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Secularization Hits the Mormons

At least 40% of those in my own family and other active families I know who were raised in the LDS faith have left the church.  

89 members have voted

  1. 1. At least 40% of those in my own family and other active families I know who were raised in the LDS faith have left the church.

    • True
      28
    • False
      61
  2. 2. I believe God is a real “exalted person of bone and flesh"

    • True
      65
    • False
      24
  3. 3. I believe that Jesus was literally resurrected.

    • True
      71
    • False
      18


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46 minutes ago, Spammer said:

That’s precisely it. Arius taught there was a time when Christ was  not, making Christ a creature (he was created), the same as us. For Athanasius’s orthodox catholic party, that doctrine destroys the divinity of Christ, since divinity is one, eternal and indivisible. That was the crux of that and subsequent controversies, up to and including the Council of Chalcedon: how is Christ both God and man? how is that union to be understood without diminishing the fullness of either?  

The orthodox party believed that Arius and the subsequent heretical  groups (Nestorians, miaphysites, monothelites, etc) leaned too far either way, diminishing Christ’s divinity or his humanity, making our salvation impossible. Our salvation requires that the fully divine assumes full humanity. “What has not been assumed has not been healed” (St Gregory Nazianzus). If Christ was more God than man (not fully human) or more man than God (not fully God), then our humanity could not be healed and divinized. Only the fully divine fully divinizes; only the fully human is fully healed. If Christ was only part human (half God, half man), only part of our humanity is healed: the part divinity unites with.

Arius’s teaching that there was a time when Christ was not meant, to the orthodox party, that Christ is therefore not divine, that Christ’s incarnation did not join divinity to our humanity, meaning we were not and cannot be saved. Remember, all of them, including Arius, believed in ex nihilo. For the orthodox party, divinity is uncreated. For Arius, Christ is a created God. That’s two gods, an impossibility. There can only be one God, not two. Therefore, Jesus was not divine. Hence, the controversy. 

Well, I think Arius was saying there was a time when the Son was not... but even Tertullian said that. And I believe that. That doesn't mean Yeshua didn't exist, it means He at one time was not the only begotten/unique Son. This is why i feel he was opposed to the Orthodox definition which insisted Christ was always Christ even before the world was formed. Arius felt begottenness meant a beginning. I feel orthodoxy made begottenness essentially meaningless. Unfortunately, essentially all of Arius' writings have been destroyed, but I don't believe he taught Yeshua was a created creature... I think that is a conclusion attributed to him by those such as Athanasius. And one has to admit that his body was created like the rest of us... He was begotten of a woman as an infant who grew inside of her like the rest of us. There is just no denying that.

To the argument that Arius implied Christ was a created God, I would say, I have seen no evidence of that. It is another conclusion attributed to him. Yeshua's spirit clearly existed before being embodied on earth. As YHVH Elohim, He was exempt from the veil of forgetfulness, and remembered the glory He had with the Father before the world was. God didn't create/form another God. He allowed one to become like Him... to prove Himself to the people. He became one with the Father...one Elohim or one family/immovable power. Yeshua is clearly a separate intellect with a separate will. Scripture tells us that He did not know all the Father knew, and that He was told what would happen before it came to pass. Even though He is YHVH Elohim with the Father, He is still the servant of the Most High power who even He acknowledges is greater than Him. Is someone's legal agent a separate power? No, he is the same power as the someone who empowered Him. Yeshua is not a separate god with separate power. It doesn't matter when He became the Father's legal agent. The law considers Him the same.

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The answers aren't as clear cut as the poll would imply.

I come from a large TBM family. If we're simply looking at activity rate we would be around 50% but no one has resigned. When we look at spouses it's about the same. But even with the 50% who are still very active, I see significant chinks in their armor. They view the church very differently than how we were raised.

