Temple Recommendless–Not Friendless

IMG_0164.JPGDear Active and Faithful Latter-day Saint,

A heads up.

I am talking to your adult children.  To your parents.  To your brothers.  To your sisters.  To your friends.  They are afraid to talk to you…their family.  They are afraid to talk to you…their friend.  They are afraid to talk to their church leaders.

This has been the oddest, most ironic discovery of my entire life.  The lack of emotional intimacy and trust among family and friends in the LDS Church.

Your children and friends have questions and doubts.  There are no safe places to discuss their issues.  Some members tell me there are.  There are not.  If there are…show me.  For 2 years, I’ve been lobbying stake and ward leaders to create safe spaces where your loved ones can discuss their concerns.  No action to date.

The questions and doubts of your family and friends are causing excruciating pain.  They are suffering a very lonely faith journey.  Knowing this, it’s unconscionable for me to sit back and do nothing.  It should also be unconscionable for friends and family to do nothing.  It certainly should be unconscionable for the church itself to do nothing.  Aren’t we the church of Jesus Christ?  The Jesus who taught the parable of the Good Samaritan?  In it, he portrayed priesthood holders as callous and unfeeling.  The lowly, apostate Samaritan was the hero of Christ’s great story of how to be a loving neighbor.  Why did Christ array his cast of characters in this ironic way?

Last week I decided that keeping my temple covenants are more important to me and to my Savior than…keeping my temple recommend.  As a result, I’ve given it up.  Below is the letter that accompanied ceding it to the bishop.

Dear Stake President and Bishop,

Enclosed your will find my temple recommend. I qualify to hold it.

However, it has become a big distraction in my attempts to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I’m working at ministering to those with questions and doubts. That message is being completely obliterated by church culture. Church friends are only concerned with the fact that I still hold a temple recommend. By giving it up, I hope to shift the focus to our brothers and sisters who are struggling in painful silence. Seated right next to us in the pews. Hiding in plain sight.  Until they finally make their totally unsuspected exit.

I no longer want to sugar coat my message. We are not following Jesus Christ’s gentle and beautiful teachings.  We are not following the message that was preached in last October’s conference by Elder Ballard. We say we do…we do not.

Leave the 99 and find the 1? Nope.  We tell the 1 to hide, to shut up, to cower in silence.

Be the Good Samaritan–cross the road to help the bloody and the beaten?  Nope. We hold the priesthood. We are the modern priests and Levites. Members are suffering “excruciating” pain in silence and loneliness. No way are we going to know of their pain…until they flee our midst in order to find healing Samaritans outside of the church.

Elder Ballard: “My heartfelt plea is that we will encourage, accept, understand, and love those who are struggling with their faith. We must never neglect any of our brothers and sisters. We are all at different places on the path, and we need to minister to one another accordingly. Just as we should open our arms in a spirit of welcoming new converts, so too should we embrace and support those who have questions and are faltering in their faith.”  Nope. We continue to force the majority of those with questions into hiding. They know our church culture is unsafe. There are no open arms, no support, no understanding, no acceptance. Just a vault of judgment awaiting a hint of doubt.

I love you, my brothers. But, I am very disappointed for 2 reasons.

  1. Zero action with regards to helping people with faltering faith. At least nothing out in the open. Nothing that would send a message that all are welcome. Certainly, as a group of saints we are better than this. Jesus Christ and his apostle have given us clear direction. Yet, we stand statuesquely still.
  2. I have the church’s back. I have your backs. NOBODY has mine. Bishop, you reached out to me after I walked out of priesthood. In 2 years, that is the only outreach that I’ve experienced. That’s my fault. It was me who has sought out meeting with both of you. I had an agenda to discuss…helping others…not helping me. I’m starting to regret that. Over the past year, I have spoken with hundreds of people. Several in our stake and my ward. I’ve defended the church and helped many find ways to stay. What do I get for that? Not one peep of support from either of you. Members gossiping behind my back. Gossip within earshot!!! Harsh criticism from fellow Saints. Tattling to my leaders. Not one word of encouragement from any friends…except one quorum member. He has said on a couple of occasions that I’m one of the most Christ like and compassionate people he knows. Well that’s nice to hear amid the bombs of criticism and name calling that continue to be hurled my way.

