I agree with James Mitchell. This is a terrific response...to an active member with natural doubts. The culture within the active members is very, very suppressive and NON-supportive of a person who wants to engage others with the serious questions openly and publicly. Even in private, most leaders are very ill-equipped to respond to serious questions that make people leave. Because a doubter cannot find any support within the walls of the church, they leave. They find support outside those walls. Whether they lose their testimony or not, the ultimate answer is, their support and understanding was found outside of the culture we have accepted within the active members of the LDS faith.
I am saving it. MY Two oldest children are "away" from the Church for awhile. There are some excellent pearls of wisdom here. For me as well as them.
This article was both timely and full of insight. Those who spurn their testimony and choose to remain outside of the Church, do so at their own peril. It is rather simple to me. A boy, a grove, a spring day. IF this happened, it was a Perfect God's idea to fallible man. Just think on the time you knew it happened and that the restoration is real...
@James Mitchell. I enjoyed this article because it gave logical answer to questions which happen to be traps to believers. It reveals that there is incomplete and false logic used to question one's choice of faith. In other words, it provides perspective so that one might make use of knowledge- believer or doubter. I am curious about what you believe specifically are the "bad things" that have been institutionalized as doctrine.
@JamesMitchell, you may be right to an extent. This is an article geared to believing doubters, not non-believers. If you have lost your faith, if you no longer have the Spirit of the Holy Ghost with you in your life, Givens' words may not be enough for you. For me, his words are full of insight, hope, and spiritual pragmatism. I will be re-reading this article. Thank you.
Thanks johnrpack for a wonderful comment that makes sense to me.
From my perspective, most of those who fall away leave either because a) they were offended by someone they should have realized was as imperfect as they are from the get-go or b) they allow what they don't know or don't understand to overwhelm what they do know.
I don't abandon arithmetic just because I can't solve a particular partial differential equation. In the same way, just because Joseph Smith broke my kids' great-great-great grandfather's leg in a wrestling match doesn't mean he wasn't a prophet.
I may not understand polygamy or the blacks and the priesthood, but I do know the power of the priesthood and I bear witness that the sealing power of marriage is true. Those truths are not negated by what I don't know.
In fact, I know only a tiny fraction of what is knowable. Allowing that fact to paralyze me or damage what I do know would be the height of folly.
I bristle at Givens saying that Moses was guilty of manslaughter and calling it a crime. That is an assumption going way beyond the event itself. Is Nephi also guilty of manslaughter and treachery for dressing in the clothing of Laban? I think not.
Thank you so much. I, like you, have a hard time taking things always at face value, and have doubts which I am constantly studying about, meditating about, and praying about. I am a convert to the LDS church of almost 40 years. There is one thing I never doubt, and that is God's love for me, and His plan for us through the Atonement, and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Of course no prophet, ancient or current, is infallible. But I do believe that the Lord is at the head of the LDS church, and working with imperfect people to guide us and help us have peace and joy in spite of all that may go on around us. I rely on the Spirit of the Holy Ghost to help me work through issues I don't yet understand, having full faith that God will work it all out, has our best interest in mind, and there will probably be some things I don't understand fully right now.
@James Mitchell- remember too the distinction between the Gospel of Christ and the Church :) Sometimes the Church makes mistakes and it takes time to realign it with the Gospel. I think you can be perfectly faithful & still disagree with what is wrong. I agree though that there are leaders who would be unsupportive of your views when they contradict what is currently taught. My only recommendation is to pray for insights on your areas of concern & when pressed try to emphasise points of commonality rather than difference. It might also help if you also remind such people of the injunction to focus on Christ (what was that scripture about only preaching Christ and repentance?). It is sad that you feel unable to engage fully in a supportive community. We are supposed to get our own witnesses of things after all, not just follow blindly.
I will need to read this many times to grasp its fullness and even then I may fall short, but I will give it what I feel is my best and then be reasonably convinced that the Lord, Jesus Christ, will see me through.
This is superb and profound. "blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble" Alma 32
Its a choice, its always a choice, and this expresses the dilemma so beautifully. Thank you for raising our awareness on important points.
That is perhaps one of the best and most beautiful articles that I have ever read.
At last someone who articulates what it is to "want to...want to."
I am a non-believing LDS person. I am a member of record, but do not participate. I am a returned missionary, married in the temple, served in bishoprics, have an advanced degree, etc...
I feel like this article was written for active LDS people, despite the fact that it's addressed to doubting people. It's a case of not knowing your audience. If I were an active member, I would love this article because it would affirm what I already know: That I am right. Indeed, the active member is your audience in this magazine.
I believe God has given me the book knowledge and experiential knowledge I have so I can make correct decisions. I believe the Church wants me to forsake what God has given me. And this I cannot do. If I feel God has helped me know that Joseph Smith not only did bad things, but that he institutionalized those bad things, making them doctrine, I cannot openly believe this and still be accepted in full fellowship without restrictions.
I am glad to see Meridian print these opinions. It shows a greater openness than what I was taught my whole life: "That once the prophet has spoken, the thinking has been done."
But I'm not convinced the Church is what is implied in this article. I'd like to hear it implicitly taught, "Once the prophet has spoken, you go out and just do the right, ethical and morally correct thing." What I see is a lot of dancing around to avoid actually saying that (and numerous other things like this).
This was magnificent. Thank you for being such a gifted writer, but most importantly, for having a soul willing to reach out to others, whether or not they take hold of your hand...or words.
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