Mormonism, warts and all

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Opposition“You make us look bad.”

“You’re just giving fuel to the fire of anti-Mormonism.”

“You couldn’t possibly have a testimony of the gospel and believe what you do about gay marriage/women’s ordination/green Jell-o with shredded carrot.” (The first two are welcome and the final item is an abomination.)

In my four years as a blogger I’ve heard multiple variations of these statements. Some Mormons complain that any crack in our institutional armor, any whiff of internal dissent, damages our public image and hinders missionary work.

I’ve been reading the new issue of The Mormon Studies Review (which, if you haven’t seen it, is a terrific new journal), and the opening article offers some interesting observations on the value of Mormon dissent. It’s by Professor Laurie Maffly-Kipp, a non-Mormon scholar who pioneered the teaching of Mormon Studies at the university level, first at UNC-Chapel Hill and now at Washington University.

In 15 years of teaching courses on Mormonism her students have come from a variety of backgrounds – mostly “low church” evangelical, but also including Muslims, atheists, and Mormons themselves.

Many, she writes, come into the class with some personal experience of Mormons as people but with little to no knowledge of the institutional LDS Church. And what they do know is negative: “They assume Mormons do not think for themselves and conclude that church members are either gullible or misinformed.” Their encounters with Mormon missionaries and “faith-promoting history” only makes such stereotypes worse.

What shatters the stereotypes is hearing faithful Mormons disagree.

Maffly-Kipp writes that rather than confusing non-Mormon students who are trying to understand the religion, the discrepancies between ideals and lived realities actually cause students to challenge their assumptions:

Students are willing to accept—or at least respect—a surprising variety of beliefs if they are convinced people are thinking for themselves. This is true even of some of the more controversial elements of the tradition. Indeed, airing internal dissent over the history of polygamy, racial discrimination, and women’s issues . . . helps students to see that believers wrestle with difficult issues in a variety of ways.

Maffly-Kipp acknowledges that it may seem counterintuitive that outsiders’ opinions of Mormonism improve when they see conflict occurring within, but that’s precisely what happens. As one student put it, the most significant thing she learned in the course was that “Mormonism is a diverse place.”

As a blogger, I believe that open public debate about issues that affect Mormon life is vital in a healthy religious community. The more controversial the issue, the more important it is to have our discussions about it aloud in the public square.

I’ve found, however, that this argument – that we should welcome internal dissent for our own sake – does little to sway the folks who complain that such discussion is equivalent to airing our dirty laundry for all to see.

What might persuade these people instead — since we are such a young religion and, like all teenagers, are desperately concerned with how we appear to others – is findings like Maffly-Kipp’s. Mormonism is more appealing and understandable to outsiders when we participate in open debates, revealing the chinks in our armor.

Paradoxically, we improve our public image when we stop being so concerned with appearing perfect.



  • Karen

    I was lucky enough to sit in on Dr. Maffly-Kipp’s Mormonism class a few times, and it is spectacular!

  • GP

    Jana, as a devout member of the church, up until about a year ago when I read your posts, I would get mad. I’d think that you were up to no good and that some of your statements were heretical.

    Fast-forward to now. Unfortunately, I went through a difficult discovery process of church history issues and I spent several months trying to reconcile them. In the end, I found that I wasn’t able to believe anymore. It was one of the most difficult things that I’ve dealt with in my life. I seriously considered staying in the church as a non-believer who kept quiet about the history; however, I knew that this would be disingenuous. On the other hand, if I stayed and was honest and spoke frankly about the church’s real history, I would be a second-class citizen at best or excommunicated for “apostasy” at worst. So I had to leave as I could not bring myself to stay.

    That said, my experience has opened my eyes up significantly. I am far less judgmental of others and I think that the church must now go through a process of cultural change. Wouldn’t it be nice if there WASN’T an unspoken vernacular expectation while bearing testimonies (e.g. “I believe ____” instead of “I know ____”)? It would be nice to hold a position that Joseph Smith was mistaken, and not commanded of God for his practice of teenage polygamy and polyandry, a wrong BoA/BoM translation, etc. – AND still be considered a member in good standing. This stance is not feasible in LDS culture today even though we get reassurances from folks like President Uchtdorf when he said in last GC that “your testimony doesn’t have to be ‘this big’ to enter” (to illustrate that all are welcome). Yeah, I get that. But to fit into the inner-circle and avoid judgement, your testimony DOES have to be “this big” (as I extend my arms to the maximum) or else you have more work to do by repeating prayer, scripture study, FHE, etc. Maybe the LDS church will ultimately take a page from the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) and allow a wider spectrum of belief. I suspect that this is necessary as troubling church history percolates down to the general membership.

    Anyway, I love your blog (now without judgement – or if there is judgement, it’s favorable)… keep it up!

  • Ben in oakland

    This was sent to me by a now former mormon, who could no longer stomach the lock-step mentality of the church. Did Mormonia listen to people like him? will they ever?

    “I can’t apologize on behalf of the LDS Church because I left the LDS Church shortly after the California Proposition 8 episode. It was’t just California Proposition 8, it was the organized resistance to Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative. The Quakers teach a non-violent method of conflict resolution that involves first finding “Common Ground” or a common point of agreement. Jesus Christ, Himself taught this very method of conflict resolution when He said:

    “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him”
    Matthew Chapter 5 verse 25.

    Many Utah citizens believed that we needed healing after California Proposition 8 and that we needed to find a way live peacefully as a community. The Common Ground Initiative was created for that purpose. When Gayle Ruzika, President of Utah Eagle Forum declared, “We have no common ground” regarding the Common Ground Initiative, I felt that we had started a “culture war”.

    I never wanted to be part of the culture war, so I (and thousands of others) resigned from the LDS Church. I am so many other former Mormons are just broken hearted about the way the gay community has been treated in Utah. Carol Lynn Pearson predicted that we would “weep” when we finally realize all the pain and harm we have caused. Let me apologize to you and say how deeply sorry I am for my ignorance and my part, being an active Mormon at one time, in all of this. I know these are just words and they aren’t worth much, if anything, but I mean them with all of my heart.”

    This is one of many among the controversies that should be out in public.

  • I love this post! When I first started blogging I was told over and over by family members that I was damaging the church and ruining testimonies by being open about my questions or talking about areas I hope to see improvement. Maybe I’ll just send this link to every person who’s ever told me I’m an enemy to my church :).

