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Vort

Dying testimonies. How tragic.

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I wasted about thirty minutes an hour or two ago reading through a blog from some Latter-day Saint woman who styled herself "liberal but faithful". Her blog was a series of rants (many rather foul-mouthed) about what she perceived as shortcomings in Church actions and doctrine, including Proposition 8, Elder Mark E. Peterson's 1960s-era expressed opinions about "negroes" (does anyone besides me even remember Elder Peterson? a truly great and intelligent man, but as with the rest of us, a man of his era and culture), women's subservience in the Church, etc. etc. ad nauseam. To the surprise of absolutely no one except, perhaps, herself, a year or so ago she found herself no longer "faithful", but unbelieving and on the verge of leaving the Church and its ignorant members. (That's where she stopped her blog, so I have no idea what has happened since then, and I suppose I don't care enough to go looking.)

I just finished reading mormonmusic's update about his home teachee. Here is a man with enough Church service that he has actually served on a high council, yet his testimony is so fragile and brittle that he has become inactive because he thought the stake presidency and high council talked too much about tithing.

Did these people fail to read Alma 32, or did they just fail to understand it? Like Bette Midler's

, the word is a living plant, not an anchor or a tower or a boulder or some such thing. You have to nourish it. You have to protect it. You have to nurture it, just like you would your baby, or your marriage, or any other precious living thing you care for. How does writing screeds against "the corporate Church" nurture the word within you? How does a man grow up in the gospel and reach middle age without having a testimony strong enough to lean on? I'm not really appalled or aghast, just sad for these people.

I do not think myself anything special. I never use myself as an example of righteousness (except to my children, and then only by how I try to act in front of them). I expect there are many on this forum who have far greater spiritual maturity than I, and I expect even more would agree with that assessment :). So how is it that I can see this and so many others seem blind to it? How is it that even in my own (extended) family, I have so many relatives who insist on finding fault with the Church and its leaders and members? Can they not see the damage they do to themselves and their dependents?

Of course leadership is not perfect! So what? I am asked to sustain my leaders, where "sustain" means "help make them successful in their callings". I am not asked to sustain them when it's convenient for me, or sustain them only when I think they are making good decisions. I am not called to police them. If my son were called to be the bishop, would I be sure to point out all his flaws and problems? Is that how I would show him my solidarity?

What do people expect of our leaders? They are truly great men and women, but they are not God. Why do we expect that of them? They aren't allowed to make a mistake? Many non-Mormons, even on this forum, think that a "prophet" should be someone who literally cannot make a mistake. Are we Latter-day Saints really so childish that we believe such nonsense? I can sort of understand such ridiculous beliefs from non-members; they have no background in restored truth, only traditional legends and their own understanding of the Bible. But we should be far above such silliness.

If you feel your testimony is weak and fragile, then heed that feeling! Take steps to strengthen your testimony! Read and really study the scriptures, and pray a lot! (Yes, that's two words.) And do not give into the temptation to find fault: If you really, truly just cannot help but think that your leaders are just dead wrong about this or that, then KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! If that's too hard, then talk with your bishop/quorum president/group leader/RS president. But for heaven's sake (literally), protect your testimony.

I realize there are a few who style themselves as "open-minded" who will take offense at what I have written, claiming it's "mind control" or against the First Amendment or anti-Mother-love or blinkered GoodThought or some such. Whatever. If that's you, then I am not talking to you, because you have no ears to hear. This is to those who have the heart to understand what I'm trying to say, perhaps even in spite of how I have said it.

[/frustrated_rant]

Edited by Vort

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I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn other, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives. The principle is as correct as the one that Jesus put forth in saying that he who seeketh a sign is an adulterous person; and that principle is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 156-157)

I have 2 close family members (both returned missionaries) who are now inactive and critical of the church. When my brother shared with me his concerns with the Church, my first question was, "What is your sin?" Turns out it was the word of wisdom. I have a brother-in-law in the same situation.

