for my soul or try to correct my “egregious errors” and instead lovingly treat them with respect and forbearance, not getting wound up in knots when they fail to respond the way I hope all disciples should.

    Jesus was.

    As I have gotten older, that has become easier. I have learned how to recognize my fellow members who are open to discussion. And I have learned how to let go of my need for the others, who are not, to straighten up and discuss with empathy when they are not capable of doing so.

    We live in a faith that puts all of us, irregardless of our take on our faith, in the same geographic worship melting pots and then challenges us to live in harmony and see with loving patience those who don’t see what we do right then and even, Saul-like, stupidly hurt others in their attempts to help. And I am firmly convinced that, challenging as that is, if you do learn how to do that, the sense of liberation and power and love is amazing.

    • Ingrid says:

      What a beautiful answer, Corinne. This helps me out a lot. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

    • Bones says:

      Awesome, Corinne.

    • DefyGravity says:

      You’re a better person then I am. 🙂 I agree, we need to be the kind of person we are looking for, with the kind of empathy we want. My struggle is that it takes a lot of energy to do that, and I don’t get it in return. I tell my dad and my husband and friends that I respect what the church is for them, and I do. I’m glad they have found something that works for them. I say and try to show that I respect their path, but in return I get berated. Sometimes it’s just too much to try to be empathetic to everyone when all I’m getting is criticism. But it sounds like it has gotten easier for you, so maybe things will improve. 😉 Thanks for your comment!

      • Corinne says:

        It does take a lot of energy to do that. And, looking back, I realize that when I embarked on this journey I certainly was not able to do it without help. There were three things that were of assistance.

        First I was able to find women a bit farther along the path than I who had learned to balance, better than I had at that point, both their devotion to integrity and justice (which I and my younger friends had in spades) and their embracing of mercy. Having a few older women whose positive conversation and understanding ears, unbeknownst to them, made them my mentors, helped me find a longer view of my dilemmas and also maintain a sense of being understood and trusted.

        Secondly, I had a husband who, though he did not understand my concerns, was willing to live with them without worrying about me. There’s a good post on segullah (dot) org entitled “Justice and Mercy Walk into a Bar” (Sept 16) that discusses the phenomenon of spouses feeling anxious about each other’s behavior; feeling like they need to be right and correct each other. Perhaps it can shed some light on the berating you are experiencing. I’m sad that you are having to experience that.

        And finally, I realize that I made a conscious decision to stay in the church both because there were aspects of my religious experience which I treasured that I had learned from its teachings and also because I wanted to be a factor in the enlightenment and change that I envisioned as ultimately possible if there continued to be good people in it who saw what was needed. I had a hope in Christ that gave me belief that good could happen and that misunderstood doctrine would ultimately be better understood, though it would take way, way, way longer than I would wish it too. I have learned that large, powerful ships do not change course quickly, but they do change slowly and I wanted be to a supporter and an articulate apologist for that change from within rather than from without. My callings as a teacher and leader over the ensuing decades have given me innumerable occasions to do so. In spite of the frustrations it has been satisfying work.

      • DefyGravity says:

        Thsnks Corine. I like how you’ve framed your experience. If I choose to stay in the church, it would be for similar reasons. I teach primary right now, and enjoy being able to give a different perspective. Glad to know things can work out.

  6. Annie B. says:

    I really needed to read this right now, and especially your comment Diane. Thank you.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ll preface by saying that I think would consider myself unorthodox. But moving on, I think “Truth” is a very loaded word and people dig in their heels when “truth” is questioned. Going with an ontological argument and away from the LDS message for a bit, if God is “that than which nothing greater can be conceived” or totally perfect, then Truth by extrapolation is much the same. I think that people (not just LDS but everyone) think of truth as “THE truth,” which is the one and only truth, not “your truth” or “my truth.” THE truth is unchanging, not tweakable, and not individual but is overarching, applicable to any and all situations, and for everyone. (Not that I necessarily believe this interpretation of the word is true, but I think this is the general idea that many have).

