This afternoon we have a guest post to enjoy! Thanks Friar for this contribution:
“They are lazy, or they were offended, or they want to sin”—those have long been the typical reasons people leave the Church, according to believing Mormons. The truth is that some of the real reasons believing Mormons stay in the church include our very own personal versions of “they are lazy, or they are offended, or they want to sin.” I’ve been totally in, and I’m now more than halfway out, so I know.
Before I accuse anyone of ignoble motives, I really need to question my own. I want to be like the disciples who had spent three years with Jesus and learned enough that when He mentioned that one would betray him, each of them asked, “Lord, is it I?” For each of us, spiritual integrity requires that we question and if necessary accuse ourselves if and before we accuse others. It wouldn’t be right to accuse others and excuse ourselves. So here is my question, and maybe yours: Was/am I lazy, offended, or wishing to sin?
I, for one, was a lazy learner Mormon by design. I attended, served and stayed in the Church faithfully for several decades and only recently stopped attending. A major reason I left is that I quit being lazy: I resumed reading and studying Church history and theology. Years earlier I had purposely quit studying the history. I worked as an intern for a scholarly journal and my duties included attending Mormon History Association meetings. At that time—yes, long ago—the book Mormon Enigma by Valeen Tippetts Avery and Linda King Newell had just been published, and my wife and I read chapters to each other before we fell asleep at night. She and I went down a rabbit hole trying to understand, justify, explain what Joseph did, and we came to the conclusion that either we had to quit thinking about polygamy or leave the church. So, for many years, when the subject came up, I confessed that I had no testimony of polygamy, “but fortunately, we are not supposed to believe in it, or we would become nutjob fundamentalists and get ex-ed, so it is best not to believe in polygamy.” About three years ago I found a copy of In Sacred Loneliness by Todd Compton, resumed the learning I had lazily given up, and with the help of that book and some others on the development of LDS priesthood and the development of both LDS and Christian scripture, I was soon out. I was able to stay so long because I was a lazy learner too busy with a career, family, and church service to examine the foundations of what I believed. I have friends who likewise left after their lives settled down enough that they could study diligently. Until then, we stayed because we were lazy. We had other reasons for staying of course, but that was one of them.
Another of the reasons for staying was the delicious and addictive anger of being offended. During all the years I attended Church, I was surrounded by members who were happily offended. We were offended at “the world.” Worldliness includes everything that offends a Mormon: what people drink, what they do in private, and oddly and especially, how they vote. Above all, we Mormons are offended by people who are not us. Our tribal loyalty is intense—and bristling. Our persecution complex has a hair trigger. Jesus may have taught love for the Other, but Mormon solidarity is too often buttressed by the desire to separate ourselves from the Other, and we can be tempted to exclude, vilify, deport, or merely dream about the apocalyptic destruction of the Other. By the way, that level of offense is a sin. Antipathy to my neighbor is not as serious a sin as fraud or violence, but sin it is. Oh dear—does that mean we want to sin?
The desire to sin goes much deeper among true-believing LDS who want to stay in the Church. The ultimate desire is to become God. This is a desire that balances good and evil on a razor’s edge. It could express wanting to be like Jesus in all that I do and say, but it could express a terrifying level of self-aggrandizement. Here, too, serious self-reflection is necessary. You may recall that even before Original Sin, wanting to be God was the original sin, Lucifer’s sin, he “who trusted to have equalled the Most High,” as Paradise Lost (following Isaiah) puts it. Being holier-than-thou and failing to love one’s neighbors in the world are symptoms of spiritual pride. Pride is the worst in the traditional Christian list of the Seven Deadly Sins, and the deepest and worst spiritual pride would have to be thinking you are or about to be God. Pride can’t possibly get worse than that. Being truly Mormon includes lots of sins—various bigotries, racisms, misogynies and various petty vanities—but modern Mormonism built its membership retention on a hope of “exaltation” that encourages any dumb mortal to think he can govern a galaxy.