Joseph Smith was right as usual. If someone misplaces their testimony, I can gaurantee one thing. There is a sin involved.

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Shortly after converting I was "offended" with some people at church and became a flaky convert because of it. One of those people was the Bishop and I learned quick that if I go to church for other people then I'm wasting my time. I was vocal with my new Bishop about some things. Then I moved, got a new start in a new ward and saw that I was critical of people with no right whatsoever to do so.

I visited my original ward after being ordained an Elder and met with the Bishop months after the fact and apologized for not being a better convert. I felt awful (and still do) for judging people so harshly when the whole time I was blaming them so I didn't have to accept responsibility for me and my behavior as a new member. I accused people of being judgmental of me and my situation in life at that time, and responded by being just as judgmental of them. Whether they really thought those things or not. My last visit in that ward was earlier this year and was Fast Sunday and I got up for the first time and bore my testimony, and apologized over the pulpit to all the people there who reached out to me and how I treated them.

One of the talks I had with my Bishop, I told him how invasive I thought people were. Like the Elders Quorum President and his counselor. They had the audacity to schedule times to come visit me at home! How dare they try to get to know me! I must have blown off 5 different families who all invited over for lunch or invited me over for FHE. Why were these people trying to spy on me? I was such an idiot. I would still be flat out embarrassed to go back and visit that ward right now. I moved and didn't go to church my last month to say goodbye to anyone, didn't call anyone, didn't let anyone know I was even leaving. The Bishop found out I was moving through the missionaries. He called me several times to see if there was anything I needed. But at the time, I told him it was "invasive" how people were acting toward me. I was glad to leave.

Now I see how much of an jerk I really was. That Bishop surprised me in the sealing room at my wedding. He flew 2500 miles to go to my wedding, didn't let anyone know, he was just sitting there in the sealing room waiting to give me a hug and congratulate me. Even though I have long since apologized to him and mended that friendship, I still feel ashamed at how I acted towards him and everyone else in that ward. My problem was me. I was in my late twenties, unemployed, back living with my parents, didn't own a car, and I didn't want anyone to see where I was in life. The majority of the members in that ward were very successful and at a very different point in life than I was, and I resented them for it. But as is usually the case, my problem wasn't with anyone except myself. I just decided I had the right to take it out on everyone else.

My wife told me about people (one person in particular) who stopped coming to church when her Dad was called as Bishop. One lady emailed all the addresses on the ward directory pleading people not to sustain him as their Bishop and not to go to that ward as long as he was Bishop. She refused to meet with him to talk to him about it though, she wouldn't meet with the Stake President either. He was released as Bishop last year and still no one knows why she felt the urge to publicly attack him like she did. Big surprise, she didn't return to church after he was released.

I am a very straight forward person, blunt to a fault most of the time. I had no problem telling my first Bishop all the things I thought were wrong with the ward. I had no problem telling him how I thought it was invasive to be visited by ward members and leaders who wanted nothing more than to get to know me. I can't imagine going on a campaign against someone like that though. I've heard stories from people who have seen instances like that woman, it's never anything wrong with them, it's something that is wrong with the ward.

I've moved around a lot in life, my last move into my house with my wife was my 15th move across 9 states in 9 years. Military was a lot of that, but I've learned that for the most part, whatever you try to find wherever you are, you will find it. Some things can't be helped, like when I was stationed in Texas I HATED the heat. I like the cold, and I am not cut out for living in that climate. I can't help the weather though, and blaming Texas for being hot doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I had bad experiences in some places and the experiences is tied to the place for me. And that's a commentary on how poor my outlook was at that time. Even when I moved here at the beginning of the year, I had been warned about "Utah Mormons" and how much I would hate it in Utah. I had a rough beginning with my current Bishop over a few things, nothing serious, but he's just doing the best he can. I sure don't want his calling, and I think it's easy to forget that sometimes people get a calling and it is to help them just as much as they are meant to help others. I remember my first Fast Sunday here when the Bishop got up and bore his testimony about the atonement and how hard this calling was for him. He stood there with tears streaming down his face thanking everyone for their prayers and their patience. I was far removed from where I was in my first ward but I felt pretty bad for being urked with him over a few things.

