Public forum, tell us about yourself and what brings you to StayLDS!
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Post by Dkormond » 17 Oct 2017, 19:16

Where to start? While I am still hanging on, I am mostly doing so because I fear committing social suicide. My in-laws would disown me, and I would break the heart of my parents. I read Matthew Chap 7 a lot, I feel like it outlines the savior's recipe of finding the true followers of Christ. I am born and raised in the church, my ancestors were at Zion's camp and settled the SL valley.

My struggles boil down to the following:

1.) Social - I see the affects of our culture every day. It makes me very sad. While the majority of the people I know are anxiously engaged in doing the best they can to follow Christ, I see and have experienced many negative, hypocritical events. I am divorced and have been remarried for 7 years. My new wife and I are largely treated like pariahs.

2.) Local Leaders - I work with children professionally. I have seen so much abuse carried out by local leaders. Especially when it comes to confidentiality. I struggle to trust my leaders.

3.) I have a PhD in science. I feel like the church tells the members that if something in science contradicts church beliefs that we should not believe the science. This is a huge struggle for me because I feel I am betraying my conscience. The easiest example I have is the DNA evidence and the BoM. I have read the church's essay and it is simply wrong, the writers do not understand the science. My Bishop tells me to look at evidence from the standpoint of faith, but to me all he is saying is I need to look at it with an outcome bias. Would you take a medicine if it was not compared to placebo? What about the null hypothesis?

4.) Church History - I feel like the church essays made me a liar. I spent the majority of my mission in largely black neighborhoods. I defended the church's prohibition on the priesthood to black people as necessary given the sosocial context of the USA at the time and that God knew that giving the priesthood to men who couldn't use it properly would curse them. Now I find out that there was never a revelation and it was done all because Brigham Young felt like it needed to happen? If you read his writings why he did it it's appalling. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young practiced polyandry? Joseph Smith didn't translate the BoM he saw the words in a rock? That's not translating! What does this all mean? I have given my life to the church. I feel soooo betrayed

Well nice to meet you all. I can't say these things to any bishop. I fear the church leaders

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Re: Struggling

Post by AmyJ » 18 Oct 2017, 05:34

Congrats for hanging in there - that can be really tough. I found the support essays on the front page super helpful in helping me to stay grounded. I will look up that chapter in Matthew on my lunch break - it sounds like a good chapter.

Most of us share your struggles with the 4 topics to varying degrees. You are not alone in this.

Hopefully you will find peace here with us. welcome!

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Re: Struggling

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Oct 2017, 05:48

Welcome. You certainly aren't the only one who has been where you are. That's actually important to know - you are not alone and you don't need to go through this alone. You are wise to not talk to your bishop, but here you can be free to express your thoughts and frustrations (reasonably and respectfully, of course) to those who do understand.

1). Yep, I hear ya. There are others here who hear you as well. The way I deal with it is that I have become comfortable in my own skin and believing what I believe. My focus is on the core principles of the gospel, essentially be nice to each other and and have hope in the atonement of Jesus Christ. There are many good people at church, as you point out, and most are trying to do what's right. I go about doing what I think is right and sometimes that means ignoring and avoiding some people. That's not always easy.

2) I haven't seen this kind of abuse, except perhaps psychological. I have seen breeches of confidence with youth and adults. It's a problem. I can't say it's all leaders involved and my view may be limited and I may be biased - but again for the most part I see these guys (and girls) trying to do what they think is right. Sometimes they go about it the wrong way, just like I sometimes do. I'm not saying we should excuse behavior, especially abusive behavior. Sometimes expressing your opinion to them (or another leader) privately works and sometimes it does't - do what you think is right.

3) The science/religion thing can be sticky. I lean toward science. It doesn't matter what "the church teaches" in this case. I have decided what I believe and sometimes I get a good chuckle in SS (sometimes out loud). I recognize there are others in my ward who think the same way - I know who I can talk about evolution with and they're great people to hang out with while skipping SS (or to have an occasional dinner with). That goes back to feeling comfortable in your own skin. It doesn't matter if the guy next to me or even every other parrot in the whole room believes that Jonah literally lived in a fish for 3 days and I don't - the moral of the story is the same.