So I left. I quit being lazy, but I too was offended. I was offended that while God’s Providence led the world toward rights and equity for blacks, women, gays and others, God’s self-named prophets had always opposed that progress. Yes, I was offended by present Church leaders too, from Dallin Oaks stating that the Church does not apologize (so repentance is only for us little guys?) to my own poor bishop. I asked him, “After all these months, as my inspired priesthood leader, what is your counsel for me and my family?” and all I got was a blank, panicked stare that dragged on and on.
I also want to sin. My lifestyle has changed since I quit attending church. I drink coffee. That’s it. That’s the sin. (It helped me give up sugar, so my sin has blessed my life and health. How’s that for a testimony?) I’m faithful to my wife, try to be good to my neighbors, busy as hell, happy as an angel. I have found God, too, I think: it’s easier, because now there isn’t a hierarchy of old men in suits standing in between, just me and the infinite creating and life-giving spirit of all things from the roots to the leaves to the peaks to the stars, impersonal but mind-blowing. I found peace, and it was good.
- Does the gospel help or hinder us in seeing our own as well as others’ sins or shortcomings?
- If we are “in the world but not of the world,” and if “God so loved the world,” can we separate from and yet still love the world?
- Is there pride in being a member? Good pride or bad pride?
 David Ostler, Bridges; Ministering to Those Who Question (Greg Kofford Books, 2019), illustrates how common these misperceptions are and also empirically questions them. For the sake of self-examination, I wish to provisionally play with and reverse them.
Religion is a psychological defense mechanism against foreknowledge of our demise. LDS may be the Cadillac of PDM’s but a PDM just the same. There have been thousands of these, and some manifestations, like Hindu festivals, are intensely beautiful – heaven on earth as it were.
“I have found God, too, I think: it’s easier, because now there isn’t a hierarchy of old men in suits standing in between, just me and the infinite creating and life-giving spirit of all things from the roots to the leaves to the peaks to the stars, impersonal but mind-blowing.”
I love this. Now, my mother’s interpretation of this thought, which I think is similar to many other TBMs, is along the lines of “how can you possibly know you have a relationship with God without a line of priesthood leaders assuring you that your relationship with God is real & appropriate? How can you trust your relationship with God without the church to define it and guide you?” I appreciate this post. Thank you.
Nice post Friar.
So on your questions, I might not add value. I see that the gospel can (and does) BOTH help and hinder us in seeing ours and others weaknesses. I can say that since I have left the church I am MUCH less judging of others. So in my case I do think the gospel as I was taught/understood did limit me. But I do know of others in the church that are as Christ-like as can be and they say the church helps them.
I think my answers to the two other questions you posed have a bit of the same response – yes and no and it varies among individuals.
Kind of reminds me of a part of the dialog of Bill Cosby’s routine of “Bill Cosby himself”. He talked about people taking heroin and when questioned as to why someone took heroin their answer was, “It intensifies my personality.” To which Bill Cosby asked, “But what if you were an A$$hole to start with?”
I do think there is/can be pride in being a member. This is something that often concerns me. Often we confuse our gratitude for the gospel with a feeling of superiority over people from other traditions. I call this climbing the Rameumpton stand. It happens when we carry on about how awful the world is, how blessed we are to be members and talk about others in a condescending us them way. It happens when we claim our blessings are due to our own efforts in this life or the preexistence, implying that those who do not have the same blessings, don’t have them because of their own sin or lack of effort. It happens when we claim we are better than previous generations. It happens when we claim our youth are better than youth in earlier generations and outside of the church.
These are evidences of personal and institutional pride and blindness to that pride. Although I try to feel compassion towards those who indulge in it, apparently needing to bolster their own confidence, I genuinely believe this attitude is antiChrist (see Alma 30:17 where Korihor the antiChrist explains that we can praise our own management instead recognizing unearned blessings).
These attitudes stand in the way of truly following Christ, seeing and accepting others as they are, and loving them.
Instead we spend our time and energy patting ourselves on the back. It is a misuse of the gospel of Christ
RMN likes to accuse those of us who have left of being lazy learners and we like to accuse TBMs the same. In my opinion he is half right and so are the rest of us who accuse members of being lazy.
