Who Created YOU?

Discussions about holding onto your faith and beliefs, whether by staying LDS or by exploring and participating in other churches or faiths. The belief in any higher power (including God, Christ, Buddha, or Jedi) is true in this forum. Be kind to others.
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Brent
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Who Created YOU?

Post by Brent » Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:23 am

Look on the web and you’ll find plenty or angry, bitter, vitriolic former Latter-day Saints. Active Latter-day Saints love angry inactives because it’s considered as a proof of the truthfulness of the church. Remember the internal LDS historical narrative is that persecution is what the true church has to contend with; it’s a sign that you have the truth because the righteous are persecuted. Joseph is not a martyr because he broke social convention, had dubious business dealings, was polygamous and polyandrous—but because…well…the Missourians were a rough crowd and didn’t much like God’s truth. An honest history or alternative motivation often eludes the average Mormon.

First, upon finding the historical truth, soon-to-be ex-members often consult with people they respect inside the Church. Very, very rarely is that conversation going to go anywhere but “those are lies” and “they are twisting the truth” to the ultimate cop-out “we don’t know why the Lord had them do that but it’ll all make sense on the other side.” The single most common phrase you will hear at an LDS Testimony Meeting is: “I know this Church is true”. Ponder that a moment. You know (have complete faith) that the Church is true (all things inside are good, Godly and correct). Can a true church lie to you about its history? If you’ve invested to the point of “knowledge” what happens if the facts you know suddenly change? The anger that those who leave the church feel isn’t false or foolish. It’s the anger of betrayal. It’s righteous. It’s reasonable. It’s human. Finding out your church has been lying about and covering up its history must be akin to finding out you’re adopted. Nothing that was, is. All the underpinning of who you are and what you believe loses its gravity. The entirety of your spiritual beliefs are released from their moorings.

You’ve been lied to. Knowingly, willfully lied to by an organization that claims ultimate truth and demands absolute accountability. For the suddenly un-anchored it’s easy to use words like betrayed. Something you’ve loved and trusted has not returned the favor. Getting mad isn’t a surprise. Suddenly every part of the church is part of a conspiracy. All actions by the church or its people is viewed with a cynical eye. The well-intended are seen as exploited or exploiters. Motivations are suspect. Trust in the entire system and its parts is shattered. It’s easy to be angry and paranoid and to lash out. Welcome to being human. Worst of all: you got taken. You failed to see the trap. Anger can be turned in or turned out. Or both.
In the midst of all this lies a question that we rarely ask ourselves:

“Did I believe in The Church or in The Christ?”

Which should be followed with:

“Do I need The Church to believe in The Christ?”

Latter-day Saints are often accused of not being Christian and I believe that’s with good reason. Paramount in Mormon life is “The Church”. They know The Church is true. They testify of it. They wrap their lives in it and measure their value and worth by church standards. The Church becomes the center of their lives. Latter-day Saints don’t really consider themselves foundationally Christian they are “Members of the Church”. Mormon’s don’t self-identify as Christian first and LDS second they self-identify as Latter-day Saints first and Christians second. Ask one. Is it any wonder that once they find the feet of clay at the base of the church they throw away all religion and with it Christ? They may have been Mormon but they weren’t followers of Christ. They don’t know Christ. They know the rites and rules of The Church but they don’t know Christ, they don’t understand Grace. The chains and fetters of “The Rules” has placed them in a position where, if the church isn’t true, all their behaviors and time were wasted. That lack of knowledge combined with the fact that the thing they thought guaranteed their salvation has proved fallible can crush any desire to trust in Christ. They have trusted and that trust was wasted. Is it any wonder they’re angry and unwilling to trust again? Worst case they’ve embarrassed themselves with a slavish devotion that they touted to friends and family as the best thing ever. They can feel like a shill—an unknowing shill—but part of a scam anyway.

Is the LDS Church a scam? No. It’s not much different than any other church, including its claims of absolute exclusivity of salvation. If you’ve preached that gospel and then realize its dubious underpinnings you can turn against it with the true anger of a jilted spouse. Once the bowling ball has landed on the teacup the question shouldn’t be about the church any more. The better question is what, amongst these pieces, is worth gathering up and carrying off. Are you just going to be mad you dropped your bowling ball on your fine china or are you more interested in what parts of that china you should rebuild? Often we want to be angry and destroy things, to finish the job and show our wrath at our mistakes. I would offer that is a waste of time. There were and are good things and people in the Mormon Church. If you were baptized at 8 like I was then you owe a great deal (good and bad) of who and what you are to the LDS church. Rather than be mad why not look for those things that are good and worthwhile and picking them up and using them to build the new you.