    Maybe if you start your discussions with “my belief is…” “Belief” is more personal and probably less likely to cause an automatic and perhaps defensive response. Maybe that would start a more open dialogue?

    • DefyGravity says:

      Nice idea. I’m a strong believer in saying what you mean and being aware of the connotation of words, so switching from truth to belief might be helpful. Thanks!

  8. Annie B. says:

    …and I just realized I should probably contribute, haha. Right now I feel my path is taking me in a different direction than some of my family thinks it should go. I’m still processing things and still open to a lot of things and still unsure where I’ll go from here, but the absolute surest conclusion I’ve come to is that I need to share how I feel whenever I feel I should. I have come in contact with people who express that if I were just in tune with the spirit I’d understand things the way they do, but I’ve also come in contact with many people who I never would have thought feel the same way I do, and thought they were alone just like I did. I’m sure it’s as comforting for them as it is for me to know that I’m not the only one, so I keep sharing. I agree with Corinne that spiritual gaslighting (http://thecurrentconscience.com/blog/2011/09/12/a-message-to-women-from-a-man-you-are-not-“crazy”/) can go both ways and I do have to keep that in mind.

  9. BethSmash says:

    Can I just say, for a church that believes in personal revelation, I have heard many stories like yours where even though someone had their own revelation about something others have dismissed it as ‘wrong’ just because it was different than their own interpretation – or what they believe is possible. This doesn’t make sense to me at all, because we’re all different people – if we were all the same, we wouldn’t need to be here anyway, so it makes sense that we’d receive different answers to questions (heck, we’re probably asking different questions in the first place!) I wish people could be more open to different ideas – and I DEFINITELY wish people would think before they speak.

    • DefyGravity says:

      Excellent sum up of the problem. It’s odd to me that someone’s personal revelation can be trumped by someone higher up in the food chain. Can we really call it personal revelation if someone else gets to decide if it’s valid or not?

      • Ziff says:

        I agree with you both. Personal revelation isn’t taken seriously in the Church unless it confirms what priesthood leaders say. Here’s Elder Oaks a couple of conferences ago, talking about two lines of communication with God:

        we cannot communicate reliably through the direct, personal line if we are disobedient to or out of harmony with the priesthood line.

        In other words, the priesthood line trumps the personal line, or what you mentioned, BethSmash, is the way of the Church. If there’s a disagreement between a member and a priesthood leader, the priesthood leader is right. Pretty much by definition.

  10. Diane says:

    I just wanted to add one more thing, just as I stated someone better earn the right to call me anti, When one leaves the church, they need to Earn THE Right to Leave. Make sure that you have exhausted every avenue available to you. When you leave, don’t leave angry. This way when you finally do leave whether its’ to go inactive, or to make the more final step of having your name removed you can honestly say you didn’t leave because you were offended. (I really, really hate that word.

    • DefyGravity says:

      I agree. That’s part of why I’ve been sticking it out, because if I decide to pull out I want it to be because it’s the best thing for me, not because I got pissed off.

  11. Janna says:

    Several years ago during my more orthodox phase, I was engaged in a conversation with a “Borderlander” who was swiftly moving beyond and another man who was an ultra-orthodox member (UOM). I really didn’t know what to say to the Borderlander to help him have peace, give answers, etc., so I just said, “Well, it will be interesting and exciting to see where this journey takes you.”

    Now when I visit this Borderlander (and I am now a firm Borderlander) every few years, he mentions that conversation and how it helped him. So, now, my standard fare for both Borderlands, UOMs, and everyone in between is something along those lines.

  12. Alisa says:

    I think spirituality is a life-long process, and a very personal one. One of the hardest things for me to learn is that I own my journey, and no one else does. Conversely, I can’t force anyone to understand my journey (nor do I really want to). I do blog about my journey to seek and give support, but in my “real life” I don’t think it’s really anyone’s business. I’ve had to constantly remind myself to support others on their paths, even if they are different than mine.

