How faithful were Ex-Mormons?

Over the years I’ve heard several theories from believers as to why people leave the LDS church, but the common theme is that we left because we wanted to leave for some reason. We were looking for an excuse to leave, or so I’ve been told.

Whether we were offended or proud or wanted to sin or whatever, we allegedly embarked on a downward spiral of doubt and sin that led to our eventual break with the LDS church. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell believers that this was not the case with me or with most of the ex-Mormons I know. They know better; they know we wanted out.

I was thinking that a good measurement of where ex-Mormons were when they left is whether they held a valid temple recommend, so I asked on a couple of message boards frequented by ex-Mormons.

As I expected, the vast majority of ex-Mormons (more than 90%) said that they had held valid temple recommends when they left, and they tell me that they were worthy of the recommend. I know I was. Here’s what a friend of mine said: “When I stopped believing, I had one, and was fully worthy to have one, too. For many months after I stopped believing, I was still worthy to have one, if you had a liberal interpretation of the word ‘testimony’ in the questions that started with, ‘Do you have a testimony of …?'” And another good friend said, “Not only did I have a recommend, I was a full-on, set apart ordinance worker when I stopped believing. Talk about your uncomfortable positions. … I was completely worthy of that recommend when I realized that the church simply wasn’t true and that whole gordian knot unraveled. I didn’t even reframe the testimony questions when I did the recommend interviews. ”

For most, it wasn’t a gradual downward spiral. One described it as his brain having “flipped a switch.” One respondent describes attending “attending the temple regularly at the behest of my BP to salvage my testimony.” Another said, “I had a valid recommend, and I used it one last time to go to the temple and pray and meditate about my impending departure.” I did that, too. Another respondent said, “Yes. When I gave [the bishop] my resignation, I turned in my recommend.”

The interesting thing to me is the common theme of desperately fighting off the doubts, trying to salvage belief. “I don’t think I’m the only exmo in the world to leave, wonder if they’ve made a mistake and come under pressure to try again, only to become stronger in their disbelief.”

One of the few respondents who said they did not have a recommend when they left said, “The only reason I did not have one was because the bishop asked for it when I separated from my ex (for extreme emotional abuse and beginnings of other types of abuse — known to the bishop and admitted by ex). The bishop told me that any couples that were separating or going through divorce were not following their covenants in some way and were not temple worthy.”

I’m not posting this as anyone’s exit story, but I would hope that believers might get past the easy stereotypes and talk to ex-Mormons. We’ll get along much better if we at least try to understand each other.

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47 Responses to How faithful were Ex-Mormons?

  1. K*tty says:

    I find it’s easier for the people that I deal with, that they keep the stereotypes alive and well. I am their gone astray Mormon poster child. When talking to them sometimes I felt like I protested too much about my worthiness, blah, blah, blah. Now, I basically just say, “I have a right to be angry about the lies. If it doesn’t bother you, then, great, but it does bother me.” Then I usually add, You have the NEED to believe and that’s going to trump truth every time.

  2. You know, many moons ago when I was 14 I remember I had that thinking of ‘they left because they were looking for a reason to leave’. And I often expressed it whenever one of our faithful members would go ‘inative’. All of my peers and adults agreed with me whenever I’d suggest this for as to ‘why’ people would go inactive. I had this thinking till about my mid-20’s.

    I wonder if that’s a built in kind of thinking that goes with cognitive dissonance? I wonder if other religions also get this automatic ‘they left because they were SEEKING and WANTING a reason to leave’ type of thinking?

    Even GBH has said: “”Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. THEY MAY FIND WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR, but the fact is the history of the [Mormon] church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.”

    To me, this suggests the same kind of ‘built in thinking’, that any TBM and faithful LDS can only look at a questioning, disbelieving and or apostate (ie. you left the club) person as having WANTED to do it (as in it was a WILLFUL act and you deliberately are going against TRUTH and LIGHT and GOD Himself). I am sure this is how we are ‘trained to think’ by both WHAT we are taught and HOW we are taught it in LDSdom.

    Anyway, much more fodder for my continued study on why our minds believe the unbelievable and how we react and WHY we react and believe as we do.

    Best.
    RE

  3. Mina says:

    I think your point is well taken, runtu, but I don’t think it will make any difference to that percentage of mormons for whom the legitimacy of any rejection of their beliefs is just plain unintelligible. I can’t say if this is the majority, but I do think this is an attitude endorsed by leaders and authorities and one which is quite pervasive.

    That individuals could honestly find mormonism lacking in any of several categories will remain inconceivable. From this position mormonism is self-evidently “true,” and as you point out, any disagreement with this speaks to a problem in the person disagreeing and not the body of ideas disagreed with.

    This is what produces the smug, arrogant sense of superiority I’ve seen displayed by some of the most ignorant, unschooled and uncultured people. Naturally it was one of the things that really turned me off about church from the very beginning.

    Me? I never got as far as needing a TR because there was nothing to keep me interested intellectually, philosophically or ethically.

