January 31st, 2012

A Mormon People in Need of Reform


photo credit: More Good Foundation

In what quickly became one of the most popular opinion articles recently written for The Washington Post, Carrie Sheffield, a former member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lists her many grievances with the church of which she once was a part. Her title, “A Mormon church in need of reform,” makes clear her thesis and end goal.

I understand the grievances she shared, and know many who feel much like Ms. Sheffield. I’ve seen many an “amen!” in social media in recent days as sympathetic former members of the Church, and many heading in that direction, have circulated this article far and wide. Despite that understanding, I believe that this article is misguided and unproductive.

In addressing her remarks, I’ll first respond to a few specific and problematic portions, and later offer more general commentary.

Sheffield first draws the reader in by couching the Mormon question in terms of the current political climate. She draws this connection to conclude that “the church isn’t exactly welcoming of outsiders.” To support this statement, she writes:

Mormons account for 57 percent of Utah residents yet some 91 percent of Utah state legislators self-identify as Mormons. The state that’s home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has elected only two non-Mormon governors in nearly 116 years and has sent just one non-Mormon to Congress in the past five decades.

Because Mormons are disproportionately elected to political positions, Sheffield believes that the LDS church is not welcoming of outsiders—also claiming in the next paragraph that the church has a “distrust of outsiders.” How such a conclusion can reasonably be made is beyond me. It’s like claiming that Americans are sexist because Congress is comprised of mostly men. Perhaps this perceived imbalance can be attributed to the fact that members of the Church are consistently counseled to become involved in civic matters, or perhaps it simply means that a high percentage of non-members trust their Mormon neighbors and consider them worthy of public office. Sheffield’s twisting of logic to arrive at such an assertion does not stop here, but permeates the remainder of her piece.

Sheffield then seeks to succinctly dismantle the pro-family aura that surrounds members of the faith. “Yes, Mormons love families,” she writes. “But the family-values facade applies only if you stay in the fold. Former Mormons know the family estrangement and bigotry that often come with questioning or leaving the church.” It is the height of arrogance, in this author’s opinion, to claim that Mormons’ love of family is merely a “facade.” Sheffield is essentially arguing that this family shtick is a mere ruse which masks a less credible and flowery reality underneath. Mormons are not perfect, and therefore our families are not perfect. Some are violent, others are short-tempered, and many (myself included) have not yet internalized the counsel to love unconditionally. So while in some select cases there may in fact be a family “facade” which hides an uninviting and unforgiving environment, Sheffield’s qualification-free generality should be rejected as far too broad.

In the next few paragraphs, she discusses her personal problems as she attempted to reconcile her beliefs with what she perceived to be conflicting historical and scientific data with which she was presented. This she does under the allegation that the LDS Church “values unquestioning obedience over critical thinking.” Again, a generality—one which is true in some cases, but certainly not all (or even most). Elder L. Tom Perry summarizes a host of other teachings by church leaders: “We have never been encouraged to be blindly obedient; it is an intelligent obedience that characterizes members of the Church.” That intelligence comes in part by intense study and questioning, seeking “out of the best books words of wisdom” (D&C 88:118). Mormons are neither commanded nor counseled to avoid difficult questions. While Sheffield may have encountered some members and leaders of the church who could not satisfactorily answer her questions, her anecdotal experience (even though many others have experienced likewise) does not imply a institutional preference of “unquestioning obedience over critical thinking.” This simply is untrue.

Sheffield claims that the Church “stifles efforts to openly question church pronouncements, labeling such behavior as satanic.” I have never once encountered such an effort, nor the corresponding “labeling.” While obedience is encouraged, both institutionally and culturally, reasonable dissent is not considered satanic. Even with the Church’s involvement in Proposition 8—a large stumbling block for many moderate members of the Church—the First Presidency noted that members “may become involved”—compliance was not required, nor were those who disagreed with the proposition deemed to be on Satan’s side.

So as not to drag this on too long, I’ll comment on one final detail. In her conclusion, Sheffield expresses her hope that increased media scrutiny on the Church “will help break down the church’s fundamentalist trappings: secrecy about its finances, anti-women doctrine and homophobia, to start.” This critical casting of essential doctrines (setting aside the finances issue) as something “fundamentalist” (and thus anachronistic and strange) illustrates much of the standard “ex-Mormon bias” that permeates Sheffield’s opinion piece. It reminds me of the following quote by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

Church members will live in this wheat-and-tares situation until the Millennium. Some real tares even masquerade as wheat, including the few eager individuals who lecture the rest of us about Church doctrines in which they no longer believe. They criticize the use of Church resources to which they no longer contribute. They condescendingly seek to counsel the Brethren whom they no longer sustain. Confrontive, except of themselves of course, they leave the Church, but they cannot leave the Church alone (see Ensign, Nov. 1980, 14). Like the throng on the ramparts of the ‘great and spacious building,’ they are intensely and busily preoccupied, pointing fingers of scorn at the steadfast iron-rodders (1 Ne. 8:26-28, 33).

This leads me to my general observations about Sheffield’s scorn-ridden article. As I noted at the outset, some of the concerns raised by this woman are understandable. Knowing others who have left the faith, I can sympathize with some of the negative feelings and behaviors of which they’ve unnecessarily been a victim. It’s a very real problem, and one which needs correction. In that simple sentence, Sheffield would agree with me.

Yet we diverge drastically in our diagnoses and prescriptions. Ms. Sheffield points her ire at the institution from which she recently separated, claiming that the problem is the “church” along with its teachings, mandates, and practices. She therefore concludes, as noted in her title, that the church needs reform.

I beg to differ. In reviewing some of the valid complaints and concerns Sheffield lists, I see the problem as an individual, and not institutional one. In other words, it is not the leaders of the church and the organization they manage which is root cause of what Sheffield objected to. It is us.

Critics such as Sheffield often object that they were not taught correct church history growing up, with all its warts and bruises. They claim that the Church offers only a sanitized, approved version which is far from reality. While I generally agree, I again differ in the conclusions drawn from this circumstance. Where critics see nefarious collusion and an attempt to win converts by hiding a supposedly troubled past, I see a global church having to craft its curriculum to the lowest common denominator such that the constant wave of new converts can come to understand and implement gospel basics.

Paul’s counsel of milk before meat applies here. He told the Saints in Corinth: “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (1 Corinthians 3:2). In other words, he had to set aside the more complex issues in order to get the basics down first. For a Church continually recruiting new people, a consistent offering of milk therefore becomes necessary.