  • Sue

    “I just think you are reading to much anti-mormon sources”, said my father last night after coming back from church and just sick that his daughter has lost everything. “I don’t see even how you have hope to even live.” After about 45 minutes, “Dad, I am hanging up the phone. If you would like to try to understand me, I would be happy to talk. I know it is hard for you to hear this. I love you and my openness about my beliefs is not to change or hurt your beliefs. I am not going to be shamed into going back to my closed fearful mind.” He continued…but, but, but….I love you dad, goodbye, click

    I will never see the church the same and I do question our diversity. It is to painful for me to wait for the church to “grow-up”. Not if we are taught like 8 year olds at church and afraid to question. Growing up is hard at 39.

  • Sue

    I am right there with you. This was my second Sunday at home. I can’t go back either. It is so strange to me at times. I think converts have an easier time (obviously not all), but the few I have talked with don’t’ even see how closed minded our teachings are. I also notice people like the Given’s are able to make it work like I am not able to.

    I am restructuring right now. So many question and so few answers. I like asking questions that I don’t have answers to. So refreshing.

  • I love this post, Jana. Findings like Maffly-Kipp’s totally make sense. Where it seems like so many people want to strengthen the stakes of correlation and make sure that everyone thinks exactly the same about everything, it’s not surprising that even where this approach succeeds (shudder!), it only makes clear to observers that their worst cultish vision of Mormonism is the correct one. I think it’s so much better for the uncorrelated reality to come out: both more truthful and more appealing.

  • Daveescaped

    I find myself in agreement with a portion of the comments here. I’m LDS. Active. The recent admissions about Joseph Smith and polygamy were not new to me. But I have viewed them now as an adult with more experience in life and in my faith. Do they bother me? Absolutely. But I also have to balance this with the joys I have found in my faith. I guess I am practical that way. I would never give up what I have. And at it’s root, I can live with it being founded on a very human man. Beyond that I find nearly all faith a mystery.

    I like the comment about stating what we “believe” versus what we “know”. Of course none of us can ever “know”. But we’re guided by faith in so much of our lives. I stay with my wife because I “believe” she loves, but I don’t “know” it. I “believe” in many things I can not prove with facts. And I can live with that.

  • Mark

    Unfortunately with Mormonism you’re required to believe in things that can be disproved with facts.

  • Nobody Important

    What does it mean when the most praise of these ideas come from those who have left the church? Isn’t that supposed to be the opposite of what happens?

  • Daveescaped

    How so? I offered praise and I haven’t left the church. Besides, 10 comments does not a trend make.

    Personally I think most believers have NEVER looked at their views with a critical eye because, well, why would you? Who gets up every day thinking, “maybe I’ll go question the fundamental tenets of how I was raised and what I believe”?

    Speaking for myself, I’m a convert, so clearly I came from a place of NOT believing. For me perhaps it is more natural to look skeptically at faith. That’s how I was raised. But I can understand why others raised in the faith would not BEGIN in a place of skepticism. What I have an issue with is the unwillingness to recognize an iota of criticism among some believers. Eventually, in adulthood, we all need to be willing to say, “yeah, I can’t explain away that blacks were excluded” for example. Adults need to show a bit more intellectual honesty when confronted by critics. Some of our history needs admission, not explanation.

  • Sam

    Amen Dave

  • Pingback: The Cultural Hall Podcast – Mormon News Report, 9-December-2014()

  • Love this article. I too, have received many of the same comments as you have whenever I have discussed controversial topics related to the Church. For a long time, it felt like there was a mirroring of this cultural desire at the individual to portray perfection (or rather, perfect faith/orthodoxy) at the institutional level with correlation only focusing on the uplifting and ignoring the controversial. But with the recent publication of the essays, perhaps that is a signal from leadership that it is ok to be aware of controversial issues and to discuss them. Strength of testimony come in fighting for it, not just blindly accepting it. It comes in actually choosing to have faith in the face of the unbelievable, miraculous, nonsensical, or outright challenging, rather than just tacit acceptance of what one is told. Yes, some may leave, but those that remain, will be stronger in their faith.

  • Very well said! I have always taught that the greatest gift God has given us is the ability to think and chose for ourselves. Sadly some members do not agree with this scriptural truth.

    The greatest failing of the LDS Church is that it is based on fear rather than on the Gospel. That’s not to say that the leaders use fear to control us, the same fears control them as well. There are 3 lies the devil uses to control us and our church members believe two of them and teach them openly.

    1. We are not worthy.

    We are taught we cannot have our calling of election made sure in this life, it is too hard. Yet with God all things are possible. We are taught that we shouldn’t expect to see angels and we don’t – we don’t have the faith. We are told we are a religion of miracles then taught not to expect the miracle. This makes no sense. We should be telling each other every week that we CAN do it. We CAN see angels, we CAN have our calling and election made sure. Instead of focusing on non-commandments, like what our neighbors in other faiths are doing or the Word of Wisdom, we should be talking about what what is important – receiving the Second Comforter and joining the Church of the First Born.

    2. It’s us vs them

    Satan would have us believe that Earth life is brother against brother. If we fight our human family we won’t fight him. The magical “them” that’s out to get us isn’t the witches, gays, atheists, Muslims, or anti-Mormons. They are taught the same lie we are – us vs. them. We should be loving our neighbors, not looking at them as the enemy. Why do you think Jesus made the hero a Samaritan in his parable? It’s literally like saying the Tanners or the homosexual stopped to help the Mormon that was mugged after the Stake President, Mission President and General Authority all walked by.

    I don’t need to go over Satan’s 3rd lie – it’s that he doesn’t exist. We are all over that one. But until we move past his other 2, our church will continue to fail and to lose members. Man cannot serve 2 master and neither can his Church.

  • GP

    Daveescaped said: ‘Who gets up every day thinking, “maybe I’ll go question the fundamental tenets of how I was raised and what I believe”?’

