Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Beefster
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Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by Beefster » 06 Sep 2017, 22:09

Over the last few weeks, I have put quite a bit of time and energy into complaining about problems I see within the church- mostly cultural, some policy. I have come to take the general church leadership off the quasi-infallible pedestal and classify them as good men with solid spiritual understanding who mean well and are occasionally inspired, but otherwise do not have a very good understanding of the average person's motives and sometimes make poor policy judgments as a result. I'm beginning to throw out some of my old habits and rule-based interpretations of doctrine and am transitioning into adhering to what I believe are the underlying principles.

I think most, if not all, of this is good or at least a natural part of my faith transition, but I fear that I may be throwing out too much and letting my frustration with Mormon culture fester. Am I just venting about things that bother me, or am I letting them build up into something worse? Am I letting bad associations get worse? Am I letting my newfound heterodoxy get in the way of my spirituality or LDS social life?

I think I've gotten most of it out of my system and perhaps I need to focus on starting to put the pieces back together. Maybe I need to start looking for the positives so I'm not so blinded by the negatives. Maybe we could all put some more focus on that? Is it just me, or has the forum in general been negative lately?

It's okay to be critical of the church and its people, but that doesn't necessarily have to be negative.

This is really the first time in my life I have been completely unsheltered and it's pretty eye-opening. I never realized before just how many social gatherings involve alcohol. I work for a cable company that happens to distribute porn on demand (among other things) and it's eye-opening to see (from the titles) what the porn industry is up to and is utterly shocking to me how much people will pay to watch it. I've only really scratched the surface at this point, but I'm starting to see why people find it appealing to leave the church.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

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

Falcon20Commander

Re: Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by Falcon20Commander » 06 Sep 2017, 23:59

Hey brother,

Thanks for the post. I don't feel like things have been too negative lately. I think if people have things on their minds they should share them (for the most part haha).

I obviously cannot answer your question. Maybe others can, but I cannot. I can tell you what helps me though. I myself am always introspecting, questioning, and revising my beliefs. I too feel overwhelmed sometimes. Sometimes I think "okay, I've thrown out this idea, and this idea... What else do I believe at this point?"

One thing that helps me stay grounded is reading the scriptures. Basic, but true! I only use my iPhone now. On the app, I highlight different principles with different colors. I use purple to highlight principles, namely commandments, that God, as I understand Him, would like me to conform my life to. In 3 Nephi, entire passages might be purple. As I reread what I highlight, I ask "okay, am I living this? Am I following this? No? How can I do it better?"

To illustrate this, I have a portion of 3 Nephi 17:3 highlighted purple. The portion I have highlighted is when Christ counseled the disciples to prepare themselves for the next spiritual feast. I take it as a personal commandment to prepare when I know I'm trying to gain as much as possible, because for me, I know I won't often times. This even makes studying the NT and BOM more fun.

That's why my testimony on the BOM is solid at this point in my life. I believe it is the fullness of the gospel, not because of what it contains, for it contains little compared to other books in my opinion, but for the foundation it builds. Through introspection and looking for what God wants in us, I believe one can build a foundation on Christ as counseled per Helaman 5:12.

Many things taught in this church, so many things, are not even mentioned in the scriptures. That's what I've been avoiding (e.g. I like wearing my red shirt to church). But focusing on the fundamentals Christ speaks of in the scriptures helps me immensely.

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SilentDawning
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Re: Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by SilentDawning » 07 Sep 2017, 03:04

Falcon20Commander wrote:
06 Sep 2017, 23:59
I myself am always introspecting, questioning, and revising my beliefs. I too feel overwhelmed sometimes. Sometimes I think "okay, I've thrown out this idea, and this idea... What else do I believe at this point?"
This is where I am. To have your eyes opened, you have to be free to think what want to think. And that often leads you to recognizing some of the obvious flaws in doctrine and policy and culture in the church. The key is not to be so negative about it that any time someone mentions the church, you come out with a torrent of criticism, or you start feeling scorn for the church. Or see it as all negative or even evil.

I have been there, and it only alienated my wife and disrupted valued friendships in the church. You have to get to the point where you accept the negatives, decide what you think about them, but also accept the positives in he church as well. So, to avoid being on the road to apostasy, start figuring out how you're going to be at peace with the church without surrendering your new set of eyes.

I have managed to find ways of contributing positively to our local Ward, without feeling shame for what I am at this point. I do think being at peace with the church means NOT sharing its faults locally. Do it here, but be VERY careful not to be negative in front of local people. That will only create more hurdles locally that will make it hard to stay. YOu always have to be within a certain bandwidth of apparent orthodoxy even though you may be on the fringe....and that means staying positive about the good in the church.
"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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Heber13
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Re: Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by Heber13 » 07 Sep 2017, 03:59

You may be on the road to apostasy. Or on the road to enlightenment. Those may be the same thing depending on your point of view.

But...I can tell you this...you are a good soul. You are asking great questions. You are sincerely seeking. But only you can choose your faith and your path and what you want.
Beefster wrote:
06 Sep 2017, 22:09
I think I've gotten most of it out of my system and perhaps I need to focus on starting to put the pieces back together. Maybe I need to start looking for the positives so I'm not so blinded by the negatives. Maybe we could all put some more focus on that?
Yes, that is the focus.

