Friday, September 30, 2005

I've decided not to raise my children Mormon...

...and I swear it's only partially because of this post on Times & Seasons. For those of you who don't want to read hundreds of comments (and who can blame you), I'll summarize. A T&S perma-blogger believes that, absent massive personal revelation, it is better to stay single forever than marry outside the temple. The rationale given is that mixed-religion marriages can "hamper... their children's spiritual growth" because kids will figure out that one of their parents don't believe. Even worse, they'll figure out that religion is not more important than marriage. I present the following quotation verbatim:
"The problem is that SOME [exposure to the gospel] may be worse than NONE. I've been around people from part-member families (and while I know not all are like this), ones that I have known have had no trouble taking the sacrament and then going out to lunch and ordering (gasp!) an iced tea. Not that that is evil incarnate, but it suggests that this person, at least, has fully learned the lesson of her youth: the church is nice, and it works for some, but it wasn't crucial to me (as your mother) that you be raised by someone who believes in it. She would have perhaps been better off raised without the gospel and then encountering it wholeheartedly instead of learning that 'the half-way covenant' is good enough."
I think this is the problem; this person believes the Church should trump all relationships, especially marriage. You shouldn't even consider marrying an outsider. Why would you? They aren't part of the Church, and the Church is the most important thing in life.

I don't want my kids exposed to these kinds of clannish, suffocating ideas, at least not until they are old enough to judge for themselves. I think it is a toxic mindset. And I don't think it's only Mormons that are afflicted with this; most churches (I'm looking at you Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Judaism, etc.) strongly discourage marrying outside of your religion. I whole-heartedly reject all this foolishness.

Which is more important, my wife or church? You shouldn't even have to think about it.
My wife will always take precedence over church. My family will always take precedence over church. Guess what? I hope my children do learn that the church is nice and okay for some people, but it's not the most important thing and it's not for everyone. It certainly shouldn't determine who you marry and it definitely shouldn't make you feel bad about yourself.

And that brings me to the second reason I won't raise my (theoretical) children Mormon: the church can't deal with sexuality. If I was scarred by the repressiveness of the church teachings growing up as a straight male, I can only imagine the hell it must be to grow up gay and Mormon. If my kids are gay, I don't want them them to be made miserable by constantly hearing about how bad of sinners they are, just for being themselves. There is a lot of ugly, unnecessary guilt imposed by the church that we could do without.

The number one lesson that will be taught in the Flanders' home is that being a good person and good to others are the only essential things. Everything else, including church, is fungible.

52 comments:

RoastedTomatoes said...

Ned, I love your number-one lesson and couldn't agree more. Likewise, I'm totally astounded by the apparently wide-spread belief that part-member families are broken and unacceptable to God! I've been 1/2 of a part-member family before. It was awkward in some ways, e.g., sitting in a family ward pew all by myself. And I really prefer going to church with Serenity Valley. But I don't think God was mad that we didn't have the same institutional affiliations.

I sympathize with your desire to protect your (hypothetical) children, as well. I wonder how much of this you think can realistically be ameliorated via calm explanations at home. The T&S people apparently think that evidence of non-fanatical commitment on the part of parents can help kids develop (what I would call) a healthy sense of proportion with respect to church impositions. Do you agree?

By the way, I worry about the consequences of raising kids without some institutional religious affiliation, as well...

NFlanders said...

Thanks, RT. I think a lot of the negative things COULD be quashed with explanations at home, but you'd have to know exactly what was being taught. I don't want to have to eavesdrop on my kid's primary class to make sure they aren't being taught something I vehemently disagree with. I also don't want to spend all my time un-teaching things that they pick up at church. "Now, let's talk about why the fireside speaker was crazy."

Yes, I agree completely that a healthy sense of proportion is needed about church. (You expressed it more more succinctly than I could.)

I do worry about things like baptism, but not so much the teachings. If parents can homeschool their kids (to ensure they get the best education), then why can't I homechurch my kids? I also worry about depriving them of a stable church community, but mostly because of forgone friendships with peers.

Of course, it is a little ridiculous for me to get all worked up over non-existant children, but still.

Capt Jack said...

I also find the bloggers choice of sins/transgression interesting. Drinking an iced tea...

As opposed to something like taking the sacrament and going out and committing fraud--as some good LDS raised in families with both parents being members have done.

Raising moral children has nothing to do with raising them in the church, of that I'm completely convinced.

RoastedTomatoes said...

Capt. Jack, you're clearly right that raising moral children doesn't require a church. I have a hard time seeing any compelling evidence of a relationship between religiosity and morality. The many irreligious people that I work with seem to me to be, on average, quite as moral as the many religious people that I know.

What I mean by the effects of raising kids without an institutional affiliation is much more along the lines of what Ned took me to mean: baptism, peer relationships, involvement in a religious community and tradition. These things don't have inherent and indisputable value, but, from my perspective, they seem important even if not for consequential reasons.