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18 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

People do not know that "secular" actually means essentially "separation of church and state" and not "atheist"

Typically it's not just separation of church and state but relegation of religion to solely the private sphere. Of course formal secularists go farther than that as the Secular Humanist Manifesto suggests. There secularism was to be a replacement for religion. While the latter manifestos changed things somewhat (particularly due to how Nazism made people rethink some elements) I think that "new religion" aspect remains even if in a more subtle fashion. Yet looking at the move away from organized religion and the rise of the Nones, it's interesting how few become atheists. Even among the atheists many still adopt a kind of spiritualism in the sense of a wonder and transcendence. So I think when people speak of a rising secularism they primarily mean a feeling that organized religion is problematic, an emphasis on personal spirituality rather than public "facts" and a focus on personal actualism rather than duty particularly organized duties. The Nones fit the bill quite well. (IMO)

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

Well, I think Arius was saying there was a time when the Son was not... but even Tertullian said that. And I believe that. That doesn't mean Yeshua didn't exist, it means He at one time was not the only begotten/unique Son. This is why i feel he was opposed to the Orthodox definition which insisted Christ was always Christ even before the world was formed. Arius felt begottenness meant a beginning. I feel orthodoxy made begottenness essentially meaningless. Unfortunately, essentially all of Arius' writings have been destroyed, but I don't believe he taught Yeshua was a created creature... I think that is a conclusion attributed to him by those such as Athanasius. And one has to admit that his body was created like the rest of us... He was begotten of a woman as an infant who grew inside of her like the rest of us. There is just no denying that.

To the argument that Arius implied Christ was a created God, I would say, I have seen no evidence of that. It is another conclusion attributed to him. Yeshua's spirit clearly existed before being embodied on earth. As YHVH Elohim, He was exempt from the veil of forgetfulness, and remembered the glory He had with the Father before the world was. God didn't create/form another God. He allowed one to become like Him... to prove Himself to the people. He became one with the Father...one Elohim or one family/immovable power. Yeshua is clearly a separate intellect with a separate will. Scripture tells us that He did not know all the Father knew, and that He was told what would happen before it came to pass. Even though He is YHVH Elohim with the Father, He is still the servant of the Most High power who even He acknowledges is greater than Him. Is someone's legal agent a separate power? No, he is the same power as the someone who empowered Him. Yeshua is not a separate god with separate power. It doesn't matter when He became the Father's legal agent. The law considers Him the same.

Arius taught there was a time when the Son did not exist, that “he was of the non-existent.”  See Arius’s letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia 

Two other letters from Arius survive in quoted form. One to Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, and his confession to Constantine. His surviving letters is how we know he believed in ex nihilo creation and that the Son was once non-existent. If, as Arius taught, Christ was once non-existent, then he’s a creature and if God, them a created God. The conclusion follows from Christ’s original non-existence.

Google Arius’s letters and you can find and read them.

Edited by Spammer

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3 minutes ago, Spammer said:

Arius taught there was a time when the Son did not exist, that “he was of the non-existent.”  See Arius’s letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia 

Two other letters from Arius survive in quoted form. One to his bishop, Alexander of Alexandria, and his confession to Constantine. That’s how we know he believed in ex nihilo creation and that the Son was once non-existent. 

Google them and you’ll find them.

I know he had some letters supposedly copied by others or responded to by others. That is about the closest we come to any of his writings existing, so I think it is difficult to say exactly what he believed or taught. I am not particularly defending him or saying I agree with him. I feel in one way he was closer to the truth than orthodoxy... that Yeshua was begotten of the Father, and was not the Son before He said to Him "thou art my Son, this day I have begotten thee." In that much I agree with Arius, and not orthodoxy. I believe Christ was spiritually begotten as the Son as a calling, and that His divine relationship with the Father is one of priesthood covenant manifested in the above oath. I do not agree that Christ was ever non-existent, but then I feel none of us were ever non-existent. I believe we have existed as spirits before the world was. I'm sure that is heretical to orthodoxy. Scripture teaches that Christ inherited His name. He inherits all the Father has. Trying to make Him some lesser but equivalent part of the Father who comes to earth for us, just takes the meaning out of His work and atonement... imho. Which is why long ago I rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, RevTestament said:

