Posted by: Jay | January 31, 2008

Addicted to Mormon Doctrine

Last night I was talking to a non-LDS friend about the conflict I have been experiencing with the many oddments of Mormon history. When we had finished our conversation I started to wonder what keeps me Mormon? There is of course the family ties, the feelings of lose and betrayal that they would surely feel if I were to walk away. Still, I don’t think that is what keeps me hanging on to the faith of my youth. If I truly thought the LDS Church was false I honestly feel that I could walk away with a clean conscience and let the chips fall where they may. Family and true friends would accept it eventually and come around.

No, the reason I’m staying is simple, I’m addicted to Mormon doctrine! I just realized that fact last night. There is just so much that makes sense, even if there are some really unbelievable things that come along with it. I like the idea that people can repent and be baptized after this life if they have never heard of Christ and that priesthood is needed to perform ordinances. Families being together forever just seems natural and the non-Trinitarian beliefs of the LDS Church have much stronger Biblical support than most Christians care to admit. So if I still believe all of this why don’t I just accept all the rest. I don’t know, but something inside of me won’t let me do it.

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Responses

  1. Personally I don’t think a belief’s appeal is as important as its truthfulness.

    If it were true that God was an angry capricious being who created us simply to tease and torture us for his own fun, I wouldn’t like it; but if it were true, I would have to accept it.

    In fact, I think there are a number of beliefs which are much more appealing than Christianity (secular hedonism for example). But because I believe Christ was who he said he was and that the Bible is a trustworthy document I believe it. If I thought the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith were the least bit trustworthy I’d probably believe them as well.

  2. Great response, Tim. And exactly correct.

    Jay, if you truly believe in Mormonism, then you need to follow it with all your heart. If you have doubts, you need to investigate them.

    I personally don’t believe Mormonism is correct, based on many reasons. Thus I don’t follow it. I can personally tell you that I don’t think you, or anyone, should follow it. But that is your choice, not mine.

  3. Thanks Tim and Brad,
    I understand what your saying. I know that my post probably seems somewhat paradoxical to anyone that reads it, but that’s where I’m at right now.

    I continue to investigate and understand, but this takes time and a lot of thought. I don’t take it lightly.

  4. Jay,

    At first I thought your title was inconsistent with your post on my blog until I read more!

    Personally I don’t think a belief’s appeal is as important as its truthfulness.

    True, but isn’t it great that we don’t have to choose between them? Not only are the doctrines of the Restoration true, but (perhaps consequently) they’re beautiful! I, for one, could not do without the blessings of the temple and the reality of prophetic revelation (in the Biblical sense), which no other denomination or religion provides or even claims to provide.

  5. “I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know that it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more.” (History of the Church 6:312)

  6. jondh,
    Whew! It’s good to know I’m being consistent. Thanks for joining the conversation:)

    Ben,
    Great quote, maybe that is why I can’t let these doctrines go.

  7. I think you have had an important realization. It is something that I have thought about as well. I too love Mormon Doctrine.
    I think a strong argument could be made that the church (and its truthfulness) should be evaluated solely on its doctrine. I think that attacks by critics on the church based on church history could be construed as ad hominem (meaning at the church as an institution)–which is a logical fallacy.
    The Church lacks antiquity, therefore bringing in questions of its history, and I don’t know how valid these questions are.

  8. The Church lacks antiquity, therefore bringing in questions of its history, and I don’t know how valid these questions are.

    After all, Christianity itself, and all other religions, for that matter, once too lacked antiquity.

  9. Jay, I think you bring up a very critical point. I understand that there are those who seem to think that the appeal and beauty of a belief take a back-seat to truth. Yet, the two go hand in hand. I understood you as not talking about appeal to one’s carnal nature, but appeal to one’s very soul.

    I appreciate the discussion about the appeal of faith traditions and I wish that discussion would take place with more frequency.

  10. To My Friends of Faith,

    Recently a friend at our church brought this “film” to my attention.
    Her son apparently was sent this web link from someone.

    It’s a movie clip (that has been recently released, or is about to,,, I’m not sure),,
    anyway, it depicts Mormons as flesh eating ghouls, and it is just awful.

