On Doubt

imageRecently at the adult session of Stake Conference, we had a delightful interchange about how councils can bless our families and our congregations. There were two microphones being carried through the congregation so that any who wanted to comment could be heard.

On individual who commented raised the matter of those who have had doubts, who have decided they could not remain in the faith. I think the individual’s comment was tending towards suggesting that we should make it safe to doubt in the Church.

The response was instructive. It is fine to have questions, the visiting authority (Elder Perkins) said, but it is not acceptable to doubt. Doubt, he contended, ends hope of moving forward, while questions, even if unresolved for an extended period of time, permit the individual with questions to move forward in faith.

The Definition of Doubt

Intrigued, I googled “doubt” and found the following from an online dictionary (Houghton Mifflin, I believe):

doubt

v.verb

  1. To be undecided or skeptical about.
  2. To tend to disbelieve; distrust.
  3. To regard as unlikely.
  4. To suspect; fear.
  5. To be undecided or skeptical.

n.noun

  1. The state of being uncertain about the truth or reliability of something.
  2. A feeling of uncertainty or distrust.
  3. A point about which one is uncertain or skeptical.
  4. The condition of being unsettled or unresolved.

Thus, we see that the definition of doubt is to fear, to distrust, to disbelieve, to be skeptical.

This is why doubt is not acceptable for one who has experienced conversion. It is fine to have questions, to have some level of cognitive dissonance regarding doctrinal or historical matters. But at the point when we start to distrust and become skeptical of the conversion we experienced, when questions transform into disbelief, then we have taken a step that is a step too far.

Reflecting on My Own Experience

I was raised in a home where the gospel of Jesus Christ was believed. Mother read to us from the scriptures every night. We prayed every night. We attended Church regularly, which in those days meant traveling to Church multiple times a week, including twice on Sundays.

When I encountered disturbing possibilities regarding Joseph Smith (reading Sam Taylor’s novel, Nightfall at Nauvoo), my world was overturned.

Yet I had been privy to various experiences that were not negated by my new-found questions about the founding prophet of Mormonism. My mother had frequently prayed for our car to start, and on many occasions, this vehicle that had no earthly right to function would then sputter and come to life. She shared tales we had no reason to disbelieve, of a time when she had multiple dreams of a gloved hand attempting to unlatch her front door, followed by the night when the gloved hand was real. Mother, through the forewarning of the dreams, was able to thwart the intruder. She told us of seeing the spirit of our deceased sister. She told us of her own testimony, the thrilling knowledge that the gospel was true, a knowledge that set her to jumping on her mattress singing “It’s true! It’s true!”

Guided by our believing mother, we children had our own experiences. My brother was able to find a lost toy by praying. A sister who had been diagnosed with life-threatening mastoiditis was given a blessing and the mastoiditis disappeared (seriously pissing off the doctor, who had been looking forward to the surgery that would have threatened my sister’s life).

Though I lived in a world where miracles happened on a regular basis, I’m not sure if any of the miracles had been directed at me, personally. But since the miracles occurred in my presence, I knew that such things happen.

Thus, when my world turned inside out, I wasn’t led to question whether or not God existed. Merely whether or not Mormonism was the religion God wanted people to adhere to.

Then I had the experience where God spoke to me, directly, telling me to stop kicking against the pricks, telling me that I should remain Mormon, telling me that His kingdom would roll forth whether I was on the wagon or not.

I was left with questions. But I had no doubt that God existed. And even if I still was a bit skeptical about the Mormon Church, I had no doubt that God wanted me to be a Mormon.

I look at how I have characterized my past experiences, and I have talked about having a sliver of doubt. But perhaps I would have better used proper English had I characterized my state as having a passel of unresolved questions, questions that nattered at me, attempting at times to overturn my firm knowledge of certain truths.

But I knew God is real. I knew God wanted me to be a Mormon. I knew, therefore, that my passel of unresolved questions would have answers that were fully consistent with these first two answers.

_________________________

By the way, check out the awesome photograph of “doubt” published in Charles Darwin’s book. This facial expression was produced by applying electric currents to effect muscle contractions. In a related manner, those who benefit from creating “doubt” know where to stick their probes to elicit the desired response.

There is therefore no particular virtue to submitting to the “probes” of the disaffected. One might as credibly allow someone to put electrical probes on your face when you are trying to do a photo shoot (or at any time, for that matter).

There is no shame in refusing to be manipulated by the disaffected, much less as prescribed by the disaffected.

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

56 thoughts on “On Doubt

  1. That afternoon our home teacher stopped by. In the context of his lesson, our HT gave us the 411 on Elder Perkins. Seriously smart individual.

    With smart people like President Uchtdorf, Elder Perkins, and their peers shaping the future of the Church, I could almost wish to live to the age of Methuselah, just to be able to see the refined beauty of what I’m sure will result.

    [Of course, I will see it, but once I’m dead, I won’t be able to blog about it….!]

  2. great article Meg!! I love your thoughts in letters. I feel where you are coming from. I am glad you are in my church and I am glad it is your church. Look forward to reading your works.

  3. I completely disagree. First, there is more than one dictionary. Oxford defines doubt as “to Question the truth or fact of (something).” Second, this should be an obviously fallacious argument. Imagine that this argument were being made by Jehova’s Witnesses or Scientologists and how would you react? If someone tells me that adultery will improve my marriage, I will say, “I doubt it.” Doubt is synonymous with questions and questioning. It is the state which precedes a question.

  4. Here’s another essential word that should be included in this discussion: hypocrite

    The word is literally the prefix “hypo-” plus the word critical, in other words an absence of criticism, or critical thinking. I’m sure most would recognize that being a hypocrite is not considered a good thing, but I wonder how many know what the word actually means. Quite ironically, there is arguably an inverse relationship between “doubt” and “hypocrisy.”

  5. If faith invites the spirit to dwell in you and be your constant companion then doubt as the opposite of faith invites the spirit to remove from you and turn you over to the buffeting of Satan. That is why doubt is different than asking questions.

  6. Thank you for your wonderful post. Depending on your definition of doubt however I do not believe that all doubt is wrong. Givens has stated that we should celebrate our doubts. It is what we do with our doubts that really matter. I choose to celebrate faith rather than doubt. Faith is so powerful. It is a force for good. Doubt by itself does not result in good. Alma 32 is real.

