How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

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Beefster
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How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by Beefster » 14 Jan 2018, 11:54

I feel I have (at least somewhat) resolved my feelings of blaming the church for my social deficiency and not feeling like I belong. I truly feel like I have a lot to gain socially from the church. But I can't really get behind many of the things the church stands for. Some of those things I can deal with. But some of those I can't.

(A quick definition of "Intellectual Dishonesty" for those unfamiliar with the term: it's the act of holding a position opposite to what you can logically justify. For instance, a cigarette salesman is likely to be intellectually dishonest, as it is common knowledge that smoking is bad for you and the salesman would probably have to sidestep that in some way or another to convince you to buy some cigarettes.)

The conflict comes in from feeling as if ordinances are not essential and the church does not have to be (and in my mind probably isn't) the one true church. I can put aside culture and tradition, literalism, bad policies, and even sketchy church history without too much fuss, but the church's truth claims are a pretty major aspect of the church that I don't really feel comfortable sweeping under the rug. The issue is not a core incompatibility, because I believe in a loving Heavenly Father and that Jesus is my Savior, and although many members don't realize it, that is the center of the LDS faith. I believe in most other LDS doctrines. I just can't get behind the "one true church" mentality and I struggle to reconcile that with my beliefs, feelings, and conclusions.

In my mind, the only way to resolve this conflict is to either somehow return to genuinely believing the truth claims or to leave the church. From what I gather, many of you have found a third option and made peace with that. Seeing that I don't think I can go back to a genuinely simple belief in the truth claims and I don't like the costs of leaving the church (certainly not financial costs, as I wouldn't be paying tithing anymore :P ), I really would like to find that third option and be at peace with it. Because as it stands right now, I'm straddling my two options and it makes me feel incredibly conflicted. All the time.

What have you all done to find that third option and be at peace with it?
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

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DarkJedi
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Re: How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by DarkJedi » 14 Jan 2018, 12:33

And that is the trick, my friend. We must each find our own path, and while those of us here are mostly on similar paths we are also each uniquely on our own paths. I have said this before - we're all in this together while at the same time completely alone.

FWIW, I don't see my position as intellectually dishonest. I am at least being honest with myself. Like you, I don't see the necessity of ordinances or even a church and if there is a need for a church, why does there have to be only one true one? Truth is truth no matter where it's found, right? I do see the symbolic significance of ordinances, but they're only significant in that sense if that's what one believes. I do not believe there is necessarily an "authority" to perform or otherwise take part in such ordinances, either - nullifying a major truth claim of the church.

So how do I do it? Part of it is explained above- symbolism. You're right, you can't go back to being a true believer just like you can't go back to believing in Santa Claus. But leaving is not the only other option. Another big part of how I do it is something you already do - believe in Christ. This is the core doctrine of the church (although you wouldn't know it some Sundays) and if I can't focus on anything else I can always focus on that, even if I'm the only one doing it right then and there. Frankly the rest of the stuff just plain doesn't matter and is mostly the opinions of others which I can choose to agree with or not. I wish it were more simple to explain. The difference between me and the cigarette salesman is that I'm not selling anything, including the church.

You seek peace, and I hope you find it.
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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Reuben
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Re: How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by Reuben » 14 Jan 2018, 14:00

I didn't find peace in the third option, and I'm not sure I could have. There were two problems with it.

First, I have a daughter for whom I believe the LDS church is toxic. I couldn't attend without becoming upset, which made her retrench. I also couldn't attend without making it seem like she has no other choices. She has anxiety and no real-life friends outside the church, so there's little chance she'd choose a different path on her own. If she needs to leave, she needs a well-adjusted example to follow. This is the only problem with the third option that I identified at the time I left.