    Good comment Dave – you are spot-on. There is a major misconception that those who have “lost their testimony” had sought out losing their testimony, never had one to begin with, wanted to sin, was offended, was lazy, etc. Although there is a possibility for any of these to apply, in many cases (including my own), it was *unexpectedly* encountering a narrative and morals/ethics in church history that was different and opposite of what we had been told in church. When this occurs (and everyone’s experience is different), it comes down to a moral dilemma – are we loyal to the church (stay) or are we honest with ourselves (leave). Again, different folks process the information in different ways, but for many of us, this is the dilemma faced. What else is expected – just accept anything that we find out without question? I would think not. One of my favorite Joseph Smith quotes is:

    “We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them (even) if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.”
    – Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, Vol. 14, Num. 38, pp.593-595

    Nobody Important – your line of thinking was where I was at a year ago… I would have made the same comment you did. But therein lies the problem with LDS culture today. When President Uchtdorf says that all are welcome to come to church and your testimony doesn’t have to be “this big” to attend, how big is the tent? If I cannot believe because of church history problems and now have a different perspective, am I not welcome? Is that what Jesus would want as He has been described to you in church? Something for you to think about. As mentioned in my previous comment, the LDS culture needs to get more in-line with President Uchtdorf’s plea in last GC… a lot of work is needed to change a culture down to the rank-and-file level. I suspect that you’ll see a fairly big shift in the culture in the next 5-10 years.

  • DanielD

    You had me on the first sentence. You lost me on the remainder. As a life-long member (not raised in Utah), I have never heard that we could not have our calling and election made sure. Maybe your older brother told you that, maybe your Sunday school instructor told you that, but I have never heard that. I was taught to pray for and expect miracles. The history of the church and its members is miracle after miracle. I don’t know how one could have the impression you shared under 1).

    Regarding 2), a youth may interpret “don’t go to those drinking parties” as “us v. them.” But I have always been taught to love my neighbor as myself. The story of the good Samaritan is taught to the CTR 4’s and up. Elder Perry’s last talk in GC was “love as I have [Jesus] loved you”, which is a higher love than “love your enemies.”

    Anyway, have a great day and thanks for your thoughts.

  • I believe Mormons do think for themselves. The problem is they make the choice to let others blindly lead them. The Bible tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. There is evidence for the legitimacy of the Scriptures, yet when evidence is shown that the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are fraudulent and that Joseph Smith was not a prophet sent by God, they choose to believe those things anyway.

  • Sam


    I agree that we need to have a public discussion about these issues. My issue is that I feel like you primarily talk about these issues on your blog and in your comments elsewhere. Does Mormonism have anything genuinely beautiful to offer? Or is anything good just white-washed nonsense that needs to be sanitized by the light of day? That is my primary contention with the bloggernacle. The vast majority of the conversation right now is about the culture or the history. Most discussions about theology are related to prophetic fallibility, polygamy, or the priesthood ban for blacks (all inter-related by the way).

    I don’t know you. But I sense you converted to Mormonism and stay in it because you feel it offers something. By focusing primarily on the public discourse you feel is important to bring to light, you necessarily give less time to anything within Mormonism that would attract anyone to it. I realize you’re saying in this piece that the disagreements actually benefit the faith. I can understand that. But what is the right balance? It certainly would be nice to read more about the beauty you find within the faith.

  • Sam, thanks for reading. If you’d like to read a couple of the personal essays I’ve written about my beliefs (and I’m honored that you would), here are some links. Because I blog for a news service, my posts for RNS generally tend to be more oriented toward current issues than perennial theological questions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think those questions are important.

  • Oh, man! I wrote a long answer to this and a couple of other comments, and none of them made it through. This has not happened before — I seem to be unwittingly filtering out my own comments. 🙂

    Anyway, GP, I wanted to say thank you for writing, and for sharing about your faith transition. It sounds like you have been through a difficult time. My own selfish hope is always that people like you will stay in the church, helping it to become the more open, transparent, and welcoming place we dream of. But I understand that this is not always possible. God bless you on your journey.

  • Sam

    I absolutely will and thank you for sending those!

  • trytoseeitmyway

    I have the same selfish hope. As a convert, I was interested in Sue’s comment that converts have an easier time. I suppose in a way, that might be true. A convert – almost by definition – has to see past the criticism. He or she is motivated to do that because of the spiritual value that this faith provides. (I’m tempted to say, “uniquely provides,” but I’m trying to avoid argument.)

    I think what happens with some BIC Mormons (born in the covenant) is (1) they often have never had a personal conversion experience, or (2) they feel disillusioned when the cute little Primary-stories version of Church history turns out to be, um, a bit more nuanced, or (3) both of these. What Sue is seeing with the Givenses and others (you too, Jana, and thank you) is that the spiritual value still trumps the grittiness that always (always!) accompanies God’s work among His children.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    No, you just tell yourself that. I have made a conscious effort to count how many things my faith requires me to believe that can be disproven with facts. The number turns out to be zero. I hope that helps.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    See, that’s one of the places where you’re wrong.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    I’m happy to grant you your sincerity – so please don’t think otherwise – but I still don’t get it. You emphasized the word “unexpectedly,” because … Well, I’m not sure. Maybe there is the idea that if you had somehow been better prepared for the disclosure of whatever-it-was, it would have made a difference to you. But if that’s the case, you should be able to retrace your steps and consider whatever-it-was in the light of whatever preparation you felt would have helped.

    Or not. But you made a point of “unexpectedly,” and it isn’t evident why.

    A lot of this is a variation on “Joesph Smith did X,” or “Brigham Young said Y,” or “Nobody ever told me Z.” I see many people talk themselves into thinking that those things warrant an abandonment of their faith. My own sense is, well, you can abandon your faith for those reasons or any other … it’s totally up to you. It is even exactly why we are here in this life. But when they put on all of these hurt feelings or want to talk about how abused they are and how mean everyone is to them, all because other people retain their faith for reasons that they regard as good and sufficient – I don’t know, it just seems like whining to me.

    I appreciate the comments about Pres. Uchtdorf. His idea is, you want to have doubts? Have your doubts! Just keep an open mind to, you know, the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Just enjoy the fellowship of other saints. If what offends you about this Church is that it affirms standards of righteousness, then, granted, you’re not going to be happy with the people who live them or even those who live them inconsistently. There are more than a few of us who “flunk Sainthood!” But if you like standards of righteousness, if you like service, if you like messages of eternal perspective, if you like the fellowship of people who, more often than not, just want to love you and be kind to you, then come join us. I think that’s what Pres. Uchdorf is saying.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    These are absolutely the right questions to ask. Thanks for your comments and to Jana for her reply as well.

