Stop expecting other Church members to be perfect

This post is aimed at people who have left the Church or are thinking of leaving the Church.

This post is going to be unusual and not what you usually read at Mormon blogs.

Here is my plea:  “Stop expecting other Church members to be perfect.  Nobody is perfect.  No Church member believes he or she is perfect.  We all know that we are ALL imperfect.  And this means that occasionally, for reasons beyond our control, we may say something tactless or mean-spirited or intolerant or judgmental.  And the reason we may do this is that we are not perfect.”

I am asking people who have left the Church or who are thinking of leaving to have charity and love for those of us (yes, that includes me) who are imperfect.  And because we are imperfect, we will not always interact with you the way you would like us to.

I will be frank:  it is a bit unfair of you to expect other people to deal with you perfectly when you know that is an impossibility.  Nobody can read your mind.  And even if we spent hours upon hours in training trying to become more tactful, it is extremely likely that we will still say or do something imperfectly.  And we would probably say something you find offensive, or hurtful or intolerant or judgmental — even if we did not intend to.

Here is the thing about mortality:  the people around us, especially those in the Church, are both A)well-intentioned but B)flawed.  Just about every active member around you *wants* you to stay at church.  If you have ever attended a bishopric meeting or a ward council meeting, one of the primary subjects being discussed is:  how do we help sister or brother so-and-so feel more welcome at church?  So, the point I am making is that people are trying, in their imperfect way, to help you feel more comfortable in the Gospel.

But again I must be frank:  articles like this one seem to miss an important point.  They miss that everybody is accountable for their actions, include those who decide to take offense at something an imperfect person does or says.

I want to emphasize this word “accountable.”  This is a very unique word and sometimes not pondered enough.  “Accountable” means you will be held to account for your actions. Yes, this means you will be held accountable for deciding to take offense when some imperfect person says something stupid to you in Elder’s Quorum or Relief Society or over the pulpit during testimony meeting.  This means that you are responsible for your reaction to what another person says or does just as much as the imperfect person is responsible for saying something stupid.

Everybody reading this right now knows somebody who has left the Church because somebody said or did something hurtful at church or at a social event related to church.  I know many people who have done this.

Here is a question I always think about:  when I am talking to the Savior, telling Him about my life, how will He react when I am not accountable about the things I have done?  I see him saying, “Geoff, yes, what that person did was really hurtful, but did you really have to go and insult him back?  Couldn’t you have just walked away and learned to forgive?”

So, let’s say the Relief Society president in your ward is really pushy and annoying.  And let’s say this Relief Society president keeps on saying things you simply cannot stand in meetings.  And then one day she says something really mean-spirited to you, and you decide to leave the Church and not come back because of this awful person.

Can you see that two people are at fault here?  Yes, the relief society president, an imperfect and fallible person, did something wrong.  But can you see that you also did something wrong by deciding to leave the Church?  And the reason is that you let another person, a seemingly awful, terrible person, get in the way of your eternal progression.  In effect, you let this other person control your life.

Here is the bottom line we must all face:  we are all accountable for our choices.  And this includes the choice not to come to Church when imperfect people do or say things we don’t like.

Elder Anderson said the following in the October 2010 general conference:

I promise you, as you choose not to be offended or ashamed, you will feel His love and approval. You will know that you are becoming more like Him.35

Will we understand everything? Of course not. We will put some issues on the shelf to be understood at a later time.

Will everything be fair? It will not. We will accept some things we cannot fix and forgive others when it hurts.

Will we feel separated on occasion from those around us? Absolutely.

Will we be astonished at times to see the anger a few feel toward the Lord’s Church and their efforts to steal the struggling faith of the weak?36 Yes. But this will not deter the growth or destiny of the Church, nor need it impede the spiritual progress of each of us as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Elder Bednar also said the following in October 2006:

When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.

In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.