  4. jr says:

    I still have my recommend.
    I lied my way through the last interview, not on the worthiness questions but on the belief questions.
    I don’t forsee myself attending the temple, except when a niece or nephew gets married.
    I’ve never had any type of spiritual experience during a temple session, even when I had a strong testimony. I’ve always thought the ceremony was very strange then I’ve read a little bit about the origins of the ceremony and realized it is even more strange than I thought it was. It was made up, like much of mormonism.
    I read that Spencer Kimball or perhaps it was David O. McKay once told one of the apostles (just a few years before his death), that he was just beginning to understand the temple. If a so-called prophet of God doesn’t know what the hell any of that means, how can anyone else?
    Anyone else had a tremendous spiritual experience in the Temple?

  5. Ray A says:

    I think cinepro made an excellent point on MADB:

    I don’t believe that people leave the Church to sin because everyone knows you don’t have to leave the Church to sin.

    I knew, and know, members with strong testimonies who still sin. One man, inactive most of the time, was heard throwing expletives at his neighbours. He ended up being a bishop. I don’t think sin is the main factor here, in whether one is active/believer or inactive/exmo/unbeliever. People leave the Church for more reasons than there are stars in the sky, and the 70 percent inactivity rate doesn’t tell us anything about “reasons”. People leave the Church and remain good, people leave the Church and turn bad; people leave the Church for 20 years, then return. As a bishop I had access to private files on a former branch president who denied the divinity of Christ, the possibility of revelation, and considered Mormonism false. He came back after 20 years of inactivity, and died in his mid-90s. Only God knows what brought him back.

    Of course there are people who leave the Church because they want to sin, or just find the lifestyle too burdensome, and we shouldn’t deny that. Perhaps the majority leave for these reasons, among the 70 percent. It could also be a combination of “cog. diss” and the burdens of membership. People also stay for numerous reasons, even when they don’t fully believe. It could be prestige, leadership vainglory, purpose-in-life reasons, good lifestyle, family solidarity, culture, social attachments, or maybe even just a morbid fascination with genealogy. I know members like this, more converted to genealogy than the gospel, or some aspect of the Church which excites them, but they may seriously doubt even the divinity of Christ. I doubt that 90% left after “sudden insight”, road to Damascus deconversions, though it does happen. I think in most cases it may be long private deliberations.

    I don’t think leaving is “more pure” or more valid because one is untainted by sin, or holds a valid TR. What does that prove? That if you remained “worthy” you’d really be convinced that the Lost Tribes live in some Arctic Ice Paradise or that three 2,000 year old Nephites occasionally help little old ladies cross the road? Or that Adam and Eve zig-zagged between Missouri and the Old World? Does anyone need an excuse for not believing that?

  6. runtu says:

    Ray, I’m not arguing that people are “more pure” or whatever. What I was getting at is that it’s of no value to assign motivations to people because we don’t really know. I cited my informal poll because it seems to counter the prevailing assumptions about exmos.

  7. Ray A says:

    On that point I agree, Runtu. And in your case I totally believe you.

  8. Chris says:

    Amen, Runtu. That’s all I have to say. 🙂

  9. Hmm, this is interesting. I feel little “flips of the switch” of doubt in my head all the time, but for some reason my basic attitude is that the church is true enough to give it the benefit of the doubt on some of these things that are confusing from the perspective of human science and history.

    So what makes me different from you, in that my main circuit breaker of belief has not yet been flipped off? One main thing is that I don’t have much faith in humanity’s ability to understand the full, accurate picture, so I don’t put much stock into allegations of Joseph Smith this and DNA that; such allegations are just interesting questions that I trust will one day be answered to my full satisfaction. I truly believe that there are pieces of the picture missing and that people who jump to conclusions based on human knowledge are being led astray. And yes, the P-word applies here (pride, as in too much pride in human understanding, relying on the arm of flesh in the intellectual sense).

    To dig my grave even further with y’all, I see a parallel with those who allow themselves to fully ripen in homosexuality. They feel a “flip of the switch” of attraction to the same gender, and for whatever reason they decide to go with it and ignore any switches of heterosexuality that may still be in the proper position. Both disbelief and homosexuality are temptations and deceptions of Satan, and I hope anybody caught in either one can eventually repent their way out of it, whether in this life or after suffering for their own sins in the next.

    That’s how I see it, anyway. But I can’t seem to stay away from your blog… Oh, the humanity.

  10. runtu says:

    No problem, Chris. That’s probably what I would have said a few years ago. My point wasn’t that those who have the “switch flip” are right or smarter or purer than the rest, just that their thought processes and decisions are their own. It does no good to attribute evil motives to them any more than it does to attribute bad motivations to, say, Daniel Peterson et al.

    We make our own choices, and I prefer to deal with people’s choices as they describe them, not how I wish to describe them.

  11. GBSmith says:

    “Both disbelief and homosexuality are temptations and deceptions of Satan, and I hope anybody caught in either one can eventually repent their way out of it, whether in this life or after suffering for their own sins in the next.”

    So, Chris, is it your opinion that a person who doubts the church has yielded to Satan and needs to repent?