There are very active TBMs who study the Gospel the best way they know how. Their sources include the approved scriptures, Conference talks, local leaders, books published by Deseret Books, etc. I wouldn’t accuse them of being lazy. They are doing a good job at what they’ve been taught to do.
The other extreme is the post-Mormon crowd who have left the Church because they don’t believe the truth claims of the Church. They probably looked at the Gospel Topic Essays, the CES Letter, etc. And perhaps they listen to certain podcasts like Mormon Stories and Radio Free Mormon. And perhaps they go to certain web sites (hello). They probably also read a number of “anti-Mormon” books too like No Man Knows My History after reading “acceptable” books like Rough Stone Rolling. These folks are anything but lazy. They are probably learning more about Church history and doctrine than they ever did as TBMs.
In between these two groups are the lazy learners. On one hand you have the average active member who is on auto-pilot. He/she never really studies the Gospel or anything related to the Church. This member just shows up and goes through the motions. This is most members in my opinion. You also have the lazy learners who have left the Church simply over lifestyle choices. They don’t know crap about the Gospel or the Church and they don’t care. They are too lazy to care.
So if you are a TBM, you may or may not be a lazy learner. And if you are post-Mormon, you may or may not be a lazy learner. We all need to be able to admit that there are folks in our tribe that are lazy learners but I doubt that includes anyone reading this.
This perspective on being thin-skinned and defensive, easily offended, really rings true for me as a strong characteristic many church members display. Do I think the organization fosters it, likes it? Yes, to the extent that these folks are out there defending the church, making it easier for the church to carry on with the status quo and avoid any self-recrimination or even any whiff of needing to apologize when it has made mistakes.
But I also think this is more satisfying to some people than to others. There are those who relish lording it over other people. Not everyone is at Church because of that, and many who are at Church avoid that self-serving trap.
I immediately thought of a meme that was making the rounds in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. I think it originated at BYU-I, that bastion of racist Mormon thought. (My daughter’s Idahoan friend used the “n” word which my daughter objected to and she said, “It’s OK, it’s just an Idaho thing.”) It was a statement people were forwarding that basically said “You think black people have had it rough? Let me tell you about MY people, the Mormons!” and then listed off all the things that happened to Mormons in Nauvoo and the pioneers, ending with a “and we never complained about it or looked for government help or handouts.”
That was honestly one of the worst things I think I’ve ever seen in my life. I would have thought the Church would be MORTIFIED that any member would be circulating these thinly veiled racist swipes at black people who were literally murdered by racist cops. It’s insane, but I did see one of my relatives post it, and I was as embarrassed for her as I was for the Church. The addiction to being able to claim grievance and victimhood only appears to be noticeable in other people, not in our own ranks, and in this particular instance, comparing things that happened to Mormons over a hundred years ago, Mormons who were sometimes the aggressors in these conflicts, to the ongoing 400 years of slavery and police brutality enduring by black Americans was just . . . gross.
Been thinking about Josh H’s comment on Lazy Learners, and I’d add another wrinkle.
I agree that there are people on both sides who study a bunch. But I wonder if there’s more to being a learner than just reading a bunch of stuff. If you’re only reading things that confirm your existing beliefs, are you a diligent learner or a lazy one? If you are unwilling to change your mind based on new information, are you a diligent learner or a lazy one? If you are unwilling to approach new topics with openness and curiosity instead of fear and defensiveness, are you a diligent learner or a lazy one?
I think my questions make it clear where I am. And I think there are people in both camps in both categories (or rather probably more of a spectrum).
Unfortunately, with talks like these from church leadership, the members will never view us as simply trying to do our best with the information we have. The reality is that the Church created the chasm between believers and the nuanced, refuses to build a bridge over said chasm, and seems to relish in the division. Perhaps if leadership would view us with charity, as I believe God does, things could be different. Perhaps.
I feel like I need to put a trigger alert on the below link. It’s not for the faint of heart. My heart was literally racing reading most of this. You’ve been warned.
oh wow @chadwick. Don’t even know where to start with that one. Talk about leader worship and major, major double-speak. It honestly is nonsense. Thanks for sharing.