But what of the more seasoned members of the Church—those of us which grew up in the faith, and have long been accustomed to a diet of milk? Should we not be given opportunities within the organized curriculum of the Church to chew on meat? As is common with growing in years and moving around, I have attended various wards. In most of them, Sunday School was an underwhelming experience; while the teacher would often do their best to prepare, the questions were dry and the presentation not too intellectually nor spiritually stimulating. Participation, in my experience, has often been low—the same few people raise their hands, while the rest stare at their iPhones or scriptures. Sometimes an energetic discussion will break out, but often the class is very basic. Whether this can be attributed to time constraints in class, lack of preparation on the part of the teacher and/or students, or otherwise, this has been my general experience (albeit with welcome and exciting exceptions from the norm). I share this to suggest that again, it’s not the “church’s” fault, but ours. Critics want Church leaders to provide platters of juicy, tender doctrinal and historical sirloin, but I personally feel that most members are not ready for it. And with people in class who are definitely at the milk level, would it really be fair to impose such a diet upon them? Thus I believe that the meatier subjects should not be hidden or avoided, but relegated largely to personal study and more appropriate venues for their discussion.

But the prevailing argument in Sheffield’s post appears to be not that the Church is wrong doctrinally, but that its members do not handle with compassion and love those who end up disagreeing and leaving. What Church leader has ever advocated treating such people with derision and alienation? None. We as members are counseled to love, forgive, understand—to do just as Christ would. Thus, Sheffield’s call for institutional reform is misguided. She should instead be calling for individual reform. Ironically enough, that’s exactly what Christ did, and what his Church does.

I said earlier that I find this opinion piece both misguided and unproductive. I believe it is misguided because it takes otherwise legitimate concerns, saturates them with critical ex-Mormon bias, and then misses the mark on where correction is truly needed. I believe it is unproductive because rather than generating discussion that will help resolve the listed concerns in the future and help both sides come to better understanding and compassion, Sheffield’s work serves only to put Mormons further on the defensive, or lead them to dismiss her diatribe as the angry rantings of an apostate. This is unfortunate.

I know many people who are in Sheffield’s shoes, or are at least growing into them. This is a very real concern, and one which should be addressed directly, in my view. Yes, the Church as an institution can improve, respond, and offer direct counsel or programs that may better deal with these circumstances. But the onus is (and always has been) on us as individual members of the Church to study, learn, grow, love, embrace, and welcome.

President Uchtdorf recently taught:

Developing Christlike attributes in our lives is not an easy task, especially when we move away from generalities and abstractions and begin to deal with real life. The test comes in practicing what we proclaim. The reality check comes when Christlike attributes need to become visible in our lives—as husband or wife, as father or mother, as son or daughter, in our friendships, in our employment, in our business, and in our recreation.

In her experiences shared, Ms. Sheffield evidently encountered many members who had not yet sufficiently developed these attributes, and who perhaps were not practicing what they proclaimed. We each have this personal challenge, and a higher bar of behavior to which we must aspire. We’re not perfect, nor should perfection be demanded of us in the short term. We are, and ever have been, a Mormon people in need of reform.

65 Responses to “A Mormon People in Need of Reform”

  1. Connor
    January 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    This response is also worth reading.

  2. LaurieBee
    January 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Great response!

  3. JR
    January 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    You just summed up my thoughts about the article—and the overarching “problem” of the Church—to perfection. I’ve had to ask myself the following two-fold question in moments when I’ve struggled to understand certain aspects of Church history, doctrines, or other mysteries: Why do I really want to know the answer, and what would I think/say/do/be differently if I knew the answer — whatever it may be?

    Said another way, I find that if my motives are self-serving (looking for an “easy” way out) I tend to sympathize more with those who have left the Church over similar stumbling blocks. However, when my motives are pure, and my desire is to become my very best self, I tend to see the stumbling blocks disappear and the real answers bring peace to my soul. Things that are not sought to be understood by the Spirit cannot be logically rationalized into, or out of, existence, because they were given by the Spirit to be understood spiritually.

    Thanks again for putting things in such succinct and tangible terms.

  4. Connor
    January 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    This recent discourse by Elder Holland is a must-watch, as it relates tangentially to this topic.

  5. Brett
    January 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Since most members of the church that I know, have left for similar reasons, I think it would be best to try and understand them, than attack them.

    Furthermore, I think this is an opportunity for the leadership to change our policy.

    Lastly, I disagree with the milk/meat analogy. Our history is neither milk nor meat.

    Denver hits the nail on the head.

    http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2012/01/jensen-comments.html

    http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2012/01/interpreting-history.html

    http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2012/01/interpreting-history-part-2.html

    http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2012/01/interpreting-history-part-3.html

    http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2012/01/interpreting-history-part-4.html

    http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2012/01/interpreting-history-part-5.html

  6. Rebekah
    January 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    We desperately need meat in church lessons. I have been turned into the Bishop for attempting to organize a neighborhood fundraiser without going through proper church authority such as relief society president and/or Bishopric even though the fundraiser was not just for LDS neighbors but to attempt to unite the neighborhood as a whole. I have also been turned into the Bishop for holding gospel study groups outside of Sunday church. Both incidents were not punished but it shows the members are not even getting the milk out of the Sunday lessons. I have gone home from Church many times just frustrated and thirsty for more knowledge and a deep conversation about the gospel. It makes it even more difficult to get all the kids ready and settled when your not being fed and looked at as a demon when you study on your own. The members need to step up, me included and preach the gospel and stop worrying about publicity.

  7. Brett
    January 31, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Rebekah, I couldn’t agree with you more. I teach gospel doctrine and the bishop told me to keep it to the milk. What was it I shared? D&C 84:19-22. Really, that’s too much?

    I also send out a weekly email to remind people, who voluntarily game me their emails to be reminded, what the reading will be for the week. I attached a talk by Elder Holland, which he gave at a CES symposium in 1994. One member criticized the fact I was using “non-manual” material.

    These incorrect traditions are problem.

  8. JJL9
    January 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Rebekah, when you were “turned into the Bishop” was it a magical transformation?

  9. JJL9
    January 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Brett, you don’t have to agree with the Bishop’s decision regarding what be taught in Sunday School, but you should sustain him and recognize that it is his responsibility to make those judgment calls, and it’s not yours.

    It’s not about whether he is right or wrong. It’s about the fact that right now the Lord has chosen him to make those decisions. In some cases, he may err, and that’s ok.

    You take the first step toward apostasy when you critisize the Lord’s chosen leaders in the Church and you fail to sustain them in their callings.

  10. Brett
    January 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    JJL

    This is precisely the problem. I never criticized the bishop. Why is it our initial assumption that I did? He is a great guy- like him a lot. I’m sure the next bishop (he’s been it for 6 years) will not be as good. Can I not disagree? I do sustain him, but what does teaching milk*** even mean if I can’t read the scriptures?

    I sustain him, I took his counsel, but I disagree. And that is okay.

    Your first initial reaction was that I must follow the bishop. And I did. But this mindset has got to change.
    Do you not realize who D&C 121:34-46 is speaking to? It is speaking to the priesthood-THE LEADERSHIP. It is a warning to the leadership to use principles of love and persuasion and not compulsion. The bishop and our leaders should never have to compel us to do anything.