Because of the LDS church I have no testimony of Joseph Smith. Or the Book of Mormon. Or of the current LDS structure and leadership.

Because of the LDS church I do have a testimony of God’s love, Christ and his sacrifice, and the atoning nature of Grace. Being LDS helped me learn to love my neighbor and pay attention to the needs of others.

I am not angry.

I do not want my tithing or my time back.

I don’t wish evil on the church or its members.

I’m not gleefully licking my chops waiting for some collapse of the church.

I don’t run about telling people to “beware!” or “run away!”

If you’re digging the LDS church—dig on my friend, it’s all good.

The Church has made me into who I am and now, knowing what I know, having experienced what I experienced, it has become my job is to use that past to make myself an even better follower of Christ. To me this means that I’m not supposed to break faith but build it (or at least don’t actively strip people of it). Somehow I don’t think Jesus would want me to spend a lot of time and energy on being pissed off at Salt Lake City or, especially, myself.

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Corsair
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Location: Phoenix

Re: Who Created YOU?

Post by Corsair » Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:20 pm

Good advice. There are still many people who just want to burn it down and this is usually those who have been hurt by it. In addition, a lot of us still have dear friends and family committed to the institutional LDS church which is why we don't completely walk away.

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Emower
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Location: Carson City

Re: Who Created YOU?

Post by Emower » Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:04 pm

Thanks for this Brent. I never really thought of myself as identifying as Mormon first and Christian second, but I totally did.

When I decided to do some research on my own and to use sources that were outside of the acceptable list, I told myself that this was like a refrigerator. Something stinks in my fridge. I can let it go, let it get worse and moldy, let it stress me out eveytime I open it and possibly make me sick. I had to clean out that fridge. So you take everything out and examine it. You open all the containers and you sniff them. You look at them critically. You wipe everything down with some cleaner. I am in a position where I am happy with the person that food made me into. I like who I am. So I didn't need all new food, I just needed to know what stunk and was rotten. I threw that away then I started to put it all back in. I am in the middle of this process. My fridge will be a lot emptier now, but it will not stress me out to smell the rottenness coming out of it. I have so much more peace now.

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Newme
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Re: Who Created YOU?

Post by Newme » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:08 pm

Brent wrote:The Church has made me into who I am and now, knowing what I know, having experienced what I experienced, it has become my job is to use that past to make myself an even better follower of Christ. To me this means that I’m not supposed to break faith but build it (or at least don’t actively strip people of it). Somehow I don’t think Jesus would want me to spend a lot of time and energy on being pissed off at Salt Lake City or, especially, myself.
Well put.
Though, I'll admit that I have gone through kind-of stages of grief - where I was very pissed off at the church/leaders etc.
At times, when I've been hurt and it seems that the cause of that hurt was the dysfunctional teachings of the church & how they're applied - it's been very difficult to forgive. But I realize it's my own mental health at stake.

I see the church as an important spring board that I needed to learn basics - some good standards in a world that often resembled hell.
My belief is no longer in Jesus as how he has come to be worshiped, but I do believe in a higher Christ-consciousness which I strive for.
And I see my faith journey as one of ongoing series of "positive disintegration" - breaking down things - which often hurts, but is required to regroup and build better. It's not strictly sequential but more like spiral dynamics where I go back and sometimes need to relearn things again and again - to correct life-long thinking habits and approaches. Still, ultimately, I don't want to wallow in BS.

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Ghost
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Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:40 pm

Re: Who Created YOU?

Post by Ghost » Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:46 pm

Thanks for your thoughts. I've also never gone through an angry phase and I've thought a lot about how I wouldn't be who I am without my LDS background. A funny thing I realized at one point is that I wouldn't exist at all without Mormonism. At first I thought of this in terms of how my parents met, but I later realized there was even more to it than that.

I don't see the attributes and experiences I gained from my LDS background as good or bad but simply who I am. It doesn't even make sense to ask myself whether I'd change anything, because the "I" who would ask that question would not be the same person (would not exist at all).

It's a common argument that Mormons place their church above Christ. Sometimes that's based on how often Jesus is mentioned in talks, and so on. But my experience has been the opposite. The devout members I know are deeply devoted to Christ. And I have to conclude that they understand Him just as well as anyone else given the reliable information we have. That said, the label "Christian" is not always one that Mormons are quick to apply to themselves. Sometimes it's shorthand for "the rest of the people who believe in Christ but don't have the whole picture as found in Mormonism."

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