Belief vs. Action

Hawkgrrrl Mormon 100 Comments

Which is more important – belief or action?  Is faith without action better than action without faith?  Is belief without action better than acting despite disbelief?  Which leads to the better outcome or are both fraught with their own dangers?

To illustrate this line of thinking further, suppose for a moment that Tony Soprano has entered a very strange Witness Protection program.  He is being relocated to Salt Lake City where he will be living as if he were a Mormon.  He will be assigned to a local ward where he will be made the bishop of a local congregation for five years.  He will need to attend to the temporal and spiritual needs of the ward while conducting his normal job as a business manager during the week.  Tony has been trained very successfully by his FBI Handlers.  He knows the lingo (words like “shadow of a doubt,” “every fiber of my being,” and “we’re grateful for the moisture we’ve received.”)  He understands the requirements and standards (modesty/no more wife beaters, cutting down his considerable profanity, no porn, chastity and fidelity to his wife, honesty, etc.).  While he knows it is a big departure from his previous life, he is confident he can live those standards.  However, he is entering this arrangement with no belief whatsoever in the LDS church.  He is purely going through the motions.

At the same time, because the FBI are apparently into weird social experimentation (or at least my example is), they will be sending Bishop Mike Young (whom Bishop Soprano will replace) back to run the Bada-Bing and manage Tony’s mafia affairs in his stead.  Although Bishop Young is a believer in his LDS faith, this assignment will require him to play a part that contradicts his beliefs.  He will be subject to all manner of temptations (dishonesty, murder, illicit sex–the constant barrage of profanity will be the least of his worries), and he will have to participate in these things or be killed by his new colleagues who will immediately smell a rat if he does not play the part.

So, who is in the more impossible situation?  What is the likely outcome of each?  Will Bishop Soprano become converted to the gospel through his newly clean lifestyle?  Or will he corrupt the ward members because he doesn’t believe?  Will Bishop Young become converted to the dark side by his new cronies?  Or will Bishop Young infiltrate the mafia with his more charitable tendencies?  What is the most likely outcome for each situation?

I’m inclined to think that Bishop Soprano is in a good position to become persuaded this new lifestyle is the way to go, whether that leads to a testimony or just a more Christ-like life.  I tend to think Bishop Young is at peril of falling into sin, but that he will continue to feel bad about it and long for a future situation that will allow him to return to living his beliefs.  But that’s just me.

Considering a much less extreme example, which is harder to manage through?  Believing in the church, but not living up to the standards (which often results in inactivity) or not believing in the church while going through the motions (activity, but without testimony)?  I would place the hierarchy of belief/action combos like this:

  1. EasiestNeither believing nor living the standards.  Again, depends on how far down the “not living the standards” scale you go before you get to reduced quality of life.  On some level, though, ignorance is bliss.  Once you are aware of the standards, though, even if your belief level changes, unless it becomes disbelief, you will have difficulty with this choice.
  2. Next Easiest:  Believing & living the standards.  Obviously, all of us fall short at times, but belief causes people to want to live the standards, and living the standards reinforces belief.  This helps people minimize guilt and stress.
  3. Getting More Difficult:  Not believing, but living the standards.  This is still a valuable choice because the standards create a good life.  This is the worst-case scenario in Pascal’s wager.  And belief is not all or nothing anyway.  One can believe in the value of standards that have a lifestyle benefit.
  4. Most Difficult:  Believing but not living the standards.  Since we all fall short from time to time, this seems like the next logical stop down in the hierarchy.  Some just fail to meet on a bigger scale, but their belief is still there.  They believe what they are doing is wrong.  They feel guilt and shame.

Do lower standards reinforce lack of belief or the other way around?  Does lack of belief promote self-justification?  Is faith a principle of action only (vs. one’s level of belief) in that it colors our actions?

Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 100

  1. Isn’t belief without action dead? i.e. there is no belief without action as belief makes action happen. What I mean by this is that action doesn’t work in a vacuum. It is motivated by belief, whatever that belief happens to be. Tony Soprano believes he is conflicted, thus he goes to a shrink. Going to a shrink is an action taken because of a belief. Actions are dead without beliefs.

  2. I have very strong beliefs on this subject, great post by the way. I will probably share more on this subject but for the time being I will say, I would prefer 200 smokers in sacrament meeting who are sincerely struggling, rather than those who have hardened their heart and decided they don’t believe but go through the motions to save face and fit in. I also believe this is far more damaging to the Church, wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  3. “I would prefer 200 smokers in sacrament meeting who are sincerely struggling, rather than those who have hardened their heart and decided they don’t believe but go through the motions to save face and fit in. I also believe this is far more damaging to the Church, wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

    Why do you assuume that there is only ONE way to struggle? Why is difficulty with church standards somehow more virtuous than difficulty with testimony, faith or belief? What about “Blessed are the POOR IN SPIRIT”? What about “As all have NOT FAITH”?

    I agree with Hawkgrrrl’s difficulty scale. I am a believer, DH is disaffected but remains active for the sake of our family. I know how difficult it is for him and love him so much for what he is doing. DC are old enough that if DH left the church it would destroy their faith, and turn their spiritual lives upside down. So, how can you call him a wolf in sheep’s clothing? I see YOUR attitude as preditory, while DH’s actions seek to protect our family flock. He appreciates the values taught at church and places our family above all else.

    One of the most effective methods used by predators is to scatter the flock, making the young or weak accessible. Your comments and attitude are not inclusive. Let the scattering begin…….

  4. #4 I wonder if many in the church today have anemic testimonies because they read the Book of Mormon, but neglected diligence prayer to obtain a God given testimony. What they end up with is a weak testimony, whereas they could have had a strong testimony. Action and prayer go together.

    I think there are victims of lost faith due to church history, for example, who failed to obtain a testimony of the Book of Mormon that could have been theirs, but they didn’t pray has they should have. Too much action, with too little faith leads to activity in the church, but inactivity in the gospel.

    Hawkgrrrl–

    I don’t know much about Tony Soprano, never saw the program. But I think conversion by the power of fire and the Holy Ghost is such that anyone who is so blessed will be able to deal with whatever situation they may be placed in. If Mike Young is so converted then he won’t be so quick to fall victim to the ways of the world as you suggest. As far as dealing with temptations, I think he would be clever enough to keep himself technically pure. A Hollywood script writer could.

  5. Jared, I assure you that there are plenty of people who have read the BoM, prayed fervently over and over and have not received an answer. I don’t know why this happens, but I know it does.

    I give major props to anyone who chooses this religion, for whatever reason. Our religion has so much beauty, but its not easy to live. It takes real dedication.

  6. # 3 It is not my intention to label everyone who is receives a trial of there Faith as a predator, As I have matured in the Gospel I have noticed that things are not as black & white as I first understood them to be, also like a Rorschach inkblot test there are many images that can be viewed from different perspectives. My problem is not with those who are sincerely struggling Mark 9: 21-24 help thou mine unbelief”, my problem is with those who seek to ultimately deceive, resolving the Church is not True, but still partake of sacrament, attend the temple, preform priesthood ordinances. 2 Tim 3:5 form of godliness but denying the power.

    Why is this so dangerous IMO: is that finding out your parents aren’t perfect is one thing, finding out they are lying to you is quite another. This not only has a devastating effect on the family but also the congregation.

    I do not believe these type of people should be cast out or avoided but they should be loved, assisted and supported through trials and brought back into the fold.

    We are all lost at one point, after all.

  7. “my problem is with those who seek to ultimately deceive, resolving the Church is not True, but still partake of sacrament, attend the temple, preform priesthood ordinances. 2 Tim 3:5 form of godliness but denying the power.”

    I would be interested to hear jbm275’s take on this comment.

    What should someone do if they find themself convinced, for whatever reason, that the church is not true, but with no great desire to leave it or stop doing what they’re doing? Should they turn in their temple recommend? Refuse to take the sacrament, give blessings or baptize their children? I’m not criticizing MrQandA’s comment, I think it’s a very difficult question.

  8. The reference “sheep in wolves clothing” comes from the Saviors warning against false prophets. If the person who secretely does not believe in the Church attempts to gain status or authority by playing on the devotion of the members in order to effect personal gain to the memberships disadvantage, then yes they are “wolves in sheeps clothing”. While I don’t believe in the Church, I think a good example that most Mormons would be willing to agree with from Church history is John C. Bennett. That is the whole point behind the metaphor, ie, that wolf intends to eat the flock. For most members who do not believe but participate and therefore appear to believe, the anology would need to be refitted into something more like “a mule in sheeps clothing”. In other words, yes we are not sheep, but we also impose no direct threat to the sheep either. More to the point, if the person who is “pretending” to believe is not trying to duplicitously use position or authority in the Church to serve a selfish agenda, then the parable does not apply.

  9. Thanks for the excellent post, Hawkgrrrl.

    #7- I want to understand your position. Do you believe its better for someone to perform ordinances who, for example, drinks alcohol, than for someone who lacks belief?

    I realize you may not want either, but I see ordinances being performed by men who lack a testimony of the WoW, but are still loving fathers. Why should a man who lacks belief or faith be denied the same opportunities?

    I don’t think most members who are struggling with faith are trying to deceive anyone. They often keep their “faith status” to themselves to avoid the wrath of overly dogmatic leadership, or to be supportive of a believing spouse.