More generally, I wonder if perhaps the example of parents who maintain some autonomy and intellectual independence might not allow children the option of developing a similar perspective--without necessarily having to counteract every specific thing the kids get taught. (Ned, my interest in this thread has to do with my hypothetical children, as well. You and I have too much in common--down to the putative kids!)

Capt Jack said...

RT:

I wasn't aiming at you, in my sleep deprived state I must have skipped over your last paragraph.

I think involving children in some sort of community of shared values is important, and that the community they're involved with doesn't have to be religious. In most cases, with parents who are LDS or who have some family attachment to the LDS church it is just easier to use it as the community.

I'm completely hypocritical on this, BTW, as my wife and daughters remain active members of the church and barring some unforeseen event will likely be that way for life.

I really don't have too many complaints about what they are learning, as most of their leaders seem to respect the boundaries my wife and I insist on--no interviews about sexual topics, no interviews without my wife's or my consent, limiting hours spent at church or church activities, etc..

Tess said...

Amen!

Excellent discussion. I read that thread at T&S and was shocked. Iced tea?! Wow. What's important is whether or not you are a "good" person, and the folks at T&S seem to measure a person's "goodness" as how well you follow the rule not to drink iced tea or go out to lunch on Sunday. It's a shame.

Susan M said...

Geeze Louise. No wonder I rarely read that blog.

But I think your reaction to it is unnecessary/misguided. Children learn more from their parents' examples at home than they do from a Sunday school teacher at church. If anything, I'd think his attitude should make you want to raise your kids in the church, if only to help change those kinds of attitudes.

Rosalynde said...

Ned, I like you immensely (well, what I know of you, at least!). It was clear that you were hurt by the discussion on that thread yesterday---and understandably: it's nearly intolerable to be told that one's most personal decisions will harm one's children, current or future (even though, of course, some personal decisions WILL harm one's children)---and it's also clear that you're striking back a little in this post; the blogger in question will probably feel pretty horrible if she reads this.

I disagree with Julie's assessment of the effects of part-member families on children (and so, incidentally, does a very large majority of both T&S bloggers and readership; I think you and RT, in your indignation, have misinterpreted the prevailing tone). But to suggest that Julie (or the church) places institutional obligation above CURRENT family relationships is, I think, a pretty uncharitable reading---paticularly when everything in Julie's life (and, these days, just about everything coming from Church HQ, with the massive emphasis on family) suggests the opposite. Julie was talking about decisions made BEFORE family obligations are assumed, not about prioritizing those obligations AFTER they are a fact.

I, of course, hope that you will raise your kids Mormon, not least so that maybe you and I will end up in the same ward someday and you'll teach my kids in Primary. I wouldn't need to eavesdrop at all. And Maude sounds pretty keen, too.

RoastedTomatoes said...

Rosalynde, I may well have misinterpreted the overall tone of the conversation. The original post and a handful of the comments were so overwhelmingly negative to me that they might well have drowned out countervailing messages. Part of the reason for that is that these comments echoed poisonous advice that people pushed on me during the period when Serenity Valley and I were engaged. (She was an Episcopalian at the time; I was my good old pseudo-Josephite self.) Whatever people may think about the morality and consequences of other people's marriage decisions, they ought to understand that these choices are as private and as sacred as anything on this Earth. There's no way that an outsider can have sufficient access to that privacy and sacredness to render a meaningful judgment about the morality of a given decision. So to hear a blanket, unconditional statement along the lines of the T&S post is painful.

Rusty said...

Yes, what Rosalynde said.

In addition, keep in mind that the church is made up of people, all of whom are not the same. Of course some of those have a "toxic mindset", but I'd like to think there's a balance of those who are wise and openminded.

And yes, the leadership of the church has not been so great in tactfully treating many subjects, (i.e. homosexuality) but I think they're improving.

This all being said, I had a similar reaction reading that post. And I too felt wonderment when I was agreeing with Adam and disagreeing with Julie.

a random John said...

Ned,

It is too late. Not because you're already married but because you're already Mormon. Your children will know you are Mormon and will make judgements about the importance of being Mormon from the fact that you haven't raised them that way. So as you can see you're damnedittily if you do and damnedittily if you don't.

Let's face it, all children of Mormons encounter the Church in a different way than converts do. At some point all of those children have to decide for themselves what to think of the Gospel. Now because of various social and familial pressures they might not decide to make their true feelings known publically, but you not raising them Mormon won't avoid the situation.

I sincerely wish the best for you, Maude, and your family. I'm sure that you'll make decisions together that work best for your particular situation.

btw, everything I've heard in my lifetime has always put your family before the church in terms of importance.

NFlanders said...

First of all, thanks to all those who commented.

