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Kevin Graham

Can Mormons leave for legitimate reasons?

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Once again, this is not to say there are no problems, of course there are. And a large part of my posts are devoted to trying to understand and find solutions to those problems. But when I see an exmo or anti-Mormons coming on like an army of militants filled with hate for Mormonism, and making comparisons of Mormonism and Nazism, or Joseph Smith and Koresh and Jones, I see unbalanced people filled with irrational hatred. Their contribution to debate is unproductive, because they are like the "true believer" defined by Hoffer, whose cause is fuelled more by a need to "mould the world in his image" more than to seek truth.

I completely agree with you here. I wonder why so many who have left the Church seem to have a hatred for it. For the most part, my experiences in the Church were very positive and I still feel its a good organization. However, I'm sure that there are many out there who have deep feelings of resentment because of things that happened to them while they were members. Since I can't put myself in their shoes, I don't really know if they are justified in their feelings or not.

On the other hand, I get the feeling that some folks on the board feel like anyone who says anything against the Church, its teachings, or its history, must be a "hate-filled anti". I find this attitude wholly unfounded. A person can argue against the Church, even vehemently at times, and still view it as a decent organization filled with kind, well-intentioned people who are trying their best to make the world a better place.

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Simply an answer to the question in the thread title, there is no legitimate reason to leave. I have heard many, have not heard a legitimate one.

That is because you are a believer. If you believe it is truth, how could there be a legitimate reason?

What you lack is the ability to see the LDS church as something other than the truth. If you could see that, the number of legitimate reasons to leave might approach infinity...but seriously, it is probably a number closer in the thousands.

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There is no legitimate reason.

To believe in Mormonism? To follow religion? To believe that an old guy in Salt Lake speaks on God's behalf? Which is it? :P

Simply an answer to the question in the thread title, there is no legitimate reason to leave. I have heard many, have not heard a legitimate one.

Are there legimate reasons for a faithful, believing Muslim to leave his/her faith? What about a Catholic, Jew, Jehovah's Witness, Seventh-Day Adventist, Hare Krishna, etc?

If there are no legitimate reasons to leave Mormonism, then I say the Church should immediately stop the missionary program because there would be no legitimate reasons for anyone else to leave their current religion to join the LDS Church either. The Church should grow only through births within the faith and should stop trying to convert others.

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Simply an answer to the question in the thread title, there is no legitimate reason to leave. I have heard many, have not heard a legitimate one.

That is because you are a believer. If you believe it is truth, how could there be a legitimate reason?

What you lack is the ability to see the LDS church as something other than the truth. If you could see that, the number of legitimate reasons to leave might approach infinity...but seriously, it is probably a number closer in the thousands.

No lack of ability to see the LDS Church is something other than truth. It is true, I know it to be. A truth I had to determine myself. I do not hold members of other religions to the same standard, but if one is LDS, then one has the truth, it just depends on what you do with it. Reference the parable from Christ about the sower.

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So to summarize:

-Didn't lose my testimony due to past sin or desire to committ future sin (you'll just have to trust me on this although from what some of you have written, I know you won't. Oh well).

-Didn't lose my testimony because I was already on the high road to apostasy due to not accepting Church doctrine.

-Didn't lose my testimony because Bishop X looked at me cross-eyed one day in Church.

-Didn't lose my testimony because I felt being a member was "too hard', "too time-consuming", or "too expensive".

I truly do not consider my views superior to those of believing members. I freely admit that I could be wrong, but I highly doubt that I'll ever *know* whether I'm wrong or not. The only conclusion that I've come to so far that I've been comfortable with, is that I don't know ANYTHING about God. I am very interested in trying to understand how so many members, when presented with the exact same information, are able to retain their testimonies. Finally, I truly appreciate the fact that there are believing members, like Kevin, who seem to "get it" in regards to loss of faith (i.e. it is possible for someone to leave the Church for intellectual reasons).

It absolutely amazes me how many people have this exact same experience. Even after spending a lot of time on ZLMB, FAIR and other forums (but never been to RFM, go figure), I always feel a twinge of surprise when I read something that so closely mirrors my own situation. I only wish there were some way to know how many members are going through the same thing.

I think what some people on this thread are misunderstanding is the anxious desire that many doubters have had for the Church to be true. We want it to be true with all our hearts. Even to this day, I wish God would answer my prayers and let me know that the Book of Mormon is historically true.

I also wonder if those in our situation are a blip on the Church's radar, or if they're just more focused on the hundreds of thousands of recent converts who fall away.