  • GP

    Thank you for your kind comment Jana. Yes, at this time it’s not possible for me to be too directly involved with the church since the transition is still a bit “raw”. With that said, I do hope for a more welcoming (less judgmental) and transparent church in the future. Recently, the trend looks good but there is much more to be done.

  • GP

    trytoseeitmyway – by “unexpected” I meant that the outcome was not what I had ever expected. I devoted all my life to the church and it was very much “true” to me. You don’t know my background, but suffice it to say that I was somewhat visible at the ward and stake levels. I’m not the person you would expect to just walk away. I had dozens of “spiritual witnesses”, some very powerful.

    However, when I began a faithful and sincere inquiry into church history, I was faced with overwhelming evidence in the historical record that the church was not what it claims to be (i.e. it is not “true”). I, along with some help from FAIR Mormon, attempted to reconcile these disturbing facts; however, the more I dug, the more apparent it became that the apologetic answers were rooted in a theoretical and/or metaphysical dimension (like the Givens’ paradigm) and at some times used fallacious ad hominem attacks as disproof as opposed to the literal, rational, and objective explanation that can be easily drawn from the evidence.

    When I realized that people from other religions have the same experience of “the spirit” as those in the LDS church do, and that spirit is not an appropriate mechanism for establishing facts (this concept is established only by using circular reasoning), then things became more clear. The following 15 minute video was very eye opening in this regard: Did I feel the spirit at church? Yes. Did I feel the spirit when giving blessings? Yes. Did I feel it when hearing the national anthem? Yes. Do I feel it when watching secular movies or listening to a good song? Yes. It’s just a good feeling. And I still feel it at times when I hear things that resonate well with me and remind me of my past (including messages from the church). To each their own – we should celebrate the spectrum that comes from this. But this feeling does not change facts.

    Anyway, all of this caused me to doubt about a year ago. That was a very difficult time. I no longer doubt – I am completely certain in my conclusion many times over; although it was not what I wanted. I still am am the same person… I serve my fellow man just as before, I am caring, etc. The church provides a good template for this, but is not the only outlet.

    Best of luck to you.

  • EngineerSenseHere

    I don’t think the majority of us in the LDS church have any problem discussing aspects of the church that are difficult to understand. The problem I have with a lot of your writing is that it misrepresents the views of Latter-Day Saints (at least the ones I know).

    For example, the statement “we are such a young religion and, like all teenagers, are desperately concerned with how we appear to others” is completely misleading. Most Mormons understand that we are the same church as has existed since Adam and Eve. We aren’t overly concerned with our image. If the church was concerned about image, it never would have started polygamy. A practice that was commanded by God, but led to a lot of persecution and an unfavorable appearance.

    I do feel like you aren’t intentionally trying to harm the church. But I rarely feel your articles help build faith. It wouldn’t matter much but your articles are referenced by RealClear which has a large audience of non-LDS who read about Mormons.

  • Ed

    We are a “new” religion and an old religion. As a restored church/religion, I feel as a second generation LDS that I am part Jewish, Christian, Muslim, even Hindu. We are an old religion, even though the it got started legally in 1830. Our beliefs and practices are as ancient as humanly possible.

  • A Happy Hubby

    trytoseeitmyway – I do think there are some that are primed a bit to leave and some revelations is the slight breeze that knocks them over.

    But what I have felt and read others seem to be express is that for someone that attends church every week, watches all general conferences, it is hard not to come away with the feeling that what is being taught is that the leaders are perfect. OK, maybe if they hit their finger with a hammer they let out a curse word, but they are going to give us the word of God. Elder Ballard in the last conference said, “we will not and cannot lead you astray.” Then when many of us go and read “Race and the Priesthood”, we can’t come away from that without the conclusion that the current leaders are saying the past church leaders DID lead the church astray with false doctrine.

    It is the feeling of what seems as a GREAT distance between what is being said (trust us completely) and just how human our leaders are. I for one keep thinking, “how can they say that with such conviction when I remember Bruce R. McConkie saying with conviction how cursed the black race is. Honestly it is HARD to reconcile.

    For those that grew up in Utah might be compared to the frog that is put in the water and slowly heated. For many of us outside of families with long histories in the church, it feels like we are suddenly being dropped into near boiling water.

  • Ed

    Sorry about the grammatical typo above (extra definite article, pet peeve of mine). A lot comes into play when supporting a belief system. I think too many LDS get caught up in believing in the “church”, where the Lord is the one we should focus on more. That said, an organization is a hugely human and imperfect thing, but I know of nothing better. But there are lots of good ones in the world. May we all live peacefully within our frameworks. Holiday greetings.

  • GP

    “If the church was concerned about image, it never would have started polygamy.”

    Actually, the complete opposite is true and is ironically clearly illustrated on this very topic. If the church was not concerned about its image, then Joseph would not have practiced polygamy in secret while at the same time issuing public denials and denouncements regarding polygamy. And the church would have been more open about it in correlated curriculum and included Joseph’s practice of it. Instead, we’ve had virtual silence on Joseph’s polygamy and polyandry for the last 100+ years unless you went outside of church curriculum (which the brethren have told us numerous times to NOT do – up to and including today). The Joseph Smith manual used in PH/RS a few years ago didn’t speak a breath of it… only Emma was mentioned as his wife (singular). Unsurprisingly, I know of numerous members of that church who didn’t even know Joseph practiced polygamy at all, let alone the details. If the church was not concerned about its image then they would discuss the essays in GC and put the author’s names on the essays… or have some kind of public acknowledgement from a GA. We have public silence from the GAs on this topic.

    Sorry… I strongly disagree with you on this point. The evidence simply does not support your assertion.

  • DJ in AZ

    Agreed, EngineerSenseHere

  • Just a couple of thoughts: First, I have no problem with members of the Church discussing or debating doctrines, principles, or practices of the Church. In the end, however, when one does not align his or her thoughts with those of God’s chosen prophets and apostles, one typically ends up disaffected with the Church and leaves active participation. Second, one of the commentators brought up the command to agree with our adversary quickly. This does not mean that we have to agree with our adversary, but rather that we “Quickly have kind thoughts for, or be well disposed toward.”, according to the Greek translation. Of course I have kind thoughts toward those who disagree with me (even you, GP…) but this does not mean that I am required to embrace the philosophies of men over the doctrines of Christ.

