Andrew’s discussion on 4 Reasons Why Disaffected Mormons Become Atheists sparked a thought in my mind as the familiar stories unfolded in the comments. Those stories told many times before speak of being lied to, mislead, having facts and truth withheld by “The Church.” The history was not told completely, or in their mind, purposely withheld, even though the facts and “whole truth” was generally available if one chose to seek it out.
Now, that’s a hard thing to do as a child, brought up in Primary, with an almost pristine, magical past of angels, gold plates, miracles, visitations and, walking and talking to God and Jesus. All cloaked in a “This Church is True” wrapper.
But as an older person, an adult, those picture perfect stories begin to develop holes as more facts are available or discovered through various means: books, the Internet, other people, etc. As potentially disturbing facts become known, what is a person to do?
As a stated in my comment to Andrew’s post, I think one has three choices:
1. Retreat into belief. – Those who encounter issues put it on the shelf and just believe. This could be equated to putting one’s head in the sand. Could also be called blind faith. Maybe the issues are dealt with at a later time or not at all and simply ignored.
2. Retreat into unbelief – In this case, the person feels betrayed, lied to, deceived, etc. So they pull back, doubt, or leave. This can be viewed as ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” In other words, in spite of all the positive experiences, the new-found negative(s) trump positive experiences and the whole is abandoned. If the Church is a failure at some level, God is also a failure because He did not prevent it. So a conclusion is, there must be no God.
3. Tackle the issue head-on – This scenario requires the person to address the issue in a complete way, seeking to fully understand in the correct context. While not a foolproof method, I have found this approach can generally satisfy the need to know and to remain a believer. For me, as I have tackled each issue that has come up, and believe me, I’ve looked at every issue there is in the Church and its history, I can process the whole story and remain a member of the Church.
But actually, that is not the point of this post at all. My question to you is simple:
“How do you handle the fact that almost everyone in your life, at one time or another, has lied, mislead, withheld information or deliberately deceived you in some way?”
Starting with your parents, your siblings, your spouse, your friends and acquaintances, your teachers, your employers, the clerks in the store, institutions, and on and on. Chances are, they have not been totally honest and forthcoming about every aspect of their lives or having to do with their interactions with you.
For example, how did you deal with the fact that your parents lied to you about Santa Claus, or where babies came from, or withheld certain unflattering facts about their lives? Did you divorce them from your lives? Did they stop being your parents? In some rare cases, the answer might be “Yes.”
But, usually, you just dealt with the fact that they weren’t perfect and moved on. Maybe your respect for them diminished slightly, but they were still your parents.
This can be applied to every other person or institution in your life.
In short, ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. So, how do you reconcile that from the rejection of the Church for committing the same sins and omissions?