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HappyJackWagon

What To Do When Loved Ones Leave the Church

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On 6/14/2019 at 9:01 AM, changed said:

 

it is sad that church policies divide families - makes those who are not "sealed in the temple" feel less-than, and disconnected from one another.  It has taken me a long time to get that teaching out of my head.  The church does not dictate family bonds.  

I think this is the source of the problem. The church demands fealty to it, over family.  Converts are lauded over their leaving family to join the church. The church governs marriage, wants church reminders to be placed all over the home, and takes up a lot of the members' free time.  Leaders also remind members of how family that leave is somehow a loss of eternal significance.  They want to make it as tough as possible on those who leave and their family.  So, I don't know how this issue can be solved.

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On 6/13/2019 at 2:47 PM, changed said:

 

By niece - are you saying your brother's daughter?  If you were not able to attend your own daughter's wedding, wouldn't you be upset?  Aren't civil marriages allowed prior to temple wedding now with no waiting period?  I think the point of that change was to allow everyone to participate in weddings, rather than excluding anyone.  I would think it was sad if the couple did not civilly marry prior to the temple for those within their family.... but then I love the " in sickness and in health, promise to love and cherish and be loyal to one another (absolutely NO polygammy EVER!!) covenants, prior to the... "DC132 new and everlasting covenant" later ;)

I think it is good to make sure everyone feels included by doing things like - creating a "best wishes" book for children who are being baptized in which everyone can provide their blessings (mother's blessing, fellow atheists blessings and well-wishes etc.)  Allow everyone to share their love - make everyone feel appreciated and loved.  

I said OUR niece.  It's our sister's daughter.  The wedding was earlier this year. She says that she still would have gotten married in the temple even with the choice.   My kids plan on being married in the temple. 

I am not going to change my life because he left the church.  I won't walk on egg shells to him feel better. He knew what he was doing and what would happen. 

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On 6/13/2019 at 1:36 PM, HappyJackWagon said:

It's hard.

For many, the Temple is a very sensitive because some people aren't allowed to participate. So if there is a big family wedding at the temple, some people are sitting outside because they're not allowed to witness it. Making no comment about whether that's right or wrong, I think it's understandable that people could be hurt by the exclusion. It can also feel awkward and painful for a person to be at other family ordinance events where they aren't able to participate.

Like others have said, faith crisis/transition is often like going through the grief process. There is often an anger stage and sometimes people get stuck in the anger phase. It's no fun walking on egg shells but I think the approach of the article in the OP is a good framework for rebuilding trust and relationships.

We can't stop living out lives to make him happy. He has made choices that I disagree with. Like leaving his wife for some woman he met online. His daughter isn't inviting him to HER wedding. 

He needs to learn to not say mean things or  just don't  come. I don't say what I think about his life. I try to be nice and all he does is try to bring people down to his level of misery.

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4 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Kind of rude.

If you are making a claim that something is inaccurate, you should be able to say what is inaccurate instead of telling Tacenda she should know. It's condescending and honestly, if we were all aware of  the limitations of our knowledge we would all be certifiable geniuses. Ever hear the phrase, "you don't know what you don't know"? This applies equally to you, Tacenda, and me, and everyone else. I don't know if what you think you know is correct. If you think there's an error, why not point out what the problem is instead of belittling someone? Again, this shows part of the limitation people have in discussing these things. Family, friends also respond with these kinds of responses all while thinking they are being "loving" but really they help to widen the rift.

Do you have this kind of charity and understanding for Sunday School teachers and leadership who may have mistakenly passed on inaccurate information regarding church history?  Or are they deceptive liars who duped you and others all these years past? 

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4 hours ago, cherryTreez said:

I said OUR niece.  It's our sister's daughter.  The wedding was earlier this year. She says that she still would have gotten married in the temple even with the choice.   My kids plan on being married in the temple. 

I am not going to change my life because he left the church.  I won't walk on egg shells to him feel better. He knew what he was doing and what would happen. 

If he was handicapped, you would not hold services at a location that was handicapped accessible?  If he was vegetarian, perhaps he watched some movie about how chickens are raised and slaughtered - nothing against omnivores, but meat now churns his stomach through no fault of his own -  you would not provide a meal for him?  My way or the highway?  Not going to "change your life" for him?  I thought that was the point of families-to be understanding of one another, to serve one another... 

