Is Being a NOM (New Order Mormon) Really Ingenuous?

I was thinking about writing a post exactly on this topic today when I saw that Steve M. and some commenters had pretty much covered it. First of all, I wrote my dad an e-mail expressing that I was a NOM (New Order Mormon) which basically means (according to their website):

New Order Mormons are those who no longer believe some (or much) of the dogma or doctrines of the LDS church, but who want to maintain membership for cultural and social reasons.

My dad, however, could not see the reasons for one’s continued desire to stay in the Church upon admitting dis-belief in some or most of its tenets. I thought this was strange since I could clearly see reasons to stay in the Church regardless of the veracity of its “only true church” claims; apparently he, however, could not. Many other LDS have expressed this same mentality and I find it somewhat odd and even possibly disingenuous on their part. Can you see any reason to be Mormon if you no longer believed in all of its claims? Is being a NOM disingenuous? A post from Steve M. and some of the reader’s comments that resulted are very insightful and valuable to my continued studies and experiences in Mormonism. Steve said:

Teancum raised some good questions in a comment on my most recent post, Another NOM [where Steve “outted himself” on his blog as being NOM]. I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote his comment in full:

Before I write this I want to say these are my feelings. I understand you may disagree with them, and that’s fine. But I do feel strongly about this. I am not trying to be rude, but open and honest.

Do you believe that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet and President and that Gordon B. Hinckley is the Lord’s Prophet and President today and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s one true Church on the earth today as stated in Doctrine and Covenants? Do you believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God and exactly what it claims to be, which would be a true historical record? By historical I do not mean a historical text, but that Nephi, Lehi, Alma, etc. were actual people that recording their spiritual impressions down and these impressions were later translated by the gift and power of God by Joseph Smith.

To me these are deal-breakers. They either are true or they are not. Personally if I didn’t believe these things I wouldn’t feel I was being honest with myself if I continued my activity in the Church.

The one thing I admire about Johnny’s post that he referred to on his old blog was his coming to terms that his beliefs were so different from those taught in Mormonism that it was time to pursue another spiritual course.

“The drift has now gotten so wide that I now see I must accept mormonism as it is, rather than try to believe in what I want it to be”

Personally, I have a hard time seeing how people can stay in the middle. In my opinion you either accept Morminsim as it is and have a testimony of it, or you move on.

The reasons you give I understand, but to me they are superficial when compared to man’s search for truth.

I believe there is truth on this earth and if that truth is not found in Mormonism (aside from litle bits and pieces), continuing my activity for ancestral, cultural, and familial reasons would be superficial when compared to my desire for an ease of conscience knowing I had found truth.

From your previous posts it does appear your constantly struggle with the basic teachings and principles of Mormonism. Why would you put yourself through this for superficial reasons? Aren’t you preventing yourself from finding other truths that may be out there by continually holding onto something you no longer have faith in?

By proclaiming yourself as a NOM, I don’t lose respect for you. But I can say that I have more respect for someone that follows their beliefs and walks away from something they know isn’t true, as opposed to someone who holds onto a religion because of what I feel are superficial reasons.

I understand that it would be hard to walk away from Mormonism, but if it isn’t true, isn’t walking away the right thing to do?

Isn’t all the pain and suffering that would come from a seperation from the Church a sacrifice worthy of following your beliefs?

Steve’s post continues:

[Teancum poses] hard questions. I like to think that there’s some middle ground, some grey area, some room for doubters in the Church, but maybe that’s just my way of assuring myself that I really do belong in a religious community whose claims and doctrines I don’t entirely accept.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts about New Order Mormonism. Is it tenable? Is it disingenuous? If there are other so-called NOMs or NOMish people who come across this post, how would you answer the questions raised by Teancum?

Comment by “John“:

I’d have to agree with Teancum – I think there are certain tenets that are deal-breakers.

Doesn’t it (at least in some part) come down to divine authority?