This post was dashed off in the heat of the moment, but I still stand by the gist of it, if not some of the stronger rhetoric. I certainly didn't want to hurt Julie's feelings, and I have no desire for her to read this. We are coming from two such completely different places that I don't think we can really communicate meaningfully about this (as is obvious in reading the T&S thread).

While the church does emphasize current family over church duties (kind of, unless you have to go to a meeting), I think that precluding a whole class of people as marriage partners is a pretty big intrusion into the personal life and, yes, family life.

As always, the kind comments just make me realize how incredibly diverse the Mormon community really is. I guess the problem is that I never know which church I will arrive at when I walk throught the door.

Bryce said...

Just a thought regarding marrying outside the faith: regardless of what you think about Julie's position (I'm on the record there as disagreeing with her, if it matters), it's pretty clear that having a spouse with different and strong religious beliefs could become a source of contention within the marriage. Not to say that it can't and doesn't work for some people, but issues of doctrine aside, advice to marry within your faith, no matter what that faith is, has some pragmatic basis. Same goes for intercultural marriages (and interracial marriages, to a certain degree) -- there's no reason to reject such pairings out of hand, but the issues involved in making the marriage work are serious and real.

lchan said...

If I judged the church by blog comments, I wouldn't raise my kids in it either. Actually going to church is a totally different experience than reading T&S. The church was my rock growing up and I'm happy to give my kids something like that.

What you and Maude teach at home and what you believe is what your kids will learn. I don't think it matters what church you go to, but I think going to church really does strengthen your family.

Anonymous said...

I found it mind-boggling that some commenters would insist that it's better to live one's life alone, abstinent and pious instead of seeking a marriage partner of a different religion (or no religion).

I think if the shoe were on the other foot; if one of those insistent posters were to be faced with singlehood tomorrow, s/he would sing a very different tune.

All of the prophets, apostles and male leaders from bishops onwards have been married at some point, and the majority are still married. It infuriates me that they sit in the great, spacious conference centers in their plush chairs and all but insist that single people (especially women) wait until the afterlife to be married (whatever that means).

They should be actively asserting that singles who want to marry and raise children date and marry outside of the Church. But, no, you have to dig up 30-year old Ensign articles to find something that even hints at that, and even those come with stern "consider the consequence" warnings.

Tim J. said...

I'll add my two cents.

I too disgreed with Julie. The one thing that bothered me about that discussion was the use of statistics, as in X% of lds who marry non-lds go inactive--so it's better to play the percentages.

This is illogical. I never remember wondering whether or not I should baptize an investigator because 70-80% of them fall away and become inactive. I don't remember being told that since EQ home teaching is around 30-40% we should possibly find a better way to reach them, you know, one that has a higher percentage.

Rusty said...

Tim,
That's a good point about the statistics.

jay s. said...

You really can't worry to much about others. I understand your perspective that "I also don't want to spend all my time un-teaching things..." But that is prettyu much the case no matter how you decide to raise your kids. I am a liberal mormon and get whacked out people from both sides (like our ward member who won't let her kids go anywhere without her, including Homemaking, Primary etc) and those liberals, who while well intentioned play right into the hands of Rush and The No Spin Zone crew.

As far as precluding a "whole group of individuals" from marriage eligibity, that doesn't really bother me. There are certainly valid reasons behind it, which makes it probably a better guideline than my rule that the girl had to know how to cook. People exclude potential marriage partners for much less valid reasons than a religious background.
In priority I wouldn't make it a deal breaker but it should be up there.

Being an active church member dictates how you will spend a lot of your time, where you will spend money and the values you embrace. I wanted those things, so it logically made sense to marry someone who felt similarly. That is why I didn't marry someone who was at the extreme Molly end of that spectrum. Its all about choice.
I don't condemn those who marry non-members. My non mormon uncle is certainly a better husband to my aunt than my sister in laws ex who was the son of a counselor in the stake presidency. But there are certain conflicts that are going to arise, as they do in all marriages, and the involvement of religion can often raise the stakes. I think there are four keys to marriage
1) Physical attraction
2) Friendship/Trust
3) Agreement about values
4) Understanding about finances.

Just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

"the blogger in question will probably feel pretty horrible if she reads this"

Not at all. I think it is useful to see what other ideas go along with the position held by those who disagree with me.

(And it is hilarous to watch my statement about the iced tea taken deliberately out of context in order to deligitimate everything else that I say.)

I won't respond to the other comments here because I'm having a hard enough time keeping up with the comments at T & S. But I'd like to invite those of you who disagree with me to post your thoughts at T & S. The statistics angle is interesting.

(I don't plan to continue reading this thread, so if you actually want me to read something you write, do it at T & S).

Julie in Austin

ed said...

As long as you don't raise them Democrat or Republican (did I just repeat myself?) you'll be ok. 8-)

Stephen said...

While the church does emphasize current family over church duties (kind of, unless you have to go to a meeting), I think that precluding a whole class of people as marriage partners is a pretty big intrusion into the personal life and, yes, family life.