Edited by changed

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18 minutes ago, changed said:

If he was handicapped, you would not hold services at a location that was handicapped accessible?  If he was vegetarian, perhaps he watched some movie about how chickens are raised and slaughtered - nothing against omnivores, but meat now churns his stomach through no fault of his own -  you would not provide a meal for him?  My way or the highway?  Not going to "change your life" for him?  I thought that was the point of families-to be understanding of one another, to serve one another... 

...

But if I really believed in God and Jesus Christ--perhaps I received an undeniable witness of them--nothing against atheists, but disbelief is now no longer compatible with that witness through no fault of my own--would you not respect that?  Your way or the highway?  Not going to "change your life" for me?  I thought that was the point of families-to be understanding of one another, to serve one another... 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/14/2019 at 8:59 AM, changed said:

I'm in a mixed faith relationship and I will concur.  There is no support for abuse victims.  There is very little support for those with marital issues, for those going through divorce, and no support for those going through a faith crisis.  There are "acceptable" problems in the church like health issues, employment, someone passing away etc. ... and then there are "unacceptable" issues like being LGBT, abuse, how to handle pedophiles, how to support broken marriages etc.  I was hit on all sides by all of it all at once - abuse from bishopric member (who is now in jail), followed by others in leadership belittling and denying what happened (the years and years and years of abuse were videotaped - they guy got life in jail without parole - and yet - everyone still denies that their bishopric councilor - who was "called from God"  did anything wrong???)  dealing with the kids who were abused, dealing with a spouse who it turns out was abused and led to multiple dysfunctions, and what support was there??  I was flat out told by my bishop "I'm sorry, I have no experience with that" - last I heard from him.  Two meetings - one where he backed away and clearly showed me he wanted nothing to do with me or any of it - and another meeting where I turned in my TR ad asked to be released from all callings because I no longer recognized any leadership in the church.  I lost my faith, I lost my family, the only support I got was from the ex-mo community, and they were awesome.  

We invite people to our Family Support Group whose loved ones have left the Church, as well as those who have loved ones in addiction. The consequences and effects can be quite similar. Sometimes one leads to the other. People who have suffered abuse or the effects of alcoholic parents are also welcome to attend for support. I compiled a collection of scriptures and talks that deal help with the situation and share it with those who are interested.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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Posted (edited)
On 6/14/2019 at 11:02 AM, HappyJackWagon said:

I'm not sure it's true that most families tend to be very loving and considerate

I think there is a lot of variation and a loving and considerate behsviour in one family might be distancing in another based in family dynamics (one family may work best by not talking about issues because everyone understands and accepts they have a right to live their own lives but together they focus on what they share while in another not talking about the beliefs of one member amounts to ostracism because they make a big deal about talking of all others).

I don’t think one can really judge from outside a family unless behaviours are rather extreme. And even then without knowing the background, faulty assumptions might be made (perhaps a child distanced themselves first from the family and then left the Church but now it looks and feels to them and maybe others that the lack of effort from other family members to have contact is based on church differences when it is more assuming that is what that sibling wants).

I suspect most families mess things up because of poor communication skills and faulty assumptions, most likely on both sides where misunderstanding can create long lasting counterproductive cycles. Not sure what to do about it. My family is very open in most ways and we tend to be self reflective, but still have some big problems dealing with each other (nothing to do with church though). In my extended family some haven’t been able to talk to a relative for a couple of decades and they still don’t know what went wrong because it was never said while I bet that relative believes they have to know because it is so obvious to them.

Family is very messy. 

Edited by Calm
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3 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

We invite people to our Family Support Group whose loved ones have left the Church, as well as those who have loved ones in addiction. The consequences and effects can be quite similar. Sometimes one leads to the other. People who have suffered abuse or the effects of alcoholic parents also welcome to attend for support. I compiled a collection of scriptures and talks that deal help with the situation and share it with those who are interested.

 

In my area, and in many other areas, there are support groups for addicts, but nothing for victims.  There is no group in my area.  I requested they start one, and was told that our regularly scheduled church meetings would be sufficient for me.  

The abuser on the other hand, has a huge support group.  

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22 minutes ago, changed said:

In my area, and in many other areas, there are support groups for addicts, but nothing for victims.  There is no group in my area.  I requested they start one, and was told that our regularly scheduled church meetings would be sufficient for me.  

The abuser on the other hand, has a huge support group.  

Who rejected your request? How long ago? You can find groups near you here...

https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/find-a-meeting?lang=eng

The manuals are online as well as a plethora of helpful videos and other information. Anyone can make use of them.

https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/spouses-and-families/?lang=eng

Have you seen this?

