An integrity crisis?

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græy
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An integrity crisis?

Post by græy » Fri May 29, 2020 1:37 pm

A thing as happened in my ward.

As some of you may recall I was released from being bishopric counselor last year and called to be EQP. A long-time friend, who has served in other leadership positions over the years was called as counselor in my place. At the time, he seemed like an obvious choice. He accepted the calling and we all moved on with life.

I received word recently that he asked to be released from his calling, has decided to officially leave the church, and plans to divorce from his wife. They were a model mormon family. Their kids have served missions, graduated seminary, earned eagle ranks. He brought his sons to nearly every service project available to them. They worked. They served. And just like that, he is gone, and his family is torn apart.

Obviously, I don't know all the dynamics of their family. But I'm under the impression that this was a total and complete shock to everyone but him. Over the years, searching for a local ally or confidant, I have dropped MANY glaringly big hints to him to try and show my less-than-orthodox understanding of the church and I never once got anything back but TBM convictions.

I think I am somewhat in shock because I am trying desperately to hold on to my family through this whole truth crisis thing, and he seems 100% willing to just walk away from his (she wants to stay together, try counseling, he doesn't). It turns out I did not really know him at all. And yet, I still want to. As I said, I don't know their specific family dynamics. I understand how complex this can all be. I don't want to judge. I want to know him better. I want to understand. Because right now, I don't.

I am also shocked as to how little it means to be one of the "elect". It is all just a facade. A show. The noble-and-great ones only appear noble-and-great because they're afraid to be honest. And I am just as guilty as anyone. And there it is. My faith crisis, the result of the church's truth crisis, have now turned into an integrity crisis.

Is my friend awarded more integrity points for firmly stating what he believes and wants from life? Or does he lose integrity points for giving up on his family? How do my choices add up - being as honest as I dare with my wife and more-or-less lying to my friends? In the end the points may not matter, I feel I'm doing my best and the best I can for those I care about. Maybe that's all I can hope for.

Blah.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Hagoth
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Hagoth » Fri May 29, 2020 3:01 pm

Is he someone you are comfortable enough with to call up and say, "hey, what's up?" If not for the pandemic, this is the kind of situation where it can be nice to ask someone if they want to meet you for lunch - or if you're really pushing it - for coffee and a chat.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Red Ryder
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Red Ryder » Fri May 29, 2020 3:30 pm

There could be a few different things going on here that we could speculate on but would be meaningless.

I think your underlying question about integrity is complicated. From my own perspective I have questioned my own integrity many times for staying tethered to the church. Questioned myself so many times because I haven’t just said F it and walk away like your friend. But then I somehow convince myself that I have integrity because I’ve stayed out of love and support for my family.

After 15 years of this questioning cycle I’ve decided the only analogy that makes sense is to liken the church to a burning building.

You can’t fault someone for running back in to save their family, friends, or neighbors.

You can’t fault someone for running out to save themself either.

Everyone has a different fight or flight response that is legit to them.

Blah is right.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Hagoth
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Hagoth » Fri May 29, 2020 7:42 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 3:30 pm
There could be a few different things going on here that we could speculate on but would be meaningless.

I think your underlying question about integrity is complicated. From my own perspective I have questioned my own integrity many times for staying tethered to the church. Questioned myself so many times because I haven’t just said F it and walk away like your friend. But then I somehow convince myself that I have integrity because I’ve stayed out of love and support for my family.

After 15 years of this questioning cycle I’ve decided the only analogy that makes sense is to liken the church to a burning building.

You can’t fault someone for running back in to save their family, friends, or neighbors.

You can’t fault someone for running out to save themself either.

Everyone has a different fight or flight response that is legit to them.

Blah is right.
And many of us end up running around the building in circles waving our arms in despair and hoping that the fire will burn itself out and everyone will walk away safely.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Palerider
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Palerider » Sat May 30, 2020 9:08 am

In my last ward we had a guy who by all appearances was similar to your friend. EQ pres. then branch pres. in a Spanish ward. Wife and a couple of kids. not only did he go through the faith crisis but also turned out to be totally gay. Has now left the church and divorced his wife. I wouldn't be surprised if he left the marriage because he felt he was doing the best for his wife. Giving her an opportunity to have a successful relationship somewhere down the road. This stuff can be brutal in it's consequences. I think he gave it his best effort but in the end had to be honest with himself and everyone around him.

