Sunday, February 1, 2009

Disconcerted

The decision of the LDS church to get involved in the proposition 8 battle in California has me feeling unsettled; although, it's been in the days since the election on November 4th, 2008 that I'm beginning to realize the extent to which I am troubled.

Why am I feeling distressed?
  • The LDS church preaches a position of political neutrality. LDS church policy explicitly states that church buildings are not to be used for political purposes - yet the LDS church was actively involved in a political battle in California - and now we learn that church facilities were utilized in this political campaign.
  • The LDS church asserts that churches and religious organizations are well within their constitutional rights to speak out and be engaged in the many moral and ethical problems facing society - yet, it is not politically involved in other moral and/or ethical issues - even other countries and states with similar measures on their election ballot are ignored.
  • Our 11th article of faith states: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may - yet, we do not grant this privilege to those who believe that same sex marriage is ordained of God.
  • One of our hymns has the phrase: "True to the truth for which martyrs have perished" ("True to the Faith," Hymns #254) - yet LDS church leaders participated in the spread of half truths and lies in the days leading up to November 4th, 2008, such as when Elder David A. Bednar, while speaking to a group of young adults, suggested that passage of proposition 8 would result in the church losing its free speech right to preach against gay marriage.
  • One of the temple recommend questions asks: Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen? - yet, we find out this week that the LDS church had had failed to report donations to the tune of $190K - nearly a hundred times more than what they previously reported.
Am I wrong here? Does anything I stated above need to be corrected? Am I taking anything out of context? How can I resolve these conflicts? Why can't just let this go and go back to a state of blissful ignorance?

I'm not sure I know what to believe anymore - and therein lies my conflict: Once I start to believe a modern day prophet can be wrong about one thing - it opens the door to them being wrong about other things.

President Wilford Woodruff taught that a prophet will never be allowed to lead the Church astray. But why? Doesn't the prophet have the same free agency that the rest of us enjoy in this earthly plane of existence? Is this teaching supported by scripture? How do we know President Woodruff isn't leading us astray with this teaching? Isn't it imperative that we all receive our own personal witness and not rely on blind faith?

I suppose some will proclaim that I'm being lead astray by Satan - the master of lies. Others will suggest that my eyes are truly beginning to open to the real truth.

But, I just don't know what to think anymore . . .

By choosing to become politically involved in the proposition 8 battle in California - the LDS church has drawn a line in the sand for all of us - worldwide. But, right now, I feel like I am straddling that line - and I need to decide which side of the line I belong on. The answer is not as clear cut as many would have us believe.

11 comments:

Formerly known as Peter said...

There is a problem when anyone has absolute authority over anyone. The ancient prophets didn't have absolute authority over what is now Judaism, and yet the Mormon prophet does have absolute authority over this Church.

At first, I blamed the concept of prophets, because when you judge things by their fruits this doesn't sit right. I don't blame prophets, though, right now. I blame the absolute authority that modern prophets have. The fruit of such authority is a following of people who don't think for themselves and who all act as one body. The fruit of that authority is telling lies to keep that authority. The fruit of that authority is squashing down people who dissent.

I'm sorry to be so cynical, but that's just the way that Prop. 8 has made me feel on the subject. I still believe in God and in Jesus Christ, but I don't accept Thomas S. Monson as their spokesman. (especially since he spoke differently from what God told me directly)

robert said...

I never imagined that you would have found the voice for such comments. If I say that you are right, I will be perceived as Satan which is the baseline duality imposed by any fundamentalist religious teaching. It is IMHO, the best evidence I have for not being a believer. Its the ultimate insult by authority to banish free agency through religiosity.

Evan said...

The $190,000 thing has been bothering me a lot, too. I really want it to be cleared up... I don't know what to think about it still.

Beck said...

In my youth, I always was drawn to Pres. Monson. He was young and vibrant and funny and a great story teller. I longed to live for the day when he would be prophet.

Today, as this is realized, I find myself disturbed by the Prophet's handling of Prop 8. and in the process, that same door of doubt has been opened for me. I sustain him as my prophet, seer and revelator, but this disturbing feeling about this mantle of the Prophet will not go away.

Do I want to return to "blissful ignorance" and say to myself that these worries are not essential to my salvation? Do I concentrate instead of just doing the best I can in my little sphere and not get so caught up into the politics and deceptiveness of it all?

I don't know either. I'm trying to watch and see what happens at the Utah State Legisilature this next month. If the Church steps in to prevent the same common laws for gay partners that were deemed acceptable by the Church in California, I think I'll begin to come apart at the seams. If they don't, and allow those same rights and privileges for Utah gays that were acceptable to California gays then I'll see more of an even-handedness in it all. To me, this will be the tipping point...

MoHoHawaii said...

I'm sorry to hear about this. I know it's stressful.

B. said...

How I see it is that the Church is not the final word on politics. The leaders can say whatever they like about politics but I will not always agree nor believe what they are saying on it.

On matters of doctrine (what is ACTUALLY doctrine), I will usually side with them.

All in all though, I'm a weird Mormon.

Scott said...

If the Church steps in to prevent the same common laws for gay partners that were deemed acceptable by the Church in California, I think I'll begin to come apart at the seams. If they don't, and allow those same rights and privileges for Utah gays that were acceptable to California gays then I'll see more of an even-handedness in it all.

The problem is that the Church's approach to the Common Ground measures in Utah so far has been to remain silent--and that silence will almost certainly not be interpreted by lawmakers as "allow[ing] those same rights and privileges" but rather as silent disapproval. I worry that nothing short of an outright declaration of support from the Church will sway legislators who allow the Church to be their "moral compass", and that that outright declaration of support will never come.

In other words, I don't think that it is, as Beck indicated, a choice between stepping in to prevent the laws from passing vs. letting them pass, but rather a choice between standing aside and watching them fail or stepping in to reaffirm support for [limited] equal rights. I'm afraid it's becoming more and more obvious which approach the Church is choosing to take.

Abelard Enigma said...

It is worth noting that the General Handbook of Instructions (2006 edition), which is the authoritative source for formal church policy states: Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. The Church accordingly opposes same-gender marriages and any efforts to legalize such marriages. Church members are encouraged "to appeal to legislators, judges, and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender." [emphasis added]
"Church Handbook of Instructions", book 1 p.187

The way I read this, the LDS church isn't real keen on civil unions. If you read "The Divine Institution of Marriage" carefully, it does not state that the LDS church supports giving certain rights to gay couples - only that it does not object to certain rights already established.

So, personally, I'll be very surprised if the LDS church makes any statement - one way or the other - about the proposed Utah civil union legislation. The church is, after all, politically neutral [he types sarcastically]

Whether that's taken as silent approval or silent disapproval remains to be seen.

We are also not privy to any private conversations occurring between LDS church leaders and Utah state legislators.

Alan said...

I started a response to Beck but it quickly mushroomed out of control into my own post.

October Rising said...

i'm with ya on this one. very disheartening.
p.s. just for the record--i was in a ppi meeting with my branch president today and he called me an enigma :)

Grant Haws said...

I understand how you feel. All my life I believed that the Church would be a force for good in the world. Yet Proposition 8 showed me the church working in the shadows and doing harm through dishonesty. I saw scriptures mingled with the words of men and I saw good people rallying for a cause they were misled on.

I wish I had come to a conclusion about what it means, but like you, I am still struggling with it.