I no longer possess the distracting temple recommend. Now, I call on you to create a safe space for our questioning friends. It’s foolish that in the Church of Jesus Christ there would be any hesitation to discuss the history, doctrine or policy of the Church of Jesus Christ. We have the truth! We are acting like we don’t. That sends a terrible message.

It’s high time that we do something so that questions can be discussed on friendly territory at the start of a faith crisis. Otherwise, more and more of our children, parents, siblings and friends are going to bolt. And it will be gut-wrenching and heartrending when we discover their decision ONLY at their journey’s end.
At this point I plan to remain silent until I hear from you. But, my activity will not stop. I will continue to seek out the one. I will continue to minister to the bruised and broken. My next talkeria is this coming Thursday. The focus will be on a family in our stake who wants to stay. I’ve invited other members from our stake to participate. I know they will understand this family’s particular situation, support them in staying, and most of all that they will be safe and free from judgment.

All My Best for a Happy New Year,

Sam

30 thoughts on “Temple Recommendless–Not Friendless

  1. Sam, I enjoyed reading your article. Perhaps other members & leaders in your ward/stake won’t do anything because they don’t know how. Once general authorities model the right behavior then maybe others will follow. I wonder if the leadership would rather save face instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t speak for what leadership might be trying to save. But, Elder Ballard gave some great counsel at October Conference.

      Thanks for your comments, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I findvit so sad for most mormons. They don’t know what to do or think about morsl issues, if their church leaders haven’t told them what to do. This people who profess to have the spirit to guide them, don’t know what to do, when a situation arises that is new.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sorry Sam because I just don’t get it. Yes, you have opened your heart and arms to those who need your strength. You are a very outgoing and easy person for people to talk to. However, I don’t believe you are the only one doing this. You are just the more vocal one. I have known members of the SL family since it was only one Ward. And there are amazing people there with strong testimonies and great listeners. Sadly, for me, the one who was my Samaratan is no longer active for her own reasons. I am trying to say that we don’t know who is doing the same things you are doing because they aren’t as vocal as you are.
    The General Authorities can’t meet one on one with those in crisis. So, they do what they are called to do, which is teach us how to be that Samaratan and tell us to go do it. They are witnesses to the Savior and his teachings. They are trainers to others on what the Savior expects of us. You only have to read the life of Pres Monson to see a true Samaratan. And the lives of the other GA’s as well.
    We do have a safe place to go and that place is the Temple. To give that privilege up to make some kind of point is walking on dangerous ground. To be recommendless does not make your mission more believable. It takes away from you and Patti the one thing that has bound you together for eternity. And your first responsibility is to your family.
    I admire what you are trying to do. You are a good Christlike man who has allowed the decisions of your family members who have chosen for themselves to leave, to change the course of your life. I understand this dilemma for you, but is what you have chosen to do going to help? I pray for you and admire the time you are taking for this mission you have taken upon yourself. I am just worried for you and your precious family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A temple recommend is merely an expensive card in your wallet. There are no repercussions to living without a TR other than the imagined blessings you’ve been taught to believe come with it. I have lived TR-free for years and my life & mind have vastly improved. And I’ve found a 10% pay raise and more time to engage in hobbies that are my true calling, and truly benefit my sphere of influence.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Janice,
      Seems to me that Sam has simply given up his Recommend as a gesture. That piece of paper is only a piece of paper, which too often is valued and retained as evidence of obedience and worthiness beyond its merit. Moses broke sacred tablets into pieces; Jesus shouted and raged in his Fathers temple and smashed up tables in anger. The temple is a structure dedicated and utilised to save and exalt humans; outside of that, it has no meaning or value and is just dust. One bible prophet saw our future celestial Earth and declared: “I saw no temple there.” What Sam has presently discarded is neither his worthiness nor his covenants. Sam’s temple was never on that piece of paper – not even really in what it represented, but in his very soul. Sam – spiritually speaking – retains and remains in the temple all day long.
      The church has been trying to suggest that its doors are open and the people with concerns and questions are welcome to express and discuss them – and this from the very top. But like much rhetoric on various subjects which trickles down from above – what happens on the ground – where things matter, little has changed.
      The trouble is, the church has so successfully taught its ministers and its members to never dare query or challenge the Brethren, that deep, genuine enquiries (beyond simplistic, non provocative questions) are banned. To qualify that: The emotional reaction from being open and honest at church, is one of feeling like you are ‘not allowed’ and will be ‘frowned on’ for doing so. And social and cultural acceptance can only continue if you comply. Whilst in the midst of full activity and orthodoxy, it is enormously hard to fully appreciate just how all-controlling and how invasive the clamp-down on ‘thinking’ really is. Members have always been made to feel embarrassed and self conscious about raising either mild objections, or voicing something that indicates a slide from anything other than total agreement and compliance. The very atmosphere and culture of church life has always held this stultifying endemic suppression.

