I’m Okay; You’re Okay

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I have one component to my life that prompts little discussions from the lowliest church member to most recently the temple president and I really wish everyone would drop it. You see, I did the unthinkable five years ago, I married someone that is not LDS.

User avatar Please welcome first time guest blogger Denae.

I did not marry my husband with the hope that he would convert, I do not encourage missionaries to come over to our house, and I do not think I have less of a marriage, or less of an eternal future because of my marriage. What I wish people would understand is we are not the only church that believes in our own religiosity, we are not the only ones that have the right to convert other people. If I have the right to try and convert my husband, than he has the right to try and convert me! If I want him to respect my ability to chose my religion that I have to respect his ability to chose his religion.

I can’t begin to tell you how many people have said “So when are you going to start bringing your husband to church?” I have a 30 second answer, a 2 minute answer, and a 5 minute answer, depending on the person and the situation. So far most people are pretty good about it, but… it is still annoying. Mormons have such a reputation about trying to convert people that my husband is afraid to spend any time around my church friends or to go to any church activities, for fear that he will be descended upon like a storm of locusts, everyone being super nice to him in hopes of trying to convert him. I hate that because I want people to accept him exactly like he is. He is not a lesser person because he is not LDS.

I have a bit of a controversial belief. Everything that I have been taught of the nature of God and my own personal experience with God, does not lead me to believe in an exclusionary God. I can’t believe that God would really split up a family after death because they didn’t perform a specific ceremony because they weren’t all worshiping under the religious name. That doesn’t sound like a nice God; that sounds downright mean. So I don’t believe that my husband (and any potential future children) will be separated at death. Maybe in the hereafter we’ll have to do some extra work, maybe take some extra classes, something like that, but ultimately we’ll still be together.

Meanwhile in addition to the frequent conversations about trying to convert my husband, I have to deal with the constant references about having a lesser marriage. Even though I don’t believe I have a lesser marriage, it is still not fun to listen to it. I have even heard references to it being a commandment to marry another LDS person.

So I don’t know if I have a question per se but just what your thoughts are. I am completely open to disagreement on my current belief about what will happen to combined families not married in the temple in the hereafter. Also, if anyone has comments about how families are treated where one spouse is not LDS, or maybe this would even apply if the spouse is not active, or (fill in the blank). I look forward to the comments, thanks!

Comments

comments

Comments 102

  1. I can’t believe that God would really split up a family after death because they didn’t perform a specific ceremony because they weren’t all worshiping under the religious name. That doesn’t sound like a nice God; that sounds downright mean. So I don’t believe that my husband (and any potential future children) will be separated at death.

    Mormons do not believe these things. If you are talking to people that say these things, they are not Mormons.

  2. Welcome Denae

    Here is an interesting quote which you may find comforting for your situation.

    But I still have issues with it. To me its saying your siblings can live the life of Riley doing basically anything they want and you can claim them back if your a devout LDS Male or Female.

    If your not LDS your families toast!!

    “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared-and he never taught more comforting doctrine-that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Conference Report, April 1929)

  3. I’ve said this before, but I have to make my own decisions based on what I believe, and I have to treat others based on the assumption that I could be completely wrong. I have no problem with people believing that happiness and eternal life flow from a temple marriage. I do have a problem when the same people want to mess with someone else’s happiness.

  4. “Mormons do not believe these things. If you are talking to people that say these things, they are not Mormons.”

    I know a lot of mormons that believe this way. I think that most mormons believe this way. There is, of course, the exception for people who haven’t had the chance to accept the gospel in this life.

  5. Bravo Denae, well said.

    And yes, Mormons do believe this. We load tons of guilt on our children who choose not to marry in the temple, or choose to leave the church because they are “breaking up our eternal family”.

    If I had to choose between the two, I would much prefer that my children have a happy marriage over a Temple marriage. Yes, you can combine the two, but we get the message that a Temple marriage is a happy marriage. Nope.

  6. Denae, after reading your post these phrases from the D&C come to mind:

    …slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God…esteemed lightly my counsel…

    With just this post I don’t know how you feel about other aspects of the doctrine of Christ. It would be interesting to know your thoughts and feelings towards repentance, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, sustaining the prophets, and living to obtain a temple recommend.

    Deane said: Everything that I have been taught of the nature of God and my own personal experience with God, does not lead me to believe in an exclusionary God.

    I agree, He seeks to accommodate all His children that is why there are many degrees of glory. We exclude ourselves from His presence by the choices we make.

  7. I know a lot of mormons that believe this way. I think that most mormons believe this way.

    Then they are not Mormons, they are something else. I would call them “counterfeits”. Whatever they are, they are not preaching Mormon doctrines, but perversions thereof. Christians are prone to all sorts of wrongheadedness, Latter Day Saints are no exception.

  8. Dawn:

    Ordinances are performed “in this life” by proxy for those who did not receive them while living. If Charlemagne can be sealed for time and all eternity to his 9 wives and concubines, then Denae need not worry about herself and her husband. Her membership in the Church does not exclude her from the benefits of the Millennial sealings.

  9. Denae, it saddens me to read of the insensitive and unkind comments that you have received in regards to your husband. We can only hope that the questioners meant well. It’s wonderful that you have a loving marriage. Continue to nurture it and the Lord will bless you. I’m sure we are all aware of those married in the temple who struggle with unhappiness and pain in their marriages. Likewise, we know many who are richly blessed because of their shared beliefs in the faith.

    You probably have years ahead of you of hearing people saying things like, “Your husband will never be able to give you a priesthood blessing. He will not be able to baptize your children. If you have a child that marries in the temple, he will not be able to witness that marriage.” I know God wants us to be together as families in the next life. That’s why we teach of the importance of receiving the sealing ordinance in this life. It cannot be performed in the hereafter.

    Yes, we believe in proxy ordinances for those who did not have the opportunity to receive them in this life. You just keep providing a good example to your husband of how the Church and the gospel blesses your life. We have so much more to offer to the world and the sealing ordinance is one of the things that is unique to our faith. Let God, not man judge if you were able to take advantage of the opportunity to receive the sealing ordinance. That’s between you and God.

  10. We do the best we can and let God work it out in the end. That’s my philosophy. I encourage my children to marry in the temple, but if they don’t I encourage them to strive for a “celestial” (totally united) marriage.

    I don’t want the Church to soften its focus on eternal sealings, but I wish more members understood and accepted their inability to judge individual situations and people – and just stopped doing it.

  11. Denae,

    I really like the title of your post!

    If you’re happy with your choice and enjoying all the blessings of a great marriage, then no-one should tell you it’s less then ideal or somehow not as complete as theirs. I have served in many leadership positions in the church over the years and my experience leads me to believe that LDS folks have no better lock on great marriages then non-LDS folks.

    In my own marriage I have experience on both sides of this fence. For most of my wife and I’s marriage I was very TBM and involved in the church as was she. We had a great relationship and enjoyed what time we could spend together. Now we have a mixed marriage, with regards to religion, as she is still very TBM and I am obviously not if you read any of my previous posts on this board. Now the big shocker, we still have a great relationship and love our time together. (And we have a lot more of it now…) She respects my “lack” of belief in the church and I respect her belief in it. I was lucky enough to marry someone who not only accepted me for what I was at the start of our relationship, but was willing to accept me for what I became.

    Here’s my point, for what it’s worth. Great marriages don’t happen because of religion or in-spite of them. They’re built on love and trust with loyalty and respect at their core. You are far better off marrying someone of another faith (or no faith) that understands and lives these core values as opposed to marrying someone in the temple who doesn’t. The God I believe in will be far more interested in the kind of marriage you had then the place you started it…

  12. “What I wish people would understand is we are not the only church that believes in our own religiosity, we are not the only ones that have the right to convert other people.”

    However, all those other churches are wrong, and we are right.

    I would not say that

    “God would really split up a family after death because they didn’t perform a specific ceremony because they weren’t all worshiping under the religious name.”

    However, I will say that if a person does not accept God’s commandments he can not receive God’s blessings. God is not just “nice”. If He was merely “nice” the world would be lot less painful. God is just- and He will not commit the injustice of rewarding those who fail to obey Him.

    That is His right as God.

    I have family members who died without accepting the gospel, and I hope that we will be reunited after death. However, I do not go around telling people that they do not need to be baptized because God’s too nice to separate families. I am absolutely certain that if God’s moral code requires the breaking up of families then they will be broken.

    I think you a making a mistake. Trying to discourage the sharing of the gospel with your husband is not a sign of respect. I respect others by openly sharing my wants and desires with them and then allowing them to make their own decision about how to respond. Attempting to restrict their information or interactions because I fear their reaction is not respect.

    Seeking the conversion of a person is respect- as long as it is open. It is the attempt to convert through deceit (which sadly does occasionally happen) that is offensive. The putting on of a fake friendship solely for the purposes of conversion for example is quite objectionable- but most members do not do this.

    “Mormons have such a reputation about trying to convert people that my husband is afraid to spend any time around my church friends or to go to any church activities, for fear that he will be descended upon like a storm of locusts, everyone being super nice to him in hopes of trying to convert him. I hate that because I want people to accept him exactly like he is. He is not a lesser person because he is not LDS.”

    If your husband is truly so concerned about attempts to convert him I recommend that you simply tell him that members of the Church will try to convert him- but so what? They are not going to kidnap him and brainwash him or anything. Just ask him to be polite and have him tell people that “thank you but I’m not interested”. If people are still nice then you husband will be able to make a friend, if the person is no longer nice, well, they’re probably not worth pursuing a friendship with anyways.

    However, from my experience with the situation you are in, I suspect that the person who is the most scared is not your husband, it’s you. You’re afraid that the members of your ward will look down on him, and you’re afraid that someone might offend your husband so badly that he decides that he never wants to have anything to do with the Church.

    It’s a lot like introducing your betrothed to your family. Might I point out that in my experience ward members are just as nervous about meeting a non-member spouse as the member spouse is about having the non-member spouse meet the ward. Most members of the Church worry about being to pushy. Unfortunately those who do manage to get over their fears and approach the subject of the gospel tend to be clumsy about it- but they are usually kind and sincere about it.

    Don’t let fear prevent you from introducing your husband into your circle of friends just because they are members. After all, wouldn’t you like your husband to introduce you to his friends from his church? Your membership in the Church is a very important part of your life- if you exclude your husband from church activities and members, you will be excluding him from that part of you.