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/get-help/abuse/how-to-help?lang=eng

Edited by Bernard Gui
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2 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Who rejected your request? How long ago? You can find groups near you here...

https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/find-a-meeting?lang=eng

The manuals are online as well as a plethora of helpful videos and other information. Anyone can make use of them.

https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/spouses-and-families/?lang=eng

Have you seen this?

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/get-help/abuse/how-to-help?lang=eng

My bishop, and then my stake president.  There are no groups near me.  It has been 2 years now with nothing from anyone - I've left the church, and am no longer interested. 

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2 hours ago, changed said:

My bishop, and then my stake president.  There are no groups near me.  It has been 2 years now with nothing from anyone - I've left the church, and am no longer interested. 

May I ask your zip code? Ok I& you don’t want to give it out. Sorry you didn’t get the help you deserved.

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9 hours ago, changed said:

If he was handicapped, you would not hold services at a location that was handicapped accessible?  If he was vegetarian, perhaps he watched some movie about how chickens are raised and slaughtered - nothing against omnivores, but meat now churns his stomach through no fault of his own -  you would not provide a meal for him?  My way or the highway?  Not going to "change your life" for him?  I thought that was the point of families-to be understanding of one another, to serve one another... 

We aren't going to change things for him. He changed not us. He needs to learn to deal with the consequences of his actions. 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/14/2019 at 10:59 AM, Tacenda said:

https://i.redd.it/o73d3pat6g101.jpg The church deleted a couple of important words! 

 

Robert, what do you think of this one? Current revelation? I wonder why the church deleted the words from the quote? I know the church doesn't expect anyone to pay tithing if they don't have the means. So why delete some wording? Or anyone that cares to answer, please do. 🙂

And looking again at the much disdained list, I c/p'd from reddit, I do notice some, all or nothing statements on a few, especially that JS married 12-14 married women and had sex with them which is probably false, but maybe some. We don't have any idea. There are some on the list that I've never heard of so I'd have to research. My apologies for even putting that list in. I could go look and compile a better list of replies but I'm on vacation, so don't have my laptop.

Edited by Tacenda

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3 minutes ago, cherryTreez said:

We aren't going to change things for him. He changed not us. He needs to learn to deal with the consequences of his actions. 

That’s a major hurdle....allowing the natural consequences to procede.

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10 hours ago, Calm said:

Yeah, not seeing that...

(since flat statements are given for the argument, a flat statement in rebuttal seems enough to me)

No one expects you to see this (or admit it), as the fealty requirement over family has been seen as a negative thing by outsiders.

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16 minutes ago, BlueDreams said:

I've been meaning to post to this but have had difficulty to find the time. Even now as I type, my baby is sleeping on me. I've read maybe around half of the posts on the thread and read the majority of the article in the OP. There are things I agreed with and things that I felt could be a little simplified in description. My personal perspective comes from having a number of family members leave the church to some degree or another (and for varying reasons) and also having this come up as a topic of concern for couples in therapy where one spouse is in faith crisis/transition or already left and the other spouse is still active and believing. A couple times it's come up with a person discussing about someone close to them that's not their spouse leaving. And a few times it's also come up as a topic as both have distanced to some extent from the church, but have taken very different approaches and perspectives about said distancing. 

I generally can agree with the outlook of the article in how it can effect or feel towards both parties. The acknowledgment is good on that. To me the article itself and its suggestions could be a little over-simplified in suggesting what members could/should do and their reactions to said situations. Based in part on what I've come to see as a bit of a simplified narrative of faith transition that works on online communities, but with a closer lens...tends to show more complexity and individual oriented patterns that increase the difficulties in feeling accepted. It also didn't really take a throw at what those reeling from a faith crisis of some sort could do as well. From what I've seen, there are things that both parties do/don't do that can make the relationship land well or become strained. The suggestions given aren't inherently bad or wrong...they just seem incomplete. That sense of incompleteness to me is epitomized in this question: "When people become disillusioned with church, how do we maintain and rebuild relationships of trust?" with her describing the people as individuals as the church. Without meaning to, this places the weight of rebuilding trust solely on the shoulders of the active members...on an issue or concern that often didn't start (nor will it end) with that individual church member. Relationships of trust are a two-way street and if it's only one side giving "love and inclusion" and the listening, openness, etc  (and yes, I've seen that with people in faith crisis) it won't work....trust won't be rebuilt. Often the member just ends up feeling hurt in one way or another. 