  10. Post
    Author

    I wish life were more simple, but in reality, people become unbelievers for many different reasons. Some who become unbelievers later begin believing. Some who “go through the motions” have never really had a strong conviction, they are just being carried in the cultural stream of Mormonism. I don’t like to think that either of these are hopeless cases. Even Tony Soprano, the vilest of sinners (adulterer, murderer, thief) has redeemable qualities. As was pointed out, he’s seeing a shrink because he feels conflicted. He really does love his wife (even though he cheats on her). He loves his kids, even though he has a hard time managing his temper and he kills a guy with an extension cord while he’s on a college-scouting trip with his daughter. By the same token, his actions are very cultural–his father and uncle were in the mafia. His mother even considers having him killed. He’s complex. Perhaps both he and Mike Young are products of their environment. Different environment, different actions, and perhaps with different actions, different beliefs.

    I do tend to think that our actions reflect our beliefs (or lack thereof), but when we act despite our beliefs, does it alter our beliefs over time? Yes, I think it does. Here are two opposing experiments that are less extreme than Bishops Soprano & Young.
    1 – you don’t find the temple particularly meaningful. You are worthy to attend, but you haven’t been in years. Now you stop wearing the garment. Will this further erode your belief in the church and bolster your unbelief?
    2 – you are agnostic and don’t find religion terribly compelling for theological reasons. You marry someone who is LDS and you choose to attend church weekly with your spouse because you believe togetherness is important, and you want to be supportive. You make friends with people and you serve others routinely, although you don’t hold a calling. Will this bolster your unbelief or cause you to question your unbelief?

    It seems to me that our actions do change our beliefs, just as our beliefs motivate our actions. Acting contrary to our beliefs (or unbeliefs) can change our beliefs (or unbeliefs) for better or worse.

  11. I think action is more important than belief. Like Senator Boies Penrose said, “As for me, I would rather have seated beside me in this chamber a polygamist who doesn’t polyg than a monogamist who doesn’t monag.”

    It’s irrelevant whether someone believes God has 5 fingers on each hand or 6; or how long a year is on Kolob. What does matter is that we have charity, live clean lives, and do good in the world.

  12. #6 pinkpatent said: Jared, I assure you that there are plenty of people who have read the BoM, prayed fervently over and over and have not received an answer. I don’t know why this happens, but I know it does.

    I’ve been thinking about the idea that there are those who pray fervently and don’t receive an answer about the Book of Mormon. I don’t see people claiming this. I’ve watched for it in the bloggernacle but haven’t seen it as the main topic of a post.

    I’m sure there are those who have experienced this. As I’ve read the scriptures for a perspective on this issue I don’t find a clear cut answer.

    I do find that it requires effort, sometimes a great deal of effort to receive answers to prayer. Enos says he “wrestled” with Lord. Other places it says “I cried unto the Lord”. Still other places, I “poured out my whole soul” before the Lord answered. I suspect that some are just not willing or able to reach this level of intensity and that may be the reason.

    In my own case, obtaining an answer about the Book of Mormon wasn’t that hard. But I’ve had other experiences in prayer where I was required to reach the level of pouring my whole soul with tears, wrestling, confessing, and repenting before the answer came. But the answer was over whelming and changed my life forever.

  13. I haven’t believed in a very long time, but I’m active, hold callings and I’m sure most people think I’m “all in.” But, I feel like a hypocrite and it wears be down continually to be “faking it and not making it.”

    I feel good when I help others and that’s a large part of why I serve in the church. But, some of it — especially attending meetings and conforming in oh so many ways — is driven by guilt and the knowledge that every time I take my garments off or skip church I’m making my wife sad and unhappy.

    So, should I stay or should I go?

    I want to go, but my son is planning to marry in the temple in November and my recommend expires in October. So, I have to lie through one more recommend interview (two actually) so I can be with my family and avoid all the angst and tears if I were to miss the temple part of the wedding.

  14. I am not sure that the two can be seperated. I like the analogy made in James that “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). While the context of this discussion seems to be the opposite of James discussion, this likening of the combination of faith and works, with the spirit and the body shows the dependency of the mutual relationship. The spirit without the body is dead, yet the body without the spirit (breath of life) is incomplete, as in the case of Adam God breathed into him his spirit before he became a living soul (Abraham 5:7). So from a doctrinal standpoint, I can’t think that one is necessarily “better” than the other. Jesus was pretty emphatic that a clean well cannot spew forth clean water (cant remember the reference), nor can an unclean well bring forth clean water, but rather the offering must come as clean water from a clean vessel.

    Another layer of perspective might depend on which of the scriptural analogies we use, clean water in a dirty vessel or vice versa, or spirit and the body or vice versa. After all, if I HAD to choose I would much prefer to drink clean water (spirit/faith) from a dirty vessel (works/body), than dirty water from a clean vessel. Would I prefer to be dead vs an empty vessel, probably dead. Based on these analogies, faith would seem more desirable than works. Yet James declares, that it is by our works that our faith is made manifest (James 2:18)? So if I had to choose, it appears that I would prefer the faithful sinner approach, but depending on how we take James comments, that may be ultimately incompatable.

  15. #5 This is a tough subject for me because I have given over $100,000 in tithing, two years of my life serving a mission, and countless hours of service to the church, yet I never received that confirmation promised in the BofM. I believed it was true, and very, very much wanted a ‘yes’ answer when I first prayed, but it never came. Boyd Packer says that a testimony is gained in the bearing of it. My efforts to serve, teach, lead, and bear testimony in the church was my way of exercising faith that the answer would come. I was truly a “mule in sheeps clothing”. But I was never blessed with a confirmation that the church was/is true. How much longer do I need to ask? And what does one do until then?

    #7 I agree that this is a dangerous problem…. finding out your parents have been lying. But what of us doubters who are so intrenched in the church that leaving would be destroy our family? It is one thing to discover that out your church isn’t perfect, but some of us doubters feel like the church and its leaders have been lying to us, and that is devastating too!
    Oh…such a complicated subject. I appreciate all the responses.

  16. #14 Michael–

    I have a few questions. If you choose not to answer them that’s fine, I would respect that.

    Here they are:

    1. Are you a convert to the church, or otherwise?

    2. How many times have you read the Book of Mormon?

    3. If you’ve read it, did you fast and pray and diligently seek for an answer–as opposed to putting little or no effort?

    4. Did you ever have a testimony? Why?

    5. Did you serve a mission?

    6. Have you ever had, what you thought at the time, was a spiritual experience?

    6. You said you haven’t believed in a very long time. That infers you believed at one time, what brought on the disbelief? Single issue, multiple issues, or just drifted away.

    Thanks in advance if you decide to answer.

  17. Michael-

    Isn’t your wife already aware of your non-belief though? I find it hard to believe that people can fake belief very well with those they live with, particulary a spouse. As a child, I grew up with a parent that went to church and did all the things you do as an active member of the church, but I always knew deep down this parent didn’t believe in the church. They have since left the church and it wasn’t a surprise to me at all. I really don’t think faking it is doing anyone a big service. I think you may be more transparent than you realize and lying to go through the temple is hurting your integrity and your relationships with others more than you may recognize.

  18. I feel belief is far more important than action for a number of reasons. First, my mother was a believer but was very ill for many years. She couldn’t outwardly perform, ie. go to church, attend temple, etc., but her faith was inspiring. If action is more important, then countless saints like her are failures. Second, although I believe faithfulness and good works are important, when we focus only on our works, when become proud. Consider the Pharisees who lived the letter of the law (works) and not the spirit of the law (belief). I don’t know of a catagory of people that Jesus condemned more. Third, when we focus only on works, we forget that all of us are sinners, and that through the grace of God, none of us would be saved. And, finally, I believe this scripture says it all: (Eph 2:8-9) “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”

    Do I believe obedience, faithfulness, and holiness is important? Absolutely! However, because none of us will become perfect in this life, we depend on the grace of our Savior, His enabling power, to forgive us when we sin and to lift us when we fall. I serve faithfully in my callings, seek to serve and bless others, but I believe I am nothing without God’s grace, love, and tender mercy.

  19. Jared:

    I am BIC, served mission (including serving as AP), attended BYU, married in temple, multiple callings in all organizations, hundreds of thousands in tithing, read BofM at least 15 times in life, etc. I still cannot say I have ever received an answer when I have followed “Moroni’s promise”, even though I promised it to many investigators, etc. I’m willing to live my entire life in hope/faith that this is true, but I can’t say that I “know” the BofM is true.

    Any suggestions?

  20. #16-

    “It is one thing to discover that out your church isn’t perfect, but some of us doubters feel like the church and its leaders have been lying to us, and that is devastating too!”

    I don’t understand the idea that the church and its leaders are lying to you. If you want to take issue with anyone, it needs to be with God. After all, He is the one you pray to and He is the one to whom you go to find truth. Everyone else is just trying to find truth as well (well, not everyone, but some) and I don’t feel you can blame people for “lying to you” if they really are being sincere about what they have discovered. If they really don’t believe and they are lying by saying they do, then that truly is deception (and I am sure there are people like that in the church, however, many are not) but I believe people do have experiences from God and they are being honest about them. I just feel it is important that if you have issues, take them straight to the source (God) and don’t start blaming a bunch of imperfect people or the church because you aren’t satisfied with your lack of answers. We all have many things we would like answered in life and many spend years seeking for answers and don’t receive them. I think it is important to realize that you can’t blame others for your doubt, it really comes down to your relationship with God and working it out with Him.