As always, the kind comments just make me realize how incredibly diverse the Mormon community really is. I guess the problem is that I never know which church I will arrive at when I walk throught the door


The truth is that every community, even the Mennonites and others most posters would think of as uniform, are incredibly diverse.

I would wish you and Serenity the best, and a home in the Church for you and your children that gives you welcome and peace.

Eric Russell said...

“(And it is hilarous to watch my statement about the iced tea taken deliberately out of context in order to deligitimate everything else that I say.)”

That’s just what I was thinking. I was laughing at the comments by jack and Tess. I’ve noticed that those with a bone to pick with the church just love it when members make the slightest supportive comments about the WoW, tithing, or some other superficial issue and blast them for misrepresenting morality. As if those who break their covenants have a keener insight on what being a good person really is.

RoastedTomatoes said...

Eric, I've known Capt. Jack for a little while now, and I have to say that all of the evidence suggests he's a good person.

ed said...

I'm not sure why Julie thinks her comment about iced tea was taken out of context.

If I understand her, she's saying that it's better to have no spouse or children at all, than to have children who, though nominally mormon and somewhat active, do not feel that rigid observance of church standards or obedience to church leaders is, in itself, especially important.

Perhaps I've misunderstood her, but I'm not sure whatelse she could mean. I think it's exactly this idea that many disagree with.

Eric Russell said...

RT,

I never said he wasn't.

NFlanders said...

Well, I'm glad Julie wasn't offended, even though I still don't think she understood my point. I really wasn't trying to pull the iced tea comment out of context. It wouldn't have mattered to me if she had used iced tea or heroin as her example (although it did add a little to the absurdity of her comment). No, my main disagreement was with the idea that children are somehow damaged or ruined if they don't whole-heartedly embrace the church and its teachings. The idea that they would be better off being born to someone else instead of me, that is what bothers me, not iced tea.

Bryce has a good point about ethnic groups encouraging their members to marry within the group. As a member of no ethnic group, I'm really not qualified to give an informed opinion. Regardless, I think encouragement to marry inside the group (which I believe is what Mormonism actually promotes) is qualitatively different from saying don't marry outside the group.

But I do agree with all the commenters who said I shouldn't make judgments about the church based on what goes on at T&S. It's just hard not to since most of the permabloggers are full, faithful members in some sort of leadership positions. Fortunately controversial things like this rarely surface in a ward setting; the bloggernacle is kind of a pressure chamber for explosive issues like this.

Anonymous said...

I have read Julie's blogs and forum postings for many years. I have always admired her knowledge and dedication to the Church. But she has always had quite a spunk and forthrightness about her, so the 'tone' of her T&S comments were entirely characteristic of her style and completely expected. And I mean that in a nice way. I appreciate both Julie's and Melissa's opinions, but was a bit sorry to see attemps at courtesy and civility break down to such a degree.

Two things seem to surface from the T&S thread. 1) Julie's position does appear to be in fact what the church leaders have taught. 2) Many LDS members don't agree with the church leaders. And I think the tendency of those in disagreement with Julie to back off from rigid orthodoxy on this matter is part of the reason for the overall negativity in the series of comments.

Tess said...

Julie is obviously very bright and articulate, but that doesn't change the fact that she is wrong on so many levels. The first place where she's wrong is by saying here that her iced tea comment was taken out of context.

No, Julie used iced tea as an example of why part member families are WORSE than non-member families, because of their wishy-washy nature. Isn't that the question? That you're sentencing your children to an unholy life if you marry a non-mormon?

The sad thing is that lots of mormons DO judge people based on whether they follow all the rules (no iced tea!), instead of who they are as individuals.

And while Julie has made a few conciliatory comments in this direction, non-members (or members who drink iced tea!) are not good enough for practicing mormons - no matter what their character or personal background may be. I find this insulting, and, yes, shameful.

Tess said...

I don't know if anyone has raised this point yet, but marrying a Mormon doesn't guarantee that you will view the importance of religion in your family in the same way. There are many good LDS people who decide they do not believe in the church after they get married in temple. Then what? Do you leave your un-believing spouse, so as not to contaminate your children with their wishy-washy beliefs about the church?

Ann said...

I'm glad you wrote this, Ned, because I simply can't bear reading That Other Thread.

The premise of the article, it seems to me, was this: That the most important thing you will ever do as a parent is ensure your children grow up to be Mormons.

To paraphrase Mr. McKay: No other success can compensate for failure in the church. And not keeping your kids in the church is a failure.

Funny, I have the almost EXACT OPPOSITE point of view. If my kids want to stay LDS, that's fine with me...but if they are hard-working, honest, loving, ethical adults, then I don't give a damn if they stay Mormon.

I guess that's one of the things I lost when I came to disbelieve onlytrueness - the sense that the church was the center of everything, and without it, we are Nothing.

Anonymous said...