    You can talk all day long about how the members should faithfully submit and obey-and MOST do. But there are A LOT of people leaving the church and it is because the leadership do not adhere to D&C 121. I am not criticizing them. They are doing a better job than I would do. But my voice is one of concern because I do care about the church and it pains me when people leave, when alternative approaches would keep them in the fold.

    ***As footnote, the whole idea of teaching milk v meat needs to be re-looked. In Alma 13, Alma taught a whole bunch of apostates about foreordination of the priesthood, one of the deepest chapters of the BOM.

    In fact, it is my opinion that much of the problems we are having is a result of the watering down of our lessons. I just don’t buy the new convert/milk issue. 98% of the people in my gospel doctrine class have been members for more than 5 years. I mean when is it okay to move on to meat? When will that be done? Who will teach that? Don’t you realize meat/true doctrine is what people feast on? True doctrine changes behavior.

  11. Rob
    January 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Brett, I totally understand where you are coming from. I’ve been thinking a lot about the points you raise lately. I’d be interested in having a conversation off this thread about it if you are interested. I’m on Connor’s facebook friends list. My facebook page is fb.com/brotherpoet

  12. Francis Damian
    January 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Oh no, I can assure you that beyond “not being welcome” to outsiders mormons are aggressively hostile and threatening to them. Unless you’ve been an outsider living in UT, please don’t respond to this statement.

  13. Pete
    January 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    I weigh in on both sides of this discussion. On one side, we as individuals need to take responsibility for our own lives. As one who has put too much faith in my leaders, I can say that I made very bad life changing decisions because I listened to leaders more than I should have. No one knows you better than you. It’s great to get advice and input, but ultimately, you have to take responsibility for your life. To this point, I have been in a position where I needed significant personal guidance, but could not approach my church leaders because they had no context for my very unique personal challenge. Their response? “Pray.” That’s lame. Their inspiration is limited to their context. This doesn’t mean I don’t support them – I do. But it doesn’t mean they have any idea about what is best for me -because they didn’t – two bishops, two stake presidents and a stake president’s counselor. Again, I support them in their calling. I just want to be clear on that. On the other side, because of my experience, the church’s ability to response to special types of abuse and crisis is quite limited. The ARP program is good, but it’s reach is limited to “traditional” problems like alcoholism and pornography. The church is not the be-all end-all solution for everyone’s lifes problems. If church leaders think it is (and I don’t believe they do), then they are wrong. I know. I’ve been there. But in the end, I love the gospel – it has changed my life. I am grateful for the spirit in my life.

  14. Jim
    January 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    I was raised LDS, but haven’t attended for over 20 years. I can attest that family members that have converted to ‘generic christianity’ have maintained better contact with me than family members who have remained LDS.

    I feel like an outcast by my LDS family members. Some cousins of mine have commented about this also. One told me recently about how she tried to ask about how I was doing, and the reply was by in large silence, like I no longer existed. I think its because my parents are temple mormons, and they aren’t permited to maintain contact with those that have left the chruch.

    The most interesting thing is that when I was LDS I discounted any experience of a nonLDS chrisitan. One friend pleaded with me to become ‘saved’, by Jesus and I didn’t know what she was talking about. I already had that, but I never understood ‘saved’ in the past tense. Its interesting that I converted to neo-paganism, and eventually hinduism. But I feel like I am more Christian now than I ever was as an LDS church member.

  15. Connor
    January 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    “…they aren’t permited to maintain contact with those that have left the chruch.”

    This is completely untrue, as have been similar characterizations you’ve previously made of LDS doctrine and practices. There is no such prohibition even so much as implied, let alone institutionalized. It’s simply false.

  16. Jim
    January 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Connor,
    The temple recommend questions ask specifically about affiliation with ‘apostates’. The specific question is vaguely stated.

    “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? ”

    So in theory if I drink tea, which I do on a daily basis, that could be part of the question. I do remember one time mentioning the benefit of tea, forgetting that its forbidden for LDS church members. It wasn’t meant as an affront to my parents, but maybe it could have been perceived as such. I have sent links for hindu mantras to my parents, that could be viewed as a contrary practice, as mormons generally don’t practice pre-written prayers. I believe its actually discouraged, perhaps forbidden? But again, it wasn’t meant as an affront. But I don’t know how my parents might have understood that.

  17. Andrea
    January 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    I grew up in the church, went to early morning seminary, went on a mission and graduated from BYU. I went inactive for numerous reasons about fifteen years ago. I still consider myself Mormon even though I’m no longer a believer and do not anticipate ever being active again, but I still cheer for BYU athletic teams.

    Neither religion in general nor Mormonism specifically is for everyone. A lot of people benefit from church membership, and a lot don’t. You can be a good person or a bad person in a church or without a church.

    Being an active Mormon is neither a qualification or a disqualification for anything (except occupations like bartending).

    Sheffield’s comments reflect a bitterness that is unfortunately too common in ex-Mormons. Maybe it’s because Mormonism, for many who grow up in the church, overpromises and underdelivers. I’m sure she’ll get a lot of atta girls on the east coast wine-and-cheese circuit for her negative comments. Like any organization or movement, Mormonism has its faults, but these faults should be viewed through the lens of honesty not bitterness.

    If she’s uncomfortable about Mormons being overrepresented in Utah politics, you have to wonder if she has similar concerns about Jews being overrepresented in US politics. How many Jews on the US Supreme Court? How many Jews in the NY congressional delegation? Of course, if Jews are overrepresented it’s because they’re smart and they work hard, but if Mormons are overrepresented in Utah (or Arizona, Idaho, and Nevada) it’s because they’re bigots.

    The church DOES have historical and doctrinal problems, but all religions do. Am I really supposed to believe in talking snakes, a 6,000-year-old earth, a world-wide flood, and a bunch of other things the Bible teaches? These teachings are clearly made up, but no one thinks they’re strange because so many people believe them.

    People like Sheffield say they lose friends, family, and spouses because they no longer believe, but I have not seen this and I know SEVERAL people who have left the church. I’m sure it happens, but Sheffield and others make it sound commonplace. It is not.

  18. Brett
    January 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Connor, If you are going to get caught up on the fact that there isn’t an institutional rule to not affiliate with people who leave, you are missing the point.

  19. Brett
    January 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Connor, I guess what I find most lamentable is that we correlated the Doctrine of Christ out of the gospel. We don’t even talk about what Joseph Smith restored.

    We have the best message on earth and we are ruining it.

    Through the ordinances of the LDS church one is prepared to receive and be taught by angels, who then prepare the individual to receive a personal ministry of Christ, who then prepares one to receive the Father. Here. Now.

    It happens. It doesn’t happen much. But it could happen more if we’d just teach the doctrine and not water it down.

  20. Andrea
    January 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    Francis,

    Do you really think you can post a provocative comment on the Internet and then demand that only certain people respond to it? Unreal. Welcome to the Internet. Enjoy your stay.

