How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 23 Nov 2011, 13:43

I agree wholeheartedly with wayfarer's last comment.

There is a very thought-provoking post over on BCC about "seeking pastoral care at BYU" that addresses that exact issue. (http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/11/10/s ... re-at-byu/) Hence, my first comment.
I guess what I’m hearing from you is, “Go ahead and share whatever, as long as your membership standing in the church (official or otherwise) isn’t very important to you.” Would you care to clarify?


I can see how you read it that way, but it's not what I meant. My membership is very important to me, but I still share lots of things that I know some who hear aren't going to accept or like immediately. In some cases, I know some people are going to disagree strongly with and dislike some of what I share. I do it in Sacrament Meeting talks, in Sunday School, in HPG lessons, in Stake Leadership meetings, etc.

Rather, I meant that WE have control over what we share and what we don't - and with whom we share and with whom we don't - and when we share and when we don't - and how we share and how we don't - and why we share and why we don't - etc. We can choose to act as agents onto ourselves (by making that choice without a universal answer that is the same for all circumstances), or we can choose to allow ourselves to be acted upon (by having a universal answer that dictates our action no matter the differing circumstances). We just have to understand that there might be consequences as a result of our choice.

I'd rather know the potential consequences and make my choice accordingly than default to a position of never talking with anyone in any position of authority, mostly since I have had "leaders" with whom I could talk about pretty much anything and "leaders" with whom I don't share much of anything. I've learned to share in such a way that the first group is MUCH larger than the second group - but the point is that there are two different groups, and I believe the ideal is to understand that fact and share whatever your feel is right to share (even if that is nothing) in each situation, with each person, knowing full well the potential consequences.

Also, consequences and potential consequences are part and parcel of ALL human interaction. It is impossible to weed that out of the Church. If you doubt that, consider your marriage. I'd be willing to bet you have learned the necessity of tact, discernment and a closed mouth if you've been married for longer than . . . maybe two days . . . at the most.
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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Brian Johnston
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Re: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by Brian Johnston » 25 Nov 2011, 09:28

wayfarer wrote:In courts of justice, one has a counselor that advocates for you and advises you of what you can do. In the Church system, your advisor, the BP or SP, is the investigator, prosecutor, judge, and executioner, and you throw yourself at his mercy when you talk to him. That may be appropriate if you don't care about the outcome, but if you do, it's not a very merciful system, and does not allow for 'advice' without consequence.

<SNIP>

It doesn't have to be this way, but it often is. Remember, the BP and SP are "Judges in Israel", not spiritual counselors. If you have a sin to confess, want to be released from a calling, or need a TR interview, set an appointment with the BP. If you need spiritual advice on your doubts as to the authenticity of the church... well.... here we are... I'm really not sure there is another answer.
The most concise and erudite summary of the problem I've ever read! [Salute to Wayfarer] :clap:

I agree that less is best with leadership. Tell them as little as possibly in order to get what you need done. I consider myself, like Ray, pretty skilled at talking about this stuff without freaking people out. But this never goes well. It doesn't. Go ahead and try it if someone feels the need. I haven't seen it work though.

There really isn't a reason to dump all this doubt on them. We sometimes have this feeling that we want a leader to validate what we are thinking and going through. We want them to tell us "Yeah, you're right. That is a problem. You're not crazy. I think that too." It would make us feel better.

But that isn't going to happen. Actually, it shouldn't happen. We need to become comfortable from the inside out in order to be spiritually healthy and get through this transition as strong souls. Getting validated and comforted from the outside in hampers the process.

Like Hawkgrrl pointed out, it's very unlikely someone in one of those positions is struggling with doubts and concerns too and can sympathize fully. I've tried skimming the surface of controversy a few times with leaders when they got a bug about trying to fix me or fix my wife and our "problems." Within seconds, I see the deer-in-the-headlights look on their face. The conversation shifts awkwardly. I let that happen. We move on to talking about other things, and the meeting ends pleasantly. ;)

End result: we're not a project anymore and get left alone. I'm happy at Church anyways when i'm there, so why poke me with a stick? I'm not causing trouble.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by SilentDawning » 25 Nov 2011, 11:32

I've tried skimming the surface of controversy a few times with leaders when they got a bug about trying to fix me or fix my wife and our "problems." Within seconds, I see the deer-in-the-headlights look on their face. The conversation shifts awkwardly. I let that happen. We move on to talking about other things, and the meeting ends pleasantly
.

I'd like hear more about this....it sounds interesting, but without knowing the context, or a paraphrase of the flow of the converation, I can't visualize it...and I'd like to.

For me, I've had conversations that go like this (not that I'm asking for this level of detail from you Brian):

"So, SD, what are your issues with the Church right now?"

SD: "I have a testimony, but some of the negative experiences I've had have dented my commitment. I find it hard to push my self into the high levels of financial and time-giving expected of me when my Church experience has been so unpleasant at times".

BP: What happened?

SD: [Explains a couple of the experiences.....involving male leaders in the Church and their heartless decisions, lack of reciprocity when I had valid needs that coincided with the mission of the Church -- trying to get on a mission, trying to adopt a child when my wife was unable to have one].