    On behalf of myself and my husband, and our Mormon friends,
    I would like to make sure that young people are NOT subjected to this terrible conception of our faith.

    please let me know if you are able to help.

    regards, Betty Toms

  11. bettytoms,

    I didn’t watch the clip, but the opening page looks pretty gruesome. I removed the link because if it is what you say it is, I don’t want a link from Mormons talk to it. If such a movie were to make it I think people would see it for what it is.

    If you remember the MMM movie that came out last Fall didn’t even make a splash. I think people saw it was a slanted view of history, just as they would see a movie like the one you describe.

  12. Jay, if you are so inclined, I’d be interested in hearing a little more about the appeal you find in the topics you discussed like priesthood as necessary for ordinances. Incidentally, John Bracht was interviewed about his work in understanding the appeal of certain doctrines in Mormonism and I shared them on my blog. You might be interested in reading the interview as he touches the Trinity and nature of God.

  13. Jay,

    I enjoyed this post, likely because I identify with it quite a bit. But I have to ask one question. Is walking that line as hard for you as it is for me?

  14. Peetie,

    Welcome! I hope you read more of my posts and leave comments. I’m always interested in what other people think, especially other members of the Church. How have you dealt with your struggle? Shoot me an email and let me know, I’d love to discuss it more with you. mormonstalk at gmail dot com.

    I’m still trying to understand where that line is exactly. It is a slow process trying to figure it all out. I’m sure some would say that I’m a “cafeteria” Mormon, but I really don’t care. I have to do what I feel is right. I think one of the most challenging things is shedding that black or white attitude so prevalent among religiously faithful (not just LDS). That gray line is not as thin as I used to think, it’s wide like an ocean! Coming to that realization doesn’t mean it’s easy to venture out into though. I’ve had to let go of many assumptions I once held. Unfortunately, the shock of discovering the reality of the “gray zone” has affected my testimony. I’ve been working through that for almost two years now and I’m still trying to come to some peace with it. It is hard, no doubt.

  15. Jay, I just found your site and I appreciate the humility and responsibility you are demonstrating. I have come to the decision that the “doctrines” are why I find myself loving Mormonism, along with the fact that the community is very loving and supportive for the most part. Have you read much of Blake Ostler? His books have completely changed the way I look at doctrine and the possibilities of Mormon Theology. I look at Mormonism as having various schools of thought and I “pick and choose” the parts I like and discard those statements or interpretations of scripture that don’t fit my experience with God.

    Check out BlakeOstler.com if you haven’t already.

    Additionally, there is a quote by Terryl Givens that I absolutely love and use all the time. He shared it for the PBS documentary on The Mormons:

    “My idea going into this study of the Book of Mormon, especially the section dealing with evidence for and against its historicity, was if the Book of Mormon is true, then it has to stand up to the most rigorous assaults and critiques that skeptics and nonbelievers can make. So I made every effort to honestly, fully investigate every criticism, every objection that’s ever been made to the historicity of the Book of Mormon. One has to suspend judgment in a number of cases, because it’s hard to say when the evidence will all be in, but at the present there are still a number of unresolved anachronisms and problems and ambiguities in the text.

    But I felt satisfied that there was in every case a corresponding weight on the other side of the equation, which actually led me to, I think, some very important insights into the nature of faith and how faith works. I came to the conclusion, in large part through my study of the Book of Mormon, that for faith to operate, and for faith to have moral significance in our lives, then it has to at some level be a choice. It can’t be urged upon us by an irresistible, overwhelming body of evidence, or what merit is there in the espousing of faith? And it can’t be something that we embrace in spite of overwhelming logical rational evidence to the contrary, because I don’t believe that God expects us to hold in disregard that faculty of reason that he gave us.

    But I do believe that the materials are always there of which one can fashion a life of belief or a life of denial. I believe that faith is a revelation of what we love, what we choose to embrace, and therefore I think [it] is the purest reflection of the values that we hold dear and the kind of universe that we aspire to be a part of. And so it comes ultimately as no surprise to me that the evidence will never be conclusive on one way or the other. I think that there’s a purpose behind the balance that one attains in the universe of belief. …”

  16. Kent,

    Thank you for the quote, I enjoyed it. I have listened to a few interview Blake Ostler has done and I really like them. I wasn’t aware that he had his own website. I’ll be sure to check it out. Thanks!