    So I’m responding to your comment even though you have prohibited me from doing so, as if that were your prerogative to undo 15 plus years of Internet protocol.

    Yes, Utah can seem like a foreign country to many non-Mormons, but for every non-Mormon who endlessly biatches and moans about Mormons I find several who have no problem adjusting. Yes, it IS an adjustment, and I’ll admit some Utah Mormons could be better at interacting with non-Mormons. However, if Utah is such a hellacious place, why do these complainers live here for decades when they have opportunities to move elsewhere?

    I’ve lived in many states all over the country, and everywhere you go you hear SOME people say “this place sucks” or “I wish they did it here like we did it back where I’m from”. Whatever. Utah is not for everyone, but neither is California, New York or North Dakota. Utah could use some improvement, but all states and countries could be better. One of the nice things about living in a big country like America is that you have a good chance of finding a place to live that suits your specific needs, unless you yourself are a total jerk.

    Over the years, I’ve met non-Mormons who live in places like Provo and Springville and actually like it. I’ve met some that don’t.

    Being a jerk to “outsiders” is not unique to Mormonism.

    Sometimes it’s not just insiders that are jerks. Some of the outsiders are jerks themselves, and they wonder why people treat them like jerks.

  21. Brett
    January 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    Andrea,
    I think your response is part of the problem. Why not just say? “Sorry, we’ll try better.”

    How can we expect to persuade people we are Christian when we respond do defensively, so contentiously?

    Why not turn the other cheek, give away your cloke, and go with him a mile twain?

    And if you have done no wrong to any outsider, apologize and make up for the wrongs of our brothers so that they are not offended and deem us the enemy.

  22. Andrea
    January 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    Brett,

    I did say that, twice actually, but you ignored it, which reinforces my point. For example, I said

    “Yes, [living in Utah] IS an adjustment, and I’ll admit some Utah Mormons could be better at interacting with non-Mormons.”

    I also said

    “Utah could use some improvement, but all states and countries could be better.”

    So despite proactively following your advise, I see that it has done no good. No matter how profusely our side apologizes, it won’t be enough for some people, and you’ve proven that.

    We should apologize for mistakes and errors, and we all make them, but we have no need to apologize for imaginary mistakes.

    You describe my comments as contentious, but they are no more contentious than yours.

    Why don’t you just apologize and admit I’m right :)

  23. Brett
    January 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    I apologize if you took offense to my comment. I read a defensive tone that you may not have intended.

  24. JimW
    January 31, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    I have two sons with PhD’s and a wife with a MA in religion (None of the degrees from LDS related institutions). My wife has a library of over 6000 volumes on religions (not only Christianity), 99% of which are from Non LDS writers. She has spent a lifetime seeking the “meat” of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She has had no difficulty in finding faithful, active Mormons who share her quest, and who love the stimulation of seeking answers to substantive questions. And as the ads say: They are Mormons.

  25. Brett
    January 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    I don’t mean to be rude, I just wish to give you something to ponder: meat is not obtained through scholarship.

    “Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 324.)

  26. Matt
    January 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Mormons are people.

  27. JimW
    January 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
    I submit the above article of faith is a foundation principle for LDS Seminaries, Institutes and Universities. You might ask why Joseph Smith studied Hebrew, and why he read about discoveries in ancient America, or for that matter, why he studied the scriptures? The Lord expects us to do all that we can, “study it out in our minds” before he will add to our fount of knowledge.
    On a personal note, I will tell you that I wish I had the depth of testimony and understanding (the meat) my wife has.

  28. Heath
    February 1, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    I converted to the Church in 2003 while serving in the military. The moment I entered the Church, I’ve devoured the Book of Mormon over 15 times. I want the truth, and I love discussing the deep doctrines of the early brethren of the Church, but it seems that, in my experience, many members shutter when the “meat” doctrines are presented.

    Unfortunately, I have been limited in what I can discuss with other members, for it seems the moment I discuss secret combinations, Zion and Babylon, and the intelligences, many seek to have me removed from the classroom, mainly in priesthood. I find it most perplexing that the members of the Church would rather discuss their country club life and money, than speak about the things of deep import. Once you indict money, you are instantly give the deep freeze, as Nibley stated.

    I am awaiting the days when I can discuss the things of heaven with others. Of course this will only happen after the great culling of the Church.

  29. JimW
    February 1, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Heath,
    There is significance to this thread, in that many folks are like you in being discouraged that they cannot find the answers to deep questions in Sunday School and Priesthood Meetings. My take on this is that most members are very happy with the lives they lead, the ‘simple truths’ of the gospel, and with Sunday reinforcement of their ‘basic beliefs.’ I also feel the leaders of the Church understand that fact, and deliberately couch teaching material toward living the gospel, rather than exploring the deep underlying issues that give rise to the basic beliefs. I think they are right in doing so. Folks like you and my wife (and some of my kids) have to do the hard work of searching outside the church manuals for what you seek. We have found that search to be soul satisfying, very rewarding, and strengthening of our testimonies.

  30. Jim
    February 1, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Andrea,
    Mormons can’t distribute alcohol? I suppose the setting isn’t right. I knew of an LDS manager of a coffee shop in a town I used to live in. I thought that kind of out of place. I don’t know if she ever drank any. But I thought to myself, what does she know about coffee? Perhaps she grew up with it, and converted later?

    With a little more thought, maybe the rejection by my parents isn’t conscious. I’m not the person they wanted me to be. I recently saw photos of LDS church members I grew up with, and I thought oh wow, wonder how they are doing. I don’t know how much I have in common with them, the church was the only context for the friendship, outside of that maybe there isn’t much common interest.

  31. Brint Baggaley
    February 1, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Brett,

    I’d like to chip in my bit about teaching ‘watered down’ doctrine. I’m not sure if this is good for you or not, but I’ll share anyway. I was in a stake conference meeting where a General Authority was taking questions and someone asked how we can make our lessons interesting and still follow the manual. The answer was that if you set your heart on following the rule, the spirit is then free to give the exception. I found this to be great advice when I was teaching gospel doctrine. There were a number of times I felt I should share something that I was sure would get me pulled into the Bishop’s office, but it worked out well. We need to remember that everyone is on a different level (not that any one is better than anyone else, just different) and meat to one person may not be tolerable to another. Even in a ward where most people are long time members, there will be some who are ready to consecrate all their goods and others who choose not to pay tithing. To me it is clear that the church focuses on building the foundation of faith because that is what many people need.

    That said, I also believe that now is the greatest time for learning the ‘meatier’ doctrines ever. For our personal study, BYU (and I’m a diehard Ute fan) puts out awesome material. There is great stuff in research of the BOM. KBYU and BYUTV have some good programs on deeper scripture study. We have writings from scholars from Talmage to Nibley. I personally love Truman Madsen’s little book Eternal Man and Hyrum Andrus’s book God, Man, and the Universe (I recommend them, Heath, for many of the things you seem interested in). For those who want to seek knowledge in the proper way, now is a great time to be alive!