If you don’t believe in a given doctrine given by a prophet, then you need to put in question his authority.

I think we all struggle with certain issues, and work to gain a testimony of certain things, but I don’t think that warrants a spin-off.

Unless, that is, you view “New Order Mormonism” as a spin-off, which is what I’d call it. The RLDS and FLDS churches both agree with some points and not with others.

Comment by Steve M:
If you don’t believe in a given doctrine given by a prophet, then you need to put in question his authority.I’d definitely agree with that. Although, on a side note, it puzzles me how selective Mormons are in their application of this principle. Many Church leaders (Brigham Young is perhaps most prominent among them) have promulgated a number of doctrines that the modern Church does not accept, but we don’t seem to question the authority of these men very frequently. But that’s another topic entirely, and one that I’d prefer not to pursue in this thread.

Unless, that is, you view “New Order Mormonism” as a spin-off, which is what I’d call it.

I wouldn’t call it a spin-off, personally. I’m not aware of anyone trying to start a NOM Church or anything.

As I said in my last post, I’m not a fan of titles. I don’t know what to call my current situation in Mormonism, but NOM might be an okay approximation.

I thought that this comment by Kirk was great:
The idea of the church as either true or false is pretty limited. I think even the most orthodox of Mormon would have to admit that people can find good in the church without accepting the whole thing. And the most virulent anti-mormons can’t deny that some good exists in the church.As polite as Teancum’s comment tried to be, any time some one in the church says “Why don’t you just leave?” It feels like a slap in the face. Hiding these sentiments behind niceties doesn’t soften the impact they have on a person who is going through the painful process of reexamining their faith.

I can only speak for myself here, but how dare you tell me I should leave (this is no longer aimed at Teancum, just into the general populace of the church). I serve in the church my whole life, I go on a mission, I give my soul to the church for the first X number of years on this planet and the second I decide that the BOM might not be a FACTUAL history I should just pack up and go out into the cold.

Where’s the Christ like spirit that I heard about sometime between lessons on Joseph Smith? You think Jesus would have said “What? You don’t believe that Joseph Smith was really commanded to marry other men’s wives? Well you can just leave then.”

There is no shame being in the middle. In fact I don’t look at the middle as a bad place at all. Those who hate the church and leave miss out on all that is good. Those who swallow every last morsel without looking outside the bubble are treading water in the spiritual lap pool.

I think if you can manage to stay on good terms with the church you will find it both rewarding and helpful in your quest of self-actualization. Religion is a means, not an end. And people who tell you to leave are projecting their own insecurities onto you. You don’t have to argue with them or tear them down or anything like that. But don’t let them tell you you aren’t welcome in the church. Let’s all sing it together:
“This Church is your Church,
This Church is my Church,
from Happy Valley,
To Beijing China, (wait…)
If you’re a Mormon,
True Blue or New Order,
This Church belongs to you and me!”

My comment:

Mark G. said…
I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts about New Order Mormonism. Is it tenable? Is it disingenuous? If there are other so-called NOMs or NOMish people who come across this post, how would you answer the questions raised by Teancum?I’ve actually been thinking about this just this week. I have recently found, through my own journey and speaking with believing LDS members, that there is a certain unique genuineness to NOMs (New Order Mormons) in their belief in the Church.

Church leaders would have us view the Church by means of binary thinking:

That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens. -Gordon B. Hinckley

John (previous commenter) and Teancum have both expressed this idea in their comments as well. After I told my dad of my NOMness he was equally confused and did not understand why I would want to continue attending Church even though I wasn’t an “orthodox believer”. This is where I see how NOM’s may be more genuine in their faith (to some degree, obviously). So-and-so might not see any reason to go to Church other than “the riches that await you in the after-life” or “eternal family” etc. However, a NOM is not motivated by these “rewards” anymore. They see the Church differently and therefore if they still want to attend, it may be because they see some real-life benefits for continued attendance and instruction in Church (because there really are some great benefits to be gained from being LDS- not just the “fairy tale” based-on-faith reasons).