      The LDS historian Michael Quinn, who mixed with prophets and apostles, once said:
      “It is also my conviction that God desires everyone to enjoy freedom of inquiry and expression without fear, obstruction, or intimidation. I find it one of the fundamental ironies of modern Mormonism that the same general authorities who praise free agency, also do their best to limit free agency’s prerequisites—access to information, uninhibited inquiry, and freedom of expression.”

      For those suffering the most serious doubts, the temple is the last place they want to be. The temple is a place of hush and secrets – the very last environment that will help them, because most of the people who leave the church have already prayed there and silently pleaded for help – and no answer came. For some, the temple itself is part of the problem.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. So, this safe place only requires paying money and professing a belief in the very things that one might be struggling to believe? If I struggle to believe something, but I have to say that it is nonetheless true, and make payments on top of that, this “safe space” is not available to all.

      “Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Janice,

    Thanks for your comment and concern. But rather than concern, please help call on your local leaders to create a safe space for members to discuss their concerns about history doctrine and policy.

    There is no safe place to talk. That is ridiculous. It’s driving people away. Needlessly.

    But, who cares. This is the second great mystery to me. No one will discuss the fact that people are leaving, let alone take any action.

    In the past 18 years, one mom and dad family has joined the church in Sugar Land 1st Ward. Over the past 2 years, 5 families have left the church. And nobody cares about this? If this trend continues over the next 18 years, 1 more family will have joined the church and 45 will have left. Hopefully, you see the problem here. The apostles see it.

    Why did we wait 2 years without doing anything? Why wait another 2 years? I see and hear the pain. Last June, I decided to quit ignoring the suffering. I’m getting to many. But, mostly after they have decided to quit.

    Don’t feel sorry for me. Jesus has got my back. I’m preparing my family. At this point, they would never hesitate to discuss any church issue they may face. Rather, feel sorry for those who are in lonely pain. Feel sorry for those parents who are going to find out that their children have left. Left without their children trusting them enough to share their questions and doubts. Feel sorry for the husband or wife whose spouse is preparing to tell them they are done with the church. The stories are dreadful. Families are being torn apart. Children being shunned by parents. Parents being shunned by children. Divorces discussed and catastrophically taking place.

    Patty and I broached divorce over my faith journey. Was there anyone to help in church. ABSOLUTELY NOT. It didn’t take me long to learn how unsafe our culture is towards questions and doubt. I never stopped attending church. Patty did for several months. A major reason was that she knew people were gossiping. Another unhealthy part of our culture that fans the flames of unsafely. But, don’t feel sorry for us. We managed to make it to the other side to a very good place. Feel sorry for those couples that will travel the faith crisis path in painful solitude ending in one leaving the church and the other suing for divorce.

    Janice, I’m talking to these good people everyday. I’ve witnessed members struggle with faith, receive ZERO support, and finally decide to get out. And then face how they are going to tell parents, children, siblings and friends. Or never tell.

    Frankly, it’s a rotten & harmful culture. Mostly invisible because nobody is talking about it. Well, I’m talking about it, doing stuff, attempting to follow Christ’s teachings and example.

    This problem is not going away. It is only going to get worse. There are exmormon support groups all over the place. They provide loving support, empathy and advice for leaving the church. THERE ARE NO SUPPORT GROUPS FOR MEMBERS TRYING TO STAY. That’s about as ironic as it gets. You can only discuss history, doctrine and policy OUTSIDE of the church in enemy territory.

    Remember, 18 years from now, we’ll look back at 45 families leaving vs. one joining.

    That is not sustainable.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Sam,

    I haven’t experienced what you have. So I can’t say first hand how difficult it is to discuss these matters in the open. However the culture is real.

