I read a beautiful post today by Paul Barker on Rational Faiths, and then I read an ugly letter from a self-righteous family member who thought shaming my wife for expressing doubts. This family member dropped the Revelations line about being lukewarm and getting spewed. I snapped. I borrowed much of my response from Paul’s post.
One of the most beautiful aspects of Mormonism is the fountain of answers we claim to know: who we are, where we are from, and why we are on earth. However, in claiming to know the answers to life’s big questions and claiming to have a prophet who speaks with God, Mormons fail when answers are not readily available or when answers change. There certainly a lot of apologists who can tell you why Joseph Smith engaged in polygyny and encouraged some of his brides to engage in polyandry, why Brigham Young and several prophets perpetuated spiritual segregation and an outright priesthood/temple ban on blacks, why anachronistic elements appear in the BoM, why there is no female ordination, why God allows for same-sex attraction, etc.; nevertheless, there are no prophetic answers to such puzzling questions..The Mormon church claims to be the one, true church with Jesus Christ himself at the head leading a living prophets, the mouthpiece of God. Yet, the heavens are silent during a tumultuous time when answers are needed. 135 sections of the D&C were written during Joseph Smith’s ministry; five have been written in the 119 years since.Some may say, “Well, we have General Conference and the Ensign!”I say, show me where is says, “Thus saith the Lord.”Some may say, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (ref)I say, there are scores of statements said by prophets that the Mormon church has disavowed, so that is not very applicable..This can leave people uncertain about their feelings toward the Mormon church without necessarily affecting how they feel about the Gospel of Jesus Christ..‘Fallibility’ is term that has been tossed around in religious conversation recently to indicate that Mormon prophets have been and will be subject to human weaknesses and failures. As [NAME] pointed out, there are some obvious red flags in Mormon church history, but she chooses to believe and expects that the facts will be cleared up whether in this life or the next. That demonstrates how she exercises her faith..“For all have not every gift given unto them… To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know… To others it is given to believe on their words… To another is given the word of knowledge…”.This scripture points out that we are all individuals, and there is no cookie-cutter path to think, act, or become. In Utah, if a person is white, married, endowed, a Republican, has the gift of faith, and has a temple recommend, life is pretty good as a Mormon. But if someone is single, has a tattoo, is without a recommend, is LGBT, is not-white, lacks the gift of faith, questions, or is skeptical, life can get pretty hairy..I have seen first-hand how “good Mormons” marginalized my dark-skinned mother at church, and it is very sad. I have also seen first-hand my wife being called a Samaritan in Sunday School because she has tattoos followed by a warning to all mothers not to let their kids mingle with Samaritans. All in the heart of Zion..Self-righteous Mormons who look down on those who do not fit “the mold” are one of the worst kinds of people. In fact, they remind me of the Pharisees who Jesus described that “outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Whether you look down on someone because of their race, worthiness, orientation, spirituality, or body art, you are clearly out of line with the second great commandment: LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Shunning and shaming are not acceptable. Quoting Revelations and comparing someone to vomit is not an effective way to show God’s love and inclusiveness..“Because God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (ISV).I hope we can adjust our attitudes and stop seeing the Gospel like a BYU-Utah rivalry. In the Gospel, there is no room for hating, shaming, or self-righteousness. We are not here to judge, rather, we are here to love. If you’re doing the hating/shaming/self-righteous snubbing, then you’re missing the point, and, by definition, you’re not even close to being “all-in..In sum, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it” (To Kill a Mockingbird). If you do not understand why someone would view the world in grays rather than black and white, step out of your comfort zones and into the hated unknown to find out why. But if you disagree, do it with love.
If a member of the LDS church is so embarrassed or ashamed of the LDS history and doctrine, opposes certain core elements and basics of the LDS church, believes that too many LDS members suffer from cognitive dissonance, are judgmental, hateful, shaming, self-righteous and so forth, believes that he is more enlightened than the Prophet and the 12 and/or can interpret scriptures and guidance from God better than them, then that person owes it to himself to leave the church, and to do it completely – i.e. write a letter and have his name removed from the church records. I could not remain in an organization that I disagreed with so much and caused me such feelings, and I don’t understand how/why some do. To leave completely – that is respectable. Not to be a petulant child by lecturing, “judging” and casting hateful dispersions at women who are clearly above reproach . To remain in what must be a personally toxic situation indicates a profound degree of self loathing.