We as NOMs may see some genuineness in the Church that even some believers may not see. If you see no reason to go to Church if it is not “the only true church”, then you may be attending simply out of fear (fear of afterlife, fear of God, fear of “what if”, etc.) and not because you simply believe in its precepts regardless truth claims.

Besides the above, some NOM’s may attend Church simply for familial reasons and this may or may not be a mix of genuineness as shown above, and a mix of genuine love of family. It is a situation not to judge, but to empathize with. The Church has really put us in a tough situation with this polar-type mentality.

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~ by bonoboi on December 4, 2006.

13 Responses to “Is Being a NOM (New Order Mormon) Really Ingenuous?”

  1. I really like your comments, Mark.

    One of the dillemmas I’ve faced as a NOM is defining morality. Since I don’t have an institution to do it for me now, and I don’t believe in an absolute morality, and I’m not faced with the fear of going to the Telestial Kingdom, it was kind of weird at first.

    But then I was like, well, what kind of person do I want to be? Suddenly morality was about being a good person and a good husband. It was about having good relationships with others and living a healthy lifestyle. For the first time, I can really say that I was trying to live a moral life without having to be enticed by promises of riches in heaven or scared by the prospect of damnation. It feels so much more genuine than was my compulsory obedience as a TBM.

    So I think you’re right. In some ways, being a NOM really is more genuine. If you’re doing something good, you’re more likely doing it for good reasons rather than out of fear or obligation.

  2. I’m so glad that I found this posting. For over a year, I have been struggling with walking away or staying. I walked away from BYU and find myself doubting that decision all the time.

    I am at a place where I can no longer believe in early church history or the Book of Mormon as a real historical document. But, even though I know it to be false, I find myself longing for the companionship and the comfort of the church.

    At first, I told myself that it was being dishonest with myself if I chose to continue being active. But, as the months have passed, I feel as though I am being even more dishonest by staying away from the church. I have reconciled my feelings about the church; I will never believe in full again. But, is it so wrong to be an active participant so long as I am constantly honest to myself and keep an inventory of my feelings?

    Oy vey,

    This is too tough,

    Paige

  3. Being NOM would make no sense to me at all, honestly. Yeah, the Church is where I grew up, and it’s been my way of live for almost three decades, and most of my family are active, faithful members.

    But if the Church isn’t true, it isn’t true. And the nature of Mormonism is such that a little bit of falsehood very rapidly brings the house of cards down.

    Given that it isn’t really possible to be a fully active member without a proper testimony (you can go to meetngs and activities, but you’re not going to really be able to fully participate as a member), I don’t know why I would keep going to Church.

    Maybe if my wife was still a believer, I could see going on Sunday to support her. But other than that? i couldn;t do it, and I wouldn;t want to.