But if the problem continues to grow, and one day the general authorities start to notice an increase in the number of BIC members who no longer attend because of an intellectual disbelief in Joseph Smith's claims, what would they do? How would the Church respond?

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But if the problem continues to grow, and one day the general authorities start to notice an increase in the number of BIC members who no longer attend because of an intellectual disbelief in Joseph Smith's claims, what would they do? How would the Church respond?

I'm hoping for the announcement of a "metaphorical track" but I'm not holding my breath :P

--KY

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Ray:

With all due respect, I believe you're entirely missing the point. Assuming you're not just messing with us, the clarified statement is this: Yes, even exMormons sin, but we did NOT leave the church in order to justify our sins.

Do you see how that works?

If that isn't enough to illustrate my point, please allow me to indulge in a hypothetical example. Now, obviously this is only a parable, using absurdity to illustrate absurdity. But please play along for a moment:

You are a faithful member who genuinely loves the church and enjoys the fellowship of the Saints. You are also the 1st cousin of Gordon B. Hinckley. After Christmas dinner, you and he are lounging around in the family room. Everyone else is in another room. The conversation between you and he turns to the topic of the faithfulness of the general membership. After a while, he drops this bomb: "The part that still amazes us is that so many people still believe all this stuff! I mean, great scott, I can't believe that they haven't figured out it isn't true yet!"

Shocked and amazed, you return home. You can hardly eat or sleep for the next few days. You have to call in sick from work repeatedly because you cannot concentrate on anything else. You do not answer the phone or talk to anyone during this entire time.

After several days of this, you conclude that the church isn't true and decide to leave it.

NOW, did you leave the church because you wanted to sin, because the Bishop offended you, or because you were "burned out?" Or did you leave because you came the to the conclusion that it isn't true?

Please ponder those questions for a bit.

Dear Ray and Truth:

I strongly urge you to read this essay and give us your opinion of it.

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By saying that I "didn't lose my testimony due to past sin or desire to commit future sin", I was referring to those sins that would keep me from obtaining a temple recommend (i.e. WoW, sexual, abuse, etc...).  I'll even add to that masturbation and porn.  To the former, I can unequivocally say that I never have done that.  A brother-in-law of mine called me a liar when I told him that, I guess because he had such a problem with it as a teenager that he can't even comprehend how someone wouldn't. 

Interestingly another exmo, one Steve Benson, also made the same claim on RFM, in one of his anecdotal accounts, and I find no reason to disbelieve him, he said he slipped up once (with masturbation). There are what I would call "relatively perfect upright people" who leave the church all the time. My ex-wife was one. But years later I have to be honest and tell you that she went the very opposite way, and like Mr.Benson is now atheist, and while I don't make this charge against Benson, I can tell you that my ex is now a very less than moral person. She went down a real moral slippery slope and lost a great deal of her ethical principles.

Now here's the crux, and I can only speak from my experience and what I personally knew of her over 25 years: She was never really a strong believer. From day one. She always had trouble reading the scriptures and praying. I note that you had a similar problem. To the contrary, with all of my weaknesses I have never had that problem. You sound even a bit self-righteous about your avoidance of alcohol (I'm not being judgemental here), but I was and still am the sort of person who can get blind drunk like Noah, pray, and get remarkable answers to my prayers - I do it ALL the time! I never cease to be amazed. That is what has enabled me to keep my belief in God and the BoM, and in Mormonism to some degree, and even Mormons disagree with me on that.

This is a complex discussion, and I don't think we are dealing in moral absolutes here, but I do really think that faith has less to do with morality, and far more to do with, well, FAITH. I have said this before - you can be as perfect as Job yet still deny God and truth. I also think that many exmos have a kind of hang-over about "works" and their importantce. They are important, but not nearly as important as faith, and that, unfortunately, is where most of them lack, not in works, but in faith. I think that faith coupled with real sound knowledge can stop cynicism, apostasy, and atheism. It hasn't stopped inactivity in the church for me, but that's another issue with which I've dealt above.

An exmo telling us about how righteous he/she is, to me, sounds like a real "hangover" from TBM days. And I say that because I genuinely think that works do not play as important a role as faith. Because ultimately, faith is what matters, and faith is what leads to good works, in the end, even if it takes a lifetime. Once that faith is gone, no matter how good you are you will "depart from God", and I believe that your mind wll then go into spiritual darkness, and eventually lead down a path of less rectitude for those who were almost "perfect" Mormons:

The following people were far from being "good Mormons". Look in particular at Rahab the harlot (a harlot can sometimes have more faith than what I losely term a "good Mormon" without faith):

Hebrews 11:

1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

  2For by it the elders obtained a good report.