    I posted anonymously to fairmormon a few months ago. He didn’t like that I was anonymous. I indicated that I didn’t feel safe talking about it in the open. The apologists was very negative about sources I had used. It was a bit off putting how negative they were initially. It seemed that he wanted to know if I was on the fence or not, and if not, what direction was I heading or coming from. It seemed that they have a natural impulse to defend in earnest, rather than be patient and listen. That is my two cents for that given individual. For saints that should be striving for meekness, charity, humility, long suffering; it felt like I was instead a small boat with a looming cargo ship about to hit me head on, looming tall overhead.

    I recently watched this podcast. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gtp7NzV5fE It was great. First time watching anything from the Wheatly institute. It may be of help to others. Elder Hafen did a great job.

    Prayers for you brother. The Lord knows your heart and your worthiness. Relinquishing your recommend is a tough decision. I don’t see you any different. If the Lord was in your position, I don’t know if he would have given it up, but I truly don’t feel that he would stop finding the one and helping.

    If HT and VT worked as it should, I would think that nothing would be needed. For someone would know who they could turn to, feel comfortable turning to them and if they needed assistance they could pull in others to assist. However, HT and VT is purely just a number we have to worry about by the end of the month. We did our fake, how are you, are you doing well, here is a quick lesson….. etc. If we truly did it as the Lord would have us HT and VT, would this be an issue? So are the tools and resources in place? Are the HT and VT properly educated and duty bound. If we were truly great HT and VT, me included, would we have x00 number of members in the congregation that are “less active”? Or would everybody want to come to church regardless because we are truly the Christians we report to be? At what point do the Saints stand up and be Saints? How frustrated and impatient the Lord must be with us all. We are doing a lot of good, but is good even close to good enough with the truths and knowledge we have? Oh how the judgement bar may not look very pleasing to us as we answer the questions as to what kind of HT and VT are we?

    May we lift up our chin and do something more. Strive to reach our hand out in earnest and the love that God has for those individuals. Bless you Sam! Bless you for striving!

    One of the Fred’s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear One of the Fred’s,

      “May we lift up our chin and do something more. Strive to reach our had out in earnest and love.” I’m working on it.

      Thanks for your comments, my friend.

      Like

  5. I’m just curious what ideas you have for safe places? You can’t force others not to judge, or some to take what people say as judgement. I agree with your concern, but I’m not sure what you mean by safe places?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi JJ,

        Great question. Fortunately, we have some precedents to follow. Over the past 7 months I’ve conducted what I call a Talkeria. I’ve worried that tones of judgment might enter the interactions. What I’ve found has been beautiful. Here’s what we’ve done.

        1) We set the expectations in the advertisements. Open, honest conversation without judgment for whatever journey someone choses.

        2) At the start of the meeting review the ground rules. Support, empathy and understanding for everyone’s path.

        3) I’m prepared to jump in and moderate at the first sign of judgment. So far, no conversations have gotten close to the line.

        4) People are by nature good. Sharing our inner thoughts and poignant stories draws everybody together. Especially, if they are narratives, questions and doubts that are fobbiden from discussion by out church culture. It promote an atmosphere of sympathy and love. The Talkeria experienc really has been quite magical.

        The second precedent is the addiction recovery program established by the church. To work, it also has to be judgment free. I hear very good reports about the positive & supportive atmosphere found there.

        Of course, addiction recovery doesn’t have anything to do with doubts regarding history, doctrine and church policies. But, it illustrates that the church has some experience in creating a safe space to talk.

        In my opinion, we should be able to discuss any or our questions and doubts at church on Sunday. However, I do recognize that it’s not feasible today.

        Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog, Sam

        Like

  6. I commend you. While you can imagine my current feelings about the temple, I was certainly an endowed member long enough to understand the significance of what you’re doing.

    While I feel like you’re doing the right thing, TBMs would certainly call me biased and dismiss my opinion entirely. Your opinion, however, cannot be as casually dismissed – you qualify to enter, but are conscientiously objecting.

    Your response to Janice was powerful and poignant. You are fighting the good fight. Regardless of its efficacy against the uninspired men leading the LDS church, it is the right thing to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sam

      Without question your own crisis of faith has equipped you to more than sympathise with those who find themselves on a path you have trodden. Like the Saviour, you have walked in the shoes of those you are seeking to help..You suffer their pain, not only through empathy, but also experience.This is the evidence that love hurts, but it equips you to better plead the case of those needing a champion.