  4. Hi, thought I might post comments on a couple of things: Quote ‘But then I was like, well, what kind of person do I want to be? Suddenly morality was about being a good person and a good husband. It was about having good relationships with others and living a healthy lifestyle. For the first time, I can really say that I was trying to live a moral life without having to be enticed by promises of riches in heaven or scared by the prospect of damnation. It feels so much more genuine than was my compulsory obedience as a TBM.’ This is very cool, isn’t that the way we should be or where we should progress to, here is a law written in a persons heart, Christlike isn’t it?
    I notice in the New Teatament how all the apostles would not believe the resurection happened, they were living in the real world, it wasn’t until they saw some tangible evidence that they believed. They were not particularly wrong in their disbelief, however they did have great faith, you can see this because they remained steadfast following Christ, when others turned away because something they didn’t fully understand caused them to say ‘this guys nuts’ so they left, where-as the apostles may not have understood either, but were more realistic because they could not so easily dissmiss all else they had witnessed.
    Was Joseph Smith a prophet? Here is the weird thing, a person like me can have missionaries knock on my door and tell me about Joseph Smith, then I seeing how its done and seeing no reason why not can approach God our Father, with an honest desire to know if Joseph was a true prophet and weather the Book of Mormon is true. So who can control the powers of heaven? A witness so powerful and tangible that for me there has never been the slightest doubt on the subject, it’s true.
    What is there about The Book of Mormon that one would believe it wasn’t true? There might be a lot of debate over Joseph Smith, also the Book, and it can raise questions, the more you look on a macro level the more you can loose sight of the bigger picture.
    If you are still reading get ready to be bored to tears, one of my projects is to write or finish writing a movie based on the Book of Mormon, in researching I wanted to find where in America it is most likely set, so I worked on these basic ideas, first off look where archaeology shows the most comprehensive ancient writing, Christian era temples, and anything else that fits B of M history, weapons fortifications etc. Central America has these, Guatamala, Mexico etc. So far the most interesting are the Temples at El Miradore and Nakby, these are Christian era and these big centres became back waters in the early Christian era as their powerbase shifted to other centres, so they may be less messed up. Like modern temples these class of complexes share the same celestial alignment, if they were Christian temples they would work probably the way Salt Lake temple uses different rooms, they would just use different towers, with the highest eqivelent to the celestial room. Macroing in on what they call masks either side of the steps on the main pyramid presents a number of symbols, pretty weird looking stuff. Could it be writing on the walls of a Christian Temple? Maybe, to me it looks like it, took a little while to work out, but in the centre is a stylized head with a funny beak like nose, what that is is the head of what they call the Mayan bird deity, I don’t know if anyone else has made the connection but it’s quite obvious looking at the head part of that Bird Deity on the walls at San bartolo and on the majara stone both also dated around the Christian era, they base it on the Harpy eagle. The relevance: if its ‘reformed Egyptian’ it probably represents Jehovah, like the bird in the picture in the book of Abraham(angel of the lord who identified himself as Jehovah). Either side of that head are two hands, in the form of Tiger paws, a representation of power. In the centre of each palm a hole surrounded by a border, Christ was not known by a cross on that continent but by his wounds which is what these look to represent. Above and below the hands are what they call knotted bundles, I looked at them for a while?? looking for some half hidden deep meaning, but it’s probably not that hidden and likely represents binding, (if theyed called them bound bundles I would have saved a couple of weeks of thinking), one above one below, it’s what Christian temples are used for binding on earth and in Heaven, it would be a smart if not inspired way to represent that useing pictures. For a mental excercise try thinking of another way you could use picture writing to convey that concept. As much as time and place are right, this is still speculation, to me somewhat compelling, however what I am absolutely sure of is that the BofM is true.
    I guess thats about my 2c worth, don’t hold your breath for the movie, it might have to be a book first. Wish you all well.

  5. This will be short. Man has always had a quest for absolute truth. No one has found it. Many have believed they have, but if there was absolute truth there would be no way to question or to challenge it. It would work for all and would be clear and present for all. So to question those who want to belong to a club and not seek some unattainable enlighten and refer to it as disingenuous is in itself disingenuous.

    I do not question that human’s are hard wired to have spiritual enlightenment and that it can be found. What I question is the source of this, is it man, god or somewhere else. Also it is not necessary to live a fulfilling with for some. For some ignorance is bliss, for others it is the chase of truth, for others it is an acceptance that such things may not exist and for others is that if they work hard enough we can become an immortal human race.

  6. The ideas that the NOM concept may be slightly ingenuous has occurred to me many times. Not that such a site is a bad idea, but doubting or going to church for alternate reasons may indeed NOT represent the true “middle way” after all. Lets call it what it is (How UnMormon of me). It seems to be a Mormon Limbo, rather than some satisfactory stage of spiritual enlightenment. Our feet are culturally nailed to the chapel floor, and we can’t get free for one reason or another. Perhaps, like me, NOMs simply can think in no other way, but at the same time they recognize that they are locked into the circular logic of a cult and they just need some time. Dunno. But one thing I do know, Mormonism is pervasive and escaping is like pulling a barbed spear from one’s very guts.