  13. I’m sure you all know someone like I know who:

    *Married a returned missionary in the temple and had a couple of kids

    *was miserable due to manipulation, extreme abuse and infidelity

    *divorced the doofus who lost his membership

    *is married again to a GOOD man who isn’t LDS

    *is happy because she has peace and real love in her life now

    She could have found the right kind of guy within the church as well, but I can’t find it in myself to blame her for thinking that membership in the church wasn’t as important to her as honesty, kindness and fidelity.

    Yet after saying that, I would be disappointed if one of my children did the same thing. My disappointment would not necessarily be in the partner chosen, but that the choice of a non-member would be an indication of my child’s level of committment and testimony.

  14. “That’s why we teach of the importance of receiving the sealing ordinance in this life. It cannot be performed in the hereafter”

    Tim, I appreciate the tone of your remarks, but this statement above is just as offensive to someone in Denae position and her beliefs as you would feel if I told you that the sealing ordinance was developed to persuade young woman into polygamist relationships and the endowment stolen from Masons. You may fully believe it’s true, but that belief is no-more valid then my belief that it’s a man-made ritual with less than honorable goals.

    Perhaps that’s the point she was trying to make in her OP. She would like the members of the church to respect her marriage as just as valid and true as theirs. In the end, none of us really know how God will judge us or decide what our reward will be. There are plenty of conflicting doctrines about marriages in the next life that not even the most devote member can claim to know what’s really going to be allowed in the “hereafter” and what will not.

  15. #1: Mormons do believe these things. Worse! They have a testimony of these things (and I wish I knew how). However LDS don’t. The problem is that the two groups are on the same membership record.

    I used to be a mormon in the mormon church until I got excommunicated:o)

    Your story reminds me of something stupid I did as a missionary. I will try not to think to hard about it tonight because it makes me feel like banging my head against a wall saying “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid Me!”

  16. A few additional thoughts. You can’t base a relationship on trying to change the other person. There’s also the old chestnut of basing your relationship on God and the closer you both get to God, the closer you get to each other, but I don’t think that really works. Your commitment to your spouse has to be based on truly loving them for who they are. But if you are both interested in exploring your spirituality, you can share that aspect of your lives in a more open fashion. Be open about what you feel, believe and also about your spiritual journey and he can share that, too. Openness is always good. But I would say no ulterior motives is a must.

    And no third party can truly understand your marriage. IME, most people who share religion in their marriage don’t really discuss it deeply at that point. They just assume they feel the same. It’s off the table.

  17. Denae–I so appreciated your comments. One of my best friends in church married a non-LDS and she also cringed at how eager everyone was to convert him. For years he was uncomfortable being made a “project”. But after 30 or so yrs he’s come to realize that Mormons are pretty nice people, even if they are always eager to convert you. It’s kind of like coming to terms with your crazy Aunt Mabel and loving her despite her being nuts. Or maybe he’s just more comfortable with Mormons because they have finally given up converting him. LOL!

    There are a whole host of challenges for people in “mixed-belief marriages, not the least of which is all the insensitive comments. Despite being married in the temple to an RM, my husband left the church about 19 yrs ago. I think I’ve heard about every insensitive comment there is. Some of the things that’ve been said to me would curl your toes.

    I don’t believe we fully understand the ordinance of marriage–be it temple or civil–but I do believe that there is redemptive power in learning to love another so completely that you become one. I believe God honors that kind of love. 1 Cor. 7:14

    Having a differently believing spouse can make you feel very isolated and alone within the Mormon church. You might find kindred spirits at http://www.faceseast.org. It is a discussion board “Devoted to the ideal of eternal marriage, even when a spouse does not accept LDS beliefs.” We discuss the unique challenges that arise when spouses hold different beliefs and offer support to each other.

  18. The comments here seem to show the impossibility of real dialogue between conservative, exclusionist TBMs and anyone else who does not enjoy their lack of self-doubt, oh, yeah, and emphathy towards others, as well. #11 writes “We have so much more to offer to the world…” This statement can never be true as long as this kind of TBM are allowed to control what it means to be Mormon.

  19. Cicero
    “Demanding that we change doctrine so we don’t offend people is rather intolerant don’t you think?”

    Nope… Because the statement made by Tim that I referenced is not doctrinal.

    As prairie chuck stated: “I don’t believe we fully understand the ordinance of marriage–be it temple or civil–but I do believe that there is redemptive power in learning to love another so completely that you become one. I believe God honors that kind of love. 1 Cor. 7:14”

    Tim statement implied that the sealing of men and women is an earthly ordinance only, unless the non-believer didn’t have a chance to get sealed in mortality. Yet, my wife’s been told that if I don’t make it to the CK, she has nothing to worry about because she’ll be given to someone else. That sounds like a sealing in heaven to me. What about all the spinsters in the church, haven’t they been told that if they live worthy, God will provide a mate in heaven? In a Stake Leadership meeting with a GA, we were told we needed to develop better relationships with our spouses or they may very well choose in the next life to spend eternity with someone else. Sounds like more sealing’s in heaven. This “doctrine” is not well defined at all, neither is it well understood in the church. Therefore, to make offensive statements to people about the outcome of their marriage when we actually don’t have any idea how God will judge them is offensive.

    Also, as my good friend Bruce likes to remind me, making statements as if they’re facts when in actuality they are beliefs, is offensive.

  20. Doug G,

    You’re right. It would have been better to simply quote from The Family: A Proclamation to the World: “Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” But I’ll bet she’s heard all this before and doesn’t need to hear it again.

    Denae, my apologies if what I wrote was offensive. We strive for the ideal in this church and that ideal is to receive the sealing ordinance in the temple and then to live worthy of having that ordinance ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise. It would be great if you didn’t have to deal with the pressure of other members implying that you have a lesser marriage.

  21. #22 Utahn in CT

    I am trying to understand your point of view. It appears you are describing yourself as a conservative Mormon. I am trying to understand how a conservative Mormon feels about the scriptures. I’m sincere, I’m not interested in a debate, trying to understand. Take the following scripture for example:

    20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
    21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;
    22 Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

    (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 27:20 – 22)

    Do you believe Christ said these words?
    Do you believe church members receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and are eventually sanctified?
    Do you believe some will be “lifted up” by obedience, and others will receive something less?

    Any others who are “conservative Mormons” please contribute your idea as well, if your interested.

  22. Jared, read #22 more closely and carefully. It ain’t what you took it to be.

    Also, I’m sticking with the intention of the author of the post, so I will choose not to answer your questions. (Plus, I’ve already stated how much I dislike the “conservative” and “liberal” labels when it comes to members.)

  23. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)
    Just because a couple has been sealed in the temple doesn’t mean they’re going to be exalted–it’s just one step along the path to exaltation. However, exaltation will not happen if the path is not followed all the way. There are those who will receive benefits along the path after death, not having had the chance in this life to complete all of the requirements. When people have had the chance to do it and have chosen not to do so (because God will make it right through His great kindness–how kind was He when He cast out a third of the hosts of heaven when they rebelled against His plan, and what’s the real difference in our behavior and obedience now?), then it’s up to the Lord what their situation will be–I am not the judge and am glad of that!–which judgment will be done with great Mercy. Justice must also be met, whether we like or not, or agree with it or not. The Atonement of Christ, without which none of us could become exalted in the Hereafter, makes it possible for us to receive all of the promised rewards–but there are certain requirements we have to meet, and the trumpet has not given us an uncertain sound in this matter.
    The Lord never told us what the requirements are for a lower kingdom, as He wants all of us to go higher than that–but it takes effort on our part. Lucifer’s plan would have saved everyone–none would have been lost–but also none would have been exalted, since we’d all have been equal in a lower kingdom. (It seems to me that that’s what the other churches are shooting for, with a minimum of personal effort–all you have to do is believe!) If there are no requirements to become exalted in heaven, or if it’s not possible (as the rest teach), then the Gospel is false and we’re wasting a lot of time trying to follow the Lord.
    Will we follow the Lord all the way, or will we deceive ourselves with some minimum effort that we care to exert for Him?

  24. I think Ray said it best when he said, “…but I wish more members understood and accepted their inability to judge individual situations and people – and just stopped doing it.”

    And I also remember that Hawk made a statement in an earlier post that God does not separate himself from us, we separate ourselves from Him. It was Joseph Smith who taught the principles of Eternal Marriage and Sealing and the need for that ordinance, performed in the Holy Temple to receive Eternal Life. One can speculate that God will be merciful and look favorable upon a situation that does not follow a basic Gospel principle and perhaps He will. It is not my intent to judge. But for me and my wife, I am glad we were sealed in the Temple for Time and All Eternity. My wife took a big risk because I was a non-member when we married.

    A Sealing does not create or perpetuate a good marriage. That requires 100% effort on the part of both partners. And there is significant research that has shown that mixed religion marriages have a higher failure rate.

  25. Thanks for the comments everyone. Here is my first run at responses, please don’t feel left out if I don’t get to everyone.

    Jared – Not that it is any of your business, but I was performing endowments just last week, is that good enough for you? I don’t see how I would be excluded from His presence by having a wonderful marriage to a good man who knows the bible better than 3/4 of the members I have met, performs great acts of service regularly, and lives a moral life.

    Dawn – if sealings are essential then Sherri Dew is out of luck, and so are all the people that for one reason or another are not going to be able to marry. Surely there are other options later on. That is what I am trying to say, surely there are options for those of us from mixed families. Maybe my husband can take extra classes in heaven, take a test, run an obstacle course, that sort of thing. 🙂

    Tim – thank you. I am not necessarily trying to be a good example to my husband, I am trying to be a good wife, and being a good member is for myself (no offense was ever taken).

    Doug and Ray – I think you have it exactly. Marriages need to be so much more than a common religion. Marriage requires mutual respect and I don’t see how the same religion brings that and what if one person’s religion changes, does the foundation fall out?

    Cicero – I wish you were joking but I suspect you are not. Statements like “they are wrong and we are right” is what starts wars. Please don’t run for president. Re: the issue of obey. Oh if only everything were so black and white. They probably are in your world, it probably makes it easy to get dressed in the morning. Those lines are not so clearly delineated in my world. So we’ll just have to leave it that we are existing in different dimensions, hooray for string theory! BTW – my husband knows about the church, more than most newbie converts, in case you missed this point, we don’t convert, the spirit converts and so far it hasn’t with him. You so don’t know enough about me and the situation to be making such giant assumption about fear and other nonsense. Step it back a notch won’t you?

    Hawkgrrl has reinforced my point nicely but more eloquently than I did (no surprise), a marriage can’t be conditional, that is the ultimate sign of disrespect and without respect, what do you have?

  26. There is a reason that this topic is an emotional one – and not easy to reconcile. Just a few facts – from memory, so please don’t shoot me if they are off by a few percentage points:

    1) Only 1 of 7 non-member spouses convert in this lifetime. Going into a marriage assuming your spouse will join at some point is not a good idea. If you are going to marry a non-member, it is better to assume up front s/he will die a non-member.