So, in summary, I would please ask readers to note that I am not justifying people who say tactless or mean-spirited things.  I am not saying that people should not be more careful and loving in their interactions.  Of course, we all should.  But we are all of us imperfect.  What I am asking those of you who have left the Church or are considering leaving the Church to think about is that the people who did or said things that are hurtful are also imperfect.  Forgive them.  Do not let them get in the way of your eternal progression.  At the end of the day, that is the most important goal.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

28 thoughts on “Stop expecting other Church members to be perfect

  1. Amen and amen! I would also add for people that leave the church, your friends and family who are still members will always wish you to come back. They will never stop praying for you, expect that, don’t be mad if they share that with you. Thank them for their concern. Finally, know too, that when a person leaves, family and friends will feel hurt and betrayed, many times this is what underlies the hurtful things they might say. They are hurting, please give them room to grieve, because it hurts in a very deep way.

  2. But what else do you recommend they use for an excuse to leave? This is the easiest one!

    Without taking offense at the actions of another they would have to think of a real reason which would be much less convenient.

  3. Your article is an interesting one. I have a few people in my family who left, or at least refused to go to church due to personal issues like you discussed. My great grandfather father in particular stopped going to church in Parowan UT because the bishop offended him.

    There is another struggle though, and it is the one I have had. I wasn’t offended by my bishop. It was the LDS theology. So, while my great grandfather could have gone to another ward if the one bishop offended him….the church would be the same…I had no such option.

    It was, and is the theology that I find offensive, not the members.

  4. You have a case for requesting that those that leave the church treat those still in the church better than they do at times. Ex-Mo’s are not perfect either. I appreciate you writing this as we need more diagloge both directions.
    I don’t expect perfection from others and since no longer being a believing Mormon I don’t expect that from myself. I still have VERY high ideals and morals. But I accept who I am. It is one of the greatest changes I have found in my faith crisis. And you know what – I feel I am actually doing more to help others than when I was a member.
    I for one am not expecting to be dealing with perfect members. I have been in a bishopric several times and have had members chew me out for things that either I didn’t have control over or didn’t even do. But I was fine to take the beating if it helped them. I KNOW all of us are not perfect. But I would like to request a bit of RESPECT back.
    It seems that members can have some level of respect for the good Catholics next door, but it feels to me it is impossible for a member to truly respect someone that has left the church. And people can “feel” it when every conversation is just trying to “get them back.” It does not actually have to be as overt as your mom sending you an Ensign Article every week or so. Members usually get VERY upset if an ex-mormon were to weekly send their members a link to a Mormon Stories podcast that they liked and would lash back with “why are you trying to tear down my faith?” If a member truly respected someone else’s beliefs, they wouldn’t be “pushing” anything on anybody. That goes both ways. ACCEPT THAT THEIR PATH IS NO BETTER OR WORSE THAN YOURS. That goes both directions members to ex-mo’s and ex-mo’s to members.
    I do realize that most every member wants others to be active. And that comes across as the only thing that is important is if you are coming to church and holding a calling. That comes across as not caring about the ex-mo as a person.
    It feels like this is bringing out the “they left because they were offended.” Lately the only thing I am offended is that it seems member just cannot accept the SIMPLE fact that I no longer believe the church is what it says it is. After more studying than I think I did on my mission, I just can’t make it work anymore. None of it makes any sense. I don’t quite understand how members can accept and at some level be OK with their Catholic neighbor not believing in Mormonism, but the neighbor on the other side of them that used to be a member will never get that level of respect. Not even if they were a bishop or RS president.
    Once again – I didn’t leave the church because I was offended. I left because I no longer believe it is “true” and I can’t seem to feel God there at all. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE try and just grapple with that fact.

  5. Scott and Happy Hubby, it seems neither of you lost interest in the Church because people in your ward offended you, so this post is not really aimed at you. But your comments are welcome anyway. Peace.

  6. I know of a few former Mormons who have left the church and are respected by remaining members who are their friends and neighbors (all of my experience is outside of Utah). They left the church, and they leave the church alone — so there is room for continued friendship.

  7. Everyone joins the church for a reason. They also stay for reason that might not be the same. Very few ask why they joined and as a consequence they forget to ask why they stay.

