So, when I was checking through the list of scheduled posts at Mormon Matters, I was excited because I saw a post about the “Role of the Church in the Pursuit of Righteousness: Why it works for some and not for others.” And oh boy, I was so excited, because it was a topic that was about those for whom the church doesn’t necessarily work out…and of course, Ray’s generally fair in all of his posts — he reminds me somehow of my tax professor. This guy is so nice, a student can say the most wrong answer in class and yet he’ll never embarrass a student by bringing so much attention to the wrong answer, yet somehow he’ll have fixed every misunderstanding.
I’m not going to say I was disappointed, because it was still a good post when I read what it actually was about. Still insightful, and still fair. But I still think it was directed at a different crowd. It didn’t really capture why the church didn’t work for me, for example. This post and a few others seem to have these preconceptions, I want to say, that exmormons ‘should’ still be religious or spiritual. So the idea is, “If somehow I found out the church were untrue, I’d still find another religion” and people scramble to wonder why some exmormons are comfortable going on their own paths.
There were a couple of lines that kinda got me…let me find them…
Tying all of this back to people leaving the Church, I believe that the proper pursuit of righteousness is a combination of proper religiosity (being in line with a religious institution) and proper spirituality (being in tune with the working of the Spirit). I think that we cannot be â€œrighteousâ€ if we arenâ€™t pursuing both – and I also believe that â€œspritualityâ€ is something that the institutional church cannot provide.
Many people leave the Church because, â€œIt lacks true spirituality.â€ I agree; the Church, as a disembodied institution, does lack true spirituality – since true spirituality is found spirit to spirit.
So, I guess I’ll get to the latter quotation first and then the former.
See, I can’t say I left the church because it lacked true spirituality. My problem was realizing that the church is intrinsically spiritual, and if you aren’t, then you’re always an outsider. I like that the church can sometimes seem less spiritual — as many will recognize, the church can give some practical guidelines for life that require little spirituality at all. However, I don’t think it is the case that the church lacks true spirituality. The church backs its religion on spiritual precepts…and if you don’t accept something like the eternal nature of gender, the preexistence or heaven afterwards, the necessity of salvation and the like…then you will run into spiritual walls in the church.
Now, I understand that there are those who leave the church and become active in other churches and denominations…and perhaps for them, they left because they felt the church wasn’t spiritual and their new churches are. Many people who try to proselytize to Mormons might say, “Your church is so concerned about works that it deemphasizes Jesus. You’re more concerned about the organization than the spirit.” And then there’s a war over whether that is true or not, but the idea is that, for certain exMormons that leave the church and go to other places, they did find something that they felt was more spiritual that they couldn’t find in the church.
But I don’t know if that necessarily fits the profile of all of us. The way I see it, for me, the church was oozing with spiritual precepts and foundations that just did not square with me. I think it takes a strong spiritual foundation to be able to say what some of the commenters said in another Mormon Matters post I wrote on celibacy and sexuality — to keep with the Gospel and the church, sometimes people have to be celibate and just hope for the best in the afterlife. Without spirituality, I don’t think someone would find this sacrifice to be worth it.
Now…to start controversy…let’s look at the former quotation from Ray. This one…I just don’t get. I don’t believe that righteousness is tied to religiosity and spirituality. And what got me was…when Ray gave a definition of what righteous things/people/acts are, his definition did not include anything that I thought could be connected to religiosity and spirituality.
â€œRighteousâ€, on the other hand, is defined as â€œcharacterized by or proceeding from accepted standards of morality or justiceâ€.
Now, I begin to understand from the rest of his post and his other comments what he means by righteousness…but it just seems like this idea is backed from his religiosity and spirituality. If one isn’t so spiritual or one isn’t so religious, then one might not suggest that “accepted standards of morality or justice” require religiosity and spirituality. Maybe it’s just that good ole guilt. (ok, I really strained to make that link fit).