Hopefully your friend hasn't jumped to the conclusion that because of his faith crisis all is lost. I know it doesn't have to be that way. It would be interesting to know if he still loves his wife. Discovering the church isn't what it purports to be doesn't automatically mean one's family is doomed. He might be surprised how far his wife would stretch to save the family.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

Mackman
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Mackman » Sat May 30, 2020 1:30 pm

I questioned my own integrity for at least 5years , I finally decided that I didnt need to have integrity at all !!! I am in the church but I am a huge Liar !!!!! I dont believe a word of it but I am there for my family who I love more than I hate the church. I have no calling right now and enjoy it . I will lie all I have too to protect my family from falling apart . I hate the church and all the lies they perpetuate so I have no problem telling them anything they want to hear. Someday I pray to God that he will show my wife and kids what a corrupt organization the church really is !!!! P.S. Red Ryder loved the burning building analogy.

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wtfluff
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by wtfluff » Sat May 30, 2020 1:51 pm

græy wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 1:37 pm
...
I am also shocked as to how little it means to be one of the "elect". It is all just a facade. A show. The noble-and-great ones only appear noble-and-great because they're afraid to be honest. And I am just as guilty as anyone. And there it is. My faith crisis, the result of the church's truth crisis, have now turned into an integrity crisis.
...
This is where it really hits home. Maybe it just hits home for me, but I kind of doubt it's just me.

MORmONism never really teaches you to be honest with yourself. It never even considers teaching you to find yourself, or "be who you want to be." It teaches you to be who you are supposed to be. After all, if you don't force yourself to become the made-up MORmON caricature of who you are supposed to be, that "loving" toga-wearing "father," Elohim near Kolob is going to punish you for eternity.

The thing is, that caricature is completely unattainable, and completely fake (or a facade as you put it græy.) Even though it's fake, many of us spend most, if not our entire lives trying to force ourselves to become that caricature. Every major decision we make in our lives is tinged with trying to become that caricature. When you find out that caricature is based on lies and half-truths that you have been force-fed your entire life, well, that can change your outlook a tiny bit.

You want more proof that it's all fake? Look at the photo that CEO cRusty posted on his FAKEbook account this week. It shows him vacuuming. "Helping clean the house" before he blesses the sacrament for himself and Wendy, 'cause that makes Wendy sooooooo happy! The thing is, if you spend more than a couple seconds looking at the photo, you realize it's completely staged. It's completely FAKE. Why would a guy who talks with the all-powerful ruler of the universe all the time need to create, staged, fake propaganda? Because it's all a facade. cRusty's fake social media propaganda reminded me of this thread.

Now I don't know anything about your friend græy, but but when I figured out that the vast majority of my life was based on lies and half-truths, completely burning that life to the ground and starting over was definitely something I wished I could do at times. There are still times when I wish there were a NoM witness protection program where I could just "disappear" and start over. Maybe that's what your friend wants, maybe it's something completely different.

I hope you'll attempt to reach out to him. A listening, non-judgmental ear might be just what he needs.
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

Keep the company of those who seek the truth - run from those who have found it -Václav Havel

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Corsair
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Corsair » Sat May 30, 2020 2:18 pm

græy wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 1:37 pm
Is my friend awarded more integrity points for firmly stating what he believes and wants from life? Or does he lose integrity points for giving up on his family? How do my choices add up - being as honest as I dare with my wife and more-or-less lying to my friends? In the end the points may not matter, I feel I'm doing my best and the best I can for those I care about. Maybe that's all I can hope for.

Blah.
Integrity points are discounted in a faith crisis leading to a bizarre price imbalance between the believers and the apostates. Each side believes they are Choosing the Right and maintaining integrity. Ironically, I think that God will look kindly on whichever side acquires fewer integrity points by reaching out in humility to family and friends on the other side of this emotional divide. I fully admit that I am the undercover unbeliever who has blessed the sacrament every single Sunday since March 22. There are times to make a firm stand. But think that the times to simply be kind occur more often.