  21. #14 Michael – I thought about your comments a lot, I will clarify my feelings further, when the decision is made to forgo all possibility of the church being true, when doubt has filled all our faculties then the level of cognitive incongruence must be unbearable. I would never suggest that someone leaves the Church, however the danger is if someone decides to to cover there doubts and “fake it” then there is very little opportunity for them to be humbled and make the necessary change, because they no longer pray to find out if the church is true, they perhaps no longer expect to feel the Spirit in Church meetings or at GC, or in the Temple. and with out seeking how will they find, they no longer knock. However for some IMO won’t find out if the is true at least according to there own expectations. in the same way God try’s many with not finding the love of there lives or burdens them with appetites and desires that are difficult to control. IMO believing blood doesn’t exist in the way many prideful people would claim, but perhaps disbelieving blood does.

    My suggestion is “search every fibre of your being” find even the tiniest seed that could give room to believe and build upon that as in Alma 32. it could be the thought of being with your family for eternity.

    I’m not encouraging you to lie to any priesthood holder, but the last question on the recommend IMO is the key. if you feel worthy to enter the temple. if you can say help my unbelief, I don’t know the meaning of all things but I know God love me.

  22. #20 Mike S. I assume your not the same person a #14 Michale.

    I think advice is cheap–meaning it kinda like eye glasses. My prescription works for me, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily work the same for you.

    However, I am in a position, because of the tender mercies of the Lord, where I can say, I know the Book of Mormon is true because of the experiences the Lord has given me. I give more detail, if you’re interested, click my name and see Jared Testimony.

    There are many in the bloggernacle who testify of their hard earned disbelief. A few others, testify of their belief or knowledge. So where does that leave you? You get to believe whatever testimony you chose , until the Lord gives you your own.

    Testimony is an interesting topic. It’s lopsided. By this I mean, the best someone can say who doesn’t believe is that they “disbelieve”. On the other side, some will say they believe, and still others say they “know”.

    Those who know, as I do, have to have a significant Spiritual experience to be able to truthfully say that. However, there isn’t that same equivalent for disbelief.

  23. #20-

    “I’m willing to live my entire life in hope/faith that this is true, but I can’t say that I “know” the BofM is true.”

    I think the words “I’m willing” are very telling here. Willingness to trust the Lord and willingness to maintain your faith in Him when answers don’t come immediately is a big part of developing your relationship with the Lord. Remember, it is AFTER the trial of your faith that the blessings come and there is not a time limit on how long trials last. They can last years and can be very difficult, but being WILLING to endure them and to maintain your trust in the Lord is huge and is what I think makes all the difference in bringing you closer to the Lord and understanding Him and His ways.

  24. Michael,

    In my experience, I totally overestimated the drama that I foresaw when telling my children that I was leaving the church. I knew there would be “angst and tears” at my announcement (my “baby one” kept saying “But I want to be with you in the celestial kingdom.”). However, the love for their father and their relief for the peace and happiness they could see in me after years of being “sad and unhappy” was more poignant than the initial shock. (Jen is right; it is very hard to hide it).

    The “baby one” is now leaving for a mission next month and I can relate to being on the outside, especially now that the weddings and grand-baby blessings are arriving for the other kids.

    May I suggest something that has helped me?

    Channel all the time and energy that you would have used up on callings and re-invest them directly into your wife and family. At first, they will be “sad and unhappy” because you are putting aside the things you don’t believe in but they will respond to the added attention to things that you cherish (them).

  25. #17 Jared — here’s my answers:

    1. Are you a convert to the church, or otherwise?
    I was raised in the church by my mother, who joined in college although her mother’s line has pioneer roots. My father is not a member, and left us when I was 6.

    2. How many times have you read the Book of Mormon?
    Who knows? I’m not like my daughter’s friend who has a tally in the back of her scriptures. I read it at least 5 times before my mission (including seminary and BoM class at BYU). Probably another 4-5 on my mission. At least 10-15 times since.

    3. If you’ve read it, did you fast and pray and diligently seek for an answer–as opposed to putting little or no effort?
    Yes.

    4. Did you ever have a testimony? Why?
    Probably, although many of the things I said and did, even when I felt I believed, were done to please other people from my mother to my church leaders. I also now believe that most of what we call testimony is just emotion.

    5. Did you serve a mission?
    Yes. Boston, 1979-81. I trained twice, was DL, ZL, and AP.

    6. Have you ever had, what you thought at the time, was a spiritual experience?
    Yes. But, I now realize that what most people call “spiritual experience” is primarily emotion.

    6. You said you haven’t believed in a very long time. That infers you believed at one time, what brought on the disbelief? Single issue, multiple issues, or just drifted away.
    Lots of things over a long period of time. I was raised with a very black-and-white view of the world, and the church in particular. It was very, Kingdom of God or nothing. I was starting to have doubts at BYU after my mission and the Salamander Letter affair was a biggie for me. How could our prophets, who claim the gift of discernment, be fooled? Then other things. Being in the bishopric, ironically, eroded my testimony quite a bit. I don’t believe in revelation or inspiration — it is mostly just gut reaction, intuition and emotion. Some history issues bother me — especially when things that were “anti-Mormon lies” when I was 16 are now accepted as historical fact. (Multiple first vision accounts, the peep stone in a hat, etc.)

    Not to go on and on about me, but I have tried (going back to the pray about the BoM) several times (probably 4-5) to shake it all off and “get my mind right.” Reading and praying and really trying to go back fully. It hasn’t worked. Call me insincere if you like, but it just doesn’t work for me. You can say I’m doing something wrong, but I believe the church teaches that only God will judge.

    Probably more than you wanted to know. Sorry. (I may have to kick sevenbravo in the shins for sending me the link to this post!)

  26. I appreciate all the comments here, they are really great.

    One thing we need to understand is that what works for me or you may not work for some one else. We need to be tolerant and loving of those who struggle, whatever the struggle is. Some people just don’t fit in the normal mormon box. Too many of us try to shove and push them into the box, thinking it will be for their good. But what we end up doing is pushing them out the door. I cannot believe that would make the Saviour happy.

    I believe that Jesus accepts our offerings, whether we are believers or not, as long as we make those offerings in sincerity. I believe the atonement is big enough to heal our souls, mend our hearts, and even conquer our disbelief.

  27. #26 Michael–

    I appreciate, very much, your willingness to discuss these things.

    I’ve been active in the church for over forty years and I have never come across members who have discussed these issues. I shouldn’t be surprised, this isn’t a topic that gets brought up in church.

    I’ve never been called to a position in the church where I would be exposed to someone telling me these things in confidence. I am becoming aware of these things for the first time.

    I value more than ever the experiences the Lord has given me, and wonder at the complexity of being a member of the Savior’s church.

    I am rereading a book, I Stand All Amazed by Elane Durham. This book explores another interest aspect of religion that is occurring in our day.

  28. #10- I want to understand your position. Do you believe its better for someone to perform ordinances who, for example, drinks alcohol, than for someone who lacks belief?

    I hope I have clarified my position with some of my other posts, I have no issue with those who in sincerity have doubts, but to answer your question Yes! those who drank alcohol, and followed the repentance process are worthy to perform ordinances because of the Atonement. Those who in their hearts have declared that “they know” the Church is not true can’t and probably won’t reach out for the forgiveness Christ can give.

    PLEASE I DON’T MEAN TO GIVE OFFENCE WITH MY NEXT COMMENT (delete it if you wish, but if you do please allow me to rephrase the comment)

    Again I’m speaking of the polar opposites of Belief vs Action.

    This is my Position.

    I see two single mothers one loves her son with all her heart, the other has no feelings, none neither love nor hate. mother (a) who loves her son, struggles she has a hot temper she tries to control it she would shout at times, actually a lot of the time, but the son knows he is loved, mother (a) quickly attempts to make up for her mistakes she hugs and kisses him telling him she struggles but he loves him. mother (b) treats her son just fine she buys him things he wants for nothing but she does not love him neither wants to love him. One boy despite his experiences is full of joy and the other is left with an empty feeling of loneliness, inadequacy doubts and fears.

    I appreciate this is an emotive story one which would no stand to the rigger of cross examination however. I will highlight a couple of points.

    1) families can show us that actions don’t always follow belief’s (if you truly knew the church was true you wouldn’t do this or that).
    2)few things in life are this black and white however, through examining them at there extreme you can establish your position.
    3)mother (a) may change but the son is willing to forgive the moment she asks
    4)mother (b) never asks forgiveness neither does she feel she needs it.

  29. #22 – The problem with this advice, as has been discussed ad nauseum on this blog, is that this presupposes that god lives, he is waiting to answer, and that the church is true. If someone does not accept each of these things as true, this advice is useless. To use a crude analogy, the advice you’re giving Michael, namely that you just have to keep on doing the things that have borne no fruit so far, so the lord can bless you in his time, is akin to someone saying, “I have been eating broccoli for 30 years and I absolutely hate it. It’s not getting any better and I’m not going to eat it anymore” and having someone tell them “the answer is to eat some more.” If someone has been testing Moroni’s promise for decades, and doing all the things they have been promised would bring answers, what good is it to tell them “just put Moroni’s promise to the test, and eventually you’ll be answered.” That advice is redundant at best, and absolutely insulting at worst. I realize that there’s really nothing else you can say, so I’m not sure what the answer is. But when you’re at a point where you aren’t just doubting, but you really just don’t believe it, the advice to just give it a try is, again, useless. I realize that people like Jared (hey Jared) don’t believe that this ever happens, but that someone in this situation simply hasn’t put in the work yet, but I reject that perspective out of hand.