  7. I think that ideally, being a NOM is the most genuine way to practice. Instead of depending on orthodoxy for your beliefs you can use free agency, intelligence, prayer and personal revelation (all God-given abilities) to believe what you want. Whether they realize it or not, no member of the church truly has a testimony of ALL doctrine since much of it contradicts itself. Admitting that you are a NOM is only admitting that you are being sincere about your beliefs. Many members merely go through the motions out of fear of the consequences (loss of perceived testimony, relationship issues, etc.).

    This all or nothing idea is garbage. True Believing Mormons have a problem seeing gray areas. Either it is “true” (faith promoting) or anti-Mormon. That is why there is a huge problem with people not feeling welcome who are not RMs or married with a bunch of kids. TBMs can’t relate to someone not taking the well-trodden path.

    You can absolutely not believe in some or all core doctrine and still find things about the organization that are positive and worth taking part. Ultimately, (if you believe anyway) you will stand at the judgement seat and will have to take accountability for your own choices. I will at least be able to say I chose to try and use my God-given abilities to worship as I felt appropriate and not based on other people’s testimonies or beliefs.

  8. Don: Hi, One Dude’s Mormon Studies. Science does not explain everything. Science is the thoughts of men learning to think like GOD. I watched a program on the History Channel that talked about the light years and other civilizations. There is only one church that believes in the supreme SCIENTIST, who created the universe without end. God allows humans to receive line upon line, here a little and there a little, until they come to the reality of the truth.

    One other thing, that I think is important, is that Joseph Smith Jr., who had limited schooling, could prophesy of the Civil War fourteen years or so before it happened. This shows that the Lord does call prophets. Science can try and humans can reason, but it was a young, unschooled prophet who told it before it happened. Merry Christmas to you and your family and May GOD bless you with that mustard seed that Enoch had and we all need.

  9. I know this is an old post, but I just stumbled on it and had to respond. As a backdrop, I am an active, beleiving, testimony-holding member of the church. A few comments now.

    1) Using the term “New Order Mormons” can very much sound like a way of being cutsie or flippant or smirky about your stance. That may not be your intent, but come on, if you really want to be taken seriously, think of a serious-sounding name. How about just being simple and precise: you are members without testimonies. Or maybe it would be better to say non-believing Mormons. Yeah, I’ll go with that. If you beleive or think you do or are struggling to and have testimony struggles, you are not an NOM or anything else–you are just a Mormon like the rest of us. We all struggle and flail and waiver or stray or change our minds (or whatever you want to call it) at times in our lives. that’s just being human.

    2) Who am I to judge who should or should not come to church? I don’t know why you are coming, and as long as you are not coming for malicious purposes, you are absolutely welcome as far as I have ever felt and as far as I have ever heard from any leaders. Now, does it seem a bit irreverent to use any church simply as a social networking tool? To me, yes. But as long as you keep a quiet and respectful demeanor during church (and we know that goes for everyone jabbering in the hallways during Sunday School, too), I’m glad you come.

    If you go to church because you see it as a way to help you learn good things, even though you don’t beleive in the tenants of the church, then come on in! In my view, that mindset would mean that just about any church will do, and it’s just a matter of preference which one you go to. But why should everyone have my mindset? I’m glad you chose the LDS church.

    3) That being said, I would expect a good degree of respect in what you participate in at church. To me, common respect towards any religion would dictate that you do not participate in activities meant for believers with a sincere heart. In that, I mean things like taking the sacrament or participating in priesthood ordinances or attending the temple. I don’t mean none of you should do these things. Don’t get me wrong. What I mean is, if you can’t sincerly do these things the way they are intended, maybe you should not do them. Take the temple for example. Part of the temple recommend interview is whether you have a testimony of Christ, His church, and the prophet and apostles. If you think all of this is hogwash (not just struggling to strengthen a weak testimony, but really think this is all hogwash), you are absolutely direspecting the church and its members by treating something so revered to us as a thing of naught. Likewise, if you feel the concept of us having priesthood authority is a bunch of malarky, I couldn’t see how it would be anything other than disrespectful to pretend to exercise that priesthood.