@chadwick, is Corbitt the same guy they trotted out to run defense for Brad Wilcox after the latter’s stupid comments on the priesthood ban?
Well, I just read the article. But, are you guys gonna get it come judgment day!
Mean t to say “Boy”, not “But”.
With regard to Brother Corbitt, from his neck of the woods, here is an anecdote–stone cold truth. This is a first hand account. When I was a long time member of a famous (infamous?) ward in Manhattan, we had Stake Conference, with the requisite visiting 70. A convert of several years, a hispanic brother who our whole ward embraced for the loving, Christlike, disciple that anyone would aspire to be, gave the opening prayer. He was wearing a red shirt. When Elder X got up, he was elaborating on BKP’s recent talk on the “True order of the priesthood”–I don’t remember the exact title–the one about why the Bishop gets the sacrament first. Anyway, the Seventy starts by saying, “When he understands the true order of the priesthood, Brother Y will understand that he should give the opening prayer in a white shirt, not a red one.” It was literally seconds, but a big chunk of our ward, including my husband and myself, stood up and walked out. Just reflex and outrage. From the most liberal (well this was Manhattan–really liberal) to the most conservative (well this was Manhattan, not Orem). Does a big number of people walking out of Stake Conference do any good? Not really. Before anyone could figure out how to talk to this good brother about it, he was wearing a white shirt the next Sunday and forever thereafter. 25 years later I’m still astonished. It’s still a helpless feeling. BTW, Elder A$$hole is a member of the presidency of the first quorum of 70s. Satan gets a promotion. If one person walks out of SC and gets Brother Corbitt’s attention, why doesn’t a whole bunch of us, many big players in the church, not get a comment. Just a grievous injustice.
@chadwick – thanks for sharing that but I had a hard time getting through it. Activism is a real need in the church – racism, homophobia, patriarch being just a few. What is the point of prophets if they have nothing prophetic to say but just be about maintaining the status quo? Just thinking of Elder Corbitt – he wouldn’t have even been able to be in his calling just 45 years ago. How short sighted of him to suggest we should’t agitate for change? It was Pres Hinkley not so many years ago who answered a journalist’s question on women and the priesthood by saying that the women of the church are not agitating for it. Well I don’t think the leaders actually thought to ask? They don’t have all the answers or at least not asking the right questions. In our present and more open and accepting society LGBTQ+ folk are coming out of the closet in droves and many enlightened Mormon family and friends are walking out the door of their chapels. I’m heartened to see that David Archuleta has announced he is stepping away – bravo for him on his path to living authentically. Can Charlie Bird be far behind and will the church leaders take stock of their poster boys choosing to live authentically?
@purple yes, same guy. Really hard to see him being used as a shill for thin-skinned white leaders.
@mary ann pointed out that Sherri dew just wrote a very similar article admonishing people not to criticize the brethren and to ignore the “social media mob”. Another excellent shill.
These are great questions. Personally, it’s taken me thousands of hours to become what I’ll call an informed member. It would have been so much easier had I stuck to scripture reading only and the “don’t-ask-disruptive-questions” path of orthodoxy. That’s not who I have ever been (I’ve always sought out personal growth and discovery), but when I was younger I wasn’t able to pursue the unvarnished facts of history and the facts of the world like I could as the internet came into full bloom. Despite having become a member who is now disruptive–if that’s what we call it when we question the correlated church with cogent arguments based in fact that challenge aspects of the church’s fundamental truth assertions and the virtuousness of its culture–I am so much happier for it. I wasn’t a lazy member before, but taking the path I did took far more work and personal courage.
I apologize if this sounds self congratulatory–it is not. I have so much more to lean and do, and I make many mistakes daily. Those closest to me have made some of these observations. I’m not just happier, I’ve become a better husband, better father, and more compassionate person. My mental health has improved and I see with greater clarity that which I don’t know and understand. I no longer see the world through the confirmation biases of my insular religion, and I think that has made me a more genuine and respectful friend to those who come from different backgrounds compared to mine, and a better judge of the enormous amount of goodness that exists in world. Despite this having forever changed my relationship with the church, I could never go back to a life limited and dictated by my religion’s seemingly endless tautologies. I’m a better disciple of Christ today.
