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redman

What if you want the church to be true,

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So this is my first day posting on this board, but i've been lurking for a while. I wanted to get some opinions from you all.

First of all, my background. Mid-twenties, raised LDS, mission, temple marriage, etc. I've had great experiences with the Church and I am grateful for the friendships and relationships I've formed via the Church.

I've got just one problem. I do not believe in it anymore. Both my heart and my mind are telling me it's not true.

I've always been a voracious reader and the more I have learned about the Church over the past several years the more I have felt that something was very wrong.

I'm not a lazy jack-Mormon. I don't want to get out so I can drink alcohol or coffee, or stop paying tithing.

The main issue for me is integrity. I feel like I can't keep living something that everything inside me is telling me is not true. I'm not really looking for advice. I've read the standard works of the church numerous times, I've served in the church, and I've prayed with all my heart to find out the truth. So someone telling me to just read and pray would be preaching to the choir.

Basically, I'm wondering what the true believers think of people like me. A few years back, I would have looked at someone like myself and assumed they were lazy or spiritually weak, or were sinning and thus losing the influence of the spirit. But that really sucks, because I'm basically the same person as before, just with changing religious beliefs, acquired by lots of studying and honest prayer and introspection.

Is there an explanation for people like me?

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You fit the description of many of the people here on this board. You are definately not alone.

As for how the TBMs (True Believing Mormon) will see you, I think you've already said it:

I would have looked at someone like myself and assumed they were lazy or spiritually weak, or were sinning and thus losing the influence of the spirit.

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The main issue for me is integrity. I feel like I can't keep living something that everything inside me is telling me is not true.

Well stated - welcome to the boards...

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Redman, Always Thinking doesn't speak for all the members of the Church. I am a TBM. I don't think you are lazy or spiritually weak. I think you in a low spot and making it harder on yourself than it needs to be.

I make a supposition here that your "voracious" reading is anti-Mormon literature. I am a voracious reader, too, but I am not going through a low spot in my testimony. I think all of us do, sometimes. If you start to look at the "dark side" then you make it harder to come out of it into what you have always known is right. There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that has been said against the Church or Joseph Smith, or any other prophet or leader, which cannot be refuted. Anti's choose not to listen and maintain their negative position.

In the movie "God's Army" one of the missionaries is explaining what happened to him when he heard that in times past, blacks were not given the priesthood, and the kind of effect that had on him, even though he had been ordained. He ended up saying he thought that sometimes when stuff like this comes up, maybe God just wants to see if you want to believe. I think that may be true. If you want to believe, there is nothing in anything you have read that will stand up so clear and convincing, that you cannot believe.

I believe, as far as our testimonies go, sometimes we get to the end of the rope and just have to tie a knot and hang on for a while. Then we are pulled back to safety. I hope you can do that. Falling into the abyss is a terrible experience, as you have seen from so many of the people who post here.

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Many people have doubts at times, you're not as alone as you may think you are. I have had a few 'low spots', times when my beliefs has waned for various reasons, its always come back after serious reflection, consideration and varying amounts of time.

Sometime we get too busy looking at reasons why it (whatever 'it' is) couldn't have happened and don't stop to think that there are some miricles involved. Also there are always at least 2 ways of looking at events and usually the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I think one thing this board has allowed me to understand, is that not every event in scripture has to have been a real historical event, sometimes faith promoting stories and object lessons are just fine and teach us the lessons God would have us learn.

There is still that nagging little doubt on my mind, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker -- Is there really a God or are we all just fooling ourselves?, its always in the back of my mind. But you know what, it doesn't really matter anymore -- Why? because I see the Church as a positive benefit in my life whether its 100% true or 100% false. It makes me a better person and I wouldn't be half the man I am today without its positive influence in my life.

So, don't think that we all think you are a bad person or have some sin you want to pursue. Most importantly don't think you are alone.

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>The main issue for me is integrity. I feel like I can't keep living something that everything inside me is telling me is not true.

I remember the Salamander Letter experience.

I thought to my self, "How can I have the integrity to remain in the church when this letter virtually proves that JS was a false prophet."

But, you see. I had a certain knowledge that the church was true, the Book of Mormon was the word of the Lord.

I made the decision to put the whole issue on my "shelf of doubt", and just keep going. That this issue would someday be resolved.

And, of course, it was later proven to be a forgery.

But that shelf of doubt has served me well thru the decades of my life. The Book of Abraham, DNA, etc when it would be "integrity" to leave the church, but later these issues have been resolved.

Just be patienct, keep going, and have faith that eventually these things will be resolved. Put them on your shelf of doubt, take them down from time to time and you will see that this is so.

As I have said many times, there are a hundred reasons for leaving the church, and only one reason to stay. And that one reason is enough for me.