We don't have paid clergy, so I try to be as supportive as I can of everyone in their callings because one day that may be me. And I would want people to be patient and understanding with me as I learned the ropes and figured my calling out. Not a single Bishop, or Quorum President, or Stake President, or anyone at all who you see every Sunday gets a check for being there and doing what they do. And like I said, one day it could me or you called to a leadership role, and I would need more patience and understanding than I deserve. To wrap up my rant, if you think something is wrong then fix it. If you can't fix it, then help your local leaders fix it. If it can't be fixed by that point, deal with it. Don't blame people. It's not nice and doesn't help anything.

</rambling rant>

Edited by pam
filter skipping against the rules

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I also am saddened by the failing testimonies of some of my family members and friends. Testimony can be fragile. It needs to be nurtured. And for those who no longer believe because (insert name/s here) wasn't perfect, or "nice" to them, or didn't agree with them--was their testimony only based on that particular person/s, or maybe, perhaps they were looking for an excuse to leave the church? The only thing that I can do is pray for them, and show increased love.

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Guest mormonmusic
Posted (edited) · Hidden
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IWhat do people expect of our leaders? They are truly great men and women, but they are not God. Why do we expect that of them? They aren't allowed to make a mistake?

My thinking exactly. They DO make mistakes and one has to recognize this, or you end up with testimony problems when you get "under the hood". So often I find people come up with REALLY weak arguments to justify these leaders as not having made a mistake at all, perhaps to protect their testimony or lull themselves into the idea that our leaders are quasi-deified.

I think a testimony is more resilient when you can say "Yep, our leaders make big mistakes sometimes....[insert mistake here]". And then you go on with your activity in spite of it.

And by the way -- the number of times I've heard people say "If you're going to work for the Church, you better have a strong testimony" is astounding. I've heard that many different times as the juxtaposition of what we hear at Church with the necessity of operating in a temporal world can throw people who haven't yet made this mental leap that I've described above.

But we should be far above such silliness.

Well, here's where I need to point to the judgmentalism threads others have started here. If I walked into my HT visits with that attitude toward this brother, the conversation would be over. All personal influence would be dead.

The glass is still over half full with this person. He's had some spiritual experiences, he supports his family, he's expressed some admiration for parts of the Church -- like the opportunity to rub shoulders with good people. His family still goes to the temple. He doesn't try to convince his family to agree with him. He even offered to let me nourish his testimony by discussing his concerns and letting me discuss why the Church can be a divine organization that is fully justified in behaving like a temporal organization. He recognize he has a problem, and is taking steps to let me fill him with some different and better ideas. He didn't argue with me when I shared what I thought, but sat there pensive, like he was taking it all in. He receives the priesthood into his home, and has "kept his mouth shut" in meetings and other places I have attended.

And as the NT says, "If I have not charity, then my words are as tinkling brass". The harshness in the OP sounds like an entire brass orchestra to me, and the song fails to chart.

I realize there are a few who style themselves as "open-minded" who will take offense at what I have written, claiming it's "mind control" or against the First Amendment or anti-Mother-love or blinkered GoodThought or some such. Whatever. If that's you, then I am not talking to you, because you have no ears to hear. This is to those who have the heart to understand what I'm trying to say, perhaps even in spite of how I have said it.

I don't see it as mind control. I see this post as the perspective of someone who is viewing this man through his own lens, without compassion. The whole air of frustration and tongue-lashing is something that interferes with the power of the message.