    2) The highest divorce rate among religious people is for Mormon/non-Mormon unions – around 41% in the last study I saw. The lowest rate is temple marriages – about 6% in that same survey. Mormon, non-temple marriages failed at the same basic rate as other Christian marriages – about 17% compared to 21%.

    3) Not all temple marriages are happy, and certainly not all are ideal, and there are temple marriages that perhaps should end in divorce that don’t (at least in this life), but, overall, it’s still the best bet around to last and last well.

    On the other hand:

    4) There is NO way WHATSOEVER for me to ascertain whether or not any other person truly had a chance to understand the Gospel well enough to be held accountable for not accepting it in this life. I have no idea if they knew a sadistic but active Mormon man as a child and can’t get past that experience as an adult – or if they were raised in the Church with a terrible example from a friend or bishop or parent – or if they have some undiagnosed issue that inhibits their ability to understand certain things – or if they were told that they would feel a burning in their bosom when, in fact, the Holy Ghost speaks to them as a calming comforter (so they felt the confirmation but didn’t recognize it because someone told them it would feel differently) – or if they were promised they could know when, in fact, they were given the gift to believe on those who know (hence, they prayed fervently to know without realizing they simply should follow what they felt without knowing) – etc. ad infinitum.

    I believe strongly in teaching the ideal, but I also believe strongly in understanding that none of us live the ideal – and cutting others the same slack we hope God cuts us. I want mercy, so I try to grant mercy; I want to be judged mercifully, so I try to judge mercifully; I know I have my own shortcomings and failures, and that I desperately need his grace, so I try not to place others outside that grace. In the end, I simply have no clue what the eventual outcome will be for someone else. I just know I have to live the best I know how to live – and hope others don’t require more of me than that.

  27. For those on their high horse …

    Romans 14: 10, 13

    10 But why dost thou ajudge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the bjudgment seat of Christ.
    • • •
    13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a astumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

    I hope Jesus Christ is just as understanding of you as you are of others.

  28. Hello Denae and others,

    My wife and I have been reading this thread with some interest from the start. I must admit that some members of the Church do step across that line that falls into that “thanks, but that is none of your business.” I have heard the advice given to newlyweds of ” hey congratulations on your marriage, now when are you going to start your family? Are you going to have 5 maybe 10 kids?” It’s really not anyones business other than the newlyweds and the Lord.

    I think that the response to this and those of part member family’s should be one of, “thanks for asking, I am doing my best to follow the Lords will for my family.”

    I have to believe that most members are genuinely concerned for the spiritual welfare of their brother and sisters in the Ward. When the ask “when can we see your husband at church?” they do not mean to offend.

    My father once told me: “When we take offense when offense is not meant, we are a fool. When we take offense when offense is meant, we are always a fool.” The lesson here is to try with all our best efforts to not ever take offense. Easier said than done.

    Eternal marriage is a goal for our Heavenly Father, it is his plan. The plan of happiness is to give all his spirit children the opportunity to accept the New and Everlasting Covenant. When and how that happens is and will be different for everyone. All he asks of us is our best effort and to never compare one effort to another’s. We don’t know where everyone has come from and we don’t know what everyone’s best effort is.

    I am grateful for a merciful Lord who has blessed me with a wonderful wife and we have had the opportunity to be sealed in the temple. I pray for the well being of my children every day and just because we have been married in the temple doesn’t mean that “all is well in Zion.” I and my wife have to put forth sustained effort to make it work. Also, I have learned over the years that we all have our beast to conquer, it is just that some are more apparent than others.

    It sounds like you have a great husband, I like the bit about the obstacle course in heaven. Maybe they will have one for anyone who needs a little “extra” credit to get in, it could come in handy. My wife and I have known couples in similar situations as yourself. Their husbands were very supportive and very knowledgeable of the scriptures but had not committed fully to joining the Church yet. Eventually both spouses joined the church and have been sealed to their spouses. It took time, love and patience. I do believe that their lives are better for it and they have been blessed enormously. That does not mean that before they were sealed their marriage was a sham and that they they were “second class” citizens. It only means that potential blessings that only come through obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel were postponed. Blessings come through obedience to the commandments that they are predicated upon. God is a loving God but a just God, and that is where obedience to the laws and ordinances comes into to play in order to be sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

    So people that might ask why you have not converted your husband yet, only want to see both you and your husband enjoy the blessings and joy of the fullness of the gospel that only come through obedience to New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage. If that does not ever happen in this lifetime through our best efforts regardless whether we are Sherri Dew or Joe Member, the Lord has a plan for all situations according to our desires and efforts.

  29. Denae said: Not that it is any of your business…

    When you post I would assume you can handle comments from all quarters. You are the one who made your business public, I merely responded. You can be upset if you chose, but it doesn’t make sense to do so.

    My mother married a fine man out of the church and as a child of that marriage I know in a special way the challenges children can encounter.

    I wish you and your husband the best!

  30. Denae,

    Fantastic post. Your experience is a very personal one and I applaud you sharing it. It triggers thoughts about my family’s experience. I grew up in a household with a step-parent of another faith. It affects me to this day–every time I hear a talk, lesson, prayer, or comment I hear it through the ears of someone outside the faith.

    Cicero’s less-than-loving way of expressing his-/herself (all are wrong, we are right) makes me remember Pres. Hinckley’s ‘bring what you have let us add to it’ spirit. After all, it was another faith that cemented my mother’s belief/faith/knowledge of Christ long before she stepped foot in an LDS chapel.

    And just to add to the fray, I have often heard the sentiment expressed that temple marriages are happy ones. Unfortunately, this is only as true as the individuals involved.

    My parents pray together often. This is one of the ways they find common ground.

    I wish you much contentment in your relationship with your spouse.

  31. Not relevant to the post, but I’d just like to thank the first-time commenters for the civility of their tone. That really is just as important as the content, and it’s wonderful to read comments from people who don’t agree necessarily but can disagree agreeably.

    Back to our regularly scheduled discussion. 🙂

  32. Jared – I am not upset, I was being flippant. I apologize for the ambiguity. You are right, this is a public forum, but no matter how often you ask, I will not talk about my sex life. 🙂

  33. The idea of polygamy is repugnant to me and to my wife.

    A fews years ago I was talking with a group of people, and in this group was a older lady, we got on this topic and she listened for awhile and then added her perspective. She said, the thought of polygamy weighted on my mind so I decided to fast and pray about it. After doing this for an extended period of time I had a spiritual experience where I saw things the way the Lord does. After that experience I realized that polygamy is a principle of truth. The Lord is perfect and polygamy will be as natural a principle to live there, as marriage is here, for those of a celestial nature.

  34. Doug,
    OK…we’ve heard TBM a few times and don’t know what it stands for…anyone want to fill us in?
    From Genesis to the Doctrine and Covenants the New and Everlasting Covenant is mentioned. Specifically Doctrine and Covenants 131-132 states that those who wish to attain the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom must enter into this covenant. Isn’t that our ultimate goal??? That’s our Heavenly Fathers goal for us. There is no other way. You either believe it or you don’t.
    To say that many women don’t really believe in it might be a bit dangerous to say on their behalf. Plural wives is not really a tangent that we wanted to start. But you have to admit that it has been practiced by many prophets in many dispensations and has been endowed by our Heavenly Father. I think it would be great for everyone to read specifically section 132. It’s got lots of meat and can answer every single question posted on this thread.
    We wish the best for all. This is the Lord’s plan. This is what He’s asked of us and it’s a refiners fire and we cannot deviate from the covenants that he has laid out for our exaltation. We hope not to come off combative.

  35. TBM is an acronym I hate – as someone to whom it is applied. It means “True Believing Mormon” – or “True Blue Mormon” if you are a BYU fan. 🙂

    Let’s not discuss it here on this thread.

  36. Oh, and now that the basics have been addressed, let’s not derail this into a discussion of polygamy. The post is too important on its own to have that happen.

  37. Denae–cheers. Thanks for you fine post. I just read a poem that Pres Hinckley used on occasion to make an important point.

    He drew a circle that shuts me out-
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
    But love and I had the wit to win:
    We drew a circle that took him in.

  38. #40 Ray, I agree. My post (#37) wasn’t about polygamy, it was to make the point that followers of Christ can have a sudden change of heart about a doctrine, a principle of the gospel that is repugnant to them, once they understand by the power of the Holy Ghost why it is God’s truth.

    This is actually one definition of the word revelation.

  39. Ray,

    “Oh, and now that the basics have been addressed, let’s not derail this into a discussion of polygamy. The post is too important on its own to have that happen.”

    Agreed… I wasn’t trying to insight a discussion on polygamy. I actually would rather not go through all of that again here. I was simply making a point and used the belief in the principle as an example.

    Hermite,

    At Ray’s request, I won’t engage you on this subject. As you said, you either believe in it or you don’t. I don’t, nor does the God I worship… Enough said

    Ray, you shouldn’t hate the term TBM. It describes you and many others (including my wife) well and I don’t use it to be disrespectful. It is a label though, and labels to tend to generalize a person, perhaps that isn’t fair after all. Now that I know it bothers you; I will try and find another way of identifying the defenders of the faith… Hey how about that one TDF?

  40. Thanks, Doug, for the sentiment (seriously), but the reason I don’t like the term TBM is because of how it tends to be used – to draw a comparison that makes others NOT “true believing Mormons”. I realize that such a description is accurate for many people, but it’s the fact that one person is using it to define someone else as outside “true believing” status that bothers me – specifically because I have seen it used way too many times to exclude people who really are every bit as believing as I am.

    It’s the inclusion of the “True” that bugs me – not the “Believing Mormon”.

  41. Denae,

    The irony here is that the same people who are telling you that you will be subject to some lesser degree of glory because the doctrine of sealing is supposedly so completely revealed and unchanging, would have a different story for you if, say, you were a widow and now had children with your second husband but they were sealed to your deceased husband. Then, they would tell you not to worry, just do your best and trust in God because in His infinite wisdom He will fix it. They are the same people who would tell you if you married a jerk in the temple whom you later had to divorce, but you and your children still remain sealed to, that you should not worry because God will fix it later. And if you never married in this life, they would tell you not to worry, because our loving God will fix it.

    As far as I know, civil marriage is not a sin. So, why would you be punished in the next life for marrying outside the temple, but rewarded for not marrying at all? Maybe we all need to trust God a little more.

