Married to my Religion

Membership in the CoJCoL-dS NOM

As I’ve stated in my comment on Open thread for faithful Mormons!, I’m a 2nd time convert to the CoJCoL-ds. My wife is a Mormon. I promised her that I would support her goals to bring the kids up in the Church, but didn’t promise that I would convert. Then I had the missionary discussions and ended up converting anyway. I was drawn to the “family first” culture and the additions to the gospel, which gave me the opportunity to learn more about my savior.

However, I’ve always been what I consider a ‘truth seeker’, so I haven’t been resting on the laurels of the “One True Church”. In my opinion, if a church, or organization, or any idea for that matter, claims to be True, then it should have no problems under scrutiny. If it is to be True, then I should be able to investigate every aspect of it and after I’m done, it should come out unscathed.

Over the past couple years, I have gone through each of the phases of Mormonism that I know of (nazi, orthodox, conservative, liberal, and genuine, see: Robert Kirby’s classification of Mormons). I slowly started to learn that the what really happened may not have been what the Church put out as what it would prefer that you believe (official doctrine).

More recently, I’ve been hanging out at MSP and Mormonthink. It is at Mormonthink where I discovered a lot of the truth. The information there is enough to send all but the most devoted (close minded?) followers into a tailspin of faith. Many have left the church, and some have dropped all of their faith entirely. I can certainly see how people have labeled the church a cult.

Even with all that, I am not ready to leave. You can call me a NOM, or you might even call me stupid or delusional, but I believe that there are truths that have been revealed, and even though from now on, while in church, I may cringe inwardly whenever someone makes a reference to the some things, I will just grin and bear it. Why?

It could have something to do with not wanting to create waves in my family. It could have something to do with not wanting the disowning that I’ve heard about from the entire Ward. I think that it is a feeling that I get that the church is where I should be. I’m not the kind of person to give in to fear, especially when it means that I would have to pretend to be someone that I’m not in order to give in to that fear.

My relationship with the Church is my like my marriage. My wife has done things in her past that she isn’t proud of, but that isn’t what I married her for. She often does things that drive me completely crazy, but I will always love her beyond my ability to express it. So even though I’ve found that there are more holes in the CoJCoL-ds story than a sieve, I will continue to attend, and even enjoy the services. As long as my local Ward or Stake doesn’t have some political or business “call to arms”, I will continue to be a part of my Ward family.

54 thoughts on “Married to my Religion

  1. And what are you teaching your kids?

    For that matter, what face are you showing to others who are starting to disbelieve? “Everybody but me believes” is one of the lies that kept me in the church my whole life. If I had known that a portion of the ward didn’t believe, things would’ve been different.

    If we refuse to innoculate, we help others get sick. When we remain silent in the face of lies and untruths, we help others accept falsehoods as true.

    I know it’s hard to not make waves, especially with a family, but sitting on the fence shouldn’t be a comfortable place, and so I feel I must say what I said.

  2. For now, I’m doing what I originally agreed to do, support them and have an understanding of the religion. My oldest son is close to the age where I need to start teaching him to think for himself, but I’m not sure how to approach that yet. They don’t tend to ask me questions about anything religious though, so I’m not spreading any lies that way.

    Also, just as I’m not likely to try to spread the truth of the church, I have never been much of a missionary. I was inactive, and in the Army, during my ‘missionary years’.

    In church, I’ll likely still give the textbook answers that I’ve been giving, but if someone approaches me with a question, then my answer will reflect the best of my current knowledge.

    Any suggestions?

  3. will continue to attend, and even enjoy the services.

    OK, I was with you all the way up to this point. Enjoy the services? Seriously?

  4. Chanson@3- Are you kidding me? There is no better nap time than an LDS sacrament meeting.

    Seriously though, I do get a lot out of the services. The priesthood meeting if nothing else (even though lately they’ve been talking a lot about missionary work, which I’m not that into). I prefer the ones that focus on the family, because they remind me that, even though I’m tired from working all day, I should take some time to talk to my kids and wife instead of just watching TV or doing chores until bed time.

    My Ward doesn’t seem to focus on the “Hey, you’ve got the same power as Jesus, so you can perform miracles” stuff (though we are reminded once in a while). We seem to focus more on the service to others, improve the community, and preside with wisdom. These are areas that I believe that I need some work on.