Regarding the Corbitt piece, this is the kind of dross that makes it increasingly difficult for me to continue to engage with the church. The disingenuousness of the article, the fallacies, the asymmetry…it’s just stunning. He’s working to create trade marks and taglines here. I picked up on Twitter that Sherri Dew gave a similarly themed address at BYU-Hawaii. In some ways I feel badly for the church. These are the kinds of coordinated messages that are so defensive in nature it means the church has no convincing answers to the many issues plaguing it. I think it shows how far the church has fallen in North America, and the degree to which senior church leaders are failing to develop compelling narratives and persuasive reasons to stem the membership hemorrhage.
Recently we had one of the regional broadcasts, RMN, his wife, and at least one other Q12 and his wife were there. The broadcast was directed to the stakes in British Columbia and Alberta.
This was just a couple weeks after this year’s October general conference, and one thing that I found weird and a bit jarring was that all speakers talked about the ‘great risk and personal costs’ on the part of the speakers in GC and warned against criticizing them and fault-finding. It was a bit strange because I didn’t know what they were talking about. It couldn’t have just been about Bednar’s citation flubs right?
It was a very weird experience, this was also the first time I had ever seen Sis. Nelson speak and she spent most of her talk talking about how wonderful and inspired her husband, RMN is and likewise promised grave consequences for those that would dare criticize him.
It was a totally bizarre experience with a kind of dour tone, I had never seen anything quite like that in my time of being in the church.
Good for David Archuleta! I support him 100%.
One of my nieces spent the past weekend with me while my husband was out of town. The two of us got talking about how much the church has changed for the worse in the past 14 years since President Hinkley died. His tenure was far from perfect, but it was glorious in comparison to the many poor decisions (Prop 8, the POX, musket fire speech, etc.) and terrible topics that they harp on-sad heaven, no mercy and love, letting them do all of the thinking for the members, the endless checklists and promotion of toxic perfectionism and obedience being the first law of the gospel just to name a few. A topic that we both feel strongly about is the unhealthy pressure put on kids that are just barely out of high school to get married after a short engagement and then proceed to have stair step children without any plans for financing those children or how to raise them to be healthy, productive and well adjusted human beings. The brain isn’t completely finished maturing until age 25 and yet these men are actively advocating for immature people to make serious decisions that have long lasting consequences for both the parents and children involved. My parents were such a couple who were too young to realize just exactly what a healthy marriage entails. As a result my sibs and I bore the brunt of their regular fights, immature behavior and the poor decisions that they made.
On the other side of the marriage issue are the single men and women who make up over 50% of the church membership. I got married at nearly 31. My niece is 36 and still not married. I was and she is treated like a pariah at church. The brethren have turned the nuclear family into an idol to be worshipped at all costs. Meanwhile, the many wonderful single people who have so much to bless and offer the church are regularly berated for a situation that many of them have little or no control over and are treated like toddlers because the rule is that married couples, many who are younger than the singles, must chaperone the YSA/ SA activities. The women are also told in no uncertain terms that if they can’t marry a man in the temple they are better off being single. And then there’s the issue of many Mormon men being terrified of dating and possibly marrying intelligent, accomplished women who have careers and who think for themselves. You would think that such intelligence and other such accomplishments would be attributes any man would want for the mother of his children. Nope. The non-member or inactive Mormon men actually appreciated such things and always treated me more respectfully than the LDS men I dated. In fact, I married one of those inactive men and was later sealed to him and our 2 sons. I have zero regrets for doing so. We’ve had a truly wonderful marriage, and I counsel single women like my niece to not to let a wonderful man slip away just because he’s not active or a member. Call me an activist and a heretic. I don’t care at all. If activism is the only way to open members and the leadership’s eyes to very real problems in the church that are hurting the members as individuals and as a group but the leaders accuse the activists of of being rabble rousers that’s because they are too stuck in their outdated ways or they don’t really care about the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being of the people that they lead. Either way it’s a very bad look.