  12. I’ll give you my opinion, but of course I haven’t been through a crisis of faith like Runtu is talking about, so who am I to talk, really. I’m not actually all that far from dropping the rope on Mormonism myself, tell you the truth, but it would be because I don’t like it and find the lifestyle and the corporate church quite stultifying. But I’m the type of person who will always believe in Mormonism, whether I’m active or not, unless or until something even more spiritually logically compelling comes along, which of course I can’t imagine happening.

    I’m certain that Satan “inspires” some people to raise doubts that have a bad effect on others, and I’m also certain that unseen spirits are somehow capable of whispering doubts, deceptions, temptations to us on a spiritual level. So yes, I do believe that someone who yields to doubts is in a sense giving in to the devil, even if they don’t see it that way.

    On the other hand, just as some people are predisposed to homosexuality, some are predisposed through no fault of their own to doubt, and I don’t pretend to understand what it entails to bear either of those burdens through life, and I certainly wouldn’t want to judge any individual. Only God knows if they are doing the best with what they have or if they indeed have made any bad choices that exacerbated their condition, and I’m sure he will judge them accordingly. I would think that, in some cases, having a doubtful disposition may well be a decades-long or even lifetime trial along the same lines of difficulty as same-gender disorders. It’s not a sin to feel the temptation, but it’s what you do with it, how easily you give in, etc. I probably don’t even have the character for a trial of this level.

    Several of my best friends are inactive, but from what I can tell they mostly just got tired of the burden of church membership and wanted to more freely indulge their tastes for alcohol and/or porn. Oh, wait, one guy’s dad went polygamist on him, so I don’t blame him. But the others I think have made mistakes they could have avoided. But I’m sure many haven’t made mistakes but just simply face the trial of doubt, in spite of all they can do. Brrrr, sounds tough.

  13. tasithoughts says:

    Every person’s spiritual journey is different. We all would like to analyze the reasons to death and put it in some sort of box. Each person is an individual. Sweeping broad generalizations and judgments about a person’s decisions on his faith or belief is really just short sighted.

  14. GBSmith says:

    If the tenets of the LDS Church other than the basic beliefs of christianity are thought to be false by those who have left or are thinking of leaving, saying that they have been influenced by Satan is saying that they’re wrong, that the LDS is true. Is that your position? And if you consider, as you say, ” leaving because I don’t like it and find the lifestyle and the corporate church quite stultifying” would you say that you are less influenced by Satan and less obligated to repent? You mention friends who have left because of the “burden of church membership” and wanted to “their tastes for alcohol and/or porn”. But the point of Runtu’s post was that the stereotypes of only leaving because of being evil, vile, carnal, sensual and devilish are just that and need to be set aside if there’s to be any meaningful dialogue between the two sides. And lastly what has homosexuality got to do with anything?

  15. Ray A says:

    stereotypes of only leaving because of being evil, vile, carnal, sensual and devilish

    I’ll happily admit to all of those things 🙂

  16. K*tty says:

    Chris, your archaic gay comments have the same tone as Brigham Young dissing the blacks. But, you probably think that’s a good thing.

  17. runtu says:

    I don’t see the connection between homosexuality and acknowledging that Mormonism isn’t what it claims to be, and I’m a little surprised that you made that connection, Chris.

    As for why people leave, my point was that a lot of us leave not because “we don’t like Mormonism” but because we honestly don’t believe it is true. It’s not difficult to understand.

  18. erlybird says:

    Of course we wanted out. That’s the whole point.

    Now, the funny part is that there is a lot of “worthiness” talk being bandied about as if as long as you are still “worthy” (read are not having sex or are outside the ridiculous sexual lines of the LDS church) then your reasons for leaving a made-up religion with serious cultish attributes and dubious founders then your leaving can be legitimate. But if, gosh, for some reason you come to the conclusion that the sexual prohibitions are one of the MAIN STUPIDITIES and HYPOCRISIES of said made-up religion with serious cultish attributes and dubious founders and you happen to decide that you aren’t worried about being judged as “worthy” by those standards anymore then your reason for leaving become easy to explain. “Well,” they say, “THAT explains it. He just wanted to have SEX!”

    Um, yeah…right. Let’s just forget about the whole part about it being complete BULLSHIT and move right on to the prudish, anti-masturbatory, anti-sex-outside-of-procreation, deny-your-passions, take-up-ballroom-dancing-as-a-substitute argument!

    Once, while in a Thanksgiving service in my Aunt’s Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh my Aunt, somewhat condescendingly introduced a Former-LDS couple to my father. After the small talk had ended and they had disappeared my father turned to me and said, “They must have gotten themselves offended or something” as if there could be no other explanation. My question, even as a teenager, would have been “And now you waste your time in a Presbyterian church? Fly! Be free!”