I did like this "People are most likely to experience a crisis or transition of faith when there is a stark contrast between the black-and-white faith of their youth, and the more complex information and choices they now face as adults. Such jarring contrasts can make people feel as if they’ve been deceived, which deepens their distrust of the Church, its members, and—as Spencer Fluhman and Patrick Mason point out in this conversation—even the spiritual experiences that had formed the basis for their testimonies." That I have definitely seen and would add that the church is often not the only area that the black and white thinking occurs in these individual's lives. It also can be paired with generalization and the possibility that many people in their immediate circle likely had similar outlooks. 

If I could give advice to both active and faith-crisis member in a close relationship as to how to interact based on what I've seen, this is a bit of what I may say or recommend. 

Member: 

Take some time and grieve. It's okay to be frustrated, confused, or hurt by what's happening with your loved one. In fact you should feel and process these concerns. Try not to attack or blame them, but be honest with them about the hurt you feel. 

You do not have to answer all of their concerns all at once. You don't have to have the perfect answer. Often what works for you answer-wise, won't work for them. A specific bullet point of historical/social/spiritual concern is often NOT the problem in and of itself. Answering it right now, won't necessarily restore them to a place of faith. 

Encourage that they talk to you. Let them know that you won't give perfect answers, you'll likely have moments you don't understand or see where they're coming from....but that you do want to know what's going on and their concerns. 

Have love and inclusion...but boundaries and your own places of support are also important. Boundaries shouldn't be based on fear or trying to ignore the changes that happened in the relationship, but recognizing your limitations and personal need for balance. Often they may go from not sharing their concerns at all to word-vomiting every last concern they've ever had. They may make comments that are very critical of other members, religious practices, or thing that you still value. This is both overwhelming and exhausting over long periods of time.  Recognize that limitation and help set when and how talking about these things can be done so both your needs are met. 

(for the black-and-white thinking spouse especially) It can be easy to feel betrayed, lost, and like your partner has lost themselves and all that was special in your relationship. Take some time to "time-out" church with your partner and remember other reasons that you enjoy their company. If that feels miniscule or very limited, it's likely time to work on building the relationship in general before grappling with big-ticket questions on religion.

Find common beliefs and values that you still hold together. Maybe they've lost faith in prophets, but they still believe in Jesus. Maybe they don't believe in God, but they still value compassion, kindness, love, family, etc. Maybe they don't believe the historicity of the BoM but they still find the spiritual lessons from it as good Find those commonalities and use those to build a sense of spiritual connection. 

Faith-crisis individual:

Open up to your partner/loved ones if you haven't already. It is not a favor to hide from them what you're experiencing and the longer it goes to more of a railroading it's going to feel like them. Note that opening up, doesn't mean they'll likely say or do exactly what you'd hope. And it may be in multiple conversations over time as opposed to one large sit-in. THat's okay. 

Take some time to step into their shoes. Empathize with them by recognizing that what you feel in a breach of trust with the church may be very similar to what they're experiencing and feelings with you right now, especially if this is the first time they've heard about your concerns or loss of faith . 

 Do not assume that you can't talk to people from one or 2 poor experiences of from what you picture them saying (aside: I've seen a lot of projection, especially early on, about who will reject them and what their neighbor, friend, family, etc will say/do). It is likely not as bad as you think it will be, especially if you can do so while truly listening to them and assuming that even in their imperfect answers there's a good chance that their motivations are good. //// Hiding y

Just as you likely didn't come to your conclusions overnight, give that same allowance to others as they grapple with your concerns. 

(especially for black-and-white thinkers) They may not have the same reaction to the same information that's hit you the hardest.  You may have first kept the information from them in some for of protecting them from the hurt and disillusionment that you felt. As you've shared with them more about this, you may find that they seem strangely okay or find faith-oriented answers to these concerns. You may find yourself reasoning that their lack of harm to the issues that harmed you may be an indication of "blind faith" or not truly getting the gravity of an issue or even hiding themselves from "the truth." THese are judgment narratives of the same nature to members who assume the only reason you left the church is because of wanting to "sin." Hold back from that judging voice, take time to process what bothers you about them not seeing things as you do, and then work to hear and understand their perspective, even if it's not you own. 

        tied with that, do not assume that you "get them" because you were "just like them" before a faith crisis. This can become inadvertently dismissive and hurtful and may increase a sense of isolation from each other.