The "anonymous" who made the comment at 3:54 is exactly right. Most Mormons don't believe or accept their own doctrine, and it's hard to blame them.

I wouldn't be surprised if Julie in Austin or someone with her exact beliefs or viewpoints were to become the next General Relief Society president, of the wife of a future prophet. Her view of the gospel is their exact view--nothing more, nothing less.

Yet, confronted with the absurdity of the doctrine, most Mormons hem, haw, deny, equivocate, fumble, mumble and grumble about the more ridiculous tenets, such as:

1. Only those who are married in the temple (and strictly abide by all the precepts of the church) will live with their spouses and God forever. All those who don't will have to visit their family members and their marriages will be dissolved upon death.

2. Those who don't find an LDS spouse during life (and are "faithful", but nobody knows just how perfect/faithful they have to be) will earn themselves a spouse in the next life (now does include sex?).


3. Women who aer sealed in the temple but who divorce have their sealings intact until they find another man to be sealed to in the temple. In other words, even if a woman divorces, she is still sealed to the ex-husband.

4. Unmarried straight and gay people are better off in the long run never having a physical relationship with anyone because if they are "faithful" they'll have a spouse and kids in the next life. If they develop and keep an iced tea or cigarette habit, however, they are just SOL and are doomed to celibacy in this life and solitude in the next.

I wouldn't want to raise my kids Mormon either.

Anonymous said...

Ned, I have struggled with the same issue of whether or not I should raise my children in the church. I have two young children and still attend church, but it is increasingly difficult. My husband and I were married in the temple, but he stopped going to church years ago for reasons I completely understand and support. There are many things I love about the church, but there are also many teachings which I find to be destructive to families.
I don't wan't my children to ever feel anything but the utmost respect for their father and others who decide the mormon path is not for them. I want them to understand there can be many different ways to find God and feel his all encompassing love. I would feel much better about raising my children mormon if there weren't such an emphasis on that being the only true path. In my experience this doctrine leads to many ugly and intolerable things. I just hope I have the courage to do the right thing when I am ready to make my decision.

melissa c said...

You have lots of posts here. Wow! Let me just leave a few of my feelings. I think you are forgetting the most important thing here and that is the relationship you have with Heavely Father. THe people in "the church" are not perfect and never will be. There will always be someone, somewhere that WILL offend you. It's human nature. Is that a reason to not strengthen your own testimony? What is all boils down to is this. DO you believe the Book of Mormon is real and true? Do you believe Joseph Smith was really who he says he was? Do you believe In President Hinckly? If not, isn't it worth finding out for yourself? It's not hard. I think it IS better to raise children in the gospel. As a parent it will be your responsibility to address difficult issues with your kids. They say in the last days the only place kids will hear about the golspel will be in their own homes. If parents aren't strong for something, how will their kids be? I hope I do not offend you but I think you are making a mistake. Please consider your decision and pray about it. It can't hurt. About keeping the sabath day holy, It is just about obedience and it is between you and God. It is not your place to judge someone who goes to church and then out ot eat. It is YOUR job to teach your children that keeping the sabbath day holy means what you teach them it means.. They will listen to you.

Tiger Lily said...

*BTW-I agree with Melissa above.

I read your post at Various Stages and then decided to come here. Although I don't agree that it would be good for you to raise your children outside the church (mainly because I think you have a strong testimony of the restored Gospel and this is a people thing not a Gospel of Christ thing)I do think most of your comments were spot on.

For years I've visited mormon forums here on the web and whenever anything about "part-members" comes up it is almost always condemning them or overwrought with "pity" for the poor, misguided, unfortunate ones. Part-members are the "hush hush" group of the church and very little positive or uplifting information (aside from getting the non-believing spouse into the baptismal font) can be found on the net.

The people who write, think, and speak such comments fail to take into account that there are SO many reasons for interfaith families and they DO NOT know all the circumstances or God's plan for these families. "Judge not... "

When I do read such posts (the kind where the writer seems to know the plan of salvation better than Joseph did) I often think of the video of the "Prodigal Son" we would show investigators on my mission: "But I'm the GOOD guy!" (bang fist down on piano for emphasis) Yup, I'm the good mormon who did it all perfect and so on to glory! Too bad for all you part-member, not whole, just enough, non-celestial families! Good thing I did as I was told! ;-)

Of course this is tongue-in-cheek. I think these assumptions are a common human frailty rooted in pride, and fed by fear.

Maybe this theme is important to me because I am one of those, an R.M. in good standing (gasp) who did receive personal revelation to go against the prevailing orthodoxy and marry a non-member husband. I do not regret this decision. Our family is wonderful (definitely not part anything!) and my husband is one of the most Christ-like people I know. He supports me and the kids 100% I am a very blessed woman. We are all active in the LDS church (including my husband).

What stuns me is the fact that so many members of "club mormon" (belief in religion as opposed to the Restored Gospel of Christ) think that being a disciple of Christ is as easy as making a few temple promises.