    There are a million degrees of testimony, belief, unbelief, etc. I am not going to judge where anyone is on that scale. I am not trying to speak to any person in particular here. This goes for everyone (myself included). A church is not a game, and the closer we get to treating it that way, the more we will disrespect that religion.

    Now, for Markii and Kirk, related to the quote:
    4) [Those who swallow every last morsel without looking outside the bubble are treading water in the spiritual lap pool]
    You have created a straw-man. Do such people exist? Probably. Is that the majority of us who go to church? I very much doubt it. The church has taught me and encouraged me since I was a child to gain my own testimony. I’ll bet that’s what they taught you, too.

    Now, for Markii and Mark G, related to the quote:
    [This is where I see how NOM’s may be more genuine in their faith (to some degree, obviously). So-and-so might not see any reason to go to Church other than “the riches that await you in the after-life” or “eternal family” etc. However, a NOM is not motivated by these “rewards” anymore. They see the Church differently and therefore if they still want to attend, it may be because they see some real-life benefits for continued attendance and instruction in Church (because there really are some great benefits to be gained from being LDS- not just the “fairy tale” based-on-faith reasons).]

    Again, seems very disingenuous. Another straw-man. Do you really think most people only go to church for the riches of heaven? Most of us don’t see any real-life (mortal-life, I would call it) benefits? I have sat in countless classes where we have discussed how to apply these teachings in our daily lives. I’ll bet you have, too.

    Again, for Markii and Mark G, related to the quote:
    [The Church has really put us in a tough situation with this polar-type mentality.]
    With your free agency, please accept your personal responsibility. If you do not beleive the church is true, and are afraid of your family’s reaction so you just keep going to church and never tell them about it, how is that a situation the church put you in? You should be able to be honest with your family and tell them you do not beleive and do not want to go anymore. And they should be able to love you and accept you as they always have; as you should them. They may certainly feel sadness and try in various ways over time to get you back into activity in the church and help you gain a testimony, but they should do that only with respect to you and your wishes. I will not judge you or your family, but there is a Christ-like way for everyone involved to handle the scenario, without you blaming a church for keeping you trapped in a box.

    Now, for Steve M, related to the quote:
    [Suddenly morality was about being a good person and a good husband. It was about having good relationships with others and living a healthy lifestyle. For the first time, I can really say that I was trying to live a moral life without having to be enticed by promises of riches in heaven or scared by the prospect of damnation. It feels so much more genuine than was my compulsory obedience as a TBM.

    So I think you’re right. In some ways, being a NOM really is more genuine. If you’re doing something good, you’re more likely doing it for good reasons rather than out of fear or obligation.]

    If the only thing keeping you going was the carrot dandling out in front of you and the whip behind you, it seems you haven’t been applying the Gospel’s precepts all along. No wonder such a testimony couldn’t last. I really don’t understand what on earth you were listening to in church. If your take-away from all the meetings and classes you attended was “be good and get riches, or be bad and go to hell”, then either you had a whole string of awful bishops, teachers, leaders and speakers (and skipped all sessions of every General Conference), or you heard incorrectly. While eternal reward/damnation is certainly a big element, so is service to God and fellow man out of love. So is being a good husband and father, etc, etc, etc. Come on man! All I can extrapolate from what you said is that because you removed the concept of God from your morality, you feel free. As if those of us who beleive in God only do good because we have to “or else”.

    I know this is an old post, but I just stumbled on it and had to respond. As a backdrop, I am an active, beleiving, testimony-holding member of the church. A few comments now.