I've only just started to understand the second problem. It turns out that it's incredibly draining for me to present myself differently depending on social context. Some people do it easily. A few people are even social chameleons, appearing to fit in anywhere they go. (Curt Sunshine is probably a fine example.) It took me between the ages of 20 and 30 to get to a point where, in a wide variety of social contexts, I could pass the incredibly low bar of not overtly offending anyone. Even this isn't quite second-nature yet. Now add to that the difficulty of saying one thing ("I believe X") while meaning another ("I have a nuanced, nearly atheistic view of Y that would probably offend you, but we can agree on X if the words A and B mean very different things to each of us"), and it's too much cognitive load. I hate doing it. I resent the people who make me do it. Normally, I avoid those people. Suddenly, my friends at church were making me do it. I resented them and I felt like they were making me into a liar.

I'm not suggesting that you're experiencing the same thing. I am suggesting that the third option often doesn't work, and that when it doesn't, there are probably a few out of a hundred common reasons that it doesn't. I'd actually love to see them catalogued.

If you do decide it doesn't work for you, you should know that nobody here will look down on you. "Stay LDS" is an initial goal, not a foregone conclusion.
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Re: How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by Roy » 14 Jan 2018, 14:57

To start, I think defining intellectual dishonesty (or "authenticity") is important.

Are you intellectually dishonest when you try to present yourself in the best light on a first date? How about when you do not want to go on a date but do not want to hurt the askers feelings?

I personally am fairly comfortable with dishonesty. I do not have any moral qualms about saying whatever needs to be said if the stakes are high enough. I actually look at people who are inflexibly honest as somewhat handicapped. It is part of my personality.

Even still, most people that consider themselves honest are not totally honest but just honest enough to minimize cognitive dissonance. Hardly anyone does total, filter free honesty, so what we are really talking about is degree of moderation.

Some cultures do not place a very high value on western individualism. In those cultures "authenticity" can be seen as motivated by selfishness and is just an excuse for being rude.
Beefster wrote:
14 Jan 2018, 11:54
In my mind, the only way to resolve this conflict is to either somehow return to genuinely believing the truth claims or to leave the church
There are only two types of people in this world. Those that see things in black and white and those that do not. :angel: My solution is to grow more familiar and comfortable with a world full of grey. People are emotional and social animals. We are only partially logical (and our brain is good at convincing us that we are acting logically when we are not). There are social and evolutionary benefits to fitting in with your tribe.

Finally, I do not believe the tension of tribalism/fitting in vs. authenticity/being yourself will ever really go away. Individuals get better at managing it. There are tactics, compromises, and coping mechanisms but the tension is still there in the background. It is part of the human condition.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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dande48
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Re: How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by dande48 » 14 Jan 2018, 15:09

To take a NT a little far... A tree can produce both good fruit and bad fruit. The trick is, to plant the seeds you get from the best fruit, so that those who come after will have better fruit than you were given. Then when the time comes, the old tree will be chopped down to allow newer generations to flourish. But for now, it's better to hang on to it a little longer.

In other words, you can toss out the Church as a whole, but that leaves you without the good good it provides. Or you can pass on the best and swallow the rest. I'd like to think by staying I'm helping future generations.
"But there's no sense in crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying, til you run out of cake." - Still Alive

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
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SilentDawning
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Re: How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Jan 2018, 15:11

Beefster wrote:
14 Jan 2018, 11:54
In my mind, the only way to resolve this conflict is to either somehow return to genuinely believing the truth claims or to leave the church. From what I gather, many of you have found a third option and made peace with that. Seeing that I don't think I can go back to a genuinely simple belief in the truth claims and I don't like the costs of leaving the church (certainly not financial costs, as I wouldn't be paying tithing anymore :P ), I really would like to find that third option and be at peace with it. Because as it stands right now, I'm straddling my two options and it makes me feel incredibly conflicted. All the time.

