Becoming a Moderate Mormon

Hawkgrrrl Asides, Bloggernacle, BYU, christianity, church, Culture, curiosity, Discrimination, diversity, doubt, faith, families, history, international, LDS, Leaders, liberal, Mormon, mormon, Mormons, new order mormon, news, orthodox, politics, questioning, religion, reverence, thought 37 Comments

We’ve established that there are conservative Mormons (obviously) and there are liberal or “new order” Mormons.  Taking the politico-religious rhetoric to its next logical conclusion, I’d like to make a case for moderate (or independent) Mormonism.

A recent article in Time discussed the differences between liberal and conservative patriotism.  The key points really resonated with me for how Mormons view loyalty to the church.

http://dyn.politico.com/snetwork/images/profile/71366AEC-188B-4976-D1C1B0025A59B940.JPGConservatives

  • Hallmarks of Loyalty:  paying tribute to the past (Pioneer Day?) even while portraying an idealized past that never existed, preserving the culture even to the exclusion of initiates (Mormon colonialism?), a tendency to grade on a curve because they take a dim view of human nature (Mormon persecution complex, Haun’s Mill?); use of symbols to portray loyalty (Mormon artifacts in our homes?).
  • Signs of Disloyalty (to a Conservative):  Criticism of the cultural norms or the glorious past; the infiltration of new norms into the culture; questioning the claim of greatness.
  • What they get right:  There’s something to be said for loving the church like you love your (possibly dysfunctional) family:  because it is your heritage and your home.
  • Cautions:  May become “nationalist” (“one true church” mentality) or dismissive of other faiths; tend to substitute myth for history; expect unquestioned loyalty to come first and foremost; over time, symbols and artifacts may become a substitute for real faith; may become a club for the pedigreed few.
  • The Big Question:  Can the church truly embrace converts (and liberal loyalists alike) with a near majority conservative loyalty worldview?

http://juliafarmer.net/images/don-quixote.gifLiberals

  • Hallmarks of Loyalty:  Loyalty is to the ideals and concepts rather than to the organization; loyalty is about helping the church to live up to its potential in the future; new converts improve the church through diversity combined with commitment to the ideals; like to call the church on the carpet when it fails to live up to its ideals.
  • Signs of Disloyalty (to a Liberal):  Not owning up to mistakes of the past; reliance on symbols rather than the ideals; elevating the status of “insiders” regardless of merit.
  • What they get right:  They keep the church (and leaders and members) honest by refocusing on the ideals (may be JS restorationists) and being willing to ask the tough questions.
  • Cautions:  Believe the church must earn the loyalty of its members by living up to its ideals which will not always be possible (fallibility of leaders and lay clergy); may dismiss the pragmatic realities necessary for the church’s self-preservation (policies vs. doctrines); if loyalty is to the ideals, one can seek the ideals elsewhere (but lose the benefit of the church framework and fellowship).
  • The Big Question:  When liberals leave the church is it due to actual flaws of the church or their own Quixotic idealism?

The article cautioned both sides from going too far in asserting that their own patriotism is the only brand truly loyal to our country.  Isn’t that a great caution for us as Mormons?  Can’t we come to a moderate consensus about loyalty to the church that takes the best of both into account (or am I just being a liberal idealist to think so)?

So, are you a conservative, liberal or moderate Mormon?  How do you “reach across the aisle” to others?  Did you find anything new of value in the alternate perspective, or did this just confirm your biases?

Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 37

  1. When I went back to the US in 2001 I went to see an exhibition of Rodin’s work at the University of Utah. They had stuff there probably in a competitive way because of what had happen to “le baiser” two or three years before at BYU (which made me laugh by the way). I was there with one of my former companion and when we came out she made a funny comment that I liked a lot, she said “I am so glad the mormons put “le baiser” in the basement”. So I want to say (when they eventually get my record straight and I am baptized again) that I won’t be a mormon at all:o) I just wanted to spoil your post, can you tell?
    On a more serious level, no matter what kind and no matter what people are more acquainted with. I don’t feel, and I should say that I have never felt, comfortable with the name “mormon”.

    To try to answer to your question I guess I am more a moderate person. I see the need for both attitude as long as it remains healthy and as long as the purpose for thinking this way is known and not out of emotions and for a higher spiritual purpose (not a higher social purpose wraped into spiritual self-righteousness).

  2. I’d like to think I’m a moderate (I am a political moderate), but according to your list it certainly looks like I am a liberal. What does everyone think a moderate would look like in the template above? How would being a moderate differ from liberal?