    I think that’s a huge temptation of anybody, to feel that their spiritual path is the right one. My metaphor for this is that instead of one path, it’s like a web leading to the same center. Maybe there are paths that are harder than others, and maybe some people love their path so much they would only recommend their path to others, but in reality God is charitable and merciful and has made us unique for a reason to allow us to navigate our own path to Truth. But most, or even all paths, I hope eventually lead to discovering Truth and God, no matter how many twists and turns along the way.

    I know that sounds really hippie or cliché or whatever, but I do think that God has a big place for all of us (‘many mansions,’ as Christ says). Holding that belief helps me treat others better, including those with whom I differ from strongly. And so I hold this somewhat cliché belief because it works for me; it lightens my load and my life.

  13. spunky says:

    Maybe I am wacky, but I just don’t care about what most people think. I get annoyed when orthodox Mormons tell me I should have a family- do foster care, whatever, because of the assumption that my life is less without children. I think the same could be said for any orthodox church member who judges others for their struggles, whether the struggles are known or not. There is an assumption that your life is lesser because it is not orthodox. So I just state that my life is not lesser, and it is not their place to judge me as unhappy or otherwise because my path is different to theirs.

    When it comes to differences on doctrinal interpretations, prophets have contradicted each other since Adam. So I remind people of the 13th article of faith, “We believe all things, we hope all things”…. so if I am going to do something a bit wiccan to mourn or celebrate, than lucky for me- if Joseph Smith were here, he would join in (because there is evidence that witchcraft was an interest of his- see Rough Stone Rolling.)

    I guess the only thing that makes me uncomfortable is the assumption that righteousness equals happiness. I disagree. I think righteousness brings peace, but not always happiness. I am responsible for my own happiness. Church work often brings loneliness, frustration, adds stress and even discourages testimony and happiness because it is manifested in a culturally structured prison that does little to really express a Christian lifestyle.

    That being said, I consider myself to be as righteous as I possibly can at this stage in my life; but I am sure that many, many people think me wicked because I don’t have children (“cursed by God”), because I don’t attend Relief Society classes (I am putting family first in this) and any other number of things. That is their problem. They don’t know me, they don’t know my marriage, they don’t know my life, they don’t know more that I do what God has in store for me. So if they are to judge me, then I think they are judging God’s plan for me, which means they are judging God. I have no problem with reminding people of this. I don’t think you should either.

  14. IdahoG-ma says:

    These are really insightful comments. Diane, I especially agree that we need to earn the right to leave. It can help to know you did the work necessary to leave in good conscience.

  15. Bobman says:

    There absolutely is ONE Truth. But I daresay only God truly knows it. What we know and call truth is a tiny glimmer, a snapshot, an infinitesimal portion of The Truth and we probably don’t even understand it correctly.

    That said, each of us has a part in God’s plan for this world. God isn’t interested in communist style uniformity, nor is He interested in us doing things that are right for someone else, but wrong for us. He wants us to seek out an understanding of His plan for us individually and to follow that. If someone else’s plan/path is different from our own, we should not judge that, only hope they are following their path to the best of their ability and hope that God will take care of them, just as we do for ourselves.

    Different understandings of the same doctrines, or sometimes just practices and cultural habits of the Church, do not make us apostate or mean we have no connection to the Spirit or any such thing, though we’re often accused of such if we disagree with the orthodox standards. Indeed we can learn more about The Truth of those doctrines, practices and cultural habits by comparing our differing understandings and possibly come to a more complete/correct understanding of the same.

    It is sad that this is generally not the case, but rather that words like “apostate” and “anti” or even “sin” and “repent” get thrown about just because someone understands something differently or not at all.

  16. Jenne says:

    I’m glad these questions are being asked and that there are people trying to figure out the answers. To me, it comes down to love, compassion, not judging, listening (without an agenda) and respect. I think it also helps to member the universality of the gospel and how this life is not the only time our choices mean anything. The choices before we came, the choices that can happen after. Freaking out and trying to compel someone to accept something they disagree with is a sure way to make sure that they never “come around.” Orthodox believers are probably never going to get over their desire to convert, reactivate, etc, but the desperateness they do it with belies their understanding of the Atonement and the plan of salvation (that they of course are so ardently preaching).

