Lifetime Member is Skeptical

I recently had a conversation with someone I know very well about the church. This person was raised in the gospel, and nearly did everything expected of him throughout his life. More recently he has become somewhat of a skeptic of the entire "organized religion" thing which is no doubt a direct result of both arrogance and intelligence. He began bringing up philosophical questions like, "What if you're brainwashed into thinking all this stuff?" and "Everyone just follows the leader, no one has a mind of their own."

I think his dismay stems from a talk given by his stake leader a few weeks ago. This talk was devoted to the "bashing" of video games, and all video game paraphernalia - equating it almost to pornography. This particular guy is of course, very into video games, as are both my husband and I. So in conversation, we were all very angry that a church leader would bash video games so wholeheartedly. Granted, video games should be treated much like food - have in moderation. But that was apparently not the point made.

As he continued talking, and questioning the gospel, Joseph Smith, etc... He mentioned that no one in church ever talks about "Cain's mark" or other controversial things, and church is always the same thing over and over again. My husband turned and said "Hey! My wife is a new member and I would appreciate it if you didn't talk like that." My husband continued to get angry that a lifelong member would be talking himself out of the gospel, when I spent so much time talking myself into the gospel.

I was glad he "defended my honor" in a way. But I stopped him and said, "Honey, there's nothing he can say that will make me change my mind. You forget that he never got the chance to ask questions growing up in the church, and I did." I turned to the skeptic and said, "Please continue. I have already researched everything you're going to say, and I still got baptized."

I hope that lifelong members will continue to ask questions, and not take everything they've learned at face value. Being a skeptic initially myself, I have asked many questions, and received many answers. I also still don't know a lot of things. But there's no point in believing in something if you don't know what it is you believe in. And while we do have a Prophet living today that guides us, it doesn't mean that everyone in the church has that same authority. So don't be sheep.


Cliff said...

This topic came up on another LDS blog that I read and my response was this:

In my experience people who seem to be insecure in their own testimony say, "because the prophet said so," while people who know fully who they are and what they believe say, "I don't know, but I know the prophet is called of God, so that is what I'm going with until I do know." Subtle difference, but a significant one.

I wholeheartedly agree that a lot of times you have to go through a quesitoning period before you decided what you actually believe (even if it ends up being the same thing that you always professed to believe), but if you decide not to believe something until you understand it completely, you'll probably never end up believing in anything.

April said...

Very good point. Thanks.

Mormon Heretic said...

I just blogged on this topic--great minds think alike!

This is such an interesting topic for me. I agree with your friend, and agree with your husband, and I liked your response to both.

I feel like there is a Milk Ceiling in the church. The church caters to the milk-drinkers, but there are those of us who tire of the milk, and want to partake of some meat. All in all, meat makes us stronger people.

Yes it could cause us to choke, and I understand your husband's desire to cut off the "mark of cain" comments. However, when one truly understands the gospel, one can still embrace the gospel, while rejecting such mormon myths as the "mark of cain."

For the record, I think I agree with your friend, the "mark of cain" is just a bunch of hogwash, and I wish the church would distance itself from it. The mark of cain only encourages racism. Pres Hinckley is obviously against racism, and I think that it would be nice to have a conference talk repudiating this repugnant doctrine.

A Good Husband said...

Video games - some, little things that throw people off. I love video games too, but if the church came out and said to stop, I'd stop.

I'd stop because I believe in the guidance of the prophets, that God speaks through them.

I actually just put up a poll that asks how much gaming is too much. Polls closes Friday morning, so it'll be interesting to see what comes of that poll.

April said...

If the prophet told us that video games were bad, and that we should stop playing them because he had revelation from God, then I would stop playing.

However, if one or two church leaders tell us to stop playing video games while the rest of the bishopric has Xbox nights, then I won't be listening to him. I don't believe everything our church leaders (aside from the Prophet) say is direct inspiration from God, rather guidance and wisdom.

Many of the older members of our church don't like change, and therefore will say anything possible to get everyone back to reading books and kicking rocks down the road.

Jillian said...

Though I do believe that many are called by G-D,I would need more evidence than "G-D told me to tell you..." sometimes those things can be a little fishy. I'd need a logical argument to back up the reasoning.

I'm not sure where to post this,but I have a question...

How hard is it to convert(culturally)? I'm in no way a Carrie Conformist or a Molly Mormon..I'm a bit of a Pollyanna,but I'm not blind.My mother left the church when she was she proudly says she's a Jack Mormon(which offends a lot of people) my family is LDS with some Catholics thrown in.

Did your conversion alienate friends,family? How/did you recover?Did you lose friends? I've told one friend(she was so supportive-I wanted to cry) I'm thinking of starting to go to the church.I haven't told my mom Grandparents would be really happy.

And if I show up to church in a loose fitting long dress,am I going to get the stare down? Are pants verbotten?I'm modest by most peoples standards,but I do love my tank tops..nothing skimpy.I've noticed that certain flocks tend to look alike..I'm not a long skirt or camp shirt kinda girl,I'm not going to have to change my wardrobe am I? I know it seems silly,and if I had Mo-Gee's , about 90 percent of my clothing would cover them up easily.

Also,I'm a single parent(one boy,age 12,I'm 32)..they aren't going to freak out are they?Will I have to go to the singles ward?

Is there pressure to be baptized?My son is young and a bit like me..I want him to make that commitment when he's ready,and if that takes 10 years.I'm okay with that,I would rather he did it and meant it , then to do it and not mean it.

Thank you by the way for your posts,I knew that LDS weren't all alike nor did they feel all the same.They have all been really helpful..I love hearing all the conversations that people are having about all the "issues".

Anna said...

Hey Jillian, I know it's been a while since you posted your question but thought I'd jump in and see if I could be any help. To me it seems like a big part of the culture of the church is tied to geographical region. I go to church in Washington DC and from what I understand, it's more relaxed and far less judgy than Utah / western areas. Usually I (and the other women in the ward) wear skirts. I can't remember seeing pants but then again I wouldn't really notice, it doesn't shock me to see a woman in pants :) if you take a look at you can get an idea of what sort of stuff is worn in my ward. It's mostly cardigans and dressy tee shirts with cute skirts and heels, knee-length dresses, that sort of thing. I don't think anyone would have a conniption if you chose to be more modest than that though, it's a personal choice :) I wouldn't wear a tank top though, cap sleeves at least :)
My family is Catholic too and I think that culturally, there are a lot of similarities.
As a single mom, the church can offer you a lot of support, friendship, and camaraderie. It has for me, at least.
You won't go to the singles ward, you'll go to the regular family ward. People with children go to the family ward regardless of age, as do singles over 30. :)
I should mention that I'm not technically LDS... I've been studying for a few years now and started attending a few months ago but I guess I'm a 'dry mormon' for now. I really love the culture of the church and the people I've met. If you feel like starting to attend church, I'd say go for it. Talk to the people who will support you and visit other churches too! See if there are some sister missionaries you can ask questions of - they are absolutely wonderful. If I could have you read one thing it would be Alma 32, a very short chapter. It's helped me more than I can say.
In terms of pressure to be baptized, it's an evangelical church, so there's naturally a desire for that. All you need to say is, "I don't know that this church is true yet, and I respect it enough to know that I shouldn't be baptized unless I know that." it's respectful and it's the truth. I wondered and wondered about the church for the longest time and finally realized that if I was so curious I should just go. I adore Sundays now, I love going to church. I wish you all the best in your journey and hope you'll pray for me in my journey as well. If you do find this comment and want to contact me you can email me:

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