    There is no issue with disagreement until that disagreement leads us from God rather than to Him. I am curious how many individuals who have taken Maffly-Kipps’ courses have decided to choose the Church for their religion.

  • DJ in AZ

    If you get right down to it, you can find evidence for and against all scripture, and that includes the Old and New Testaments. I see the evidences that the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price are true, and those evidences outweigh, in my mind, the claims that the scriptures are not true. The doctrines make sense to me. The assertions made by the prophets (Joseph Smith included) about how and why things happened a certain way make sense to me. To sum it all up, I believe the evidences I see, and what I don’t fully understand will, I believe, be made clear to me in time. So I carry on with my faith and testimony, and I am very happy with that I have that anchor for my soul in trying times.

  • EngineerSenseHere

    I keep hearing this claim that the church has somehow hid the fact that Joseph Smith had many wives for 100+ years, UNTIL NOW, THE TRUTH IS OUT. That is so ridiculously untrue. When I was attending BYU we discussed Joseph Smith’s many sealing’s to women, including a 14 yr old etc. I even still have my manual.

    I have great-great-grandfathers that had two wives. So don’t pretend that this whole polygamy business was hidden. It wasn’t. Its not first topic we bring up when talking with non-LDS, but it has never been a secret.

    Joseph Smith didn’t want to start polygamy because at first he was worried about the church’s image. That’s why the angel was sent to him. He learned to obey the Lord first and not worry about image.

  • GP

    EngineerSenseHere – I don’t doubt that you learned about Joseph’s “sealings” to women including Helen Mar Kimball at BYU. However, I didn’t attend BYU and my comment was on what was taught in church, seminary, and GC. Furthermore, I am not aware of any curriculum at church or BYU that talks about Joseph Smith marrying and having sexual relations with other men’s wives and teenage girls. We can argue on who was involved, but even LDS apologist/historian Brian Hales admits to these facts for at least a few of the women… it’s unavoidable for some as they signed affidavits admitting to sexual relations. By digging deeper, you can easily find that it was more widespread than Hales clearly acknowledges. None of this was encapsulated in my understanding of what “sealing” meant as described by church curriculum. As for polygamy in general, yeah, of course we knew that the church practiced polygamy – that’s in D&C 132, no secrets there. But the details of Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy and polyandry were not covered.

    I respect your right to a belief of Joseph being a reluctant participant in polygamy and polyandry and worrying about the church’s image. Of course there are other more obvious interpretations as for his motivation and secrecy.

  • GP

    Likewise Kelly – I also have kind thoughts for you. We are not that far apart in our interest for church history even though our conclusions end up being different. I for one am really happy that the church is starting to take steps to be more open. I hope that this trend continues. I actually would like to see the women involved in Joseph’s polygamy and polyandry highlighted in church as heroines. What they had to go through was very difficult and to not speak of them is a disservice to their trials. I can understand the discomfort and obvious catalyst for doubt in doing so, however, if the church’s stance is that this was commanded of God, then we should talk about it openly in church.

    I believe that I remain close to God… but I suspect that to meet your criteria in this regard, I would have to go back to [the LDS] church. This is perhaps where we may differ and is the premise for my first comment on this blog. I hope that in the long run the church looks equally upon those regardless of theology or disbelief… and not feel that people have to align with the LDS viewpoint to be “complete” if you will.

  • Fred M

    It may be untrue for you, but it is true for the majority of the Church membership, most who have never taken classes at BYU or had ancestors who practiced polygamy. And to be clear, it’s not necessarily polygamy which was hidden–most of what was hidden involved the fact that Joseph married other men’s wives, a 14-year-old girl, and that he kept it a secret from Emma. Those three things were definitely kept under the rug. The majority of church members live outside the U.S.–how would they possibly have been taught these things?

    To me this argument is another example of the insane unwillingness of some members to admit the Church isn’t perfect. “This isn’t news! This is no big deal! Everyone already knew this!”–all really strange (and revealing) reactions to these essays. I agree that some people can do nothing but find fault with the Church–but the correct response isn’t to compulsively deny everything! It’s to acknowledge both the good and the bad. And the more willing we are to do that, the better off we’ll all be.

  • Daveescaped

    Does anyone really expect the LDS faith to discuss difficult aspects in a church setting? That makes no sense to me for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that who on earth airs their dirty laundry in such a venue. That would be like going to a wedding and the groom tells all the guests how much his bride can be a nag and how she’s put on weight since they got engaged. Time and place my friends.

    That said, if Joseph Smith and polygamy comes up in a way germane to the lesson being taught, it shouldn’t be shied away from or denied. And anyone who has sat in Sunday school in a mature ward knows the topics can get quite controversial and sometimes even heated. In any group of 20 or more there is always someone who will bring up just such topics.

    But to expect the church to “teach” about Joseph and polygamy makes no sense. Just how do you “teach” that? How does that compose a lesson or a principle? Maybe it would be germane in a seminary course in Church History. In church we “teach” two things only; principles and scriptures. Of which JS and his wives are neither.

    EngineerSenseHere – I have to respectfully disagree. As an active member, I do see that we are acutely aware of our public image. Do Catholics spend any time whatsoever on social media to respond to critics at the behest of church leaders? Do Baptists hire PR firms to “message” the church to the public? I am not criticizing doing these things. But it’s pretty disingenuous to say the LDS faith is not a bit interested in its public image. And when someone says we are a young church, we all know they are not speaking doctrinally but practically. The oldest LDS church or temple still standing in America was built when America (a very young country) had probably just passed it’s hundredth birthday. Our restoration history is so new that most of our founding fathers have photographs taken of them. Compare that to the Jews (never seen a selfie of Abraham).

    Now, if you want to insist in a sunday school setting that when someone says, “we are a young faith” (and I have heard it said) feel free to correct them on a doctrinal basis. But realize that we have a LOT of very recent history that gets the publics attention.

  • Pete

    Faith transition

    I am nearing the end of what I believe is my own faith transition. I am a convert who ended a bad temple marriage after nearly 20 years. Before the end of those 20 years, I served in several leadership roles, including high counselor, stake mission president, young men’s president, and bishop. When news of my divorce came public, I was shocked at the reaction. Less I fall into the same trap as my former church “friends,” I’ll spare the comments about how I was mistreated. The quote, “the church is true, but the members are not,” rang true. I found that I had to do as Abraham. I… saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence;
    (Abraham 1:1).