    The lord said: “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that aseeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask abread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” – Matt 7:8-11.

    Haven’t we been told that if we have but a DESIRE to believe, our faith will be rewarded?

    These scriptures are demonstrably false, at least in many instances. How can you argue otherwise? There are people who search, ponder and pray, tortured with guilt and self-loathing, their entire lives for answers and receive nothing. What do you say to them? There are only two answers and neither one of them comports with Matt 7 – you can tell them “I don’t know why you haven’t received answers” or you can tell them “you haven’t done your part.” There is nothing helpful about either of these answers, in my opinion.

  30. pinkpatent-

    I agree with what you are saying and think it is important to try and be like the Savior in all we do. I had some thoughts go through my mind when I read what you wrote and thought it would be interesting to consider them in relation to this whole topic. I am by no means referring to anyone on this post or blog for that matter, I just thought it would interesting to consider.

    I have met some adults who act like they are never happy and not only that, nothing is ever their fault. If something goes wrong, it is because of the way someone else behaved or because of something someone else said. It seems it couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that they are choosing to respond the way they are responding. It is amazing to me to meet adults like this because you assume that people eventually grow up. The reason I bring this up is because I wonder to what degree a person’s willingness to take accountability for their own behaviors, moods, etc. has to do with their relationship with God and in turn how that affects the answers they do or don’t receive from Him. It may not relate at all or only in some cases, but it is interesting to think about.

  31. 29- I appreciate where you are coming from, and I appreciate your love and concern for the church. But I have to take issue with what I think you are implying. You seem to be equating disbelief with sin. I have a real problem with that. Asking a question is not an act of disobedience. Even outright disbelief does not constitute sinful behavior. How is one sinful or obedient by what they believe? Sin and obedience occur through actions and choice. I don’t think belief is something we choose. So, if someone lives the standards, but has no belief, how could they be considered unworthy of full participation in the church?

    If I have misunderstood you, I apologize. But I would contend that there are many members of the church who feel this way about people who have lost their faith.

  32. 32- Jen, I totally agree that our attitude can affect our relationship with God. I also believe that if a person is behaving in a way that is offensive to the Lord it will be harder for that person to have a relationship with Him. That certainly explains some peoples’ experiences with faith and belief. But it doesn’t apply to everyone.

    I want everyone to feel welcome in our church, and the fact is that just doesn’t happen all the time.

  33. #31 – Jen, I think this is a great point, and an important question. The problem with this entire issue, as always, is that it is difficult to really know what is going on with anyone else because we can’t know what’s in their heart, or really what they are or aren’t doing vis-a-vis their relationship with god, or lack thereof. That makes it very hard to give advice in matters such as these. As Jared pointed out, everyone’s perspective and experiences are so different, what works for one person may not work for another.

  34. “I have been eating broccoli for 30 years and I absolutely hate it. It’s not getting any better and I’m not going to eat it anymore”

    At least you know that eating broccoli for 30 years has its health benefits though, so it was not all in vain! 😀

  35. Post
    Author

    It seems to boil down to “wanting to believe” vs. “not wanting to believe,” which goes along the lines of “belief = confirmation bias in action” or the Alma 32 model. If you sin, but you want to believe, then you feel guilty, and eventually you will probably try to get your actions in line with your beliefs. If you don’t believe, but you do the actions of a believer, you may believe again (seeing the health benefits of the detested broccoli) or you may not believe again (that ship has sailed for you, and all you see around you are people with a distorted worldview that doesn’t satisfy you). Guess what – most people DO have a distorted worldview, and so being critical of their worldview is easy. But just because they don’t understand it, doesn’t mean that they are the only ones who get to define it.

    But a part of me thinks that spirituality is about having a believing heart, one that is optimistic about man’s potential and the benevolence of the universe, one that hopes for the best even when the worst presents itself. So, in the examples of the two bishops above, it all boils down to the kind of person they are underneath it all. I think people get tripped up on being Mormon (because there is baggage there) and forget that being human has a spiritual side that transcends one’s religion.

  36. pinkpatent-

    “I want everyone to feel welcome in our church, and the fact is that just doesn’t happen all the time.”

    I want the same thing but I think it is impossible to achieve in our imperfect state. Have you ever not felt welcome as an active member who attends church every week? Our moods, the way our morning went, etc. may affect how welcome we feel at church from week to week and it could have nothing to do with the people there. I could also have the best of intentions in welcoming someone to church and they might view it as overly pushy instead of what I intended, to be kind and make them feel welcome. I think it comes down to learning to choose not to become offended by others and assuming the best in one another. As we do this we will realize that most people are not trying to make us feel unwelcome, but may be just trying to deal with all that is on their plate at that time.

    brjones-

    I agree and even if we think we know someone well enough, we may still be off. That is why it is important to always leave it to God and just try to love each other the best we can.

  37. #40 – This is a really interesting topic, Jen. I don’t know if you remember, but a couple of years ago there was a big article in the Ensign (I believe it was Elder Maxwell or Elder Nelson) dispelling the notion that god’s love is unconditional. It made pretty clear that the so-called “I’m ok, you’re ok” doctrine was incorrect, and that god did, in fact, play favorites – he loves the righteous more than the unrighteous. The point I’m making is that although as individuals we all (or at least most of us) want everyone to feel welcome and we don’t want to make anyone feel bad about anything, so we do our best to hedge and qualify and not offend anyone who believes differently. Unfortunately, the church does teach that there is absolute truth and that there is right and wrong. And although members of the church can, and should, do their best to make INDIVIDUALS feel welcome regardless of their baggage, there has to be a point where you can’t apologize that the church, or god, has laid down the rules and you are going to stand behind that. The natural result of that is that some people will be offended; some people will not feel welcome at church; some people will feel that they are being judged when the doctrines are preached over the pulpit or in classes. Ultimately there is nothing that can be done about that. “The wicked taketh the truth to be hard.” People can either accept it as constructive criticism, if you will, and choose to use it to do better (if they accept it as truth), or they can reject it and move on. You should do your best to be inclusive, but as a member of the church you can’t spend all your time feeling bad that your beliefs may make some people feel unwelcome. It’s an unfortunate reality.

  38. #41 – I believe this applies largely to a church setting, though, and can be distinguished from, out in the world, projecting your beliefs onto others who do not believe as you do. To judge another person in that context, I think, is inappropriate.

  39. BrJones:

    The article was by Elder Maxwell, and his comments were very interesting. To paraphrase he basically said, “yeah God loves the righteous more than the wicked. But, quit worrying about who is greater in the kingdom when the worth of your soul has already been declared “great””. So it’s okay to effect that same attitude institutionally, and for those of you who rank lower on the scale, who cares if you’re not as important as a general authority, you should just be proud that you can sweep the floors. Of I don’t expect anyone with an indepent feel towards their own self worth to adopt that attitude.

  40. Jen, I think you and I agree on alot. But I am not talking about the occaisional offenses or feelings of not belonging. I am talking about those in the church who equate a loss of faith with sin, those who tell nonbelievers that they simply haven’t tried hard enough or prayed fervently enough, those who disregard the boots on the ground because their “hearts aren’t in it”.

    I guess what I should have said was, “I want the church to welcome everyone”. Whether or not the person feels welcome is out of my control.

  41. Post
    Author

    Just to veer off for a moment, I was thinking about this conundrum of people who pray for a testimony/Moroni promise and don’t get an answer. My own experience was that I had no belief it was true, and I expected to get no answer as a result, but I also knew that if I got an answer unexpectedly, I would stay in the church. I was at a crossroads, and I did get an answer. Maybe you don’t get an answer unless/until you are at a crossroads and need one. Or maybe we’re just more susceptible to this kind of thing at certain points in our life when it’s more important. My alternative choices would have probably not been very good for me. I was not living a very Mormon lifestyle at that point in life. This constituted a change to my actions. Maybe getting an answer is contingent on whether than answer will change your actions or not; IOW, if you are already living an LDS lifestyle, the answer doesn’t make a material change in your life. Maybe the gospel is “true” in that it’s the best way to live your life, and if you don’t intend to live your life that way and an answer will change your choices in life, then you get an answer.

    The conundrum of that theory is that if you disbelieve and you choose to live the standards anyway, no answer would be forthcoming because you’re already living it. Hmmm. Still working on a theory.

  42. “Is faith a principle of action only (vs. one’s level of belief) in that it colors our actions?”

    Faith is the actions we do that display our beliefs, along the lines Cowboy said when quoting James.

    #1 From that, I think one could act with a duplicitous heart, doing the right things while concealing their internal belief in something contrary to God’s will. This behavior only lasts as long as the “witness protection program” is needed, and then it is discarded. Someone with this motive can not be trusted.

    #2 Someone with belief, but no actions (does not show faith), is no better than someone who doesn’t believe and doesn’t act righteously, although you might trust them more they won’t act in the future.

    #3 I think you can trust someone who has faith, believing internally in God’s teachings and acting in accordance with them.

    I don’t know how you tell #3 from #1 apart, since only God sees their heart. So we can only make judgments based on the actions we see, and our own faith.

  43. I like your theories. My best friend believes the church is true, because she has seen the change in her own life by living the gospel. She doesn’t have a firm testimony of everything the church teaches, yet she believes its true based on how it has changed her life. So, maybe your theory is on track.