    It looks like you see new converts as being more likely to be liberal. I disagree. I think as it stands today, the converts are the ones who are attracted to the mainstream conservativism. In my experience, liberals are coming from third/fourth/fifth generation Mormons.

  3. I’m not sure that the process of labeling ourselves or others along a set taxonomy is really helpful to the Mormon community. First, the process of labeling creates an us-versus-them type of mentality. In my mind, labeling often allows people the comfort of not fully acknowledging the humanity of others. Also, it seems that taking the identity of liberal, conservative, or moderate often comes with pressure to espouse or advocate for all of the issues that are seen as conservative, liberal, or moderate. Those that strive to define what it means to hold a particular theological position have already decided what that position stands for and will want to convert others to their own world view. I guess what I am really trying to say is that the creation of identity really is a manifestation of power on either side of the ideological divide, and, though I have sympathies with each position, I really want nothing to do with either label.

  4. This is an interesting application to religion, but I have a hard time accepting it emotionally, even though I understand it intellectually.

    Like Joel, I don’t fit any traditional classification of conservative or liberal, but I also don’t like being pigeonholed into one narrow characterization. “Moderate” fits a little better, perhaps, than the other two, but I really am a fairly unique mixture of conservative, liberal and moderate. I have found that’s true of many people – even many of those who self-identify as conservative or liberal.

    Personally, I just don’t like labels, because I agree that they generally are intended only to divide people. I’d rather just say that we see some things differently without the labels.

  5. G, the quote from Luke is talking about division by separation into the Kingdom of God from the Kingdom of the world. It doesn’t describe division within the Kingdom of God. Just saying. *grin*

  6. I believe that the actual church membership is way more nuanced than it even appears, and I’ll admit that it really looks like its dominated by the Conservative image you wrote about. But I’ve just heard too many stories now about folks who harbor all kinds of doubts and unorthodox views. They just hold them privately and when they go to church they behave as a Conservative. Why? Maybe some of it is because they feel honestly that the Conservative view is the right one and there is something wrong with them to not be fully into it. Sort of a live it then love it thing. Maybe there is also a little bit of fear of being discovered and ostracized, because they don’t realize that there are a lot of other folks like them who are also hiding their real identity.

    In that sense, the Conservative dominance in the church today is an illusion built on a vocal minority who really are Conservative, and the inability for the rest to be out in the open.

    Keep in mind I am not saying that Liberal is the natural alternative. I think a lot of the hidden non-Conservatives are probably kind of moderate with a certain percentage even apathetic. I have friends who are apathetic in every ward we’ve been in, so being somewhat liberal doesn’t really put us on that much more common ground than if they were Conservative, except that they don’t think I’m an apostate.

  7. I also agree with Joel in thinking that such labels are ultimately unhelpful, if only because they seem to limit dialogue. I suppose if I took all my feelings and opinions and averaged them out, the net result would be neutral, but that’s not really representative of me. I think like a conservative and feel like a liberal. I think it’s important for any organization to have a core of conservatives who preserve and a fringe of liberals who expand. Liberals who subvert and Conservatives that contain. I’m just going to call them “Shiva” and “Vishnu” Mormons. Without “balance in the Force” any organization will lose their way…

  8. Always happy to see a Cervantes reference pop up in matters of faith. It’s why I go by the the handle “Just for Quix.” Even now, as an outsider, I sometimes wonder if I’m fighting a windmill to make peace with what I dislike about my Mormon past while building bridges to those whom I like in the Mormon present.

    My allegiance is to the ideals of humanism, liberty and authenticity — trying to temper that with Christian faith, Godly hope and charitable moderationism into a workable, pragmatic and consistent outlook. [It’s a work in progress 🙂 ] Sometimes these allegiances, issue to issue, place me in the liberal, moderate and conservative camps.

  9. I don’t know. I don’t really see a need for all of these labels on everybody. I am not defined by any belief I have. To me, there is only either loyalty or disloyalty to the Church. Philosophies to deal with historical or doctrinal issues are tools, not identity.

  10. Lots of great comments here. A few thoughts. I would use the term “moderate” to mean embracing parts of both conservative loyalty and liberal loyalty, and I would use the term “independent” to mean rejecting the labels and/or ideals of both on some level. So, I’m hearing a lot of both “moderates” and “independents” in the comments. I think I fluctuate between “moderate” and “independent.”