  17. Jay ,

    I too believe that families are forever but that doesn’t mean I need to be Mormon or believe its claim of being the one and only true church and all other creeds an abomination and their professors corrupt .

    Mormonism doesn’t really believe that in the way it is presented .The full belief is of families becoming polygamous and creating worlds to populate etc .Why not tell investigators this ? also why not mention they will remain single and sexless if they don’t join the church ,pay tithe , and obey and follow temple ordainances, whether in this life or the next etc.

    Its the same reason why Investigators are not taught the real facts .They probably wouldn’t join .

    But if they are brought into church not knowing and are persuaded to baptise and to start testifying and then when they slowly find out later on ( if ever) then its easier to excuse things away one by one , by which time they have forged friendships, relationships etc and the escape is more difficult and consequences more serious both mentally and family and friends wise.

    I believe this is what is known as ‘conditioning’ people .

    They then are conditioned sufficiently to accept polygamy , marrying other mens wives , arranged marrying of teens to old men , lying about polygamy , and even learn to excuse them away as OK because God said so ! Things which they would not have accepted rationally prior to conditoning.

    scary !

  18. Hi EJ,

    I understand why you think that way. I do think that your explanation is a rational one. Unfortunately, the same logic can be applied to many different religious traditions, not just the strange ones, and if applied evenly will only lead you to believe that there is no God, something I can not do.

  19. Jay ,

    You seem to be saying that the LDS church has to be true or at least as false as all the others ….

    You nearly sound like an Athiest although I know you don’t want to be one . Although the ones I personally know are great folk and I would trust them to be Good Samaritans anytime.They are more angry at the injustices that God seems to allow in the world rather than Religion in general..

    A few years ago I successfully traumatised a JW couple .They knocked my door .I tried to explain to them that I had investigated their faith and had questions unanswered so I gave up .They ‘insisted’ they could answer them !

    They really believed that their Organisation ‘The Watchtower’ was Gods sole representatives on Earth and that they would easily convince me through ‘evidence’ from the bible and secular History and Archeology etc.

    After 5 appointments , they were absolutely in shock at what I showed them concerning their own church , but then the anger seemed to be on me ? Why me , I told them the truth and the Watchtower Society had Lied and Deceived them and they knew it .

    It susprises me but now I know why Politicians lie all the time instead of telling the truth .People don’t want to know the Truth , they want to be told what they want to hear .

    Of course you haven’t shown any anger to me , quite the opposite ,and I’m satisfied that you have taken a good honest sincere close look and still do at the belief of your upbringing .And I’ve no doubt you will not hide/evade from the hard questions .

    I understand what you mean about being addicted to the belief of Mormonism. I think everyone feels the same way about their own faith .

    I’ve decided that the real restoration will come when Jesus Christ returns and the only thing I need to do is to have represented him in a way which inspires others to believe in him and love his teachings and not be part of any religious community rituals or be threatened by their threats of not being a member …

    For instance Jw’s believe that those who quit , have been led away by Satan .They have no concept that some people have Integrity and Dignity when it comes to deceiving others to get them into the JW church and then supressing and misreperesenting important information once they are in .

    Every religion I’ve studied tells me I’m doomed if I’m not a member ! Even Mormonism ( whether in this life or the life to come ) .

    I went tracting with the LDS Missionaries ( splits) and a Muslim guy gave us a lecture in his house .Join Islam or go to hell ! I opted for a quick get away after half an hour of it.

  20. EJ,

    I’m not saying there is no God. I’m just saying that other Churches do the same “conditioning” as the LDS faith does. It is no different. I don’t fault you for not joining any organized religion and I think if you live true to your heart while following Christ, you’ll be fine in the end.