  8. I recently rediscovered the blessing of forgiveness. I had been rather rankled by the actions and words of a leader and my resentment grew week by week as I listened to his frequent sermons. A talk in sacrament meeting recalled the actions of concentration camp survivor Carrie Ten Boom as she forgave a guard from the camp. I freely forgave the leader who upset me and sweet peace replaced the feelings of offence.

  9. @Happy Hubby

    So all believers need to do is abandon their faith and accept the world as you see it in order to not be offensive to you? You have determined that the gate is not strait, and if only we’d accept your thinking without reservation everything would be ok?

    I dare say you have adopted a more dogmatically intolerant position with this assertion than any ever stated from the pulpit at General Conference or found in your typical Ward. If you cannot accept that someone loves you, sees the world differently than you, and because of their love for you they want you (sometimes desperately want you) to choose a different path, that is not a problem with those who won’t “ACCEPT THAT THEIR PATH IS NO BETTER OR WORSE THAN YOURS.”


    So all believers need to do is abandon their faith and accept the world as you see it in order to not be offensive to you?

    That’s not what he said, and I doubt that’s what he meant. Polite discussion and honest communication of ideas requires _charitably_ parsing/interpreting others’ comments. If that can’t easily be done, questions such as “how do you mean that?” or “what is an example of that?” help to elicit clarification.

    Personally, I assumed that was his way of claiming AoF #11:
    “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

  11. My cat used to attempt to show its love for me by bringing dead voles and other such things to the stoop outside of my door.

    It turns out that dead (cold and slimy) rodents aren’t my favorite thing. At the time I had to go out that door and up a flight of stairs to use the bathroom. And so the first time I experienced the love of that cat, it was early in the morning and I was in bare feet.

    On the case of the cat, I learned to simply not step on that stoop. I didn’t look at it, and the cat didn’t leave the remains of love for extended periods of time (I expect just until the remains because particularly soft and cured).

    In similar fashion, when people love us but offer things we don’t wish to accept, there are ways and ways to accept the intended love without accepting the offensive gift.

    As to people leaving the Church, I myself emotionally and mentally “left” the Church as a teenager. But eventually I found my way back. And William W. Phelps is a delicious example of a man who kept either leaving or doing wrong things who nonetheless kept coming back.

    Mormonism, of all faiths, admits the possibility that any individual could return to the faith in the life after this. Beliefs that seem offensive in the light of mortal understanding might not seem so offensive in that after life, particularly when patiently explained by people one loves (and when one has accepted, per force, the reality of a life after mortality).

    And if there is no afterlife, that’s OK. I’ve been happier in this life contemplating God and the possibility of an afterlife. But I’ve had experiences that suggest rather strongly that an afterlife isn’t fiction, so I’m not too worried that my last moments will actually be my last moments.

  12. HH does have a point, one which has concerned me too:

    “I do realize that most every member wants others to be active. And that comes across as the only thing that is important is[: whether or not] you are coming to church and holding a calling. That comes across as not caring about the ex-mo as a person.”

    I’m guilty of that. And from what I see at church, I can see how others think that.

    It’s like many Mormons have forgotten how to fellowship, or are just too darn busy to be friends with other members. The only interaction now seems to be through callings, HT, and VT. You don’t know anyone, or aren’t friends with anyone, unless it is through one of those 3 things.

    Some people arrive at the chapel for the block of meetings at the last second. Some people leave the church building at the first opportunity. One guy who did that complained that no one fellowshipped him. Well, heck, what do you want, people to call you by randomly picking names out of the roster? He never gave anyone a chance to greet him, let alone get to know him.

    Many members are not making themselves _available_ to provide/receive fellowship.

    HTs and VTs are _assigned friends_, and everyone knows that. It’s really difficult to overcome that hurdle and find a common interest on which to base a friendship.

    Guys, look at your EQ meeting. Is everyone spread out like passengers on a bus? Or does everyone have a friend to sit next to?

    Look for your ward members at stake conference. Are any families or individuals sitting by themselves?