  7. Ron, doubt empowers faith by refining and strengthening it. Unless you’re arguing for some kind of a blind faith that has no basis in rationality. Simply flip your argument. Do you doubt atheism? I’m quite baffled by how anybody can reframe “doubt” as a sinful thing. The only way it could even be “controllable” would be through the willful act of not thinking.

  8. @ Andrew:

    Your etymology skills are inadequate. A cursory search of the web yields the following for hypocrite:

    Greek hypo, under, and krinesthai, to contend — hence adequately “to answer” on the stage, “to play a part”, “to feign or pretend”.

    As for the etymology of doubt, it comes from choosing between two things:

    doubt (v.)

    early 13c., “to dread, fear,” from Old French doter “doubt, be doubtful; be afraid,” from Latin dubitare “to doubt, question, hesitate, waver in opinion” (related to dubius “uncertain;” see dubious), originally “to have to choose between two things.”

    The sense of “fear” developed in Old French and was passed on to English. Meaning “to be uncertain” is attested in English from c.1300. The -b- was restored 14c. by scribes in imitation of Latin. Replaced Old English tweogan (noun twynung), from tweon “two,” on notion of “of two minds” or the choice of two implied in Latin dubitare (compare German Zweifel “doubt,” from zwei “two”).

    doubt (n.)

    early 13c., from Old French dote (11c.) “fear, dread; doubt,” from doter (see doubt (v.)).

    Thus doubting is not just questioning, but choosing one of two things, and this, necessarily, implies that the thing chosen is the thing that was dreaded.

  9. Andrew,

    Becoming as the father is the goal therefore we should be full of faith and without doubt because the father has no doubts.

    The concept of “blind faith” is always thrown out there as a red herring because I havent seen anyone ever recommend “blind faith.”

    Sacrifice is a pillar of our faith so by definition how can anyone sacrifice if they are “blind” to what their giving up. This means that we should sacrifice our doubts, give them to the lord, and recieve the faith with the saviors love knowing he accepts our sacrifice.

  10. Meg, you are engaging in the classic etymological fallacy. The historical origin of a word is quite irrelevant to present-day use and meaning. Moreover, the word “hypocritical” is polysemic. As is the word “doubt.” The commonly understood definition for the word “hypocrisy” is reflected by the well known saying, “do what I say, but not as I do,” and this is the meaning to which I speak. Likewise, with respect to the word “doubt,” the most commonnly attributed meaning is “to question the truth of fact of (something).” I’ve checked in several of the most popular of dictionaries and they all agree, as does Google. To “fear” is considered an archaic meaning.

    When someone says “I doubt it’s going to rain day” are they really meaning to say “I fear it’s going to rain today.” lol, no. I fully acknowledge that another meaning of the word “doubt” is also “to disbelieve.” Perhaps this is the meaning you (and Elder Perkins) mean to associate with, but I don’t see how that helps you. Are you arguing that it’s a “sin” to disbelieve? If so the qualifier “what” should be added to that. Is it a sin to disbelieve atheism? Or to disbelieve polygamy? Such a position is as mean-spirited as it is nonsensical. For how exactly does one control their ability to either believe or disbelieve – anything? Terryl Givens wrote a book titled “Crucible of Doubt,” the very basis of which is the argument that disbelief is literally uncontrollable and that belief itself is a spiritual gift bestowed to a limited number of people.

    We could weave this into the homosexuality vs same-sex attraction arguments. The church now is of the opinion that it’s not a sin to experience “same-sex attraction.” Having those feelings isn’t in any way sinful or wrong, but it is the act, the ACT of committing an actual sin – i.e. breaking the law of chastity. So in that same vein, how would the feeling of “disbelief” or “uncertainty” be a sinful thing? We’re talking about a feeling here, a state of mind, questioning. The church already sets a pretty high bar for people by placing a value on their worth based on the “strength” of their testimony. Members, in a state of spiritual immaturity, are pressured into saying things they don’t actually “know” or even believe for the sake of satisfying the demands of peer pressure. Has that bar now been raised to a point where we can’t even have natural doubts and ask questions? Oh, wait, it’s okay to ask questions, just not have doubts. Huh? I can’t ask a question without having a doubt first. No no, you see a doubt isn’t a doubt, we’ve redefined the word. What we really mean is that it’s ok to have questions, so long as your conclusions agree with us… if you don’t immediately come to the same conclusion after asking your question, because the truth is whatever we say it is, then that means you’ve crossed this arbitrary invisible line and your question has become a “doubt” and that makes you an evil sinner. We will tolerate questions, but not doubts. If you have a doubt, get out.

    What interesting times we live in.

  11. Andrew,

    sorry you feel that way about me. I dont want to talk past you and I presume vice versa.

    The savior loves me and has blessed me in such unique ways that I have shed all my once held doubts in his love. Because of the things hes shown me I have chosen to freely give him all my doubts and now completely live by faith in him. He is my strenght and my everything and i give him all the credit for my salvation. Jesus christ is the savior of the world and has made an infinite atonement for me and you on our behalf. This power he posesses is real and empowers me in all things. Jesus christ is my master in whom I am faithful. I pray the same for you my brother in the faith. God bless you.

  12. I usually question media headlines until I’ve discovered the facts as far as possible, but there are some sources that have such a history of being misleading that I not only question, I doubt. My experience with most Church sources has generally been positive and the Gospel itself is precious to me so although I have questioned some things encountered in Church settings, particularly speculations by speakers in meetings or home visits, I don’t doubt the Gospel. Doubt of the dubious and devious is valuable, just as credulity can be dangerous. However some seem credulous about apostate claims and doubtful of beliefs and practices that have blessed them.

  13. Ron, feel what way about you? I have said nothing about you personally. I said your argument was a poor one. I’m happy you are secure in all your various beliefs, but I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. This is about the treatment of questions and the people who ask them in the church. And this is all very general, we aren’t discussing specific questions or doubts which may arise in response to certain issues. A “doubt” could pertain to anything, ranging from the divinity of Christ to the selection of an appropriate photo for a baptismal program.

    Perhaps a member is studying the history of President John Taylor and comes across the quote, “And why did it [blacks] pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God.” Would it be “wrong” for someone to “doubt” that such a statement was inspired of God? Yes or no? In your opinion, would it be better to assume God is a racist? Yes or no?

  14. Language is inadequate, communication based solely on it even worse.
    We choose a word and then over work it. The meaning intended to be conveyed is what we seek and we do have a responsibility to not make another an offender for a word by trying to arrive at what was meant.