(especially if this is a spouse) Do not expect them to participate or welcome behaviors that go against their religious beliefs/covenants. It can be extremely disruptive, uncomfortable, and feel disrespectful to suddenly insist that they accept this or that behavior from you when for the majority of your guys' relationship that was a mutually agreed to no-no. Just because you now like coffee, for example, does not mean the other will be comfortable with your sudden purchase of a coffee machine and it being brewed each morning. Take time, talk about what you are wanting, and seek to understand their concerns. 

for both:

take an observor/curiosity role to discussing concerns around faith and religious practice. Instead of immediately defending your position in reaction to what they're saying, take time to ask them questions about this or that concern. Check to see that you truly understand what they're trying to say. And take a moment to evaluate what you are feeling and telling them that AFTER you've sought to understand them. 

Take a moment and write a narrative in your head that does not put to the other in one way or another as the "bad guy" 

 

I could probably write more, but this is probably too long as is. In general, fostering trust, building relationships, helping a person feel loved cannot be done unless both parties are actively seeking these as goals. I've seen that most in spouses, but I can see that in bishop-member relationships, friendships, neighbors, etc. The active member can earnestly try and show love and care and it amount to hooey if the other person isn't also working to listen and try as well. 

 

With luv,

BD

Couldn't this be simplified into realizing that either side doesn't have a monopoly on truth?  I'm right and you are wrong seems to create division that then can devolve into break-ups.  Perhaps the believer can take a look at how the outside world views mormonism and maybe take things down a notch, and the non-believer and realize that there are some good aspects to mormon beliefs that are good for almost anyone?  Anyway, I like the approach you take by trying to find common ground and dwelling on that ...

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Exiled said:

No one expects you to see this (or admit it), as the fealty requirement over family has been seen as a negative thing by outsiders.

Which explains why a critic like yourself is so eager to claim such exists. 

Throwing around accusations without evidence (like my above sentence in case that wasn’t clear) makes posting so much quicker. 

Otoh, it's posts like Bluedreams' above that might actually accomplish something and help people.

Edited by Calm
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15 minutes ago, Calm said:

Which explains why a critic like yourself is so eager to claim such exists. 

Throwing around accusations without evidence makes posting so much quicker. 

Otoh, it's posts like Bluedreams' above that might actually accomplish something and help people.

The assumption that the church is true and that the non-believer needs to be rescued is the source of a lot of the problems.  The church, through its leaders, projects the message that it is the source of authority and wants to show that whenever it can, as in having the members paste church pictures all over the house, the control of marriage, and the pledges of loyalty required at certain times.  So, of course when someone chooses not to follow any longer, the church wants those who remain to think that the person who left is somehow in need of rescuing. Sorry, but this adds to the problem.  I understand that you cannot see these things, but perhaps this is part of the problem, too?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Exiled said:

having the members paste church pictures all over the house

Have you taken a survey of members' houses or just assuming that this is part of church culture?

I have known only a small percentage of members who go to this level in all the places I have lived (California, Utah, Kansas, Canada, Illinois, Russia).  Many have had one or two, many have none. In my current small town Utah Valley neighborhood, the five homes I have been in most don't have any in the living area save one with a wedding picture with the temple, the two I have been in their bedrooms don't either.  All are very active and devout members, including two families of BYU professors.   Most religious art I have seen in members' homes are pictures of Christ that could appear in any Christian household as opposed to "church pictures" though pictures of the temple parents were married in or their current temple are popular (Greg Olsen was the number one Christian artist up in Canada when I worked at a church related bookstore...a local art dealer had run out of prints and stopped by to pick some up during the Christmas rush and I discussed this with him, his customers likely had no clue Olsen was a Saint).

Extreme caricatures are not persuasive.  They just make you look like you have a grudge.

Quote

  I understand that you cannot see these things, but perhaps this is part of the problem, too?

This is so condescending, it's laughable.  And completely inaccurate.  Your black and white/all or nothing approach reduces your arguments to rants.

Simply because I reject your claim the Church requires members' fealty to it over family and find your caricatures annoying does not mean I am blind to the view church teachings and cultures promote of needing to rescue those who lose faith or leave the Church for other reasons.  The leaving the 99 and seeking the lost sheep metaphor permeates pretty much every area of church teaching and activity.

I personally believe it is a beautiful teaching that epitomizes God’s love and concern for his children, though like most things can be done awkwardly or taken to harmful extremes. Concern and love need to be balanced by acceptance of others’ agency.

Edited by Calm
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