  19. I’ll give a couple more responses to GBSmith but not respond to K*tty’s total insult:

    <<>>

    Yeah, pretty much. Personally, I can’t fathom ever reverting from Mormonism to mere terrestrial-level Christianity, which goes ga-ga over Jesus without any real understanding of humankind’s origins or potential. For me, downscaling to mainstream Christianity would be like going back to a typewriter after having been accustomed to a computer. I think that for anyone unable to believe in Mormonism, the fault must lie somewhere within them—I mean, yes, Mormonism has some tricky areas that test us, but many people are able to stick with the obstacle course and keep moving forward.

    I’ve read almost every word that Runtu has blogged for several years now—loved the missionary memoir, by the way—and frankly don’t really know why he stopped believing. I mean, if I remember right it was because he suddenly realized that Joseph Smith was a charlatan, but why some allegations or even apparent facts about Joseph Smith outweigh everything else still remains a mystery to me—and I do believe that those “facts” will turn out to be misunderstood or will turn out to be sins for which Joseph successfully repented. I bet a good spiritual psychologist could figure out why someone stops believing in most cases, find something in the person’s past or in their subconscious, some unmet need or some resentment or something that explains the REAL reason why they lost their faith, even if the reason just turns out to be that they trust their own intellect too much and therefore can’t connect enough spiritually with God. After all, many people who know about Joseph Smith’s rough spots are still able to give him the benefit of the doubt and accept him as a prophet, to defer total understanding of mortal his character and actions until the afterlife.

    <<>>

    I don’t know about less obligated to repent, as I’m sure I have many flaws of character and attitude and that my irritations with Mormon culture are aided and abetted to some degree by Satan, but I think someone who stops participating for a time while still believing is in a less precarious position spiritually than someone who both stops believing and stops participating. But someone who can’t believe and yet still participates is probably in a better position than someone who believes but stops participating—at least they’re still trying or are putting their family’s needs before their own.

    So if I ever stop participating, I’ll certainly feel deep down the need to repent and will likely come back at some point. However, I’m a very gray person, so I don’t think I’ll ever be in a black/white situation of either participating or not participating; I’ll likely continue sliding up and down the middle zones of the continuum of activity. Some people would even label me semi-active in my current status; I’d say I’m probably 2/3 active in outward behavior but only about 1/3 active in my heart, because a good portion of what I do church-wise is due to social and marital expectations, not my own desire (for instance, if I could get away with it with my wife, I would feel fine about attending church every other week or even just once a month). Perhaps I’m lukewarm enough that I could just end up being spat out of the Lord’s mouth in the end.

    <<>>

    Agreed. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of truth in stereotypes and that they may even apply the majority of the time. But I’m certain they’re not true in every case.

    <<>>

    I simply think there’s some correlation between doubt, homosexuality, and probably many other human frailties. I’ve been caught up in several blog discussions on homosexuality recently, so it’s sort of been on my mind. If my comparison doesn’t make any sense to you, fine. We probably look at homosexuality totally differently, anyway, as far as its nature, definition, etc.

  20. Oops, sorry my clips of GBSmith’s text dropped out… I guess using three angle brackets messes up the HTML. Oh, well.

  21. “anti-sex-outside-of-procreation”

    Mormonism isn’t this way at all! It’s even in the official handbook, including the parts about birth control.

    But I do think Mormonism is a bit head-in-the-sand about masturbation. I’d rather see an “exercise moderation” approach than a nearly impossible “never do it.” Also, I’d like to see kids directed on keeping their masturbatory fantasies on the up-and-up, or at least as much as possible. I think a lot of people who become homosexual lose the battle at the early-age masturbatory level.

    OK, sorry for commenting so much…

  22. erlybird says:

    Right..you are right…I really should have said anti-sex-outside-of-marriage thing. And that isn’t just an LDS prohibition, I realize, but it is the STUPIDEST idea. And it is also equated to being a “moral” idea…we’ve been brainwashed and it needs to end.

  23. sideon says:

    Chris Bigelow’s comments are typical for middle-aged white Mormon men who have the narrowest views regarding sexuality. Let me guess – anything other than missionary position is “naughty.” His odious comments exemplify the worst of Mormonism, which is that there is only ONE view or perspective or mindset.

    Gays and lesbians “allow themselves to fully ripen in homosexuality”? Give me a fucking break. Even Orson Scott Card would bitch-slap the pathetic trite of a horribly executed metaphor. I’ll speak for myself: I didn’t ripen into the big ole gay fruit that I am – I went from flaccid, tumescent, to raging hard. 40 years of fabulous, baby.

    Sexuality isn’t a “frailty”: ignorance and unsubstantiated arrogance are. To equate sexuality with doubt and faith is, frankly, adolescent at best and obscene at worst.

    The obvious in this case cannot be overstated: people leave Mormonism because they want to, which good little Mormons can’t seem to wrap their mind around.

  24. anonymous says:

    Chris,
    Your obsession and apparent disdain for homosexuality leads me to believe that you might in fact be homosexual. If that is the case, know that there are many ex-mormons that will support you and love you.

  25. K*tty says:

    Chris Bigelow says: I’ll give a couple more responses to GBSmith but not respond to K*tty’s total insult:

    Way to go sideon. Let him have it.