I think this will leave me with a lot of Mormon Street Cred when I eventually have to tell some bishop or stake president, "No, I simply cannot do that thing you want me to do." I already turned down an invitation to be a temple worker earlier this year. I am hearing reports that my current stake president is not as sympathetic to faith transitions as the last one. My integrity will certainly be tested at some point. Until then I will probably just keep up the facade for the benefit of family that would inevitably be hurt.

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Fletch
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Fletch » Sun May 31, 2020 11:18 am

Mackman wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 1:30 pm
I questioned my own integrity for at least 5years , I finally decided that I didnt need to have integrity at all !!! I am in the church but I am a huge Liar !!!!! I dont believe a word of it but I am there for my family who I love more than I hate the church. I have no calling right now and enjoy it . I will lie all I have too to protect my family from falling apart . I hate the church and all the lies they perpetuate so I have no problem telling them anything they want to hear. Someday I pray to God that he will show my wife and kids what a corrupt organization the church really is !!!! P.S. Red Ryder loved the burning building analogy.
Amen to that Mackman...I’m in the same boat. You said it perfectly.

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græy
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by græy » Sun May 31, 2020 12:50 pm

Thanks for the input everyone. FWIW I have reached out to my friend a few times over the past few weeks. On Friday I finally point blank asked him what was going on to try and spur some conversation. That yielded the longest response I've got so far, which still just said that he's not ready to talk about it. That is fine. I responded that we should go get lunch or something when he's up for it, but COVID makes that a bit questionable too.

I appreciate that others have similarly questioned their own integrity for staying or going. In the end, it really only matters to our own selves anyway, and in most cases I really believe we're all doing the best we know how.
Hagoth wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 7:42 pm
Red Ryder wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 3:30 pm
After 15 years of this questioning cycle I’ve decided the only analogy that makes sense is to liken the church to a burning building.

You can’t fault someone for running back in to save their family, friends, or neighbors.

You can’t fault someone for running out to save themself either.
And many of us end up running around the building in circles waving our arms in despair and hoping that the fire will burn itself out and everyone will walk away safely.
:lol:
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

annotatedbom
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by annotatedbom » Sun May 31, 2020 6:43 pm

Hey Græy,

Please go easy on yourself. I remember teaching a high priest group lesson, and it was probably about the pioneers and/or other suffering this life can bring. I explained that I felt I'd led a privileged life to that point in time (probably didn't use the word "privilege" because I didn't have much of an understanding of just how privileged I am - white, male, middle-class, graduate degree, United States). I never really faced what I would consider an excruciating moral dilemma until I found I could no longer believe the truth claims of the Church. On the one hand, I valued honesty, so I was pulled to tell my wife about my new beliefs. On the other hand, I valued my relationships with my wife and kids, and I thought telling my wife risked destroying those relationships, so I was pulled to keep my new beliefs from my wife. I probably could have given you a fair intellectual assessment what it means to be pulled by values in two opposite directions, but until I no longer believed in the Church, I'd never really experienced it in such a traumatic way.

Fear drove me to hide my new perspective. It's hard to tell what would have happened if I had been forthright with my wife from the beginning, but I think acting on fear for such a long time didn't serve me or my family well. I forgive myself because I honestly didn't know what to do. The whole thing has been the most difficult experience of my whole life (and I'm still privileged to the point of living a sort of charmed life compared to the majority of the billions of others), but it was hard. We make mistakes. We need forgiveness, especially from ourselves sometimes.

My best,
A-BoM

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græy
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by græy » Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:32 am

annotatedbom wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 6:43 pm
Hey Græy,

Please go easy on yourself. I remember teaching a high priest group lesson, and it was probably about the pioneers and/or other suffering this life can bring. I explained that I felt I'd led a privileged life to that point in time (probably didn't use the word "privilege" because I didn't have much of an understanding of just how privileged I am - white, male, middle-class, graduate degree, United States). I never really faced what I would consider an excruciating moral dilemma until I found I could no longer believe the truth claims of the Church. On the one hand, I valued honesty, so I was pulled to tell my wife about my new beliefs. On the other hand, I valued my relationships with my wife and kids, and I thought telling my wife risked destroying those relationships, so I was pulled to keep my new beliefs from my wife. I probably could have given you a fair intellectual assessment what it means to be pulled by values in two opposite directions, but until I no longer believed in the Church, I'd never really experienced it in such a traumatic way.