  42. Denae,

    Thanks for leading this discussion. We need more of the type of diversity that your perspective brings to our wards and branches to teach the rest of us about tolerance. We had one sister in a similar situation give a talk in church today that was excellent. I’ve never seen or met her husband, but she speaks highly of him. She works in the stake primary presidency. Another sister in our ward brings her non-member husband to various activities and he likes participating in our service projects and is potentially going to work in our scouting program. Our ward members are stronger because of these individuals. The more visible husband does get more attention from the missionaries and more zealous members, but seems to take it in stride. His wife would not be afraid to tell them to back off if the attention was excessive. I would think it would be helpful to share important things within your relationship for your husband to be around some of your church friends, so maybe you could choose some that are not too pushy to socialize with. If he is more like the sister’s husband I mentioned that wants to be invisible to your LDS friends, then your friends will have to accept that. They will probably joke that your husband is fictitious or something like that. It’s also good to casually share with ward members the things that he is doing in his own church and how you’ve been able to support him. If they are impressed with his committment to his faith and his visibility in his church, then they may accept that pushing for conversion is out of place with their relationship to you and him. There is a quote from Joseph Smith along the lines that the central tenet in Mormonism is a testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ and that all else is an appendage to that. For some of us, the “appendage” is more central to our perspective. Your perspective helps the rest of us to take a step back and appreciate the central tenet more fervently.

  43. Unfortunately, God does not reward desire and wishful thinking with a crown of glory. One cannot enter the celestial kingdom without receiving the Gospel in its fullness, being baptized, obedience, being cleansed and sanctified, and overcoming through faith (D&C 76:51-53), any more than one can qualify for the Olympic games without practice. Eternal marriage is restricted to those who qualify for the Celestial kingdom.

    You and your spouse can love each other with all your heart but that doesn’t substitute for everthing else God has said is required. In the case where one partner is tring to qualify for exaltation and the other will not, it’s such an intolerable mismatch that it would be cruel to prolong it for eternity.

    Having said that much, I think snobbery of the “MY marriage is better than YOUR marraige because *I* went to the temple and YOU didn’t” is as offensive to God as any other kind. Such religious snobbery is all too common among us, and few of us even notice it. (In ourselves, that is, it’s much easier to see it in other people).

  44. DougG: “Also, as my good friend Bruce likes to remind me, making statements as if they’re facts when in actuality they are beliefs, is offensive.”

    See #17 also.

    I want to officially go on recorded of being in complete agreement with DougG on #17. Don’t sneeze because you’ll miss the biggest event in church history. 😛

    Even if we assume that all ordinances have to be performed here on earth via vicarious ordinances (and this is at least a reasonable assumption based on past teachings) that would still effectively be the “hereafter” from a dead person’s point of view. Thus I have no reason to believe that our guest poster is wrong and I think non-judgementalness is the order of the day for us mere mortals. I trust God to work it out with perfect love, mercy, and justice.

    In the mean time, I do agree we should not in any way make light of a non-temple marriage. All marriages that persist are something beautiful and difficult to maintain (granted some more difficult then others). And since a marriage is, in my opinion, a public commitment, we all have a stake in strengthing them any way we can.

  45. Number 3 James

    I hope you took part of my first comment tongue and cheek. I have a hard time understanding the plan of Salvation- but I attend to agree with you whole-heartedly. I don’t think God cares so much about the rituals and covenants we make as what we become and evolve to be.

    I can’t believe as later day saints think its all in our pocket just because we go to the temple once a month, ht and vt teaching and all the outward things but are basically intolerant creeps just checking of lists to make it to the celestial kingdom.

    If God is loving and kind he’s not going to make us forget our husband or wife and appoint someone more suited for us and send them down to some lesser kingdom where they will be stuck for all eternity and have to wait for us to come down and hang out with them.

    It would be an awful cruel God to keep us away from those we love just because a religion didn’t click with us- in my heart of hearts I can’t buy it!!

    I also have a hard time believing that God will funnel all those that have ever lived 99.999 percent of the rest of us who have lived through the Mormon Church. Is he really that inefficient?

    I’m amazed at how things have changed and the more open were becoming as a church
    Blacks and the priesthood – Darius Gray- Margaret Young
    The Mountain meadow massacre- Ensign
    Sacred Loneliness – Review on Farms

    I would like to think the church will give further light an knowledge on the above with our divorce rates mirroring the national averages it must kill children to think which parent is God going to let me live with after this life.

  46. I completely agree that both of you can be good people without being sealed in the temple. However, there are so many blessings you are missing out on. I know you could be even happier if you had been sealed in the temple, and I think that’s why people try to talk to you about it–it shows their love for you.

  47. Jana Riess recently talked about her non-member Episcopalian husband at a Sunstone session. I think her advice here is wonderful:

    Recently, my husband, who is Episcopalian, came with me to testimony meeting, where a very sweet guy expressed his profound gratitude for being a member of “the only true and living church on the face of the earth.” Phil and I grinned at each other, and I whispered, “Sweetheart! Look at the time. You’d better hurry up or you’re going to miss the 10 o’clock service at your false and dead church.” I’m sure if we asked that nice LDS brother what he meant by asserting his membership in the world’s only “true and living church,” he would soft-pedal, and so he should. I worry that many Mormons have absolutely no inkling of the logical consequences of their words. How do we imagine that such rhetoric is going to be heard outside the Mormon enclave? As we think about Mormonism in the public square, we need to confront this issue: Our radical and exclusive truth claims are off-putting, to say the least. Is there a way to speak authentically about them, about the truth of our gospel’s restoration, without alienating the rest of God’s beloved children?

    So, for the record, and also for my daughter, who at age eight is trying to navigate the complexities of a Mormopalian family, I want to bear witness that I believe deeply in the restoration of the gospel. And to be clear, what I mean by that is that God has broken into history in an alarming way by aiming to perfect the Christ-story in us-in our institutional church and our individual hearts. I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God-not in the cheap and trimphant manner of a Church video, but in a hard-won, Old Testament way, where a frustrated God chooses one who is willing to serve despite personality flaws and limited understanding. I believe in a loving but absurdly human Joseph Smith who had the courage to risk everything as God required. I believe that the LDS Church today is poised to contain the fullness of the gospel of Christ, whenever we as individual members of it are prepared to accept his invitation to participate in redeeming the world rather than merely reveling in our comfortable and unearned status as chosen people. Harvard chaplain Peter Gomes sums up my feelings well in his book The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus:

    If God is the God of all, and not just a tribal deity, then God has made provision, not necessarily known to us, for the healing and care of all his creation, and not simply our little part of it.”

  48. “I also have a hard time believing that God will funnel all those that have ever lived 99.999 percent of the rest of us who have lived through the Mormon Church. Is he really that inefficient?”

    ? – Sorry; don’t get it.

  49. Matt,

    I have a sincere question for you from post #51. Don’t Episcopalian’s officially teach that Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby a person can be saved? Or have they officially renounced that part of their beliefs?

    Should we expect an Episcopalian husband to be understanding of the radical and exclusive truth claims of another religion due to the radical and exclusive truth claims of his own?

    Even if he doesn’t personally agree with the official teachings of his own religion, shouldn’t we expect him to at least understand that a religion is made up of a wide spectrum and that conservative believers can and should be a part of any religion?

    And one more question: is it more the duty of the conservative members to stop believing their sacred texts literally, or is it more the duty fo the liberal members to stop being off putted by the existence of someone that believes differently then them?

  50. Ray, I think James 49 is referring to the fact that the vast majority of humans to have lived on the planet have never been exposed to the restored gospel; therefore, there must be a provision for those, and temple work for the dead is insufficiently efficient to get them all done.

    But James can correct that if I read him wrong.

  51. I wasn’t going to give my “2 cents worth”, but now I want to. Denae, I, to some, may not understand the “blessings” that one may get by being sealed in the temple, but I do understand the significance of being with someone you love. God has blessed you already. You have a man who loves you…you have a man who allows you to continue to worship as you choose. It seems to me that those who “blast” you and your husband should maybe take a look at their own marriages. If they aren’t married, they shouldn’t be commenting anyway. Just because two people worship the same way does NOT guarantee forever. I was married for 15 1/2 yrs to the same man. Communication problems pegged us from our 2nd yr of marriage until we finally divorced. As long as you both work on your marriage, then be happy. I know what LDS doctrine says, but a great marriage is already blessed.

    Don’t dwell on what others may say to you or your husband. Your marriage is your business. As far as those who try to “convert” your husband, tell them to back off. I know they mean well, but it’s YOUR husband. IF he chooses to convert to mormonism, I feel that it would be due to YOUR example. In the same respect, IF you chose to convert to his belief, it would be due to HIS example. Just love each other…keep the lines of communication always open…spend quality time with each other…keep NO secrets from each other (you know the kind I mean). When you have children, teach them BOTH beliefs. For all anyone knows, your future children may decide to be, I don’t know, Jehovah’s witness (just kidding…yall can laugh now…LOL).

  52. On a slightly related topic, while I don’t see any inherent problem in marrying a non-member, one of the most difficult things that many of my friends have related to me when trying to date non-members is that most of them expect to have sex before marriage, so it is very difficult to find a good partner who will respect this covenant and have the patience and endurance to make it.

  53. Denae, the Jana Reiss article referenced in #51 is wonderful. If you haven’t read it, find it at Sunstone’s web site.

    I can’t imagine that God is so limited in his perspective and his ability to love that his set of rules is as restrictive as some commenters have claimed. Some folks seem to love the “justice” side of God more than the “mercy” side. I know what the scriptures say, and I also know that God pushes us continually to do more in our lives, to stretch and get beyond our comfort levels, and his commandments are given as a way to challenge us in ways we don’t necessarily like. But how inappropriate for anyone to give you a lecture on what you’re missing out on because you haven’t married a Mormon in the temple. None of us have the right to judge others and mentally assign them to an eternal reward based on our current view of their “worthiness”. Your life with your husband is a work in progress, and who knows what the end result will be?

    At the very least your ward family should respect your choice and welcome your husband without switching to missionary mode every time they see him. My father’s second marriage was to a non-member, and she was welcomed by the sisters in their ward, invited to neighborhood gatherings and church activities, and had casual friendships with a few. But they had the good sense to be respectful of both her and my father.

    As for your question about the hereafter: I don’t think (see #7) that you are excluding yourself from God’s presence by your choice. I agree with Doug (#17) that “There are plenty of conflicting doctrines about marriages in the next life that not even the most devote member can claim to know what’s really going to be allowed in the ‘hereafter’ and what will not.” Mormons have created a lot of folk tales about life in the hereafter that are not justified by the scriptures, and I think that even some current pronouncements by general authorities are based on ideas that were originally speculative in nature and over time have been given a more authoritative stamp of approval. For anyone to suggest that your marriage can’t be made eternally binding because you chose not to be sealed in this life… that’s just wrong. This doctrine was given us for hope, not as a threat to make us all be temple-married in this life.