Edited by mormonmusic

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I wasted about thirty minutes an hour or two ago reading through a blog from some Latter-day Saint woman who styled herself "liberal but faithful". Her blog was a series of rants (many rather foul-mouthed) about what she perceived as shortcomings in Church actions and doctrine, including Proposition 8, Elder Mark E. Peterson's 1960s-era expressed opinions about "negroes" (does anyone besides me even remember Elder Peterson? a truly great and intelligent man, but as with the rest of us, a man of his era and culture), women's subservience in the Church, etc. etc. ad nauseam. To the surprise of absolutely no one except, perhaps, herself, a year or so ago she found herself no longer "faithful", but unbelieving and on the verge of leaving the Church and its ignorant members. (That's where she stopped her blog, so I have no idea what has happened since then, and I suppose I don't care enough to go looking.)

I just finished reading mormonmusic's update about his home teachee. Here is a man with enough Church service that he has actually served on a high council, yet his testimony is so fragile and brittle that he has become inactive because he thought the stake presidency and high council talked too much about tithing.

Did these people fail to read Alma 32, or did they just fail to understand it? Like Bette Midler's

, the word is a living plant, not an anchor or a tower or a boulder or some such thing. You have to nourish it. You have to protect it. You have to nurture it, just like you would your baby, or your marriage, or any other precious living thing you care for. How does writing screeds against "the corporate Church" nurture the word within you? How does a man grow up in the gospel and reach middle age without having a testimony strong enough to lean on? I'm not really appalled or aghast, just sad for these people.

I do not think myself anything special. I never use myself as an example of righteousness (except to my children, and then only by how I try to act in front of them). I expect there are many on this forum who have far greater spiritual maturity than I, and I expect even more would agree with that assessment :). So how is it that I can see this and so many others seem blind to it? How is it that even in my own (extended) family, I have so many relatives who insist on finding fault with the Church and its leaders and members? Can they not see the damage they do to themselves and their dependents?

Of course leadership is not perfect! So what? I am asked to sustain my leaders, where "sustain" means "help make them successful in their callings". I am not asked to sustain them when it's convenient for me, or sustain them only when I think they are making good decisions. I am not called to police them. If my son were called to be the bishop, would I be sure to point out all his flaws and problems? Is that how I would show him my solidarity?

What do people expect of our leaders? They are truly great men and women, but they are not God. Why do we expect that of them? They aren't allowed to make a mistake? Many non-Mormons, even on this forum, think that a "prophet" should be someone who literally cannot make a mistake. Are we Latter-day Saints really so childish that we believe such nonsense? I can sort of understand such ridiculous beliefs from non-members; they have no background in restored truth, only traditional legends and their own understanding of the Bible. But we should be far above such silliness.

If you feel your testimony is weak and fragile, then heed that feeling! Take steps to strengthen your testimony! Read and really study the scriptures, and pray a lot! (Yes, that's two words.) And do not give into the temptation to find fault: If you really, truly just cannot help but think that your leaders are just dead wrong about this or that, then KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! If that's too hard, then talk with your bishop/quorum president/group leader/RS president. But for heaven's sake (literally), protect your testimony.

I realize there are a few who style themselves as "open-minded" who will take offense at what I have written, claiming it's "mind control" or against the First Amendment or anti-Mother-love or blinkered GoodThought or some such. Whatever. If that's you, then I am not talking to you, because you have no ears to hear. This is to those who have the heart to understand what I'm trying to say, perhaps even in spite of how I have said it.

[/frustrated_rant]

Despite the current problems our society faces... we are still living in a time of relative prosperity and ease as a whole. This sort of problem has always occured in such times within the body of the followers of Christ.

When the slope away from the iron rod is gentle and serene its easy to let go when the rod feels cold or rough... but nevertheless it is a slope that inevetibly leads to a precipice sooner or later.

Edited by Blackmarch

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Guest mormonmusic
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If I read Vort's OP to this man, I'm pretty sure I'd lose all influence over his thinking, even if I scrubbed it of references to his particular situation.