    Look around in the 10 minutes before stake conference or the sunday block of meetings: Ignoring the last-second-arrivers (who are essentially saying they don’t WANT to provide/receive fellowship), are there any people, members or non-members, who are not greeting or being greeted by others?

    In my stake, it looks to me like we have a lot of clannish worker-bees, essentially wearing blinders where they can only see what’s directly in front of them. Sure, they diligently do their callings, HT/VT, pay tithing, go to the temple, etc., but they leave undone the “weightier things” of giving each other the warmth of human interaction outside of the _assigned and scheduled_ things.

    Is this just the modern curse of full and busy lives? Has everything merely moved online? Or is there something spiritually wrong here?

  13. Book, good comment. Thanks.

    Meg, I think we have created a new catch phrase. You know how people use the phrase “jump the shark” when something was good for a while but became over the top or bad at a certain moment? (btw, that phrase is from Happy Days — look it up).

    Anyway, I think we can use the catch phrase “dead voles from the cat” to mean “people doing or saying stupid things with good intentions.” 🙂

  14. Or more concisely, “cat gifts.” Is there any “gift” you get from a cat that is actually pleasant? I don’t mean their general affection.

    One of the possible remedies for the awkward desperation when a particular person has distanced themselves from Mormonism is for us to actually love everyone as a Child of God. When you truly love everyone as a Child of God, caught wherever they happen to be in their mortal process, then it isn’t as important whether they are believing or not, active or not, [insert group identity] or not.

    A funny thing happens when you love someone as a valued Child of God. The relative who is transitioning genders comes to Church with you and congratulates your child on their mission call. And you congratulate them on their successes. Instead of condemning or using coercive suasion, you love and allow them to find their path, while not feeling a need to abdicate expression of your own belief. And when your friend spends Mother’s Day with her lover instead of her son when you yourself have been unable to become a mother, you let them know you disagree with their actions while also showing forth an increase of love. I have many more actual examples, but those get the point across.

    It is natural to give cat gifts. Let us strive to give Godly gifts.

  15. I appreciate your post and most of the comments. I do not believe that all people that have left the church or are thinking about leaving the church predominantly fit in the scenario of leaving due being offended by someone, sure there are some but this to me is too narrow of a view. Not everyone is looking for an excuse to leave, maybe they are looking for an excuse to stay. As I navigate my own beliefs and spiritual feelings I desire for them to mesh and run parallel with LDS doctrine and teachings however this is not always the case, this can be and is very difficult. Perhaps if we focused more on what is the essence of true religion and remove the additions, enhancements, and opinions of mortal man we all would all have better clarity. Yesterday I read a very good blog and I am sorry to say I did not save the name of its author and now I can not seem to locate it. The jest of it was a Mormon wife and Catholic husband that took turns attending each others churches. The wife (blogger) gave an example of what she had appreciated at a Catholic Mass and that she now has incorporates it in her mind before she takes the sacrament at her LDS church. It is as follows: (minus the blessed Mary part)
    “I confess to almighty God,
    and to you, my brothers and sisters,
    that I have sinned through my own fault,
    in my thoughts and in my words,
    in what I have done,
    and in what I have failed to do;
    and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
    all the angels and saints,
    and you, my brothers and sisters,
    to pray for me to the Lord, our God.”
    I too like this very much as we are a very proud people. We tend to focus more on striving for perfection and wearing our best character masks than that of recognition of our inherent weaknesses and need for the redemption of God.

  16. Sandra, you wrote:

    “Perhaps if we focused more on what is the essence of true religion and remove the additions, enhancements, and opinions of mortal man we all would all have better clarity.”

    Here is my experience with comments like these (and this may not be what you meant, so please excuse me if I am misinterpreting): “What we need to do is just love people and forget all of the teachings that take away from that.” Of course, the basis of everything we do is charity, which is the pure love of Christ. But for the LDS church that means home teaching, service projects, getting kids to scouting, doing FHE and family prayer and scripture study, Seminary for teenagers, going to the temple regularly, trying to do missionary work occasionally, etc. What I have experienced (and again this may not be what you meant) is that people say we should just love each other and then they forget to do all of the things above because they are supposedly things added to the Gospel by “mortal men.” In reality, the very foundation of the Gospel of the LDS church is that we do all of the things I mentioned *because we have charity for others, for our families and for the dead.* This means we are acting *out of love* in ways that modern-day prophets have told us to act. So, no, church is not just about repeating mantras when you take the sacrament — it is about concrete actions that you take to show your love and charity.