  54. Bruce, I have no idea re Episcopalian belief or doctrine so cannot answer the first part of your question.

    As to this question: Is it more the duty of the conservative members to stop believing their sacred texts literally, or is it more the duty of the liberal members to stop being off putted by the existence of someone that believes differently than them?

    Well, I think that learning to live with other believers (or not be off-put by the existence of other believers) is a lesson that both so-called Liberals and Conservatives (sorry, Ray) need to learn. And I think Fundamentalist believers have a more difficult time learning this lesson than more open-minded believers.

    Having said that, it is not as simple as saying all beliefs are equal, that we should let “Conservatives” or Fundamentalists savor their literalist beliefs unfettered. Some literalist beliefs are downright dangerous. Others impact the liberties and lives of non-believers. In short, the ramifications of taking sacred texts literally, of esteeming words written thousands of years ago above all others, is NOT equal to the ramifications of giving voice to thousands of voices, both past and present, of allowing the free marketplace of ideas to sift and filter amongst their competing claims.

    More is lost than gained by ethnocentric exclusivistic truth claims, both for the tribe and the world.

  55. Matt,

    >>> Having said that, it is not as simple as saying all beliefs are equal, that we should let “Conservatives” or Fundamentalists savor their literalist beliefs unfettered. Some literalist beliefs are downright dangerous.

    I am not in favor of letting people savor their beliefs unfettered and said nothing to suggest that. My concern here is, to be blunt, hypocrisy, not a specific belief.

    And I agree with you that some literalist beliefs are downright dangerous. Likewise I believe some “open-mined” liberal beliefs are downright dangerous.

    That being said, I picked a specific example to discuss: Jesus being the only way whereby a man may be saved. This is a very difficult belief for any Christian religion to give up and still really be a coherent religious belief system. That some “Christian” religions do give it up, I have no doubt. But I have a lot of doubt that it’s worth the price. There just isn’t much left in Christianity without a unique God-man at the heart of it, even if you have to soften it quite a bit with vicarious ordinances and preaching to the dead like the universalist-leaning Mormons needed to.

    >>> Well, I think that learning to live with other believers (or not be off-put by the existence of other believers) is a lesson that both so-called Liberals and Conservatives (sorry, Ray) need to learn. And I think Fundamentalist believers have a more difficult time learning this lesson than more open-minded believers.

    I’ve written a lot about this elsewhere, and I want to avoid thread jacking any further, Matt, but doesn’t the fact that you feel not all beliefs are equal and some are “downright dangerous” a clear indication that you have a set of beliefs that include exclusive truth claims? Isn’t one of your exclusive truth claims, quite paradoxically, that more is lost then gained by having exclusive truth claims?

    I am less than convinced than you that the “open-minded believers” are any better at not being off-put by the existence of other believers than their fundamentalists brothren. I think both groups have an awfully hard time with the whole “not being off put” thing because they are both so dang sure they are right.

    That being true, I am not sure there is a good answer to Jana Reiss but to not be so worried that religions (and other beliefs systems) — *gulp* — actually believe in themselves.

    If her point was to find wording that means the same but doesn’t seem so blunt, then I’m all in favor. But I admit I have my doubts that’s really possible. Certainly it’s a very very difficult thing that no one in any belief system has nailed yet, including “open-minded liberalism.”

    In the mean time, I am waiting for the open-minded liberals to show me the way by coming up with their own way to advanced their obvious exclusive truth claims without being so dang offended by everyone else’s and feeling like they have to mention that fact over and over again without the slightest hint of irony in their voice. 🙂

  56. #51 “Recently, my husband, who is Episcopalian, came with me to testimony meeting, where a very sweet guy expressed his profound gratitude for being a member of “the only true and living church on the face of the earth.” Phil and I grinned at each other, and I whispered, “Sweetheart! Look at the time. You’d better hurry up or you’re going to miss the 10 o’clock service at your false and dead church.”

    We can’t get around the fact that God and His Son appeared to Joseph Smith and by definition the church they restored through their chosen prophet is the only true church on the face of the whole earth (D&C 1:30). This in your face declaration needs to be used wisely and not to boast. I have no question that it is true but I would never want to purposely offend another person with this statement.

    “If God is the God of all, and not just a tribal deity, then God has made provision, not necessarily known to us, for the healing and care of all his creation, and not simply our little part of it.”

    This is a strange statement coming from a knowledgeable church member. What other church has a doctrine comparable to the LDS church when it comes to the salvation of the dead.

    Those who understand the doctrine of the Savior and are doing their best to be a true follower see themselves as servants (Matt 23:11) to the rest of mankind.

  57. Celestial people make it to the Celestial Kingdom. Terrestial people make it to the Terresial kingdom. Telestial people make it to the Telestial Kingdom. To which of those you, me, your husband, my wife, the neighbour down the street, or anyone else belongs, it is known only by God. We become one of these day by day, as we make choices. Mortality is a test, and the test is not over until we die. We all will change much between now and then, which is another reason not to pre-judge anyone. Some will have the chance to do some more work in the Spirit World too. Who? For sure those who had no chance here, probably some who had what God considers an unsuficent chance here.

    Having said that, it still takes a Celestial person to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. No one can cheat or “cram” their way there. God must obey law, no one who deserves a lesser kingdom will gain a higher kingdom out of sympaty. I hope we may all qualify. As for your husband, he sound like a good man. May both of you qualify for the greates of all blessigns, I hope that me and my wife will too. Nothing is pre-determined, we “free agency” our way to our eternal reward.

  58. “Well, I think that learning to live with other believers (or not be off-put by the existence of other believers) is a lesson that both so-called Liberals and Conservatives (sorry, Ray) need to learn. And I think Fundamentalist believers have a more difficult time learning this lesson than more open-minded believers.”

    Agreed. I have said more than once that the best indication of one’s understanding of the Gospel is how they deal with the joy of those who do not share their own perspectives.

  59. I have a bit of a controversial belief. Everything that I have been taught of the nature of God and my own personal experience with God, does not lead me to believe in an exclusionary God…That doesn’t sound like a nice God; that sounds downright mean.

    You must have missed the parts where He and/or His Son or a prophet has talked about:

    separating wheat from chaff
    separating sheep from goats
    making a distinction between ritually clean and unclean things/food/acts/people
    having a “chosen” people at all
    having an afterlife with literally billions of degrees of exclusion/difference or at least 4-10 big groupings
    metaphorically cutting down trees/branches which bear no good fruit and burning them
    having a Judgement Bar/Day

    If he didn’t make some sort of discrimination and or exclusion, none of these things would make any sense. So if you don’t believe He makes a *minimum* sort of exclusion or differentiation, all this talk about being a better person, learning to love one another etc, goes out the window.
    Why do *anything* he tells you to do if you only have “take a few more classes or something” later on to make it all right again? But, if you do believe in *some* level of exclusion, where is *that* line? (rhetorical question, of course)

    One of the other commenters, I think, made a very good point which is at the heart of this: God is “just” (and I would add “good”) but nowhere is he said to be “nice.” I think there a difference worth noting here. There are things I do to help my children which they consider “not nice.” For example, I make sure they eat a serving of green vegetables with their meal. They think I’m an awful, mean, cruel father (during mealtime) when I have them eat their spoonful of vegetable matter. I am being “nice?” They don’t think so, no. I am, however, being “good.” I also keep them from eating desert without first having had their healthy food. Am I being “nice?” They say no. I am however being “good” and “just (in relation to our house rules).” They can just kick and scream and call me “mean” but it doesn’t change anything. It’s a banal and simple example of parenthood, but it illustrates my point.

    That being said. in my opinion I think you’re wrong doctrinally and philosophically, but in terms of practicality you are 100% right.
    IMO: it is better to be happy, and making a house of love and devotion to Christ, than it is to be otherwise. A mormon-kosher wedding/partner doesn’t deterministically make a family happy and healthy and Christ-like. In my case, that particular ordinance *has* helped, but it isn’t the sole deciding factor. I have a couple of friends in my ward in almost your situation, and I’m glad to see that they are living the Gospel, loving each other and their kids, and raising them to be Christian (and in my friends’ cases, members of the LDS church too).

    On a related note, one of my work associates is a non-member male, married to an active LDS female, and he takes great pleasure in his trips to casinos, strip clubs and bars, enjoys his lap dances (and flirting with the dancers enough to get free dances), and feels like this is perfectly fine because he’s not beholden to the same moral strictures as his wife. I can’t help but think that living such different moral lives could lead to a Godlike unity and happiness or an eternal relationship regardless of how “nice” God may be in the end.

  60. Bruce #60, I’m not sure I can explain. I don’t even think we are talking about the same thing. You are comparing “conservative” truth claims with open-minded Liberals “exclusive truth claims,” as if we are comparing apples to apples. I can’t speak for all “open-minded Liberals,” but I for one am not even talking about “truth claims.” You are labeling my opinion as a “truth claim,” I guess because I am expressing it with strong conviction, and because I believe in my opinion. But we’re talking past each other, not to each other.

    But your comment #60, Jared’s comment #61, and Carlos’s comment #62, and N.’s comment in #64 all say the same basic thing. All express a truth claim that is very literal, very black and white. It says that your belief is true, and others are false, or not quite as true. Your symbol is real; all others are just symbols.

    My belief is that you are all missing the forest for the tree. The truth is not the tree. And the truth is not to be found on another tree. As long as you are looking for trees, you’ll keep missing the truth. It’s like one of those picture puzzles where all you see are squiggly lines and geometric shapes, until you blur your eyes just right and a sailboat or beautiful garden emerges from nowhere. The boat or garden was there all along, you just weren’t looking at the picture with the right eyes.

    So when you say “Jesus being the only way whereby a man may be saved” you and I both nod our head in agreement. But you see it on one level, and I see it on another. You see salvation by Jesus, literally by the man/god himself, and by his gospel and his ordinances — no other way works. To me, that is a tree.

    To me, you have severely limited Jesus. To me, what Jesus is saying is far greater, far grander, and far more universal. His teachings are what saves; His message of love, faith, repentance, charity, etc. are what saves. I don’t see Jesus’s message being about creeds or tribes, but more about universally loving your fellow man. One is saved by becoming like Jesus, by internalizing his message, by becoming his disciple. How one comes to internalize that message, whether via Buddhism or Mormonism or whatever, is irrelevant.