Fear drove me to hide my new perspective. It's hard to tell what would have happened if I had been forthright with my wife from the beginning, but I think acting on fear for such a long time didn't serve me or my family well. I forgive myself because I honestly didn't know what to do. The whole thing has been the most difficult experience of my whole life (and I'm still privileged to the point of living a sort of charmed life compared to the majority of the billions of others), but it was hard. We make mistakes. We need forgiveness, especially from ourselves sometimes.

My best,
A-BoM
Re-read this again. Thank you A-BoM. This does help a lot.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Not Buying It
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Not Buying It » Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:37 am

In the morally upside down nonsensical world that is Mormonism, what does integrity even mean? You are trapped in a rigged game with no clear rules and every single other player is deceiving you in some way. Nobody in the Church wants or values your integrity. Integrity becomes meaningless in a situation like that. Sometimes your silence is the best way of being true to yourself in this incredibly messed up situation.

Listen, this is the truth - there are parts of you no one else is entitled to. The Church has tried to teach you that there are no boundaries, that you are obligated to give them any part of your life they ask for, but in the immortal words of Bob Dylan you need “To keep it in your mind and not forget/That it is not he or she or them or it that you belong to”. They don’t own you, they just think they do. You don’t owe anyone your deepest thoughts and beliefs - those are yours to share, or not to share, as you choose.

I don’t owe a single damn person in the Church the access to my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. I stay true to myself by only sharing them with those I choose to. In my view, that’s the only integrity to be found in the crazy maze of Mormonism.
"The truth is elegantly simple. The lie needs complex apologia. 4 simple words: Joe made it up. It answers everything with the perfect simplicity of Occam's Razor. Every convoluted excuse withers." - Some guy on Reddit called disposazelph

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moksha
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by moksha » Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:09 am

When I read such stuff my immediate reaction is to turn to religious teachings: We are all miserable sinners, but God loves us anyway and wants us to feel better about ourselves, just like He does.

I would call the friend who left and invite him to lunch. He may want to share what happened or he may not. It is the act of reaching out and making contact that is important. Cherish yourself for making the effort and cherish him whatever his response.

As far as integrity, the simple fact that you are mulling this over demonstrates that you have it. You have outlined the pertinent concerns that you need to consider. We could all take joy in being lilies of the field, but we have responsibilities and much to consider. Following the watercourse way, we may float on the stream but we may also stay still in the tide pool. Either way is cool. Just be gentle with yourself because of the religious stuff I mentioned in the first sentence.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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Fifi de la Vergne
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:12 am

græy wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 1:37 pm
I think I am somewhat in shock because I am trying desperately to hold on to my family through this whole truth crisis thing, and he seems 100% willing to just walk away from his (she wants to stay together, try counseling, he doesn't). It turns out I did not really know him at all. And yet, I still want to. As I said, I don't know their specific family dynamics. I understand how complex this can all be. I don't want to judge. I want to know him better. I want to understand. Because right now, I don't.

I am also shocked as to how little it means to be one of the "elect". It is all just a facade. A show. The noble-and-great ones only appear noble-and-great because they're afraid to be honest. And I am just as guilty as anyone. And there it is. My faith crisis, the result of the church's truth crisis, have now turned into an integrity crisis.

Is my friend awarded more integrity points for firmly stating what he believes and wants from life? Or does he lose integrity points for giving up on his family? How do my choices add up - being as honest as I dare with my wife and more-or-less lying to my friends? In the end the points may not matter, I feel I'm doing my best and the best I can for those I care about. Maybe that's all I can hope for.
This is a great thread, with a great question at its heart that really hits close to home.

After my faith in the truth claims of the church was shattered, I tried to hold on to my marriage. I never wanted to end up divorced, or to have my kids have to admit coming from a "broken" family. But it was so hard, and so complicated. So complicated.