Best of luck to you.

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Faith and belief is a choice. When my kids would tell me (in fits of anger) that they didnt' believe this doctrine or another, I would always point out that for centuries cultured and educated people believed the world was flat. Didn't make that true, but people really believed it and tortured and disdained others who didn't believe it.

I don't think God discards those who doubt. Doubting Thomas was, after all, an apostle. I think He understands those who struggle, so long as they keep the commandments and strive to do right through their doubts. The problem arises when a person chose not only to doubt, and to put questions aside that cannot be resolved for them, but also to reject the teachings and defy the commandments.

In my teen SS class today we were talking about D&C 138's description of those who whom Jesus didn't visit in the Spirit World. It was "the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh". I thought the phrase to describe children of God who had kept their first estate, but then chose wickedly as defiling their godly natures to be really instructive. If we could only remember who we are eternally, our perspective would be so much different.

While I certainly understand how Satan is distorting the word "integrity" to persuade you to reject your true nature, it is another of his deceptive tactics. I hope you can simple suspend your doubts and live your live in full compliance with your covenants so that you can get the measure of peace you seek.

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cdowis, I like that "shelf of doubt" idea. :P

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Thanks for all the responses folks.

While I appreciate the "shelf full of doubts" analogy, I think my shelf became full to overflowing quite a while ago and for that reason the shelf broke and came crashing down me. There gets to be a point where you can't just file everything away in the back of your consiousness just because it conflicts with what you have always been taught.

As for the accusation of using my voracious reading appetite to partake of "anti-Mormon" literature, I am guilty as charged. If that is, you consider anti-Mormon literature to be newspapers and well-documented, objective history deemed worthy to be sold at Deseret Book. In my opinion, it is a big "red flag" that I should have to avoid reading legitimate research about the church. If the Church is true, there should be nothing to hide.

And thank you very much rpn for insinuating that I am possessed by Satan. I think that is the farthest thing from the truth. And it illustrates why I am at a "low point" as some people called my situatation. Although I am using my brain and my heart and the principle of integrity to make a big decision, I am told that Satan is distorting me.

I honestly feel somewhat at peace. I have given my heart and soul to this church, and I feel no bitterness towards the Church or it's members. What does make me bitter and "low" is that when my situation becomes known to family and friends, many will assume, as has been stated already, that I am in Satan's grasp.

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Redman,

It is a very difficult and heartwrenching situation you are in and I have great empathy for you. I am in a very similar situation but have not come to the conclusion that the Church is not true. I don't understand why prayers go unanswered, why I can't come to grips with some things and just why the whole thing is so unneccesarily complicated.

I really have no advice for you (not that you are asking) that you probably haven't already heard or read. I personally am just trying to live principles that I have found to be true and trying to let the rest go. I remain active in the church for a few reasons. I enjoy the relationships and friendships I have there. I agree with most of the principles we teach and can let some of the other things that I disagree with alone.

I also can't dismiss the Book of Mormon. I feel that it was inspired.

Unlike some here who think they have the answers to everything, I don't have a lot of answers. There are probably more like you and me in and out of the church than many would like to admit. At this time I choose to stay and be active. Others feel the need to leave and I personally have empathy with those who just can't believe any more.

You asked the question- "Is there an explanation for people like me?"

I would answer- Yes, the whole things is very confusing.

Charity-

you wrote-

I make a supposition here that your "voracious" reading is anti-Mormon literature.

I don't know Redman's reading habits but I wouldn't be too quick to make that assumption about people who have trouble with certain aspects of the church. This message board is about as anti-mormon as I am willing to read. I have never read an anti-mormon book or spent significant time at an anti-mormon website. Some of my problems stemmed from FARMS articles and other apoligist writings that tried to answer difficult questions that I came across.

Mateo

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Redman wrote: "In my opinion, it is a big "red flag" that I should have to avoid reading legitimate research about the church. If the Church is true, there should be nothing to hide."

There is nothing hidden. Obviously, you found it. Even at Deseret Bookstore. But just as obviously, there are different interpretations on the legitimate research about the Church. And not just interpretation, but spin.

For years, I limited my reading to the standard works, Journal of Discourses, Articles of Faith by Talmage, church lesson manuals. I had a testimony, and I believed on the testimony of others, but I knew that I did not have the type of testimony that some others did. Until I did, I didn't know if I would be strong enough to withstand some of the influences that were out there. Now, I am, and I have read even the most outrageous fiction. And I can see it for what it is.

It doesn't make sense to me to try to put yourself in danger of losing what you have considered an important part of your life by deliberately exposing yourself to something that will attack your beliefs when you are not strong at the moment. Not that you won't be stronger at another time.