Once, when I was a primary chorister, I had the opportunity to attend a stake primary meeting. The Stake primary president was young and inexperienced (a married student stake)and was talking about the new theme of the year "Families are Forever." She warned us all to be careful how we approached this subject because "you know, there are some children of part-member and less active parents in the stake. Their families are not perfect and forever like ours are".

"Do you think your family is perfect?" I piped up from the back knowing that she meant my family too. Of course she didn't know that the parent of such a family was in the room.

She blushed and said "of course not, I mean we aren't perfect but..." but her assumption (and those of others there) was out in the open. We're the Good Guys! Of course, had we been flies on the wall in all the homes represented in that meeting, would they have been indeed perfect celestial families?

But this is what happens in any organized society, religious or otherwise. We are all, indeed, judging machines. The positive thing about being involved in church service is that we can learn to get the beam out of our own collective eyes and begin to forget the motes in our brothers and sisters eyelashes.

This may sound negative, but I really don't feel that way. I embrace my experience and my opportunity to get the beam out of MY eye concerning those who judge me. Ned, don't decide not to raise your children in the church because of the Mollys and Peters-they have something to teach you and you have something to teach them. Church isn't a resting place for saints, its a labratory for spiritual development. (Although you might want to consider moving to a destination outside of Utah.;-)

Anonymous said...

According to Ned's profile, he lives in New England, and not in Utah.

The problem is not with the "people" in the Church. The leadership (and, alarmingly, many of the members) are so fond of blaming the victims; the "people" by saying that "the people are flawed, the Church is perfect."

Well, guess what, it's the doctrines of the church and the church structure, programs, practices and policy that make people like me (and apparently Ned) not want to raise kids in the church. It's not about *people* being offensive. It's about the very DOCTRINE being offensive (not to mention some of the history, but that's a different story and hardly relevant here).

When you have dotrine (read: truth about how life is supposed to be lived ) tell you things like only married people, sealed in the temple, who believe in the church and all it teaches can live with God forever, don't you see how offensive that can be to people who can't force themselves to believe the unbelievable?

When you have doctrine that excludes gays, singles, and divorced people by saying their place in the afterlife isn't as secure as those who happened to be sealed in the temple, can you not see how problematic this is?

Tiger Lily said...

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, I'm sorry I did not see he was from New England. It was an assumption because I didn't read his profile. Oopsie. :-) I guess I'm just like everybody else in this department (assumptions I mean).

It is clear that you do not believe in the church or the doctrines. Obviously you have issues with a lot of the leadership. Your issues are personal and how you interpret your experience is your own. I have had different experiences concerning personal revelation and understanding of the doctrines you do not agree with.

Do I think its offensive? No. Not after everything I've studied and what has been communicated to me through prayer. These experiences are my own, and very precious, and I will not share them in a blog post.

There is so much more to know concerning these doctrines and I think most of the time we only skim the surface. My personal beliefs concerning these doctrines and the church are always under construction (and re-construction). But there is one thing that I believe, that I experience deep within me, I do have a spiritual knowledge that Joseph Smith restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the order of the priesthood.

For this reason I went to church alone at the beginning of our marriage. I continued to go despite the prejudice against me and my family. I didn't go so I could get the warm fuzzy and pat on the back but because I knew that I wanted to serve the Lord and my husband. I also learned to serve the people in my ward and can honestly say that I love each and every one of them during that hard time during the beginning of our marriage.

As for being victims....

I am not a "victim" of the church or its doctrines. Although I grew up in the church I was not active for years. Like Paul or Alma, I needed a big spiritual conversion, a real born of God type of conversion, to "come back." After this experience I was never the same. It was after this experience that I served my mission.

Do I ever feel sad, mad, or upset because other members tell me they don't agree with my choice to marry my husband? Of course I do! But I don't let these feelings rule my spiritual world. I am not victimized by them because I truly believe in Christ. I know that He is and that He loves me infinitely. I also know that the people who do not like me do not know who I am and cannot possibly know my worth as I do not know theirs.

But I think that is the secret to freedom. Are we victims or are we free agents making choices? I know many may not agree with me here, but I don't believe in freedom FROM I believe in freedom TO. It is through overcoming obstacles in my life that I have learned the most and experienced the most joy.

As to it all being problematic...
I don't see anything problematic. The great thing about this church is not only the fact that there are modern day prophets and revelation-but that there is also PERSONAL revelation. We have the ability to have a personal revelation with our Saviour and he knows us best.

So far the church has not excommunicated me for marrying a non-member. President Hinckley will not decide whether or not I qualify for a celestial inheritance. It is only the Savious who will judge me-He who knows my heart and my will. I am not afraid to be judged by Him.