    Please don’t take this comment the wrong way. I can see nothing wrong with repeating the mantra you mention as long as it encourages people to actually do the things the prophets have asked us to do with our families and in the temple and in the mission field. But WAY too many people on blogs spend all their time saying that the Church needs to get away from this thing or that thing because they think (in their own minds) that they know better than the prophets what the Church should be about. That is a huge mistake, imho.

  17. Sandra said, “focus more on what is the essence of true religion.”
    The definition of true religion is this, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27
    Part A is the compassionate service
    Part B is the moral code, the standards of personal behavior
    We are not exempt from either part. Here, neither is given more weight than the other.
    However, this passage, (though the language of compassion differs)
    “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
    Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” Matt 23:23-24 seems to indicate that Part A are the weightier matters. Sandra, you have a point.

    How do we identify “the additions, enhancements, and opinions of mortal man”?
    Given the success I have had thus far in improving my character through my best attempts at obedience, I for one will begin with the words of the living prophets, continue to try them, and test them against what the world has to say; rather than begin with the world (mortal man) and test the words of the prophets against them.

  18. d

    I hold some identities and have an appearance that causes me to stand out or not fit in when I am at church. For the most part, I have found that any ward I live in is Christlike and genuine in their response to me. There was a time when interactions with the few who exhibit harshness resulted in an enduring sting that was hard to shake. I’ve had a change of heart. I’ve chosen to welcome those types of interactions rather than turn from them. I now perceive those “offensive” moments as little gifts. The individual is allowing themselves to be vulnerable with me and reveal aspects of their character that can inform my future interactions with them. I felt informed in a similar way when reading this blog post.

  19. I still read that comment the same way (I don’t see it as a restatement of Article of Faith 11), but I do concede the misreading could be mine. If that is what Happy Hubby meant, then my apologies for misinterpreting him.

  20. Jonathan, I actually like the dialogue and sure wish we didn’t do this via dropping comments, then waiting a day. A face to face would clear up much.

    I do feel you read in something that I wasn’t trying to say, but I am no English major so my words are often not as clear as they should be. Let me see if I can restate it.

    I don’t feel I was asking any member to drop any of their beliefs. In fact I think I was pushing for former Mormons to accept that their member family and friends are on a different spiritual path and they need to accept this. By “accept this” I mean that they are not actively trying to de-convert them or show them how the gospel is wrong. They need to love and accept them.
    When members are dealing with former members I am saying they should do the same. They need to not be constantly pushing and prodding to get them to go back to church and communicate this is more important than loving them. I hear TONS of stories of passive aggressive behavior that ticks off former members. What would be better is to have a serious talk saying something along the lines of, “I think you know that I will always love you and I want to have a relationship with you. And you know I feel that your happiness now and after this life would be found in living the gospel. I want to live honestly and open and I assume you do also. So we need to find boundaries that we both can accept that balance as much as possible for us to both do that. So lets be specific on items.”

    What I see going on (in both directions) is an over-arching tone of, “I am right. I know I am right. I know God knows I am right (or I know there isn’t a God)”. If someone has that as the main thing to “fix” in the relationship – to change the other person – that is going to be felt no matter how many smiles and layers of icing are put on it.

    I am not sure if that communicates it better. I do feel that AF 11 was exactly what I was trying to say. I appreciate the engagement of my earlier words that were not clear.