    To have a doubt has a different meaning than to doubt. “I have doubts about that” conveys a different meaning and intent than “I doubt that.” “I have doubts” relates to Andrew’s contention that these things simply arise within the breast and they are fearful. “I doubt that” conveys will, active intent. Hence, one is sin and the other is not but of course only in reference to a truth already known. We can only sin against laws we know and have written in our hearts. We can transgress them (as we have learned to distinguish those words) and will suffer the natural consequences of that separation from the spirit but it will not be laid at our feet in the day of judgment.

    All the arguing about meanings misses the point. Elder Perkins chose a word, “doubt,” the verb form. It conveys action and will. We wrest it at our own peril. To question is okay, to doubt is proudful and by the experience of many leads to no good place. Return to the safe and humble ground of questioning and leave off doubting.

  15. Joel, you say, “Return to the safe and humble ground of questioning and leave off doubting.” Can you provide an example? What is the safe and humble ground of questioning? What is it, exactly, and how is it “safe?” And how is the other thing, doubting, different, and why is it apparently “unsafe?”

    I’m not sure you understand the OP. You argue that we should be generous in our interpretation of language, but then argue for being highly judgmental about what people say. This is all stemming from a question a brother asked in a stake conference about how to treat “doubters.” And I’ve gotta be honest, I have never in my entire life heard a person at church describe themselves as a “doubter” or lead into a question by saying, “I doubt such and such.” This is a fairly unusual way to talk.

    My goodness what are you people talking about?

    This brother at the stake conference who asked what he did, he was not promoting the idea of encouraging people to harbor and dwell on doubts. He was speaking to the huge problem that people who have questions are treated with hostility in the church. They aren’t running around saying the church is a fraud. They are just asking questions. This brother’s point is that people who have questions need to be treated with respect. Their questions need to be dealt with honestly and treated fairly. The questions are legitimate!

    Shall we roll play an example here? How about I ask a question, or a couple questions, and you tell me whether I am in the category of being a “questioner” or a “doubter.” Tell me when I cross from one side to the other. Seriously, let’s try it out.

  16. Meg,

    I appreciate your original posting! Like you, I trust our God and want to help others build faith. Faith, Hope, and Charity, all properly centered on our Savior, are available to anyone who seeks, and how powerful they are. I’m glad to have found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When my life on earth is done, I want to be counted as one who sustained, built-up, honored, trusted, respected, helped, and so forth. I don’t want to be counted as one who mocked, scorned, pointed the finger, wagged the tongue, or did anything else to damage the faith, hope, or charity of my neighbor.

  17. Thank you, ji – I too hope to be one who was found to have built up the kingdom of God, that real, true God who I have experienced and know to be divine.

  18. Hi Andrew,

    You weren’t there, clearly, since you didn’t know it was a woman who asked the question, not a man.

    You claimed an etymology for hypocrite that is wrong. A hypocrite is one who is putting on an act, intending to deceive, typically intending to deceive by pretending to virtues the hypocrite does not possess. At this point you may attack with the common trope that Joseph Smith wasn’t what his people believed. Yet what he did pretend (as far as I can tell) was that he was a practicing polygamist, and for this he was killed. The more I study Joseph’s life, the more convinced I am that he was more honorable than his followers or the later world has believed. I took my passel of questions and kept flinging them against the wall of truth until logic yielded pure fruit, free of the chaff that causes so many to doubt.

    There are those who have doubts and live amongst those who will reject the one who questions, seeing them as a threat. This is human nature, to reject the individual who appears to threaten the status quo. For example, we see this here with you, attacking me and those supporting me because my attack on “doubt” upsets your status quo.

    Many of those I love are not only those who have doubts, but have become doubters, cutting themselves off from God or at least His church. Austin Cowles was one of those. His doubts were so substantial that he plotted to kill Joseph Smith, willing even to kill others if required to ensure success of their plot. And yet in eternity I hope,as his daughter hoped, that Austin will have realized truth, put away his doubts, admitted the greatness of God, and reconciled himself to a brother that he helped kill.

    You appear to be reacting to people who are not me. Please feel free to share the experiences that explain why you are so vehement about my attack on doubt rather than flinging sophistries and false etymologies. I certainly hope you are not doubting and defending the doubters because professional detractors (those who receive money for creating doubt) have you pinioned with their probes.

  19. Andrew, if you are going to comment here tone it down. We are all friends here. You are one more rude comment away from being moderated. You have been warned. If you would like to have aggressive, take-no-prisoners debates this is not the place to do it. Take it to another blog.

  20. The scriptures speak against unbelief or doubt in its pure form, when you doubt you don’t believe what’s been said or taught, for example D&C 84:54
    “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received–”
    D&C 84:54
    The footnote for disbelief in this verse takes us to “Apostasy of individuals” and guess what else, “DOUBT”.
    Verse 55 goes on to say
    “Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.”

    Therefore, unbelief or doubt is not only a bad thing, but it also brings condemnation or stagnation to the church and to the individual spiritual progress, and eventually it leads to Apostasy.
    Verse 61 says
    61 For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment–that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.
    D&C 84:61

    The Lord talking about disbelief commands us to remain steadfast in our mind. I understand steadfast to mean firm, unwavering

  21. Sorry, I kind of didn’t finish my thought, but the baby was demanding my attention.

    Anyways, I believe the Lord condemns unbelief or doubt and commands us to do the opposite to be believers and remain firm and steadfast in that belief.

  22. I have to address one sentence by Andrew above that simply needs to be refuted and is essential to this post:

    “The historical origin of a word is quite irrelevant to present-day use and meaning.”

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. Have you ever read William Safire? The historical origin of a word is *essential* to its present-day use and meaning. You cannot know what a word truly means unless you understand its history. Ancient Greek and Latin roots help us explain most words in the English language. We can appreciate a word’s full meaning when we consider its history and its roots.

    Now if you want to say, “many words have, over time, moved away from their historical origins, and this needs to be considered,” yes, you certainly have a point. But claiming the history is *irrelevant* is simply a false statement.

  23. So, returning to the word “doubt.” As Meg points out, the Latin roots (dubitare) are very interesting. In Spanish you use the verb “dudar.” This is a very strong word and it comes from the perspective that what you are saying is wrong or dubious. (“Yo dudo que sea cierto”) So, you are starting as a “doubter” and asking people to prove things to you.

