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  1. It's only possible to fully convince ourselves of theories that are able to logically co-exist with the tangible reality we have experienced.
  2. I suppose this is as appropriate a place as any - here is the letter I just submitted for the upcoming conference: https://byu.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bK0fIKfb6i22X09 Dearest Sr. Bingham, Sr. Cordon, and Sr. Jones, I first wanted to extend my deep appreciation for the women's organizations - for Relief Society, Young Women’s, and Primary. These three organizations have been life-saving for me and my two daughters through these last two painful years. While studying the Come Follow Me curriculum in the New Testament, I have been contemplating the role of apostles – both the original apostles of our beloved Savior, and our modern-day apostles. I understand both the original and current apostles are not infallible. What suggestions do you have for women in the church who hesitate to fully follow imperfect priesthood leaders? The father in Matthew 17 and Mark 9 came directly to the Savior when the disciplines were unable to heal his Son. I have felt like this father and have also tried to go directly to the Savior. There are some mistakes which are not intentional, and others such as the heart-wrenching account of the apostle Judas’ betrayal of the Savior which cause much deeper concern. Betrayal by someone called to authority has been my family’s trial through the last two years. One of my children was abused by the first councilor in a neighboring bishopric. This high priest in now in jail for the rest of their life – without parole. He abused many children, was producing child pornography for years and years through many leadership callings in the church. Support groups with others in similar situations have led me to understand this is not an uncommon experience. Victims had to form their own support group outside of the church – we have all had to go directly to the Savior because the disciples in our area were unable to heal us. “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost." It feels like the new direction of the church includes an emphasis spiritual self-reliance within individuals and families. I did not realize how dependent I was on priesthood guidance until trust in the priesthood was violently taken away from me. I am now having a hard time holding onto my personal testimony in anything. The scriptures have not brought me comfort – As I read I am now seeing things I did not see before. The apostles pushed children away from Christ (forbid them not…). The original apostles could not stay awake even one hour. Peter denied Christ, Thomas doubted. I ask myself, do these accounts of the frailty of the apostles apply to us today? I used to look up to the apostles of old, and the current apostles, but am now having a much harder time seeing these men as reliable sources of truth and guidance. I very much appreciate and see the many “John the beloveds” in the church, but what is the lesson of Judas? Painful experience has caused me to shrink away from the men in the church. I went to my bishop, and he could not help – he told me he was not trained and had no experience for our situation. I wanted so desperately for someone, anyone, to help take away the pain and found myself alone. What balance have you found between being directed by those called by God, vs. taking ownership of your own individual testimony and path? How do you define spiritual self-reliance for women - no borrowed light – no relying on flesh, not relying on the arms of the priesthood - when so many necessary ordinances and keys require the patriarchal structure of the church? I turned in my temple recommend because I do not understand what it means to support those like Judas in their callings. I think the new endowment does not require women to covenant to their husbands, but allows women to go directly to God? My husband is also a pornography addict - so anything around the priesthood is doubly painful to me. I have not attended the temple since the changes, but even with the changes I already took out my endowments, so it feels like the new covenants do not apply to me anyways. In the past I raised my hand and supported my child’s abuser in their leadership calling. I cannot sleep and have anxiety attacks in church because of my experiences with the priesthood. I now know God calls people like Judas to leadership positions. I do not know how to balance that, or what to do with that. Thank you for taking the time to accept questions. I have a hard time trusting the priesthood, so am now looking for answers and guidance from other women. I am Sam Young’s story #823. Sam helped me before he was ex-communicated. Please pardon my clumsy writing – I have re-written this several times to be more coherent. I have little hope that this will actually be read, little people like me don't amount to much, and I know many abuse victims are so filled with anger and pain – it is hard to effectively communicate. Like an animal that has been abused and snaps at any hand that tries to help – but now I have sometimes become the one who snaps and bites. I know this pain now, this darkness – and so very much need help, and want help for others. I am not alone. I am now working full time as a community college professor. Almost 25 percent of my female students have been abused. We go through "Safe Colleges" professional development training each year because of it. I believe this is no longer just an issue for those outside of the church, but within it. I would not be writing or sharing this experience if I did not believe it did not warrant being addressed - addressed within the Relief Society, within Young Women's, and sadly, within the Primary. Your tearful broken-hearted sister, *****
  3. Consider the rigid organized structure of the Pharisees and Sadducee, vs. the ... rather unorganized diverse group Jesus hung around with. He ate with publicans and sinners, went outside his group - embraced diversity. There was John the Baptist running around eating bugs - no church building, just running around outside. Jesus enjoyed the outdoors too - no church building, he prayed on hilltops, the sermon on the mountain etc. It was "organized" religious people who killed Jesus for his unorganized free-thinking different way of doing things...