This forum is a support forum. Not a venting your negative crap because we are all anonymous-forum. The venting and negativity at times manifests itself as part of the grieving process, but is useful when it is not the end goal but the means to have you realize you don't want to just be negative...you want to move beyond that and find your peace and happiness you seek. We sometimes pass through stage 4 in order to develop stage 5 faith. It is part of the journey.

The fact you are asking the questions and seeking is a good sign. It is more about what questions you are asking then about the answer.

You peel back the layers of the onion until you get to the core principles of the gospel you have faith in, and build on those.
Falcon20Commander wrote:
06 Sep 2017, 23:59
One thing that helps me stay grounded is reading the scriptures.
This is great advice. I always did this and also balanced study with conference talks and LDS.org resources with non-church stuff (study out of the best books). While you peel the onion and shed some orthodox and mindless things you previously thought were "shoulds" or "must dos" in the church...you cling to the core principles found in the scriptures and separate out all the cultural things you hear at church from the true things the scriptures actually say...and it opens up a whole new meaning to all things in the church. When you find things bother you, like church or conference talks...start to be an observer of your own experience...why does it bother you? what do you do about it? what makes you feel better? Is it ok to be bothered?

We are all prophets. We can learn and apply things and build our faith on truth as we discover it. If your prior faith was untouchable and perfect...it would not have led to the questions you have now. The fact you are moving beyond just rote religion for the sake of obedience and conformity tells you your spriit thirsts for greater things. And you can venture into that...find new truths. What you previously thought was the church and the gospel start to look different and you realize you projected so much meaning on to the things we do at church that you looked beyond the mark, mostly because you were only taught it a certain way.

One great essay that brings these principles to life is found here: "Believest thou...?"

For me, that essay was key to seeing my questioning was not just a mind of a madman that has lost light and knowledge, on the road to apostasy, or in the grips of some unseen devil force. All those stories I heard about keeping me obedient out of fear did not sustain my faith. No...that wasn't me.

Instead...I'm the one asking the correct questions, finding out how to grow faith into more meaningful things, so I can become the person God knows I can become. I am ready to learn...and the path ahead is unknown...and that is where faith comes in.
And so we say with the father of the lunatic child, “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” We recognize that our beliefs matter more than our doubts, though we will have some of both. We recognize the need for commitment despite uncertainty, frustration, and disillusionment. In fact, people who study long-term marriage relationships tell us that they go through four predictable stages that include both high hopes and deep discouragement. Psychologist Allen Bergin proposes that these stages are equally applicable in all long-term, committed relationships, including relationships with children, parents, the Church, and God.
...[snip]
The fourth and final stage of committed relationships is about renewal. Not exactly a renewal of the honeymoon, but a more mature, realistic, and truly loving renewal. We come to accept our spouse or our parents or the Church, and we come to accept ourselves. We allow God to run the universe, and we become more content to let go of things we cannot change. A deeper, more mature love begins to emerge, with fewer power struggles and less disengagement. We do not need to see all the answers, and we do not need perfection by our standards in order to not be embarrassed or ashamed of our Church, our partner, or our God. We reinvest in the relationship, not because we have decided to risk yet one more time that we will not get hurt only to have the rug pulled out yet one more time from under us, but because we have learned that hurt can be survived, that this is a risk worth taking, and that it does not mean we cannot be happy or that we are irrational suckers or that we are doomed to failure because we take another chance on trust or because we fail or are failed again. We see ourselves and our partner more realistically, and we do not run from either vision. We recognize that we can be hurt by being betrayed or we can be hurt by not trusting, but we don’t get the no-hurt choice because there isn’t one, at least not until we simply choose not to read betrayal into every ecclesiastical failure, or abandonment into every unanswered prayer.
You may want to read the whole essay. It is comforting to know you aren't alone in your questions, your path, and your heart. And...focus on that last stage. Start looking ahead to a new faith and new view and believe that it can be wonderful to re-engage in church and trust God, even if you get the no-hurt option. Embrace it, embrace paradox, and open your mind to new experiences.

You're a good soul. Thanks for sharing your questions with us. Keep posting how you work through it.

I joined this forum in 2009. Here I am. Still a TR holder, still a semi-active member with callings, still raising my kids in the church, still reading the scriptures and conference talks. I wonder when I will figure it out...but...I can tell you that you can find some things that help you not feel panic or fear as much...but become comfortable in your own skin. It takes time. You may be able to help others along the same path...which is what this forum is about.

Should you find the forum turns negative...be an agent of change and infuse your positive view to help steer conversations to productive support. We're all volunteers...and you're part of the group. Perhaps you have been led here for a reason. It's time to choose.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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LookingHard
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Re: Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by LookingHard » 07 Sep 2017, 07:44

I have stopped worrying about being an "apostate". I just work on my relationship with God and with family and friends. The rest isn't really all that important.

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dande48
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Re: Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by dande48 » 07 Sep 2017, 09:19

Only you can answer that.