    You are right, I’m not afraid to discuss hard questions and I’m perfectly willing to say that I don’t know the answers. I’m even willing to admit that the Mormon Church may be wrong on some things. I realize that this makes some faithful members think I’m apostate but really it’s just me living what I feel is the truth. If I am wrong then God will judge my heart. I don’t feel like I’m required anymore to believe everything I’m taught in Church or everything I read in scripture LDS or not. I believe what my conscience will allow as I know you do. I’m glad you are a questioner and although we disagree on some things I do feel that we are looking for the same thing, truth.

  21. A person can sit and analyze a religion or a theory until they have gone literally insane. That is why there is the Holy Ghost. The feeling of knowing what is true is when God decides you are ready for that information. Until then we can theorize and discuss it until everyone decides to build a golden calf just to have something to believe in. If we spend our time loving and serving, quietly discussing our differences and beliefs, without war, if we follow the commandments that are counted as “ten commandments” which both are written in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. If we listen for the “still small voice” that also is testified of in the Book of Mormon and Bible, then Heavenly Father will guide us personally to were we will be comfortable. I used to be angry also with the “conditioning” that the Mormon church teaches. This is how I looked at it. I felt it was just another way to take away my agency. I was sick of being a victim and because I grew up around the “Heart of the Church” I was slowly introduced into it. I felt that if I could join this “Only TRUE Church of God” that I would be saved for sure for the sins I had commited. That I could be a part of a forever family that would never hurt me. Wrong! I quickly found out that people get wrapped up in their religion so tight that they start to do what Lucifer does and try to “force” others to believe. I hated the idea of Polygamy and that I would be doomed to that and forced to live it if I had the “Priveledge” of being a “Daughter of God” (meaning a dumb empty headed do good for eternity woman who was excited to share my husband with other woman just so we can all sit around and have children and smile at each other and sing hymns). I did not understand not being able to make love to my husband in a lower kingdom because I would have no female parts!!! Crazy isn’t it? Believe me I have had all the ideas and questions of this faith and the tests of living with the people and it drove me to excommunication. I have horror stories to tell of ways my family and I were treated. But sincerely with all honesty when I turned my back on the Church, and I am a convert, I turned my back on something inside me that told me it was all the truth. I had not had time to be conditioned or fooled. It was the Holy Ghost the whole time, even when I was sinning at my worst that would tell me to come back and try again. Why? Because wide is the gate but narrow the way that leads to eternal life. The truth is hard. I learned that I do not have to share my husband with another woman, but also as my heart has softened I have realized that when you take the ” dirty sex” out of a marriage. When it is done by God’s laws then why would I want to deny another righteous lady of her place in the Celestial Kingdom to have the pleasure and joy of populating other worlds. We simply cannot have this kind of marriage on earth because men and women are not ready to be righteous about it. And the thought of us just reproducing was solved by all the prophets who do not ever say that just a man will progress in the Celestial Kingdom but all of us. He says Man. As far as what I have learned about conditioning. I would rather believe in this doctrine that the Savior and the Prophets for him teach than to believe that we all just go to Heaven and stand around and talk for eternity. I would hate to believe that, because I do not know what I would say. I would not be happy without being able to grow and learn what God knows. I want to be like him. Not for power but I want to know what it will feel like to create my first flower or to give birth without pain. To have more children than the sands of the sea. To be able to keep progressing and not be stuck in a Heaven or a Hell were we all just stand and look at each other and remember our earth life. Or to sit and burn for eternity while looking at the devil laugh. I mean does he really laugh and how long will he laugh? Doesn’t it seem that he would want to progress to committing more evil? I do not want to come back as a butterfly or play a harp on a cloud. I want to be me. I’m good with that, and I want to keep progressing and doing what makes me and others around me better people. Thank you for so much time. The temple was beautiful today. For someone to say it is just a film has not matured spiritually yet. The answer to the whole world is listening to the Holy Ghost. When it feels like you are pulled towards the church to learn and you get scared of something, get on your knees and pray and then be patient for God’s response. It will not always come through your Bishop or anyone else. God wants to talk to you. You will start to learn your own journey by praying. Some things in this world are bizarre. I wish I could explain more. I just know that Jesus Christ has to have one true church because he is a God of unity and one true way to live. If he had many churches that all taught different ways to go then he would be cruel and would deter himself when he claims to be ” Unchanging”. I am happy with The Church of Jesus Christ because I know if I recieve an answer to my prayers that goes against the laws of the church then I can say I will not follow the “gray area”. I will stay tightly held to the rod. People live in the grey because commiting a little sin does not seem wrong. The very truth is that when you are in the grey you had better get back out of the mist that leads to the river that leads to the building of which you do not want to go. Now someone not of my faith would want an explanation to that. I would like to see you give one. Maybe that will answer your questions to your quest of the color grey. Hold your sword high your website can be a cause that King Benjamin would be proud of or one that Alma the Younger would have approved of before he was converted. Fight a good fight!