      You have without doubt strengthened the hopes of those who have rejoiced at understanding the implications of common consent. Surely the leaders will be relieved to share the burden of the church with all member as directed by Heavenly Father.

      May our Heavenly Father prosper you in your righteous desires to serve Him and all of His children.

      Regards.

      Like

  7. I wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be major change within the church if families are to feel safe staying after an eye opening faith crisis. Having spent years in primary teaching classes and sharing time, I could not bear sending my kids to be so thoroughly conditioned to believe in “the truth” that would ultimately separate them emotionally from friends and family. We weighed all the options… The only way we could see to raise our kids with honesty and safety was to leave entirely. The church, we now saw, is just too hard on families and friendships. In the past I was willing to risk a lot for what I believed so passionately was the truth, but for an organization that had raised me on untruths? It was by far the hardest thing my husband and I have ever been through, but our transition has been so beautiful. It turns out that there’s not just one “right way to live and be happy”. 🙂 Good for you for having the courage to let your recommend go, Sam. All the best in your efforts to live and lead as Christ would have you do.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sam, it sounds like I am late to the game here. I have only just found your blog today and am trying to get caught up. I have always been in favor of openness and free discussion in church. In my last assignment as EQP, we had a yoga instructor in our quorum. He explained that a yoga class is a “safe place,” where there is no judgment, no ridicule, only support and care. We used that as a model for our quorum. We opened every quorum meeting by taking a few minutes to have each person in the room tell us something good and something bad that happened to them that week — the theory being that you can’t help and support someone if you don’t know what is going on their life. And what is a quorum for if not to help and support each other? My quorum happened to include a couple of men who were trying to figure out how to deal with same-sex attraction while staying in the church (some more successfully than others). But we also had men dealing with other equally difficult or more difficult situations, including a 38-year-old returned missionary who we lost to alcohol addiction. We hoped to make the quorum a safe place for all of them to come, to worship, to learn, to contribute, and to be supported by their brothers. The problem is that I don’t know if we were all that successful. Many brothers who were dealing with difficult problems stopped coming, despite our efforts to reach out and show them our love. So I am curious what thoughts or suggestions you have. What should bishops, stake presidents, and EQP’s be doing that we are not currently doing? I would love to hear your ideas. You always had a knack for boiling things down to simple concepts that were very motivating and yet effective. As ward mission leader, I remembered your POOF (prayer and friendship) slogan and your stories about doing nothing more than inviting people into your home to feel of the spirit and know of your true friendship. Ask anybody in my ward here in SLC and they know what “POOF” means and they know that my wife makes good dinners and great cinnamon rolls. The problems you are discussing in your post are not as easily solved as a slogan and a few dinner invites. But I bet you have some good ideas that I would love to hear.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am also concerned over strong families leaving the church in what feels like droves. I am very aware of all the church history and most of the doctrinal concerns. I’ve read it all, and most of the apologetics for it. Sometimes I find them troubling but mostly I don’t. I think faith is my spiritual gift and I feel fortunate that for the most part, my experiences with the Holy Ghost have proven more important to my faith that the knowledge of troubling aspects of our church. I have so much compassion for those whose questions have led them down a different path. I have seen the agony they have experienced as they lose the faith they once loved.

    I don’t know any of the back story of this post (aside from what I can patch together from what you said), but I’d love your thoughts on what we can do. I agree that we should be able to discuss our doubts more openly but on the other hand, i can also relate to why we can’t. I recently saw a friend post on Facebook about being disappointed to discover something troubling about the church. 24 hours later and there were over 300 comments. The VAST majority of the comments fell into one of two categories: 1. Those from TBMs who would say anything to defend the church, regardless of how unhelpful or even irrelevant the defense was 2. Those from people already in the process of or having already left the church, mainly expressing “I told you so” and “doesn’t surprise me” and “what else can you expect from a church that also did xyz horrible thing”. How is that helpful to anyone? Don’t you think discussions in church would be a lot like this?

