Perfect Love Casteth Out All Fear

christmas-giftStake Conference was held this weekend.  Good speakers, good music, good friends.  I even got to sit with two of my little grandkids on my lap.  They were pleasantly & constantly distracting. Never-the-less, a few pronouncements from the pulpit still managed to penetrate my mostly unfocused mind.

Then the Stake President read an earth shattering scripture!    It immediately brought me to attention.  No longer was I preoccupied by the children playing games on my lap.

Moroni 8:16—Perfect Love Casteth Out All Fear

As he quoted this scripture, the world went into slow motion.  Everything seemed to stop as the momentous meaning burst into my brain.  You see, for the past 2 years I have lived with fear.  I have witnessed others cope with fear.  I’ve seen fear spread far and wide throughout my church.  And now, here is a scripture from the most perfect book on the planet saying that perfect love must be perfectly absent.

Two Unwholesome Flavors of Fear

1)  Members who have questions & doubts are fearful to discuss them with church friends and leaders.  They’re even afraid to talk with family.  Instead, they grapple with their faith crisis in silence.  In painful solitude.  Why do they do that?  Why do they hide their concerns and excruciating journey from believing family and friends?

The prophet Mormon and my Stake President have provided the clear answer.  Where is the love that casteth out all fear?  Is it the questioning member who doesn’t have love in his heart?  Or is it the unquestioning family, friends and leaders who lack the appropriate love?  All I know, is that love is woefully lacking somewhere in the mix.  As a result, good people are forced into the closet.

2)  As a church, we are afraid to openly discuss our history, doctrine and current policies.  This stricture is enforced both by our culture and our leaders.  Why are we so afraid to talk in the light of day?  Why do we fear discussing the doubts and questions of our friends who are pondering in voiceless isolation?

Hallelujah!  Thank heavens for Moroni 8 and stake conference.  If there is fear in the church, and there is, love is the cure.

The Time Has Come

My mother resigned in August.  My siblings have mostly quit.  In the past 2 years, 5 families in my ward have left the church.  In the past 3 months, 3 couples in my stake have contacted me with stories of their terribly lonely treks.  Their faith now shattered.  Their families unaware.  Their bishop not told.  Their friends soon to be surprised.

It’s time!

It’s time to inject love…maybe even ‘perfect love’…into the mix.  We have unknown friends who are in unknown pain.  Hiding from us because we are failing to apply the charity that never faileth.

It’s time—to establish a SAFE PLACE in the church for those who doubt or question!!!

Thousands are Watching and Waiting

For 2 years, I have conversed with many, many people.  Members who have left.  Members who have resigned.  Active members whose faith has transitioned.  Active members who want to stay but are “hanging on by their finger nails.”

People have told me that they might not have left the church if there had been a safe place for discussion.  In fact, 2 wonderful people repeated that sentiment on Sunday.

We are about to celebrate what happened in that little town of Bethlehem.  At the same time, there are thousands of Mormons around the world who are anticipating what just might happen in the little town of Sugar Land.

Is there enough perfect love?

Is there enough unfailing charity?

Enough to cast out the fear that currently grips the church so tightly?

What a Christlike Christmas present it would be!!!  The gift of a safe place for our dear friends who are painfully plodding away.

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Perfect Love Casteth Out All Fear

  1. Insightful!

    Additionally makes me think – perhaps members can also use love to stop being afraid of “getting dragged onto Satan’s path” just by hearing a doubter or disbeliever’s views, experiences, pains, joys, or information they have learned. (The party sharing can also hopefully infuse more love.) But that fear members express so often could surely be distilled by love – that would also go a long way toward easing their mind and bridging the divide.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent thoughts , Sam. We do need to do a better job of loving. This needs to extend beyond our immediate circle of friends. But that’s a great place to start.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I am not a scholar, I do not read, but I know the Holy Spirit. I have many questions about a few aspects of the Church, but I have never doubted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a brother that patiently listens to me, and as we share our thoughts about the mistakes made thru the years we both conclude that “we are where we need to be, worshiping with the saints. We are a very imperfect people following a perfect Father and Son.

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    1. The “Gospel” of Christ, however, has been defined for you by the LDS Church to include the LDS Church as an essential part of that Gospel. Rather convenient, no?

      Paul defines Gospel in 1 Corinthians. It has nothing to do with a Church at all. Absolutely nothing.

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  4. “Why do they hide their concerns and excruciating journey from believing family and friends?”

    I know this is probably a rhetorical question, but the answer is because we don’t want to lose our family and friends.

    If you journey over to the exmormon subreddit, you will see weekly stories of TBM spouses who threaten divorce to the unbelieving spouse. You will see parents distancing themselves from their own children. Some of these actions are even prompted by a bishop’s counsel!