    So when I take exception to literalistic, and therefore divisive, truth claims, I am not saying my tree is more true than your tree. I am saying you need to squint your eyes.

  61. #49–God does care about what we “become and evolve to be” but he also cares (probably equally, or moreso) about the “rituals and covenants” which He has set up for us to comply with to return to His presence. He didn’t stutter, or mumble, nor was He wishy-washy about what He said (the commandments). It’s the whole ball of wax, to get the whole ball of wax–whether we agree with it or not: He set up the rules, and we are free to do what we want to do about it, come hell or high water.

    “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

    “It would be an awful cruel God to keep us away from those we love just because a religion didn’t click with us- in my heart of hearts I can’t buy it!!”

    God doesn’t do that, we do it to ourselves by rejecting His plan for us and rationalizing our disobedience and then calling God cruel for not allowing us to receive His blessings without complying with His requirements.

    I am convinced that all roads lead to Rome, but to different areas of it, whether the slums or the palaces. You have to take the right road to get to the palaces. Yes, by going a longer way you may still get there, but it may then be like the parable of the 10 virgins, where the door was closed when the foolish virgins finally got there, and couldn’t be admitted–what a cruel master who didn’t allow them in when they took too long in getting prepared and showing up to the party!

  62. Matt,

    “His teachings are what saves; His message of love, faith, repentance, charity, etc. are what saves.”

    Sorry to disagree, but that isn’t even scriptural at any level. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 What saves is His great act of Atonement, not His teachings. Also, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3. Following his teachings help us to know Him better and knowing Him better draws us closer, there is no doubt. But salvation comes though His great Sacrifice.

    You might want to check that forest again.

  63. Matt #65
    That was very beautiful. I used to go to a women’s retreat in the summers and I always took off my glasses for the whole weekend. I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it, other than I just wanted to see differently than usual, with my spiritual eyes. I think your comment helped me figure out why.

    Denae, I hope you have enjoyed this blogging experience, it was kind of a “trial by fire.” It’s always interesting to me to see the different perspectives on these types of issues.

  64. If Mormonism abandons its truth claims, how can it justify its own existence? What, then, does “restoration” even mean? While I consider myself theologically liberal on some issues, I think that this particular form of liberal universalism is very dangerous indeed.

  65. Many of the comments here sound like Laman and Lemuel said them.

    “And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.” (1 Nephi 3:5)

    Try reading the scriptures to see what the Lord has said about all of this stuff, including this about following the prophet:

    Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you…(D&C 21:4-6)

    God has given specific instructions on how we can get to Rome, so that we can get to the palace on time for His Party. When we go another route, it is at our own peril and we have no room to complain when we miss attending His Party.

    If the Father and the Son thought it important enough to appear to Joseph Smith to restore the church to the earth, then it should be important enough for us to keep the commandments. Remember, They didn’t appear to anyone else to start any of the other churches. And, if They didn’t appear to Joseph Smith, then this whole discussion has been such a waste of time!

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Romans 1:16)

  66. Dan K. – “If the Father and the Son thought it important enough to appear to Joseph Smith to restore the church to the earth, then it should be important enough for us to keep the commandments. Remember, They didn’t appear to anyone else to start any of the other churches. And, if They didn’t appear to Joseph Smith, then this whole discussion has been such a waste of time!” First Vision or First Visit? You might want to check your history before you make this your basis for a polemic argument. Speaking as someone who is pretty TBM, I would still not hang it all on the First Vision. It was not even mentioned in missionary work in the prophet Joseph’s day. As such, it is a relative latecomer in the discussion of reasons to believe in the restored gospel.

    Also, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Denae isn’t keeping the commandments, and her husband hasn’t accepted the gospel or even really been taught it, so he’s in the same boat as all the billions who lived and died without access to it. She just believes that God has a way for all of them after this life. I hope she’s right, and I have no reason to believe she isn’t.

  67. This comment is on topic though from a very different point of view. I hope it is welcome and can add a different spice to the idea of marriage to one of a different yolk.

    As a Christian and non-Mormon, I would recommend anyone to marry someone who shared their faith as much as they sahre anything else. Many do not, and many of these marriages thrive. Nothing says they cannot. However, there will likely be problems down the road, and Denae, it sounds like there have been some. These will likely not get easier for some time, if ever, if both you and he stay in your faiths as they stand now. There may be no issues, and that would be fantastic.

    All that said, I appreciate the tone of your post and how you do respect his right to choose. That is something you must allow, as he must also allow it in you. I do hope you consider what he has to say and do not give lip service to the idea of openness in conversion. Otherwise, as one poster said, this is being deceptive and manipualitve, and will only lead to trouble down the road.

    It sounds like God has touched you both, and I hope you get to know him for all he is worth.

    Good day.

  68. Jeff #68, the scriptures you quote prove my point, not refute it. You are reading these verses way too literally, just like people of Jesus’s time who took his parables too literally.

    Yes, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. If we follow him, follow his example, we will draw closer to God and we will be saved.

    Atonement theology or theory is mostly speculative mumbo jumbo. Nobody knows. Theories abound. The meaning and definition of the Atonment over the history of the LDS church has undergone much revision. As metaphor, as the leaves of an individual tree, as a means of personally making the atonement come alive for you, then the various atonement theories are fine. But if you take your individual or tribal view of the Atonement too seriously, and use it to bludgeon others into agreement or submission, or as a lever to exclude those who don’t agree with you, then you are esteeming your tree over the forest.

    The only atonement theory that makes universal sense is the “Moral Influence Theory”…

    “The moral theory teaches that atonement is not attained through a payment to Satan — as in the Ransom Theory. It is not attained by a payment made to restore God’s honor — as in the Satisfaction Theory. God’s justice might demand such a compensation. But God does not ask for it. Rather, his limitless love overrules his need for justice. Christ’s life and death becomes an inspiration and an example for Christians/Mormons/etc to follow. The focus of the Atonement is not Satan or God as in these two previous theories. It is the individual Christian believer seeking wholeness. Christ’s life and death are intended to inspire us. We are to be “willing to take up our crosses daily in the service of some good cause to mankind, and thus work out our own salvation.”

  69. Matt Thurston,

    I am going to respond to you in a series of posts because I don’t have time to do them all at once and because the response will be long.

    First of all, I have written on this subject elsewhere. In that post I stated: “I want to give these ideas the due they deserves before I give them the critical analysis they require. The idea that all religions are “true” is beautiful.”

    So I want to start with some praise for your chosen religious beliefs, because they deserve praise. The fact that your ideas, as expressed in #57, truly have some real beauty to them really suggests that there is something to them. Or, to put this another way, it must be that you are expressing something that is, at least in part, true.

    I really think very highly of the idea that Christ’s teachings can have such a powerful effect on us that in some sense of the word “saved” his teachings can and do “save” us. And since I agree with that thought — at least to some degree — I have to agree with your conclusion (at least to some degree) as well. From this point of view all of the great religious founders have “saved us” by their teachings with an authentic message from God to us.

    For now, I just want to say that and I’ll save the required critical analysis for later.

  70. Well, Matt, I am not sure what to say other than the fact that I disagree that the Atonement is meaningless and has no efficacy in our lives. If that were so, then there was no need for a Savior since the Jews already possessed a wealth of moral teachings.

    The teachings of Jesus are of indeterminate value to us. But, if all he did was come to earth, point to the Old Testament, tell his disciples to read it and follow it and then suffered and died for us, it would have been enough.

  71. Matt,

    Now for part two. This is not yet the critical analysis, but simply making a few points for when I get there. I am going to try to be very careful how I phrase what I am about to say because you can’t hear my tone of voice and I fear that if I am not very careful what I am about to say will simply come across wrong.

    Let me quote you in #65 (I said #57 in my last post, but I meant #65): “To me, you have severely limited Jesus. To me, what Jesus is saying is far greater, far grander, and far more universal. His teachings are what saves; His message of love, faith, repentance, charity, etc. are what saves. I don’t see Jesus’s message being about creeds or tribes, but more about universally loving your fellow man. One is saved by becoming like Jesus, by internalizing his message, by becoming his disciple. How one comes to internalize that message, whether via Buddhism or Mormonism or whatever, is irrelevant.”

    This statement is your belief system. It is your ‘religion’ if you will.

    I want to first emphasize this phrase from you: “To me, what Jesus is saying is far greater, far grander, and far more universal.”

    The first thing that must be expressed is that you are being very black and white about your religious beliefs. I do not say this intending it to be at all insulting. I fear you will think I mean it as an insult because in #65 you also said: “But your comment #60, Jared’s comment #61, and Carlos’s comment #62, and N.’s comment in #64 all say the same basic thing. All express a truth claim that is very literal, very black and white. It says that your belief is true, and others are false, or not quite as true. Your symbol is real; all others are just symbols.”

    You called my beliefs (of which in this thread at least I’ve said very little) black and white. Contextually it is obvious to me you intended it as a pejorative when you applied to my beliefs.

    But to be black and white is not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it *can* be a bad thing. If the thing we’re “being black and white about” is not in reality black and white, then it is bad. But if the thing “we’re being black and white about” is in reality black and white, then being black and white is and always will be good.

    I could say the same thing about a good many other pejoratives. Is being closed minded bad? Is being open minded good? Should I be open minded about murder or pedophilia or closed minded? Doesn’t it entirely matter on the context? Personally, I believe it always matters on the context.

    I feel bad that people have taken these terms and added positive and negative connotations to them that have reduced the usefulness of these words so that they communicate less then they should and are more likely to confuse than explain.

    I say this by way of explanation: when I say that you are being very black and white, I do not intend it as an insult or a compliment. I am simply stating a fact in the same way I might say “Matt, your shirt is very blue.”

    You are also saying some other things. You are saying that your religious beliefs are, to quote you: “far greater, far grander, and far more universal” then mine or the others you referred to. You are not only black and white, but you also believe your religion is the one true religion universally better for everyone. Mine (from your point of view) is inferior to yours.

    Again, I do not mean this as either compliment or insult, but just a statement of fact. If your religious beliefs express something that makes the world a better place then mine, then you are correct in calling mine inferior to yours. And if your religious beliefs really do apply to everyone and mine only to a certain tribe, then you are correct to call yours “universal” and, by implication, mine not “universal.”

    In other words, I’m agreeing with your sentiment back at #59: “Having said that, it is not as simple as saying all beliefs are equal, that we should let “Conservatives” or Fundamentalists savor their literalist beliefs unfettered.”

    So up to this point, though you it may rankle you for me to apply the phrase “black and white” and “believing you have the one true religion” to your beliefs, these are *accurate statements of your position*.