  32. JJL9
    February 1, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Having the desire to study the “deep doctrines” of the Church is ok. No one is stopping anyone from doing that. But it seems that the Brethren have determined that most of our focus should be on the basic principles of the gospel. It makes sense to me. If you truly understand the most basic principles, then you can effectively manage your life and make good decisions.

    The “deep doctrines” are very interesting and can be edifying and beneficial, but speaking generally, they are not necessary to your daily decision making. For one thing, they are not in conflict with the basic principles of the gospel, and if you have internalized the most basic principles, then you have all the tools you need.

    I can understand one’s desire to dig deeper, but I really can’t understand what seems to be such a driving desire by some of you to discuss these doctrines at church. Just because you may be ready or receptive to these ideas does not mean others are.

  33. Jobi
    February 1, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Hi, I’ve been watching the erosion of faith among some members for a few years and I’m a little alarmed that so many of the faithful are being shaken from the vine. I really appreciate your comments Connor, Mrs Sheffield’s comments were drawn from pain and so that’s what I felt reading them. I think you brought up a lot of excellent points. Brett, you also make some good points. .. in particular, your reply to Andrea was right on target (though I didn’t agree with your response to JimW). No offense to Andrea, I’m glad there are those who want to defend the church, but Brett is right. I’m a Utah transplant and I have personally known several people who have had tragic experiences with members because of their being outsiders. Of course this isn’t the norm, nor is it doctrinally supported. That’s why Brett’s observation in his reply to Andrea is so important.

    We’re a missionary church making claims to the world that God has restored the true and living church to the earth, and then we struggle to live truly Christ-like lives. Our poor examples have become a great stumbling block to those who are not members (and evidently some who are members) who see our bad examples. This issue is exactly correlative to the falling away that is beginning to gain momentum, because we as members are forgetting one of the most central doctrines of salvation, namely, that it’s up to us to become who God wishes us to become. It’s not up to God to make us into something, it’s up to us to make ourselves into something using what God has given us to work with. Too often we expect our leaders to bail us out of difficulties, or we expect God to bail us out of difficulties, and to be fair, sometimes that’s what happens, but for the most part, our purpose on this earth is to bail ourselves out of difficulties by making choices for ourselves using the skills and knowledge we have gained through the spirit while studying and doing good works. Of course God wants to help us, but only after we have done ALL that we can do.

    If we could remember this, I don’t think the lumps and warts of church history would be insurmountable. Rationalism and science go both ways. Neither would bad advice from church leaders become such an issue because we would be more self reliant. One of the biggest issues we have in the church is idol worship because of the unrealistic pedestals we build for our leaders. Especially the General Authorities of the church. I love them and have sent many ernest prayers to heaven on their behalf. They need our prayers precisely because they are also mortal men with imperfections, opinions, and bad habits.

    I feel as though there will yet be a great cleansing of the inner vessel of the church. Maybe this is how it begins. I hope we don’t forget that exaltation is not simply a reward for being a good person, it is a state of existence achieved through the strength we gain from faith (acting and believing in harmony with the truth available to us, and then just a little bit more), and made possible only because of the atonement. I feel like we’re beyond using the analogy of this life being a test. It’s so much more than that. It’s an entire education, and like our temporal educations, we only get out of it what we put into it. It’s the great equalizing principle of salvation.

    tldr: Don’t blame the leaders of the church for your problems with the church, take responsibility for your own path to exaltation, if that’s what you really want.

  34. Trestin
    February 1, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    The Church’s refusal to compromise on issues of morality (such as homosexuality) actually strengthens my testimony.

  35. David
    February 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Brett,

    I thought your early comments about milk vs meat were worth consideration. I did fond one statement that I think bears response:

    98% of the people in my gospel doctrine class have been members for more than 5 years. I mean when is it okay to move on to meat? When will that be done? Who will teach that? Don’t you realize meat/true doctrine is what people feast on? True doctrine changes behavior.

    Actually two responses. First, the statistic you quoted implies that length of time in the church is a barometer by which we can gauge the readiness of a member to digest doctrinal meat. My experience is that this is simply not true. Those who are ready for the meat become ready by active study and prays like the sons of Mosiah in Alma 17:2-3. Some people may be ready for meat as soon as they are baptized based on prior preparation while others are not ready after a lifetime of church membership. The second response is to the last statement in the quote above about doctrine changing behavior. My stake president said the same thing in a fireside this last weekend and I have seen the truth of that myself. It seems that we have an institutional predisposition to favor the milk more than necessary but that is probably the better error to make because the consequences of a doctrinal diet that is too meaty are worse than those of one that is to milky.

  36. Lee
    February 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    I joined the Church outside of Utah thirty-four years ago this month. I learned very soon that what Connor has so eloquently stated is true regarding milk/meat. I also have used a simple pattern to follow the scriptural invitation:

    3 Nephi 14:7 Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

    Matthew 7:7 ¶Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

    Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

    For me that has meant 1. prayer and scripture study 2. regularly (yearly with few exceptions) attending Institute classes, and since moving to Utah, Education Week classes, and 3. I’ve incrementally invested in a library of LDS and non-LDS reference books to supplement my study.

    Or as Elder Marvin J. Ashton put it in “The Word Is Commitment”: “It has been my experience over the years that, generally speaking, those who fall out of the Church are those who aren’t in far enough.”

    “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not . . . (Jeremiah 5:21).”

  37. Megan
    February 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    In regards to the milk vs. meat discussion: I was once in an institute fireside where Elder Ballard was speaking. In that setting the tone is more light than General Conference. He prefaced his words on the basic doctrines of the church by this quip (paraphrased) “you people want to know where Kolob is… Maybe we’ll find out once we can really live these doctrines.”. My husband and I enjoy discussing the deeper doctrines of the gospel ( which label is going to mean something different to each person anyway) but when we veer into speculation rather than revelation, we have a saying “well, is this pertinent to my salvation?” I think that’s the risk that is run when a Sunday school class strays too far from the manual and scripture- speculation is not revelation. I have heard some off the wall comments from lesson participants in my time, even if the teacher was doctrinally sound in their introduction of “deeper” topics.
    In regards to the article, when she said her family shunned her for years after leaving the church, I was so saddened. Church members who shun intentionally seem to me to be manipulative and spiteful and need to repent. Perhaps some of us are unintentional though, feeling uncomfortable because we wonder how much we can talk about the church that makes up so much of our lifestyle or whether we will offend. Maybe we think there’s not much common ground left when a friend or family member leaves the fold, and the resulting coolness is read as shunning. Yet another good reason to reach out and be used to befriending all kinds of people.

  38. Jim
    February 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    JJL9
    About deep doctrines, I have heard strange topics in institute of religion. Ones based on various sermons of leaders in the past, totally bizarre and not generally accepted as sound doctrine. The trouble is not getting too far out of alignment with Christian thought.