BP: Well, I dont' agree with the decisions either of these men made. You need to forgive...

SD: I've tried, and it takes me a while. Time has to let itself pale the experience into insignificant. I've tried to shake it, I pray, I come to Church, but inside, I can't bring myself to serve at that depth.

BP: What about your salvation?

SD: Well, I will have to answer for the decisions I made. I understand that. I will have to accept whatever the penalty the Lord gives me. I don't have any problems with the commandments, by the way, except tithing. I know the gospel, so I guess this is my personal struggle until I come out of it.

BP: What bothers you about tithing?

SD: I feel that our religion requires huge financial sacrifices, but when i've approach this Church to whom I've shown my commitment through huge challenges of a mission, getting married, staying married, and then having children, I'm treated in such a harsh manner, it nips the top off my testimony. I'll bet that in spite of your testimony, there are times that you wonder if it's all true [BP doesn't appear to disagree].

I still have the memory of my spiritual experience, and then convince me to stay, at at times, doesnt' seem worth it. And ti seems one-sided. So much is expected from us, but then the flow needs to go from the Church to the member, it seems as if we owe the Church big-time. The Ward welfare program is one....when a faithful member has financial troubles, it seems as though they owe the Church big-time with work, more service. Providing the Lord's way says to seek out the poor -- I question if this is really close to the hearts of the local leaders on whom I've sat with on councils. Their objective seems to be to control the deficit rather than reach out to the members who are struggling. [Bishop looks surpised].

After my two experiences of being so heartlessly dealth with the only two times I came to the Church for co-missioning help, I have serious questions about whether the Church would ever be there for me if I ever ran into financial difficulties. [hasn't happened, by the way].

BP: But if you just sit there and do nothing, the tendency is to do nothing.

SD: That's right ..do nothing. That's what I will do until I feel ready to commit again. But i will support my wife and childre, and attend regularly.

BP: Well, can I meet with your annually just to talk about where you are at?

SD: Sure
As a result of this, people left me alone. But a hard-line member of theSP stood up in priesthood meeting about two weeks later and said:
The Celestial Kingdom takes sacrifice. if you have problems with tithing or the ward welfare program, then you can't have it.
.

Don't know if it was directed at me or not, but he stared right at me when he said it, and he hit right on my issues at the time.

Even THAT was too much information in retrospect. I should have left out the tithing, welfare, one-way flow. AS it ony made the SP judgmental -- but not my Bishop who was friendly and supportive and simply met with me every year for about three years -- and then I accepted a calling for a year before moving....
"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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Brian Johnston
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Re: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by Brian Johnston » 25 Nov 2011, 12:12

I'll share the gist of one conversation. To preface it, I want to say that I really liked this Bishop. He was a good man and really cared about people in the ward, was very tolerant and loving, and was great at running the ward. I worked with him in scouts a few years before he was called as Bishop, and got to know him pretty good. Just wanted to say all that first before anything below sounds critical.
BP: I wanted to meet with you to find out how we can help your wife feel loved by the ward. I am sure I can resolve whatever issues she has because I have a strong testimony of the Gospel and what it does in our life. I know the world isn't perfect, but the Gospel is and it's made a tremendous difference in my life [he's an adult convert and grew up in a very rough home as a child, which he shares with people]. I've talked with critics of the Church and that hasn't lessened my testimony (he meant evangelical Christians in the area).

Me: I don't know if it's really something you can resolve. There are some tough controversies out there in our history. I know as much about the details as she does, probably a lot more. In fact, I love history and studying religions. This whole topic is a hobby of mine, and I write on these topics regularly. I agree with her that there are serious problems, and that her issues with history and doctrinal development are based on pretty accurate background information. I decided differently on how to react to them though, so I still want to be a part of the Church.

BP: What specific problems does she have? I can't think of anything that difficult to resolve.

Me: Well, if you really want to know... I would say some of the main concerns she has is with Joseph Smith's implementation of polygamy in the Nauvoo timeframe, also connections between Freemasonry and our temple ceremonies that came about at that same time. She has concerns about how people of African decent were denied the priesthood for so long, and the subsequent doctrinal explanations and justifications until it was changed in 1978. And I would say she also has concerns about there being many different historical accounts given of our most important foundational events -- like the First Vision story or how the Book of Mormon was discovered and translated.

How's that? That's probably a good surface review of the issues she has.

BP: [long awkward pause] [shifts around in his chair a bit] Well, I don't read a lot of books about that stuff. I'm not that familiar with all the nitty-gritty details of Church history. But I know the Church is true from the bottom of my heart. I know how important the Gospel is in our lives, and that if we learn to follow the Savior; we will be blessed.

Me: I understand what you are saying. There's a lot of beautiful teachings in the Church, and I find benefit in trying to follow the example of Christ. I like being a part of "the work."

BP: So how is everything else going for you guys? Are the kids healthy? Is everyone doing OK in school? [changing the subject]

[chit chat follows about normal everyday stuff]

BP: Well, let me know if there's anything we can do. Let [your wife] know we love her.