Alma 32: 22:
“22 And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word.”
There’s no qualifier to belief in that verse. The Lord is merciful to us when we believe–even if we’re a little on the lazy side.
For those interested (I was), here are links to the full transcripts and videos of the Corbitt and Dew talks:
Corbitt transcript: https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/24159863/Brother_Corbitt_Chaplain_seminar.pdf
Corbitt video: https://media2.ldscdn.org/assets/general-authority-features/2022-chaplain-training-seminar/2022-10-1000-activism-vs-discipleship-1080p-eng.mp4
Dew transcript and video: https://speeches.byuh.edu/prophets-can-see-around-corners
I quickly read through the transcript of both talks. While disappointing, there weren’t really any surprises. Here are some rough notes:
1. Anyone who disagrees with the Q15 must be prioritizing their pet issue over the “doctrine of Christ” (which is defined as faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost). Is this true even if the pet issue appears to violate Christ’s teachings?
2. This is Christ’s Church, so while his chosen leaders aren’t perfect, they cannot lead the Church astray. What about the many instances in Church history where they apparently did lead the Church astray? I mean, it’s so weird for Corbitt to praise the Church’s advances in promoting racial equality while completely ignoring the fact that the Church was totally late to the game when compared with the rest of society in allowing racial equality in the Church.
3. Open criticism of Church leaders/policies, even if correct or justified, is always bad because it can destroy other people’s faith in the leaders. Aren’t we supposed to have faith in Christ, not the leaders, though? Nope. According to these talks, faith in Christ and faith in the Q15 are the same exact thing.
4. People who openly criticize the Church do it because that is the correct model to use for change in other areas (change in government, for example). This is not the model to use to promote changes in the Church. Instead, you should just go talk privately to local leaders–but be sure to be super deferential and faithful when you do so. Umm, is talking to local leaders really going to have any effect at all? What are the chances that your bishop would even mention your concern to a stake president when the bishop already knows what the current stance of the Church is? Sorry, but if the Church would like to reduce the amount of open criticism, then they need to create some ways to actually accept and respond to feedback. Corbitt claims that denouncing the folk doctrine explanations for the temple/priesthood ban, recent memorials and recognition of black Mormon pioneers, and the Be One celebration (40 years since the 1978 announcement) were all accomplished through people asking for them in the “right” way which isn’t explicitly stated for these specific things, but must be by talking to local leaders since that is the only acceptable way presented. First, I don’t think any ordinary member walking into the bishop’s office and asking for any of these 3 things would be likely to go anywhere (these things were either initiated by Church leadership itself or through people with special connections to Church leadership). Second, if I walk into my bishop’s office and say that I don’t think that the Church’s policies towards LGBTQ people are what Christ would want, I also don’t think that would go anywhere–and I could face Church discipline (depending on leadership roulette) if I directly say that the leaders are wrong on this issue (which is how I truly feel).
5. People who openly criticize the Church have blind spots, but Church leaders do not because, again, how would Christ allow them to have blind spots?
6. People who openly criticize the Church aren’t focusing on the “titanic” issues of our day, one of which is protecting the religious freedom guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. Yes, this really is in Corbitt’s talk. I didn’t make it up. According to Corbitt, religious freedom is a bigger issue than LGBTQ, women’s equality, etc.
7. Openly asking for change in the Church generates contention, so it’s bad. This is such a bad argument. Of course there are going to be disagreements on what is right and wrong for the Church, but open discussion and debate when done in a respectful manner seems much better than just living with the status quo when the status quo is bad.
8. People openly criticizing the Church may be getting their ideas from secular sources. Therefore, all those ideas must be bad. If it wasn’t for “The World’s” shift away from racism, the temple/priesthood bad would likely still be in place. There are a lot of good ideas and changes coming from secular society, and the Church should do its best to pray about and adopt the good ideas.