  39. Jim
    February 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    Trestin,
    Reguarding homophobia in the LDS church, recent political activity and media coverage might make it seem like heterosexuality and homophobia are the only LDS values. Be careful of that. I personally found it embarassing to watch, it sometimes seemed like folks were protesting a little too loudly. I have read commentaries from active members who expressed something simliar. Their concern is that its overcasting other activities of the church.

  40. Jim Davis
    February 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Brigham Young addressed the myth of Mormon’s believing they are perfect in his quote:

    In conversation not long since with a visitor who was returning to the Eastern States, said he, “You, as a people consider that you are perfect?” “Oh no;” said I, “not by any means… The doctrine that we have embraced is perfect; but when we come to the people, we have just as many imperfections as you can ask for. We are not perfect; but the Gospel that we preach is calculated to perfect the people so that they can obtain a glorious resurrection and enter into the presence of the Father and the Son.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 7)

  41. Brint
    February 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Jim,
    I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t refer to ‘homophobia’ as an LDS value. I don’t mean to be picky about wording, but I support the Church’s position, while yet holding the deepest respect and love for all people, and I believe most members of the Church would agree. I don’t think that ‘homophobia’ accurately describes the belief or feeling.

  42. Jim
    February 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Brint,
    Have you ever been on the receiving end of this belief or feeling? There is nothing like having your mother tell you in a shrill voice that are you going to hell. Or have the entire ward treat you like you aren’t a person anymore.

  43. Liz
    February 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    It ain’t the church. It’s the Utah culture more than anything. It does tend to be suspicious of outsiders, more prone to focus on differences rather than shared values. It’s not uncommon to find three generations living within blocks of each other. Anyone not blood related is suspect, at times. Least it feels that way. Grown women are extremely competitive in petty ways. there are more plastic surgery billboards down the Salt Lake section of I-15 than anywhere in the world, likely. There must be a serious clientele going on there. Everyone knows the church is only true outside of Utah, where people pull together and wardrobe and make-up aren’t spiritually defining issues. :) Outside of Utah, family bloodlines aren’t nearly as important as competence, and professionalism is the commonly spoken language rather than being hopped up on sweetness and peppy personality pills.

    Clearly you have an author with a beef, here, but Utah is a tough go for people that have experienced the church and it’s culture elsewhere. So I empathize a bit with the disillusioned woman. It’s changing. The culture, I mean. Ever so slooooowly, but there is improvement.

    The church doctrine and organization, however, is second to none. And that’s an understatement.

  44. Liz
    February 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Jim you know having your folks tell you where to go is not an LDS problem. My dad got the business from his Lutheran folks. Ostracized from his community, he left the country. It’s human behavioral issues more than religion specific.

  45. Brint
    February 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Jim,
    I realize there is pain in your past. I have never been on the receiving end of this, so I won’t try to pretend so. However, just about every family and ward has gone through this scenario and these results are not typical of my experience. I would simply suggest that healing starts with mutual respect. Thanks for sharing your experience and I hope the best for you.

  46. Brett
    February 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    I think one of the problems we have is what we define as “deep doctrine”, “mysteries”, and meat.

    “Deep doctrine” such as Kolob, Egyptian temple similarities, Book of Mormon geography, and such, is not necessary for salvation and not appropriate for gospel doctrine.

    However, there are many mysteries that are necessary for salvation. These mysteries are meat, they not academic/scholarly but putting the gospel into practice. They are also doctrines necessary to understanding scripture.

    For example:
    There is not a good understanding of WHO the gentiles, in the BOM, refer to. When the BOM speaks of the gentiles, they are speaking of the Latter-day Church. They speak of/to us. Now go back and read Nephi, Christ, and Mormon and see what they have to say about us, especially 2 Nephi 28. We don’t understand who is going to build Zion. 3N16.

    We don’t talk about being baptized by fire. We assume it is confirmation after baptism. Go read Lorenzo Snow’s account of his baptism of fire. After BOF you may speak with the tongue of angels who tell you all you need to know until Christ ministers to you. 2N31-32, read 32:6. This is the doctrine of Christ, yet most people don’t really understand this even though it’s on show in the temple. Though we are commanded not to declare any more than this no one seems worried at all about disobeying and declaring less. 3N11:40.

    We need to prepare for and experience the MIGHTY CHANGE requisite for the baptism of fire. What covenants must we live before we receive true messengers? We understand meaty doctrines by living the commandments necessary. Meat is not scholarship but searching, pondering, and praying.

    Nearly every principle has multiple layers of living/truth to them. We tend to only study the superficial. Search the deeper meaning of the principles. Nearly every prophet in the BOM offers intercessory prayers for their enemies (Lamanites) or posterity. Why don’t we talk about the importance of this?

    Are you aware that the Book of Enos is about him receiving his endowment? It is often told that Enos felt bad and wanted reconciliation with God. Read it. There is no mention of guilt, rather he pondered on eternal life and the joy of the saints. His father Jacob was a temple priest Jacob 1:17-18, who taught his son the ways of the temple, Enos 1:1. He went hunting, yet the Nephites raised herds. Enos 1:21 (what did he need an animal for?) He “wrestled” with the Lord, as did Jacob (Gen. 32). He is offered a gift and the sealing powers.

    This is meat. This is not academic or scholarly. This is salvation-dependent. This is not speculation. The least of saints can learn the meatiest doctrines and the greater mysteries. But we are not digging into the scriptures this deep. Do we have eyes to see?

    If we do not search the greater mysteries and only accept the lessor mysteries, then we will find ourselves “know[ing] nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.”(Alma 12:9-11)

    We are spiritually cripple because when considering meaty doctrine, we always ask “what have the brethren said about this?” (Not that that’s a bad inquiry.) This should not be the DEFAULT question. ALL questions can and should be addressed to God. This presumption is crippling people’s relationship with their Father. Oh, if we could only have a relationship where we know we would get an answer to our questions!

  47. Rebekah
    February 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    My opinion is that more members leave the church due to lack of meat then lack of milk. I am devout temple going member that believes the deep meat of the gospel and I have a really hard time getting myself to church every sunday to hear the same milking stories that somehow ladies still cry to every week.

  48. Jason
    February 1, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Reading this blog post and the subsequent comments (especially JJL9’s) have reminded me why I am glad that I am no longer LDS. Sheffield’s experiences are deeply personal and I can relate to her feelings of pain at trying to hold on to a testimony of a “gospel” and religion you come to realize is not what you have been taught. The church works great for people as long as they don’t doubt or heaven forbid speak about their unbelief.

    Connor it took guts to address this opinion piece. I don’t think any member who “sustains” the brethren will agree with Sheffield but it took something to try and give her experience a little credit which is more than I can say for most members I know.