  3Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

  4By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

  5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

  6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

  7By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

  8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

  9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

  10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

  11Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

  12Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

  13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

  14For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

  15And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

  16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

  17By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

  18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

  19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

  20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

  21By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

  22By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

  23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.

  24By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;

  25Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

  26Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

  27By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

  28Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

  29By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

  30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

  31By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

  32And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

  33Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.

  34Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

  35Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

  36And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

  37They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

  38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

  39And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

  40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

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Shades, your article is fundamentally flawed. I disagree with the whole thesis that "the true believer must assume that their own particular system of faith is so obviously true that no open-minded seeker who is fully appraised of the facts can fail to accept it."

I'm a true believer and I don't believe that.

Sounds like a strawman to me.

I also note the exmo jargon du jour of "cognative dissonance" which is applied to EVERYTHING lately, thanks to one Canadian in particular.

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When I hear a Mormon or ex-Mormon talking about avoiding alcohol, I like to think of Christ sipping on wine while being charged with being a "glutton and a winebibber".

I re-iterate my point: Real faith does not come by nor is manifest by "good works". It all starts with faith. If that faith is not present, or is lost, then atheism is just around the corner.

I also believe Joseph Smith's revelation on the nature of intelligence (D&C 93), and in the importance of works, and that eventually abiding by the laws of God bring "more light and knowledge". But no matter how good we are we can never get to that point without faith. That's why I think two people can look at the same problems in Mormonism and one will lose faith and the other won't. I am not downplaying the importance of knowledge and truth, but you need faith to have proper knowledge, well rounded knowledge. That my opinion, and I find that people who draw away from God, light, and spiritual truth descend into triviality. They become illogical and one-sided. I can think of no better example of how truth expands a person's mind than (the pipe-smoking, alcohol drinking) C.S.Lewis, whose writings to me breathe sound logic, as do so many others, not the least being Tolstoy as well. I just don't find atheist writing very enlightening at all.

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Dear Ray and Truth:

I strongly urge you to read this essay and give us your opinion of it.

Have no time left today as I'm in the midst of packing. But I'll try to give it a read on the weekend and reply.

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Another thing I'd like to add before I'm off: I have noted that Mormons and Christians who "do good works" sometimes tend to be over-righteous. Arrington and Bitton mentioned this too in their book The Mormon Experience. I think that is also a failing, and I don't exempt myself. I think this is why, actually, many Mormons even come to dislike themselves and leave. They can't stand their own self-righteousness. LOL!

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You're right, Ray, it takes great faith to believe in some things.

I agree that if you have enough faith there is nothing that will convince you that Mormonism is false.

But let's face it: If you have enough faith, there is nothing that will convince you that the earth is round.

Now, of course I recognize that that was an absurd example. But the absurdity with which that example is proffered is indicative of the spectrum between obvious facts, truths, etc. and not-so-obvious ones.

Yes, it takes a lot of faith to believe that the Earth is flat, but if one has enough faith, it can be done.

However, it takes very, very little faith to believe that the sky looks blue.

The question of whether or not Mormonism is true lies, like most things, somewhere in the middle of those two examples. As I mentioned earlier, to some people, entering into polyandry with another man's wife may cause them to say "amen to the priesthood and authority of that man." But another person might have enough faith to ignore polyandry altogether. But did people in the first group come to their conclusions because of their sins?

So yes, you're right. People like me may have given the intellect priority over faith. But is that a sin? Is the intellect not meant to be used? Can not faith be placed in untrue things--such as the Earth being flat or the Catholic Church--thereby becoming a liability to progress?

Likewise, if an investigator were to tell a missionary, "Yes, I have read the Book of Mormon. Yes, I have felt the spirit. But I have faith that Mormonism is untrue," would faith still be a laudable thing in that situation?

Once again, Ray, you appear to have drifted off-topic. The original post of this thread was in regard to the question of whether there are any "real reasons" that people leave the church, or if they left precisely because of the reasons they say they did. Beowulf, Dr. Peterson, and Wade assume the former. Those of us who have undergone the process for ourselves know the latter.

So, Ray, can faith ever become a liability? And can a person honestly come to the conclusion that the church is false without there being any "hidden demons?"