  44. #47, I think if you have FAITH IN GOD, you don’t need a testimony of everything the church teaches, but can benefit from faith line upon line, while “keeping your eye single to the glory of god”

  45. #45 “if I got an answer unexpectedly, I would stay in the church. I was at a crossroads, and I did get an answer. ”

    I think it has something to do with where your heart was at when you were at the crossroads. If you were honestly willing to make changes…an answer will benefit you. If you wouldn’t change, even if an answer comes, why should the heavens bother sending the message?

  46. Post
    Author
  47. “I think if you have FAITH IN GOD, you don’t need a testimony of everything the church teaches, but can benefit from faith line upon line, while “keeping your eye single to the glory of god”

    I agree.

  48. “I think it has something to do with where your heart was at when you were at the crossroads. If you were honestly willing to make changes…an answer will benefit you. If you wouldn’t change, even if an answer comes, why should the heavens bother sending the message?”

    The problem, again, is that this model assumes that anyone who doesn’t receive an answer isn’t really ready to change their behavior. That is unsupportable. And I don’t read Moroni’s promise as applying only to those who would be benefitted by a lifestyle change.

  49. Post
    Author

    “The problem, again, is that this model assumes that anyone who doesn’t receive an answer isn’t really ready to change their behavior. That is unsupportable.” Well, I’m certainly not ready to cast aspersions on anyone else’s intentions. In my case I was not expecting an answer, and I got one. There seem to be those who expected to get one and didn’t. I’m not clear why. I am neither an emotional nor gullible person. I tend to be critical and cynical. So, why me? Why not someone more deserving?

    “And I don’t read Moroni’s promise as applying only to those who would be benefitted by a lifestyle change.” The only phrase that seems to be around willingness to change is “real intent.” Intent is an action-oriented word, one “really intends” to do something.

  50. #30 Of course my answer was based on the existence of God and the truthfulness of the Church, that was the premise of this post, and if you had read my comment you would note that I was not indicating that “God was waiting to answer”, I positioned that God possibly will not answer in this life, this is the trial. If this is a possibility then why miss out on wanting to believe.

    Matt 7:8-11 don’t worry I have struggled with this also, so did the mother who lost 6 children in their infancy, so did Job and many others who have received significant obstacles in there life. the ultimate condition is according to Gods will, some times life just sucks. but the whole, D%C 121 topic is for another post.

    I do however completely agree that my advice was somewhat redundant but I did not intend it to be insulting. That’s just the best advice I have at this time. I have never had a weight issue, and I struggle when it come to giving dieting advice to others too.

    pinkpatent – I have really appreciated your comments, I believe that through time it will help my understanding and assist me to become more compassionate on the subject. I ask for further claryfication on these points, I also welcome comments from others on these points too.

    So, if someone lives the standards, but has no belief, how could they be considered unworthy of full participation in the church?

    Even outright disbelief does not constitute sinful behavior. How is one sinful or obedient by what they believe?

  51. #52 The problem, again, is that this model assumes that anyone who doesn’t receive an answer isn’t really ready to change their behavior. That is unsupportable. And I don’t read Moroni’s promise as applying only to those who would be benefitted by a lifestyle change.

    I’m not sure that necessarily follows, I only suggest it could be one possibility or one factor in the complex equation of revelation. Other possibilities could be answers are sent and not heard, answers are sent and not understood, answers are delayed until faith is exercised. But one possibility is that if the heart is tempting God for a sign…it may not be given because the person’s heart isn’t in the right place. “if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ” – that is part of Moroni’s promise, but we cannot say whether those who don’t get answers have a sincere heart, real intent, or faith … only God knows that.

  52. Post
    Author

    “So, if someone lives the standards, but has no belief, how could they be considered unworthy of full participation in the church?” The only thing I can think of is the ‘belief’ related questions in the TR interview (assuming that temple attendance/worthiness is implicit in your phrase “full participation”). Even so, if one says, “I hope, but don’t know” or “I want to believe, but I don’t have an unshakable testimony of that,” perhaps that sincere answer will be sufficient for the interviewer. Truth be told, I don’t know. I’m guessing a “no” answer will not be accepted for a TR to be issued.

  53. Not just TR interviews, but any worthiness interview for callings or anything like that. If the person openly states, “I don’t believe any of this. But I’m here with my family and live the standards and haven’t broken any commandments.”

    Any interviewer that was aware of that attitude would not make the judgment to limit priesthood advancement, temple recommends, or some callings in the church.

  54. #44 pinkpatent-

    I understand what you are saying. I really think it depends on the person you are dealing with though when it comes to whether or not they have sincerely tried to get an answer from the Lord. I hate to say it, but some people are just slackers and that’s the reality. Can’t everyone think of at least one person that they know or have known that just likes to take the easy way out on everything?

    The problem here is, it is hard to tell who is sincere and really trying and who is not. So I would say that it isn’t always wrong to tell a nonbeliever that they need to keep trying, especially if they are the type of person who doesn’t put a lot of effort into things. In other words, I don’t think you can say, across the board, that it is wrong to tell someone that says they haven’t received an answer that they need to keep trying, because in some cases it may be true that they need to keep trying. I think in our society we expect instant gratification or rewards for whatever we put the smallest effort into. My kids are constantly bringing home treats from school, church, stores, friend’s houses, etc. for just breathing right that day. I think this attitude is pervasive in some and they expect to get instantly rewarded for any effort they make. I am not saying that this applies to all people who pray for an answer and don’t receive it, but I am sure it applies to some because I have dealt with people who try for 2 weeks to do something and feel like giving up because they didn’t get what they wanted by the end of the 2 weeks.

  55. Post
    Author

    Jen – “I hate to say it, but some people are just slackers and that’s the reality.” LOL! Never one to pull punches, girl. You made me laugh. Well, I do agree with you on one thing, which is that God is no helicopter parent.

    But I also wonder, theory two, if the answer is really something inside of us that is accessed through our actions – a belief switch that we trip inadvertently in our quest for answers. The “God” button. To me, the idea of the divine within each of us is the whole point anyway. Mormon theology incorporates that concept better than any other major religion, IMO. That’s not to say there are many Mormons who see it the way I do, though.

  56. #41 brjones-

    “You should do your best to be inclusive, but as a member of the church you can’t spend all your time feeling bad that your beliefs may make some people feel unwelcome”

    True, and I don’t feel bad if my beliefs make someone feel unwelcome because that is out of my control. I just do the best I can to be a the person that I desire to be and that is all I can do.

  57. Believing is a very subjective experience. There have been times in my life where I was sure that God had answered my sincere prayer and blessed me with “knowledge.” I think the big turning point for me was the realization that “feelings” didn’t always point to the truth. Joseph Smith explained this problem when he told the brethren that some inspiration comes from God, some from the devil, and some is a product of our own heart and mind. (Not quoted exactly, but the intent is there.) He went on to state that it was very hard to tell the difference. Now let’s be fair here. JS claims to have trouble telling the different sources of inspiration and he claims to have seen God, Christ on multiple occasions, and many of the early prophets and apostles. Now if he was able to be fooled, (as he admitted) then what chance does someone like me have of telling the difference? For me, the answer is no chance at all.

    I went through a crossroads on my mission where I earnestly prayed to know if the proselytizing methods we were using were of God. After some very heartfelt prayer I came away “feeling” strongly that it was of God and I was doing His will by serving a mission and using the program as outlined. Eight months later when our Area Presidency changed, the new area president (Elder Rex D. Pinager) held an emergency meeting with all of us and told us that the program we were using would stop immediately. In my interview with the President later, he told me that he had deliberately taken the new area president to see our “Baptismal Discussion” in action because he always felt it was wrong but didn’t want to tell Elder Loren C. Dunn of his uneasiness with the program. After seeing it, Elder Pinager told the President that commanding people to come to Christ was far different than inviting them to come to Christ. To him, “commanding” was Satan’s plan and therefore the program was stopped dead. So what about my “spiritual witness”? In retrospect, Elder Pinager was exactly right. The program was evil and had I been willing to follow my gut feeling when I first arrived in the mission field, I would have returned home and got to where I’m at now in my twenties instead of my forties. Was God trying to help me with my gut wrenching abhorrence for what I was being pressured to do? Would I have been wrong on insisting that I be sent home because I didn’t want priesthood leaders pressuring me into doing something evil? These are hard questions that still bother me today.

    Jared, I’ll bet you can guess what my Zone Leader and District Leader told me to do when I first arrived in Australia and had such a difficult time with the program. Yep, just pray hard about it and God will reveal to you, as he has to us, that this is His work. Then get with the program… Perhaps that’s why I get a little sensitive about your continued insistence that prayer and desire will bring you the answer from God. After many years of trying that method of discerning truth, I am just as confident that God doesn’t work that way as you are that he does. Respectfully,

  58. Hawkgrrl-

    “But a part of me thinks that spirituality is about having a believing heart, one that is optimistic about man’s potential and the benevolence of the universe, one that hopes for the best even when the worst presents itself.”

    I have enjoyed reading many of your comments, particularly this one. I think that when it comes right down to it, belief is a choice, whether we have received an answer or not. If I choose to believe in God, He may not feel that I need an answer because I already believe. If I choose to not believe He may feel I don’t need an answer because, like you suggested, maybe it wouldn’t make any difference in my life anyway or I would just attribute it to bad gas or some emotional spasm. One thing I know is that any spiritual experiences that we are given from the Lord tend to be easily forgotten if we don’t write them down and refer to them from time to time. I also don’t think the Lord is going to tell a person something over and over again, or even twice.