  49. AV
    February 2, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    I believe that most all active LDS are ‘Sunday Mormons’ who just want milk & don’t want to have to think, discern & prove things for themselves, but just want to follow blindly & relax with the belief that the Bishop or the Prophet can never do wrong or lead them astray. They don’t seem to want the responsibility to have to search, ponder & pray about & question everything & everyone in the Church & learn the meat of the Gospel & prove all things.

    I believe that only those few who are willing to study out & learn & live according to the vital ‘meat’ of the Gospel can become worthy of Exaltation & Eternal life & not be deceived like everyone seems to be today, except a few, to fall for all the popular falsehoods being accepted in the Church, which causes everyone to just relax & blindly & ignorantly enjoy & subsist on only milk.

    It’s very enticing to just stay babies in the Gospel & not have to ever grow up & accept responsibility for our own salvation & the salvation of our loved ones. It is too hard to have to discern true doctrine from false doctrine & true prophets from false prophets in the Church. That is just too much work.

    Milk will never save us, it only is meant to help guide us to the meat which will make us worthy of the Celestial Kingdom.

  50. MB
    February 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Doesn’t it say in the Doctrine & Covenants that we should eat meat sparingly? Word of Wisdom thing right? LOL…

    I know this is a serious topic… Forgive me.

  51. Dan
    February 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    I was a friend of Carries at BYU. There was a roommate of mine that had a crush on her, but drove her away due to his over-abuse of sarcasm. I don’t remember having any discussions with her at all regarding religion, so as you can imagine, when I read her article I was completely taken aback. She has definitely changed over the last several years. Her article devastated me. Not because of what it said, but because it was my friend saying it. I wish she would have talked to me about it. I was never afraid to discuss the ‘hard stuff’. Who knows, maybe one day she will.

    I really appreciate the tone of this response to her article. Thank you for your civility.

  52. Jim
    February 3, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Brint,
    Mutal respect? My bishop compared being gay to being a murderer. Who tells this to a scared teenage boy who is experiencing feelings his doesn’t want to have? I have had LDS members calling me names of contempt. My friend has been helping a gay LDS youth who got kicked out of the house. He went over to pick him up, and saw his parents yelling at him, and tossing his posessions out into the street. They also removed all of his money from his bank account. I hope this isn’t a typical experience. But I have a hard time understanding that lds people really believe they are loving and understanding, while maintaining that someone else is a sinner. Doesn’t sound like love to me.

  53. Brint Baggaley
    February 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Jim,
    I think there is a lot to be gained by people understanding what you and others have gone through. As Connor pointed out very well, Mormons are not perfect and therfore our faimilies (we could add Bishops or anyone to the list) are not perfect. I would suggest that we are all sinners and all depend on Christ. I guess I just wish we could get to a point of constructive dialogue so we could all learn to be a little closer to perfect and at least treat each other well.

  54. AV
    February 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    Jim,

    It is always sad to hear how wrong people, especially youth, are treated by those who do know better, but who refuse to act righteously.

    Leaders & parents, etc., know they should show forth love, respect & understanding, even if they don’t condone certain things. Yet often parents & leaders choose not to show forth this love & thus are in no position to correctly judge others or youth, nor can they think they themselves are righteous.

    In reality, parents & leaders have more responsibility & accountability for such issues that a youth might be dealing with, then the youth himself/herself has. For it’s usually because of the parents & leaders & adults around him or her, that the youth is even having such issues.

  55. jim
    February 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Av & Brint,
    Thank you for the thought. I just can’t help but think there is always going to be some level of conflict as long as someone believes that homosexuality is a sin or an abomination.

    And Liz pointed out that its not just an LDS problem. I remember having a simliar conversation with an evangelical christian. I think he really wanted to be supportive, but he really studied the bible, and would repeatedly say thats not what apostle paul said. Its interesting and weird, that its only Paul that had a problem with it. Its not something that any other apostle ever commented on, or even jesus. Paul choice to remain celebate, maybe in general he had problems with sex in general.

  56. jim
    February 3, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I found an interesting article writen by an Episcopal bishop about the apostle paul, its worth considering. In a way its rather disturbing, he sounds very neurotic and troubled if you really examine what paul said. No person, other than jesus was probably as influential to the christian faith than paul.
    http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2004/04/Was-The-Apostle-Paul-Gay.aspx?p=1

  57. Just a good man doing his best
    February 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    It is interesting to read all of your comments and how you have reacted to this article, and your opinions, let me first say that we are all different individuals and we react,act, learn, live individually, different from each other, that being said all of our comments here is neither good nor bad, and they don’t make us so, They are just opinions.That being said, Church Doctrine is as the lord restored to the earth through Joseph Smith, what we know as Church Doctrine is perfect, true knowledge that has been restored through imperfect men from a perfect God, and the Lord is just in his purposes, and he uses fallibe human beings it is understandable that apostates feel hurt, because an imperfect man who leads the church did something they don’t like, I was inactive at some point and blamed the people in the church, for not what I said at that time not loving me for me, really I was mad that they didn’t condone my behaviour, and I feel thats what this is all about, I just wanted bad behaviour to be accepted, they didn’t have to, They are people following justice not of man but the justice of God, and God is not a respector of persons. We do as members of the Church have commandments to love our neighbors, but This is the Lord’s Church, true and never changing, it is his truth and his doctrine, it is eternal—never changing for the world. When we blame leaders for something that we didn’t like and are mad at them, we are only mad at ourselves because maybe we weren’t living right, just a different idea, ok? It is important to note that apostates always judge the church because of one imperfect person, they don’t know how to let go and forgive themselves, we must look past the people of the Lord’s church, and forgive like the savior forgive the thieves that were with him, or the adulteress woman, when we judge the church based on the people’s mistakes we become the pharisee’s and the priests not knowing the spirit of church doctrine because they don’t understand, that The Lord’s church is a true church for imperfect, who are doing the best they can, why else should the Lord lay down his life, but for his friends–US to answer the ends of the law, on that point let me point out that we have commandments, laws set down by the almighty and yes we are commanded to be like him, but those that leave the church and apostatize worry about the letter of the law rather, they should worry about the spirit of the law, of which they forget they are under the same obligation in the church or out, and will be judged accordingly, what I am saying, that every man can’t be perfect, that was the condition in the counsel in heaven we agreed to, (pay attention to this point) but we agreed to do the best we can and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who would make up the rest of all our efforts, if we were to look through those lens are vision, mercy, understanding will be more, clear, and understanding I am not perfect, we will be more able to forgive rather than judge, now the members of the church do have the obligation to judge wrong from right, not to judge people, but judge for themselves what is right or wrong, how else will I make choices in life???? I can’t make choices by what somebody did or said, my belief in God, and my faith will not allow that. If we are upset, or mad at a leader, or member in the church, it usually is something we didn’t like. I would say this church is not based on popularity, or feelings of what wrongs people, its based on truth, righteousness, not on correcting every person that we felt didn’t agree with us or hurt us, the Lord doesn’t work that way. If we feel hurt the right course would take it to the Lord then, FORGIVE, we can’t base our happiness, our well being in a church based on people, now back to commandments, we are required to be obedient, but we forget that God the Father is merciful, hence he sent his son, if we are to be like God, we must be merciful, those that are angry and cry foul, because they were hurt by imperfect people in the Lord’s Church must excercise the same mercy that they expect, it’s not a one way street, the Lord said and I qoute, “I the Lord will forgive whom I forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” and also the Lord qouted also “And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds, we as members believe these words, if we don’t then we ought well to rethink….this is a message both apostates, and members alike, let us not take offense for the imperfections of men, but as the Lord said forgive all men, then we are justified, those that critize, do not understand this commandment, neither do they understand the plan of salvation, and our need for a savior, and that in order to recieve the same grace as those in the church, we must do as the lord commands, for is that not what those crying foul are asking for???????