4) I feel like I lied to lots of people on my mission as well. I also feel as though I lied to my children, although much of that has now been cleared up (they are now adults). That feeling of betrayal was a major part of my faith crisis and inactivity. The good news is that this is a safe place to discuss those things. Again, it's not easy. For me it had a lot to do with recognizing the difference in the gospel and the church AND what the "church teaches" as opposed to what people teach. "The church" has taught a good amount of false doctrine over the years - but in the end it's really not the church teaching those things, it's men (who often misunderstood). In this case I once again rely on the core of the gospel - that other stuff doesn't really matter.
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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Re: Struggling

Post by FaithfulSkeptic » 18 Oct 2017, 12:18

Welcome Dkormond!

Yes, you are definitely not alone! I'm struggling too with many of the same things as you. And I am hanging on (barely) and I stay engaged mostly for family. I finally got some relief when I gave myself permission to not try to believe everything anymore and not try do everything we are asked to do in the Church. My experience with local leaders has generally been good, but I've lost trust in the leadership of the corporate Church and now see the brethren more as mortal men who are not often led by God, in spite of what they think.

I really struggle with the Church culture, but I am surrounded by it and can't really escape without committing social suicide. I'm with you on this.

I don't have a PhD in science, but I think like a scientist. I have a hard time reconciling conflicts with religion and science and I'm right there with you on the DNA and BOM essay. I'm pretty skeptical of pretty much every truth claim of the Church, although I've really tried to just believe and act in faith. Recently I've become more comfortable with my skepticism.

I'm right there with you about church history as well. There are a lot of skeletons in our past. I first started becoming aware of them on my mission and I just couldn't make it work. I ended up coming home after only a few months because I just could not make it work and felt very uncomfortable trying to convince people to join a church that I was so uncomfortable with. I tried to put my doubts on the "shelf", but that was not sustainable for me. I finally gave myself permission to do some real investigation and went down the rabbit hole and will never be the same again.

I think it is wise to be careful what you reveal to your bishop or others about your beliefs. Some will be understanding and caring, but others simply don't know how to be helpful to people like us.

I hope you enjoy it here! It is a safe place to be.
I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2014

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Re: Struggling

Post by SilentDawning » 18 Oct 2017, 12:48

Welcome! I get it -- all of it.

I suggest you use your intelligence and energy to find a successful path in the church, while maintaining your personal happiness at the same time. You need to define what success is for you in this case. I can share a few ideas

1) Feeling at peace in spite of the betrayal, leadership abuse, whitewashing, and scientific inaccuracies.
2) Maintaining your healthy family relationships.
3) Finding joy in your life in general.
4) Being able to do whatever you want in the church, in the future, if you choose (participate in ordinances, etcetera).

These have been my goals and they have been fulfilling. And I have largely achieved all of them. Occasionally stuff pops up that presents a condundrum, challenge or blip in my peace, but they tend to pass as I work them off. I can say I am FAR happier now than I was as a TBM member doing so much that I didn't enjoy.

You are QUITE RIGHT not to trust the local leaders. Their loyalty is first to the organization, and they vary widely in how they respond to expressions of doubt, concern, and constructive criticism. Some will empathize and nurture you, while others will impose restrictions and discipline that only make it harder for you to achieve success. And it can be hard to predict where they will land on this continuum. Avoid the risk,. Avoid any local expressions of doubt or concern if you want to keep your cruising range open in the future (item #4).

Look at this as an interesting intellectual and social puzzle, and take joy in achieving your goals. Take joy in navigating uncomfortable meetings with priesthood leaders successfully. Take joy in navigating such conversations with family successfully. Learn to take joy in family members reaching key church milestones from a TBM perspective. Recognize that your concerns are your own, and they don't work for everyone -- some are better off and happier in the TBM path in the church.