    This is exactly the wrong way to approach the Church. Obviously, many people (including myself) have been “doubters” and have been convinced by the Holy Ghost, but in my case, and in all cases of conversion I have seen, the person has moved from a position of a “doubter” to being “open minded” in one way or another. Once you adopt a position of being “open minded” you can be moved upon by the Spirit to having faith confirmed.

    So, Meg’s post and the comments from Elder Perkins are spot-on. Doubt does indeed end hope of moving forward.

    This does not mean you cannot “have questions” or “be unsure about things” or “wonder about this or that facet of doctrine.” But if you are starting from the position of doubt, you are unlikely to find an answer that is in line with God’s will. If you start from the position of “I am trying to understand this better” you will almost certainly find yourself in line with God’s will.

  24. Andrew,

    First, it is interesting that you would even assert the possibility that I did not understand the OP. This is a profoundly arrogant assertion. I did not cast such an aspersion at you. That said. We all have blind spots and further review often leads to further enlightenment on any subject or reading. I stand by my interpretation of the OP.

    Second, if it would be helpful I would engage the exercise of targeting an example to establish the pattern of doubting versus questioning, but it certainly doesn’t have to carry the weight of judgment of the person.

    Of course, if you truly understand the thrust of my argument, then you have already surmised that my position requires us to look on the heart and not just the words spoken. I want us to look for the meaning intended, and that is just plain difficult for humans to do. As a practicing attorney I am charged with always looking at facts in the light most favorable to my client. I did my best at this with the words chosen by Elder Perkins in the OP. To question and to doubt can be construed by modern use to indicate completely different mind-sets. It is the mindset I am talking about NOT the words.

    I will illustrate only two extreme sides below of a scenario.

    Someone asks in Sunday School. “Did Moses exist?”

    Just a question?

    Hard to tell. If it is a question then it is answered faithfully by citing New Testament, and Doctrine and Covenants accounts of his corporeality, then referring to the Old Testament and Pearl of Great Price to speak of his marvelous relationship with God and his keys and influence on the modern house of Israel. If it is a question it is safe ground

    An active doubt?

    It may indicate a mind set on “I don’t believe Moses exists.” If so, this question posed in Sunday School is seeking proselytes, seeking company for her position. If it is doubting that Moses is nothing but a myth it is dangerous ground. It makes Joseph Smith (and Oliver) deluded or lying.

  25. A few thoughts.

    First, irrespective of linguistic drift, many words still contain nuances that are not always captured in online dictionaries. Doubt conveys active effort and a degree of skepticism that is not found in many other constructs. It is potentially not far away from “seeking a sign.” “I doubt it will rain” is much closer to “I think it won’t rain” than it is to “I don’t know if it will rain” or “I don’t think it will rain.” Very little effort is required to convince “I don’t know if it will rain” or “I don’t think it will rain” of the possibility that it might rain. Similarly, those two positions are not too surprised if rain does occur. The same cannot be said of “I doubt it will rain” or “I think it won’t rain.” I suspect that many, if not most, of us have randomly cycled through all of these variants when we mean to say roughly the same thing in this context because conveying a higher sense of accuracy isn’t really important. Somewhat like answering “in a while” when someone asks when you’re going to do something.

    Second, in a lot of situations context and what a word means within the context do matter. Particularly in matters of religion. As a chemical engineer, I design, debottleneck and troubleshoot chemical plants. I’m routinely in the field working with operations. If I mention to an operator that I think I have a reflux problem, it is fully understood that I do not have a case of heartburn. Given the context, I am indicating that I may not have sufficient cooling at the top of the distillation column. In the religious arena, doubt has always been understood to have an element of fear or active disbelief. Seeking a definition for doubt from a company whose motto is “Don’t be evil” doesn’t seem likely to yield a definition that would be suitable for a religious discussion.

    Third, religious linguistics researchers have always understood that religious societies and others often take words out of the common lexicon and use them for their own purposes. So, if you mention to an LDS person that you have some dirty garments and ask them how they should be washed, they will probably look at you strangely and tell you hot water, detergent, maybe some bleach, dry on regular heat. If you ask a nonmember the same question, they will ask you about the nature of the garment, the materials of construction, colors and whether or not they should be dry cleaned. On the flip side, you routinely have secular groups highjack religious constructs for their own purposes and you wind up with Christians being told don’t judge and don’t cast stones. It’s not uncommon for members in the LDS Church to buy into such constructs and contexts and join the chorus of those wanting to eliminate the patriarchal order or tell us that we are not exercising enough charity towards those who are not like us.

    If you want a good demarcation between sincere questioning and doubting, you need look no further than the Lord’s own words. In the Book of Mormon, the Lord indicated in Alma 32 that a desire to believe was sufficient, at least at the start. Since doubt is the opposite of belief, doubt must contain either a lack of desire for belief or a desire for unbelief. The Lord states further that we are to conduct an experiment. Experiments in the strictest sense do not contain a preconceived notion of where you must wind up. You may have an idea of where you think it will go, but you must concurrently have the ability to be led elsewhere when the circumstances dictate. Not that it’s ever happened to me in my professional career. Sincere questioning is to doubt what wanting the Brethren to ask the Lord if women can be ordained is to stating that women must be ordained. Refusing to consider whether you’re trying to take the wrong hill cannot and will never be honest questioning. We are told that we are to nourish our desire for faith, or what faith we have. Based on multiple scriptures in the Book of Mormon, this means that we are to look for things that come from God to build and maintain our faith and not things that come from the Liar. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever put Roundup on my lawn and expected it to grow. Spiritual Turf-builder is what we need in the gospel arena, not the words of anti-Mormons or those who actively raise doubts in themselves or others.

    Probably the best experiential example of belief and doubt are found in Matthew 14. Mark records the same incident in chapter 6. When the Lord called Peter to come from the ship, he had no a priori knowledge that he would be able to walk on the water, but he was willing to perform Alma’s experiment and he walked for a time. We are told that he saw the wind boisterous, i.e., he took his eyes off the Lord. We are told that he was then afraid and began to sink. When Jesus caught him, the Savior commented on his lack of faith and asked him why he doubted. What we have to remember in this incident is that Peter already had seen the Lord calm the storm (Mark 4). Not intending to be judgmental, but there were two strikes against his faith. First, he had a summons from the Lord and what the Lord required, he made possible. Peter walked. Second, he had previously seen the Lord calm a raging storm, so he should have known that the Lord could save him even in the current circumstance. C.S. Lewis once said, “Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.” Peter knew that he had walked and knew that the Lord could save him, but his present mood was one that did not allow him to maintain his reference point on the Lord.