    What about the fact that THERE IS NO GOOD ANSWER for most of these concerns. The church DID withhold the priesthood from black people. Women CANNOT hold the priesthood. JS DID practice polygamy. — And the ambiguous issues are even harder. Some people think JS had sex with his other wives. Some think he had sex with only SOME of his wives, and most likely not the young/ already married ones. Some think there’s not enough evidence to draw any conclusions at all. And the opinions people hold tend to depend LARGELY on how they ALREADY feel about the church. What can anyone say about this? How does it help? I don’t know. I DO want everyone to feel welcome and loved regardless of where they are in their faith journey, I really do. I just don’t know that inviting these discussions into our chapels would actually be a good thing. Judging real life discussions of these topics seems to suggest to me that it wouldn’t.

    Separately, but not unrelated, I also think much more could be done to minister to those who are not fully living the gospel. For example, those who are not observing the word of wisdom, or tithing, or unwilling to accept a calling, etc. We are not practicing Christ like love if we can accept those who sin in private (i.e. Most of us mormons) but not those whose sins we can easily identify. Again, I’m not sure the solution, but I know we must do better.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sam,

    Great letter and gesture, but I believe the problem is the Church already knows about the problems, questions and concerns people are having but they don’t ‘want’ to talk about it all, for they don’t have any good answers, which would convince people even more and faster that the church is not true, despite that it teaches some good and true things like all churches do.

    They know people are finding out the truth about the church and that it doesn’t follow Christ or even it’s own scriptures or have any real authority to be leading a church and so they obviously don’t want to have discussions about it, more than they have to. And they don’t want their members to discuss it either cause then they will find out the truth faster too and probably leave.

    So there can be no safe places in a church that does not want to teach or talk about the real truth.

    The church, thru it’s scriptures and talks, has taught it’s members to test truth or base their testimonies on warm fuzzies and what they think is revelation from God, so when people are confronted with surprising church history or things that they feel are wrong in the church, they just go back to their ‘feelings and impressions’ that the church is true and push the concerns out of their minds.

    But Christ told us to prove all things and people and prophets by facts (things we can see), not warm fuzzies or revelation, before believing anything or anyone. For even though we can receive truth thru the spirit, Christ taught we must ‘test the spirit’s to make sure they are of God and teaching us truth things. Thus the Spirit can be a teacher of truth but not a tester of truth and we won’t know if something we receive or hear is truth until we compare it with Christ’s teachings.

    Christ taught us how to discern true prophets from false ones, by whether they keep his commandments, not just teach them, for most all false prophets teach mostly truth and do many good things to sound and look good. But false prophets don’t keep Christ’s commandments.

    We receive far more false revelation from the Adversary than we do true revelation from God, for anyone can hear the Adversary. And his false revelations the feelings he can give us about things can make us feel really good about really wrong things. cause it’s usually what we want to hear. Whereas the truth can often sound wrong and not what we want to do.

    The Church teaches it backwards so we get confused to think false revelation is true. But Christ taught us to test prophets and principles based on whether they keep or are in line with his commandments, as found in the NT. Thus it’s easy to tell right from wrong or true prophets from false ones and it has nothing to do with feelings. We can feel wrong about right things and good about wrong things.

    Thus people in every religion are as sure as LDS that ‘their’ church is the only true and right one, because of the feelings, warm fuzzies and revelation or spiritual experiences they have had, that feel so right.

    You are just awakening to the truth and will have to decide who you’re going to follow. For sadly, Christ and the Church teach and act opposite to each other and have since Joseph started it all, even though he may have had good intentions and could have been deceived himself by false angels appearing to him as they often to to people even today. Hopefully he didn’t deceive people on purpose. But you have a good heart and that will help you continue to see and accept the real truth about the Church.

    Like

  11. i discovered your blog last week from a link within another blog. I have really enjoyed reading through the various posts and comments. I think what you are doing is amazing (and optimistic and a nearly impossible uphill battle).

    It is a little late for me. I went into my Bishop’s office last March and turned in my recommend and asked him to get the stake to release me from my clerk calling. I just couldn’t do it anymore. It had been a long time coming. But as you mention, everyone around me (except maybe my wife) were clueless about what I was thinking and feeling. He was a little shocked. We had served together in HP group leadership, Ward Councils, scouts and I had taught some of his kids in my four years as an early morning seminary instructor (which I loved…best gig in the church!). We are friends. It was tough. What has made it more difficult, and this is why I am writing, is that unlike so many couples I have read about going through this journey together, my wife has no idea where I am coming from. She doesn’t see any issues with the Church or the culture or the history or the doctrine. She doesn’t want to talk about it. She is all in. She sobs that I “don’t want to be her eternal companion anymore.” She is devastated. She feels betrayed.Two of our college aged kids have completely left the Church and the one still at home is heading that direction. And I am to blame. Not sure what will happen with our relationship once the the nest is empty with our two diverging world views.