    (Chris, I guess my comment doen’t seem so insulting, after all.

  26. Mel says:

    As for Satan inspiring people to whisper doubts…

    If it’s Truth, who cares if Satan or God said it? If it’s not true, then it also doesn’t matter who said it. The first question should always be “is it true?” and not “is it useful.”

    BTW, the second question should always be “how do we know it’s true?”

  27. GBSmith says:

    In thinking about Chris Bigleow’s reference to “mere terestria-level” Christianity, I remember about 5 years ago during a difficult point in my life being helped by some Episcopalian friends. They including me in their weekly lenten suppers and scripture study and then in a period of scripture study on into the summer. Their actions were what I’d expect from people trying to be the best Christians they could be. They weren’t any better that the good LDS people that I have known but at the same time I did not and have not seen anything better in LDS church members. I know some enjoy discussion about Joseph Smith’s teachings on progression, the plurality of gods, creating worlds, etc. (for a concise listing of his teachings see Bushman’s “On the Road with Joseph Smith, An Author’s Diary” pgs 59-62. He says “All of it can be found in Joseph Smith’s teachings. But it is not being taught in the church today” (see GBH was right).) but to me that has nothing to do with how we live our lives today. Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament and even the BOM have very very little to say about heaven or what to expect after this life. That whole concept came several hundred years after His death as Christian theology evolved. What He taught and what I believe is important is the here and now. How we live our lives and treat our neighbors. If we see that as terrestrial, then I think we’ve missed the point.

  28. sideon says:

    Hugs to K*tty.

    🙂

  29. Ray A says:

    The idea that masturbation leads to homosexuality is about on the same level as believing that if you keep biting your nails your teeth will eventually fall out. The APA (American Psychological Association) has for years now produced reliable studies refuting all the old ideas. Perhaps it would be more profitable reading them in detail, than reading To Young Men Only.

  30. Nah, I’m not gay. Poo and sex don’t mix, in my personal opinion (and if you think I’m being too snide, I hold up as exhibit A a short story written by a gay LDS man that illustrates that point most graphically; it’s titled “The Ass Man Cometh”).

    I’m just alarmed by all the gay enabling going on in our culture with ever-increasing momentum. It’s all over the news and all over the independent LDS blogs, and I don’t feel like sitting back and being all PC about it. I don’t think people are either gay or not; we’re all on a spectrum with various amounts of homo and hetero potential. Yeah, some experience more gay temptation than others through no fault of their own, but there is an element of choice in whether or not to give in to those temptations. Godspeed to you, Simeon, and I agree with you fully that “people leave Mormonism because they want to.” I mean, duh.

    I never said masturbation leads to homosexuality, but someone with already-existing latent homo tendancies can certainly fan those flames through their choice of masturbatory fantasy.

    GBSmith, obviously you’re not familiar with the Mormon terms “terrestrial” and “celestial.” Terrestrial is for people who love and accept and follow Christ but don’t accept the fulness of the father. Terrestrial is a great eternal reward, exactly what people who lack the imagination (there’s a word for someone to pounce on) to fully comprehend and believe the Mormon plan of salvation will expect and enjoy. Godspeed to you, too. Or rather, Jesus speed.

    What the hell am I doing continuing to spout off here? By this point, I ought to just take a quick bow and turn and run…. Same as I should over on a Mormon blog where I’m currently explaining why I hated my mission and think the missionary program is largely bogus for some participants.

  31. GBSmith says:

    “GBSmith, obviously you’re not familiar with the Mormon terms “terrestrial” and “celestial.” Terrestrial is for people who love and accept and follow Christ but don’t accept the fulness of the father. Terrestrial is a great eternal reward, exactly what people who lack the imagination (there’s a word for someone to pounce on) to fully comprehend and believe the Mormon plan of salvation will expect and enjoy. Godspeed to you, too.”

    Comprehending and believing the Mormon plan of salvation is not likely to mean much if ones participation in the LDS church is based on social or marital expectations. And accepting the “fullness of the Father” isn’t going to do much for you if attendance is several times a month because of “not liking” it and because one finds the “corporate nature of the church quite stultifying”. I expect that my eternal reward if there is one will be based on what I did and didn’t do in my “mortal probation” and the sort of person I ultimately became and have very little to do with my lack of “imagination” or my lack of acceptance of the “fullness of the Father”. I think it’s all summed up pretty well in Alma 34:32-34. Godspeed to you as well.

  32. sideon says:

    Chris, stick with Fox news and Mormon-sponsored publications for your vast repertoire on sexuality. Really, you need no other life experiences or resources to further demonstrate your insulated self-assurance, smugness and flat out asinine comments.