    Joel – “the process of labeling creates an us-versus-them type of mentality.” IMO, this is a description of what is actually there more than it creates it. The real danger, IMO, isn’t labels, but intolerance. Try applying these labels to see what I mean: conservatives would call liberals apostates, and liberals would call conservatives hypocrits.

    BiV said she meets the liberal description more, but would have self-described as moderate. Me, too, given this list! I think it’s because this was from an article in Time (liberal bias), so the conservative argument is presented in a way that grates on the nerves.

    I’m not sure that new converts fit the liberal mold above; the key difference in the article was that conservatives want immigrants (=converts) to adapt to the existing culture and are afraid of cultural degredation, while liberals see immigrants (=converts) as the life blood of the country, the “most American”, those seeking the American dream rather than inheriting it through entitlement. This is the particular area where I feel most strongly liberal and that where entitlement mentality exists in the church, it should be quickly corrected.

    Yet the conservative ideal I would embrace is uniting with the ‘family’ of the church, which is more powerful and living than just embracing ideals. Loyalty to flawed people striving for ideals is probably more powerful than direct loyalty to the ideals. Or at least JS thought so.

  11. Clay (8): I have an LDS friend, a govt. economist, who conducted a short survey this year that was completely anonymous, and found out that 25-40% of regular, attending PH members in his ward hold heterodox practices or beliefs. On matters of belief the heterodoxy ratio was higher than on matters of practice. I was surprised to see a bit over a quarter of his sampling, for example, who admitted to regularly drinking tea or coffee, and even more who felt it was okay for other practicing Mormons to use these substances. Only about 10% held the most strict interpretation of the WoW and a little less than 10% were very liberalized. Across the board moderation reigned in belief and practice. Yet, there is a great pretense to stricter conservatism in the outward language, nature of discussion and even observable practice. I’d love to see how his findings held were his procedure duplicated on a larger scale so the margin of error could be smaller, and cross-section could be broadened to include church-attending youth and adult females. In my personal experience, although anecdotal and not at all anonymous nor scientific, I’ve found quite a bit of moderateness among LDS practitioners but never got the hint heterodoxy was quite as broad as his little experiment indicated.

    Guy (11): I think I know how some LDS persons define “loyalty or disloyalty to the Church”, but I wonder what you mean by the term. I see loyalty more as something I give to God. Even though I think the local expression of the Visible Church is a vital and important to Christian faith and practice, I don’t see that “loyalty” is required of me, per se, toward my local organization. I grasp for the best words to describe what they ask of me, but words like confidence, enthusiasm, authenticity, purposefulness, intentionality come to mind more than loyalty.

  12. I think being moderate means that you identify with both liberal and conservative concerns and end up being rejected by both. It’s lonely in the middle. In means you don’t hesitate to give the above “signs of disloyalty” to either group in an attempt to rein in extremism, and yet you see value in both. In my experience it usually just makes you a pariah and completely misunderstood, precisely because we think in such a polarized all or nothing way in the Church and it is human nature to stereotype. As such, yes, we are the first to point out that these labels are unhelpful. I would add that I have never met someone who deep down was 100% liberal or conservative, though when in reactive mode may certainly paint themselves that way.

  13. Maybe I’m reading too much into the post, but it strikes me that there are several problems with the liberal/conservative Mormon characterizations as offered here:

    a) it assumes that Conservative Mormons are all more devoted to the institution than the conservative ideals that the institution currently espouses. I disagree–I think even conservatives have their “barometers of institutional apostasy” (as BCC recently put it). I certainly have mine.

    b) it presupposes that the foundational ideals of Mormonism are one and the same as the current ideals of Liberal Mormons, which I think is debatable.

    c) it seems to assume, a priori, that most major “liberal” interpretations of history are the “correct” view, and that conservatives who hold opposite views have merely digested the institutional church’s propaganda.

    In short, the characterizations revolve around the idea that only liberals actually think.

  14. Alas, I would suggest that it is a false dichotomy; indeed, the author of this post states that conservatives love the church because it is there heritage…this is no different than what numerous cultural Mormons/church-in-exilers have declared…yet they still deny the Church’s authority to define itself. Indeed, drawing this dichotomy is absurd in the same way that asking a wife to define her loyalty to her husband (or vice versa) as “conservative” or “liberal.” Spouses both know the flaws yet love the person. “Love is not blind, love is bound; and the more it bound, the less it is blind.” The best critic of all is not the wo/man who calls themselves a “reformer” (for the liberals) or the guardian of orthodoxy…for all labels will ultimately crack under pressure if those labels do not focus on one’s discipleship to Jesus Christ. The best critic is the one who has the “fixed heart,” for in Chesterton’s words, only then can they have a “free hand.”