If I was to look at a place to start, I would consider dealing with your angst about being a pariah because you are divorced. At one point I crossed a line and didn't care what the rest of the Ward thought of me. I am not sure what did it -- I think it was the confidence I gained in forming my own opinions about what it takes to live happily in the church. Also, I found social circles and service opportunities outside the church that are very fulfilling. This reduced the church footprint in my life to the point they were no longer my primary social circle.

And have a rich, personal life. I find that my reading activities, my discussions with other people who have similar problems and interests is what I revert to when others act in ways that seem to marginalize me. I also revert to personal projects like publishing Kindle books, writing articles, improving my mastery of my environment (cleaning my personal space), managing investments -- all these things provide a rich life in addition to my extra-church service efforts. What is your equivalent set of activities that bring you joy and peace, in spite of how others may treat you?
"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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Re: Struggling

Post by Roy » 18 Oct 2017, 16:43

Welcome DK,

You are definitely not alone.

1) I believe that it is worth the effort to diversify your social life. I do not talk to people often where the church comes up in conversation. This might be harder if you live in Utah.

2) I read this to mean that you fear that anything you say to local leaders might not be kept confidentially and might come back to haunt you socially and professionally. I believe that this is a valid concern.

3) Sometimes it is helpful to compartmentalize the science from the social science. Compare the value of religion to great art or literature. It does not have to be scientifically correct or historically accurate to have value. Maybe pretend to be an anthropologist embedded with a strange tribe of "Mormons". What importance do the foundational myths have of their culture and society? The human animal is fascinating!

4) Church history is a BIG problem. The warts and all history of the church is both inspiring and frustrating. How much that history differs from the white washed version we learn from official church sources is pretty shocking to many. It is that "shock" that turns to feelings of betrayal. I believe that the church is trying to insert the more full truth into the collective consciousness in smallish doses. "Inoculation" perhaps.

Stay and participate as much as is helpful for you. We have some great discussions.
"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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Re: Struggling

Post by Beefster » 18 Oct 2017, 21:40

1) I relate. Social struggles were where things all started for me this time around. The culture surrounding sexuality especially. Mormons simply do not talk enough about sex.

2) Leadership roulette is a real problem. Coming from a personal pain point, every leader seems to have a different way of handling porn and masturbation issues. It ranges from "don't worry about it" to "you're a horrible sinner and you must stop taking the sacrament immediately." I've heard some horror stories regarding other topics like the BYU honor code, but you get the picture.

3) I pretty much always side with science. Faith does not mean rejecting the evidence. Faith is about acting in the face of uncertainty, not about believing what has been traditionally taught despite evidence to the contrary... Hmm... Sorta reminds me of temple Satan saying "This man does not seem to believe what is being taught!"

4) Church history is pretty sketchy stuff. Polygamy, in and of itself, doesn't particularly bother me; it's the fact that it was kept secret in the early church that gives me the willies. Brigham Young was a racist and so were many GAs after him (FWIW, I believe God will hold all GAs accountable for the damaging policies they introduced/perpetuated). The church has a long history of moving the goalposts on tithing as well as waffling on financial transparency as they went into and out of debt. The temple's masonic origins and early vengeance oaths really raise my eyebrows. I have no idea how to reconcile all of this, but the standard approach of sweeping it under the rug isn't going to work and apologetics won't to much good either.

Welcome to the club.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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Re: Struggling

Post by Curt Sunshine » 19 Oct 2017, 20:48

Welcome to our own Island of Misfit Toys.
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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Re: Struggling

Post by Dkormond » 19 Oct 2017, 20:50

Thanks everyone. Do you feel like denying your truth has a long term negative affect on your soul?

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Re: Struggling

Post by Curt Sunshine » 19 Oct 2017, 20:52

I never deny my truth. Period. I simply don't share all of it with everyone.

I care about myself and them too much to do either of those things.
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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