    I try to be middle person, one foot on each side of the orthodox/unorthodox. I hope someday to be a person that people who are struggling, doubting, thinking of leaving will come to knowing that I won’t try to make them stay and instead will listen and engage in meaningful conversation with them for as long as they feel its helpful.

  17. Chris says:

    After a two-year crisis of faith, I have chosen to remain active in the Church after listening to Carol Lynn Pearson discuss her faith on Mormon Stories. Although I can see serious issues with polyandry and polygamy, with racism and abuse of power, I also see goodness, compassionate service, and love. I stay because I love to worship the Lord with my family and friends. I stay because I honor the memory of my ancestors who sacrificed everything for their religious convictions. I stay because I believe this is the very best choice for me.

    With that said, I do not judge another for choosing to stay or leave. As Church members, we state that “we claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our [own] conscience, and allow all men the same privilege[,] let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
    Three of my children are active. The fourth has had her name removed from the records of the Church, and even with my great love for people of all beliefs, her decision has broken my heart. Of course, I still love her and honor her choice, but I also see her struggling with issues involving morality, self-esteem, and addiction since she has left. I wonder if staying might have been an easier choice for her.

    There is one thing I truly believe: God loves all of his children, in and out of the Church, male and female, black and white, bond and free. We are infinitely precious in His sight. And, although I have some serious issues with the works of men in the Church, I am also grateful that it has provided me with an opportunity to get to know and love God.

    May you find peace in your journey, DefyGravity, wherever it takes you, knowing that God loves you–and each of us–more than we can comprehend.

    • DefyGravity says:

      Thanks Chris, i appreciate your comments. I afree there is good in the church, and growing up Mormon has put me in a good place, for the most part. It kept me away from many dumb mistakes. The question for me is should I stay loyal something that no longer woeks for me just because it used to. But i also have John Dehlin of Mormon Stories in my head; if i’m going to leave i want to be a better person because of it. I’m pretty sure I’m hurting my parents in the way you’ve been hurt, which makes me very sad. But I’m not sure if that can be avoided, hence this piece.

    • jamie says:

      Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Naismith says:

    I wish we wouldn’t use terms like “orthodox.” All those labels do is separate us.

    I totally agree with the OP that nobody can prescribe what will work for “anyone.” I think we should share our own stories, of what worked for us, but to assume that it will work for all is to fly in the face of church teachings on personal revelation.

    In some ways, this can be like losing weight. Did you ever go through an excruciating diet and spend hours at the gym, only to have others say, “Oh, you don’t know what it is like to struggle with weight issues!” Hello, why assume that, just because you see the finished product?

    This happens a lot at church, people saying, “You’re a RS president (or whatever) so you you don’t understand what it is like to have questions!”

    Which may or may not be true. Everyone has a different way of getting where they are and growing spiritually. Once I was interviewing a general authority of handcart heritage, and I asked him when he was converted. Rather than correcting me and reminding me of his pioneer pedigree, he thanked me for the question and told a story about an event on his mission that he considered his conversion.

    While I believe strongly in different paths, I also think that the paths that truly take us to God do go through his kingdom on earth. However, the possibilities I see for those paths to meander is perhaps broader than some might.

    As the parent of adult children, can I also say, it is your life. Worrying about pleasing others is a guarantee of misery. Whatever you ultimately do, it should be for you, not for anyone else.

  19. Joanna says:

    if we tell folks in crisis to find the truth, and we believe that mormonism has truth, why do we assume that encouraging people to “seek their truth” necessarily leads out of the church?

    what i read in the OP’s query was a woman who had given more energy to worrying about what everyone else thought than about what she actually believed. she needed to find her own path. hopefully that path leads into a more conscious version of who she already is.

    love to the ex 2 community.