Me: Sure thing BP! Will do. Thanks for caring about me and my family. I appreciate it.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by SilentDawning » 25 Nov 2011, 13:53

Interesting discussion Brian, and by the way, I liked my Bishop in my own dialogue given above. His soft approach allowed me to come back into full activity over a period of time. For some reason, the SP comment had little impact on me, other than to reinforce the notion of egocentricity and hardlining some can take -- whether in leadership or not.

But I have a question -- how would you handle the "what about your testimony?" response to concerns like this? I heard that one used a few times during my first long faith crisis. It's as if the testimony, however vaguely defined, is a panacea for all historical, doctrinal or interpersonal concerns a person can develop over their lifetime...?
"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

Curt Sunshine
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Re: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 25 Nov 2011, 15:35

I would say something like:
"It's doing really well - and it's exciting to begin to figure out my own testimony without relying on borrowed light from others."


Seriously, how is someone going to challenge that kind of statement without seeming really foolish?
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: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by wayfarer » 25 Nov 2011, 15:51

SilentDawning wrote:BP: What about your salvation?
I dunno, SD, looks like this is where the conversation took a left turn. Of course, I'm looking at this from the outside and with 20/20 hindsight vision, but it seems to me that the question about salvation was not exactly appropriate. I think less is more in these interviewing situations, and instead of going down the rat-hole of personal struggle, etc., I thnk it important to separate personal spirituality (salvation) from frustration with church. According to Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:17, "There shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent".

Salvation is not a church matter -- nothing the church can do will affect my salvation, because that is between me and the god of my understanding.

If my BP asked about my salvation, I would answer, "BP, my salvation is between me and my savior, and of that relationship I have no doubt right now. I think I'm taken aback by the behavior of the some of the church leaders, and I need a little time to sort that out."

for what it's worth...
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
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Re: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by cwald » 25 Nov 2011, 16:17

wayfarer wrote:
Salvation is not a church matter -- nothing the church can do will affect my salvation, because that is between me and the god of my understanding.
I call BS.

Yes, yes, Way, we get it. You and I and most folks here agree 100%. But, BUT, there is no way that our church agrees with this comment. No way. In the LDS church today, one MUST go through the church authority to reach god. MAN > CHURCH > GOD. Yes? Some one convince me I am wrong and that I'm just being tough on the church. PLEASE! I would love to be wrong. I mean, is there any such thing as real repentance that does not go through the priesthood leadership? Is there anything in the form of essential ordinances that do not go through the priesthood? And please don't talk about temple work for the dead in this conversation, because we all know that the traditional belief is that those things are only reserved for those who did not get a chance in this lifetime.

The LDS church, the church priesthood today, insist that all must go through them to reach salvation. I contend this is a horrible and malicious doctrine, and I don't think our pure mormonism, the church that JS envisioned, ever intended for to be this way. Will we ever evolve past this kind of warped spiritual view? I don't know.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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Re: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by wayfarer » 25 Nov 2011, 17:17

cwald wrote:
wayfarer wrote:
Salvation is not a church matter -- nothing the church can do will affect my salvation, because that is between me and the god of my understanding.
I call BS.

Yes, yes, Way, we get it. You and I and most folks here agree 100%. But, BUT, there is no way that our church agrees with this comment. No way. In the LDS church today, one MUST go through the church authority to reach god. MAN > CHURCH > GOD. Yes? Some one convince me I am wrong and that I'm just being tough on the church. PLEASE! I would love to be wrong. I mean, is there any such thing as real repentance that does not go through the priesthood leadership? Is there anything in the form of essential ordinances that do not go through the priesthood? And please don't talk about temple work for the dead in this conversation, because we all know that the traditional belief is that those things are only reserved for those who did not get a chance in this lifetime.

The LDS church, the church priesthood today, insist that all must go through them to reach salvation. I contend this is a horrible and malicious doctrine, and I don't think our pure mormonism, the church that JS envisioned, ever intended for to be this way. Will we ever evolve past this kind of warped spiritual view? I don't know.
You are wrong...in a Way... ;)

The scriptures including BoM say that salvation comes in and through christ and in no other way.

Doctrinally, the church teaches that the atonement of christ is once and for all. Salvation, in the LDS sense, is the free gift of life eternal and resurrection, which occurs for everyone that goes to the telestial, terrestrial, or celestial kingdoms. LDS would say that exaltation, "eternal life" in the CK requires the ordinances of the priesthood. Thus Salvation is available to all by virtue of the atonement, and exaltation only thru the priesthood, repentance, temple covenants, and enduring to the end...

And yes, real repentance does not have to go thru the priesthood, except for certain sins that would typically result in Church Discipline. But even an excommunicated person has the right to pray and receive answers.

That is church doctrine, not my opinion.
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
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Re: How much should be shared with priesthood leaders?

Post by cwald » 25 Nov 2011, 17:38

You are correct. According to the church, the only thing the we need the church for is EXALTATION...rather than salvation :roll: My bad.

I get what you are saying. I just don't think many traditional mormons do.

I don't think the church has anything to do with salvation or exaltation. I just think it is one pathway, one of many, that folks can use to find the gods and find peace.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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