    I wonder if there are times when a person believes in the church and then gets hung up on getting an answer just for the sake of getting an answer. IOW, are there people out there who are believing and then decide they need an answer (even though they already have a believing heart) and then when they don’t receive an “answer” they get hung up on the fact that they didn’t get an answer (even though they really didn’t “need” one) and then they start to disbelieve. All I know is it is complicated for sure.

  59. Doug G.-

    I don’t see a conflict in your answer because change was coming and so at the time you were asking the Lord, the answer you received was what the Lord wanted you to do until the change could be implemented. It is the same concept for a friend of mine who was in a ridiculous relationship. She prayed about leaving after years of great difficulty in the relationship and felt that staying was the Lord’s will at that time. How could that make any sense? Several years later though, the Lord made is clear to her that it was time to leave and she got divorced. I think that sometimes we are needed in a certain place and we may feel we don’t belong there or something isn’t right and I think that is probably true. I think we can feel “ahead of the game” in seeing or feeling what should be, but isn’t, but we have to be patient and wait on the Lord’s timing. The spiritual witness He gives keeps you there so that your conflicting feelings will be at bay until the time when the change can actually take place.

  60. Jen,

    I used the same logic for many years in trying to work through the guilt I felt. I appreciate your wiliness to read my post, I think many see my name and move on. 🙂

    If I’m being honest with myself though, I can’t make myself believe that God would tell me to do something evil. I think that’s the important part about my experience. We were doing things as representatives of Christ that He would never have done. I can go into more detail if you like, but the long and the short of it was people were damaged by what we were doing, including me.

    Again, thanks for reading and trying to understand my predicament…

  61. Doug G. – there was a really great chapter in the book David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism that outlines the very mission-program conundrum you experienced. Is it better to:
    1 – baptize many (lower commitment converts) and have high attrition among new members. If you choose this route, you suffer the natural byproducts of missionaries shortcutting teaches (and worse, e.g. baseball baptisms), hoping that because of sheer exposure, some not-converted converts would later become converted. In this kind of mission, you probably get missionaries doing more and more outrageous things to “dunk” people in a feeding frenzy of numbers.
    2 – baptize fewer (higher commitment converts) and have solid retention rates? If you choose this route, the natural byproduct might be missionaries who feel they didn’t achieve high baptisms (stress, pressure, and less “reward” for serving). You probably also get missions with a strong focus on obedience (something controllable) in order to get baptisms, even though the two are not really linked.

    Very few missions don’t lean one way or the other, I would guess. Every MP probably has a pre-disposition one way or the other, IMO. I don’t think it’s an easy choice between the two strategies. There are abuses in either system and flaws to each approach.

  62. “If I choose to believe in God, He may not feel that I need an answer because I already believe. If I choose to not believe He may feel I don’t need an answer because, like you suggested, maybe it wouldn’t make any difference in my life anyway or I would just attribute it to bad gas or some emotional spasm.”

    Jen, can you see how frustrating this statement would be to someone struggling with their faith? No matter what happens, the fault lies with them. “You didn’t pray hard enough.” “You were not sincere.” “You already had belief so you shouldn’t ask a question.”

    At what point is it fair for the person to say, “I am not getting an answer, so I am going to stop asking and just start living my life!”? I absolutely believe in the premise of Hawkgrrl’s original post. I believe that our behavior affects our faith, and vice versa. However, I do not think that the change is automatic or over night. And even if belief is never restored, how is the person harmed, or the church for that matter, by having lived as a practicing Latter Day Saint?

  63. pinkpatent-

    “Jen, can you see how frustrating this statement would be to someone struggling with their faith?”

    The reality is I don’t know anyone that doesn’t struggle with their faith at one point or another, people just handle it differently. There are people who put time limits on the Lord and once that time limit passes they are through with Him and even go to the point of deciding He doesn’t exist at all. There are those who understand long-suffering well, and wait upon the Lord for many years. There are those who get very clear answers and turn back to them when they struggle. Every person handles struggles with faith differently and there has to be some accountability for the way that people handle the struggle, because truly NO ONE is immune from struggling.

    I understand how it seems unfair to place fault on a person, but where are you going to place accountability if it is not on the person? Are you going to blame God and tell Him he is at fault and doesn’t know what He is doing? I have been very frustrated with the Lord many times in my life, but resolving my frustration has always been my issue, not His. I have had to learn to be painfully patient and trust when I haven’t felt it is possible. I think the point is this is about us learning how to become like Him and it is going to be difficult in different ways at different times.

    As far as your question of when a person stops asking and starts living, well, I don’t feel like life stops when questions are unanswered. I feel like we should live everyday to the fullest and continue to question the Lord AS we live. Also, I’ve learned that when I get a question answered it tends to create a half a dozen more questions.

    As far as belief never being restored, like I said in a previous comment, I think belief is a choice. My question to you is how does it harm a person to choose to believe rather than to not believe?

  64. I explained my situation above (#20). I’m still patiently waiting for confirmation that what I have devoted over 40 years of my life to is true. I do take some solace in accounts of people like Mother Teresa. Her story in Time is here: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1655415,00.html

    Here is a quote about her from another article: “No one knows why God allows some Christians—especially great saints—to suffer such doubts, though Time notes that militant atheists such as Christopher Hitchens are happy to claim them as proof that there is no God. But in Mother Teresa’s case, we might consider that her dark night began immediately after Christ Himself spoke to her and asked her to found the Missionaries of Charity, and she received permission to do so. In other words, when she began to work with those who have no hope—the lost, the forsaken, the abandoned—she began to feel the emptiness in her own soul.”

    In reading her book, she went 50+ years feeling abandoned by God – with no confirmation that she was doing what He wanted. So that’s my strategy. Just put my head down and keep at it.

  65. Doug G.-

    Obviously I don’t know what happened, but the reality is people are getting damaged everyday by just living life. I don’t believe God protects us from being hurt or damaged all the time, but I know that He can and does heal us. My feeling is if you received an answer from God, trusted in it and did the best you could, then there is no reason to feel guilty. Again, I don’t know exactly what happened, but I think all things happen for a reason, good and bad, and we can learn from them and use what we have learned to help others.

    I realize some people take a real beating in this life, but having been in some really rough places in my life, I know that the Lord can heal us and make us whole if we allow Him. This I have experienced firsthand and it was miraculous.

  66. Hawkgrrrl,

    I believe the theory was good on paper, but the reality isn’t working out real good for the church. (Referring to your #2) It is true that in my day, the goal was baptisms period. As Elder Faust told us in a mission conference, our job was to get people into the church. The member’s job was to keep them there long enough for them to actually gain a testimony. The stats would seem to suggest that retention in the church today isn’t much better than it was in 1980. So perhaps the old method was more effective in getting a greater number of active members.

    Not to belabor the point to much, but our mission program involved getting people to come to the church for a discussion with water already in the font. We then took them into one of the classrooms after the group discussion and asked the investigator to pray about being baptized that night. We had removed all but one of the chairs from the room which one Elder would sit down on partially blocking the door while the other Elder knelt in the middle of the room and ask the investigator to pray. He would remain in the kneeling position until the investigator either knelt as well and prayed or worked up enough nerve to ask the other Elder to move out of the way so they could leave. If after their prayer, they still didn’t feel the need to get baptized, the Elder would ask them to pray again. This process would go on until they either finally agreed to be baptized or pushed their way past the Elder at the door. We were rated on how many times you could get someone to pray before they left. I was amazed by how many good people would rather get baptized then tell the big guy at the door to get the H$LL out of the way. We literally had some folks in those commitment rooms for hours. I had one elderly women suffer a breakdown that required us to call an ambulance. As a 19 year old missionary I lacked the courage to stand up and say how wrong I thought the whole process was. Toward the end of Elder Dunn’s tenure I actually prided myself on my ability to get commitments out of people in that room. I think that’s my biggest problem now, I know I caused considerable harm to lots of people and have no-way of making that right.

    My point is this, I can’t forgive myself for getting good at the Baptismal Discussion and I have an equally hard time forgiving the church for putting me in that position. Elder Pinager was correct; our program was based on pressure and intimidation, not invitation. Those are tools of Satan and no God that I believe in now would sanction those kinds of activities.

  67. Interesting comments and thoughts…

    As I have reflected on my life experience, I would have to say that I neither doubted nor believed, but rather accepted. I was raised in the church, did BYU/mission/temple marriage, etc. I have enjoyed serving in many callings and have had experiences that I attributed to God…therefore my testimony.

    However, about a year ago, I went through a time where I prayed harder than I have ever prayed before, fasted more, read more, pondered more, etc. In the end I came away doubting that the church was what its leaders claimed (i.e., the one true church).

    Does that make me one who had built my house on a sandy foundation OR is the church simply not as good or useful to me at this point in my life? I still love much about Mormonism and my membership in it, but I have found more personal growth since my “faith crisis” by adding to my Mormonism from without.

  68. Mike S-

    Do you feel peace in your heart and within yourself? I find this to be the most wonderful of confirmations from the Lord that you are doing His will. That doesn’t mean you don’t wonder or struggle, but there is a certain peace (that passeth all understanding) that sits with you in the background and keeps you still even amidst deep trials and struggles.

    It sounds like Mother Teresa experienced the same feelings of the many she helped, similar to what the Lord did for us. What an incredible woman to keep going as she did even when she suffered the emptiness in her soul as she did.