  58. Sean McLaughlin
    March 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    I have a so-called “fundamentalist” brother who has a lot of the same beefs with the church. Of course he left the church and constantly is at me about his differences with the church. I can see where he’s coming from; I don’t really agree with his assessments (or leaving the church for that matter.) I would remind all of us that we are a missionary church, that much of what we are taught in church is more or less a survey approach to the scriptures etc. geared to helping those with feeble knees, etc. It’s that give a man a fish versus teach a man to fish kind of thing. We are constantly taught to study the scriptures and to pray and receive revelation–the two very keys that are the most important! My best learning experiences when dealing with very sacred things have not been bandied about in a public situation like a Sunday School class with half baked testimonies and ideas. They come with personal scripture study and talking more privately with those who share a deeper understanding of the gospel. There are places and forums more appropriate to discuss these kinds of things. It’s interesting when I hear those who I know while teaching always putting in chunks of meat with the milk–so that those who know, understand, and those who don’t know, don’t get blown away by things they don’t understand. Yet with all that, I can tell you, having joined our ward’s High Priest quorum, I am convinced that there’s very little that wonderful group of men couldn’t solve of any problem you could think of. The experience and spiritual insight offered during our discussions is truly mind blowing to me.

  59. jimz
    March 7, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Sean,
    “…putting in chunks of meat with the milk”
    Makes me think of the prohibition against cooking a calf in its mother’s milk.

  60. THOMAS DYCHES
    June 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    “It is necessary that all…should exercise their powers of reason and reflection, and thoroughly understand why they take the course which God points out. Intelligent obedience…is desired by our Father in Heaven. He has given us our agency to think and act for ourselves, on our own volition , to obtain a testimony for ourselves from Him concerning the truth of the principles which He teaches, and then be firm and unshaken in the performance of all which is necessary for salvation.”

    ~ Wilford Woodruff

    I got this quote directly from our Priesthood manual during Elders Quorum. I am greatly appreciative that our leaders want us to be “thinkers” and question God Himself. I know that they and my Heavenly Father can handle it! =)

  61. THOMAS DYCHES
    June 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Connor thank you for taking the time to publicly address Ms. Sheffield’s article. And the discussion which has followed on this thread (and on others) is a very healthy exercise for us Church members IMHO. The theme from the article and from the ensuing discussion is a very important one – that we are to check ourselves and make sure we are living the Gospel individually. We also need to speak out and defend our beloved organization publicly – whatever its faults.

    I also teach Gospel Doctrine and I have endeavored to be somewhat “meaty” and engaging this year as I teach from the Book of Mormon. Yes, I like to go deeper doctrinally and often I do. But I always rely upon the Lord’s spirit to guide my lessons so that it will not become about the teacher and his agenda. I also pray that the Spirit will soften hearts and open minds.

    Two weeks ago, I taught the lesson about the shifting of the Nephite government from rule by Kings to rule by judges. At times, I felt a tension from the audience because we touched (lightly) upon current political events. In particular (with the Spirit’s prodding) I mentioned that 20,000+ executive orders have been created by a century of presidents from both major parties. That these executive actions are based upon the same philosophy as that of the Kingmen of old and not the Will of the People through Congress. I essentially said that many of our current politicians are Kingmen. The class seemed to accept that even though I felt some resistance (perhaps just in my mind). But the overwhelming feeling is that they felt the Spirit and knew my intent was not to offend but to explore and suggest.

    I feel in all of our exuberance for the “higher” principles and deeper mysteries of God we can never be disdainful or mean towards those who are still learning basics. Because in reality we are all learning basics. Love all, follow the Spirit, teach true principles, and let the consequences follow. That’s the best we can do!

  62. jimz
    June 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Thomas,
    I looked up the definition of testimony in the LDS webpage, its pretty simple. “A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost.”

    It says nothing about intellect, or the examination of proofs or evidence. LDS claim those are not contrary to a foundation of a testimony, none the less the LDS testimony is one of personal spiritual experience.

    I find it curious that a ‘testimony’ sounds almost equivalent to the christian experience of being ‘saved’, and ‘witnessing’. Except I never hear mormons saying that they are saved, as christians experience that as something that happens instantly and without any effort on their part.

    I do not know how christians come to know they can trust the scriptures that they trust. But at least mormons are honest enough to say that its ‘spiritual’ knowledge they have obtained.

  63. Elder U
    October 23, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Ive been reading all these comments and i just have to say one thing. “the parable of the ten virgins” its stated in the parable (and prophets have often associated it with the church) that half the virgins (members of the church) were unprepared when it came to the coming of the Savior. the way i see it, any one who falls away can be counted among the five unwise virgins. any who fell simply lacked faith (oil). if you want to study the “Meat” of the gospel go ahead no one is going to stop you. i personally study both the milk and the meat of the gospel and i find it refreshing we are always counseled to study on our own. church is where we are taught the milk or refreshed on it our personal study allows us to gauge ourselves and allows us to digest the meat as we are able if meat was taught in church then we would see allot of people go apostate and the church would crumble. stop complaining about this and study and find meat on your own. dont expect to get spoon fed, but i also say this at that last great and glorious day when we are all at the judgement bar will the meat really matter?

  64. EG
    December 24, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    I am the only LDS in my ex family. All the others quit the church (even though their names are still on record). These ex family members have treated me quite badly for staying LDS, which is one reason they are now “ex”. I never once criticized or said anything bad to any of them for leaving the church. That is the truth.

    When I was Primary President I was called in by the Bishop and was released. Because I did not teach everything from the manual, even though I never strayed from doctrine. A person who did not like me complained (I later found this out). The Stake Primary Presidency did not have a problem with what I did.

    Yes, LDS could do better and should do better in living what we preach. But people will be people and every religion has problems.
    I have been treated awful by non LDS where I grew up. A town 98% Hispanic and 98% Catholic. It was the Baptists who were the worst to me.

  65. EG
    December 24, 2014 at 2:23 am #

    What is wrong with wanting meat? Some LDS, like me, are ready for the meat of the Gospel. We thirst to learn more and more. We have long graduated from the milk.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.