    And I didn’t say it, but I should have. Geoff – Thanks for writing this. I do see it as a very valid attempt to help decrease the chasm between some members and former members. It is very much needed. I think you are right in that what I was poking at a different set of folks that are leaving the church. You didn’t directly state there were not others in different categories. I actually agree that some/many of those leaving need to ease up on members. I think I just (over) reacted to one of the “go to” reasons for why people leave – that of being offended. You are correct in that this does describe My gut feel is that there is quite an increasing number of people finding out some historical items and react by leaving. So we need to learn to get along. I actually think some of the rifts both you and I are focusing on are decreasing the chances for some people to come back into the church.

    I have written too much for a comment, but let me just add one thing that may explain why those that leave may be acting irrationally and have anger.

    Say you were to get married and you worked hard on your marriage and sacrificed much for it. Then many years into the marriage you found out your spouse had been cheating nearly the entire time. This type of betrayal is going to go through some stages of grief and anger is going to be one of them. They are not going to be rational with their (soon to be former) spouse and are going to be attacking them every chance they can because they were deeply betrayed and hurt.
    Now before you dismiss the analogy, I am not in any way asking you to agree that the church has done any such betrayal. My point is that this is how some people leaving feel. You may not agree it is justified and they are dead wrong, but I can tell you it is very common. If it helps the analogy assume the spouse didn’t actually cheat on them, but the one person thinks they see undisputed proof that they were cheating. I am saying this just to help others know where some peoples emotions and mental state are at. I think Steven Covey had it right when he said, “Seek first to understand then to be understood”. I am trying not to say “I am right for leaving the church”, but trying to part some understanding in hopes that it helps relationships. I think Goeff is trying to do the same. I think we can agree we need more of that from both “sides”.

  21. If “the spouse didn’t actually cheat on them, but the one person thinks they see undisputed proof that they were cheating,” then proceeding with a divorce would be a most tragic error. I would expect the spouse to beg and plead for patience and forbearance and so forth. If we’re using a spousal analogy, maybe we should call for no-fault divorce — there is no need for proof or anger — one is free to leave at any time without providing justifications. And once gone, he or she is free to worship how, where, or what they may. This is how I approach the few exMormons I know — I have no interest in hearing justifications or recriminations, but we can still be neighbors. By the way, I also have zero interest in afterwards hearing anyone explain why he or she divorced.

  22. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen those departing the Church for whatever reason rejoice in their success destroying the faith of their loved ones. The current term is “faith transition,” which resonates with the idea of a larval form metamorphosing into the adult form (e.g., butterfly). Many of these folks actively believe they are doing the benighted loved ones a great favor to inform them of the utter error of their current belief system, devoutly wishing to usher them into an age of enlightened disbelief where former childish things (like belief in living prophets or obedience) are mocked in a companionable fashion.

    The problem for me is that I’ve experienced transition from childish faith to disbelief and then back to belief and then to compassionate certainty. So I don’t see “faith transition” to be an accurate term when understood as a permanent one-way street to enlightened atheistic humanism.

    I agree with the idea that today’s challenge is largely with history, whether it is failing to understand the history (e.g., deciding it is full of deceit and abuse) or failing to know enough history to understand why current practice and policy is what it is (e.g., why can’t we have unrepentant fornicators serve missions if they wish, why can’t we appropriately use political suasion to force the Church President to act according to our wishes, why isn’t the temple bathed in rainbow colors to emphasize loving embrace of the LGBTQIA minority and whatever behaviors they may be forced by their nature to commit?)

    On the other hand, an offensive incident is likely highly correlated with an actual decision to throw off years of community and practice, being a precipitating event rather than the fundamental cause. For example, how many people decided to cease their Mormon practice because they were offended by the manner in which the policy regarding children of same gender parents was announced?

    And to return to the original thought, there are those amongst the disaffected who actively believe that creating offensive confrontations with LDS history and policy does their fellows a great service, as these disaffected perceive ablative faithful falling from the branches of the LDS body whenever the disaffected are able to orchestrate an “offense.”

  23. “What I see going on (in both directions) is an over-arching tone of, “I am right. I know I am right. I know God knows I am right (or I know there isn’t a God)”. If someone has that as the main thing to “fix” in the relationship – to change the other person – that is going to be felt no matter how many smiles and layers of icing are put on it.”