  22. kta,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I love to hear different points of view and discuss these things with people.

    I did not understand not being able to make love to my husband in a lower kingdom because I would have no female parts!!! Crazy isn’t it?

    I view this as someone’s opinion. No where in scripture does it say that those not in the Celestial Kingdom will not have male or female sexual organs. To me this seems to be one of those rationalizations made due to lack of knowledge on the subject. I realize that this was said by a prophet of our Church, but it simply is not supported by scripture (and not taught in Church or seminary either). In fact it is inconsistent with scripture that says when we are resurrected we will not be missing even a hair on our head. I think the lack of an entire organ is much more significant than hair.

    We simply cannot have this kind of marriage on earth because men and women are not ready to be righteous about it.

    You could be right. Though many would disagree with me, I find no condemnation of righteous polygamy (meaning God institutes it) in scripture.

    People live in the grey because commiting a little sin does not seem wrong. The very truth is that when you are in the grey you had better get back out of the mist that leads to the river that leads to the building of which you do not want to go.

    You are assuming that people in the “gray” area are sinning. I don’t think that is necessarily the case. Some of us are just searching, trying to understand, hesitant to grab hold of something that may lead us somewhere we don’t want to go. Others of us are struggling with inconsistency of the message and past actions of the LDS faith. When you know more about LDS history the image of our prophets, leaders and even members changes quit a bit and you are force to conclude they were not much better than any other Christian group. I know that is hard for some members to hear, nonetheless it is true. Overall the LDS faithful are great people, but we shouldn’t think that we somehow behave better than others just because we have high standards, we are all human.

    your website can be a cause that King Benjamin would be proud of or one that Alma the Younger would have approved of before he was converted.

    Mormons talk is not meant to make anyone proud or happy or angry for that matter. It is a place to discuss things that many LDS members would rather avoid discussing, it is meant to bring out conversations that, unfortunately, we have too infrequently. Honestly and openly sharing feelings about what happened and trying to dispel myths, folklore and other justification we as members accept to smooth over the more uncomfortable parts of our past, instead of embracing our shortcomings and moving forward with resolve to do better.

    I don’t claim and will never claim that the LDS Church is the only one that has faults. All major religions do because they are all lead by men. Even if they claim to be lead by God, God’s commands and words are coming through the filter of men. Sometimes this causes distortions to occur. It has happened in our Church and will probably continue to happen until Christ comes again.

    I’m glad that you have found peace in the Church. Myself and many other active LDS desire that peace as well, but we can not have it at the expense of sacrificing our conscience. I do not believe God would want that either.

