Dear Friend, I’m Offended, Too

Bednar Offended

Recently, I published a blog entitled “Do You Wear the Right Panties?”  It elicited a strong comment from a good friend.

My Friend’s Comment

“Sam, you have crossed the line and finally shown your true colors. To poke fun at something that is sacred to TBM, you have in essence spit on the face of the Church you claim to still be a member of. Why haven’t you left yet? I think it is because you like the title as if it makes your speeches more real if you can add to your rhetoric that you are still a member….a title…worse yet ….pride. I never thought I would see the day when someone I had admired for so long would turn from being so humble to so prideful. It’s the pride cycle in human form. God Bless you my friend. For you and I both, I am glad for forgiveness and the Atonement.”

My Response

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your comment.  Dialogue in the church is so lacking.  Without it, no one can come to really understand one another.  I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts.

I can see how you could be offended by my piece.  Your hurt is valid and I recognize that.  I hear you.  I see you.

In October 2006 General Conference, Elder Bednar made a this statement:

“Believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make.” 

According to Elder Bednar, you have chosen to be offended.  And…I respect your choice.

Now, I’m going to take this opportunity to share how I have chosen to be offended.  Hopefully, this will shed more light on my “True Colors.

  1. For most of my life, I have been taught lies, half-truths and deceptions.  That offends me.  Even the noted Mormon historian Richard Bushman admits that lies have been common fare.  “I think that for the Church to remain strong it has to reconstruct its narrative.  The dominant narrative is not true;  it can’t be sustained.”  The church should openly admit where they were deceptive or simply in error.  And then apologize for it.  Not doing so is the same as the church spitting in my face.
  2. During the 2 years of my full-time mission, I taught a lie that was conveniently provided by the church.  I didn’t find out until 3 years ago that it was a lie.  That offends me.  The church should openly admit that this teaching was a lie and apologize to all those who taught it.  Not doing so is the same as the church spitting in my face.
  3. When I was a kid, we sang songs that encouraged us to think about and follow Jesus.  Today, we indoctrinate our kids to follow the prophet.  The primary songs center around the temple, the scriptures and the prophet.  That really offends me.  It affects my posterity.  They are being taught to make the apostles their God instead of Christ.  Whose face is that spitting at?
  4. The church has changed.  Our focus in now obey, obey, obey.  Yet, the apostles lead out in disobedience to the Law of Common Consent.  Boy, do I ever choose to be offended at this hypocrisy.  The church is spitting on it’s own mandate from Jesus Christ.  We are spitting on the restoration.  The apostles have elevated themselves above the accountability mandated by the Savior.  I’m also disappointed that the general membership continues to be complicit in allowing them to do this.
  5. I…AM…OFFENDED…that my 12 year old daughter was taken behind closed doors, all alone, by the bishop, without my knowledge or consent, and asked if she masturbated.  During her teenage years this was repeated “all the time.”  The church spit in my face by condoning and encouraging this practice behind my back.  They circumvented my parental responsibility.  Yeah…I choose to be offended at these indefensible interviews with MY children.  I am also super disappointed that the good members of the church are not rising up in mass to condemn this practice and call for its immediate cessation.
  6. We hold ourselves out as the quintessential family church.  We constantly hype The Family Proclamation.  Yet, The Proclamation, many teachings from the General Conference pulpit and our own Mormon culture are tearing families apart.  I see it every day.  I hear it everyday.  I read it everyday.  But, the church turns a blind eye to it.  How offensive!   So unfortunate!  And….almost completely preventable!!!  How hypocritical to praise the family out front, and, at the same time, tear them to pieces behind our backs.
  7. I…AM…OFFENDED…that the church leadership counseled a gay man to marry my daughter.  They told him that he would turn straight once he saw my daughter naked.  Outrageously OFFENSIVE!  This was my daughter they were messing with.  Stake Presidents and Bishops gave this counsel for decades.  It has left broken hearts, broken families and soul crushing sadness in its wake.  I have chosen to be super OFFENDED that my church gave such horrible direction.  If I were to spit on anything, this is where my spittle would be directed.  Fortunately, both my daughter and my gay almost-son-in-law did not wed.  Today, they are both married to wonderful men.  But, there was no help from the church, whatsoever.

Of course, I could list many other things that are offensive to me.

No way am I going to turn a blind eye.  I would….if I didn’t care about the Church or my family or the members of the church.  If I didn’t value my temple covenants, I might just sit on my thumbs.  If the teachings and example of Jesus meant nothing to me…I could easily do nothing.

But, I do care about the Church.  I do care about my family in the Church.  I am concerned about the members…especially those who find themselves marginalized.  I value my covenants.  The Savior’s teachings are the foundation of my actions.  His example is the foundation of my choice to be offended.

All my best wishes to you and your family.  May you bask in health, family unity, and God’s love.