    From the Lord’s own words, doubt and faith are on opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum. Belief, or to live by or live according to anciently, calls for action in one direction focused on the Lord. Disbelief or doubt is based on looking at things and people other than the Lord and His anointed. Belief does not require certitude with regard to facts, “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief.” We all know how that worked out. Doubt actively ignores evidence that would otherwise lead to faith. Belief and attempts to believe build up. Doubt tears down. Belief requires us to move into uncertain areas. The ultimate doubt would have kept Peter in the boat. Belief is hard. Doubt is easy. Belief impels action in a positive direction. Doubt coerces inaction or action down a negative path. Belief requires that we leave some things in the Lord’s hands and trust that He will reveal. Doubt requires typed orders in triplicate before we fall in. Belief is humble. Doubt is “Give me the glory.” Belief requires that we seek beams in our own eyes. Doubt says that we must look for motes in the eyes of others or in the church. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

    Robert Frost’s two paths seem appropriate here. Sincere questioning leads to belief. Doubt does not. If you doubt me, look up synonyms for doubt: ambiguity, apprehension, confusion, disbelief, distrust, fear, hesitation, misgiving, mistrust, qualm, reluctance, skepticism, suspicion, uncertainty, agnosticism, diffidence, disquiet, dubiety, dubiousness, faithlessness, faltering, hesitancy, indecision, irresolution, vacillation , wavering. I’d be surprised if there weren’t multiple scriptures and/or General Conference talks highlighting the issues with all of these problems.

  26. We all know your thoughts on the subject smallaxe. Having studied doubt in the scriptures to honestly find a positive way to approach it, all I found was that doubt was at best problematic. At most doubt is considered a sin of the spirit. I think Joel and Pantheril covered it well if not comprehensively. Even the most used excuse for doubt, the story of Thomas, ends with Jesus saying those who live by faith are far more likely to be saved than following Thomas’ example of sign seeking.

  27. Geoff, your interpretation of what I said is not how I meant it. Etymology is of course important, but when applied in the proper context. I was simply speaking to the etymological fallacy, described on wikipedia as, “An argument constitutes an etymological fallacy if it makes a claim about the present meaning of a word based exclusively on its etymology,” and then even adds, “This does not, however, show that etymology is irrelevant in any way, nor does it attempt to prove such.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy

  28. Andrew,

    You didn’t argue for a modern understanding of the word “hypocrite.” You argued for a new understanding of the word “hypocrite”, meaning, “one who doesn’t doubt enough”, that you will find in no dictionary, and claimed an etymological basis for it that was entirely bogus.

    And you did it to construct the following fallacious argument:

    To be a hypocrite is to not doubt enough.
    To be a hypocrite is to be maliciously insincere.
    Therefore, if you do not doubt enough, you are maliciously insincere.

    Which has elements of both the fallacy of equivocation and the illicit minor.

  29. Smallaxe, I read your post on Patheos. I was married to a man who said “I doubt you love me.” From his perspective his doubt justified physical and verbal abuse. He even woke up from dreams in which I had done bad things and hit me. Eventually his doubts led him to adultery. Because I bought into the idea that his doubts might have some validity, I foolishly subjected myself and my children to abuse as I tried to demonstrate that I loved him enough to forgive him and keep trying. His adultery handed me the key to freeing myself from the tyranny of his doubts. Even now, decades after my divorce I sometimes encounter people who ask me if I acted too precipitously in ending my marriage. Doubt, particularly of God, is toxic in any relationship. God invites us to ‘prove me’ but the doubter cannot accept proof for any length of time because it deprives them of their strategy.

  30. There is an article in the March 2015 Ensign that basically states what Elder Perkins did in the original post: questions are fine, doubt is not. I think the author’s deeper definitions are more useful, a questioner as someone who is still willing to hold to the tenets of the church in spite of not having clear answers to their questions. A doubter, on the contrary, would be someone unwilling to give obedience until the doubt is laid to rest. The problem is that this requires a judgment of an individual’s intent, which is not always easy. In the case presented by Joel Winter, the teacher would have to make a quick judgment call, is the question sincere, or is it an attempt to sow discontent? As someone who has been misunderstood before, I can tell you it is very difficult to be treated as a doubting sinner when you were attempting to ask a sincere question. So for me, I wish we could eliminate the legalistic categories of questioner vs. doubter (as many individuals use the terms interchangeably even when they shouldn’t). For me it comes down to are you willing to give the church a chance (Lord, I believe, Help thou my unbelief) or have you already written it off (Show me a sign so that I can believe). As members we should be extremely careful when we superficially determine which camp a person is in.

  31. Joel, my response was not meant to be rude. I was simply saying that in the context of my understanding of the OP your response leads me to believe that you didn’t understand it. I don’t see how one has to do with the other. Maybe I’m the one that doesn’t understand the OP. Very open to that possibility. I stand by what I said though.

    As I originally understood it, and as you’ve further explained, you are arguing that people are misunderstanding what Elder Perkins meant. That language is a crude medium of communication and he is speaking to but one of many meanings that can be conveyed with the word “doubt.” I disagree. This is not my impression. I see this as a misapplication and redefinition of the word.

    My impression is that the word “doubt” came from the person asking the original question, which is the OP. When I speak about the OP I’m not talking about what Meg said, but the person who asked the original question(s) in the stake conference. And no, I wasn’t there. This is a pretty common theme however that’s being discussed widely in the church right now. This distinction between drawn between “question” and “doubt” did not come from the person asking the question, but is a distinction being drawn by Elder Perkins. Similarly the same distinction is being drawn in an Ensign article this month.

    https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/03/when-doubts-and-questions-arise

    I disagree with this distinction. It makes no sense (to me), and for the very reason you stated, “language is inadequate.” Yes!!! Exactly. I do not think those who are making this distinction mean it in a hostile or condescending way, but that is in fact how it comes across. It is a misapplication of the word. The word “doubt” is commonly understood to be synonymous with questions and the verb of questioning. This is the predominant meaning. Are there other meanings, sure. No disagreement.