From my perspective, the glass is more than half full with this person. He supports his wife and kids in the temple, they pay tithing, he comes to Church, he's unobtrusive in his concerns at Church, and remains quiet in lessons, listening. He invited me into his home to listen to why his expectations should be lower of the Church as it operates in the temporal world. He comes to activities....and I think he has a desire to rekindle his testimony. I can tell it bothers him, and that part of him wants to reconcile. I don't see his lack of commitment now as a trigger for "bearing down" on him. My hope he'll come through this with a deeper testimony of the Church where he's reslient to the things he saw "under the hood" as he got deeper into the Church's temporal operations.

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I think it is very easy for us to forget that bishops and stake presidents did not ask for the calling they have received. Instead, it was foisted upon them. Many are just not prepared to be an expert in all things. I've seen new bishops (and many old ones) who were uncomfortable with conversing with members, especially about private matters.

When I was young and recently divorced, the military moved me to an area where my bishop basically didn't want anything to do with me, because he didn't know how to handle the concept of a young divorced person! He placed me in a calling and then tried to ignore I was in the ward. I felt slightly offended at the time, but have since realized that he never wanted to do anything more in life than retire and work on his classic automobile, but now found himself spending many hours each week serving in areas he was very uncomfortable in doing. He definitely needed all the sustaining he could get.

Sometimes a little more compassion and forgiveness on our part can go a long way.

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Thank you, thank you for your post, Vort. This is something i have been thinking a lot about lately. It is wonderful to me that Christ can take a very obviously imperfect man and use him to restore His true church to the earth. And that He continues to use imperfect and weak men and women as leaders in His church to bring about His purposes for us is just amazing to me. But it is the principle by which He works. He uses the weak and simple to confound the mighty.

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One of my favorite sayings: The only good reason to be Mormon, is you believe God wants you to be.

If you're there for any other reason, you may have a good experience or a bad experience. But if you're there because that's where God wants you, then even the bad experiences are for your good, and you know it.

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If someone misplaces their testimony, I can gaurantee one thing. There is a sin involved.

As opposed to someone that is faithful and doesn't have sin?

Your arguement is a non sequitur. We all have sin as part of our life. As such, everyong that falls away from the church or misplaces their testimony will be a sinner. So am I....and for that matter you. I am sure that some individuals fall away from the church because they are sinning. But to make the case that everyone leaves the church because they have a sin in their life simply is not true.

-RM

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Years ago I worked with a man who had been a bishop twice. He asked me one day if I really believed the church was true. When I said yes, he was visibly troubled. Then he said "I have never really believed." He then explained that he felt it was the best of all the religions and he hoped it was true.

Before that I worked with a woman who stated that if President Benson every became the prophet she was going to leave the church. President Benson became prophet and I don't know what happened with her.

Our testimonies need to be based on the core of the gospel: Jesus Christ. It is sad when someone gets distracted by things of this world.

It is a very sad thing to watch when someone loses their testimony.

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I wasted about thirty minutes an hour or two ago reading through a blog from some Latter-day Saint woman who styled herself "liberal but faithful".

Why?

If you really, truly just cannot help but think that your leaders are just dead wrong about this or that, then KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! If that's too hard, then talk with your bishop/quorum president/group leader/RS president.

I think I do understand what you are saying, and I'm not trying to pick a fight. It just seems that in my church experience no one is perfect. I haven't met a single individual, not one, that didn't have doubts about somethings, uncertainty about others, or lack of understanding in some areas of the gospel.

For those that struggle with those items, I think the better advice is what you concluded with. Talk with your leaders, talk with people you trust. If your testimony is important to you, then yes you need to care for it and nuture it.

I just think that when we advise those individuals to KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, that it isn't very helpful. Not to the individual who may need the help, nor to the church over all. After all, aren't we predicated on the foundation of helping the lost, comforting the hurt, aiding the lame, and succoring the weak? I recognize the admonition 'Physician, heal thyself' and agree that individuals who are struggling have to WANT to be helped. When they reach out, I believe we need to throw them a lifeline, not cut them off.

