Sunday, July 7, 2013

"...and that not by the hand of an enemy."

I've heard many friends talk about how they're "trying to figure out how they fit into Mormonism/The Church." Like me, they see themselves as anything but mainstream, within the LDS faith. I don't exactly feel like a Jack Mormon apologist. But I often find myself feeling the need to apologize for having the questions I have, regarding Mormonism and church history. And this, because not towing the line, and not sticking to the script or "the basics," makes a lot of members of The Church uncomfortable. 
I've been labeled a heretic by a couple of acquaintances for bringing up Church history which I found in The Journal of Discourses. ( ). Apparently the Journal of Discourses is no longer considered valid? (Not so.) My best friend, of 30 years, recently told me I was "anti-Mormon," after I posted a satirical piece which mocked some do-gooder at BYU-Provo who made a stink about being able to see a female student's knees. ( ). That was the last straw after he had noticed a few of my Facebook posts, in which I had become a little loose about my feelings and questions regarding certain Church policies. And, not only did he call me anti-Mormon, but he followed that by telling me he would NEVER talk religion with me, "because he believes every word from the Book of Mormon, and from Joseph Smith, and from all the prophets." This from my best friend of 30 years, who knows me better than most of my family. He knows full-well that I'm not anti-Mormon but, hearing my sometimes contrarian views makes him uneasy.
Now, I would define anti-Mormon as being hostile toward The Church, and/or spreading information--especially misinformation--in an effort to defame and/or destroy it. I am not anti-Mormon at all. I don't try to defame/destroy The Church. And I don't spread misinformation about The Church. In fact, given the fact that I feel my particular "testimony" isn't mainstream, I RARELY share it with others. Rather, I go out of my way NOT to share some of my feelings/beliefs, never wanting to tear down anyone else's faith. For me, one's faith is one of the most personal and intimate things. One's faith is arrived at via so many different roads. The lenses through which people see the world--and their faith--are shaped through very different experiences. So I don't judge the way another person believes as being incorrect, just as I don't want my beliefs judged as incorrect, heretical, or anti-Mormon. In my opinion, there are as many different types of Mormon as there are members of The Church. And that's perfectly OK.

Why, then, am I considered as such? From my point of view, the answer lies in common Church/ward practices. ( ). We're taught from a relatively young age not to ask the big questions. We're taught that there are no answers to those "mysteries." I often felt obligated--if I was to be a good Mormon--not to doubt, not to ask questions, and just believe. And that actually worked for a long time. I went on a 2-year mission "just believing." I've sat in Sunday School classes where I've disagreed with particular points, based on my own interpretations things. But I never dared to ask my questions. I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable. I knew there was the chance that if I asked something like, "Why did Joseph Smith, Jr. feel it was OK to take other men's wives as his own?", or "Wasn't the ban on giving priesthood power to Blacks a very racist policy" I'd be shouted down, or possibly even escorted out of the classroom. And this is such a tragedy; we are made to feel that inside the walls of the church house is NOT the place to ask questions. But I feel Mormon. I don't have the faith of a little child that I once did. But if I'm there in church, I must have some hope that Mormonism is a good/true church. By being there, am I not saying, "Lord, I believe (or at least hope); help thou mine aunbelief?" Mark 9:24.

And onto my main point. More and more LDS members are leaving or becoming inactive. ( ). More and more information about The Church and its history are becoming readily available over the television and the internet. Like me, people will wonder how that new information fits into the things we've always been taught, and what--if any--difference that makes. More questions will arise. But will those with questions be able to lean upon sympathetic, compassionate, strong shoulders in The Church? Or will their questions fall on deaf and defensive ears?
I'm currently studying from the Doctrine and Covenants, and I'm really enjoying it. ( ). There is a lot of church history there, but by no means all of it. I found a scripture from D&C recently. And as we're encouraged by the Book of Mormon, I've likened this verse unto me. And I'll leave you with it. Peace.

D&C 42:43
"And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy."

I really like that verse. To me, it's sort of talking about me, and some of you who lack faith. We are the "sick," in a way, as it pertains to our faith in Mormonism. But even though we lack faith, we do have hope. And we should be treated kindly and with tenderness by The Church and all its membership.


  1. I like that you still identify and are expressing concern. I left the church right after my sixteenth birthhday because I began to have big questions and when I asked them I was told that I wasn't believing. I think I would still identify as mormon had a brother or sister sat and helped me understand the big questions. I think many don't know the answers and don't want to look foolish.
    Love your blog tbanks for sharing!

  2. I can appreciate and admire the faith of my parents and grandparents and many others. That being said, Mormon, when describing the great faith of the brother of Jared, said that after he had see Christ, he had faith no longer because he knew. I agree with you scripture that I go to church and follow the gospel not that I know the church is true, but in order to have 'hope' for better world' and hopefully help my faith be stronger as well. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on Elder Holland's talk from April Conference.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Bonnie. I probably will address that talk. (It's the only one I listened to live.)

    Kersten: I do identify as Mormon, amongst many other things.I think sometimes people might be embarrassed not to know the answer. I think there are a lot of answers that aren't known. However, we ought to be able to talk about those things, and to freely ask our questions within the walls of the church. From my experience, that rarely happens, nor is it often acceptable to the general membership. (Unless you're lucky enough to attend a more liberal/uncorrelated ward.)

  4. Great post Wade. I share some of the same sentiments but am too concerned with how uncomfortable people get to actually share my questions. I talked to my father in law (stake president) the other day about that article you posted where the 3 brothers are asking the Church leadership to consider allowing civil marriages and then immediately after allowing temple sealing without waiting the year. I totally see those folks' concerns based on a few friends who've gone through the parentless wedding. I just think there are some traditions that aren't doctrinally based and are just there for other reasons. I think a lot of members are similar to Catholics in believing that our leaders are infallible. It would be great if they were, but they aren't; they're humans like you and I and they make mistakes; they are influenced by outside sources and by things they learned growing up. The whole gay marriage debate has my family in uproars. My mom can't see how anyone who has a testimony of the gospel can possibly be on the other side of this issue. I don't want to make her uncomfortable so I don't share my feelings about it with her. My cousin, however, openly supports gay marriage, even though she is a faithful member. My mom, however, doesn't believe my cousin is a good person anymore. I am not a champion of gay marriage but I'm also not against it. I won't rally for the cause because I personally am very anti government being involved at all in marriage. I believe each US citizen should be able to have one "tax filing partner" that they can file taxes with if they share an address. Then, let people marry as their hearts desire. Let people call marriage whatever they want to call it. If two brothers want to live together and file taxes and share benefits and be each others' beneficiaries on life insurance... great. Just leave the Gov't out of my marriage and everyone's marriage... okay sorry about the tangent. Great post.