What have you all done to find that third option and be at peace with it?
Unlike the cigarette salesman, you are in a very murky area. Some people HAVE claimed, with absolute certainty, they have seen visions and that the church is true. Religion is hurky murky so it's not as if there is complete fact that Mormonism isn't true on some level. So, I take refuge in that uncertainty. Unlike the cigarette salesman who has no legs to stand on. There is wiggle room that allows you an "out" when it comes to intellectual dishonesty. If like me, you may also have spiritual experiences you can't explain that encourage some alliance with the church going forward.

And even if you say there is fact that certain parts of our religion are false, can you say the whole thing is a falsehood? I can't.

You also have your own fallibility to worry about. I have a certain amount of doubt in my own sensitibilities. I have been wrong in the past, and it's possible I'm wrong about my approach to this Mormon thing. Leave yourself open for the future given all the unproveables surrounding religion.

Also, avoid the trap of binary thinking. We criticize traditional believers of that all the time, let's not succumb to it ourselves.

I get around it by focusing on the impact of leaving altogether on my marriage, my finances, my already a bit strange relationship with my TBM daughter. The Mormon thing gives them comfort, and got my daughter out of teenage years without problems related to sex, drugs and other traps teenagers fall into. That alone is enough to consider it a good thing to believe, even if you don't have full goosebumps about it.

I look at staying active now as a kind of spiritual and intellectual challenge. I take satisfaction in having "put the church in its place". It has no claim on me now unless I agree to it I don't feel forced into it at all, and I relate to it on my own terms. the local leadership is off base with me. Has no idea what to do but leave me alone.

There is freedom in that.....

Now, I don't go proselyting people into it, that is for sure. That would force me to confront intellectual dishonesty, and I don't teach stuff at church I have a problem with either. Find ways of integrating with church culture/experience so you don't have to go out and perpetuate culture and doctrinal ideas for which you don't have full commitment.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- 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."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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Re: How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Jan 2018, 16:17

"Social chameleon" :D

I would qualify that to say I have learned to be authentic in differing ways that are recognized and acceptable to varying groups of people. I am authentic always, but I don't do and say the exact same things in different settings. I have spent multiple decades honing that skill, and it is natural 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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SilentDawning
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Re: How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Jan 2018, 17:04

Curt Sunshine wrote:
14 Jan 2018, 16:17
"Social chameleon" :D

I would qualify that to say I have learned to be authentic in differing ways that are recognized and acceptable to varying groups of people. I am authentic always, but I don't do and say the exact same things in different settings. I have spent multiple decades honing that skill, and it is natural now.
I agree. If I am sitting across from our TBM Stake President, the conversation will be rather formal, not force him into any controversial areas, be rather brief and to the point. I will draw on what orthodox ideas I have such as the value of youth programs, the good people in the church, the many opportunities to serve. That is, if it's purely social. If he has me in the office, the idea is to get in and out with my options open, while asserting myself gently and vaguely. My reasons for not doing whatever he wants me to do will be watered down and made palatable, but not discipline-worthy or priviledge-reducing in the future. When talking to someone who is very less active, and has concerns about the church, I'll be leaning on my unorthodoxy to help find common ground. Even talking to an ex-Mormon I can empathize with some of what they say, and find common ground.

It's a skill, and a bit of an intellectual, social exercise that can be a bit fun too if you let it.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- 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."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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Beefster
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Re: How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by Beefster » 14 Jan 2018, 18:29

Roy wrote:
14 Jan 2018, 14:57
To start, I think defining intellectual dishonesty (or "authenticity") is important.

Are you intellectually dishonest when you try to present yourself in the best light on a first date? How about when you do not want to go on a date but do not want to hurt the askers feelings?
I defined the term in my opening post as holding a position contrary to what you can support with your own understanding. A pastor who doesn't believe in God would be a good example and probably a better one than the cigarette salesman.