    That’s a good illustration of the problem of two different paradigms being used by the differing “sides”.

    The believer’s paradigm (meaning overarching model or framework) is spirit-based testimony, which over-rides any negative interpretation of past events.

    When you have a testimony you can brush off negative interpretations: “No, that’s not what really happened, you’re putting a negative spin on it.” Or, “No, Bennet and Law were just plain liars.” Or “No, you just don’t understand the difference between ‘marriage’ and ‘eternity-only sealing/covenant’.”

    The non- (or former) believer’s paradigm is “historical events/facts” can’t possibly be over-ridden by mere “feelings.” Though, most non-believers don’t admit/realize that they are _interpreting_/misinterpreting events, or even worse, the biased crtics’ and enemies’ _version_ of events.


    There is the heart of the difference, and all levels of Mormons generally admit: you HAVE to have a Spirit-based testimony, or else the whole Joseph Smith/restoration story just won’t make sense.

    Elder Eyring said at one conference: testimony has a shelf life. You have to feed, refresh and grow it, or it will fade away.

    If someone’s religious conviction is based on history, or more likely interpretation of history, they just won’t last in the church. Testimony of the Spirit has to be primary. And only after that can you put the disputed historical events in their proper light.

    I’ve researched the history too. There’s nothing I found that negates Joseph’s claims. All the critics’ and enemies’ claims contain either twisting of facts/events, selective presentation, or outright lies. But I don’t say that to prove anything or create belief. I say that so you can proceed to seeking a Spirit based testimony.

    You want to read an “untangling” of the Nauvoo period? ….. Then READ MEG’s BOOK. And then please go and seek a Spirit-based testimony.

  24. I agree with most of this post- because as a believing member, to me, most of the time I feel like the onus is on me to be understanding, kind, etc. But, it is pretty hard to be accused of being rude, insensitive, etc, when that was certainly not the intent. It has also been difficult for me, as of late, to see so many “what not to say”, “what to do”, “7 things you should never say” on social media, trying to give manuals on what to say to and how to treat many different groups of people. While many of those posts and articles make some good points, it makes me feel overwhelmed and now feel guarded in how I can approach people. Yes, we should think before we speak, but do we really want a culture of “walking on eggshells” around everyone?
    I thought Happy Hubby made some valid points. It seems like (as a few others have touched on) that if we were to just appreciate a person because they are them and not whether they believe like we do, the sincerity of that would hopefully negate the need for all of the “how-to’s” I keep seeing. I feel that Christ loves each of us wherever we are, so we should show that same love. But always remembering that respect and love don’t require agreement.
    I am reminded of the story of the lesbian couple who divorced to be in the church. Something that stuck with me from their story was that the people who loved them -even as lesbians- were the people who had influence on them.
    I get that people have legitimate reason to be offended. I also get that in the reaction to being offended, judgement by the offended is cast on the offender as well. All sides could probably do a better job of just learning how to live as Christ does. And loving each other and having respect and compassion for the different places we are in our journeys.

  25. I love the times when what I was ashamed of about myself ended up being a blessing to someone else. Like the time my house was incredibly messy and my daughter asked me to have a friend from college days stay over. It turned out that friend had severe anxiety to the point that at some past times she had been unwilling to leave her home. And this anxiety had been enhanced by the shame her family had nurtured in her that she was never pretty enough or good enough or clean enough.

    So for her to come to stay in my incredibly messy house blessed her life, because she could tell that, while I might prefer not to live in a messy house, that the state of one’s house didn’t equal one’s value in the eyes of God.

    If we have offended, then go to God and find out how to righteously proceed. I once offended a person because I would not have sex with them. That wasn’t an offense it would be righteous for me to erase.

    We are commanded to forgive all, not to ensure we never offend any.

  26. Can you write another one to members entitled, Stop Breaking the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood? About how some people don’t magnify their calling and consistently display an attitude to not receive the Lord’s servants, but instead just nitpick areas where they disagree and think the Lord’s servants are wrong.

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