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The question of whether or not Mormonism is true lies, like most things, somewhere in the middle of those two examples. As I mentioned earlier, to some people, entering into polyandry with another man's wife may cause them to say "amen to the priesthood and authority of that man." But another person might have enough faith to ignore polyandry altogether. But did people in the first group come to their conclusions because of their sins?

Dr. Shades,

I believe in large measure, you have described the polarization that occurs on this forum. Well put.

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Shades,

It's a pity that I can only afford a few minutes to reply while packing my stuff, because you raise many interesting issues. But I'll take a few minutes break and grab a coffee while I afford myself the luxury of a short reply, for now.

Yes, it takes a lot of faith to believe that the Earth is flat, but if one has enough faith, it can be done.

However, it takes very, very little faith to believe that the sky looks blue.

This is where you're going wrong, Shades, we're not talking here about arbitary, whimsical, made-up evidence. I see considerable evidence for near death experiences, for example, and I recently backed this by quoting Dr. Susan Blackmore who, after 30 years of skepticism about the reality of NDEs, has said that "they might be true"! This what continually seems to elude so many. Let me reiterate: The foremost skeptic of NDEs, with a Ph.D gained in near death studies some 30 years ago, has concluded, yes concluded that there is not enough evidence to say one way or the other whether NDEs are real or not. Now, if you go on RFM, and in other skeptical circles you'll hear the very opposite, things like "science has debunked NDEs", or "science has shown that NDEs are a result of brain functions". It has done no such thing. But how long do I have to repeat endlessly to the skeptics, who want to believe their own versions, that there is no conclusive evidence either way. So Shades, we are not here talking about blue sky, or things that we can tangibly see, but about things for which we have intensive study done with no final verdict: except that it may or may not be true. Let's get that clear. We are not talking about voodoo or superstition, but empirical research. We are not talking about flat earth, and your lumping this issue with far more serious and credible metaphysical issues is a bit hasty.

When it comes to the BoM you seem to think that I and others go on faith alone. Well maybe some Mormons do, I am sure, and I have met them, but I most categorically do not! I see very similar evidence backing the BoM as I do with NDEs, both of which I have been studying for 30-plus years. You are not making proper demarcation lines when you lump that in-depth study with flat earths and blue skies. We are talking here about real evidence, mountains of which have been produced by FARMS in regard to the BoM, and in NDE circles by many worldwide near death studies organisations. There is even a journal devoted to this study titled Journal of Near Death Studies. This is housed in university libraries. Have you ever seen the Journal of Flat Earth Studies in univeristy libraries? Maybe you get my point?

I only have time to reply to one more point you made, because my coffee just ran out, and my time is about to run out, and my packing is patiently waiting.

So, Ray, can faith ever become a liability? And can a person honestly come to the conclusion that the church is false without there being any "hidden demons?"

To that question I answer a resounding YES! But I have not reached that conclusion, not even after 30 years of studying Mormonism. I know you have, and I respect your conclusion. I don't mean that flippantly. What I don't respect is people trying to bully and cajole Mormons out of their faith based on their conclusions which have not been weighed and tested empirically, and who dismiss FARMS, FAIR, et al., as quasi-scholarly organisations, etc. If they can do it with reason, and not label Mormons as dumb, stupid, narrow-minded, naive and gullible, then I can respect that approach as well. But the way some exmos go on you'd think that Mormons must have 10 percent of a brain because they still believe. I think they believe with very good reason, as well as intuition, and I respect that too.

My time just ran out.

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Ray A:

It looks like we're getting closer, since I agree with everything you wrote.

Now, bringing this topic back to focus, let me ask:

Yes, there just may be good evidence for NDEs. But if someone examines the evidence and yet concludes that NDEs aren't what they're claimed to be, did he or she do so due to intellectual reasons, or because he or she wanted to experiment with new sins?

Yes, there just may be good evidence for UFOs. But if someone examines the evidence and yet concludes that UFOs aren't what they're claimed to be, did he or she do so due to intellectual reasons, or because he or she got "burned out" by the high expectations?

SIMILARLY:

Yes, there just may be good evidence for Mormonism. But if someone examines the evidence and yet concludes that Mormonism isn't what it claims to be, did he or she do so due to intellectual reasons, or because he or she was offended?

Do you see where I'm going with this, and can you therefore agree that Beowulf's observations of "inner demons" are not automatic in each case?

Dr. Peterson:

I apologize for misrepresenting your position. It was unintentional. That said, what is your position? Do apostates always have "real reasons," or is it possible that some/many may have left because they simply became convinced that it isn't true?