    I will compliment you on your writing skills: in just a few comments you’ve established a knowledge of vocabulary and sentence structure but you’ve demonstrated an incredible lack of humanity, compassion and common decency. If this was high school, you’d get a C+ for lack of research and knowledge of subject matter: you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

  33. GBSmith: I can agree with you about the importance of Christian devotion and service, etc. and about how embracing Mormon theology isn’t enough. There’s a Catholic guy here at work and a Buddhist-turned-Unitarian who are both much more concerned about others than I am and quick to show love and concern. In other words, way more Christian than me, in a sense. I’m sure my challenge to turn myself into a better Christian is every bit as hard and perilous as their challenge is to understand and accept God’s plan for their exaltation, including commandments (both are or have been in premarital sex relationships). I’m aware that I could miss out just as easily as they could, even with my membership in the truest religion. I admire Mormons who have both tracks going really strong, the Christian here-and-now and the big-picture theology.

    Simeon: Sorry, I’m not buying much of anything you said. You can’t judge what I know and how I feel based on a couple quick comments on a blog. I’m nice and accepting to gays in person, but online I feel a need to stand up and say, “Hold on, the balance is shifting too far over to pro-gay.” To me, it’s the same as if our culture were starting to love and champion and admire and promote alcoholism; we should feel bad and try to help those taken in this frailty/sin, but we shouldn’t encourage it as a good, acceptable option to go ahead and pursue if you feel so inclined.

    I think it’s a huge deception to consider homosexuality on the same PC spectrum as civil rights and feminism, which is what I think is happening in our society. First we gave 100% justified equality to blacks, then we tried to give equality to women with decidedly more mixed results, and now we think it’s time for our progressive society to empower and celebrate the gays. But one of these things is not like the other. Being black or female is someone’s unavoidable ID. Being gay is a choice to give into temptation, period. It’s no more a person’s essential, unavoidable ID than is a proclivity toward alcoholism, adultery, or any other human frailty/sin. It does become a person’s ID if a person lets it, just as someone who is taken in alcoholism can become an alcoholic as their main ID in life, but it’s their choice, and there’s a right and a wrong choice. Or if, in the rare case that someone really didn’t have an effective choice due to circumstances or perhaps even biology (although I think truly 100% homo people are very rare, if they exist at all), it’s a big mistake that God will eventually clean up. But even in that case, that doesn’t mean we need to legitimize it and enable it and celebrate it.

    Not that I think anyone’s still reading or, if they are, remotely agreeing with what I’m saying; I’m really just using you to practice articulating what I think about this topic and develop arguments that I might continue to refine in other venues, online or published. Because I think we’re all going to be doing a lot more thinking and arguing over gay rights in coming years, and obviously it’s a topic that pushes my buttons. So thanks!

  34. runtu says:

    I don’t see how homosexuality is a frailty or a choice. It just is. You didn’t choose to be heterosexual, did you? It’s not like you weighed the options and went with being straight.

    And the comparison to alcoholism is way off. Alcoholism has direct health and social consequences. Being gay does not make one a social liability, nor does it necessarily lead to health issues.

    The bottom line for me is that you consider it a sin, so you disapprove of it, and you therefore assume that, like any other ‘temptation,’ it’s just something to resist.

    I don’t think it works that way.

  35. Oh, and one more thing for you, Simeon. Your last comment above is a pretty clear-cut example of what rhetoricians call an “ad hominem” logical fallacy: “appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect” and even more so, “marked by an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.”

  36. Runtu, people aren’t either gay or not. That’s one of the biggest logical problems with the whole discussion, people who talk like it’s a black and white situation. Everyone has a mix of potential hetero and homo proclivity. Have you heard of the 0-6 Kinsey scale? If not, take a look at “Kinsey scale” on Wikipedia. And one’s place on the scale can evolve over a lifetime, based on circumstances and, yes, choices.

    Here’s a little flavor from Kinsey:

    “Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.”

    In other words, no one is locked into being either hetero or homo, and we can choose which impulses to foster and follow. Circumstances can tip it, and choices. Some people are certainly more naturally homo than others, and their struggles are worse through no fault of their own. But it is still a struggle that needs to be made, if they want to overcome the natural man and become more like God.

    You’re right that the alcohol comparison is not an exact one. Going ahead and giving into homo temptations does more spiritual damage than physical, although we all know that there’s some physical disease concerns too that are particularly associated with homo. But of course, spiritual damage is a matter of faith, isn’t it…

    I would also argue that homo DOES have a social cost in terms of less parenthood. Many societies are already struggling with inadequate birth rates and with too many children raised without fathers, a percentage of whom leave families because of deciding to go with the gay thing instead of continuing to resist.

  37. runtu says:

    I recognize that there’s a continuum, but what you’re suggesting is that you can adjust where you are on that continuum, and that your placement thereon is a choice.

    I simply don’t see it. The folks at Evergreen and the electroshock guys at BYU were operating on your assumptions. It doesn’t work.

  38. I never said it would be easy, Runtu. I just said it would be worth it. **ducking and running**

    Nah, I’m not saying someone can ever make himself free of homo urges, just that he can choose whether to indulge the impulses or not and that, over time (decades, perhaps), one’s position can thereby perhaps shift in a more hetero direction, or at least not so far on the homo side. (And no, I don’t advocate hetero marriage as a “cure,” at least not without the wife fully knowing what she’s getting into and taking on the burden voluntarily, which I have seen done successfully—at least so far, in this case.)