    G.K. Chesterton once noted that “the problem with the pessimist is not that he chastises both gods and men but that he does not love that which he chastises…he lacks that primal and supernatural loyalty to things.” If we portray “orthodoxy” (what is commonly seen as ‘conservatism’) as something “heavy, hum drum, and safe,” Chesterton notes, we fool ourselves. “There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic.” To be orthodox is not to attend church every week, pay your tithing, and go to the temple once a month. A monkey can be trained to do such things. To be orthodox is not to stand up and declare Jesus Christ to be your Savior, that Joseph Smith restored his gospel–and then proceed to quote from a first edition Mormon Doctrine. An blithering nitwit–indeed, a con man–can say the same.

    I personally have found that one need not sacrifice the intellect to the pagan god of orthodoxy…Chesterton, Hafen, Hugh Brown, and Maxwell…they all similarly refused. The church members I know (and I actively seek to stir up these discussions) generally care about evidence…they WANT documentation for all accounts and are generally willing to cast aside old lore that is not supported by the documents and to engage those that are. Unfortunately, the self-styled “intelligentsia” of the Church seldom want to give up this strong political ground of broad-mindedness…it undercuts what they see as their purpose to “reform,” to “question assumptions.” Heaven help us if surrender such strength to good ole’ Brother Jones the mechanic last week who, in the same breath, declared Joseph Smith both a prophet while feeling disappointed about Joseph’s failed business endeavors. “He must be fooling himself into sugar-coating it,” I’ve heard too many critics scoff. Might I suggest that critics could be allowing their criticisms to be marinading in bitterness? That even if they uttered the same words as the mechanic, they would be uttering different testimonies altogether…if only because of a lack of love? As Chesterton sums up: It may be that twelve hundred men…are down with smallpox; but we want to know whether this is stated by some great philosopher who wants to curse the gods, or only by some common clergyman who wants to help the men.”

  15. JimD – I think you are correct in several points. First, the Time article I used as the foundation had a liberal bias (stating that seems redundant).

    Your point about the foundational ideals being different is interesting. Do you care to elaborate? Here’s one way I see that: some liberals are JS restorationists, but the church has evolved since JS’s day. Or do you mean the introduction of non-LDS principles (e.g. the philosophies of men mingled with scripture) by liberals into their ideals?

    On your 3rd point about historical accuracy, I should clarify. The article pointed out examples of this that might be useful comparisons. The conservative view of American history is one of idealistic, hard-working Pilgrims escaping religious persecution. The liberal view asks, what about the damage their intrusion did to the country or to the natives? The conservative view says the founding fathers were great men who made a stand for liberty. The liberal view asks, what of the slaves they owned or their adultery?

    So, within the church, I’m not sure it’s a question of historical accuracy. Both viewpoints are valid. It’s a question of focus and intent with regard to history. Conservatives emphasize the glorious history, justifying the past and skipping the nasty bits. Liberals don’t like a history that is incomplete and want to know “the rest of the story.” They want accountability for past wrongs. When it comes to history, I think both sides get it wrong. There has to be a happy medium on this.

  16. What about just leaving aside the baggage of conservative / liberal / independent and just think of the church as a church? To think of the church as teaching a process is outside the realm of possibility (given the hierarchy / structure), but perhaps, even if it were, the divide arises because it is the nature of people to assume that they have all the answers.

    Heck, I always have all the answers (in fact, I am pretty sure I do right now). The biggest issue I have with the church is that it isn’t a church as much as a club at its most liberal (perhaps a ‘He-man, women haters club’), a community for the independent, or a Kingdom for the conservative. I think all may be right on some level, but it ultimately doesn’t help me when all are so mutually exclusive and when all are necessary but not necessarily tied up with extra doctrine that arguably doesn’t advance my development much. Much of what is supposed to define the church is about as important to my spiritual development as how many angels can dwell on the point of a needle.

    Read, ponder and pray are arguably the core tenants of Mormonism, but aren’t often followed. The lamp of my own conceit, like many others, lets my political, social and educational beliefs flavor results of my spiritual efforts. But, when everybody gives their own story – honestly trying to dissect the revelation from feeling – I think the differences are not that important and I begin to figure out what is really at stake.