9. Examples of modern prophets’ ability to “see around corners” include: Nelson giving cell phones to all missionaries (isn’t this an obvious thing to do, and the Church was late to do this?), Hinckley telling people that a financial downturn was coming at some point in the future, so it would be a good idea to get out of debt (financial markets go through cycles, so a downturn is always going to be coming, and of course being out of debt is a good idea–there are plenty of secular people who would be happy to give that advice), Nelson’s covid message about gratitude, and Oaks’ talk at a religious freedom conference.
10. People criticizing the Church an social media have a personal agenda, but the Q15’s only agenda is to lead you to exaltation. So, what is my nefarious agenda when I criticize the Church for its LGBTQ stance? I have 2 close gay friends that loved the Church and had to leave it because they are gay. I just want them to be able to participate in the Church the same way that I can. Is that really a bad agenda?
We really need to change the thinking here. Let’s acknowledge our history: prophets have led the Church astray (many times); therefore, they will do so again in the future. It is possible for the Church to accept the Q15 as leaders chosen by God while also acknowledging that they sometimes make (huge) mistakes. A change in thinking like this would be a huge shift for the Church, but it reflects reality and would allow for members to have a more mature relationship with the Church and increase their ability to trust their own conscience and follow their own values. It seems like starting this shift in thinking now rather than having Corbitt and Dew give these types of talks on prophetic infallibility would be much better for the Church’s future. I mean, I know that not everyone believes this, but I firmly believe that it is inevitable that the Church will allow gay members to participate fully in the Church. When that day comes, how is the Church going to explain its previous LGBTQ doctrine/policies, unless it acknowledges that prophets can be wrong on big issues? I guess we have a model for how the Church handled the 1978 change (and a lot of members just let a lot of smaller changes go unnoticed as the years go by), but as the Church continues to accumulate these big “mistakes”, aren’t more and more members going to stop believing that the leaders can’t lead the Church astray?
Thank you so much for the response to those talks. I also read them, but it was the middle of the night and I wasn’t up for writing a response. Well done. Sherri Dew’s “prophets can see around corners” bit especially bad in it’s examples and logic.
Both talks were just icky all around and didn’t focus on Christ. They focused on the Church (which, I understand, they believe is that same thing, though obviously they aren’t).If the Church leaders want people to follow them, maybe they should work on some changes that would, you know, help inspire us to follow them: you know, things like love, and humility, hope for the future, etc. Their current messaging stinks to hell. It’s obvious why people aren’t following them.
Yes thank you @mountain climber.
The conflation of following Christ and following LDS church leaders is mind-boggling. It makes it impossible to deeply engage on a lot of issues IMO. I was just discussing gay marriage with someone who just couldn’t get off the circular logic of “Jesus said gay marriage is wrong because church leaders said he did.” She was using Dew’s talk and certainly would have used Corbitt’s if she’d known about it.
In response to the questions at the conclusion of the op:
1. Living the Gospel does not automatically grant anyone insight, empathy or wisdom regarding anyone’s sins or shortcomings. It could blind you to your own.
2. It is love that separates Saints from the world. Unfortunately, few there are that truly love others…
3. Membership does not change anything. One could baptize a tree stump and it would still be a tree stump, although it would be wet. One could ordain that tree stump a high priest and place it on the high council and it would still be a tree stump, even if it wore a white shirt on Sundays. It is establishing a relationship with the Divine that transforms.
I live in one of those stakes eligible for that broadcast but didn’t watch. It was interesting to hear what you you had to say about it – I was also puzzled why they were doing it so soon after GC. Wendy is from Alberta and our paths have crossed in a few ways over the years. Cynical me is thinking RMN isn’t content with the majority of the members fawning over every word and wants the rest of us to as well. “🎼Love me love me, say that you love me!” One thing though, it does make me appreciate the fact they are probably plugged in more than I thought? Each time I read an Instagram post from liftandloveorg I just wish that the GAs would be reading it too. Beautiful LDS families with LGBTQ+ members that have stories to tell. I admit to being critical but no longer fear that it will damage my eternal soul because I’m no longer sure of that anyway. Plus I’m not trying to lure people away. I’m not publicly critical – mostly only here and with any likeminded family members. One has to vent somewhere. I don’t want to be the one to have other people lose their faith if it gives them some comfort in life but I no longer believe myself.