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I apologize for misrepresenting your position.  It was unintentional.  That said, what is your position?  Do apostates always have "real reasons," or is it possible that some/many may have left because they simply became convinced that it isn't true?

Apology accepted. I tried to lay my views out in my very first post on this thread, which you may or may not have seen. Here's the relevant part:

All of the following rests upon on the assumption that the Church is indeed God's true church, and that Mormonism is, in its essence, God's unique saving truth.  (Without that assumption, the question seems somewhat pointless.)

From the perspective of eternity, there can be no legitimate reason for leaving the Church of God or for turning one's back upon God's revealed truth and will.  Such a decision is simply and always wrong.

However, our knowledge here is limited, fragmentary, imperfect, and distorted.  So it's possible that one can leave the Church for reasons that, given the flawed nature of our knowledge in mortality, genuinely appear to be good and sufficient.  It's a matter of our perceptions.

But our perceptions are always colored by our own individual personal history, character, knowledge, ignorance, desires, mental and emotional health, ambitions, etc.  So no decision to accept the gospel or to reject it is likely to be purely rational, uncolored by "personal" factors. 

We can trust that God knows this and appreciates it far better than we do, and that, in his mercy, he will take such factors into account.  Those who have sincerely done their best will, I believe, be blessed for it, even if they took mistaken detours.  On the other hand, I wouldn't want to tempt God.  And those who have lived carelessly, heedlessly, and cynically, are also living recklessly.

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It absolutely amazes me how many people have this exact same experience.  Even after spending a lot of time on ZLMB, FAIR and other forums (but never been to RFM, go figure), I always feel a twinge of surprise when I read something that so closely mirrors my own situation.  I only wish there were some way to know how many members are going through the same thing. 

Every week in EQ, I look around the room and wonder "is there anyone else in here that feels the way I do?" I suspect the numbers are higher than we think.

But if the problem continues to grow, and one day the general authorities start to notice an increase in the number of BIC members who no longer attend because of an intellectual disbelief in Joseph Smith's claims, what would they do?  How would the Church respond?

Very interesting questions, cinepro. I suspect the number of BICs who fall away because of intellectual disbelief will continue to grow. I highly doubt the Church will ever directly address the situation. The view will be that it's simply a "separation of the wheat from the chaff".

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I strongly urge you to read this essay and give us your opinion of it.

Dr Shades -- Thanks for the link to the essay. I found it very interesting and enjoyed reading it.

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Interestingly another exmo, one Steve Benson, also made the same claim on RFM, in one of his anecdotal accounts, and I find no reason to disbelieve him, he said he slipped up once (with masturbation). There are what I would call "relatively perfect upright people" who leave the church all the time.

The idea of perfection is completely abstract to me. I don't really know what it is or how it can be defined. However, in my own eyes, I am far from what anyone would consider even close to perfect. I've got all sort of issues and character flaws that I'm working on. I can be a real jerk at times, and I realize it and am trying to be better. But this thread isn't all about me, so I won't elaborate further. :P

Now here's the crux, and I can only speak from my experience and what I personally knew of her over 25 years: She was never really a strong believer. From day one. She always had trouble reading the scriptures and praying.  I note that you had a similar problem.
I'm not sure that not reading scriptures and praying regularly necessarily means that I was never a strong believer. In my mind, I had a strong testimony and took the Church seriously. I guess you could argue that I didn't take it seriously enough, because I didn't always read the BoM 20 minutes a day, pray morning and night, or attend the temple once a week. I might be going out on a limb here, but I suspect that a lot of faithful members struggle with the same things.
To the contrary, with all of my weaknesses I have never had that problem. You sound even a bit self-righteous about your avoidance of alcohol (I'm not being judgemental here)

I apologize if I came across as being self-righteousness. I can't stand people who are self-righteous, and yet I'm guilty of it being that way all the time. :unsure: Let me clarify a bit. I grew up with an older sibling who was an alcoholic (he was out of the house by the time I was aware of the problem, luckily). Long story short, I witnessed first hand some of the truly horrible things that alcohol did to his life. That was more than enough of a deterrent to keep me from ever trying alcohol. More so, than being a member of a church that prohibited alcohol use. I fully realize that most people who drink, do so responsibly and it doesn't affect their lives in the least. I don't look down on people who drink. A couple of times, as I've been away on business trips over the past few months, I've thought about buying a bottle of wine or a six-pack and trying it just to see what it feels like to get "buzzed". No one would know, right? The problem is, some of the terrible images of my brother flash through my mind and any desire to experiment quickly goes away. I made a committment to myself as a fairly young kid that I wouldn't ever use drugs or alcohol, and I intend to stick to that committment, not because the Church tells me I should, but because I tell myself I should.