For myself, some days I just feel angry at the Church. It detracts away from my inner peace and happiness. When I find myself resentful, that it further detracts from my life, that is when I consider myself in apostasy. That's not saying I don't feel completely justified. But no matter how justified, anger and hate always detracts from my peace and happiness.

If I can approach the Church out of a place of love and empathy, both for the members and the leadership, I find I am able to better sort out what is good and useful, from what is not. I'm able to maintain good relationships, and not let the negative effect me.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

Roy
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Re: Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by Roy » 07 Sep 2017, 10:15

The following podcast is on Gottman's Ratio and applying it to why people leave the church.

http://www.mormondiscussionpodcast.org/ ... ans-ratio/

Essentially it states that the more negative interactions one has in the relationship the more an individual becomes primed to expect and see the negative. For example in a marriage when a spouse does something thoughtless one can give them the benefit of the doubt OR see this latest incident as part of a pattern of thoughtlessness, uncaring, and lack of respect.

The church relationship is similar to but also very different than a spouse. Consider it as a metaphor with limited application.

Imagine that your spouse had done a laundry list of unsavory things before you married. Perhaps this person never really denied them to you but rather followed a policy of "don't ask, don't tell". In some ways these things are in the past. In other ways, this history helped form the type of person that your spouse is and may reveal motives, predilections, and perhaps help forecast future actions. Suppose this person is a decent spouse to you in the here and now - not so great that you would necessarily forgive any past discretion wholesale but also not bad enough that you want out of the marriage.

The question becomes, would you want to know? Would you want to know even if knowing might fundamentally change the way you view the relationship and the interactions that you have in the here and now?

For me, the answer changes depending on my present level of fulfillment in the relationship. If we are generally happy together then I am much more inclined to let bygones be bygones, sleeping dogs lay, etc. However if the relationship is generally unhappy then I would be much more keen to understand the baggage that my spouse brought into the marriage and how it contributes to the current situation.

I believe that spending time on a site like StayLDS will over time expose you to some of the "warts and all" baggage. Our goal is to help unpack that baggage in a way that is thoughtful, helpful, mature, and responsible.

However, StayLDS is a support group for those that are already struggling. It is not a good fit for everybody. There are plenty of people that might be better served never inspecting the baggage.

My $0.02
"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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SilentDawning
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Re: Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by SilentDawning » 07 Sep 2017, 10:22

dande48 wrote:
07 Sep 2017, 09:19
Only you can answer that.

For myself, some days I just feel angry at the Church. It detracts away from my inner peace and happiness. When I find myself resentful, that it further detracts from my life, that is when I consider myself in apostasy. That's not saying I don't feel completely justified. But no matter how justified, anger and hate always detracts from my peace and happiness.

If I can approach the Church out of a place of love and empathy, both for the members and the leadership, I find I am able to better sort out what is good and useful, from what is not. I'm able to maintain good relationships, and not let the negative effect me.
I don't like the word Apostasy. It puts a pejorative label on something I think many of us have experienced when we learned the truth about whitewashing, saw the temporal side of the church, or had a bad experience. The Apostate person is labelled as rebellious and deficient in certain ways, and the term implies the church had no doing in it. Not so. I have long believed the policies, culture, leaders have created DO have direct influence on the belief system of the membership -- and its not always favorable to the goals of the church. So, I wish we could drop the term. I've been called Apostate before but I don't consider myself that.

I would rather we used the term "Anti-Mormon" to describe outright antagonism, traditional belief as orthodoxy, and in between, we have people who are simply heterodox. As long as you aren't persecuting the church, trying to take people away from the church, evangelizing doubt to others, I would steer clear of considering yourself Anti Mormon.

Do self-monitor for anger and lashing out at the Church. I certainly have felt that desire. Times when I took delight when I read how activity rates were falling, programs failed, etcetera -- all that seemed to be salve on the hurt I was feeling. I wouldn't go there. I would focus on figuring out how to stay active while addressing your angst at the same time. And if you can figure out how to make a positive contribution to the PEOPLE in your Ward while doing that, even better.

There's a kind of intellectual, engaging aspect to that goal. For example, how will I manage the situation where my child is getting married in the temple, yet I choose not to hold a TR? That one vexed me for a while and I finally learned to prepare my daughter for the day she would get married wtihout me. That I loved her, and that we shouldn't let the church interfere with our relationship as a family. She is now OK with that and I won't be going through the temple. That was the solution in my case -- teaching at home about the role of the church in family relationships -- and that family relationship eclipse the implied message of temple attendance or non-attendance. That was my solution to the problem. And I think it benefited my daughter who seems to realize that family relationships transcend church culture and policies.

This is an example of the puzzles that I now sort of enjoy figuring out. How to make my way in the church without necessarily following the textbook.
"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: Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Sep 2017, 14:22

You are on your path. Where it takes you is up to you, to a large extent. So, go where you want to go - and, if you maintain a belief in an interested God, where you think God wants you to go.

May there be a road!
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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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Am I on the Road to Apostasy?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 07 Sep 2017, 16:48

Criticism can be a form of engagement or it can lead to disengagement. There's a difference between hoping for progress and airing dirty laundry. Important, but fine line.

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