  4. I should add... I attend church on Sunday afternoon after having coffee with my "other" friends Sunday morning... I might be the only one who is not atheist in my morning group. I have a diverse set of friends that is a balanced approach right, breakfast with atheists, followed by sacrament with theists? Have to spend time with multiple viewpoints, get a balanced fair perspective? fair balanced half-in Mormon? There are many communities - our family community, our work community, our hobbyist communities, rotary clubs, civic engagement, Ham radio club etc. etc. all of which can be enjoyed without being 100% in agreement with everyone in the group. I wish there were more room for cafeteria Mormons within the church - more room for freedom of thought, for disagreements, for concerns as well as compliments - more room for self-reliance, independence, diversity etc.
  5. I read scriptures, I study and pray, I have met with many diverse groups who all study the life of Jesus - I experimented on the word, given up a career, tried following the commandments - still do not drink alcohol, do not swear, do my best to live a morally pure and honest life - I volunteer, actually run a food distribution service for those in need in my area. I will not be so pompous as to claim I know Jesus though - "acquainted" is perhaps a good word to use. I do not expect to really know anything until I am beyond the veil yet... a lot of wishful thinking, a lot of hope - that is what it will be for this life I 'm afraid. I have not left my community (mixed-faith family here). I do not wear garments, do not hold a calling, but I do attend (and try not to cause too much trouble)
  6. The imperfect nature of our surroundings and trials force us to rationalize a God that allows suffering - which is radically different from the protective, sheltering, unconditionally loving God we would create for ourselves if we were able to fully control our environment. We resonate with the timeless nature of human instincts and thought processes exhibited 2000 years ago as well as today. We see through a glass darkly in this life. Acceptance of uncertainty and awareness of our own limited perspectives removes our own cognitive dissonance and slightly clears a little of the lens of our perception.
  7. So very beautiful. Thank you, and thank you again.
  8. Balanced - part of the journey within, and part of it without.
  9. Yes, it comes down to personally knowing Jesus which is a hard thing to do in this life. The closest any of us can get is personally knowing who we would have God and Jesus to be - so I guess we come to know ourselves in this life, and will come to know the real God and Jesus in the next life.
  10. Quite different for apostles who were actually acquainted with Jesus, than for people living 2000+years later deciding which religious group is most closely led by God. I've come to the conclusion - if there is a God, and this God desires personal individual relationships with everyone, the only way to protect agency and promote individual testimonies (no borrowed light), is to make all religious organizations imperfect. No one would take the necessary individual journey if their group provided everything they needed. I wish there was more room for people to allow themselves to leave organized religion without also leaving their belief in God. It is not supposed to be faith in a church, it is supposed to be faith in God.
  11. There was a thread on all the prophecies that still needed to be fulfilled before the second coming - it was an older thread, cannot find it now? The gospel needs to be preached to every part of the world. Congregations of saints must be found all over the earth. Church headquarters must be moved to Missouri. The sun must be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from the sky. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/24?lang=eng
  12. There was a really good RR meditation that came through today - I have been doing the Lent thing (40 days is a long time!!) It has been good to remember the Easter season, and have these as a daily study - anyways, some very powerful things in here - about what it means to look to the serpent to be healed, how vaccines work - injecting yourself with the disease to cure the disease, the Easter idea of killing innocence - killing the idea that we are innocent perfect people, and through looking at the imperfect human that we gain a softened heart - broken and contrite spirit... a wonderful Easter thread, thanks for sharing. - we all feel this way, time to think about the resurrection too RR signup
  13. I would like to know what it means to sustain someone too. I turned in my TR because I no longer have a testimony in the church leaders, and did not feel comfortable sustaining them. (Had to deal with abuse from a bishopric member - which called into question if callings were made by God - in turn feeling sick to my stomach that I had raised my hand to sustain an abuser and was not about to do that any more.)
  14. It seems they are late to the ball game on so many things... Late to give blacks the priesthood... Late to start instituting policies to protect children... Late to realize most women have to work... Late to realize LGBTer's - many cannot be converted through therapy, for many it is not a choice. It would be so nice if the church were ahead.... rather than behind... everyone else on this stuff...
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