    And conversely, if one chooses to indulge the homo urges, that strengthens the urges. In fact, I have observed that people who embrace the gay lifestyle and fully ripen in it often turn completely gay retrospectively—in their own heads—and claim they never had a choice, when in reality they made many little decisions to go ahead and follow the gay bliss in their fantasies or whatever, perhaps even at a prepubescent age.

    Of course, only God knows each individual’s degree of accountability.

  39. runtu says:

    Here’s the problem, Chris. As you said, there’s a continuum of human sexuality, but you are assigning a dichotomy of right/wrong that really doesn’t apply to such a continuum.

    And the idea that you “ripen” just sounds off to me. Everyone I know who has ever dealt with same-sex desire describes it as just acknowledging reality and becoming comfortable with who they already are.

  40. Ray A says:

    Chris,

    Nah, I’m not saying someone can ever make himself free of homo urges, just that he can choose whether to indulge the impulses or not and that, over time (decades, perhaps), one’s position can thereby perhaps shift in a more hetero direction, or at least not so far on the homo side.

    In my experience most of them did choose to try to “shift” those “urges”, and many tried heterosexual marriages, only to discover 10, 20, 30 years later they were essentially living a lie.

  41. Hey, thanks for doing the workout with me, Runtu. Sorry to do a comment thread hijacking. Would you recognize me around town if you saw me? I don’t know if I’d recognize you or not; maybe. (I’m in Utah County too, live in Provo and work in Springville.)

  42. sideon says:

    Chris.

    It’s SIDEON, not SIMEON.

    Bad literacy skills, and even more deplorable writing and logic skills.

    No cookie for you.

  43. Marc Sorenson says:

    Reasons why I’m leaving:

    1) From the ages of 14 to 23 Joseph Smith did pretend to see buried
    treasure, as a way to make money, for years before he became a
    “Prophet”. He would put a stone in his hat, put the hat over his face,
    and tell people where the treasure was buried. Some farmers would hire
    him and a group of his friends to dig for the treasure, paying them
    and feeding them while they dug. Joseph Smith claimed they could not
    find any treasure because the treasure had a “spell” cast upon it, and
    when any shovel hit the chest, the chest would sink down into the
    earth farther.

    2) He did not tell anyone about the First Vision (not even his
    parents) until about 1838. Before that, nobody seems to have heard of
    the first vision.

    3) His mother and brother wrote that Joseph Smith was first contacted
    by an angel in 1823, nothing about any first vision in 1820. His
    mother and brother seems to have not known about any First Vision when
    they wrote their histories of Joseph Smith in the late 1840s.

    4) Oliver Cowdery left the Church in 1834 because he caught Joseph
    Smith boffing his wife’s nanny, a 16 year old girl named Fanny Alger,
    in a barn in Kirkland.

    5) David Whitmer left the Church in 1836, because he claimed Joseph
    Smith and Oliver Cowdery were threatening to kill him, because of a
    financial dispute. He claims that Joseph Smith was behind the
    “Danites” that sought to steal from non-mormon farmers in Missouri. He
    claims that Joseph Smith was the puppet of Sidney Rigdon, the puppet
    master.

    6) The wives and neighbors of Solomon Spaulding, claim that Sidney
    Rigdon had stole a manuscript by Spaulding titled “Manuscript Found in
    the Wilds of Mormon” and wrote The Book of Mormon from that manuscript he stole from the Patterson and Lambdin printing office in Pittsburg in 1822.

    7) Lorenzo Saunders, a neighbor and playmate of Joseph Smith, claimed
    that he saw Sidney Rigdon at the Smith Farm in 1826, the year that the
    Angel Moroni allegedly gave Joseph Smith the gold plates.

    8) Sarah Pratt, wife of Orson Pratt, claimed that when Orson Pratt was
    on a mission to England, Joseph Smith had proposed that she become his
    “spiritual wife” (that would include sex). She refused. She claimed
    that Dr. John C. Bennett (at that time the Associate President of the
    Church and Mayor of Nauvoo) told her that whenever one of Joseph’s
    girls got pregnant, he took care of the problem (via abortion). Orson
    Pratt almost committed suicide when he returned home, but Joseph Smith
    made him feel better, by telling him he was only “testing” his wife to
    see if she would remain faithful to him (Orson) and that Orson could
    have as many women as he wanted.

    9) Nancy Rigdon, the daughter of Sidney Rigdon, claims that Joseph
    Smith tried to seduce her also, but she rejected his advances.

    10) Sidney Rigdon, at one time the 2nd Counselor in the First
    Presidency of the Church, after he was disfellowshipped from the
    Church, claimed that Joseph Smith was a “fallen prophet” and had
    engaged in all sorts of crimes against God and man.

    NONE (not one) of these 10 facts are disputed by Mormon historians,
    but are admitted by all of them.

    Above stated reasons have been cited from the following website:
    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.religion.scientology/browse_thread/thread/d0ed0ade6248310dProphet

    Does this sound like the Prophet, Leader, and Founder of the “One True Church”? God and Jesus would never use such a man.