    We can pit faith and doubt against each other. That is not the context in which we are currently speaking though. Doubt in the sense of the antithesis of faith is not what we mean when we talk about doubt in the context of questions. These are two different types of “doubt.” What I disagree with is the out of context comparison. What I disagree with is the redefinition of the whole word and putting it on a blacklist, making it a dirty word. The implication here is that questions are bad. The natural experience of having a doubt in the course of critically thinking is stigmatized as a bad and unholy thing. The implication is that people should “stop thinking.”

    If Scientologist were making this argument how would you respond?

    People who have questions are not arguing against faith!

    What is the goal? To help questioners receive answers, to promote stronger faith in Christ? I should hope so. In my opinion, the language being used is unhealthy and does not help achieve the goal. It does the exact opposite in fact. It is very divisive language that makes people less likely to feel safe in asking questions. The whole problem, which again is the OP, is that people who have questions already don’t feel safe. A problem currently exists. People are leaving the church. People are falling away. People are struggling with large numbers of issues, both big and small.

    How does telling people doubts are sinful help? It doesn’t.

    By and large all people want is a little empathy. They want acknowledgement that their feelings are valid. Their questions are legitimate and valid. That it’s understandable for them to have the questions they do. They are reasonable people with reasonable feelings and questions. That’s it.

    So say “it’s a sin to doubt” is to say people who have questions aren’t reasonable. Actually, what it really fells like is, “we don’t have any good answers for your questions, so either conform and think like we do, that is, to not think at all, or go away.” It is the complete avoidance of even trying to answer questions or the expectation that one has to arrive at a common answer. This is how it appears. It appears like an argument which promotes stupidity. If a Scientologist were making the argument that’s how we’d react to it, as being fatuous.

    Let’s use your example of Moses. You seem to be exemplifying my point, that this isn’t about the thing of doubting but instead the social acceptance of specific answers. Someone can ask, “Did Moses exist?” If I were to ask this what would you say? Would you simply say, “yes,” and that’s it? Question asked and answered, game over? Or is there more to it than this? If the simple “yes” answer doesn’t satisfy my question then what? Do I then cross the line and become a sinner?

    What if a bible scholar were to chime in and say that Moses exists in the literary narrative of the Old Testament, but he is not historical. Is that a tolerable statement? In the context of the OP, you’ve got a person with a question about Moses. Questioner is seeking truth, whatever that may be. We believe in this guy Moses, but did he exist? How do we know he existed? What is the basis for this belief?

    What’s the appropriate response? Do we lie or tell the truth? Do we act like we know Moses was for sure a real person known through antiquity, or do we tell the truth and be upfront, open and honest that we don’t “know” but instead “believe.” I vote for Choosing The Right and letting the consequences follow. There is honest and true faith, and then there is blind and false faith.

    I for instance do not believe in Noah’s ark and the literal global flood as taught in primary. I still have faith however that the story of Noah is inspired. There is a true spiritual message being conveyed. But my faith is not blind. For a long list of reasons, it is an indisputable fact that the children’s version of the story simply isn’t true. It’s a story that was passed around for many thousands of years by oral tradition and eventually written down by some unknown person. It’s a legend passed down from the stone age. Maybe a real flood did happen at some point but was a small local event. Or maybe it’s pure fiction, a cute allegory conveying a theme. There is no way to know. What we do know though is that it didn’t happen as told. And the acknowledgement of this reality is what allows me to have faith in Christ. If it were required for me to believe in a literal global flood, I would be forced to toss out the whole Bible. Period. If such a question were added to the temple recommend interview requiring that I believe this in a particular way, I would not have a recommend and would probably leave the church shortly after that.

    When the OP talks about making it safe for people to doubt, this is what’s being referred to. We don’t need to all have the same answers and opinions. We need to be honest about what we do and don’t know. And even when we might disagree, acknowledge the legitimacy of other viewpoints. You choose to believe in a literal global flood and a 6,000 year old earth. Good for you, don’t call me a sinner because I “doubt” that. Also don’t call me a sinner for choosing to believe that isn’t true at all.

    This is also an attitude which should extend past the walls of the church to those who might ultimately decide to leave. This isn’t just a “keeping them here” problem, but a “bringing them back” problem. It’s a loving your neighbor problem. We have chosen to stay, others have chosen to leave. I know people who have left and I frankly respect them for their decision and understand it. We could give the example of Don Bradley. He resigned the church and then later returned. In an interview, his Bishop remarked that for Don, leaving was the right decision. As part of his faith journey he needed to go down that road.

  32. Regarding the larger question of defining “doubt,” I think what matters here is a clear distinction between appropriate and inappropriate. You can call questioning “appropriate” and doubt “inappropriate” or you might say that there is appropriate doubt and inappropriate doubt. It does not matter as far as this discussion is concerned; what matters is the ability to create a clear distinction between the two. So far one contender I see is “open minded” vs. “closed minded” but I’m not sure if that’s sufficiently clear. The OP argues for “disbelief,” “skepticism,” and “distrust” as inappropriate. Either of these might be able to be fleshed out to create a clear distinction. The problem, however, as several people have pointed out, is the difficulty of recognizing where any particular person sits with regard to this distinction. When I hear someone say “There needs to be room for questioning things or doubting thing or what have you” I don’t hear someone saying there needs to be more room for the inappropriate kind of questioning. Rather, I hear someone saying that there needs to be more room for the appropriate kind of questioning. Now, and this relates to my post, the problem is that what’s supposed to be appropriate kinds of questioning is still slanted toward an abusive relationship. Since it’s difficult to determine whether or not someone is sincerely questioning something, if someone questions something they take the risk of being taken as a doubter, and if a doubter they are insincere etc. Instead they choose to shelve their questions, and slowly that shelf fills until it breaks. That needs to change.

    Pat Chiu,

    I’m sorry to hear about your ex. I’m sure that was a painful experience. There are certainly ways in which doubt can be construed as bad and manipulative. That in no way invalidates my point in my post regarding the way in which questioning is often set up such that the questioner can be abused. If I understand your experience correctly, your ex was saying, “Love me on my terms. If not, then you’re a bad person.” This actually parallels my point that parts of LDS culture is set up such that the questioner hears, “Trust me on my terms. If not, then you’re a bad person.”