    • DefyGravity says:

      I’d say there is validity in attempting to keep relationships, especially family relationships, intact. I’ve spent the last year figuring out what I believe and dedicated quite a bit of energy to that process. I am now at a point where my change in belief is becoming apparent to the people I care about and I am trying to find a way to create a dialogue with them. I’m not just going to throw my marriage and parental relationships out the window, because as far as I can tell, dealing with changes in relationships is part of finding your own truth. And my truth is leading me away from the LDS church, which means there are negative reactions in my family. I have found my path, but finding it and figuring out how to live it are 2 different things.

      Bear in mind, you are only reading one tiny section of my story. You don’t know what kind of work and energy I’ve put in. The fact that I’m asking how to preserve relationships doesn’t mean that’s all I’m doing in relation to my faith crisis.

  20. Bre says:

    This summer has been one long excruciating examination of my faith and my feelings about the church. My unhappiness in and disillusion with the church got so bad that I grappled with whether or not to leave (still not sure what I will do). The fact that I could ever have gotten to the point where I was considering LEAVING the church was a shock in itself. I think one thing that I’ve learned after all of this is that I can NEVER judge anyone who has chosen to leave. This church is not for everybody. I know that statement contradicts fundamental church thinking (i.e. This church is true and is the only way to salvation, therefore everyone should be in it), but I know several people who I’m sure would never be happy in this church. I don’t think very conservative Mormons will ever accept that, I think to do so would be to deny the validity of the church, and it’s just not something they can do. I think I can understand the justification they must feel (although I don’t agree), and I don’t think it’s something that will change… but who knows?

  21. jamie says:

    I have a lot of thoughts on this very topic, but not enough space or time to share. But I have enjoyed reading the comments. I would like to share this quote with Elder Uchtdorf from his Oct. ’09 conference talk “The Love of God”,

    “Sometimes, well-meaning amplifications of divine principles—many coming from uninspired sources—complicate matters further, diluting the purity of divine truth with man-made addenda. One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation. And gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of “good ideas.”

    This quote is my guide as I prepare my RS lessons. I would never want my good ideas (i.e. personal revelation) to come across as eternal principles for someone else. Through a gut-wrenching trial of faith that has entered its third year, I have gone from a black and white gospel to a myriad of greys, which I try to reconcile daily. My path to Salvation is not anyone else’s path, just like Abraham’s path was not Moses path nor was Moses’ path Joseph Smith’s path, and on and on and on. There are 4 principles and ordinances to the Gospel that we are to participate in, beyond that our path become extremely personal and there is no room to judge…and quite frankly, there isn’t any time.

  22. Grammar Nutsy says:

    “A basic tenant of the LDS faith” should be “A basic tenet of the LDS faith”

    A tenet is a belief or doctrine considered true.

    A tenant is a renter or occupant.

  23. Emily U says:

    I haven’t read the comments, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and have a couple of things to say. One is that I think orthodox Mormons will usually acknowledge the fact of continuing revelation, but at the same time vigorously defend the current status quo, and everything current leaders day, and deny any institutional wrongdoing in the past. I wish the Church could approach it’s history and current doctrines with more humility. Some members sense tension between current practices/doctrines and their internal moral compass, and given the fact that things have changed in the past and will continue to change, we should respect the fact that they might be right!

    I had a conversation recently where I explained this to my very orthodox brother, and he sort of acknowledged it, but really won’t vary from his “but this is what the prophet says” hardline. That’s OK, I guess. If I want the church’s tent to be big enough to accommodate my unorthodoxy, it also has to be big enough to accommodate his narrow-mindedness. It’s hard, though. I wish people like the guy quoted in the OP could see how their approach pushes people away.

    My second thought is that reading David Brooks’ “If It Feels Right” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/opinion/if-it-feels-right.html) made me newly grateful for the Church’s teachings on morality. They seem rigid and anachronistic sometimes, but to me that is much preferable to not having any morality at all.

Leave a Reply