I know he had some letters supposedly copied by others or responded to by others. That is about the closest we come to any of his writings existing, so I think it is difficult to say exactly what he believed or taught. I am not particularly defending him or saying I agree with him. I feel in one way he was closer to the truth than orthodoxy... that Yeshua was begotten of the Father, and was not the Son before He said to Him "thou art my Son, this day I have begotten thee." In that much I agree with Arius, and not orthodoxy. I believe Christ was spiritually begotten as the Son as a calling, and that His divine relationship with the Father is one of priesthood covenant manifested in the above oath. I do not agree that Christ was ever non-existent, but then I feel none of us were ever non-existent. I believe we have existed as spirits before the world was. I'm sure that is heretical to orthodoxy. Scripture teaches that Christ inherited His name. He inherits all the Father has. Trying to make Him some lesser but equivalent part of the Father who comes to earth for us, just takes the meaning out of His work and atonement... imho. Which is why long ago I rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.

Yes, I understand. I’m only clarifying what Arius actually believed based on his preserved writings.

The only reason we know anything at all about Arius’s teaching that you are able to agree with or not is because the orthodox party quoted a few of his letters entire, quoted snippets of others, and described his teaching and why they found it objectionable. In other words, absolutely everything we know about Arius is filtered and reported by orthodox writers exclusively and if we don’t take them at their word when they say ‘Arius wrote this’ or ‘said this,’ then we can know nothing about Arius.

A quick response to something you said: “Trying to make Him some lesser but equivalent part of the Father...Which is why long ago I rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.” 

“Trying to make Him some lesser but equivalent part of the Father” is not part of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Son is not lesser. He is coequal and fully God just as much as the Father.

Edited by Spammer
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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

I deeply respect that position. It worked to keep Christianity on earth in some form for 2,000 years.

But frankly as I read through your very accurate and terse summary, all I see is linguistic confusion. I see categories being created that are simply words and words that cannot be defined.

It's all about definitions of man-made words and man-made categories.

Of course anything in language is.

The simplest solution is pretty clear to me that being human has the potential of also being divine, in one nature. "Divinity" is just a word, one might say that it is a cause for spiritual experience. It is what we experience when we experience the spirit.

Being human is just a word for the way we are when we are not having a spiritual experience. 

These are just ways we experience the world, not two "natures". They are both parts of human nature, and cannot really be divided. It's like trying to decide if butterfly nature is actually two natures or one, the nature of being a butterfly, a caterpillar that can become a butterfly.

As we grow in the gospel we have the potential to become more and more divine, meaning being more spiritual and closer to God

Simple and clear.

It's all about becoming the best we can be, "best" being defined as more like our conception of God. The English word God even comes from the word good, giving us the idea of goodness, or getting to the root of it, goodness IS "Godness." One letter, one squiggle on a page in English creates two words instead of one and suddenly two natures instead of one,  -  that one squiggle suddenly creates all these distinctions that caused all this confusion. Goodness is Goodness. Seeing it that way,  "being good" means we are being more like God at that moment.

Anyone can understand those words.

Frankly it's hard for me to hear all that and not believe that there was an apostasy. 

Every distinction there can easily be deconstructed and disappear.

It all boils down to our definition of divinity, doesn’t it? I can’t conceive of a limited, contingent being as divine. Even if that being has the power to throw planets around and teleport here and there at will. To me, that’s only a very powerful alien, not God. It’s even weirder if I’m told that being is really my dad. Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Besides, I don’t need a god who’s made of matter and lives alongside me in the universe. God is not necessary to explain matter organized, even the matter of my brain. The laws of physics explain how and why everything in the cosmos is organized as it is. In fact, they explain Him. We’re on the same continuum. His distance from me is only a matter of degrees. Sure, it’s wise to pay attention to him and ask Him for stuff, but I don’t need Him to explain anything about the cosmos. Remove Him from existence and everything remains exactly the same. All belief in Him offers is hope for an afterlife. His existence explains nothing about the nature of the cosmos.