    I would have still left if there was a safe space for discussion, but I would feel less like I need to go on the defensive on the rare occasions I still attend with my family if there was a culture shift away from ostracizing those who bring up factual problems with the church, and a shift away from simply letting people repeat whatever nonsense they heard so long as it is a “faith promoting story.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be fair, Sam is a frequent visitor and active participant in discussions over at the exmormon subreddit and understands the exmo community better than any active member that I have ever met. He’s also done a wonderful podcast with John Dehlin to share his vision for what a better church would look like through Common Consent. He knows exactly what you’re talking about, and I think is proposing a solution that could hopefully change LDS culture for the better. I don’t know if it could ever change enough for me to want to go back. That is where Sam and I differ, but that doesn’t make me think any less of his efforts and of his true and unconditional love for others. But I wanted to chime in and let you know that I think Sam does understand the pain that is expressed in the Ex-Mormon community, and I for one appreciate him for it.

      1. It could never change enough for me to go back, but that doesn’t mean I don’t applaud Sam. I suspect most of my family will stay in, so I’d like these sorts of reforms to make it easier on them – and me, when I am forced to attend.

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    2. Hi Thomas,

      You got it right. The question was rhetorical. I know exactly why we hide our concerns. Exactly for the reasons you so forcefully expressed. Everybody is afraid of the consequences. Dreadful consequences. My wife and I broached divorce after the November policy. Amongst those who profess to worship Jesus, shouldn’t there be enough love to bind us together regardless of belief? Isn’t this the most family friendly church on earth? These are rhetorical, too.

      Bottom line, there is trouble in River City. Where is the love?

      As always, my friend, I love your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Maybe everyone around you who has left the church is actually happier and better off now. Maybe they don’t want a “safe space” in the church. Maybe they really sincerely don’t want the church. Perhaps it is a blessing in many people’s lives that the church doesn’t have a “safe space,” because the lack of it drove them out of a false religion sooner than if they felt good and safe inside the church.

    It is interesting that you are referring to Moroni 8:16, which has a phrase within it that is a blatant plagiarization and corruption of 1 John 4:18. I wonder how Moroni had access to the King James translation.

    Regardless, perfect love casteth out all fear. Yes it does. But this means something very different in 1 John than it does in Moroni. Moroni is using it to justify his boldness. He can speak fearlessly to his audience about their impending doom because he loves them, and this love makes him unafraid to speak with authority.

    But John is not talking about fearless authority at all in his epistle. The KJ version of 1 John 4:18 is clunky. Hard to understand, because we don’t speak this kind of English anymore. Here is what he is saying in plain English: “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

    In one verse, John destroys Mormonism. Mormonism, the doctrine itself, is built entirely on fear of punishment. Latter-day Saints live lives of fear: fear of eternal separation from God and family if they fail to keep all their covenants. Fear is instilled into Latter-day Saints as Lucifer, in the temple of all places, stares them in the face and warns them what will happen if they do not keep their covenants. (Lucifer! In the Temple! And he is the only character in the entire production that speaks directly to the audience. Not God. Not Christ. Lucifer!)

    Fear of punishment is subtly delivered to the Saints in General Conference in the talks of Holland and Oaks and Ballard (stay in the boat!).

    John is saying that as long as you are in fear of punishment, you have not experienced God’s perfect love. John’s message here about grace, and what it feels like to know the grace of God through the Son of God, is entirely lost on Mormons, because you guys have a system based upon law, not upon faith. Yet, the members are told they obey law BECAUSE they have faith, not because it earns them salvation, and thus the subtle deception continues. Paul said that it has to be either grace or works, it can’t be both. Pick your road back to God: grace or works.

    Until it teaches the kind of grace Paul spoke of, which saves us through our faith APART from the works of the law, the LDS church will continue to bleed members. The law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. It does so by crushing us with fear. When we are in the law, we know our condemnation. The LDS gospel gives us nothing but law, and thus nothing but condemnation. And thus Mormonism is a religion of fear.

    The Mormon people, most of them, simply do not know this perfect love that John is talking about. That’s is why they leave. That is why they are better off, “safe place” or not.

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  6. I have been a member of the LDS Church for 58 years. I can honestly say that at no time have I ever felt fear as a member. I have felt the need to repent for decisions I made when I chose to use my agency in a manner Unpleasing to the Lord. If you felt fear, you did not understand repentance or the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know of no other church that requires FAITH as much as the LDS Church. I do agree that we all (members and non members) have a long way to go to have the pure love of Christ. I disagree that Mormons leave because they don’t have this pure love. I believe there are numerous reasons for why anyone leaves.

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