    1) Using the term “New Order Mormons” can very much sound like a way of being cutsie or flippant or smirky about your stance. That may not be your intent, but come on, if you really want to be taken seriously, think of a serious-sounding name. How about just being simple and precise: you are members without testimonies. Or maybe it would be better to say non-believing Mormons. Yeah, I’ll go with that. If you beleive or think you do or are struggling to and have testimony struggles, you are not an NOM or anything else–you are just a Mormon like the rest of us. We all struggle and flail and waiver or stray or change our minds (or whatever you want to call it) at times in our lives. that’s just being human.

    2) Who am I to judge who should or should not come to church? I don’t know why you are coming, and as long as you are not coming for malicious purposes, you are absolutely welcome as far as I have ever felt and as far as I have ever heard from any leaders. Now, does it seem a bit irreverent to use any church simply as a social networking tool? To me, yes. But as long as you keep a quiet and respectful demeanor during church (and we know that goes for everyone jabbering in the hallways during Sunday School, too), I’m glad you come.

    If you go to church because you see it as a way to help you learn good things, even though you don’t beleive in the tenants of the church, then come on in! In my view, that mindset would mean that just about any church will do, and it’s just a matter of preference which one you go to. But why should everyone have my mindset? I’m glad you chose the LDS church.

    3) That being said, I would expect a good degree of respect in what you participate in at church. To me, common respect towards any religion would dictate that you do not participate in activities meant for believers with a sincere heart. In that, I mean things like taking the sacrament or participating in priesthood ordinances or attending the temple. I don’t mean none of you should do these things. Don’t get me wrong. What I mean is, if you can’t sincerly do these things the way they are intended, maybe you should not do them. Take the temple for example. Part of the temple recommend interview is whether you have a testimony of Christ, His church, and the prophet and apostles. If you think all of this is hogwash (not just struggling to strengthen a weak testimony, but really think this is all hogwash), you are absolutely direspecting the church and its members by treating something so revered to us as a thing of naught. Likewise, if you feel the concept of us having priesthood authority is a bunch of malarky, I couldn’t see how it would be anything other than disrespectful to pretend to exercise that priesthood.

    There are a million degrees of testimony, belief, unbelief, etc. I am not going to judge where anyone is on that scale. I am not trying to speak to any person in particular here. This goes for everyone (myself included). A church is not a game, and the closer we get to treating it that way, the more we will disrespect that religion.

    Now, for Markii and Kirk, related to the quote:
    4) [Those who swallow every last morsel without looking outside the bubble are treading water in the spiritual lap pool]
    You have created a straw-man. Do such people exist? Probably. Is that the majority of us who go to church? I very much doubt it. The church has taught me and encouraged me since I was a child to gain my own testimony. I’ll bet that’s what they taught you, too.

    Now, for Markii and Mark G, related to the quote:
    [This is where I see how NOM’s may be more genuine in their faith (to some degree, obviously). So-and-so might not see any reason to go to Church other than “the riches that await you in the after-life” or “eternal family” etc. However, a NOM is not motivated by these “rewards” anymore. They see the Church differently and therefore if they still want to attend, it may be because they see some real-life benefits for continued attendance and instruction in Church (because there really are some great benefits to be gained from being LDS- not just the “fairy tale” based-on-faith reasons).]

    Again, seems very disingenuous. Another straw-man. Do you really think most people only go to church for the riches of heaven? That most of us don’t see any real-life (mortal-life, I would call it) benefits? I have sat in countless classes where we have discussed how to apply these teachings in our daily lives. I’ll bet you have, too.

    Again, for Markii and Mark G, related to the quote:
    [The Church has really put us in a tough situation with this polar-type mentality.]
    If you do not beleive the church is true, and are afraid of your family’s reaction so you just keep going to church and never tell them about it, how is that a situation the church put you in? You should be able to be honest with your family and tell them you do not beleive and do not want to go anymore. And they should be able to love you and accept you as they always have; as you should them. They may certainly feel sadness and try in various ways over time to get you back into activity in the church and help you gain a testimony, but they should do that only with respect to you and your wishes. I will not judge you or your family, but there is a Christ-like (or morally good) way for everyone involved to handle the scenario, without you blaming a church for keeping you trapped in a box.