For me, positing a material god with a spatial-temporal location leads (led) me right to atheism. So, I start with a different definition of the divine, one which offers an explanation for the one thing the laws of physics can’t explain: why anything exists at all. 

Edited by Spammer
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21 minutes ago, Spammer said:

It all boils down to our definition of divinity, doesn’t it? I can’t conceive of a limited, contingent being as divine. Even if that being has the power to throw planets around and teleport here and there at will. To me, that’s only a very powerful alien, not God. It’s even weirder if I’m told that being is really my dad. Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Besides, I don’t need a god who’s made of matter and lives alongside me in the universe. God is not necessary to explain matter organized, even the matter of my brain. The laws of physics explain how and why everything in the cosmos is organized as it is. For me, positing a material god with a spatial-temporal location leads (led) me right to atheism. So, I start with a different definition of the divine, one which offers an explanation for the one thing the laws of physics can’t explain: why anything exists at all. 

Yes, definition is everything. For the pantheist, God's existence is demonstrated without any question. But non-pantheists don't define God that way, so it's not impressive or meaningful to say God is the universe and God exists. So definition is everything.

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19 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Dr Zuckerman began right off the bat with the following prejudicial statements (maybe you missed them):

That is not the sort of even-handed and scholarly statement I expect from a professor at the Claremont Colleges (where he could very easily have consulted the resident LDS expert).

I recently attended a lecture by Jana at a Women's Conference at UVU, and found her presentation balanced and delightful -- based on the same book of research.  He was instead very selective and deeply prejudiced, based apparently on his hard-line secularist POV.  One of Jana's presentations is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul2Nd-cNij8 , but I can't find her other presentations there;  However, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9ZBNHa9pr4 .

And here is an earlier presentation by her on the same subject at UVU in 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfBHaZx17c4 .

I'm sure Dr Zuckerman would be disappointed that you found his article lacked the delightfulness you were hoping for.

But that wasn't my question.  His point seems to be that there is a growing "secularization" in the CoJCoLdS, with younger generations taking a less literal approach to some of the supernatural claims of the Church.

Specifically, he makes these claims:
 

Quote

-As is the case with most religions here in the United States, Mormon growth is starting to slow.

-Their strength is starting to fray.

-The great wave of secularization that has swept this country in recent decades – with more and more people rejecting their religious upbringing and leaving their religious institutions, and many others becoming atheists or agnostics – is also lapping at the knees of the LDS Church.

He then goes on to support those claims with data from the Riess survey (as well as the articles linked in the claims themselves).  Do you feel any of those claims are unsupported by the data?

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13 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I'm sure Dr Zuckerman would be disappointed that you found his article lacked the delightfulness you were hoping for.

I think some qualms might be with his "View of the Hebrews" quip at the beginning which seemed out of line for the theme of the article. While I retweeted the link, I have to admit I found that rather offputting even if his demographic claims were rather mundane if a bit problematically marshalled in a few places. For instance on the "know God is real" bit the obvious reason why younger members are less sure than older members is that over time the less sure leave the fold. So it's an inappropriate comparison in some ways simply due to the relationship over time between belief and membership. Likewise his use of the Adam and Eve question is just plain stupid. I wouldn't make any claim of knowing when Adam and Eve were created for instance. It could have been 100,000 years ago for all I know. 

His main point though is that if the secularization move is hitting even Mormons it must be a strong force. That I certainly agree with. How long the trend will last isn't at all clear. It's worth noting that if the two surveys from the 60's by Mauss are to be believed, we went radically the other direction in the 70's through 90's. That is, I think we're not even remotely at the place Mauss' survey put us in the 60's. (Recognizing that even in the 60's San Francisco was a bit odd) 

I suspect things will be bad over at least the next five years - if only due to the large societal tensions we find ourselves in. If this current Trump era is a repeat of the late 60's though, then we may well find a retrenchment in society after it is completed.

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4 hours ago, Spammer said:

Yes, I understand. I’m only clarifying what Arius actually believed based on his preserved writings.