Brilliant assessment – thank you!
I keep going back to Fowler’s stages of faith. I truly believe that Church leaders would like nothing better than everyone staying in an unquestioning Stage 2. It abhors members doing some research or critical thinking in Stage 3 (“Questioning the Brethren”). Those who make it through Stage 3 and into Stage 4 are, in my experience, wonderful people. Christians anyone would be happy to call “friend.” Whether they stay in the Church or go elsewhere, at that stage, is of little moment to their salvation.
I see your point, but I think you you have the numbering off on the stages. (Stage 3 is unquestioning, Stage 4 is questioning.)
While a simplistic model, Fowler’s work allows to to identify people, including leaders, who have handled the painful experience of Stage 4 or at least recognized its existence. A few have pushed beyond and become true spiritual leaders. I personally believe one of the earmarks of someone who has progressed is compassion. Another is balance. I don’t believe that a deeply spiritual person refuses to live by a code or by certain guidelines. So they can appear orthodox, but they seem to have developed a capacity for flexibility or epistemological honesty. They actually appreciate different forms of religious expression and varying perspectives. They are not zealots, nor are they prone to black-and-white thinking. These people are not likely to be leaders in the institutional church of today.
I can TLDR any talk ever by any GA for all of you “ lazy learners “. ( jk!)
Follow the Profits.
I think this talk gives us a glimpse of the real concern that church leaders have for us:
Thanks, Friar for a useful framework to think about. The quality of the OP is reflected in the many thoughtful comments, and hat tip to MClimber for the links to the dead-logic talks and the very lively logic in his (her? their?) analysis.
One thought about my experience with laziness – It’s my nature to be curious and to glom onto the obvious thing, which in our taboo culture got me into trouble often. But in my eager desire to be a good disciple, I learned and internalized the taboo culture (the current version is quite well prescribed in those talks!), and I had faith in/outsourced my judgement to the Q15 and their hierarchy of guys in leadership.
For me, that was the worst laziness — not doing my own thinking — that I’ve ever done. I recall having to deconstruct some WoW tropes for my kids, to neutralize the venom directed at extended family who had a well-stocked liquor cabinet gathering dust in their home. That took energy and rigor to navigate through previously uncharted territory, and unquestioningly letting the culture do my thinking would have been easy— and lazy, but the stakes were high enough that doing so was unacceptable.
I learned well the contortions I had to do to be a proper, respectable disciple, honing my obedience to the institutional gospel, and also being honest with myself about my own empirical knowledge from my own experiences. That wasn’t lazy, and I came to see that denying my personal experience in order to follow something different offered by those guys was a form of laziness. “When the prophets speak, the thinking has been done” Is a form of laziness.
I grew up in the larger culture absorbing the notion that tattoos were bad. From time to time there was discussion in my ward meetings shaming people with tattoos as low class and questionable character, and as I experienced an increase of my loved ones getting tattooed, I needed to take a hard look at examining my own attitudes, since I knew so many people of good character and aesthetic taste who had tattoos. I’ve concluded that having tattoos is neither a marker of bad character nor one of good, and there’s no substitute for the hard work and time-consuming effort of getting acquainted with a person enough to assess their character, and your safety, from real, honest experience. Same goes for queer folks. There are no shortcuts whereby you can label and categorize people, and just being queer, by itself, tells us not enough about a person’s character. Skin color, by itself, tells us very little about whether our neighborhood will be safe when people with a lot of melanin move in.
But the guys anxiously engaged in trying to persuade to use their judgment take this to a worse level, twisting everything that can be spun, lying for the lord of their worldview, demonizing everything that doesn’t come from them, and trying their level best to isolate us from our own empirical experience. It’s classic gaslighting and it’s a form of abuse. And protecting yourself from abuse by someone you hold in esteem is the least lazy work you’ll ever do. It’s exhausting, and mortal humans must get some rest, but don’t come at me saying I’m lazy.
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