    Now, for Steve M, related to the quote:
    [Suddenly morality was about being a good person and a good husband. It was about having good relationships with others and living a healthy lifestyle. For the first time, I can really say that I was trying to live a moral life without having to be enticed by promises of riches in heaven or scared by the prospect of damnation. It feels so much more genuine than was my compulsory obedience as a TBM.

    So I think you’re right. In some ways, being a NOM really is more genuine. If you’re doing something good, you’re more likely doing it for good reasons rather than out of fear or obligation.]

    If the only thing keeping you going was the carrot dandling out in front of you and the whip behind you, it seems you haven’t been applying the Gospel’s precepts all along. No wonder such a testimony couldn’t last. I really don’t understand what on earth you were listening to in church. If your take-away from all the meetings and classes you attended was “be good and get riches, or be bad and go to hell”, then either you had a whole string of awful bishops, teachers, leaders and speakers (and skipped all sessions of every General Conference), or you heard incorrectly. While eternal reward/damnation is certainly a big element, so is service to God and fellow man out of love. So is being a good husband and father, etc, etc, etc. Come on man! All I can extrapolate from what you said is that because you removed the concept of God from your morality, you feel free. As if those of us who beleive in God only do good because we have to “or else”.

    One last question. I am living how I think is right because it brings happiness in this life, eternal rewards in the world to come, and because it is just right. You say you live how you think is right because it brings you hapiness in this life and because it is just right. How does that make you more (or less) genuine than me? I don’t get it. For you to assume we are just near-mindless lemmings afraid of being zapped is quite a judgement call for you to make.

    Sorry to sound so harsh in some of my words. I’m actually just really astonished some of you could go to the church for any period of time and beleive what you say is actually a clear representation of what is taught. It sounds more like an excuse or shift of blame, or a sad misunderstanding of Christ’s Gospel. God loves you, we love you, the choice is yours to make and yours alone. Make your choice and we’ll make ours. We can all still talk to each other and love one another.

    Peace

    Mark S.

  10. I think the problem with your Middle-Ground theory is that the church itself leaves no middle-ground. Countless church leaders have proclaimed that the BoM is the keystone of the religion. If it is not true, then JS was a false prophet and if JS was a false prophet then the entire religion is a scam. I think even Gordon B. Hinckley himself said the church would be a scam if those things weren’t true.

    So the question is this: is their middle ground in a scam?

    If you believe it is a scam but you still choose to go to church for social and cultural reasons… then you are not a Mormon. You are part of a social club that happens to be comprised of Mormons. There is no middle ground because church doctrine does not allow one.

  11. This is a very late response but to Mark S. This is a post that deals with one individual who is figuring it out, so there is no reason to get defensive. He’s only describing his own personal feelings on the matter. He has his own personal experiences as do you with your own interpretations, you are no better than he is, it’s just different.
    There really are countless members and church authorities that have their own personal opinions that contradict doctrine and out of respect to the church organization keep these things more private.

    Many people whether active or inactive in their faith are on their own spiritual journey, so I have a real problem with anyone telling me what I think or how I might be disrespecting a calling or ordinance if I don’t believe the way they believe is correct. We are all trying to just figure it out.

    And for those that think there can’t be a middle ground- it sounds so self righteous. Who made you boss. You may be right that the church SEES itself as not being middle ground but come on most members can figure out how each ward handles things differently and sometimes individually,and if you haven’t seen this then you haven’t been in enough wards or lived in economically challenged wards.

    And to Red- You are right to some degree and your OWN perspective when you say that your part of a social club that happens to be comprised of Mormons, but I find that within that motive there are a thousand other reasons equally and personally motivating for still being active in the LDS religion. As a free agent I choose to live in the gray and enjoy the complexity rather than living a black and white life.

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