DoubtingTom wrote: ↑
21 May 2017, 08:57
To those of you who suggest not sharing where you are personally with leaders or other members, may I ask a question? What value and meaning do you feel in belonging to a community where you feel if you were to publicly share your personal perspectives you would be rejected or dismissed?
I'm actually struggling with how to word this, but the straightest way is to ask you the same question. If you disagree with or doubt the organization so much, what value do you find in attending? Let's do a little analogy.
Let's say you belong the Spanky and Alfalfa's He-Man-Woman-Hater's Club (HMWHC). You joined as soon as you learned about the club, you took the oath, and attended all the meetings and activities. You couldn't get enough of it, you loved the camaraderie and everything about the club's beliefs and ideals. As time went on though you became aware of some things that you don't fully agree with any more. You figure out that not all women are trouble and there are some you'd really like to get closer with. But any relationship with a woman is grounds for your immediate dismissal from the club meaning you won't be able to attend the tailgate parties, annual pig roast, or Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. Even though you don't believe it all anymore, it's still your tribe, they're still your friends, and there's nothing better on earth than that pig - so you decide to stick around, keep the women thing to yourself, and join in the activities. Is it your place now to convert others to your way of thinking? (Mother Nature will do that eventually anyway, but we're just pretending here.) Is it your place to stand up in the next meeting and say "Girls ain't so bad, try 'em you might like 'em!"? Of course not, it's their club, their rules, and you agreed to them. If you're going to stay you need to play by the rules. Does that mean you can't say something like "Gee guys, Spanky's Mom sure does make great brownies for desert at the pig roast - that woman sure ain't so bad!"? Of course you could say that - there might be a couple guys that look at your crossways, but most will likely agree. See where I'm going with this?
We might not agree with everything that happens at church or everything that the church (or usually more accurately people in the church) teaches, but it's their club, their rules. It is no more our place to try to change those rules than it is to try to change the rules of the HMWHC or the Catholic or Baptist church down the street. That's not how it works. We can all have our opinions, but we are not free in many circumstances to share those opinions. Try sharing what a horrible boss you have with his boss or tell the CEO that your company business plan is all wrong and see how far that gets you.
This is where I am and where I am really struggling right now. I too am basically agnostic with TBM spouse and attend to support her. Support of her is also why I haven't specifically asked to be released but I have come close. I did tell my leaders and they basically know where I'm at and that was important for me to have them know.
So now I basically look at the church as a club I belong to. But what is hard for me is the thought that if I were to stand up at the pulpit and express honestly and sincerely where I am at and how I got there, that ultimately I would be rejected. So the struggle is, other than support for my spouse, why continue to associate with a community that would reject the authentic self?
Good question. Why? If you are a member of the club, you agree to the club's rules. If you're just a visitor to the club, you still play by the club's rules. If you don't want to play by the rules, don't go to the club. Again, it's their club, their rules.
And right now it is a real struggle and I am having a very hard time coming up with reasons for someone like myself who falls more on the side of disbelief to continue. I could continue attending for years, but will that bring me satisfaction and joy? Am I missing out on being part of a different community that would accept me for me? And at the very least, I am so glad I found this online community that fills that need.
Again, good question. You said you are going to support your wife. If that's the goal and purpose, you need to make that your goal and purpose. Your purpose then is not to look for satisfaction and joy except in the satisfaction and joy you get from supporting your wife because you love her. You might be missing out on different kinds of joy or spiritual fulfillment - the only way to know is to go to a different club and find out.
All that said, I sometimes sort of see myself as an observer at church. Sometimes I find great humor in some of the stuff that goes on, sometimes it makes me angry. Sometimes I pay attention and find peace, joy or satisfaction, and sometimes I find peace, joy and satisfaction by not paying attention and seeking it elsewhere (I am thankful for my tablet/phone). I can't stand at the pulpit and express all my opinions, but you might be surprised what you can get away with using scripture and GA quotes (without stretching them either). I've said I support civil gay marriage in class, making sure to add that I also believe the church has every right not to perform or recognize them (their club, their rules - but their rules don't apply to other clubs). I can freely talk about grace, about focusing on Christ, about my distaste for doing family history, and myriad other things - all without wearing a sign that says "You're all full of crap and I don't believe most of what you say" (which may well be what I'm thinking). In addition to knowing when to hold 'em and fold 'em, you also have to know when (and how) to bluff and when to call. There is a great deal to be said for nuance and speaking Sheepese as a llama. There's also much to be said for focusing on and talking about what you do believe.
I don't see your real issue here as being authenticity, I see it as wanting to leave the club but not daring to (for good reason).