The only reason we know anything at all about Arius’s teaching that you are able to agree with or not is because the orthodox party quoted a few of his letters entire, quoted snippets of others, and described his teaching and why they found it objectionable. In other words, absolutely everything we know about Arius is filtered and reported by orthodox writers exclusively and if we don’t take them at their word when they say ‘Arius wrote this’ or ‘said this,’ then we can know nothing about Arius.

A quick response to something you said: “Trying to make Him some lesser but equivalent part of the Father...Which is why long ago I rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.” 

“Trying to make Him some lesser but equivalent part of the Father” is not part of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Son is not lesser. He is coequal and fully God just as much as the Father.

I wasn't trying to put words in your mouth or define the doctrine of the trinity for you. I believe I know what it once was and now is. I admit that I am giving my interpretation of the effect of the doctrine of the trinity... that God sends a lesser or human part of Himself to save us. Clearly the Father is omnipotent and knows His plan for the earth, while I believe scripture shows the Son is not, but rather is told what will happen by the Father. I do not believe Christ had the title of the Most High El. Luke says He was the Son of the Most High. But that is getting into a whole other subject where I feel orthodoxy erred. In virtually all other ways, Christ was the Father, and showed us plainly of the Father up on the cross as He says. Thus as YHVH Elohim, they both tell us "I have engraven you on the palms of my hands..." Isa 49:16.

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On 5/8/2019 at 11:06 AM, MiserereNobis said:

Rainbow gathering?

Rainbow gatherings have the best baked goods!

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6 hours ago, cinepro said:

I'm sure Dr Zuckerman would be disappointed that you found his article lacked the delightfulness you were hoping for.

Dr Zuckerman, who is a professor of secular studies, is deliberately vicious and unbalanced in his selection of data to present, but only after prejudicing his readers against the LDS Church by making several false and anti-Mormon statements.  It may be that, as a secular Jew, he has deep-seated hatred for religion in general and Christianity in particular -- his people having suffered centuries of rape and murder at the hands of so-called "Christians."  Venting his spleen may make him feel good, but it should not be confused with dispassionate scholarship.

6 hours ago, cinepro said:

But that wasn't my question.  His point seems to be that there is a growing "secularization" in the CoJCoLdS, with younger generations taking a less literal approach to some of the supernatural claims of the Church.....................................

He then goes on to support those claims with data from the Riess survey (as well as the articles linked in the claims themselves).  Do you feel any of those claims are unsupported by the data?

I have no problem with Jana's work, and find that her presentations are balanced and fair.  I agree that members of the LDS Church members are becoming more secularized.  We have had that discussion several times on this board.  Perhaps you'd like to go back and review my own claims that the West in general (including LDS members) is becoming more secular.  I have made that point many times.  Jana Riess is not the first scholar to have taken notice of that fact.  Three is plenty of data showing that.

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Posted (edited)
On ‎5‎/‎9‎/‎2019 at 8:06 AM, lostindc said:

The access to information destroyed the testimonies of my family and my wife's family. 

I don't want to gainsay this, but I sincerely don't get it. A testimony is merely a statement of what one has been personal witness to. I find it inexplicable that 'access to information' -- whatever that's meant to mean -- could somehow 'destroy' what one genuinely knows through personal experience.

For example, in March my best mate and I took his 12-year-old son camping. We spent the night on the rim of our nation's deepest gorge, and the next morning we climbed down, through, and back out of it. If necessary, I could testify to all of the above. I can't for the life of me imagine what kind of information could alter or remove what I know about what I experienced over that roughly 24-hour period.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan

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4 hours ago, Anonymous Mormon said:

I definitely agree that online Pornography and dating sites (and all that goes with them) plays a huge role in causing a loss of faith and a desire to leave the church. However I am biased, because these things were at the heart of times when I questioned my faith.

I believe that a much larger percentage of men in the church view online pornography than ever admit it or deal with it. In fact, because I am fairly open about my past with other men, I can say that of all the men who attend church that I have ever spoken with, just about all of them have admitted or hinted that they have struggled with this as well. And I am not casting stones at them, because it is everywhere online and we are online constantly. 

