I feel like I have one foot out the door

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
jhp33
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I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by jhp33 » 21 Apr 2014, 09:58

I have been having a very intense conversation with my wife for the last few days about my membership in the church. I am starting to wonder if this dream of being able to be a different kind of believing Mormon actually isn't very feasible in today's church.

She asked me to explain to her why it is so difficult for me. I want to share with you an email I wrote explaining that to her and get your thoughts, as I feel like I have no one else to talk to who feels the way I do or looks at things the way I do.

This was the email I wrote her:


1. I do not accept the infallibility of LDS prophets and apostles. That is, I do not accept that everything they say comes directly from God through revelation. Many in the church say they don't either, but still cling to a belief that what is said over the pulpit at General Conference, for example, or what is written in the Ensign is scripture and can and should be treated as if it comes from God. I reject this as prophet worship. This is based on a thorough understanding of church history, especially as it pertains to certain teachings and policies, such as blacks and the priesthood, polygamy and the Adam-God doctrine.

2. I believe that when a prophet speaks from God, he makes that clear. I believe when a prophet speaks the words of the Lord, he says so. I believe a true prophet, acting as a prophet, seer and revelator, does not make us guess as to whether he is speaking as a man or as God's mouthpiece. This is based on study of the scriptures and the life of Joseph Smith.

3. To that end, as I have studied church history, the last time any of the prophets and apostles presumed to speak for God was in 1978, when Spencer W. Kimball recieved the revelation on blacks and the priesthood. However, this was not a recorded revelation, as opposed to Joseph Smith, who recorded all his revelations (word for word) and presented them to the church. This strikes me as odd.

4. Because of issues 1 through 3, I doubt that our current leaders are being led by direct revelation from God, as was Joseph Smith, Moses, Nephi and others who spoke directly with God. The scriptures teach us that we are to recognize prophets by their fruits. I see no revelatory fruit being manifest in the church today.

5. Because of issues 1 through 4, I do not hold strong faith in many of the current policies of the church, including its firm stance regarding homosexuality and the role of women in the church. I sustain the prophets and apostles in that I recognize that they are duly appointed to lead the corporation of the church, but I do not agree with everything they say or do, just because they say or do it.

6. I believe our modern church, due partly to the laziness of the membership and partly due to the church's own teachings, is suffering from severe prophet worship, wherein we rely on the words of our earthly leaders to guide and direct our decisions, rather than relying on the spirit and the scriptures. I believe we place too much emphasis and trust in the words of men rather than relying on our personal relationship with God to dictate our beliefs and actions.

7. I do not believe in a doctrine of "the one true church." I believe it is possible that God revealed many important and unique things to Joseph Smith, and that Mormonism was meant to be a guardian of sorts of certain truths, however I believe that anyone who is earnestly seeking after God can and will find him, whether in the LDS church or outside it. Obviously, that is not for any of us to judge. There are many not of our church who have had and continue to have profound spiritual experiences, not even relating to anything Christian in nature necessarily. I can not and will not reject these experiences as inferior or even incomplete because of a "one true church" doctrine that is preached in our church.

8. I do not believe that ordinances in and of themselves have any saving power. I believe they are outward symbols of inner commitments to God. If one can live a life fully in the service of God and his fellow man without the ordinance of baptism, for example, I have little doubt God will reject him. If I were to turn back time, I would still want to be baptized, however, but this does not mean that my baptism would have (or does to this day) save me. I do not believe that cancelling my membership in the church can or would cancel my baptism, as that is something between me and God. I do not believe the church acts as an eternally necessary intermediary between me and God. That is wholly unnecessary. The same applies for my temple sealing.

9. I do not know that God exists. I do not know that Jesus Christ exists or lived on the earth. I do not know if the Book of Mormon really came from God. These are all things that I choose to BELIEVE. In my mind, there is a very important distinction. I believe that belief and faith are essential as they are an exercise of our agency. Unless and until I receive a spiritual and physical witness of any of these things, I will neither profess knowledge of them, nor teach my children that they should do likewise.

10. I believe the church has deliberately withheld important parts about church history and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. When these things are discovered, members are naturally angry, hurt and upset that their church would practice deceit or "whitewashing" in an attempt to keep people in the church.

All of these points make me naturally uncomfortable in most church situations. I know that I can believe all of these things and still answer the temple recommend questions honestly.

However, from experience I believe that I am starting to see that I cannot openly believe these things and be accepted within your average LDS ward. So, my choice is to either silently worship at church (to me, not only unfair, but unacceptable), openly worship at church (culturally frowned upon and uncomfortable) or remove myself from the institution of church altogether.

If you have other ideas of how to resolve these concerns, I am open to listening.

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DarkJedi
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Re: I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Apr 2014, 11:20

I don't disagree with anything you wrote and while I may have worded some things differently, I do essentially hold those same beliefs. The problem is in the end where you say that it is unacceptable to you to sit and worship silently. The sad truth is that I believe that's what you're stuck with. Many here have found ways to subtly interject their unorthodox beliefs into lessons and discussions without being confrontational. I'm sure some are better at that than others, but it appears that cultivating this ability might benefit you. I do, of course, recognize from some of your other posts that your bishop is not open to those who are not orthodox and that makes it all the more challenging. He is not following the prophet by taking such a stance, for that is clearly not the stance of Pres. Uchtdorf.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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jhp33
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Re: I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by jhp33 » 21 Apr 2014, 11:30

Thanks, DJ. I really appreciate your feedback and insight, as hard as it may be to hear.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 Apr 2014, 13:22

You might be totally correct for your own ward (and too many others), but there are FAR more members who believe similarly to you on at least some and even all of the points who remain fully active - and even hold leadership positions at various levels.