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Basically, I'm wondering what the true believers think of people like me. A few years back, I would have looked at someone like myself and assumed they were lazy or spiritually weak, or were sinning and thus losing the influence of the spirit. But that really sucks, because I'm basically the same person as before, just with changing religious beliefs, acquired by lots of studying and honest prayer and introspection.

Is there an explanation for people like me?

from the Pickle jar: what exactly is it about the church that troubles you, redman? It's hard to formulate a reply, when the exact nature of the problem is not clearly stated.

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charity,

thanks for your reply. as to whether or not things are hidden, i would say that the church definitely goes to great lengths to gloss over, if not outright hide it's history. people like you and me and others on this board who pry and read the lesser known books actually gain a pretty good idea of the history and doctrines of this church. our conclusions may be different, but i think we're well informed.

the average church member, however, does not have a clue about a huge area of church doctrine and history. it seems to be that the facts are routinely distorted into half truths to convey the desired message. as an example, when i have mentioned the plural wives of joseph smith to a few family members, they have been shocked and suprised. and these are folks with 30 years of hard core active membership in the church. so yeah, it's on the shelf in Deseret Book and it's all over the FAIR and FARMs boards, but it's conspiciously absent from all kinds of modern church manuals and documents. and that's just one example that really bothers me.

as to the issue of the "red flag" of reading history, you're right. the stuff is available. what i was actually referring to are the comments that i get such as:

"Be careful. I'd stay away from that stuff if I were you."

That to me is a huge "red flag." I've always learned that we are to seek out as much knowledge and intelligence in this world as we can. So why is there this huge exception to that rule? The message I seem to get is:

"Seek out knowledge in all things, EXCEPT any material, even if is factual, that might make you see the world or church in a different light"

I just can't make myself put on blinders for the rest of my life. I'm too curious. And it seems crazy to me that being iquisitive and curious are considered bad things. In my mind, it seems that, if this were all true, the most inquisitive people would progress the most. But in church, we're basically told to just stick our heads in the sand and accept everything at face value.

Yeah, the church has been a big part of my life. But as I said before, you can only put so many nagging doubts, feelings of uneasiness, and flat out discomfort on the metaphorical shelf, before you start to wonder why you continue to force yourself to believe in something against all your instincts, feelings, reason, and logic.

Thanks for letting me sound off. I appreciate the input.

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from the Pickle jar: what exactly is it about the church that troubles you, redman? It's hard to formulate a reply, when the exact nature of the problem is not clearly stated.

That would be another large thread. In broad terms:

Various aspects of polygamy

Various aspects of temple worship - one thing bothers me above all else but i can't mention it here without being deleted

Racism

Problems with Book of Mormon historicity

Moral issues such as guilt tripping young boys over masturbation and telling girls they're better off dead than raped

Whitewashing of history

Book of Abraham issues

President Hinckley denying doctrine to reporters

etc, etc, etc,

As you can see my doubt shelf was quite full when it finally collapsed

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Not only is it strange to me that someone wouldn't know of Joseph Smith's polygamy but it is strange to me that it is such a big deal. The Bible does not condemn polygamy. Some of the most important prophets practiced it.

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I just can't make myself put on blinders for the rest of my life. I'm too curious. And it seems crazy to me that being iquisitive and curious are considered bad things. In my mind, it seems that, if this were all true, the most inquisitive people would progress the most. But in church, we're basically told to just stick our heads in the sand and accept everything at face value.

Yeah, the church has been a big part of my life. But as I said before, you can only put so many nagging doubts, feelings of uneasiness, and flat out discomfort on the metaphorical shelf, before you start to wonder why you continue to force yourself to believe in something against all your instincts, feelings, reason, and logic.

Thanks for letting me sound off. I appreciate the input.

from the Pickle jar: do you expect a certain standard of behavior from the characters in LDS church history? Can you cut them any slack, based on your understanding of human nature, and give them the benefit of the doubt when faced with seemingly overwhelmingly negative actions? Because if you need heros to look up to, based on your modern expectations, you may well be disappointed by the inhabitants of early LDS church history. They didn't see things the way we do now, and they didn't interpret scripture or visions the way we do now. Unless you spend a lot of time getting into the 1800's, you're going to view early LDS church history based on 20th and 21st century sensibilities.

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Not only is it strange to me that someone wouldn't know of Joseph Smith's polygamy but it is strange to me that it is such a big deal.  The Bible does not condemn polygamy.  Some of the most important prophets practiced it.

stan, it's really not that strange. the church does not teach that joseph was a polygamist. growing up, polygamy was always mentioned in terms of Brigham Young and his successors.

even the new church site www.josephsmith.net make no mention whatsover of polygamy. it portrays joseph and emma as a happy monogamous couple.

so when people find out about it they wonder, "Why didn't I know that? What else is the church trying to hide?"

i think the reason the church does not like to mention it is because the specifics of how Joseph implemented it are too messy and quite honestly, uninspiring at best.