When our youngest graduated from high school, I finally left. I moved out, and I KNOW that I have been judged as being the one responsible for the breaking up of our marriage and family. I don't have a whole lot of contact with old ward members and friends, but snippets do get back to me. And the thing is, they have No. Idea. No idea how many complications there really were, and how many secrets I kept for years to protect my spouse and my family. I have felt healthier and saner and happier since I left -- I really don't know how I could have continued to live with him -- but I still question myself. And it's a question of integrity for me too. I made promises and commitments that I haven't kept. Only a very few people have any idea how much I struggled and still struggle with those questions sometimes -- to the rest no doubt it looks like I just blithely walked away.

All this is just to say (and you said it yourself in your OP): you can't possibly know what goes on in someone else's marriage. It's always more complicated than it looks from outside. You can't judge him, and since you don't know what drove him to take the steps he did, it's impossible to compare yourself and judge yourself according to his choices. You're doing the best you can in an impossible situation. You are. Be kind to yourself, and spare yourself the burden of judging others as well.
Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous Yes to one's own true being.

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Just This Guy
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Just This Guy » Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:50 am

It is interesting how even Ex-mos don't interact as much as you would think we would.

I got really lucky that DW and I both left the church at the time time. We both had the same trigger. While the individual paths and thought processes were different, we both came to the same conclusion at roughly the same point. I can't even begin to image what would have happened if one of us left and the other stayed. I say we got VERY lucky there.

A couple years ago, we found out that one of the more churchy families in the ward was breaking up. They were ones that were always help up as examples how how to be good Mormons.

We had a couple run ins with this family after we went inactive. Nothing bad, but we did have to draw some boundaries. I think we quickly disappeared from the ward's RADAR soon afterwards. I would not be surprised if they reported back that we were evil agitators at the time, because after that, almost no one from the ward even tried to contact us. If anything, this sort of justified our inactivity that the ward did not care about us.

Fast forward a few year, we have left the church and found out that that family fell apart. From what I understand the husband left the church as well as all the kids and they got a divorce. Several kids were older and were out on their own. The minor kids chose to stay with their dad. We tried to reach out to them, but we never got anything back from them. Oh well.

I wonder if part of it is that as a member, you see people that you are not comfortable around. Maybe they are ex-mos, maybe they are just nuanced believers, but we see them as a threat to our faith. So we protect ourselves by minimising our interaction with them. Maybe that mentality carries over when we join the ex-mo crowd. We are so used to not taling to that person that we don't think that maybe they can help us work through this. Or that we know how painful it is, this person will only show me more about how I was duped and made to be a sucker? Could this be a version of old-habits-die-hard?
"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

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Corsair
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by Corsair » Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:46 pm

græy wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 1:37 pm
Is my friend awarded more integrity points for firmly stating what he believes and wants from life? Or does he lose integrity points for giving up on his family? How do my choices add up - being as honest as I dare with my wife and more-or-less lying to my friends? In the end the points may not matter, I feel I'm doing my best and the best I can for those I care about. Maybe that's all I can hope for.
I do not know the answer to these questions. I think I have answers for me, but I still think I'm the weirdo here because I literally just renewed my temple recommend last Sunday. As usual my stake councilor got the answers he was hoping for despite complete prevarication on a few items (particularly about tithing). My believer wife just largely ignores the duplicity I engage in at this point.

A faith crisis is one of the most complicated moral situations that an average person can be in. The final trajectory can be any of a dozen directions which includes abandoning either church or family depending on how the participants react. The basis for why you are married and the friends in your life are heavily based on the existence and obligations of LDS church. I don't know how to build up a new reason for existence for anyone else.

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slavereeno
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Re: An integrity crisis?

Post by slavereeno » Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:57 am

This is a tough issue. One of the nice things about being in the position we are here is that we recognize that there is no one-shoe-fits-all answer anymore. What may work for one family does not work for another.

I was put in a pickle about a year ago. Some of my family knew I was out and some did not. Some concerns were expressed from the knowing faction that perhaps I was making a mockery of the beliefs by attending, but not believing. I was caught between damaging relationships on either side of the situation. Damned if I did and damned if it didn't. I decided to disclose to my entire family and stay out of a temple sealing on principle. In my particular situation that turned out well, but it could have easily gone the other way.

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