As with lots of things, it's a roll of the dice locally. I'm sorry you appear to have one of the shortest straws possible right now.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Orson
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Re: I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by Orson » 21 Apr 2014, 15:16

I can go along with everything you wrote, except #2 and the conclusion. As far as prophets I believe that anyone who speaks with the spirit of Christ can (or is) speak as a prophet. I also believe it is primarily MY responsibility to determine when someone is speaking as a prophet.

My own conclusion is I can worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience - how, where, or what I may. I choose to practice my religion by regular church participation while not trying to push my own unique views on anyone else any more than I like it when they push their views on me. I consider it the stronger person's responsibility to take more than they dish, and I try to be a stronger person.

FWIW
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

jhp33
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Joined: 06 Jan 2014, 10:09

Re: I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by jhp33 » 21 Apr 2014, 16:20

Orson wrote:I can go along with everything you wrote, except #2 and the conclusion. As far as prophets I believe that anyone who speaks with the spirit of Christ can (or is) speak as a prophet. I also believe it is primarily MY responsibility to determine when someone is speaking as a prophet.
Fair enough. To me, there is a distinction between a "little p" prophet and a "capital P" Prophet. The scriptures speak of prophecy as being essentially bearing testimony of Jesus Christ. What I'm speaking more of is the "prophet AND seer AND revelator" type of role. The one who speaks for God and establishes doctrine. Does that make sense?
My own conclusion is I can worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience - how, where, or what I may. I choose to practice my religion by regular church participation while not trying to push my own unique views on anyone else any more than I like it when they push their views on me. I consider it the stronger person's responsibility to take more than they dish, and I try to be a stronger person.

FWIW
I think there's definitely a principle in there I need to reflect on, especially as it pertains to "pushing my unique views on anyone else." I don't know that that's necessarily where I'm coming from, but more like it bothers me to hear the classic Mormon myths being perpetuated in church and/or misrepresentation of the actual history or meaning of certain things. I feel the need to speak up when I hear things either that are woefully inaccurate or what I think are damaging/close-minded.

I have been asking myself a lot lately what exactly it is I get out of going to church. I haven't found a good answer yet, other than the fact that my wife would like me to go for our family's sake and the sake of the kids. I feel like I don't get much out of it, but I also fully acknowledge that you get out of something what you put into it. So perhaps this is all on me and I'm not putting enough into it. I dunno.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 Apr 2014, 20:21

Just to consider:

Quite a few non-members attend with their families, even though they have no interest in joining the Church. They go solely for the sake of people they love. If you can assume the role of a supportive, non-member spouse and parent, at least emotionally . . . at least as long as it takes to figure things out for yourself . . .
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Ann
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Re: I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by Ann » 21 Apr 2014, 20:39

jhp33 wrote:
However, from experience I believe that I am starting to see that I cannot openly believe these things and be accepted within your average LDS ward. So, my choice is to either silently worship at church (to me, not only unfair, but unacceptable), openly worship at church (culturally frowned upon and uncomfortable) or remove myself from the institution of church altogether.
I'm getting more comfortable just standing in my spot, one foot in and one out, with people on both sides of it metaphorically "yelling" for me to close it. No. It's MY door. I liked what On Own Now said recently: Spirituality belongs to us. That's a very freeing realization and, for me, it leads to more patience with myself and with others. Best wishes.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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Orson
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Re: I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by Orson » 21 Apr 2014, 23:42

jhp33 wrote:I feel the need to speak up when I hear things either that are woefully inaccurate or what I think are damaging/close-minded.
The way I see it there is a time to speak up, and there is a time for patience. The thing about an authentic "closed mind" is that it is in fact closed. What happens when you try to reason with a closed mind? Exactly. In those situations you are really better off saving your breath and not escalate the frustration.

I know short thoughts in text format can come across as preachy or harsh, I am really just trying to throw out ideas to think about.

Over the years I have actually started to see some purpose in "inaccurate" versions of things. Sometimes people really do get the wrong ideas, potentially harmful wrong ideas, but I think most of the time it mostly comes down to differing interpretations. "Different strokes for different folks." When they find something in their interpretation that resonates with their personal needs who am I to tell them they are seeing it wrong? I find that when it is time to share I am more likely to be able to share my view in a positive and uplifting way when I don't view it as in direct opposition to their point of view. When it can be expressed as more of a tangent than a 180 it is much more likely to be received well.

I don't know, just trying to brain storm a little.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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SilentDawning
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Re: I feel like I have one foot out the door

Post by SilentDawning » 22 Apr 2014, 03:19

I could have written what you wrote, except for #9 as I have a pretty good faith that God exists.

Hopefully this won't hurt your marriage -- is everything OK in that regard? Or is your wife going into withdrawal in your marriage about your lack of orthodoxy?

Also, you imply you are thinking of resigning -- is this necessary? I find that resigning only subjects people further to the authoritativeness of the church, limits future options of coming back or participating in callings, and provides very little benefit other than perhaps making you feel some retribution in writing the resignation letter. After that,you've essentially cut off your options -- unless you want to jump through hoops in order to get back into the church again.

Better to just stay on the records as a lukewarm or less active member.

Comments?
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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