  23. Jay, It was a long letter but it is true that we will not be able to have the privledge of procreation in other kingdoms. I would love to discuss all the topics that anyone would want to discuss. I have seen all of them and experienced so much in my life and seen so much that I think I could help. Let’s see if you can understand. Someone who is searching is not considered in the “grey area” they are actually considered a disciple of Jesus Christ as long as they are asking him which way to go. Someone who is in the “grey area” is one who knows the truth and flirts with it to see if they can sit on the fence and sin and not get caught by God. I was explaining what I had heard as a young convert to “Not being able to make love to my husband because we will not have our organs”. This is what I expressed was an anger of mine when I heard it. It was said in church by someone else’s interpretation. This is why we all need to listen for the Holy Ghost and pray to find out for ourselves what is true. You know some people are not going to be happy in the Celestial Kingdom. Some are not going to happy with the Telestial or the Terestial. That is so much the reason why God made kingdoms for his children that they would be happy in. Not as punishments. I figured in my quest that God was cruel. I mean all’s you hear is how much he is eager to destroy us for our sins. If you read the scriptures they are so vicious and scary really. For God to look forward to destroying the earth with his angels a person would want to be angry back. But it does take prayer and study and more prayer and more study and patience for God to touch your heart. You are not going to get the answers from another person. Even the Prophets have told us to pray about what they say and find out for ourselves. It is good that you have discovered that the Prophets are not perfect. This will take alot of pressure off of them if everyone would realize that they are men also. But when you hear them Prophesy and you pray about it then you will know that they are not giving an opinion of a man but from God. Sometimes we are not ready to recieve what they say. It is good to talk about these issues trust me I wish more Mormons would talk about the things I have gone through. I wish that we would all open up and talk about the sins that we all face. I think it will help alot of us not to feel so alone. I wish that in Relief Society we could (and I do!) admit to having temptings of homosexuality, beastiality, being raped, being held at gunpoint etc. I wish we could talk because then we would invite the Holy Ghost to help some of us heal. I wish the people in our church would not act like they are already exalted. Wouldn’t it be nice? There are alot of things that have been said throughout the Church even by prominent members or General Authorities. Yes they are men. But in revelation concerning the church I think you had better be careful how you talk about that. Prayer Prayer Prayer. Lucifer desires for you to get your answers from other men. Because then scripture can be mingled with theories. Then we get back to the Golden Calf. I have watched the sites that give the Temple ceremony away or what they think of it. Even the so called signs and symbols. Everyone talks about these as so mysterious. But we see them in every gang and cult in the whole world. The difference is that ours are true and from God. Lucifer knows these and he already has formed his own to make God look like a fool. I am just a woman. I have no right to give revelation but I am open to talk about any issue but as long as the topic stays with ” I know the Church of Jesus Christ is the only true Church” I see I have fallen folly to this web sight and am still in search of one that people can talk about real issues and hard topics and still have a knowledge of the true church. Maybe I will start my own web sight now and I will be excited to start with Homosexuality and Child abuse and all those real hard topics that I have experienced myself and still found the Church to be true. How about having someone talk about how hard it is to give away your children or to have a sawed off shotgun held to your head. Lets get real here if we are going to guide people in these days and we truely want to help them discover their own ability to get a testimony of the church then we need to be converted ourselves. This from what I have understood that you are not. Sometimes we have to just trust our hearts even though the logic or the understanding doesn’t make sense. This is called “Faith”. I do not talk about other churches because that is not fair to tell others they are condemned. Because all men are saved through Jesus Christ Atonement. I wanted to talk about your statements about the Temple so called “Movie” as if you took popcorn and candy in to watch. I sure hope your wife learned a better experience from that. Life is a big issue but we as Latter Day Saints have a obligation to gain a testimony for ourselves before we try to guide others.

  24. It [those not exalted will have no sexual organs] was said in church by someone else’s interpretation.

    This was said by a prophet, I think it was Joseph Fielding Smith, but I could be wrong. That is probably why the member you heard it from was comfortable in repeating it. This is one of my pet peeves, that leaders give their personal opinion in an authoritative way so that members think it is coming from God. Opinion should be taught as such. Responsible leaders should preface a personal opinion in a way that lets people know it is not from God, but their own personal best guess.

    Maybe I will start my own web sight now and I will be excited to start with Homosexuality and Child abuse and all those real hard topics that I have experienced myself and still found the Church to be true.

    I think that would be great for you. You have been through a lot and others could learn from your experience.

    I wanted to talk about your statements about the Temple so called “Movie” as if you took popcorn and candy in to watch.

    We do watch a movie although it used to be acted out by volunteers (and still is in a few temples). I don’t mean to be disrespectful in any way when I say we watch a movie about Adam and Eve. It is merely a fact that we do.

    I sure hope your wife learned a better experience from that. Life is a big issue but we as Latter Day Saints have a obligation to gain a
    testimony for ourselves before we try to guide others.

    My wife continues to be very faithful. It is her faith that gives me the hope that I can regain my testimony, but I have to be honest with myself. I will not say I know it’s true unless that is true.


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