Single-then live your life! I did. I married a non-member and I have a wonderful family. But maybe you think you shouldn't and it would be better to be the next Sheri Dew? Dew it. Gay? I've known many gay people in and out of the church. This is not an easy issue and the church has clear guidelines but it is still between that person with those feelings and the Lord.

The point is-life is too short to be unhappy. If "the church" doesn't bring you joy then do something else. Bitterness, however, will not bring illumination. I know this-I almost died last year. I'm a regular Lady Lazarus. What I took away from my experience with the other side is that love and forgiveness heal all wounds.

The Lord will reveal himself to you if you let him. I have experienced this and though I will always question, I no longer doubt.

NFlanders said...

I am sympathetic to K.D. and Melissa's point, but also to that of anonymous. I don't think all of us are very far apart on our views.

K.D., that's a great point about the parable of the prodigal son. What I love about that parable and also the 99 sheep parable is how counter-intuitive they are. It doesn't make sense to welcome back someone who's squandered their inheritance or leave the majority of the sheep. Apparently, salvation is counter-intuitive. It's not guaranteed by simply being sealed in temple or active in the church.

I think K.D. said it best: life is about being happy. If church does that for us, then we should go for it, but it's not for everyone. My struggle is to figure out whether it's for me and my family.

Anonymous said...

k.d., I agree that we all need to be free agents, which is why those who prefer not to belong to, attend or raise children in the church should be perfectly welcome--and even encouraged-- to do so.

Some of us find blessings in the strangest places. To others, certain systems and teachings are anathema. You, for example, might know gay members who are perfectly happy to be Mormons. I would bet that many such people have found a way to be happily asexual, or are leading duplicitous lives. Not everyone can live the kind of life demanded by the system, nor should everyone. Despite your personal experiences and your personal revelation, the bottom line is that the Church teaches certain principles are unchanging, uniform and strictly necessary for life now and in the hereafter. The church claims that God demands certain rituals and practices that are mandatory. Despite any warm fuzzies or personal beliefs, those who are not sealed in the temple will not inherit eternal life with God (CK3) in the hereafter. Whether or not you or anyone else believe this, that is what the Church teaches, and such teachings (among many, many others) are damaging to members, non-members, prospective members and converts. The key is not to take these teachings seriously, or in other words, to disbelieve and discredit the Church leadership, or to claim that one's personal revelation trumps the revelation of the prophet.

Some people who cannot attain these principles or have little hope of the same unnecessarily struggle with feelings of self-worth, motivation, hope and understanding. You may know gay members of the Church who somehow thrive. I have known some who have committed or attempted suicide.

There were African slaves pre-1865 who were very happy with their situation. That doesn't make slavery right.

JP said...

I love that my family can have a title like "part-member" family because my husband is not a member. That is just dog-gone fantastic

It's like the time my daughter was referred to as "mixed" when found out her father was of Hispanic decent and me being white. MIXED...like she is a dog or something.

JP said...

Also...my children are NOT confused about Heavenly Father. I have MUCH communication with my children about God's plan and how important He is in our lives. I have nothing against the LDS church and love how I grew up. I made choices in my life for my family and I'm proud of those choices. My children have a great knowledge of the scriptures (not a perfect knowledge...but a great one) and how know how important it is to do our very best and seek God's guidance in all that we do.

I know A LOT of confused/messed up LDS children of 2 LDS parents...I just don't buy into that whole theory.

Tiger Lily said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I am sorry you find offense where none was offered.

The mention of slavery was not to call you a slave (can you show me where I did that?) but to emphasize that even in the most harmful of systems there were people who accepted and embraced what they saw to be benefits.

You have stated that you do not find Mormonism harmful. I have never debated your personal experience of Mormonism. As you say I do not know you. But I have said that some people do, and as such, it is their right to decide not to join, remain active, or raise their children in this religion.

I have never made personal attacks against you. In fact, I have consistently said that "...some people struggle..." and "...some people don't flourish in this religion..." I have, as you have, stated my opinion.

And if I say my name is R. X. Seuss, does that make me any less anonymous than you? And what, exactly, does that have to do with the subject at hand?

I also wish you peace.

Tiger Lily said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Re "strange": The example I used in the paragraph about "strange places" referenced gay members. The blog NedFlanders referenced in his opening post was about single members who are faced with the choice of being celibate or marrying outside the church.

I do, indeed, think it strange that healthy adults would forfeit companionship and sexual relationships for their religion, but that is what some religions, including the LDS church, ask of its followers. This might not seem strange to you, but it does to the rest of the world.

As I have repeatedly said, I have never attacked you, nor have I referenced your situation personally. I have no interest in doing so, nor am I interested in explicating mine. I am not fond of histrionic diatribes; I state my case firmly and fairly. I have not asked one question of you, with the exception of a rhetorical question at the end of my last post. I don't know what you mean when you say I "ask all the questions."

I have all the answers I need to make the major decisions in my life. I credit Mormoinsm for some of them and my vast life experience for most of them. Life is a wonderful journey. May we traverse all our journeys in peace and understanding.