11 thoughts on “Dear Friend, I’m Offended, Too

  1. Hey, Dear Friend, Sam!

    Thank you for an eloquently impassioned response to Janice’s comments re Sacred Panties.

    I totally resonate with nearly everything you wrote, but I have this BS Detector that I can’t seem to turn off. One statement you made triggered my Detector.

    “We are spitting on the restoration.”

    With all due respect for however you choose to perceive the Mormon Church, Sam, seems to me that you have a persistent blind spot in your spiritual eyeball that keeps blocking your view of a foundational truth that you have not yet embraced.

    I will spell it out in plain English. Please test the following statement and see how your blind spot deals with this incoming information:

    Joseph lied. The Restoration and everything about it was pure hoax.

    History teaches us that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a gifted and talented con artist. He sold treasure hunting scams as a teenager and was prosecuted in court for his deceptions. The entire Mormon Church is an admittedly ingenious and wildly successful religious institution, but it is, was, and will forever be … a scam.

    Nothing was Restored, Sam. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. Nobody showed up. Not Jesus. Not God the Father. Not Moroni (never existed). Not John the Baptist, Not Peter, Not James, Not John. Not nobody. Nobody ever actually saw or touched the Golden Plates for the simple reason they never existed. No one. Nobody. Zilch, Nada. All made up by the gifted illusionist, Joseph Smith, Jr., Master Deceiver. Professional Con Artist.

    You are such a beautiful, kind and generous soul, Sam. Sooner or later you will figure out that . . . yes . . . Joseph lied . . . about nearly everything in his life.

    Liar, Liar, Garmies on Fire.

    I will always love and respect you, Sam. You and I resonated like long-lost brothers when we met in person. And I have no problem with your continuing belief that Joseph did something somehow worthwhile . . . for as long as you choose to continue believing it.

    For whatever reason, your post prompted me to speak my truth to my dear friend. Take it for whatever you see that could be useful and leave the rest. No offense taken however this hits you.

    One of the fundamental maxims you deeply believe will guide you here, if you will allow it.

    “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

    Your OP is a laundry list of the fruits of the Restoration, Sam.

    Add them up. Look at the bottom line total. What do you see? What was Restored?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Greetings my dear friend Gary,

      I think the blind spot you perceive is not real. I’m sure that I have lots of blind spots. But the one you are referring to was long ago opened up to the light of day. The only thing I put my faith in Jesus Christ. And by that, I’m referring to his teachings and example. And by that, I’m only referring to the teachings and example that I have found to be good and fulfilling as a way of life. But, you already know this.

      Did Jesus exist? There is evidence of it. Was he divine? Well, how could I know that. That’s not where I put my faith since I don’t have adequate evidence.

      Now, the restoration. Was JS a liar, conman and a fraud? There is certainly evidence. But, I don’t really care. I care about the here and now. We have foundational documents that we attribute to the restoration. Did they come from God? I don’t know that. So, I evaluate the documents one by one and identify what stands out as good. There is a lot of good stuff in the Doctrine and Covenants. For me, the Law of Common Consent is right at the top. No way am I going to dismiss its mandate. No matter whether the restoration was real or not. Our society is founded on principles of democracy. Somehow a semblance of our societal system was incorporated in the governance of the church. Unfortunately, we are disregarding it.

      I think you and I see things pretty IDENTICAL. But, we are coming at it from different directions for different reasons.

      With this explanation do you still think I have a blind spot? If so, I’d like to further discuss.

      BTW, I hope you know that there isn’t anyway that you could offend me. We are soul brothers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! Here here! Blind spot or not I fully agree with you. Don’t lose faith, there is balm in Gilead, thanks for holding the torch while those we call apostles and prophets look to the profits over the gospel of our Lord and savior. Entheogens are a christian mystery that might help unravel your blind spots brother. Look into it if you dare;)

        One love brotha! Jah bless!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey, Sam!

        Thank you for shining light on my “blind spot” perspective. Hopefully this reply will clarify what you and I agree about and also where we agree to disagree.

        First, I will quote you:

        “Did Jesus exist? There is evidence of it. Was he divine? Well, how could I know that. That’s not where I put my faith since I don’t have adequate evidence.

        “Now, the restoration. Was JS a liar, conman and a fraud? There is certainly evidence. But, I don’t really care. I care about the here and now. We have foundational documents that we attribute to the restoration. Did they come from God? I don’t know that. So, I evaluate the documents one by one and identify what stands out as good. There is a lot of good stuff in the Doctrine and Covenants. For me, the Law of Common Consent is right at the top. No way am I going to dismiss its mandate. No matter whether the restoration was real or not. Our society is founded on principles of democracy. Somehow a semblance of our societal system was incorporated in the governance of the church. Unfortunately, we are disregarding it.