This is a complex discussion, and I don't think we are dealing in moral absolutes here, but I do really think that faith has less to do with morality, and far more to do with, well, FAITH. I have said this before - you can be as perfect as Job yet still deny God and truth. I also think that many exmos have a kind of hang-over about "works" and their importantce. They are important, but not nearly as important as faith, and that, unfortunately, is where most of them lack, not in works, but in faith. I think that faith coupled with real sound knowledge can stop cynicism, apostasy, and atheism.
I agree, this is a complex discussion and a fun one at that. As far as faith goes, I put my faith into a particular set of beliefs for the 30+ years I spent in the Church. When I found out that my faith was perhaps displaced because I was never told the "whole story", not only did my belief in Mormonism slip away, but the idea of faith in general became foreign to me. So for now, all I can do is try to be a decent person (i.e. have good works).
An exmo telling us about how righteous he/she is, to me, sounds like a real "hangover" from TBM days. And I say that because I genuinely think that works do not play as important a role as faith. Because ultimately, faith is what matters, and faith is what leads to good works, in the end, even if it takes a lifetime.

Again, I apologize that my post came across as "look at how good I am", I didn't intend it that way. I was only trying to point out that I didn't have problems with the "biggie" sins that would keep me from getting a TR. Also, I absolutely disagree that faith (as in faith in God) is the only thing that leads to good works. I believe that there is an innate desire in most people to be kind and decent. Even if that desire stems from the fact that when I do something nice for someone, I feel good. To me, it has very little if anything to do with faith.

Once that faith is gone, no matter how good you are you will "depart from God", and I believe that your mind wll then go into spiritual darkness, and eventually lead down a path of less rectitude for those who were almost "perfect" Mormons

I wasn't an almost perfect Mormon, I promise. <_<

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Another thing I'd like to add before I'm off: I have noted that Mormons and Christians who "do good works" sometimes tend to be over-righteous. Arrington and Bitton mentioned this too in their book The Mormon Experience. I think that is also a failing, and I don't exempt myself. I think this is why, actually, many Mormons even come to dislike themselves and leave. They can't stand their own self-righteousness. LOL!

You know what, I don't think you are that far off!! :P

Oh, and BTW, good luck with your packing (I assume that you are packing for a move(?)). If that's the case, I don't envy you at all. I hate moving. Hope it goes well.

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However, our knowledge here is limited, fragmentary, imperfect, and distorted.

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Thank you, Samwise. I thought it was a reasonable (and reasonably obvious) thing to say, and have been quite surprised at the angry responses it's drawn from a few. I'm very pleased that you seem to have understood what I said, and the spirit in which I said it. Sincerely.

DCP said
I'm not sure if I know of a single case of purely intellectual apostasy.

Not a single case, eh? Perhaps you could let us know the personal demons that led Tal Bachman and Bob McCue away from the truth. Arrogance? Marital infidelity? (I know Bob has been accused of both). If I'm not mistaken, you've corresponded with Mr Bachman for some time- maybe this communication has given you unique insight into his true reason for leaving the church.

Personally, I believe both of them when they say they left the church for purely intellectual reasons. But then, that's the advantage which the believer enjoys- taking primary sources at face value.

I missed this gem when M. LeCurelom posted it.

M. LeCurelom wants to believe that I impute serious sin to all who reject Mormonism, as an explanation for their apostasy. I don't, of course -- though I've seen enough instances of precisely that to understand that it's not exactly uncommon.

I corresponded with Tal Bachman for a very brief while. He had already concluded that I was a sociopath, however, and he soon broke off contact with me. Since then, he has connected me with Nazism and postmodernist irrationality. (A rather bracing accusation, really, for someone who inclines to libertarianism and very much dislikes postmodernism. It's been fascinating to watch.) But I will not comment upon specific cases such as those of Mr. Bachman and Bob McCue. Candidly, I have a hunch about each of those two individuals. But I've never even met them and don't know them personally, so I could easily be wrong. Anyway, it's not my role to judge them, and it certainly isn't my function to pronounce public judgment on them.

I'm sorry if that disappoints M. LeCurelom.

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