-RM

Edited by RMGuy

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The other problem with the keep your mouth shut mentality is that there are a great many people who have concerns about issues in the church and feel terribly isolated and alienated because they feel there is no one in the world who can empathize with them. Social inclusion and acceptance, in spite of and because of our differences, is a very important part of maintaining one's commitment to the Church.*

Being able to talk about these kinds of misgivings with others who share the misgivings but find strength in the church can be very helpful. Stifling the thoughts can breed resentment. Expressing them to genuinely caring and fully accepting friends can build bridges, or life rafts, that keep the more essential parts of a person's testimony burning while they search for ways to manage their discontent.

I know I'm not expressing this well, but I think it's important that we be able to talk about these things and still feel accepted (I deliberately choose the word 'feel' over the word 'be'). I'm not sure that this would have helped this particular blogger, but I do believe it would help a significant group of people who feel significant cognitive dissonance between their concern over social issues and their testimonies.

* I fully accept the premise that people should participate in church because of doctrine and testimony first, and for social reasons second; but the reality is that people with a healthy social life at church are far more likely to develop strong testimonies than those who do not. The reality for the imperfect mortal is that the social and the spiritual blend to form a beautiful fabric of testimony.

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The other problem with the keep your mouth shut mentality is that there are a great many people who have concerns about issues in the church and feel terribly isolated and alienated because they feel there is no one in the world who can empathize with them.

There was an article about the strong social presence of LDS people on the Internet. This is about the phenomenon called the Bloggernacle, which is all the Mormon-related sites out there.

The author postulated that because sharing concerns that might detract from the faith of others is discouraged at Church, there is pent-up energy to truly express oneself freely. This displays itself on the Web in the form of thriving communities. There are spots on the web now where it's "safe" to display divergent thoughts and concerns without being labelled apostate, and people tend to join them and participate regularly.

And by the way, anyone who buys into the rather harsh pronouncements like the OP would do well to read Elder Wirthin's article talk "Concern for the One", which describes how we need to concerned in positive ways to:

a) The people who are tired

b) The people who are different

c) The people who have strayed.

I'm pretty sure the admonition for these people to "keep your mouth shut" wouldn't be well-received by this apostle.

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In my family, we've had some of this sort of thing -- and the venerable patriarch is trying so hard to keep the clan together. He posted a few thoughts on standing in holy places and not being swayed or led off the Gospel path by things around us. I posted this:

"Standing unmoved in holy places" means this to me:

I must honor my covenants. These are not things that are promised to the Church, to my Bishop or whomever. These are between me & God Himself. However, I do allign myself with the family of Christ via the Church. So I do have a responsibility to 'play nice' within the Church.

1) Baptismal promises to God.

a) I will always remember Christ. What did He teach; What did He do; How did he treat people. How can I do these things; Can I do them as Christ did them? Is it worth trying to do them? Yes.

b) I will strive to understand & keep the commandments given to me via the Church.

2) Priesthood promises to God.

a) I will try to serve others, the priesthood helps me focus on how to do that.

b) I will try to be empowered in giving blessings and making stewardship decisions by honoring my covenants.

c) I will not coerce or manipulate others by virtue of my position in the priesthood. I will show love to all.

3) Temple promises to God.

a) My first devotion, responsibility and promise is to obey God.

b) I must be willing to sacrifice my own wants and conveniences to do so.

c) I must learn and follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as best I can. Essentially, this means, as Beth said, I must love other people. This is loving God.

d) I must control my 'natural man' and keep sex limited to what I have promised.

e) I need to be willing to give all I have or will have to God and the Church He has restored to the earth. I may not actually be able to do so; I may not actually be *asked* to do so; but I must be willing.

I know I need *faith & hope* to try to do all the above. And lastly, I need to remember that in all this, I will fail. That's why the second principle of the Gospel is repentance. I need it.

