And now, dear friends at Mormon Matters, is your regular report from the Dark Side of the Moon.
I was reading a comment in another article here, and what Doug had said intrigued me:
This board started out as a place for middle-way thinking people to discuss problematic issues with doctrine and history. It would now appear that anyone with an opinion different then the “current LDS view” is attacked as I and many others have been. On several other discussion boards, mormon matters is considered a pro LDS blog. Gentlemen, just say the word and I’ll find another place to try and help those who don’t see the church the way you do understand that they’re not alone. I guess it’s true; there is in reality no room for a NOM in the church.
I don’t know if I have ever thought of MM as anything other than a pro-LDS blog. But I *have* always recognized that this site is of a different caliber, of course, than M* or T&S and others. So I guess, I’ll try to shake things up and offer a different perspective and hope that I don’t get chased out on a rail.The other day, out of all people, *I* had a missionary experience. I’ve written about it on my blog, but here’s the executive summary: over the course of conversation, I revealed to someone that I was raised Mormon. Over more conversation, I revealed further that I’m not a believing Mormon (and with that, I’ve probably lost half my MM readership right there, if Doug’s comment is to be believed) and so they shouldn’t expect me to have the most faith-promoting answers.
However, despite that, I still was the go-to guy for tough Mormon questions. Questions such as, “Isn’t this the church where blacks can’t go to heaven?” (these guys have learned well from the Huckabee school of interrogation) or “Are women banned from celestial glory because they do not have the priesthood?”
It was at this time, of course, that I realized that I was, in ways, a representative of the church (despite my pointing out that I’m not the faithful go-to guy). And so I realized that I had to take a delicate path.
I guess that for faithful members, there are standard, correlated answers for these questions. So it’s easy enough to answer that the policy was that blacks could not get the priesthood, but now with new revelation, blacks do have the priesthood and things are resolved. It’s then easy enough to segue that into an explanation of different levels of heaven (exaltation? how’s that different from salvation? Celestial Kingdom? Priesthood ordinances?) And then jete to the restoration of the gospel and isn’t that nice and won’t you come? I bet within a week you can get the missionaries a referral if you’re good enough.
But…if you haven’t realized it…for ex-Mormons, former Mormons (who I guess form the “dark side” in many members’ minds), liberal Mormons, New Order Mormons, and anyone similar, the standard correlated answers don’t work. They make us feel uneasy or deceptive. And that’s in part how we get to our position — by distancing ourselves from the church, we detach from stinging correlated answers. So, we can relate the Joseph Smith story, but we don’t necessarily feel obligated to believe the correlated telling. Or do the same for whatever issue.
Now, I will say that there are some who will go far with this — there are those who will leave the church bitter, angry, and anti. But I would suppose that most ex- and former Mormons don’t want to appear like antis. Anti-Mormons sometimes embarrass me. I’d like to think that people can look at reasonably truthful, accurate information, and then decide based on that (there’s enough gray to allow people to go either way without bringing up inaccuracies, falsehoods, sickly sweet faith-promoting stories and sickly venomous faith-destroying ones.)
But I am still put in this strange position…where I become the liaison for the church and for the LDS doctrine. And then I realize that because I am viewed as a somewhat reputable source despite my warnings otherwise, even as an exmember, I still am a missionary of sorts.
This post sounds kinda spastic because this is the third time I’ve written about it (the second time was to get perspectives from the other Dark Side of the Mooners) …but I wanted to ask people from a faithful perspective…what would you expect from ex- and former Mormons? What would you hope that they would say in response to questions about the gospel? Would it impress you to see an ex-Mormon dispelling blatant untruths from anti-Mormons? Would that all be dashed to bits if they followed up their trouncing of inaccuracies with unflattering church history or doctrine?