        “I think you and I see things pretty IDENTICAL. But, we are coming at it from different directions for different reasons.

        “With this explanation do you still think I have a blind spot? If so, I’d like to further discuss.”

        === end of quote ===

        Regarding Jesus, we agree that his core teachings are what matters, regardless of his historicity or divinity. (I could say a lot more about Jesus, but we’ll save that for another day.)

        Sam, you wrote that you do not care if JS was “a liar, con man and a fraud.” This is where I think you have a blind spot.

        “There is a lot of good stuff in the Doctrine and Covenants. For me, the Law of Common Consent is right at the top. No way am I going to dismiss its mandate. No matter whether the restoration was real or not.”

        For me, Sam, those four sentences cannot coexist unchallenged in my psyche. If the restoration was not real, that means JS was not God’s spokesmodel on Earth. It means the D&C was written by a con artist. It means the Law of Common Consent is no more of a “mandate” than polygamy.

        I feel like you are ingesting the D&C cafeteria style, Sam. Latching on to sound bites that appeal to you and ignoring the toxic content that does not.

        TIme for a metaphor:

        Imagine that the LDS Church is a smorgasbord restaurant. The serving islands are filled with dozens of different foods and dishes. The TBM customers show up for dinner and trustingly help themselves to the food items. Dyed in the wool TBMs dutifully spoon some of every dish of doctrine onto their plates. The Cafeteria Mormons are more selective as they pick and choose.

        I see you as a Cafeteria Mormon with a unique twist, Sam. What sets you apart from typical Cafeteria Mormons is your stunning lack of silence about your personal choices. You have discovered that many of the food offerings on the LDS smorgasbord are not only spiritually and emotionally toxic, but actually FATAL to some LDS dinner customers.

        Here is the solution you are advocating and promoting: The D&C says that the diners should be invited to VOTE on which doctrine dishes are served at the smorgasbord and which will NOT be served.

        And if you’ll indulge me one more point with my tortured metaphor, The food selections at The Brethren’s LDS Smorgasbord only visibly incapacitate a minor percentage of the customers and kill an even smaller percentage. Most of the customers do not report symptoms (even if they are feeling unwell at times).

        My take on this? if the LDS Church were a restaurant, it would be shut down and locked by the Health Department without delay. It is not OK with the Health Department when only a small percentage of a restaurant’s clientele have to visit the Emergency Room on the way home.

        I interpret, Sam, that you are OK with the restaurant being allowed to continue in business as long as the customers are allowed to vote on the menu.

        I agree that voting on the menu would be a good idea, were it not for the fact that in the meantime, thousands if not millions of customers are being poisoned by The Brethren back in the kitchen who are cooking up and serving whatever pleases THEM.

        To summarize, Sam, I think it’s fairly accurate to restate your position as an impassioned initiative to clean up a toxic restaurant that harms its customers by allowing the customers to vote on the menu.

        My position is that the restaurant will NEVER agree voluntarily to a menu vote, and will forever remain toxic and continue to poison its customers.

        For my psyche, the only rational solution is to choose a different restaurant -or- cook your own food.

        Another way to describe the blind spot is to say that I think you are granting totally unwarranted respect, authority and deference to cherry-picked writings of someone you acknowledge could be a world-class con artist. You would never do the same thing with … say … L. Ron Hubbard, who no doubt wrote lotsa good stuff in between all the other stuff.

        Does this help, or did I make it worse, Sam? Did I misdescribe or misrepresent any of your views here? I painted them from different angles in an attempt to shed more light . . . trying to understand.

        Like

  2. I am sure both of you realize that I have chosen to be offended by what you both wrote. I love that talk by Elder Bednar….and forget sometimes to mention that this is my choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you like Elder Bednar’s talk. It’s one of my favorites, too. I find it empowering to know that I have the choice to be offended. My intent is not to offend you, Janice. Rather, I recognize your opinions as valid and meaningful.

      Like

      1. Elder Bednar failed to also mention that in addition to having the choice not to be offended, we also have the choice to proactively reject and dismiss any doctrine or teaching (regardless of source) that assaults our own personal core values and encourages behaviors that would violate our own sense of decency, compassion, kindness and respect for Life.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hello, All,

    I will remind us that the reality that FEELING OFFENDED is indeed a choice has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with whether the Church is True or not.

    When The Brethren offer actual good advice and useful counsel from their pulpit, those occasions have no bearing on whether Joseph was a scammer or not.

    A very effective strategy of deceivers is to mix multiple doses of actual Truth in with the toxic lies.”Nine of the ten things I just told you are true. What’s your problem?”

    Joseph used Jesus and Christianity very effectively. Christianity was the “spoonful of sugar” that made it so much easier for his marks to swallow his Mormon Kool-Aid.

    Sam, I will respond to your reply later. Thanks for clarifying your thoughts on topic!

    Liked by 1 person

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