But it is very emotionally draining to view online pornography (or chat rooms, cam rooms, online relationships, etc.) and feel good about going to church, taking the sacrament, attending the temple, giving blessings to your family, baptizing your children, etc. One of the ways I dealt with my  guilt and shame was to stop believing in the church. The world teaches that God doesn't exist and sex/porn are good - maybe they were right. Joseph Smith had all of those women, so I can view online pornography. I told myself these things to feel goo. I decided I would go through the motions spiritually because I loved my family and didn't want to hurt them and it didn't matter anyway since the church was all made up, but a good overall lifestyle. Then I could have both porn & the church and not feel bad for my lying and unworthiness.

But in the end it didn't work for me because I realized that viewing porn online wasn't enough and I had to either cross the line and interact with other women (online or in person) to get my fix, or I had to stop it all completely. Thankfully, I decided to turn to God and thus began the hardest period of my life - to try to dig myself out of the lies and addiction...

Thanks for sharing, people need to know they are not alone in their struggles as well as with work one can take control of one's choices.

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4 hours ago, Anonymous Mormon said:

I definitely agree that online Pornography and dating sites (and all that goes with them) plays a huge role in causing a loss of faith and a desire to leave the church. However I am biased, because these things were at the heart of times when I questioned my faith.

I believe that a much larger percentage of men in the church view online pornography than ever admit it or deal with it. In fact, because I am fairly open about my past with other men, I can say that of all the men who attend church that I have ever spoken with, just about all of them have admitted or hinted that they have struggled with this as well. And I am not casting stones at them, because it is everywhere online and we are online constantly. 

But it is very emotionally draining to view online pornography (or chat rooms, cam rooms, online relationships, etc.) and feel good about going to church, taking the sacrament, attending the temple, giving blessings to your family, baptizing your children, etc. One of the ways I dealt with my  guilt and shame was to stop believing in the church. The world teaches that God doesn't exist and sex/porn are good - maybe they were right. Joseph Smith had all of those women, so I can view online pornography. I told myself these things to feel goo. I decided I would go through the motions spiritually because I loved my family and didn't want to hurt them and it didn't matter anyway since the church was all made up, but a good overall lifestyle. Then I could have both porn & the church and not feel bad for my lying and unworthiness.

But in the end it didn't work for me because I realized that viewing porn online wasn't enough and I had to either cross the line and interact with other women (online or in person) to get my fix, or I had to stop it all completely. Thankfully, I decided to turn to God and thus began the hardest period of my life - to try to dig myself out of the lies and addiction.

Like I said, I might just be extrapolating my story onto others. But I would not be at all surprised if more than 50% of men in the church view pornography at least quarterly. And to soothe their guilt, the easiest justification is to find fault with the church, & religion and to embrace the teachings of the world. So my story might be more common than we all realize.

(Because, honestly how many people do you know who will say, "I left the church because online pornography made me feel guilty." No one says that - instead they just bash the church and talk about the CES letter).

My experience is different. I was full TBM while in the throes of porn addiction, but giving up that part of life that made me miserable involved being more honest with myself and others.

I stopped giving the “right” answers in church, and became more genuine. That self-honesty has led to my separation from orthodox Mormonism because I realize my studies and beliefs don’t align as well as LDS leaders want them to.

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54 minutes ago, Gray said:

Spiritual experiences must be interpreted to have meaning. Often when we have them we have been primed to interpret them a certain way. Additional context can cause people to reevaluate the way they interpret such experiences.

All experiences are interpreted for meaning. 

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49 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I don't want to gainsay this, but I sincerely don't get it. A testimony is merely a statement of what one has been personal witness to. I find it inexplicable that 'access to information' -- whatever that's meant to mean -- could somehow 'destroy' what one genuinely knows through personal experience.

For example, in March my best mate and I took his 12-year-old son camping. We spent the night on the rim of our nation's deepest gorge, and the next morning we climbed down, through, and back out of it. If necessary, I could testify to all of the above. I can't for the life of me imagine how what kind of information could alter or remove what I know about what I experienced over that roughly 24-hour period.

