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Friday, July 6, 2012

Mormon Misrepresentation

Have you seen Mormons quit church in mass resignation ceremony? It's not very representative of the whole story - in fact, it's almost entirely one-sided, covering those leaving but not members staying. Allow me to correct the flaws.

150 Mormons (now ex-Mormons) hardly constitute a mass resignation ceremony in my book, though the mere formation of a group is a novel idea in LDS Church history.

Yes, there is a slight uptick in the rate at which members are leaving the Church these days, though the net population change is still one of growth. So don't be deceived at the wording here or elsewhere.

To an unmeasured degree, media scrutiny (with greater and lesser degrees of accuracy) does seem to be contributing to many members' loss of faith. Some of those leaving say it is because of the Church position on homosexuality. On that the scriptures and Church teachings are in agreement: God defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Yet the Church teaches and extends tolerance, love, and understanding towards the LGTB community.

The LDS Church does not claim to have the only truth on the earth, but it does claim to have restored truth to the earth. In this way you might say that we claim truths of a broader scope than those left in the Bible alone (which has changed a bit over time).

The LDS Church does have sticking points in its past, such as polygamy. Faith in the LDS Church comes down to precisely that: faith. As with any other religion, there are many things we can't fully understand or explain (such as Christ's birth and resurrection) but we believe them all the same. For faithful members of the Church who have a personal witness that the LDS Church is true, the flaws aren't so much of sticking points as unanswered questions.

The LDS Church is neither sexist nor racist. Equal blessings are promised to both genders and those from all races and always have been promised to all, even if the priesthood has some restrictions just as it did in the biblical times. Women in the LDS Church who understand the gospel don't have much issue with being 'denied' the priesthood. I've seen a recent article referring to a "matriarchy" within the church just as much as "patriarchy." That's an accurate statement.

The local LDS Church leaders (and general Church leaders for that matter) have no ecclesiastical training. They do the best they can to lead their congregations and follow the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. This is not to say they don't make mistakes - they're human like anyone else.

The "culture of abuse" is fictional. What is accurate (though unclear in the article) is that the Mormon culture is not always in agreement with either the gospel of Jesus Christ or the LDS Church. The gospel being the doctrine: eternal truths which never change, and the Church being the organization of members who teach the gospel, with policy changes as needed to best meet that objective. The culture doesn't always have much to do with either the gospel or the Church.

Furthermore, what is meant by "culture of abuse" is a reference to the hierarchy: Jesus Christ leads the Church, directing it through the prophet and apostles. Members are  not authorized to make decisions outside of their own stewardships, meaning their own families and Church positions of teacher, leader, pianist, etc. This is another one of the things that could be a sticking point for some instead of a matter of faith.

This "culture of abuse" could also be said to refer to the idea within the Church that problems or questions individual members have with certain aspects of the Church are not the Church's problem: it is theirs. I realize this sounds bad. But the fact is that the people who pray about and find peace with the Church's positions stay, and those who don't leave. The article refers to a "culture of obedience" but it would be more accurate to say "doctrine of obedience." I've no doubt that some members obey Church teachings because of culture, but most follow out of personal conviction and testimony, not culture. A cultural conversion is not likely to last. That tells me that it really does come down to individual faith and conviction more than people going and coming reflect upon the Church itself. The Church isn't in this to please people: they teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Speaking of which, it would have been nice to see a reference to the core belief and teaching of the Church: to follow Jesus Christ. All else is peripheral. The media certainly doesn't understand this or has no interest in reporting it since they're almost entirely liberal and thus in the tank for Obama and opposed to Romney.

Romney had absolutely nothing to do with the article, yet they still mentioned his candidacy and reminded us all (again) that he would be the first Mormon president. Yeah, we got that down already.

So. Again, I remind you to not trust the media in representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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