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I don't mean to be the weird one here but I feel that if you are in need of a testimony of the church, follow the prophet. Follow the callenge given and read the Book of Mormon. Now I don't just mean, "Oh, okay I'll read it". I mean truly open your heart up and read it with praying before and after. I know you have read it time and time before but now the prophet has given us a promise that if we read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year we will be stronger spiritually.

I feel that this promise will not only help many to gain a testimony but also prepare them for more things to come. Please except the challenge. I'm sure it must be hard to try and believe something that you don't feel is right. I didn't read the entire post so I don't know all that is going on. But if the prophet is real and you truly want to gain a testimony, you will if you read the Book of Mormon and do as the prophet has said.

your loving brother,

Brentley Waters

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from the Pickle jar: do you expect a certain standard of behavior from the characters in LDS church history? Can you cut them any slack, based on your understanding of human nature, and give them the benefit of the doubt when faced with seemingly overwhelmingly negative actions? Because if you need heros to look up to, based on your modern expectations, you may well be disappointed by the inhabitants of early LDS church history. They didn't see things the way we do now, and they didn't interpret scripture or visions the way we do now. Unless you spend a lot of time getting into the 1800's, you're going to view early LDS church history based on 20th and 21st century sensibilities.

hey mister (missus?) pickle,

my list really didn't mention anything about the character of the leaders. i didn't say anything about needing a hero.

i am well aware that they are only men, and in my opinion, no more inspired than the next guy.

as for my understanding of human nature - it leads me to believe that the church is probably a man-made invention.

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well i don't remember when i first learned it but it was at a young enough age that it seems like i always knew it. yes, the implementation was not great. I can only imagine how I might go about implementing something that would be very unpopular and would likely add tremendously to persecution I was already facing.

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I don't mean to be the weird one here but I feel that if you are in need of a testimony of the church, follow the prophet. Follow the callenge given and read the Book of Mormon. Now I don't just mean, "Oh, okay I'll read it". I mean truly open your heart up and read it with praying before and after. I know you have read it time and time before but now the prophet has given us a promise that if we read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year we will be stronger spiritually.

I feel that this promise will not only help many to gain a testimony but also prepare them for more things to come. Please except the challenge. I'm sure it must be hard to try and believe something that you don't feel is right. I didn't read the entire post so I don't know all that is going on. But if the prophet is real and you truly want to gain a testimony, you will if you read the Book of Mormon and do as the prophet has said.

your loving brother,

Brentley Waters

brentley,

i actually am reading right it now, because my wife me asked me to read it with her, and my marriage is important enough to me that I don't mind. unfortunately, i have done what you reccomended many, many times. Does the book contain interesting and sometimes inspiring stories? Yes, of course. Will reading it for the umpteenth time make everything make sense all of the sudden this time? I don't think so. thanks for your advice. i know you are sincere and mean well.

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Dear Redman,

As far as your question about what other members think about you...I don't see how they can think any differently about you..at least, if they are living the gospel the way they're suppose to.

As a lifelong Church member, one thing that bothers me is that some members can become very judgemental of others. This judgemental behavior has been known to drive good, well-serving members away from Church, which is a shame.

Although you may be going through some doubts about your personal faith, that certainly does not mean that you deserve to be judged or put down. On the contrary, it sounds like you need fellowshipping, and are reaching out for it.

For what it's worth, you certainly have my support. And, no, I don't think that you are lazy or "possessed by Satan." :P

I hope that you are able to find some peace, and some support in your Ward.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth

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Faith and belief is a choice.

I am going to challenge that. Could you choose to believe that there is a civilization on the dark side of the moon?

Try it.

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Faith and belief is a choice.

I am going to challenge that. Could you choose to believe that there is a civilization on the dark side of the moon?

Try it.

Or believe that the world is flat, or that Politicians tell the truth.

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hey mister (missus?) pickle,

my list really didn't mention anything about the character of the leaders. i didn't say anything about needing a hero.

i am well aware that they are only men, and in my opinion, no more inspired than the next guy.

as for my understanding of human nature - it leads me to believe that the church is probably a man-made invention.

from the Pickle jar: if you are of the opinion that the church is probably a man-made invention and that the leaders are no more inspired than the next guy, what do you expect from the posters on this bb? It sounds like you've already made up your mind. As for your list, most of us here have wrestled with those subjects too. We each had to find our own answer, even if the answer is "there is no answer." Perhaps if you bring your cards and lay them on the table, we can discuss them. But I'm still not clear what you want from this group.

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