If I don't change & seek improvement in my life, I will *really* fail.

HiJolly

Edited by HiJolly
remove my name...

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Guest mormonmusic

The only thing that has kept me going to church my whole life is that my dad taught me that the church is perfect, but the people are not perfect.

For me, that phrase is what led to my faith crisis years ago. I had to work through it and now feel I am stronger with the phrase:

"The Church isn't perfect, and neither are the people".

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:cool:

For me, that phrase is what led to my faith crisis years ago. I had to work through it and now feel I am stronger with the phrase:

"The Church isn't perfect, and neither are the people".

Exactly. Took me a lot of study to discover this, but you're spot on. Sorry, Jenn.

HiJolly

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I took Vort's comment about "keeping mouth shut" more as don't be a complainer/gossiper. I think one should seek counsel from a trusted individual/bishop in the case where they are having spiritual doubts/concerns. But, it is absolutely not a good idea to go broadcasting it to everyone we meet (as in that one story of the woman who emailed to ward to not support the bishop).

I think MM's HT/friend is doing it right. He's sharing his concerns with someone he trusts while still going to church and being supportive of family. As long as he continues to pray/study/fast, I think he will eventually be able to move beyond this obstacle.

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I do find the docterine to be perfect. Not saying the leadership and the way everything is set up is perfect, but a lot of that is set up by imperfect men. Sure there are things that don't run smooth or well, sure there are hicups and bumps in "the system." But that is being run by man. Mankind is not perfect.

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I do find the doctrine to be perfect. Not saying the leadership and the way everything is set up is perfect, but a lot of that is set up by imperfect men. Sure there are things that don't run smooth or well, sure there are hicups and bumps in "the system." But that is being run by man. Mankind is not perfect.

I'm glad you qualified the "church is perfect but the people aren't" phrase as I think it has the power to really derail people when they experience human failities that are deep in the Church heirarchy and structure. For me, I find it hard when people refuse to accept that the leaders make mistakes, choosing to justify their behavior with weak arguments rather than to reconcile their human mistakes with their testimony. There is a talk on You Tube by a general authority which centered on the fact that the Church is not the gospel. I think is name was Elder Poelman/Poleman.

I believe the doctrine is largely beautiful. Along with clean living, it's what attracted me to it in the first place.

However, we also have to recognize that certain doctrines are not perfect either -- evidenced by the acceptance of certain doctrines in the scriptures, and then their formal removal later on. I believe Lectures on Faith were once in the scriptures, representing formal doctrine, and then were removed -- as a case in point.

I also think certain things we take for doctrine are simply cultural values, or the opinions of men of influence at the time. In fact, we have been criticized as a "Church without formal doctrine" because it's not clear to the general membership exactly what is hard doctrine and what is actually culture and/or opinion. Fortunately, there is a process in place that has been followed pretty consistently for many decades for establishing core doctrines we can lean on.

However, I am supportive of our doctrines -- those things that are truly doctrine.

Edited by mormonmusic

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I am sure that some individuals fall away from the church because they are sinning. But to make the case that everyone leaves the church because they have a sin in their life simply is not true.

Do you think a completely sinless man would walk away from his covenants? I agree that we are all sinful; sinfulness per se does not make one unrighteous. I think milkbone's point is well-taken: We abandon the Church ultimately because of our own shortcomings, not because of someone else's.

Why?

I suppose because I'm something of an omnivore, reading-wise, coupled with the car-accident phenomenon of not being able to look away.

It just seems that in my church experience no one is perfect. I haven't met a single individual, not one, that didn't have doubts about somethings, uncertainty about others, or lack of understanding in some areas of the gospel.

Agreed. Of course, this was part of my point.

For those that struggle with those items, I think the better advice is what you concluded with. Talk with your leaders, talk with people you trust. If your testimony is important to you, then yes you need to care for it and nuture it.

I just think that when we advise those individuals to KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, that it isn't very helpful. Not to the individual who may need the help, nor to the church over all.

If you keep picking at the scab, the wound won't heal.

Those who complain at or about the Church do so because they are trying to "fix" something that they think is "broken". The Church is not sufficiently enlightened about blacks, or women, or homosexuals, or unmarried mothers, or the realities of adolescent sexuality, or the depressive effects of temple construction in suburban neighborhoods, or the importance of fitting in so we aren't shunned and can do more good, or whatever else they are carping about. They insist on heroic intervention, Uzzah-like, when their "help" is outside their responsibilities.

And what is the result? We witness it in the state of the erstwhile "faithful but liberal" blogger, who has apparently renounced the testimony she once felt and now stands on the precipice, ready to abandon her covenants because of the hateful ignorance of the Church and its members.

The gospel and the Church's progress are much bigger than we are. We think we "see" some truth or another, and we want to harmonize our worldview with the Church's teachings. Nineteen hundred years ago, this same sincere effort resulted in what we now call "the great apostasy", where neoplatonistic ideals such as the corruptness of matter, the necessity of "uncreatedness" of God, creation ex nihilo, and other such beliefs, sincerely held, were forced into the simple purity of the gospel and resulted in the corruption of Christian beliefs for almost two millennia. Today, we are so darn sure that homosexuality isn't that big a deal and a fetus isn't really a person, anyway, and women need to be out making money in order to be "fulfilled" that we miss the simple yet profoundly deep truths offered us, and instead insist that all our vain and foolish "wisdom" be incorporated into the actions of the kingdom of God on earth.

There is a reason the Church is called the "kingdom" of God and not the "representative democracy" of God. Change comes from the top, not from grassroots movements.

I recognize the admonition 'Physician, heal thyself' and agree that individuals who are struggling have to WANT to be helped. When they reach out, I believe we need to throw them a lifeline, not cut them off.

If you have interpreted my words somehow to mean that I think we should shun or expel or otherwise cut off those reaching out for help, then you have badly misunderstood me.

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To add my voice here, as I know probably many will disagree, I think government has grown to such heights with mostly wicked men that people become confused about whom to listen to. Should I listen to the council of the Prophet or my government leaders? I find many within the Church, who are strong members, thoroughly confused and downright wrong when it comes to what a Constitutional government really is. When this confusion exists, and the world grows more wicked, more people will question their faith and leave the Church. I'm sorry to mention politics as I know how taboo it is on this forum. I wish the site creators were more open to discussing these things.

Satan will do all in his power to mimic Father and Christ's plan. He wants a world government with himself as king. I do become baffled by the faithlessness of many members. Official doctrine is 100% pure. What an Apostle or general authority says outside of conference or the Ensign can merely be his opinion. Most are not foolish enough to say controversial things because the position they hold carries a great responsibility. The people are always watching them and interpreting their counsel. What isn't doctrine and what comes from the mouths of high profile members is definitely up for debate and can be disagreed with.

A testimony has to be nurtured continuously.

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Guest mormonmusic
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If you have interpreted my words somehow to mean that I think we should shun or expel or otherwise cut off those reaching out for help, then you have badly misunderstood me.

I see now that wasn't your message, but the rather passionate language/tone you tend to use in many of your posts certainly makes it seem that way. I think it interefered with your message to some of us.

Plus you juxtaposed the Faithful Dissident's "carping" as you put it, with the sincere questioning and seeking for renewed testimony of my HT friend. The guy is not on a crusade; in fact, he's real guarded about who he shares his feelings with, but also respectful and willing to listen. Plus he's doing some of the right things in getting his testimony back.

Whether you meant it or not, I'm wary of people who write off people the second they have divergent thoughts. We have to be careful that as an organization, we don't treat people like they are only valuable to us when they are serving the way we would like them to serve and think.

As you read widely, I think this article might provide another dimension to your diet:

Concern for the One - general-conference

Edited by mormonmusic

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