Acting differently in different contexts is not a problem for me. I act differently at work than I do at home or at church. I act differently around my family than I do around close friends. That's not really an authenticity issue for me. It's also not intellectually dishonest to do so. I don't believe in absolute unconditional honesty and I feel that the only ones qualified to have that kind of transparency are Godhead members. There will be some things that will be withheld from my future wife, like work passwords and birthday surprises, but she'd be the next closest in terms of absolute honesty.

Point is, I can deal with imperfect authenticity. It's a fact of life. I also play online mafia where lying is a big part of the game.

Things get particularly hairy with my calling as a Ward Missionary. I'm okay with missionary work as a whole, but I find it uncomfortable to push for baptism/joining the church or even inviting non-members/inactive members to church. I have no problem with teaching investigators and letting them choose that course of action, but that's not exactly the current model of missionary work. Even on my mission, I had a live-and-let-live sort of attitude and hated how we were encouraged to invite investigators to be baptized on the first lesson (not to mention in such a mechanical way). There are also some Gospel Principles lessons I am uncomfortable with teaching, but it's not that hard to wiggle my way out of teaching.

The strange thing is that I still have a strong missionary instinct/drive, despite my landmine topics. I have no issues with telling people I'm Mormon (when appropriate) or telling about how the church works. I've had plenty of conversations with people about spirituality and I feel like I learned a lot from some of them.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

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SilentDawning
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Re: How to Resolve Feelings of Intellectual Dishonesty

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Jan 2018, 18:51

Beefster wrote:
14 Jan 2018, 18:29
Roy wrote:
14 Jan 2018, 14:57
To start, I think defining intellectual dishonesty (or "authenticity") is important.

Are you intellectually dishonest when you try to present yourself in the best light on a first date? How about when you do not want to go on a date but do not want to hurt the askers feelings?
I defined the term in my opening post as holding a position contrary to what you can support with your own understanding. A pastor who doesn't believe in God would be a good example and probably a better one than the cigarette salesman.

Acting differently in different contexts is not a problem for me. I act differently at work than I do at home or at church. I act differently around my family than I do around close friends. That's not really an authenticity issue for me. It's also not intellectually dishonest to do so. I don't believe in absolute unconditional honesty and I feel that the only ones qualified to have that kind of transparency are Godhead members. There will be some things that will be withheld from my future wife, like work passwords and birthday surprises, but she'd be the next closest in terms of absolute honesty.

Point is, I can deal with imperfect authenticity. It's a fact of life. I also play online mafia where lying is a big part of the game.

Things get particularly hairy with my calling as a Ward Missionary. I'm okay with missionary work as a whole, but I find it uncomfortable to push for baptism/joining the church or even inviting non-members/inactive members to church. I have no problem with teaching investigators and letting them choose that course of action, but that's not exactly the current model of missionary work. Even on my mission, I had a live-and-let-live sort of attitude and hated how we were encouraged to invite investigators to be baptized on the first lesson (not to mention in such a mechanical way). There are also some Gospel Principles lessons I am uncomfortable with teaching, but it's not that hard to wiggle my way out of teaching.

The strange thing is that I still have a strong missionary instinct/drive, despite my landmine topics. I have no issues with telling people I'm Mormon (when appropriate) or telling about how the church works. I've had plenty of conversations with people about spirituality and I feel like I learned a lot from some of them.
I found that I can be candid with people now. For example, someone asked me about the lay ministry. I explained that at the local level, it is totally a lay ministry. But that as you go higher up in the church, with people that serve in Apostle, mission president and other capacities, they are paid. However, the general membership is not totally aware of this -- it is not discussed openly that they are paid, although people will likely acknowledge it if pressed.

That's balanced and candid. I can do that. In fact, I preference my comments with "traditional believers believe that....". Someone once asked me -- you talk about the Mormons as if they are separate from you!! I replied that yes, I view them that way. I am a baptized Mormon, but I am in the church, but not of the church. I see both sides and tend to present both sides.

One thing I will not do is try to convince people to join. My conscience won't allow that after what I have been through!!!
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- 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."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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