  69. I feel peace at times when I’m at church or read the scriptures. But I also feel the exact same peace when I read the words of the Buddha or the Qu’ran. I actually feel more peace when I meditate (which is only occasionally) than when I pray. I believe in God and Christ. I feel closer to them when I study inspiring words. I don’t have any problem with the GOSPEL.

    I feel much LESS peace with some of the actions of the ORGANIZATION and its LEADERS. I don’t understand the fixation on outward appearances – ie. white shirts, tattoos, earrings, etc. I don’t understand how we ignore things about eating meat sparingly that are clear, yet somehow interpret hot drinks to be related in the least to Coke. I don’t understand how an organization that wanted to be free to practice a “foreign” type of marriage would pour so much money into fighting another group that wanted the same thing. I will never understand polygamy or how JS proposing to young girls or other men’s wives can be of God. I don’t understand why the Church keeps insisting on whitewashing its history when everything is available at anyone’s fingertips. I am saddened that a few decades of dominance by the right-wing portion of the Church (BRM, JFS, etc.) effectively shut out any voice of balance that used to exist (Talmage, Bennion, etc.). I am frustrated by the overemphasis on numbers and how we should be nice to our neighbors to we can more effectively convert them – why not just be nice to our neighbors for it’s own sake. The list could go on.

    So, I know how I feel about God and Christ. Maybe my problem is that I am letting an organization get between my relationship with God. However, the Church bills itself as essentially the only way for anyone to get to the Celestial kingdom.

  70. Mike S-

    I wonder if the church doesn’t talk about all the difficult parts of church history because they can’t explain it themselves or if they can, people will not believe them anyway and it will just create more problems than not touching it and letting people work through it themselves.

    Anyway, I understand your issues and why you feel the way you do. We all have our issues to deal with when it comes to the church in one way or another, but hopefully it is serving the most important purpose which is bringing us closer to Christ.

    It’s late! Goodnight.

  71. Mike S.
    I feel the same way. I’m in a bit of a faith crisis right now. I’m reading up on Church history and it’s just appalling all the things that the Church has tried to hide and still does. I feel like I’m being treated like an immature child who just can’t handle the truth. Just reveal the history warts and all and let us get testimonies that way. Then there’s the issues I have with how the Church views women and what that entails for the hereafter. Is God sexist? So many questions and doubts and sometimes just plain anger so I know I’m not in a position to feel peace from God.

    Doug

    My mission was a little more recent like six to seven years ago, but my mission was based heavily on obedience and sacrifice and the more we did it the more baptisms we would get. So we were made to feel guilty about all the people that passed us on the street and we didn’t open our mouths to them about the gospel and how that might have been the only chance they had to hear of the gospel in this life. Or how if we didn’t sacrifice lunch or dinner that might have been the only thing was keeping us from finding that one person to baptize or we should look at teaching a discussion/finding an investigator along the lines of keeping our family fed. If we didn’t find someone to teach then our families would die/starve to death. So if we thought of it that way or if it was that way we would definitely find someone to teach…or how our faith was lacking if we didn’t have very many baptisms. So I definitely feel that this was more damaging on missionaries. I know at least three or four missionaries that needed psychiatric treatment after coming home from my mission.

    I think actions are important, but sometimes they can lead to more disbelief…such as going to the temple. I didn’t like it from the first time I went, except for the Celestial Room. And the more I’ve gone the worst I’ve felt…so it’s a tough call and one I’m really trying to work through.

    Great post and comments! Thanks!

  72. I feel the same way. I’m in a bit of a faith crisis right now. I’m reading up on Church history and it’s just appalling all the things that the Church has tried to hide and still does. Reminds me of someone who said that, but who read what disturbed them in the notes portion of the D&C …

    The problem is that many messages are: “a+b” and people treat them as being “a” alone.

    I need to get that essay on narratives done.

  73. #Mike S–

    It seems to me that you are experiencing a “gift of the Spirit” by pressing forward. I wouldn’t discount or deny that “feeling”.

    Ultimately we all end up “pressing forward”. Those who have just a feeling to press forward, as well as those who have seen God (Joseph Smith), and all those in between.

    When someone is given unusual Spiritual experiences there is baggage that comes with it (opposition of some kind). The Lord is perfect and He has a system that is perfect. In the end, the accounting will be clearly seen at the day of judgment and every knee will bow and acknowledge that He is perfect. No one was treated unfairly while in mortality.

  74. Michael–

    Thanks for posting your feelings. I would imagine the bloggernacle feels like a Godsend to you. Somewhere you can express your feelings and discuss them with other Mormons–something you would not dare do with most ward members.

    According to the Pew report on religion, most Mormons (57 percent) say theirs is the one true faith, with a sizable minority (39 percent) taking the opposite view. More than six in 10 younger Mormons (62 percent) say theirs in the one true faith, compared with roughly half (48 percent) of Mormons 50 and older.

    I read Mother Theresa’s story and was very touched by it. My mother-in-law lived a faithful member of the church until she passed away at 94. She expressed distress that she never “knew”. We live in a church where those who only express belief are looked down on. How many times do you ever hear someone say in testimony meeting that they “believe the church is true”? We even have 6 year olds telling us they “know Thomas S Monson is a prophet”. What does a 6 year-old know other than they want to play with the toy their brother has?

    Hang in there, Michael. My guess is you will never know the church is true to your satisfaction. In my mind, you will be more blessed by God because of your honest, sustained belief than those who express their certainty but have no such certainty at all.

  75. Once again, great comments by all.

    Jen, I liked what you had to say. I have been blessed with the gift of belief my whole life. There are alot of things that I simply cannot explain for figure out. I have just put those away until the Lord sees fit to answer my questions. DH’s disaffection really threw me for a loop, but it didn’t destroy my belief. I just want the rest of the members to know that not everyone has the same level of belief. There are some who doubt, some who outright disbelieve, but we are all God’s children and need/deserve a place at the table.

    I think that anyone who continues to struggle, try, and move forward through their trials is showing a “particle of faith”, that desire to believe. We just need to make it easier for them to stay in the church while they “swim upstream”, instead of making it harder.

  76. #81 – We just need to make it easier for them to stay in the church while they “swim upstream”, instead of making it harder.

    I completely agree, I feel this would be done if all were open and honest about fears & doubts however it needs to be done in an environment of unconditional love were individuals don’t fear reprisal and being ostracised. this is difficult in many wards due to pride and aspirations that exist, and the lack of understanding of Christ’s Atonement.

  77. 82- “this is difficult in many wards due to pride and aspirations that exist, and the lack of understanding of Christ’s Atonement.”

    That’s the understatement of the year! I am glad that you want to welcome those who struggle. I wish it were the same in every ward.

  78. #81 – We just need to make it easier for them to stay in the church while they “swim upstream”, instead of making it harder.

    How can this situation be improved, IMO one of the core problems is that too much emphasis is placed on actions, rather than Beliefs, we are constantly measured on our inward commitment by our outward performances, in this manner too little attention is placed on what might be core issues, but as long as attendance is o.k and nothing is preventing you form paying tithing then all is well.

  79. Post
    Author

    Mike S. – “I actually feel more peace when I meditate (which is only occasionally) than when I pray.” Me too!

    MrQandA – I’m torn on the issue of things being based on outward behaviors rather than inward beliefs, only because inward beliefs are so hard to measure, discuss, assess. Honestly, in most congregations, there is simply no assessment. People come (in comfortable clothes), listen to a sermon by someone who is “really” religious, nosh on coffeee and donuts and then go back to their daily life. In ours, participation is much higher. Is that belief or action or both? While I think it’s possible to do a talk without belief (to say all the right phrases), it’s more likely that giving a talk will lead to introspection about our beliefs. Also, the TR interview is half beliefs and half actions. I think I’m more uncomfortable with someone assessing another person’s level of belief than their compliance with an behavioral standard. That’s just my opinion.

  80. pinkpatent-

    “DH’s disaffection really threw me for a loop, but it didn’t destroy my belief. I just want the rest of the members to know that not everyone has the same level of belief. There are some who doubt, some who outright disbelieve, but we are all God’s children and need/deserve a place at the table.”

    Does DH stand for darling husband or damn husband? 🙂 JK

    Seriously, I know it would be very hard for me to go through something similar to what you have experienced with your DH. I think growing up in the church it is easy to assume that everyone at church has a testimony. For me it has taken some adjustment to think outside of that framework and realize we are all in different places.

    I know in some wards it would be much harder to feel welcome if you were a “doubter” because some wards are considered much “stronger” than others and who wants to be the weak link? I wonder when I sit in Sacrament how many in my ward are struggling with different issues that relate to the church and I wish I knew how to help them better. I think in some ways being a doubter can be like having a porn problem (in the church context), you really don’t want anyone to know about it and you just try to work through it on your own, otherwise it upsets people too much. The times people need the most support is sometimes the times when they get the very least and it shouldn’t be that way, especially in the Lord’s church. We definitely have work to do.

  81. “Does DH stand for darling husband or damn husband? JK”

    HA!!! I have to say it depends on the day! Mostly…… darling, delightful, delicious, dashing…you get the picture.

    Thanks for what you said. That pretty much sums it up. DH does not plan to renew his TR because he doesn’t want to discuss some things with BP. He fears retribution and doesn’t want leadership to interfere in our family. So, we don’t say anything. We go to church and serve in our callings and raise our children just like any other LDS family. We are working through issues as best as we can, along with help from some wonderful people.

    Its a little strange. But its never boring!