  33. This post and comments have been very interesting. There has been a thought that has come to me amidst all this discussion of what certain words mean. That is, it is more important to understand the meaning of the person originally conveying the idea- regardless of that person’s correct or incorrect use of a word or words. In this case, that would be Elder Parkin and he is most likely in agreement with the Ensign article that was mentioned and linked to in several comments.

    Andrew, I am not sure that this is the case, but it appears that you and/or some that you care for and respect feel that they have doubts or that they doubt. It appears there is some connection to this word as you understand it- correctly or incorrectly. Naturally, when someone uses this word (doubt) and uses it as a negative, or as some have said, a sin, this must make you feel defensive. This is entirely understandable.
    But, my thought is, I noticed you disagreed with the way doubt was used in the Ensign article. Does this perhaps mean that the author and Elder Parkin are speaking of doubt in a different way than you understand it?

    My feelings after reading was that- like some commenters above have stated- it is more about the intent. I felt like they were not saying it was wrong not to understand or to even be unsure if the intent was to continue with the hope that the truth will eventually fit in with those truths we already know (which has been my past experience that things do, even when at some point they seem completely contradictory. This is what I think they meant by “questions”. The way they were using “doubt” made me feel like it meant that as soon as a question comes up that doesn’t have an immediate answer that makes sense, we use that as a reason to start giving up on all the other truths and to look at everything else with suspicion.

    Now, to be honest, if I was told that doubting was bad- without the explanation that was given of what was meant by doubt by Elder Parkin- I would’ve been taken aback as well because of my own understanding of the word doubt. But, when taken with his explained definition, it no longer bothers me. Even though we have used the word doubt differently, I believe I have understood him.
    Just a thought. I hope we will all have the patience and assistance of the Holy Ghost to be able to study and work through our questions (or as some may understand, doubts) in a positive and hopeful way.

  34. The Church cannot be compared to state run ‘thought police’ which have the power to imprison and punish. We are involved in a voluntary association. The most most severe of sanctions we are able to employ, excommunication, may possibly instigate a form of shunning, but as I understand, Church courts are not publicized unless the person in question chooses to go public or if they are in a fairly visible position of authority.

  35. Oh, apology. In my above comments I referred to Elder Perkins as Elder Parkin. Please read as “Elder Perkins” and accept my apologies.

  36. Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001) was a Protestant Pastor in Romania where he was imprisoned and tortured for fourteen years by the Communist regime. This is what he said about doubt:

    “To doubt is as wrong for a man as it would be for him to walk on four legs – he is not meant to walk on four legs. A man walks erect; he is not a beast. To doubt is sub-human.

    “To every one of us doubts come, but do not allow doubts about essential doctrines of the Bible such as the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or the existence of eternal life to make a nest in your mind.

    “Every theological or philosophical doubt makes you a potential traitor.

    “You can allow yourself doubts while you have a nice study and you prepare sermons, and you eat well – or you write a book. Then you can allow yourself all kinds of daring ideas and doubts. When you are tortured these doubts are changed into treason because you have to decide to live or die for this faith.”

  37. First, thanks Meg, and others, for the warm welcome I reiceved last time I commented here. I love reading the posts on millennialstar and the comments and debates that follow. I think the existence of such debates alone are proof that it’s *OK* to express doubt or to ask sincere questions.
    I also think it’s important to consider context when making a statement such as “doubt is unacceptable.” This is not an Orwellian warning of swift discipline. Rather, it is a self-evident axiom of one who desires to make progress. For a baseball player of course it’s unacceptable to doubt the utility of a bat or the necessity of staying in contact with first base when the first baseman has the ball in hand. As one who wishes to develop a relationship with my Father in Heaven it’s unacceptable to doubt that regular prayer will let me know Him better.
    From an institutional standpoint you can have all the doubts you want and still participate in the church experience. I have a good friend who is a strong supporter of OW. I’m happy to pass him the sacrament and I don’t mind even if he takes two or three pieces of bread. There are all kinds of people in church and I say “welcome to you all, I’m happy you’re here.” However, if you doubt the existence of Noah and the flood story, I think it IS unacceptable for you to teach my child in primary. (Incidentally I think it’s a cheap shot to link belief in the reality of Noah with belief in a 6,000 year old earth or with weak critical thinking skills). You can harbor all the doubts you want about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon’s historicity but it’s unacceptable to express those doubts in Sunday School because you KNOW, or you really should know, that expression of skepticism in that setting is not faith building or edifying. In fact, you know, or you should know, that in that context your skepticism is likely to weaken faith and sow seeds of discord.
    Anyway, I don’t think the statement that doubt is unacceptable is meant as an indictment of your worth as a child of God. Instead it is a statement which should inspire you to exercise faith, to become as a little child and seek after Christ, to experiment on the word by making and keeping covenants, and to open yourself to the confirmation of the Spirit.
    BTW, PantherII, I really enjoyed your comment. Really!

  38. Assumption 1: We are agreed the doctrines of the church are defined as what is generally preached today (big assumption I know) and that that is all we are talking about doubting. Quakers on the moon and dietary cholesterol are out of bounds.
    Assumption 2: The questioner wanted to know how to deal with her own doubts.
    Assumption 3: Elder Perkins is able to perform a three-way mind-meld
    Then, he would have conveyed the Christian idea that he was not condemning her, and that no one should for raising a question or confessing that they have had doubts; and cautioned that this key is only for her to use on herself and not to judge another or the things they ask or say since we cannot know the thoughts and intents of their hearts, and then given her a key for her own decision making: “Doubt not, but be believing” and to question is not necessarily doubting but please be wary. The adversary lurks in those dark corners and if you stay too long you will become a “doubter” and that is not good, as it is hard to plant seed in resistant soil and the adversary wishes to “sift you as wheat.”

    Then could we say, “Ah, thank you Elder Perkins?”

  39. Whatever the definition, questioning or “giving into dread,” scripturally speaking, doubt is bad. Jesus said, “blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed. The prayer for doubters is “help thou mine unbelief.”

    Joseph Smith said “no man is condemned for believing too much. But men are condemned for unbelief.”

    Belief is also a gift. “There are those to whom it is given to KNOW Jesus is the Christ, and there are those who whom it is given to BELIEVE on their words.”

    Whether one knows or believes, it is a gift of God, not entirely an act of will. Therefore, the ability to believe may constitute a kind of definition of “elect,” those whom God has not “hardened their heart that they see not and hear not, and be not converted.”