    Thank you for cleaning up the post by the way. It looks much better this way.

  5. Having parents who openly disagree about religion is a great way to teach them to think for themselves. What other choice do they have?

    I’ve found Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers to be valuable resources for newly irreligious parents not sure how to raise their children. If that (ever) describes you, they are worth checking out.

  6. Jonathan@5- I’ll check them out anyway, thank you. My goal is to raise them to be at least somewhat more academic than the average Mormon. In other words, I’d like to encourage them to check for sources and check out all sides of a story instead of the one that they have been presented with first or the one that comes up the most often. Truth isn’t a popularity contest and it certainly isn’t propaganda that is repeated over and over.

    I’m certainly not an advocate of creating arguments just to open the minds of my children. I’d rather that they not grow up as screwed up as I am, even if I can consider myself open minded.

  7. I don’t mean to say you should have arguments, just openly hold differing viewpoints while maintaining a healthy relationship.

  8. That is easier said than done. My wife gets nervous and makes fallacious statements whenever I mention religion in a way that is not church approved.

    We can express differences of opinion in politics though. She wants Romney to win, and I think neither one of them should be President due to turning the whole campaign into a multi-million dollar school boy argument. It’s more about semantics and retoric than who will do the best job. Obama is going to win just because every time he does something, Romney takes the bait and gears his entire campaign toward countering what was said, but that doesn’t mean that Obama is the best for the job.

  9. I have another question: do you pay tithing, or simply attend services? Do you give the ward free labor that doesn’t benefit you or your family?

    One reason I don’t attend anymore is that I didn’t want to help build up an institution that lied for profit.

    Also, how will you react when your children are told that what you have told them is wrong? Are they going to stand up for themselves against a classroom full of their friends and acquaintances, or are they going to give in?

    Or worse, when they state something “true” they learned at church on the drive home, and your wife says, “that’s right!”

    I know I’m a bit of a pessimist, but forewarned is forearmed, and I’ve read too many stories that start out more-or-less like yours. Best of luck, anyway.

  10. Goldarn@9- I have no problem with people believing what they wish to believe. It is one of the major reasons that I was never really a good missionary. So, I can try to encourage them to explore their options, but I will not force them to not believe something that I have found to be false. Each individual must make their own journey in life, which includes religion, even if it is my own children.

    If all my efforts fail and then some day, well down the road, they come to me saying that they know the truth about the church, then that will be an awesome day. For now, I believe I must take it slow. Just as my wife, they have been raised in the church from infancy.

    I haven’t tithed in a while, though more because of sloppy budgetting and my wife having control of my check card then because I don’t want to. Tithing is still a commandment, even if you are attending the CoJCoLds. Of course, the Bible doesn’t say anything about spefically tithing to the church, so I could give my money to the poor or a charity just as easily.

    As far as services, I don’t mind helping out Ward members, just as I don’t mind helping non-members. I like helping people in general.

  11. “It is at Mormonthink where I discovered a lot of the truth. The information there is enough to send all but the most devoted (close minded?) followers into a tailspin of faith. Many have left the church, and some have dropped all of their faith entirely. I can certainly see how people have labeled the church a cult.”

    Lovely.

    Always nice to see the “anyone who didn’t reach the same conclusions I did is either close-minded or deluded” card being played.

  12. That said Chris, I liked the rest of the post just fine and I’d certainly be happy to have you in my ward.

  13. I didn’t mean that those who believe that CoJCoLds is the ‘one true church’ are close minded. What I meant is anyone who reads through the information provided at Mormonthink and still believes the picture perfect version that the church history would have you believe, is close minded.

    As I’ve stated before, I’m content to let people believe what they will. I don’t attach any judgment to their character either way for that. It is my hope that I can find those who are having a crisis of faith so that I might help them, to avoid a transition which caused tragedy for others in the past. I’m sorry, that probably made me sound like a self proclaimed messiah, which wasn’t my intent. I just meant that I’d like to help.

    I, personally think of knowing that information as a relief and a reminder that everyone who has ever been in the church is human. Humans make human mistakes, give in to temptations, get revelations wrong, and make choices that are not right. More humans does not perfect an organization, but makes it more flawed. I, personally, find comfort in the fact that it is flawed.

  14. Yes Chris – I think that’s what I said. Anyone who hasn’t drawn the same conclusions you have. You overestimate the strength of MormonThink’s conclusions, and you underestimate the counter-arguments that have been raised against it.

    MormonThink actually isn’t that original. It’s merely a database of the same warmed-over old arguments that have been leveled at the church for decades. Do you seriously think that FAIR hasn’t heard all this countless times before and already dealt with it?

    If you don’t personally find the LDS Church that compelling, fine. But don’t assume everyone on the other side is an idiot, or blind. That’s nothing more than lazy argument.

    That said – this really wasn’t the main point of your post, was it? I’m not sure how much further you want to pursue this tangent. I’m fine with dropping it if you are.

  15. Seth- You’re right, that wasn’t the main point of my post, though I appreciate correction in my arguments even if they are not the main point. I will continue searching, and I’ll dig deeper to find the validity of those sources; however, the counter arguments from FAIR or other sources seem unsupportable, whereas the site often uses several sources, sometimes professional opinion and sometimes historical documents, to support the critics side. Are you aware of a site that provides more supported arguments to answer the critics?

    On the other hand, I do need to work on judging others. I’m afraid it is a remnant of the days when I use to hear other peoples’ conversations in public and have to correct errors that were made. I’ve grown beyond the need to correct people, but apparently the underlying attitude, and thus the motivation, is still there. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

  16. Chris, re-reading carefully – what you said was that the stuff on MormonThink was enough to set people into a tailspin. I think it’s wrong to assert that this happens to any non-close-minded people in the church (for instance, my reaction to all this stuff was very different – I found it exciting and it made me more enthusiastic, not less about the church). But it’s not a really big deal.

    Your main point was that it was upsetting, and I’m not going to argue with that point. Even if it didn’t upset me much, it’s undeniable it upsets a lot of other people.

  17. Seth, thank you for the ackowledgement. I wouldn’t say that excitement is quite the right feeling for what I am experiencing, though I am certainly glad to have a testimony, and if possible, I believe that it has grown, which should be exciting in itself. My search is not complete though, and I may well be exited by the end of it all. I still have about 1/4 of each main book of old scripture to read and most of the D&C, as well as many questions that are still heavy on my mind.

  18. I think Mormon history is some of the most fascinating stuff to study in American history. Whatever your opinion of it – it’s interesting stuff.

  19. I think Mormon history is some of the most fascinating stuff to study in American history. Whatever your opinion of it its interesting stuff.

    Oh man, I could not agree with you less. One of the best things about not being Mormon anymore is not feeling like I have to give lip service to the notion Church History is interesting, or feeling guilty that I don’t think it is.

  20. Seth, I don’t think Stegner had any interest in LDS Church history. He was interested in the history of western settlement, which included Mormons. Given that, in what ways do your interest and Stegner’s interest coincide? And what is disagreeable to you about K’s lack of interest in Church History?

  21. It is precisely because Stegner was so interested in western history that he was interested in Mormon history.

    You really, REALLY can’t get around Brigham Young and the exodus if you want to talk about US western history. It was probably one of the most (if not the most) important defining event in United States westward expansion.

  22. @22 might conceivably be a defensible position if the Oregon trail were not already well established and the Mexican-American war not already underway when Brigham Young and the Saints headed out of Illinois. The US would not have been willing—or able—to go to war with Mexico over the western part of the continent if there had not already been a strong US presence in the region. Furthermore, Parker is right about the California gold rush, which was important not just to California (which became a state 36 years before Utah, after all, and that says something about the states’ relative importance in the overall movement west) but Utah, since its position as a stop on the way to California was one of the things that allowed Utah and its inhabitants not only to survive, but to prosper. The Mormons rode the tide of a migration that had already begun. Certainly their part of the story is important, but it’s downright silly to argue that the journey of Brigham et al “was probably one of the most (if not the most) important defining event in United States westward expansion.” The migration itself might not even be as important as the Mormon battalion, since it was a member of the battalion (a guy named Bigler, as I remember) who discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill.

  23. I get where you’re coming from. Unfortunately I have now lived in 2 stakes where there’s been a “call to arms” to varying degrees on political issues.

    I joined twice. Officially. And I’ve been the various types of lds too. These days are the easiest. No one in my stake knew me when I was orthodox. So I can get up in testimony meeting and flat out state that I have doubts.

  24. Didnt mean to hit submit yet.

    I follow up my doubts with statements of what I *do* have a testimony of. It’s not traditional. It’s not necessarily church specific. It’s my life specific.

  25. I wonder how how all travelers managed to get to Oregon without going through Salt Lake?
    Did they have planes as well as plains back then? I guess maybe they, like, took the train.

    If you like your history served up with a huge slice of geology, the I recommend a couple of books by Keith Heyer Meldahl. “Hard Road West” and “Rough-hewn Land”
    So here’s to South Pass.
    And forget Bigler and his diary, his ecclesiastical leader Sam Brannon was the marketing guru.

  26. Yeah. but Delta has a major hub in Salt Lake and I didn’t see it anywhere on the map.(It must be so flawed) Everybody knows Salt Lake is always the most defining event.
    Personally I think the best way to get to Salt Lake from San Francisco is to go through Denver and to stay out of Dallas-Fort Worth.
    If the railroad had realized this, it would have had a significant impact on the history of the American west, and they’d gotten more passengers. People only ride the trains to piss off the airline industry.
    If only those activist handcart pioneers, would have waited a wee bit and gotten over their selfish transportation choices, they wouldn’t be enshrined as martyrs. And then we’d have fun handcar races, instead of silly handcart pulls. And anti-depressant medication sales in Utah would plummet. Oh, the unknown consequences.

  27. Holly@29- I think it is worth note that if you take the tour of the Oregon Trail from the website that you linked, it mensions the CoJCoL-ds on the first page, and that the Fort Bridger page is mostly Mormon history.

    Just a little evidence that someone thinks that Mormon history is at least worth mentioning. Granted, what was written was all negative, I say it is better than if they had just said “mostly harmless”.

  28. @32: What?

    I didn’t deny that “someone thinks that Mormon history is at least worth mentioning,” did I?

    Instead, I concluded that

    The Mormons rode the tide of a migration that had already begun. Certainly their part of the story is important, but its downright silly to argue that the journey of Brigham et al was probably one of the most (if not the most) important defining event in United States westward expansion.

    Along the way, I stated that the Oregon trail was “already well established” by the time “Brigham Young and the Saints headed out of Illinois.” Joseph Smith wasn’t killed until 1844, and the saints didn’t start heading west until 1846. So the origins of anything established before those dates have nothing to do with the Mormon migration, even if the Mormons took advantage of their existence as they traveled west. The Oregon Trail and Fort Bridger are two such things—they would have been used by and benefited people regardless of what the Mormons did or did not do, so claiming, as Seth did, that the Mormon migration was “probably one of the most (if not the most) important defining event in United States westward expansion” is simply nonsense.

    I really don’t know what point(s) you think you’re refuting, but whatever it was, your comment has little to do with what I actually wrote.

  29. Holly, I apologize. I re-read the discussion and it seems that I misdirected my comment. I also misinterpreted what I read the first time. That’s what happens when I try to have a decent discussion without enough sleep.

  30. I think Mormon history is some of the most fascinating stuff to study in American history. Whatever your opinion of it its interesting stuff.

    Oh man, I could not agree with you less. One of the best things about not being Mormon anymore is not feeling like I have to give lip service to the notion Church History is interesting, or feeling guilty that I dont think it is.

    The CoJCoL-dS (inadvertently?) teaches people that Church History is boring by making people learn it out of those awful correlated manuals.

    It’s like if your parents made you eat broccoli once a week — but cooked it down to gray mush each time before serving it, and made you feel guilty for not liking it, since it’s good for you. A natural reaction when you move out is to to be happy that you no longer have to pretend that broccoli tastes good!

    Then one day, you might get served a plate of broccoli in a good restaurant — and to your astonishment, you discover: it’s delicious!

    That basically happened to my brother John (with respect to church history, not broccoli). He was always interested in history, but his experience in church led him to believe that there’s nothing interesting in church history (and — by extension — not much of interest in American History either). So he studied Medieval European History. Only years after leaving the church did he discover (almost by accident) that church history is interesting. Now it’s his main hobby.

  31. I remember how excited I was when I first learned about all the controversies surrounding Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and LDS history. Suddenly I actually had a reason to care about it all, whereas before, I really hadn’t had much reason to. For me it made life in the church a lot more interesting and compelling.

    For some reason, it never even occurred to me to feel resentful about not knowing it earlier.

  32. #36 What precisely are the controversies that made the church so much more “compelling” to you? (I assume by “compelling” you mean it grew in attractiveness and therefore your testimony of the church was now suddenly stronger.)

  33. It made it real to me. I don’t believe in whitewashed organizations. Nor am I interested in belonging to a church with a squeaky clean history.

    I would take a blameless and squeaky clean history of any organization as proof that it was never really involved in humanity, or relevant to it in the first place.

    Besides, if God could “make do” with the likes of Joseph Smith – then there’s hope for me too.

  34. Well, I would think that Catholicism would appeal to you immensely since it not only has a far more non-squeaky clean history, but for centuries as well. Why take the infant, when you can have the fully grown mature adult?

  35. @36 Naturally, resentment is not the only possible reaction to researching uncorrelated Church History. For example, my brother specialized in studying the crisis of succession after JS’s death, and he ultimately concluded that the RLDS (now CoC) have a stronger claim than the CoJCoL-dS on being the continuation of the church that JS founded. He consequently joined the CoC.

    @39 So true! If you like intriguing history full or controversies and leaders who are all too human, the Mormons have nothing on the Catholics!

  36. Catholics aren’t my family though. Mormons are.

    Besides, a smaller organization like this, I get to feel like I’m in on the ground level of something new and exciting that’s only going to get bigger. Much more room to leave my mark here than by being one in a bazillion Catholics.

    And incidentally, if I had to pick a religion after Mormonism – definitely Eastern Orthodox.

  37. Chanson, I don’t find the claims of the RLDS to be compelling enough. Because I accept the fact that Mormonism had to grow up and not be “Joseph’s church” any longer. You can’t found a lasting religion on a family dynasty.

    That was the fatal problem with all of the alternatives to Brigham Young – they all derived their claim to authority from the MAN Joseph Smith. Brigham Young provided an intensely needed service by burying Joseph Smith in more ways than one. Emma never forgave him for it – but it needed to be done anyway.

  38. You cant found a lasting religion on a family dynasty.

    Sure, but that’s not the most compelling point in favor of the CoC.

    That was the fatal problem with all of the alternatives to Brigham Young they all derived their claim to authority from the MAN Joseph Smith.

    Really? You studied them all? I think you’re oversimplifying.

    One of the most interesting things about studying other religions is understanding the assumptions that make the religion make sense to its adherents. But you have to be interested in understanding the other’s point of view.

  39. And so why does the LDS Church members continue to sing “Praise to the man . . .”? Seth has it exactly backwards: The CofC gave up the historical connection to Joseph, and focused on the author of the gospel, hence the name change. It is the LDS Church that continues to focus on Joseph, the MAN, and he as its source of authority.

  40. Parker, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

    And why shouldn’t an organization be able to celebrate its founder – even if the organization has moved beyond him?

    To demand that an organization remove all mention of Joseph Smith in order to be said to have become independent of him would be simple minded.

    At any rate, the song you mention is focused on the revelations Joseph was given. The song makes it clear that any praise Joseph is entitled to is through those revelations – which survived his death.

  41. You need to read what you have previously written, as well as the lyrics to Praise to the Man. You are so consistently inconsistent that the hobgoblins of your mind can dance to any tune.

  42. Yeah Parker – I thought carefully about the lyrics to the song before I composed that response.

    It’s about Joseph’s importance ONLY as a conduit for God’s revelations. It’s not really about praising Joseph himself.

    You’ve been reading too much Mormon Coffee. This is a favorite gripe of fundie Evangelicals.

  43. And you’ve ignored my earlier point that even if this were a song praising Joseph Smith, it wouldn’t make your point that we are still founded on Joseph Smith in any event.

  44. it wouldnt make your point that we are still founded on Joseph Smith in any event.

    If only this were true. If only the church weren’t completely reliant on the sundry claims of Joseph Smith and his reputation as a human being. This is why the church is stuck with the albatross of polygamy around its neck: because regardless of what history reveals about the man we praise, the official church can’t make an official statement that would impeach the integrity or besmirch the memory of Joseph Smith.

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