    And I do not have a concern or problem with your religious beliefs personally. If you understood my beliefs better you’d see why I simply do not see that as an issue at all. But alas, that is for another time.

    Okay, that’s as far as I can go in this post. More to come.

  72. I confess, Matt, that when I wrote about the Episcopalian belief in salvation through Christ alone, I was actually thinking of C.S. Lewis (the Church of England was renamed Episcopalian in America.) So I am going to compare your religious beliefs with C.S. Lewis’ analysis of your religious beliefs now.

    Matt said:

    To me, you have severely limited Jesus. To me, what Jesus is saying is far greater, far grander, and far more universal. His teachings are what saves; His message of love, faith, repentance, charity, etc. are what saves. I don’t see Jesus’s message being about creeds or tribes, but more about universally loving your fellow man. One is saved by becoming like Jesus, by internalizing his message, by becoming his disciple. How one comes to internalize that message, whether via Buddhism or Mormonism or whatever, is irrelevant

    For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novelties today, are simply the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected. To believe in the popular religion of modern England is retrogression — like believing the earth is flat. For when you get down to it, is not the popular idea of Christianity simply this: that Jesus was a great moral teacher and that if only we took his advice we might be able to establish a better social order and avoid another war?

    It is quite true that if we took Christ’s advice we should soon be living in a happier world. You need not even go as far as Christ. If we did all that Plato or Aristotle of Confucius told us, we should get on a great deal better than we do. And so what? We never have followed the advice of the great teachers. Why are we likely to begin now? Why are we more likely to follow Christ than any of the others? Because he is the best moral teacher? But that makes it even less likely that we shall follow him. If we cannot take the elementary lessons, it is likely we are going to take the more advanced ones? If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.

    But as soon as you look at any real Christian writings, you find that they are talking about something quite different from this popular religion. they say that Christ is the Son of God (whatever that means). they say that those who give Him their confidence can also become Sons of God (whatever that means.) They say that His death saved us from our sins (whatever that means.) (Mere Christianity, p. 137)

    The main thing we learn from a serious attempt to practice the Christian virtues is that we fail. If there was any idea that God had set us a sort of exam and that we might get good marks by deserving them, that has to be wiped out. If there was any idea of a sort of bargain—any idea that we could perform our side of the contract and thus put God in our debt so that it was up to Him, in mere justice, to perform His side—that has to be wiped out.

    I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam, or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits. …God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam or putting Him in your debt. (Mere Christianity, p. 126)

    Matt, these are two very different views of the same belief system. You are telling me that your religion isn’t just another tree in the forest, it’s the whole forest! C.S. Lewis, having analyzed your claims, is equally certain that your not only just another tree in the forest, but you’re one of the shorter ones.

    Who is right? How would I determine it rationally or logically?

    Now C.S. Lewis makes an incredibly well thought out argument here against your position. One that, as of yet, you have not addressed. Does that make his right and you wrong? Or does that just mean he’s a very clever person, who happens to also be wrong?

    Again, how can I tell?

    Now comes the first point I need to make, Matt. C.S. Lewis, *regardless of whether or not his religion is truer then yours or yours truer than his* has a valid point that your religion does not address.

    His point could be explained through this analogy:

    At some point in my life I reached a point of awful crisis about myself. I realized that I was not a good person. I realized that trying harder and knowing more wasn’t ever going to bridge that gap for me. I realized that I was thirsting and hungering to be something that I could imagine, but could never ever be.

    I was very much like a man dying of thirst in a desert as far as the eye could see. The whole world was the desert and there was nothing but desert. Your view of salvation, which back in #75 I admitted was a valid view of was salvation – in a sense — ceased to be salvation for me. More perfect teachings from Jesus (or Buddha, or Mohamed, or Bahaullah, or ANYONE) wasn’t what I needed. Indeed, those teachings, that up to that point seemed to “save” me no longer “saved” me any more and never would again. In fact, the teachings of Jesus not only didn’t save me, they damned me as surely as the word damned could ever have meaning.

    As this man dying in the desert, I did not need someone to tell me to imagine I wasn’t thirsty. I didn’t need someone to tell me to imagine a land of many waters. What I needed was my thirst quenched, or surely I would die.

    If you understand what I am saying with this analogy, then we can now establish as fact at least one thing about your religious beliefs. They are not universal. They have no applicability at all for me and for a great many other people.

    Now I do not mean to say that I think this means you should stop believing your religion. If it is working for you, you should go with it. If it takes care of your needs fully your whole life, then you should stick with it your whole life.

    But what I must conclude is this: C.S. Lewis’ view of Christianity, as he just explained it, is not a tree in your forest. Your forest doesn’t even contain his tree at all. Indeed, his tree many not even be a tree.

    So this leaves me with some valid questions: Is the C.S. Lewis interpretation of Christianity a strange exception to your rule? Is it the one tree that isn’t in your forest? Or could it be that your forest contains absolutely none of the world religions but only caricatures of all of them?

  73. Bruce… whew. I’m not sure I have time to respond to everything you’ve written, at least not in one sitting. Some of your questions I’ll have to think about, others I can dismiss right away. 🙂 (kidding!)

    Our disagreement seems to be primarily an issue of epistemology.

    Let me first say that my view of the “forest” (not my own individual tree) is not rigid, but open-ended. It makes room for C.S. Lewis’s need to have his thirst literally quenched, not to only be told he is thirsty. It makes room for Mormons and their Book of Mormon. It makes room for Agnostics to be unsure about everything. Etc. I see them all as trees in the forest. God inspires all of us, but each of us individually are the authors of our own religion. (And even within the forest of Mormonism, there are millions of unique trees.) For C.S. Lewis to connect to God, for Jeff Spector to connect to God, each needs a complex and literal Atonement. Fine, I get that. For me to connect to God, He cannot be a respector of creeds, but instead a respector of universal values like love, faith, charity, kindness, forgiveness, etc.

    Ultimately, we all find the tree that best fits our temporal and eternal worldview and we build our nest in its branches. Others hop from tree to tree every couple of years.

    So yes, you are right… in my own way, I have my own “religion” or “tree”. I’ve probably confused the issue by conflating (or simultaneously talking about) my own personal tree, and my view of the forest, at the same time.

    But what I need to tease out, and I’m not doing a very good job of it I guess, is NOT my own personal religion/tree, but the idea that there is no such thing as a universal religion/tree. I consider this to be an unmitigated fact, outside the realm of my personal religion. The best anyone can claim is that their religion/tree is true for them. You cannot possibly claim that your tree is true for me, because you cannot possibly know what I think, what I have experienced, what God may have said to me — in short, you cannot climb inside my head or my soul. So if it is “true” for you, but “not true” for me, then it cannot be universally true for everyone.

    God only speaks through individuals; God doesn’t speak to us collectively at the same time… and even if he did, we’d all hear or interpret what he said differently.

    So I see my tree, and I see your tree… and together we make a forest. My problem is with people or religions who say that their tree is true not just for them but for the rest of humanity. Isn’t that an epistemological impossibility? Unless I’m reading them wrong, Jared, Carlos, and N. seem to be saying variations of this in 61, 62, and 64.

    So while I think it is good to nest in one’s own tree (Mormonism or otherwise), I think it is equally good not to lose site of the forest, of the fact that one’s worldview is limited and biased. As such, it is a good idea to visit other trees from time to time, not necessarily to proselyte, but to drink in the beauty of different branches. Otherwise, we bludgeoun each other with the branches of our own tree.

    So to recap… there is your truth, and there is my truth, but superceding both of our truths is a greater truth that neither of us can know the universal truth, at least when it comes to the esoterica of most creeds (i.e. atonement, priesthood, etc.). As such, we are left with a forest.

  74. #72–Hawkgrrrl–“It was not even mentioned in missionary work in the prophet Joseph’s day. As such, it is a relative latecomer in the discussion of reasons to believe in the restored gospel.”

    “Critics have claimed that just because LDS missionaries were teaching around 1 November 1830 that Joseph Smith had previously seen “God” personally…”
    http://en.fairmormon.org/1830_statement_about_seeing_%22God%22

    This states that it was mentioned during Joseph Smith’s life. A year and a half into 178 years of church history, doesn’t sound all that late to me, so you must be talking about something else.

    “…her husband hasn’t accepted the gospel or even really been taught it, so he’s in the same boat as all the billions who lived and died without access to it.” Refusing to learn about it puts him in the same boat? I suppose that it could be possible that God will say he didn’t have access to it, though it’s probably not to the same degree as the billions mentioned above.

    “She just believes that God has a way for all of them after this life.” There’s absolutely no doubt that God has a way for them after this life; however, my concern is that it might not be what she believes, and is hoping for.

    I remember quite a few years ago, one of the apostles (Harold B. Lee?) when speaking in General Conference told about a young couple who’d gotten married (not in the temple) and after leaving on their honeymoon were killed in an accident. Their parents wanted to have their sealing done for them as soon as possible. The apostle said that he wondered whether they’d now changed their minds about its importance, since they hadn’t wanted it when they were alive. That doesn’t mean it was so, but it is thought-provoking.

  75. Temple marriages and being sealed forever…

    Denae, this is an area I am guessing you are not sure of its importance, and I think it good you question it. A true marriage is one that has both partners on the same playing field and where both expect the same things. If you do not expect to attain the CT from your spouse, then there will be no tension there. A good marriage, as I stated before, starts on the foundation where the man and wife are equally yolked. He is not a believer, and you pushing him would cause undo strife. What I would council Christians to do who married a non-believer is cover yourself in prayer all the time about the spouse seeing truth for what it is. Forcing your faith on him/her would be the worse thing you could do.

    And I’ll highlight this again: you must be as open to his faith as you say you are. Otherwise, you are being deceptive.

    But while I personally do not believe that any sort of temple ritual marriage makes a hoot of difference, I understand you might, but I would urge you to not push it, or allow others to push it, down his throat. You are his wife, and you need to put him before the church and serve him. You must not be his slave, but his helper-suitable and encourage him to be all he can be. Most of all, pray for him.

    I would encourage anyone to do the same, even one in my own church.

  76. Mr. Knudsen,

    “Critics have claimed that just because LDS missionaries were teaching around 1 November 1830 that Joseph Smith had previously seen “God” personally…”

    In the interest of fairness and to employ the same measuring stick with those who defend the church to those who criticize it. The “Palmyra Reflector” is quoting a third hand source from a reporter who writes for the Painesville Ohio telegraph, which didn’t find the supposed statement convincing enough to even mention it in his article of the same events. It should also be noted that the statement in contents also purports Joseph claiming that all who wouldn’t submit to his authority would shortly be destroyed, that the world would end in two or three years, and New York would be sunk.

