Seeking First to Understand
After years of talking with current and former mormons, I am well aware that the reasons for people leaving and becoming disaffected are as different as snowflakes.Â Everyone has a different story and takes a unique path. I didn’t get a chance to listen to John Dehlin’s mormon stories podcasts while they were still available. This is a link to the new staylds site – and an essay on staying mormon after a “crisis of faith”.
Lisa, from the Liberal Mormon that Could blogged about the “bitter fruits of apostasy” lesson here. Personally, I’m disappointed by some of the points in this lesson about apostasy.Â I resent the implication that all or most former mormons leave because they aren’t strong enough, or they want to sin.
What strikes me as the most interesting is the impression that no one (in the current LDS leadership) made a concerted effort to find out WHY former mormons left.Â From the lesson, it seems that there are quite a few assumptions that have been made – assumptions which may or may not be grounded in reality.Â It may be true that there are smokers who become inactive because they fear the judgment from other ward members. But many of the examples are the same that I remember hearingÂ in the late 80s, that a person is offended or wants a particular calling.
The other impression given is that former members are never really happy – eventually they will realize their mistake in leaving the fold and distancing themselves from the spirit.
Some readers might ask why this is important to me.Â This is a valid question.
To some extent, I want to allow a difference in opinion and perspective.Â But many of my family members remain active LDS members.Â Because of lessons and attitudes such as this one, sometimes our relationship is strained.Â I can’t explain why the leadership doesn’t want to ask former members – or even try to better understand “cafeteria” or new order mormons.Â The leadership seems caught in the binary dilemma (see the stay lds article) – the church is either true or it’s not (there is no middle ground).
I don’t know if they feel like their own testimonies might be shaken by trying to better understand former members.Â Or that the leadership feels threatened by any acceptance that former members might genuinely have valid reasons for no longer believing.Â Through lessons like this, leaders ignore that there may be some members who stay and have valid reasons for picking and choosing what they believe.Â Such members might believe there is truth to the LDS church but don’t agree with everything.
Over the years, I’ve appreciated the philosophy, seek first to understand, then to be understood.Â I find I can’t understand why the LDS leadership doesn’t want to find out the real reason(s) that people leave the mormon faith (or choose to be cafeteria mormons).Â At some point, assumptions based on inaccurate information will become obvious even to the faithful.