  17. I apologize for skipping the excellent wording of #20, but I haven’t eaten dinner yet, so I just can’t get #19 out of my head. Thanks a lot, Marianne!!

  18. I am a 60 year old multi-generational Mormon, who prefers to be called a Latter-day Saint. I am all for labels. I don’t like everything to be reduced to “Good or Bad,” which is what usually happens when people who hate labels discuss issues. I don’t even like limiting the types of Mormons to the three mentioned here.

    I thoroughly believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (as I understand it,) but I really don’t like many of the cultural aspects of Mormonism. I’m not enthusiastic over Jell-O, especially the green (lime) flavor. I don’t feel a need to wear dresses made with a small floral print, or being primarily pink. There may be many other issues like this.

    I was a teen-ager in the ’60’s when “Women’s lib” was a big issue. I laughed at it, precisely because my experience in the church, and at home with my parents, showed no need for liberation in any degree. Who ever heard of a Mormon husband asking his wife to bring him a beer while he watched sports? But, really, even if there were abuses to the system, I am thoroughly converted to the idea that there is something substantially wrong with the concept that anyone can independently go out and organize their own church and claim that it is Christ’s.

    I am rather intellectually inclined, but the older and more experienced I get, the more firm I become in one of my favorite beliefs: Compared with Heavenly Father, the smartest person on the face of this earth is like a mere two-year-old child.

    I’m also glad that he loves each of us wayward brats.

    Ok, I’ll explain in more detail how I got to this opinion. I was 7 months along in a pregnancy, when I was energetically running up the stairs two at a time. (There was a more complicated reason behind this, and I know it sounds unbelievable.) Anyway, I slipped on the step and fell, breaking my foot. It was not a great trial, but I didn’t exactly look at it as a blessing until 5 years later. My daughter I was expecting then, was born on her due date at 5 lbs. 15 oz.–and I finally realized after 5 years that if I had not broken my foot at that time, she may have had a lower birth weight, and may have been saddled with more problems as a result–or may not have survived at all. My point is that if I can’t tell the difference between a trial and a blessing for as long as five years, how can I claim to know anything at all? But I don’t think I am alone in this.

    I am neither pro or con on evolution, but I think that: A flea has as much chance of understanding the life cycle of the dog on whose back it lives, than man has of understanding what the earth was like a million years ago. And I really rather suspect God used evolutionary principles in creating the earth.

    I think Joseph Smith was greater than any other fully mortal man. Why? Because he prayed. He found out how great it was to gain wisdom from God when he prayed the first time, and he kept at it. He prayed about dangerous things–like polygamy. It never stopped him; he just kept praying. He was never embarrassed to admit his failings and imperfections, but he never gave up either.

    So, what am I? Conservative? Moderate? Liberal?

  19. Fern. Welcome. You sound like an independent or moderate to me. Maybe that brings back the point that no one is at either end of the spectrum, just like there are only purple states, no red or blue.

  20. Great post and comments. It is interesting to me how we like to talk about religion in the context of politics. I agree it is interesting to try and understands the differences we have by defining and labeling. After all, defining and labeling is the intellectual approach to the world we live in–it’s the scientific method. It is a proven way to discover “truth”. However it does have it limitations or else there wouldn’t be any unknowns left.

    As people of faith we open the door to learning by other means than by the scientific method. We believe in receiving knowledge by the “Spirit”. In this realm of inquiry the Lord uses labels to refer to His followers. Those who are converted. Those who are born again. Those who have received the Holy Ghost. Those who have power in the priesthood. Those who are a son or daughter of Christ. Those who have and use the gifts of the Spirit. Those who are saviors on mount zion. There are many more ways the Lord defines His followers. I’d like to suggest that we might get a better idea of who we are and where we are as a follower of Christ if we think of ourselves in the terms the Lord uses to describe His followers instead of using political terms.

  21. Although I agree that labels are simply the tokens of intolerance. I still think that the process of labeling often helps the labeler define exactly of what he or she will is intolerant. As other have pointed out, there is no such thing as an authentic liberal or conservative, but the process of labeling allows one group to define themselves against and in contrast to another group. I am just trying to point out that to label is at the same time to exclude.