    So I moved to another city and ward, threw myself into the work to prove to myself that I was a good Latter-day Saint, and felt exonerated. Over time, however, I began to see another plight. Our church just doesn’t know what to do with single people. Oh, we try by putting programs in place that makes it look like we are trying to handle it, but the people just don’t really get it. As i reflected on my own membership, once again, the words of that quote rang true… The gospel is true, the people try hard to be good neighbors. I began to see that for myself, being a true Latter-day Saint, meant focusing more on my personal relationship with God, and taking steps to address my own issues. I finally discovered that the ultimate church service is serving my own family first, and if there is time, then serving in the church.

    My faith now is much more pragmatic. I believe that our church is true, regardless of the historical and current chinks in the armor. We are a group of 15million or so who believe in the Atonement, and to varying degrees, all of the things that are appendages to it. We all struggle to one degree or another. We are all at different stages in our journey. Many of us don’t fit the mold, some of us don’t even come close. But there is something about the church and the gospel that brings peace and contentment to our lives.

  • TheEnglightenedSkeptic

    Well said. There are troubling aspects of LDS history, I’ve always known and assumed that. The same can be said of nearly every organization/institution that has survived as long as the LDS church. Does that mean the whole is corrupt? I don’t believe so. My faith isn’t rooted in the actions of men, be they prophets or not. Christian faith is rooted in Jesus Christ, where it belongs.

    It seems that many people in the church deify apostles, prophets and general authorities and when they are confronted with that person’s human foibles, they toss the baby out with the bathwater.

    This is one downside to hero worship.

  • EngineerSenseHere


    Maybe I miscommunicated there. I think the church wants to present a good image. I just don’t think they act like “desperate teenagers”. And I don’t think the LDS leaders are that worried about doing things that aren’t popular or politically correct (Prop 8, etc.) Its not so much they don’t care about image, its that they put obedience before image.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    GP, thanks for your comment. It’s OK that what you wrote the first time (“it was *unexpectedly* encountering a narrative and morals/ethics in church history”) wasn’t quite what you meant; it happens to people all the time. I’m confident that you didn’t encounter anything that isn’t also known to those of us who are interested in controversial matters of history and doctrine while retaining and strengthening their testimonies; it’s just not the case that there is some hidden historical fact that when revealed inevitably leads to the loss of faith. So it is still possible to ask the question, what is the difference between those who lose faith as they inquire into Church history or some other matter of doctrine or practice versus those who seem to reconcile faith with those things? (Loss of points if you answer that we’re just too blind or rigid or true-believing or something.)

    I think the answer has to do with a willingness to accept imperfection and even errors, when viewed in the greater context of the divine and the relationship of the Restored Gospel to divinity and to eternal destiny. If you say that sounds mystical, well, you’re right of course. It is. For many of us, it just happens to be true.

    See, you’re just wrong when you say that the Spirit “is not an appropriate mechanism for establishing facts (this concept is established only by using circular reasoning).” There is nothing circular, or foolish, about saying with Paul that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2:14. That is to say, there is nothing foolish or circular about discerning spiritual truth through spiritual means. If you think it is no more than the same good feeling you get when you listen to patriotic music or what have you, then that tells me that you either never had a genuine spiritual experience or (more likely) that you have decided consciously or unconsciously to discount it in your memory.

    Naturally you’re free to reject that suggestion with the easy response that I don’t know anything about you. And of course I don’t. But it still leaves the question, what’s the difference between those who encounter “X” and lose their faith, versus those who incorporate “X” into their faith and still grow in their relationship to God and in the Restored Gospel?

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Happy Hubby, I don’t think that what is being taught is that leaders are perfect. I think that’s your exaggerated characterization of what is being taught. Joseph Smith more than once admitted his own imperfection – indeed, faults falling far short of perfection. Prophets and apostles since then have often declared a strong version of priesthood authority, but there is also a series of equally strong statements of priesthood leaders’ fallibility. You should not focus on one while ignoring the other. Instead, you should seek to understand the two categories of statements as a unified whole of doctrine.

    When Elder Ballard said that “we will not and … cannot lead you astray,” he said that in the context of his message that we should “‘never follow those who think they know more about how to administer the affairs of the Church than … Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ do’ through the priesthood leaders who have the keys to preside.” That is not a declaration of perfection; it is a declaration of authority and of unity. In Oct. 2013, Pres. Uchtdorf said, “And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.” So, perhaps you will agree that you were mistaken when you assert that we are taught in General Conference that leaders are perfect.

    But, but, but … what about blacks in the priesthood? How could that possibly be???

    The salient point about the institutional refusal to ordain African American men to the priesthood during years after Joseph Smith did just that is that divine intervention put an end to it and that the Church and its leaders embraced that revealed truth wholeheartedly. I’m not going to defend what happened prior to that time. I just think we know that the Church was NOT ultimately led astray because the Church was reminded strongly, by that revelation, to regard all sons and daughters of God as having the same standing before Him. As Bruce McConkie (who had strongly defended the foregone policy) said at the time, we get our truth line upon line, precept upon precept. He said that once truth was revealed, it was the responsibility of the members to get behind it and act on it. I really like that.

  • Fred M

    I see your point, but I have to say most gospel doctrine and priesthood lessons that I’ve been in teach more than just principles and scriptures. You will find a lot of other things in the manuals, including historical background and context. I have heard many stories about Joseph Smith in these lessons–like that he stick-wrestled with kids–that aren’t really about principles per se, but are there to give more depth to his portrait.

    What better place to teach these things than in a church setting? In my opinion, every other place to learn them is worse.

    It’s interesting that you refer to these things as “dirty laundry.” What’s strange to me is that the Church for years has treated them as such, even though it’s stance clearly seems to be that Joseph Smith did nothing wrong, that he was following orders from God, even that his life was threatened by an angel. If that’s the Church’s stance, then why not make it part of the lesson plan? It would be a faith-promoting story like the dozens of others we’ve been taught about the prophets. But it feels like despite that stance, the Church is still deeply embarrassed by these things, as are most members. I myself am still trying to get my head around it all, so I personally would appreciate these things being taught and discussed in a (safe) church setting.

  • GP

    trytoseeitmyway – you said, “what is the difference between those who lose faith as they inquire into Church history or some other matter of doctrine or practice versus those who seem to reconcile faith with those things?”