Have you ever watched a movie like the 6th sense - something that has a twist in it?  Most murder mysteries follow this route - you read the book thinking the murderer is one person, but then by the end you are surprised to find out it was actually someone else?  ... life is like that, there are twists.  ... many people lived their entire lives believing the earth was flat because that was their personal experience.  Many strongly held beliefs have ebbed and flowed through the centuries, what makes this time period, or any single person's beliefs any better than another's?  The many examples of the firmly held false beliefs of others is reason to doubt our own firmly held beliefs.  

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Posted (edited)

I don't understand why we are surprised when people leave the Church. It has been happening since Cain and Abel.

At one point all but a few of the Savior's followers left him. He taught the Parable of the Sower and gave Lehi and Nephi the Tree of Life vision. At the Cross his best friend abandoned him.

The Book of Mormon is chock full of examples of comings and goings, sometimes in quick succession. It's one of the main messages of the book. We need look no further than Lehi.

No member rejoices when a loved one or acquaintance leaves, but it happens. It's an aspect of agency that is hard to deal with, but if we are to be like Father, we must experience it.

We never know when the beckoning of the Spirit will take hold. After decades of inactivity, my late sister came back. That is always a possibility even if 30, or 50, or 60% can't abide for a while.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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27 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

My experience is different. I was full TBM while in the throes of porn addiction, but giving up that part of life that made me miserable involved being more honest with myself and others.

I stopped giving the “right” answers in church, and became more genuine. That self-honesty has led to my separation from orthodox Mormonism because I realize my studies and beliefs don’t align as well as LDS leaders want them to.

I have a friend I met in a recovery 12-step program with a similar story. He spent his whole life lying in order to try to please everyone around him. He realized that in order to overcome his addiction to pornography and an affair that had nearly ruined his marriage, he would have to be 100% completely honest. For him, honesty was the only way. So he started being honest about not only his addiction, but also his doubts about the church. In his case, he grew up with a strict Dad who was physically and emotionally abusive to his kids whenever they didn't live the rules of the church perfectly. He had lived the gospel his whole life out of fear. He left the church as part of the process to overcome his sex addiction. Eventually he stopped attending 12-step also because he couldn't believe in a higher power.

On the other hand, I know dozens and dozens and dozens of men who have gained back testimonies and become more strong in the church because of their efforts to overcome addiction. They found the 12-steps to be a pathway for repentance. I am in this camp and am constantly amazed at how much peace and joy I feel through the spirit now that I am not living a double life - now that I don't have that blocking communication with the Holy Ghost.

Simply based upon my experience, I think the most common scenario for men who let pornography get out of hand is they either embrace their porn usage or the gospel. I think that it is a rare exception that a man decides to eliminate porn usage and leaves the church as part of that journey. 

We will continue to see pornography secretly destroy lives and marriages of church members for at least this next generation. Most people  will only admit that pornography is at the root of their divorces and apostasy in hushed tones. I think the next generation will be forced to deal with the issue more directly, so that there will be less shame and stigma associated with it, which will actually let the issue be addressed. Currently it is a shameful scourge to admit that you are suffering from in the church culture.

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1 hour ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I don't want to gainsay this, but I sincerely don't get it. A testimony is merely a statement of what one has been personal witness to. I find it inexplicable that 'access to information' -- whatever that's meant to mean -- could somehow 'destroy' what one genuinely knows through personal experience.

For example, in March my best mate and I took his 12-year-old son camping. We spent the night on the rim of our nation's deepest gorge, and the next morning we climbed down, through, and back out of it. If necessary, I could testify to all of the above. I can't for the life of me imagine how what kind of information could alter or remove what I know about what I experienced over that roughly 24-hour period.

You’re clearly well read. Has your furthered understanding of the history of the New Testament caused you to change or give up some of your beliefs about Christ?

For me, seeing the context of the stories of the NT changed my views on Christ once I learned about Paul’s conflict with James and the hellenization of the records of Jesus’ teachings and His life after the destruction of the Jerusalem Church.

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