As many (all?) of you are likely aware, I have recently adopted a somewhat different set of beliefs regarding the Church. Given that the family cherishes its beliefs in the Church and Gospel, this has naturally led to some apprehension and discomfort in knowing how to interact with me and my family.
Some may have been upset by some of the things I’ve posted online. I posted what I felt were some of the most benign things possible that would also be an appropriate way to encourage open conversation about some of the concerns that [SISTER who just left the LDS Church] and I have had (we have overlapping, but also distinct concerns). Many of the things I posted were meant to highlight the difficulties faced by those who are experiencing a faith transition and to seek some kind of reconciliation. My thinking has been that through open and honest conversation the family could be drawn closer together in mutual understanding and respect, even if we are at different places in our journeys of faith. If any of my online behavior has upset you, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intent. I was only hoping to peacefully agitate for constructive conversation.
I’ve been informed that many in the family are wary of me and hence have been avoiding me and/or my family because they don’t fully understand my thinking or position–whereas [SISTER who just left the LDS Church] made a definite statement, I have only had a few conversations (typically quite short) with only a few people. I have not meant to hide my beliefs in an effort to deceive or create discomfort, only there seems to be an impossibly fine line between sharing one’s beliefs and in being perceived as attacking what others hold precious, and I really don’t know how to navigate that line very well. So, I’ve mostly been reserved regarding my beliefs and hoping that I could have individual conversations with people, but that has not really materialized in the way I expected.
In an effort to try and clear the air and make it easier to interact with me, I think it would be good if I clearly stated my current position (and this has been suggested to me by a few of you). I will present my position devoid of any real support, articulation, or vigor (although I indeed possess them). Through many experiences, I have found that just sharing the mere hint of my viewpoint is upsetting to many, much less when I try to share the details.
Through sincere study and introspection over a long period of time, I have come to the conclusion that the church is not what it claims to be, and there are good reasons to question the foundational truth-claims of the Church. The release of a series of 10 or so essays on lds.org to deal with some of these issues is tacit acknowledgement by the Church that many of these issues are troubling to many who have investigated them.
Having spent roughly the past two decades of my life in apologetic study and activities, I am acutely aware of the best arguments for the veracity of the Church’s truth claims. Many of these arguments are compelling. In addition, I respect the position that most in the family have taken, which is that regardless of the truth of the Church, the Church is, at the very least, good in many ways and the fruits are also mostly good, hence, we should continue in that way of life (this explains in part why we are still active members in our ward). Still, I believe that since we will pass our beliefs on, and they will influence so many, we have a duty to carefully and objectively scrutinize the beliefs we hold most dear, even if this is difficult at times. The more accurately our internal maps align with reality, the greater our ability to comprehend and either adeptly control or peacefully accept the world around us.
The following also help to explain my current thinking/feelings:
- I still believe firmly in traditional morality (believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent) and am still fairly socially conservative (with standard Ron Paul libertarian leanings).
- I still believe in the fundamental principles of the Gospel (e.g., help others, value family, eat healthy, avoid bad media, etc.), even if I consider myself more strongly bound by principles than by rules. So, in some ways this makes me more strict in my behavior and in other ways somewhat less (for example, I am okay with exercising on Sunday), but it is all within bounds of most active LDS. Regardless, we would respect standard LDS culture when visitors/friends/children are over when/if it didn’t already perfectly align with our behavior.
- I still want to have close relationships with all my family.
- I want to support you in your life’s journey, and in your personal journey of faith, hence I will be genuinely happy in your joys in the Church/Gospel life. I’m happy to hear about spiritual or scriptural reflections/musings you may have had.
- At this point, based on my experiences, I am committed to not sharing my newfound beliefs with you (or pretty much anyone) unless it is solicited. Even then, I have no intention of bulldozing anyone with arguments. So, if you seem genuinely interested in conversing about a topic that’s relevant then I will likely share my viewpoint, otherwise I’ll do my best to refrain.
- I would, of course, fully support your children in whatever religious beliefs they may hold (I am not out to get your children, or anyone).
- If you want to share why you believe what you do then I will assume you are okay with me sharing why I believe what I do. If not, just let me know, and I’ll try to refrain from reciprocating.
- I’m happy to pray and observe all traditional LDS events insofar as I am physically able.
- I have been and always will be happy to engage in respectful conversation about any topic under the sun. Maybe I’m too generous with myself, but I like to think I am quick to acknowlege the truth of a point and goodness when I see it.
- I’m still just as sincere in my efforts to try and render Christ-like service, to progress spiritually, and develop my character and Christ-like attributes, and I appreciate your support in that journey.