  82. RE: #87 – Pinkpatent

    Re: TR interview, I had a similar concern. I think a lot comes down to semantics, as opposed to anything else. I discussed my thoughts on this in response to an article on here “The Force of History” comment #27 just today.

    Looking at the most problematic questions (assuming no problem with “action” questions – ie. WofW, chastity, etc.):

    – Do you have faith in God… – this is fairly straightforward. The question ISN’T do you KNOW, but do you have FAITH. Faith is things hoped for but not seen. I certainly hope all this is true. So no problem with this one.

    – Do you have a testimony of the Atonement… – Again, semantics. To some people, testimony might mean KNOW or CERTAINTY. I look at a testimony as likely enough to cause me to live my life a certain way. I doubt I will ever “KNOW” any of this until I die. But I’m willing to keep moving forward.

    – Do you have a testimony of the restoration… – This is much like above. Do you believe enough in the events that led to the LDS Church being established that you are willing to follow its current teachings. Sure. I follow them anyway. Do I “know”? No. But I’m willing to keep trying.

    – Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? … Since the priesthood keys really only make any sense in the context of the LDS religion, this is pretty easy too. Even someone who doesn’t believe that the LDS Church is true can arguably claim that the Prophet has all of the priesthood keys for the LDS religion.

    Again, the rest of the questions are whether you do or don’t do certain things. Whether you think those are right or not is a different subject, but they’re the price for being in the organization. If you want to work in a certain company, or join a fraternity, you have to follow their rules, like it or not. But these aren’t really matters of faith, they’re just actions. And, to be honest, even a Buddhist could answer most of them affirmatively. Buddhists don’t drink alcohol, should eat healthy, should avoid sexual promiscousness (although defined a bit differently), are honest to their fellowman (perhaps more so than some LDS businessmen), treat others with respect, don’t lie, etc.

    So, whether your DH decides to renew his TR or not is a very personal thing, but don’t let a lack of 100% certainty keep him out, if that what he wants to do. That’s not the point

  83. Kaylana,

    Thanks for having the courage to share your mission experience. Similar methods were used while I served to guilt us into more persistence with our investigators. We heard things like- “When God shows you what you could have done, while serving a mission, compared to what you actually accomplished, you will reap bitter tears and feel that any punishment is just!” “All those that would have joined had you been obedient will stand before God and their sins will be on your head!”

    As some on this board already know, I’ve seen most of my children serve missions. Some left before I had the biggest struggles with my beliefs, some after, and one is serving now. I haven’t discouraged any of them from serving because I feel my mission was absolutely essential to my eventual awaking to what the church really is. For me, coming to understand God in a new way has been enlightening, but not possible without all the past experiences bringing me to where I’m at now. I don’t want to short change my children from being able to have the same growing experiences. Although we all may need some counseling to deal with the ecclesiastical abuse involved in the process. 🙂

    Mike S.

    I believe there are many more like you and I then most active members would like to believe. Hang in there brother…

    Hawkgrrrl,

    Getting back to your original post, I think Tony Soprano would have done real well in my mission. What do you think????

    I also wanted to second what many of you have said concerning meditation. I’ve found it a very refreshing way to explore my beliefs and find inner peace. Best of luck to all of you…

  84. Oh man, I am so late to this party. I apologize. I even saw I was referenced. I feel so awesome now!!

    ““my problem is with those who seek to ultimately deceive, resolving the Church is not True, but still partake of sacrament, attend the temple, preform priesthood ordinances. 2 Tim 3:5 form of godliness but denying the power.”

    I would be interested to hear jbm275’s take on this comment.”

    My first response is that I am not seeking to ultimately deceive, so I suppose I don’t have a problem. My 2nd thought is a bit calloused, although I mean no disrespect to MrQandA. Quite frankly I don’t care what he thinks. I am not in the business of prostrating myself to the ideas of the TBM crowd – indeed I have left that crowd.

    It greatly saddens me that so many view people such as myself as deceitful. People like John Dehlin are hated on both sides of the aisle. The TBMs think he is deceitful, as MrQandA has suggested, and the ant-mormons consider him weak and dishonest with himself. But alas, it is the lot of those who choose to remain in the crowd but not of the crowd.

    I hope someday that the iron-rod, orthodox members of the church will understand the true misison, and nature of the Savior and invite ALL to come to Him.

  85. Re 26 Michael
    Hmmmm, I think we should get together and do lunch! Our situations are nearly identical (I’m just a bit younger).

  86. Doug G – “I think Tony Soprano would have done real well in my mission. What do you think????” Absolutely! In fact, the scene you described reminded me a lot of the episode where they turn the screws on the Hasidic Jew.

    jmb275 – “I hope someday that the iron-rod, orthodox members of the church will understand the true misison, and nature of the Savior and invite ALL to come to Him.” There’s a woman in my ward who is a convert from a Pentacostal church. She talked about people who are ‘bible-hardened,’ meaning they know the Bible inside and out and can quote chapter and verse, but they have little spirit of Christ about them. It’s like they have all the “book learning” but none of the application of the principles. I am sure there are people like that in every religion. I thought it was an interesting parallel.

  87. #78 Stephen Marsh:
    Well stated comment:
    “I feel the same way. I’m in a bit of a faith crisis right now. I’m reading up on Church history and it’s just appalling all the things that the Church has tried to hide and still does. Reminds me of someone who said that, but who read what disturbed them in the notes portion of the D&C …
    The problem is that many messages are: “a+b” and people treat them as being “a” alone.”

    I have found in my work in education, people tend to believe it is easier to ignore a problem or pretend it never happened or minimize a situation than to address it. Especially when those people involved lack leadership skills such as facilitation, mediation, a sense of fair play, and confidentiality. The top-down and authoritative structure in the LDS Church discourages members from voicing a concern and retaliation, such as disfellowshipping can result when a member questions authority. We are instead, told to be humble and obedient to those in power. Emphasizing “a” such as blind obedience, eliminates addressing the action of concern “b” that caused the ethical question.

  88. JMB275 –

    I mean no disrespect to MrQandA. Quite frankly I don’t care what he thinks. I am not in the business of prostrating myself to the ideas of the TBM crowd…

    TBM, I didn’t feel disrespected till that moment. I could leave a long post as to why I don’t believe I’m a TBM, my views on Joseph Smith – the priesthood ban – Brigham Young – Polygamy, I was someone who was “bible-hardened” disputing evolution on the grounds of semantics and pig headedness much to the dismay of one a friend. however over recent years Iv’e made significant changes which have brought me away from actions based on being a TBM to one in which my actions are more for the love of others and Christ (on topic) Belief vs Action.

    People like John Dehlin are hated on both sides of the aisle. The TBMs think he is deceitful, as MrQandA has suggested,

    I know very little regarding John Dehlin, but what I do know such as Dehlin’s assistance with Sunstone, Mormon Stories, StayLds and this very own MM (which I have only been involved in a short while), from what I know of some of the people who helped Dehlin deal with his difficulties with Church History were people such as Eugene England & Richard Poll. Whilst I’m not aware of all Dehlin’s views, I also appreciate that many do not care what I think, however I do not believe Dehlin has sought to be personally deceitful, he has openly addressed issues and concerns, and has IMO made a difference and has made a positive affect on the Church. May more who have concerns do the same.

    I realise that I obviously have not made my points on this issue clear enough. I will continue to work on my blogging skills to discuss my opinions without miss interpitation.

  89. #93, Jo, regarding the church’s seemingly preference to have people humble themselves instead of voice dissenting opinions, I think a lot of that comes from the fact that many leaders are lay members and not trained to handle such dissension. I would suggest that most people who are called in leadership callings are ones that have outwardly shown diligence and obedience over time, with strong testimonies of the church’s existing procedures. To some people like that, they can’t imagine why someone else would doubt the current “way” things are done…so they must be lacking faith if they doubt.

    Whereas, I believe that those who doubt are ones that are really thinking deeply about application to their daily life. Whereas, the ones that act get a lot done in church. I’m not sure one is better than the other, but it is easier for a leader to get things done when people just act, regardless of whether they believe it or understand the vision of it, and the leaders can get frustrated or concerned about people who think instead of act, and so they discourage questions in a lot of cases. That is because of leadership styles but also because of impatience to just get things done.

    That gets back to Hawkgrrrl’s original posting…is it better to get things done, or is it better to get less done but bring people’s hearts along and strengthen belief?

  90. Re: 94 MrQandA
    “TBM, I didn’t feel disrespected till that moment. I could leave a long post as to why I don’t believe I’m a TBM”

    Dang it, I’m really sorry. I probably had a bad case of blogging nightmare or something when I wrote that. I detest labels, and I clearly labeled you. I apologize for that. And I didn’t mean to suggest that YOU particularly felt that way about John Dehlin, only that many TBMs do (which I inappropriately labeled you as). Anyway, I’m sorry for that.

    I clearly got a little worked up over your comment in #7. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say I have resolved that the church is not True, but I have definitely changed my definition of true. If “True” means the typical TBM view of “True” (church has only authority, has all correct ordinances, etc.) then yes, I probably do fall into that category. But I don’t consider myself a wolf in sheep’s clothing as I sincerely desire to grow spiritually and feel that Mormonism can help me do that. I view that as the message of Christ:
    “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
    So I feel no reason why I should not be an active, heterodox member of the church.

    Nevertheless, I was a jerk. Sorry.

  91. Wow, {{{Group Hug}}} !! That was the best resolved internet bickering I’ve seen to date. Kudos to both JMB and Q&A for such mature and courteous disagreement. Love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *