Three Roads to Travel

I was looking around at blogs today, especially in search of progressive LDS blogs when I came across the Mormon Left. This is a blog of another individual going through the same spiritual journey I am currently going through as I study my Mormon religion. It is kind of funny, however, that I caught the blog on it’s exit- and into post-Mormondom. John says:

This is going to be my last post on the Mormon Left. It is too bad it has to end this way. After a year of working through all the issues I have with mormonism, the disagreements have become to great and too deep. I started this blog in the hopes that some reconciliation was possible.

It appears that he started his blog with the same motivations and aspirations I’ve had in mind for my blog and many many others as well who go through this and find support via online communites. I can’t say that “I don’t hope I one day end up where he is at”, because that is not what is important to me. I have hope/faith that the LDS Church can at least be partly what it claims to be, but if in the end I find it is not, then I hope I can have the integrity, and strength to stand up for what is true and right. It takes a lot of courage for one to leave the Church and stand for their newfound values and truths. Hardly anyone procures this for fear of pain and sadness with beloved TBM believers.In the end, and after all of the studies, I think one will eventually have to choose their path to follow. I generally see three roads for the “well informed” Mormon person choosing their destiny:

  1. Going back to being a “blind” TBM who thinks that after the prophet has spoken, the thinking is done. This to me shows a lack of honesty and integrity to the issues existent. I don’t think it is possible for this to fully happen to a person if they have been fully presented the issues and has given them thoughtful (non-cog diss) consideration. I see many blogs like BCC and those on the Mormon Archipelago, but they still talk about the issues and consider them, to some extent. They don’t necessarily bat a blind eye to the issues. They are now different Mormons. More thoughtful, probably then the average member who is ignorant to the issues. I personally would find it contradictory to my integrity if I were to teach a class in church and quote GA’s as authoritative when I have seen so much contradiction and mere opinion on their part. Mormon Doctrine doesn’t tangibly exist to me (McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine is a whole ‘nother discussion in itself) because it can’t be nailed down- it whithers away, mutates, changes, evolves, and mostly assimilates to its surroundings. It will be interesting to see what will happen with the doctrine of Polygamy when it is legal again in the US.
  2. The second road to travel would be to try and be a progressive Mormon, working to help the Church from the inside as only a member can. If we leave the Church because we cannot intellectually come to terms with the dogma, then who are we leaving it to? Who is going to make change in the church? It either won’t happen, or it can take twenty years later then it should like in the case of the Blacks and the Priesthood. These second type of enlightened Mormons are doing a great deed for the Church, their family, and the dissafected in the Church. I owe a great deal to people like John Dehlin (holla!) and others I have met in communites online and Sunstone Symposiums. I owe a great deal to those who write articles in places like Sunstone. Recently someone very close told me they were irritated with my interest in Sunstone and I simply told them that I owe my continued membership in the church to the existence of people like these. It helps me deal with the issues in an honest way and has even given me a great sense of pride in being Mormon, at times.
  3. The third road to travel after being enlightened on the true story of Mormonism would be to leave the church. This can either be by leaving quietly, or becoming an “activist”. My main concern with this choice is what it can do to family relationships. This should be approached with caution, having the family’s feelings put in first place. Love is maybe more important than integrity at times like these. If those around the person are supportive and think the same way, however, this can be an aleviating, even beautiful new road to follow (see almost any post-Mormon person’s thoughts and feelings after coming to terms with themselves and their new world-view and it can be very inspiring. It is very inspiring and beautiful to have the blind-fold taken off and to see the world around you, whether you decide to leave the Church or not). Bob McCue (Post-Mormon activist) sees leaving the Church as necessary and although there are many hardships in leaving your social group and family religion, he is “taking the arrows so his children do not have to in the future”. This is integrity. That is hard to do. Religion can definately impair one’s ability to grow intellectually and he doesn’t want that for his children. I have absoulutely loved everything I have read from McCue’s website and recommend it to all, beleiver and non-beleiver alike.

In the end, I empathize with all who have chosen each of these three roads. Each has their pro’s and con’s that come with them. Each is a decision to be made that must be judged by noone else but the traveler. As for me, I will keep on trekking along my journey. Luckily, I haven’t yet come to such a fork in the road that demands my immediate decision on where I will travel to next. In the end I will have to honor integrity and also choose to follow what makes me happy. More importantly, what makes my family happy and intellectually mature. It is a big choice to make but luckily neither of the three is a “road less traveled” so I’m sure to find friends and support wherever I may go.

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~ by bonoboi on September 18, 2006.

3 Responses to “Three Roads to Travel”

  1. I liked this post a lot, and I’d just like to comment on a few things you said.

    Going back to being a “blind” TBM who thinks that after the prophet has spoken, the thinking is done…I don’t think it is possible for this to fully happen to a person if they have been fully presented the issues and has given them thoughtful (non-cog diss) consideration.

    I think this is so true. At times I’ve wanted to go back to being a regular, orthodox Mormon, but I don’t think I can ever do that. I’ve realized that Mormonism will never be the same as it once was to me, and it’s a little bit scary.

    If we leave the Church because we cannot intellectually come to terms with the dogma, then who are we leaving it to?

    I can’t stand it when people say, “If you don’t like it, then leave.” Since when has that been the right way to deal with things? I don’t like a lot of things in America, but does that mean I should keep my mouth shut and leave? Likewise, we can’t expect anything in the Church to improve if every dissenter leaves.

    My main concern with this choice [leaving the Church] is what it can do to family relationships. This should be approached with caution, having the family’s feelings put in first place.

    Honestly, this would be my biggest concern with leaving the Church. It’s one of the main things that’s kept me in it. Mormonism isn’t just a religion; it’s a lifestyle, a culture, and a heritage. Leaving the Church would have disastrous consequences on my family relationships, and I don’t think I want to deal with that.

    So I stay, because I love my family, because I cherish my culture, because I want to see the Church improve, and I really do see good in Mormonism. I’m not going to get up on fast Sunday and declare from the pulpit that the LDS Church is the “only true and living church” necessarily, but I do want to be a part of the Church.

    Anyway, great post.

  2. We decided to leave the church because there was a feeling within us that knew that we could not be true to ourselves if we did not leave. Leaving has been hard for some of our extended family relationships but we have actually gotten closer to all of our kids except the one that is still in Mormonism. We have found a huge weight lifted off our shoulders by no longer having to pay tithing, go to the temple, magnify callings, go hometeaching/visiting teaching, and all the other countless things you do in the church. I think that people who stay in the church after knowing all the wrong things about the church are doing a disservice to themselves and to their future posterity, and really in all honesty, how can they (the little people) make a huge corrupt organization better just by staying in. I feel that these people are just plain too scared to leave. We have found life to be a lot more exciting and full of new opportunities since we left and I would certainly not recommend to anyone to stay after they know all the lies that the church has told. I would not want to keep giving service to such an organization that lies and hides truth from their members.

  3. I “quietly” left the church almost 30 years ago when I was 29. The main reason I made the decision to leave was because I really did not believe it could be the “only true church” on the earth. I struggled with that concept even as a teenager. I also had problems with polygamy and blacks not receiving the priesthood until 1978.

    To be true to my own feeliings took a lot of courage, and I felt a great sense of relief when I left the church. However, it was also a very painful period of time. Of course, I felt many different emotions during the period when I made the decision that I would no longer be involved in the church. I felt sadness, anger …frustration because I felt inept in some ways socially “out in the world,” etc. I sought couselling to help me work through my feelings. And while I didn’t miss the teachings or dogma of the church, I did miss the LDS community. I didn’t like the fact that my actions would hurt my family … particularly my parents and grandparents.

    As mentioned above I left the church quietly. I never sent an “exit letter” nor have I ever requested that my name be removed from church records. I rarely stepped foot inside an LDS church in the last 28 years (just to attend family funerals).

    It has only been in the last month that I have looked up “former Mormon” websites — out of curiosity. I guess we all experience things very differently, but I find it difficult to understand why so many former members of the church need to make such an issue about leaving it. For me personally, there were many good things I experienced growing up in the Mormon church, even though I don’t think I ever really believed in it. When I read some accounts of former members, I don’t understand the anger that is expressed or the need to actively write againist the Mormon church. There have been times when I wished I’d been born to non-Mormons (same parents but non-Mormons would have been great), and that I wouldn’t have had to work through so many issues because I was raised in the church. But I could have been born into a much more dire situation and would have had to find my way out of it. I don’t understand the need to be perpetually angry at this entity called the “Mormon church,” or the leaders of it. Maybe I’m just “thick,” but I don’t understand the purpose of all this anger and people actively writing against the Mormon church.

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