    I can’t speak for your case or others as this is a complex topic and each individual places a different value upon various aspects of life. But in my own case, the difference was that I found an overwhelming amount of evidence that disproved Joseph’s ability to translate (BoM/BoA/Kinderhook) and instead pointed clearly to these being 19th century works. The circumstances for the finding and translating of the BoM are deeply rooted in treasure hunting and Joseph found the “golden” (hint, hint) plates right in the middle of his treasure seeking activities – all of this using the same chocolate colored egg-shaped rock he found buried 20 feet underground while digging a well – not a leftover from an ancient Nephite prophet. He used this same rock placed in a hat and wrapped around his face to translate the BoM in the late 1820’s. In 1833, that rock was post hoc named the “Urim and Thummim”… before 1833, it was just called a “seer stone” which what was used for treasure hunting. All of the translation was done when the plates were either on the table or not even in the same house. Joseph Smith then got a revelation through the very same rock to sell the BoM copyright in Canada (an unsuccessful endeavor). I was not told this story in church and I just don’t find the story believable. To me, it seems very logical that this was just an extension of treasure digging. I could go on further (polygamy/polyandry is another big topic for me), but I doubt that we want to have a full debate in the comments section and it probably wouldn’t change your position anyway. But for the sake of you understanding where I’m coming from, suffice it to say that I’ve done my homework with original sources to make sure that this information was accurate and was not “anti”. If I have said anything incorrect, then don’t take my word for it – there’s plenty of research out there that provides the complete picture. And if you believe even with this information, then great! I have no issues with the beliefs of others so long as people are happy.

    As for being imperfect, I hear that approach often used for difficult church history questions; however, if you read the church essays, they do not characterize the troubling aspects as mistakes (one exception may be the PH ban essay). The topics within the essays are considered to be divine. I have yet to come across a mistake of Joseph Smith’s (as defined by the church) which I have any problem with. My problem is with the all-or-nothing stance for items that I just cannot believe since they go directly against basic reasoning (for me at least – others can interpret it differently in a theoretical and meta-physical type approach like the Givens). And this is precisely what Jana wrote about on this blog… so major credit to her for trying to address this issue that causes a faith crisis for so many.

    Regarding circular reasoning to define “the spirit”, you have exactly made my point in your response. You have cited NT scripture to verify the spirit, which validates God, which validates the same NT scripture you use as your basis. See the circular reasoning? Put another way, I don’t think that your point will resonate with a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. As an example, if I identify a spiritual experience which validates that the LDS church is “true”, then you will say it is of God. If I have a spiritual experience that indicates that the LDS church is NOT “true”, then you will say it is of the devil. Who are you (or the church) to classify the experiences of another and what is the basis for the judgement? Surely you can see how this is circular. Hopefully you get my point… I’m not invalidating your own experiences (or my own), nor am I saying that you are foolish. I am just saying that the feeling of the spirit is not a reliable indicator for establishing fact. Simply put, no matter what you or I feel, it does not change facts.

  • GP

    Fred – excellent response; you beat me to it and you did a great job providing the context. Yes, the church does not see Joseph’s polygamy/polyandry (and other difficult issues) as “mistakes” or “dirty laundry”, but as divine commandment.

    I really think that the church missed an opportunity in the latest essay to simply chalk Joseph’s polygamy/polyandry as a “mistake” (as they did with Brigham Young in the blacks/PH essay). By characterizing it as a “mistake”, it would have allowed an easy escape path for members and would have provided a way for the church to move forward with the goodness that exists in the church today. But instead, they doubled down with this as being a commandment which I feel will be untenable in the long-term (it is for me anyway). At least if Joseph’s polygamy and polyandry are considered commandments, then it should be openly discussed and understood.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    GP, thanks for your courteous reply. I’ll try to be brief.

    1. Questions about the provenance of the Book of Mormon or Book of Abraham are of interest to me, but I take the questions in the context of what the works actually say and don’t think I need to be as concerned with stones or hats as you seem to be.

    2. You misunderstand my comments about spiritual truth, apparently because you don’t want to credit them. That’s too bad. I didn’t, as you claim, cite Corinthians to “prove” anything – what gave you that idea? I used insight I found in scripture to express an insight that I regard as valuable, namely, that matters of divinity or spirituality are understood spiritually with spiritual evidence. There is nothing circular about that, any more than it would be circular to say that matters relating to the physical world are best understood with physical evidence. You can properly say that this is all subjective – it can’t help but be – but you can’t tell me that subjective experience isn’t evidence or it doesn’t provide insight into things of the spirit, because any such claim would just be an ad hoc assertion on your part. You know, sort of circular.

    3. It is easy to say that no one’s spiritual experience has any greater validity than anyone else’s experience, intuition or insight, but that, too, just turns out to be an assertion. We know that the world is full of people who have found a relationship with God by searching for it diligently. It’s too pat to say that they’re all deluded. I will hasten to add that most of those people aren’t Mormons. And even I grew up in a different faith tradition, I just happen to think that our faith has a richer and more complete understanding of who we are and what our destinies might be, and that this, too, is subject to spiritual confirmation by those who seek it. I just happen to think that by devoting our lives to discipleship, we find greater communion with the divine than otherwise. I’ve never seen Jana to use quite those words, but I imagine that this is close to her view as well.

  • SanAntonioRob


    I question your use of the word “faith” (ie. those who stay active members keep it, those who decide to leave the Church – whether formal removal of names or just not attending – have lost it). To be fair, many of those who have left the Church use the word faith in much the same way. I don’t think it’s an accurate use of the word, or at least paints a skewed picture.

    For example, I am happy at church and have always been an active member and tithe payer. Does that mean I have more faith than someone who feels like the glaringly obvious historical precendent by Church leaders of sweeping uncomfortable facts under the rug means Church is not right for them? No, not regarding faith in God and Christ, which – let’s be honest – are the real important aspect of our faith.

    I also don’t believe I have less faith than those who don’t feel like it’s important to have the full answer regarding Joseph Smith’s actions and if they were given by God. To be frank, if the truth turns out to be that Joseph Smith married and/or had sex with multiple girls and women out of lust and not commandment but God kept him as the prophet of the restoration, but my ability to be sealed to one wife is hampered by a drink of coffee every day, either the Church isn’t true or God is a tyrranical respecter of persons. The truth of the teachings and practices of polygamy are of utmost importance.