  22. Oh, my goodness, Joe, those were the most precious videos! I watched every one of them. What a great Primary activity. It would be interesting to do the same thing in Gospel Doctrine and try to splice together ward members’ conceptions of these biblical stories. I can just imagine it now…

  23. Hawk,

    Great post. From a self-proclaimed liberal Mormon, I applaud all attempts to better understand the dynamics we experience within the Church. I find it amusing that people reject descriptive labels like liberal or conservative Mormon yet embrace the “pigeonholing” of the term Mormon. I am proud to be called Mormon yet find that that label alone does nothing to nail down the similarities and differences I have with other Church members. Especially when we are conducting conversations between Church members, these labels become even more important to understand, avoid, or mediate conflict.

    In fact, I would appreciate even more precise classification: what kinds of liberals, conservatives, and moderates are there out there?

    I noticed that Richard Bushman, a liberal Mormon as far as I can tell, is more of a restorationist liberal than I am, as was Eugene England. I lean more towards what we share with other, especially mainline Christians, but they didn’t. They emphasized eternal progression and other concepts of the Restoration which the Church is downplaying. This can be classified as liberal because it emphasizes the human aspects of religion, not the transcendence of God.

  24. John N. – That’s interesting. I would probably call myself more of a JS restorationist. I dislike the efforts to make Mormonism a mainline protestant knock-off (see I can’t even say it without bias!) I want to use our own language to define our beliefs and to focus on our unique doctrines rather than trying to prove we are just like every other Christian church. Much as I respect the good done by those churches, some of our ideals are simply better in my worldview. I particularly like the universalism in Mormonism and the concept of eternal progression. I also like the focus on personal revelation and spiritual experiences (but not some of the extremes of the early church on that last one).

  25. Hawk, I agree completely with the central idea in #30, but I also think if we ever are going to reach some people, we need to understand how our unique vocabularly sounds to them – what they hear and think we are saying when we talk with them. If our words get in the way of understanding, isn’t it worthwhile to see if changing our words to mean the same thing can help our message be better understood?

    For example, if I speak of “being in tune with the Holy Ghost” and they speak of an “in-dwelling of the Spirit” why shouldn’t I use that terminology to explain what I mean? After all, in standing by our core, unique doctrines there is no reason to ignore (or even downplay) our real commonalities. Frankly, I don’t see the leadership moving us toward being just another mainstream Protestant church so much as understanding more clearly than in past generations that we really do have MANY points of agreement – and it’s good to admit that and work together where we can do so.

    Personally, I like that move – even though I as am adamant about our differences as anyone.

  26. John,
    In my book, England and Bushman are absolute moderates, because of the aspects they played up, which are profoundly Mormon. Yes they are Humanist, but so is Mormonism. This is part of the reason the definitions of conservative and liberal given in the post don’t really get hit what I think the critical point is. Conservatives have a bedrock of their faith they considerabe unalterable, anchoring, and unwavering. Liberals are questioners at heart, and are particularly offended by “dogma”. Everything I have ever read by Bushman or England tells me they were profoundly anchored. Real Liberals such as Levi Peterson will point out this is why they could be profoundly injured by the Church, because their foundationaly belief is so strong. This is what I believe being a moderate means. It means the criticism hurts.

  27. Doc – very insightful. IMO, the key to being moderate is to question as an insider, not an outsider. I also agree about Mormonism being very humanist. It seems that this term is getting confused with agnosticism lately, but it is actually a very Mormon concept.

  28. I tend to come across as much more conservative at Church than I really am. I have no problem teaching more of the orthodox line when I need to. It’s good for people to have that base to work from. It’s not my place to kick people off the Iron Rod if that is where they are comfortable. It’s a safe place to be, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

    I’ve come to think there are a lot less “perfect” members out there than we see on the surface. I’m glad for diversity in this way, and I don’t mind people who are more orthodox or conservative than me. I don’t really even care if they think less of me at times. I have learned in the past couple years to feel very comfortable with the Savior and with my Heavenly Father. That’s all I really need.

  29. I’ve been a member for 5 years, after “investigating” the church for ten, and I am pleased to see the labels above. Even after five years, I feel I have not “caught” up to other members. When I speak or give a lesson, I include the doubts, questions, struggles I have with the topic. I feel unique in my ward in going this, others appear to present very confidently. It has been dawning on me lately that perhaps I don’t want to catch up, perhaps I want to ponder, question and struggle with these issues and topics for many more years to come. The labels above give me another perspective, that perhaps those around me are or are trying hard to be conservative, and I may be more moderate.

  30. Only in questioning one’s “faith” can one truly develop a faith strong enough to not be destroyed later on. In pondering your own questions, you’ll be able to help someone else with that same question once you’ve found your answer.

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