  44. Marc Sorenson says:

    Not to anger anyone here, but it is my stance that the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, Pearl of Great Price, and D & C are fabricated frauds.

    I thought the fact that the BoM contained the same translation errors as the KJV of the Bible were very suspicious. Then there is the DNA evidence… not one shred of Hebrew blood could be found in thousands of different tribes of Native Americans. Then there is the use of metals, battle armor, plants, and animals that did not exist in the area and time that the BoM stories took place. Suspicious… or just the imaginations of a deceitful, horny, power hungry man?

    Then there is the Book of Abraham… written from the papyrus of an Egyptian funeral document. Wow! JS got that wrong, didn’t he? So the BoA is proven as a fraud and the LDS Church says, “Oh well, it was inspired in another way then! It’s still true!”

    Then there was the fact that JS had 33 documented wives, and according to scholars, as many as 48! The youngest was 14! The average age of menstruation in those days was 16.5 years. The average age women married in those days was between the ages of 20 and 23. Some of these women were married to other men. It is well documented that JS had intercourse with his spiritual wives. Hmmmm… a Church created by a pedophile? Yeah, that must be the One True Church.

    Oh, and JS was not jailed as an innocent man. He really did order the destruction of the printing press. Destruction of property = violation of the law = jail. JS did not die an innocent, pure, sinless martyr, as the Church said he did.

    I am a convert to the Church. But I come from another Christian denomination. There is no way God told JS that polygamy was okay. The Church was not forthcoming with JS’s past or honest regarding its origins when I was converted. They never mention more than one wife (Emma Smith) when they mention JS in the discussions.

    Also, Brigham Young who succeeded JS was a racist, polygamous quack who led the Church in a seriously bad direction. Read the real Church history, and people would not believe how this Church started and why people even followed it.

  45. Marc Sorenson says:

    You know, I too think homosexuality is gross. It disgusts me. That does not make me gay, it makes me normal. In fact in studies of human straight males brains using SPECT scanning, when straight males were shown pictures of gay men performing homosexual acts or men in a provocative sexual pose, the area of the brain responsible for aggression would light up on the scan 100% of the time. It would light up even if the man stated he didn’t have a problem with homosexuality. Guess what? That means straight men are not wired to like and accept homosexuality. So now everyone has to jump on Chris because his views are different from females and homosexual men. One of you even called him homosexual! LOL! Whatever! Be civil to each other. Chris is behaving the way a straight male is wired to behave!

  46. Marc Sorenson says:

    Chris…

    Oh please! JS successfully repented of his sins? I assure you he did not. Look at the evidences… God would not create the One True Church on a man who lies repeatedly. The BoM contains tons of errors… do you see these errors in the Bible? The Book of Abraham is an apparent fraud… yet you still believe he translated it from an Egyptian funeral document? You think these things will come to light at a later time? Really? How can that be when we have proved so much that JS is indeed a charlatan? Have you ever been a member of another church other than the LDS church? Chritians know exactly what all the excitement of Jesus is about in other faiths. Humans don’t become Gods, Chris. We do progress, but not to god status. You are again believing the rantings of a liar, a lawbreaker, a polygamist, a pedophile, and a deceiver. Let me reiterate, God would NEVER build his church on such a man! Read the Bible, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  47. Ray Z. says:

    I read many of the comments and all were good whether for or against being member or ex-member. I have no axe to grind in either of the different groups feelings.
    We all have a mind and with that mind comes every day decisions. I don’t know the minds of those who chose to leave the church only they do. I have talked with my share of people who have dropped out of the LDS church. Many were sincere and expressed their thoughts well. I am their friend no matter what they choose.
    Remember whether it it is today or a thousand years ago people had to make choices as to who they would follow. Joshua said, “choose you this day whom you will follow but as for me and my family we will follow the Lord.” When Jesus was on the earth there were twelve men who had to choose whom they would follow. Eleven followed Him and one didn’t. They all made the choice according to the way they saw things and analyzed them.
    No different today we all make our choices and in those choices we will suffer the consequences whether to receive the fullest of what God has to offer us or the lesser portions.
    There is no argument or shouldn’t be anyway about what one chooses. I say search the scriptures daily to see if the things of what one teache is true or not. The main thing is to be honest in your heart,not by prejudice, not by anger, or not by lack of prayer, but not just prayer but sincere prayer.
    I could add that there are things that happened to me within the church that were very hard to take because people who I thought were looking out for my welfare actually weren’t they smile to my face but are devious inside of them and did things to hurt me but does that mean the church is not true? or, does it mean there are people in the church who have not learned what the gospel of Jesus Christ really is all about?
    Are bishops perfect? are Stake Presidents perfect? are we perfect? The answer is obvious.
    Then my last point is, what do you turn too? Jesus taught us a very plain concept which is not easy but still it is a commandment. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteiusness and then all these things will be added unto you.” Which is His kingdom? “search the scriptures with an open mind and heart and you will learn the truth but whether you accept it or not is up to you.

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