    To sum up, faith is not going to Church. Conversely, leaving Church is not necessarily loss of faith.

  • GP

    trytoseeitmyway – I think that our last two replies somewhat summarize the differences that lead people to different conclusions when considering issues in church history. I tried to take a similar approach as what you have taken, but I was not able to do that because the history and mechanics/details behind the truth claims were very relevant to me. In other words, for me personally, I would be living a lie by continuing activity in the church since deep-down inside I am unable to believe the truth claims (even though I very much want to as I love the church, the doctrine, and the people). But I have to be true to myself. For others, I recognize that these mechanics/details are not as important as the end result from the framework that is setup in their lives (i.e. the “end product” or “goodness” that comes from being in the church). I do respect any path that a person chooses to follow regardless of theology or even disbelief so long as they are true to themselves and others in the process and are not disingenuous.

    Best wishes to you… and lest we let debate get in the way… let’s not forget to have a Merry Christmas!

  • Poqui

    The deification of beloved leaders was very common in the 19th century; one just has to look at American history books written in that era to see that. LDS history was no different: focus on the positive, downplay the negatives, and hope no one ever looks under the rug. U.S. history went through the revision period starting in the 1960’s when people started really looking at history and figuring out that these men that established our nation were flawed human beings. Yet in spite of their human flaws they laid out this beautiful nation for us to enjoy. Once you can get over Thomas Jefferson fathering a child with a slave you begin to see the beauty of his writings. This “wart” moment in Mormon history will pass and people will not only understand the human weakness of past LDS leaders but embrace them with all their weaknesses. I have been a student of LDS history for two decades so I was able to come to grips with this over time. I have “innoculated” my children by teaching them that our past leaders were not perfect and that they had their human moments and my children have been okay with that.

  • Poqui

    I’m always concerned when people equate feeling emotion with feeling the Spirit (ie. “Did I feel it when hearing the national anthem? Yes. Do I feel it when watching secular movies or listening to a good song? Yes. It’s just a good feeling.) We do a great disservice teaching this. The Spirit expands the mind and enlarges the soul. You may or may not feel emotions or “just a good feeling.” As a FT teacher of the Gospel I am just beginning to understand how the Spirit speaks to us and it’s not through the “good feelings”. The closest I can come to describing it is that “Aha!” moment when you’re studying something and you finally get it. It is in those special moments that my mind can comprehend truths and understand difficult facts. If my testimony was based just on “feel good” moments then I would’ve been out of this church a long time ago. It would be too difficult to hold the tension.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Naturally it is distressing to hear much of this story, but I like where you end up. Thanks for sharing these experiences. I’m sure we can all do a better job of expressing the pure love of Christ.

  • Daveescaped

    EngineerSenseHere – OK, I can appreciate that. But while you or even I might not be lead to characterize the church as desperate teenagers, I like that there are those who do. I’m not one that thinks the church needs critics within the ranks. But I like that the tent is large enough to accommodate the freedom of thought that leads to such conclusions if that makes sense. I don’t want to see us all control each others opinions to that degree. If an “opinion” is taught as doctrine and conflicts with doctrine then fine. But my open-mindedness is what brought me to this faith. I’d rather not chuck it out the door now that I am here.

    Although I fully agree that (as you stated) when and I

  • Daveescaped

    Fair points all. I guess I can live with it being “dirty laundry” and I can’t criticize anyone for trying to paint it another way. I guess I also think that we “get” so little of how things work and we view everything through today’s standards that I am willing to let such things pass.

    Just one more thought to add. I guess I feel like with our faith I can live with the dirty laundry because it feels to me like our faith is subjected to the highest level of scrutiny. Imagine if Catholicism looked at itself and it’s history so intrusively. And I offer that only as an example. I can’t imagine any other faith even surviving the level of scrutiny we endure. Which is why I can live with the results.

  • abe

    Another Mormon turned inactive, good work Jana.

  • GP

    Actually the credit for my inactivity goes to Joseph Smith whose activities I can no longer accept as divinely inspired/commanded now that I know the actual history. The credit for the messenger that initially informed me of the actual problematic church history was initially Richard Bushman in his book “Rough Stone Rolling”… and I went down the rabbit hole from there.

    The process of discovery was very painful and devastating to my life. People in the online community like Jana and John Dehlin have helped me to heal in the best way possible since most church members do not want to discuss these troubling topics and/or think that I’m deceived by the devil with “anti-Mormon lies” (as opposed to just making an informed decision). For that, I am thankful for them in opening up the dialog.

  • Joseph M

    It has been very gratifying to watch the respectful commentary on this post in particular. As I have watched and participated in online discussion in various venues and considered them in light of LDS teaching on contention in our discourse I see more and more that how we approach the discussion of difficult issues is the greater cause of problems than the issues themselves.

    recently I read a post on this very topic that delves into why it can be so hard to discuss hard things in an uncontentious way.

    Drawing on Jonathan Haidt’s research on moral psychology the author makes this initial point about why disagreements about Ideas can so quickly devolve in to Flame wars.

    “I think we all honestly believe (even me most of the time) that its easy to differentiate between polite conversation and personal attacks. And given that it is easy (or so we believe) when someone makes a personal attack of necessity they must be doing it on purpose and knowingly, and therefore are in need of some moral correction.

    Our biological morality sense is just like this. It functions as a conversation stopper. It is not rational. In fact it specifically circumvents rationality. One of the main survival advantages of evolving a biological moral sense is to cut off certain lines of rational consideration, like say murder, as a way or resolving one’s problems. [1] So if someone says something morally reprehensible, we just feel it that we need to morally correct the person because the only possible reason they could have violated what we perceive as objective morality — for all morality is felt to be both objective and absolute or else we do not perceive it as morality in the first place — is that they are being a jerk. Although there are a few people that do intellectually buy into the idea that morality is really just a human construct, and therefore really just a personal preference, even those people ignore their own beliefs the moment someone behaves in a way they feel is immoral. ”

  • Jana

    Does not the way that some LDS are treating you betray the fact that the LDS do not teach Romans 14 in church and practice it towards you and others?

    A few years ago, there was likewise a post by an LDS woman blogger In defense of bikini-wearing lds women or in defense of bikini wearing mormons
    in which she noted and responded to similar flames against people . . . and my observation is the same . . .

    Are not the LDS negligent in teaching and practice of Romans 14?