    Even anti-mormon groups wouldn’t use this quote to show JS as a false prophet for predicting the end of the world in two or three years, because unlike you, they recognize this as not worthy of even being considered a secondary source. It fits into the realm of pure hearsay with no primary or secondary sources to back up the statements Joseph is supposed to have made. In reading several of these papers, it’s obvious that the “Reflector” is very anti-mormon and see’s its mission as warning the people of Palmyra of the fraud in their mist. If you believed half of what this paper printed about JS, you would withdraw your membership from the church, but when it makes an obscure unsupportable statement from a third hand source, you make the following pronouncement:

    “This states that it was mentioned during Joseph Smith’s life. A year and a half into 178 years of church history, doesn’t sound all that late to me, so you must be talking about something else.”

    It’s stuff like this that LDS apologists do on a regular basis without a thought, but throw a fit when anyone quotes two or three primary sources that conflict with currently held beliefs. And you guys wonder why all this apologetics drives me nuts…

  77. Doug, this is exactly why **some** apologetics also drives me nuts – but, as you point out, it’s no worse than the “apologetics” that is employed by many who attack the Church. There is some extremely well-written and solid apologetics **on both sides** and some extremely poor examples **on both sides**, primarily because many of these topics really are incredibly difficult to understand with any historical certainty.

    Again, however, I wish examples like this were very, very rare. It doesn’t do the Church any good to publish weak arguments.

  78. My husband was a non-member when we met.A far more Christ-like individual than myself,in spite of my church education.It matters to me that we have been sealed in the temple,but I am aware that
    I can know nothing of the future.I don’t even know what shape our marriages and families will take in the eternities-there’s some lively debate there for those of you who have not noticed.I think it’s probably my place,all things considered ,to work on trying to have a heart that can accept whatever it is the Lord has in store-I do find that a little scary though.As for friends who are part member families-funnily enough these guys are just like me.Not a project,just guys,Just guys who may know better than me.And when it happens in my family,as it looks like it may well,I hope we will live and let live.Words we don’t ever hear at church.I hope the spirit is teaching me to live at peace with my brethren.

  79. It’s me again, sorry for the delay in response, it isn’t that I don’t love you, but my job has been awfully demanding as of late.

    A few responses that caught my attention, again, no offense intended if I didn’t get back to you.

    Ray – regarding divorce rates, using your logic, I should have married someone, that is Mormon, lives in my part of the country, my race, and my political affiliation. My family reunions would be a lot less fun without my aunts and uncles that are of a different race, and the food wouldn’t be as good either. Sorry, the argument doesn’t work for me, but it is a good argument if you are against inter-racial marriages. A bishop did use that on my sister when she was dating a man of a different race.

    Matt Thurston – I read Jana’s article when it came out, I loved it. I agree with her on a point you didn’t mention, but I want everyone here to note, the use of the word non-member is considered somewhat insulting by those that are not LDS.

    Carl Youngblood – The issue of premarital sex was not a problem with us despite the advanced age at which my husband and I got married. Mormons do not have a corner on the market on high moral standards. Nor was coffee, alcohol, swearing, the abuse of the elderly or other moral issues. Amazing isn’t it?

    N. – So am I the sheep or the goat? I think both of their merits? Both produce fine cheese. I see a problem taking the scriptures too literally, but if you want to, jump to it, I just want to know if I am the sheep or the goat. Just a warning though, that literal interpretation stuff, it might exclude some really wonderful people from your life.

  80. Denae,

    “Sorry, the argument doesn’t work for me, but it is a good argument if you are against inter-racial marriages.”

    Unfortunately, this is a typical response when one does not want to just address the issue. No one, certainly not Ray, has suggested anything against inter-racial marriage or inter-religious marriage for that matter. The studies only point to the difficulty of maintaining those relationships. It takes a lot of work and a willingness to bear the comments and looks of others who may not be so open-minded. The stats indicate that many are not up to the task. marriage can be difficult enough for many of us without the undue stress of those challenges. There was no comments about right or wrong.

  81. Denae – A serious question:

    How did you go from my comment to calling it “your logic” and using it to imply that I would argue against inter-racial marriage? I don’t argue that; I never have argued that; I never will argue that. I presented stats; I never said they should determine who you marry – particularly based on race. There is absolutely NOTHING in my comments to indicate that I would make that argument. NOTHING.

    If you want to critique my comments, I have no problem with that whatsoever. Just critique what I actually write. Please.

  82. Ray, As for your stats, if you cite more recent figures, I think you’ll find that Mormons have caught up with our national average of 50% failed marriages. Then again, maybe you’re speaking only for your generation and not mine.

  83. #91 – There is no way to respond to that, so I won’t try – other than to say that the stats I cited are the latest stats available. I did the research last year, and those are the latest figures available that break it down by religion. End of my participation in this particular threadjack – that I started.

  84. Ray, Simply put: there’s a difference between newly-contracted marriages and all marriages total. Threadjack ended. (I love how slashdot has affected our vernacular.)

  85. Ray, you made the point using divorce rates that a marriage within the temple would have the best outcome, I took that even further, because this same logic using divorce rates that marriage should also be confined to the same race, religion, politics, etc has been used to discourage interracial marriages. Marrying outside of your race, religion, political affiliation, etc. increases the likelihood that you will divorce. So you see, I was going with your logic entirely, you were using divorce rates to poke at my marriage, I was using your divorce rates to show how it can be used to poke at any marriage that isn’t the white=white, southern=southern, LDS=LDS, republican=republican, and so on and so forth. It is that grand ol’ slippery slope argument. Why do you think it is okay to use divorce rates to prevent marriage outside the faith but it is not okay to use it to prevent interracial marriages?

  86. “you were using divorce rates to poke at my marriage,” and “Why do you think it is okay to use divorce rates to prevent marriage outside the faith but it is not okay to use it to prevent interracial marriages?”

    Denae, once again, I have NEVER tried to “prevent marriages outside the faith” and I have NEVER “poke(d) at (your) marriage.” In fact, I have been one of the people supporting you and your marriage – and saying that I believe God will work it out in the end in a merciful way when two people truly become one.

    My only point in supplying the divorce stats was to show why the whole “marry in the temple” counsel is emotional for many. The stats really do show that it is MUCH harder to keep a marriage intact when one partner is active Mormon and the other partner
    is not – and temple marriages are MUCH more likely to remain intact. In fact, those two scenarios are at the opposite ends of the spectrum for religious people in our country. That is indisputable. It is fact.

    Does mentioning that somehow mean I am poking at your marriage? Good heavens, no. I can understand the facts and still support your marriage, which I have done in this very thread. I can understand the facts and still support my children if they choose to marry outside the temple, as I have said I would in this very thread. I can understand the facts and still support any and all marriages that generically have a statistically lower chance of survival, as I have stated I do in many comments across the Bloggernacle. I would have no problem whatsoever if any of my children married someone from any race or ethnicity. I would support them fully, and they know that. I want them to marry in the temple, but I will support them fully if they choose not to do so – and they know that, as well.

    How is knowledge of the stats a bad thing – when that knowledge is tempered by respect for individual agency and support for all in their decisions? How does MY recitation of the facts make “my logic” lead to the banning of inter-racial marriage? I know how OTHERS can reach that conclusion, but I have NEVER said ANYTHING in all of my comments in the Bloggernacle over the last two years that would lead anyone to think that “my logic” includes banning inter-racial or non-temple marriage.

    That was my point in my response. It is one thing to say, “Focusing solely on those stats, it would be easy to teach that . . .” It is quite another to say, “Using your logic . . .” There was no “logic” involved; all I did was provide stats to show that there is a reason why this is such an emotional issue for some people.

    I don’t want this to be a personal battle for us. I certainly didn’t mean my comment to be directed at you, personally. I meant it only to show that concern about non-temple marriages lasting has a legitimate grounding in fact. That’s all, so please accept my apology for not being more clear in the first place and allow this particular discussion to end peacefully.

  87. Ray,

    I’m not disputing your divorce statistics, but I would like to see the source. I’m asking because I’ve been told that temple marriages are failing at about the national average if you compare apples to apples. I also know that studies can be very bias, therefore would like to know where this is coming from. For example, the church is very slow to grant temple divorces and requires strict obedience to principles for those who find themselves looking at a second marriage in the temple. That makes most temple marriages also first time marriages for both partners. As first time marriages have the highest success rate by far, stating that temple marriages are far more likely to succeed may be a stretch.

    Temple sealing’s most likely enjoy about the same success rate as any marriage performed between people who believe their marriage vows are not only a promise to each other, but also a promise to God. I’ll be the first to admit that people of faith tend to have a higher success rate than those who don’t. I don’t know that LDS nuptials enjoy a higher success rate than other religious marriages. So again, how about that source?

    Thanks,

  88. Doug, there are multiple sources that I read when I searched for the stats. Nearly all of them, even many of those that were published in opposition to the Church, confirmed the basics. Since I don’t want this comment to get caught in the spam filter, I will reference only Terryl Givens’ work “The Latter-day Saint Experience in America” – published in 2004. It is one of the most recent, and Givens is as thorough as it gets.

    The most relevant part from that book:

    “Mormon divorce rates are related to the level of religious commitment of the partners. However, when Latter-day Saints marry within their faith, they are the least likely of all Americans to divorce. Furthermore, when measuring the rate of divorce among Mormons married in the temple (the rite observed by most active, committed Mormons), the rate falls tremendously. One study indicates that for men with temple marriages, 5.4 percent have been divorced compared to 27.8 percent of nontemple men. For women, the numbers are 6.5 percent for temple marriages and 32.7 percent for the others.”

    (If you want to read it yourself, it has sources cited. I only note that the “nontemple” number includes all who marry outside the temple, including both member-member unions and member-other unions.)

  89. Ray,

    I actually think Terryl Givens might agree with my comments in #96…

    As an additional thought, the divorce rate in Utah is slightly higher than the national average. So if your premise about temple marriage is correct, then very few of our members are getting married in the temple. If they were, the divorce rate in Utah would certainly be less than the national average given that the state is predominantly LDS.

  90. The more I think about this ,the less I worry about whether my children marry in the temple-what seems to me to matter is that they get married.I think we have emphasised temple marriage at the risk of marriage itself,particularly with the women of the church.We can be endowed by proxy,but we cannot live our lives over again with husband and children.I know many women who have missed the opportunity to have children waiting for the promised returned missionary to turn up-some who have later married non mormons anyway.This temple or nothing attitude seems dysfunctional to me.Can someone please tell me whether it is really church doctrine that we should remain unmarried rather than marry outside the temple?Seems to me that the best has become the enemy of the good.

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