Tiger Lily said...

Anonymous,

I removed my last two comments. I went through all of, what I think are your posts, and I did misunderstand what you wrote and I am sorry for my reaction. You are right. Unfortunately I'm a hasty person and I didn't read as closely as I needed to. Please accept my apology.

Sincerely,
K.D.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, K.D. No offense taken. Enjoy your afternoon, and godspeed.

Bookslinger said...

Ned, it's not the _church_ that is the most important thing, it's the _gospel of Jesus Christ_ that is the most important thing. The organizational church is just the scaffolding. The family, or the individual, is the church.

If one marries a social-member or a surface-level member, they are marrying "in the church" but they are also marrying "outside the gospel".

If one marries a non-member, then they are also marrying outside of the gospel. And, granted, there are always exceptions.

I sympathize with your frustration when your observations are about people who obsess about "the church" and put Christ and his gospel in second place after the church. I fell in that trap for a while.

A great book that helped me understand that the Gospel is more important then the Church is "The Divine Center" by Stephen R. Covey. I believe it is out of print, but you can get usually get it at Ebay, or from the used booksellers on Amazon.

Nate Oman said...

Ned: I agree with you that there is a lot of potentially toxic nonsense that is taught to children in the Church. On the other hand, I think that there is a lot of potentially toxic nonsense that is taught to children in the public schools, by their peers, by television, in movies, etc. etc.

The unfortunate truth is that being a parent is all about monitoring what your children are told, and then working to counteract the things that they are told which you think are toxic nonsense. This is not some sort of peripheral parental role. It is one of the main things that parents do.

As for the Church, in addition to toxic non-sense, there are many great, good, and beautiful things that it teaches children. Toxic jerk that I am, I am quite certain that I would be infintely more toxic and unpleasant without the benefit of the Church.

Finally, I hope that you realize that the T&S permabloggers do not identify with every post or comment left on the blog. Also -- fortunately for the Church -- to my knowledge none of us have any positions of ecclesiastical leadership.

Anonymous said...

It's one thing when run-of-the-mill toxic nonsense it taught at church or anywhere else, but when the One and True Church on the Face of the Whole Earth tells your kid in the Name of Jesus Christ that x is harmful or that y will separate them from their families forever, that is more than just toxic; it can be mentally, spiritually and psychologically devastating.

If I had a kid who was growing up gay in the church, for instance, I would discontinue my affiliation with the church completely. I would never want that toxic nonsense to permeate his being, and I would never want him to worry about his "eternal welfare" while facing an earthly life of loneliness and possible ostracism.

There are other systems that teach excellent values without waving the banner of One and Only Truthfulness and which help rather than harm in the longer run.

Nate Oman said...

But it seems to me that its status as the one true and living Church on the face of the earth with whom the Lord is well pleased speaking collectively and not individually (to paraphrase D&C 1) is one of the things that makes membership in the Mormon Church worth while.

NFlanders said...

Nate-- The exclusive truth claims happen to be one of my least favorite things about the church, if only because it sets up an atmosphere of infallibility around an extremely fallible institution.

You are right that kids are going to pick up a lot of garbage from TV and from their friends at school (I know I did when I was a kid). However, I want to make sure they don't pick up anything toxic that has the imprimatur of Jesus Christ's One and Only True Church on it. In my opinion, that can be much more damaging than stuff they pick up from what they know to be suspect sources.

Anonymous said...

On the children, well, I would never want my children raised in the Mormon Church. Just look at all the strife and comments just on these pages. It's hard enough to raise kids without all this religious mess, etc. More to the point, I am a very religious Christian person and a Protestant by church affiliation. My Ex-wife has now returned to the church of her upbringing (LDS). In fact that is a big part of what made our marriage come apart. That is, her desire to be all out LDS and my desire not to be. I really wish her the best in her new LDS life (she has remarried), but I still have to deal with the disagreement on how our children will be raised. I only hope when they are grown they have a personal relationship with Christ and not rely on any particular "church". So, hats off to the LDS church for recommending their members marry within the LDS church, because there is a load of problems possible otherwise.

BTW, it amazes me that LDS members usually use the term "the church" to always mean the LDS church. Yes, that is what they believe. With all the back and forth discussions here, does anyone ever consider that you might be better off in another church if you having so many problems? If you leave the Mormon church, do you think you are going to be lost forever into the pit of Hell? You might actually find there are great Christian churches out there. Many Protestant denominations: Methodists, Church of Christ, Baptists, or maybe the Catholic Church. It is my observation that the LDS church is one of the more controlling churches out there. If you love it, stay, but it seems like if one has that many problems with the LDS church, you should leave. That doesn't mean leaving Christ or THE Church. God does not leave you when you join another church. Sorry for the long post. I know I will not 'convert' anyone, I only want to help some look beyond the closed in world of the LDS.