    Those who have the ability to believe therefore constitute a sort of limited predestination, keeping the church at less than 1% of the general population, the little pinch of salt the Savior gives to savor the earth as He said.

    Of course someone can have the gift to believe, yet harden their own heart. These are the people Elder Perkins was referring to. But those who have not the gift cannot be persuaded to stay anyway.

  40. What odd comments on a very good post.

    To have doubts means to be skeptical. What many would have us do is forget/deny the spiritual experiences we’ve had, which built our faith in the first place, and allow temporal logic to convince us that we did not have spiritual experiences, but just a bit of undigested potato (hat tip to Dickens).

    Doubt tends to lead many away from faith in the Church, faith in the gospel, and faith in the existence of God. Sincere questioning means we retain the portions of faith we’ve obtained through spiritual experience, and allow the uncertain things to move us to build upon that foundation of faith.

    BTW, we had Elder Perkins at our stake conference in December and he spoke on doubt and faith, also.

  41. Doubts are cast as negative by those who fear your doubt and seek validation. Progress in matters of science or religion must be accompanied by doubt. according to Joseph Smith, Doubt was was drove him to seek truth. we should expect nothing less of ourselves. otherwise most of us would be Catholic.
    Truth will stand the test of doubt or it is not truth but an illusion.

  42. Flibbertygidget! Who cares about the etymological roots of words?

    The fact is there are many people who have doubts/quetions who are in pain. They feel depressed and isolated. People in these circumstances need compassion, understanding, and love. Instead they are given a big bowl of suck it.

    Do as I say is not spiritual mentoring. Shutting someone down for asking a question will not bring spiritual growth. Ostracism and shunning will never bring anyone to the gospel.

    We need more love of our savior and service. Kindness and love will do more to alleviate pain than any apologists.

  43. Doubt is good for the soul. Doubt is what opens the door for major breakthroughs. A healthy soul can withstand and even flourish in a state of doubt. Doubt leads to maturity of mind. Doubt leads to maturity of faith. Doubt leads to an honest confrontation with he facts of life. Doubt leads to scientific advancements that those with weaker constitutions profit from in their comfortable unquestioning state. The stronger mind, the stronger constitution cannot help but doubt. It is in its nature. It must doubt because it must grow and it must know. The courage of your convictions? No, seek the courage to challenge your convictions.

  44. Pat,

    Yes you are correct, curiosity and a thirst for greater understanding are involved. But so is doubt. You’re implying those things in lieu of doubt, but I am saying they are involved *in addition* to doubt.

    I guess you could say I favor a radical pro-doubt mentality only possible in our post-modern era. I know I’ll be stoned to death on here, but I think doubt is actually a very noble thing. If a person is not acquainted with a profound sense of doubt, they cannot be acquainted with many of life’s ironies, paradoxes, etc. which are indicative of higher understanding.

  45. As people extol the virtues of doubt, I can’t help but see in my mind Miss Elliott, the older sister of Anne Elliott in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. In the slightly older BBC production, Anne is telling her sister and father that she believes she saw their cousin, Mr. Elliott. Mr. Elliott is the man who will inherit Baronet Elliott’s estate..

    At any rate, Miss Elliott expresses doubt that Anne saw Mr. Elliott. When Anne dares to maintain her position of having seen Mr. Elliott, her sister starts to scream at her.

    The scientific method requires an open mind and experimentation. I even wrote a post about that, called Making It Up versus the Scientific Method.

    However doubt can prevent a person from seeing what is plainly there to see. For example, I once was in a physics lab where we were playing with laser light. The teacher told us that once we finished the lab, he had a box of slides with true holograms, the kind that can only be seen in laser light. However he told us that there was a possibility that a few of the slides didn’t have holograms on them.

    I finished the lab first, and tried my hand at seeing the holograms. I looked at slide after slide, and couldn’t see any holograms. I reported this to the teacher. He muttered that couldn’t be, and came over tot he box. On the very fist slide, one I had examined, he tilted the slide until a glowing bee appeared in the laser light. Then he went back to helping other students who were still working on the lab.

    Now that I had seen that at least one of the slides did contain a hologram, I put each slide up to the laser light. Where before my doubt had allowed me to quit before I saw the holograms on each slide, my knowledge that my “findings” were false gave me incentive to strive to find the holograms. In fact, each slide in the box contained a hologram – a box of dozens of slides that I had originally proclaimed blank in my doubt.

    No one here will scream at people for doubting. But we will continue to point out that seeing skepticism and fear as a virtue is not productive for folks who have experienced conversion and wish to retain that conversion.

    Doubting God and doubting the restoration, for one who has received a spiritual manifestation, is a bit like doubting one’s spouse. We see how well that worked out for Othello.

    Will we love doubt so much that we kill our faith?

  46. A recent post at ByCommonConsent seems apropos to this discussion. The post discusses some perceived sexism in the temple liturgy, and at the end of the post the author (a female) presents the disclaimer that “I understand that many of you will probably feel the instinct to come in and help me fix my problem. Please resist that urge. And, gentlemen: please think twice before you attempt to explain away my experience.”

    In other words: “The doctrine/practice/institutional church is clearly wrong, and I don’t want my doubts to be resolved in any way that reconciles me to the orthodox position. *That*, I think, is precisely the sort of doubt that Elder Perkins was talking about; not the more innocuous definition of “doubt” as a mere synonym for “uncomfortable, unanswered question”.

    Ironically, this author will be lauded for her “open-mindedness”.

  47. I thought, as I read some of the comments to the BCC post referenced by JimD, that in certain sectors of the bloggernacle, there is no sacred cow more holy than a pain narration that stops short of the application of the healing power of the Atonement.

  48. jimD:
    “… many of you will probably feel the instinct to come in and help me fix my problem. Please resist that urge. And, gentlemen: please think twice before you attempt to explain away my experience.”

    That appears to be a Mars/Venus thing she was attempting to head off. This video illustrates the phenomenon: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

  49. For decades now, my husband has had the presence of mind to ask me if I am venting or if I actually want his help to find a solution.

    Meanwhile, I’ve learned that there are times when my body has become so involved in my anger that I cannot accept surrender, that I will continue to rage long after the object of my anger has apologized again and again and again. This is also a female thing (one of the reasons that women have culturally placed value on avoiding anger, I suppose). Now that I know it’s just my body, rather than any inherent righteousness on my part, I’ve been able to tone it down much more quickly.

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