    Anyway…I love your attitude and spirit. I have adopted a similar theme to live my life. Follow the Savior’s teachings. I figure if I treat everyone with love and kindness and respect and humble myself and serve others, I ought to come out okay in the end. Thanks for reading!

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    1. Dear Magic,

      Thank YOU for reading. You have highlighted one of the worst collateral tragedies of our church culture. Family distress. It manifests itself in many dreadful ways, up to and including divorce. I left the church the day the November policy was leaked. My wife and I talked about divorce that night. I was back in the church the next day. For some that is not an appropriate nor viable path. As a family church, should be reaching out to couples to give support. After all, it’s our own culture that is creating the family stresses in the first place. I wish you were in Houston to attend the Talkeria. The issue of mixed faith marriages has been an issue faced by more than one faith transitioning member.

      All My Best Wishes for things to work towards a happy resolution.

      Like

    1. Hmmm. Not sure I get your point.

      It’s all about me because I’m concerned about friends and family leaving the church?

      It’s all about me because I’m concerned about people in pain?

      It’s all about me because I’m concerned about families being ripped apart?

      It really is shocking that yawns are all I get when I talk about helping people who are suffering in pain and loneliness. Perhaps this IS all about me. Perhaps, the Samaritan was making it all about himself. Perhaps the prophet is making it all about himself.

      I can’t really speak for what motivates others. But, you may be right about me. Spending many hours every single week helping questioning members find ways to stay in the church…It’s probably all about me.

      When I started this journey 2 years ago, I was so naive. I thought my leadership, my friends, and fellow members would be all over this…helping our friends navigate an excruciating situation. Was I ever wrong. Just yawns have greeted me at every turn.

      Like

    2. It’s about me too. A member for 40+ years with a basic belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but with some reservations about church history, Mormon culture, judgemental attitudes of members and leaders, and a stubbornness of leaders to address the need for open discussion. Many members are so caught up in being Mormon they fail to be Christian. There is an unrealistic attempt to have everyone behave exactly the same and accept the Mormon culture without question. We were all created differently as designed by God and we all have different experiences in life. I find hope in the April 2013 conference talk of Pres Uchtdorf titled “Four Titles” where he outlines how we are all supposed to be different, yet some try to make us all the same. The problem is that any attempt to engage in a discussion that involves challenging the textbook church response is suppressed. I’m finding satisfaction in following my own desires to be charitable and kind to everyone and placing less significance on trying to meet the expectations of a judgemental membership base and leadership. The culture is what leads many away, not the core Christian beliefs.

      Keep doing what you are doing Sam. I often wonder how many other members of my ward feel the same as I do? I think there are likely quite a few.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sam,
    I enjoy reading your posts. I love your enthusiasm to do good and to improve. A few thoughts.
    1) I believe the majority of church leaders do not understand the problems. They see the people leave but do not really know why.
    2) If they took your council and created these safe places to discuss their faith crisis, what would this look like. How would they organize, announce, and support these groups? They need guidance on how to do this as they have never done this before. It likely is not in the handbook.
    3) Like many members, I struggle with my faith. I live the Mormon life out of family tradition and obligation and not out of desire. I long for a middle place where I can share my plight in public and not be scorned, belittled, and condemned by leaders and members.

    Like

  13. Hi Sam,
    I would like to attend a talkeria, hopefully share some of my reasons why I don’t feel like I fit in at church, but I don’t feel ready to walk away .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You would be so welcome. About 1/3 of the people who attend the Talkeria are active members looking for support. It’s amazing how inactive members, resigned members and my amazing atheist friends can provide sympathy, empathy and insights that help active but questioning members remain in the church. At the same time, we also provide support and love to those who decide it’s best to leave.

      The next Talkeria is scheduled this Thursday. I’ll send out the notice later tonight.

      All My Best, Sam

      Like

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