Monday, September 12, 2011

"Modern", Huh?

I quite like the site Modern Mormon Men.  I've read some inspiring posts and some thought provoking posts and some funny posts.  But I have to say, I've read a number of disturbing posts, too.

I don't call it wrong.  The site is meant to have contriubtors on various levels of spirituatlity and activity in the church and with a broad array of backgrounds and opinions.  But it's hard for me to read sometimes.  I just went back to see if one contributor had responded to my late-coming comment on his post.  He hadn't but a fellow commenter had.  However, instead of clearing things up for me, it made things harder for me to understand.

The original post is entitled On Reluctant Patriarchy where "Abraham" tells of his journey from thinking he understood the scriptures and knew all the answers, to the moment of his enlightenment, which leads him down a path that makes him happy but turns his wife into a self-repressing sexist that he wishes he could liberate.  At least that's the general idea.

My original comment went like this:

"In regards to the women and the priesthood and/or more "power" within the church, I am always very curious how more liberal people view this. Is it something that God is just behind the times on, or is it something that he is anxiously pestering the prophet to change, but the prophet is too conservative to listen or does God just want us to forget revelation and take a vote a la the Nicean Council (but, again, the prophet is unwilling to relinquish his power)? How does that work, the whole, "'The church'is wrong on this major doctrinal issue" thing?"

Followed by this:

"(That's a real question, not just a sass. I do respect other's opinions, and I just want to understand the thinking behind this particular type of opinion.)" 

The response I read today goes like this:

"LisAway,

I think the church has been wrong before. Blacks and the priesthood and polygamy are what I think of. Blacks couldn't have the priesthood until 1978 because the church was "behind on the times." As for polygamy, the church had to give it up so it could become a state. I don't think God would command women to love live a life of jealousy and lonliness in polygamous marriages. At least, not the God I know. He(or she) loves women too you know."


I responded:

"JC,

I am absolutely sure that the god that you know (espcially if it's a woman!) did NOT command women to live the law of polygamy. Also, the God
I know did not command women to live a life of jealousy and lonliness. Because, WHOA.

So it sounds like your answer to my question is that "the church" is wrong on this one, yet again. I guess my question in WHERE IS GOD in all this? And if your god is a woman, and you believe she is the god of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints then she must be very, very disappointed in the direction things have been going. And also, sorely disappointed that Joseph Smith saw her and then told everyone she was a man and made everyone call her Father for all these years.

I'm sorry, this is just so sad to me. YOUR FATHER LOVES YOU. Find out whether this is His church and whether or not He leads it. And stop calling him a woman until you see him yourself. False doctrine of the most damaging kind.
"

Reading over that again, I can see that it isn't as loving as I think I meant it.  I'm just sad for that modern "Mormon" man.

I kind of feel like the term "Modern"these days is too often synonymous with "dysfunctional" or "confused".

I don't know.  I guess the obvious answer for me is that this is a person sliding down the chute of apostacy, and there is no way that I can understand where he is coming from.  But I just wish he could have helped me to understand some of the people I know who also hold what I would call "modern" views on some church doctrines or policy.  I really want to understand those things better, even if I don't agree with the views.

I am a conservative and I believe that the church is actually lead by a real-life prophet who actually knows what God wants.  But I still wish I could better understand the thinking behind those who don't exactly agree with me.  Chances are, though, that I will never feel like I get a satisfactory answer.  I hope it's not just because I am too proud or self-righteous.

20 comments:

Thora said...

This is why I've given up on any sites that aren't conservative, I feel like they only make me miserable in the end. Not because I am suddenly doubting all I know or believe, but rather that people think this way, that apparently so many people struggle with many basic aspects of our church.

I don't think you're proud or self-righteous, but I do think it's easy to come across that way on the internet (especially since to liberal Moderns of that nature you are already wrong).

There are some things I really love about the Internet (like that I get to read about your life in Poland), but there are other aspects, that for myself at least, I've had to learn to step back on, like any group site basically about the church. I think that there can be good discussions, but too easily the comments veer off into who knows where.

Anyway, that's my self-righteous comment (not that I'm trying to be, but I realize it sounds fairly preachy - which I'm really not aiming for, but you understand, I'm sure.)

Carolyn V said...

The nice thing is we can ask our Heavenly Father any questions we have and find out for ourselves. Whew. I'd be in trouble if we couldn't! =)

Amy said...

I truly believe that it is impossible to seek divine inspiration through studying the scriptures, prayer, and temple attendance and reach some of the crazy ideas that members have sometimes. So they must not be doing these most basic and simply steps. As I have seen childhood friends veer in strange directions from the path I can't help but think "weren't we sitting in the same Primary class? Didn't we hear the same talks and feel the same whisperings of the Spirit when testimonies were born?" But I have realized that we must have open ears and soft hearts. We each make choices that bring us closer to our Father...or not.

In this case I honestly wonder why this person is LDS. If the prophet is wrong why stay in the church?

Katherine Bouldin said...

Lisa,
I'm right there with you. I usually enjoy that blog as well, but lately there have been some way too liberal and borderline false doctrine comments/issues addressed. I am firm in my understanding and rely on the spirit to bear witness of the doctrines and am also open to all that the living prophet shares with the members. I try to follow him and definitely never stop asking questions when there is something I need clarification on, with regards to the gospel principles. Hopefully JC will keep working towards further understanding, too. Thanks for writing/posting - I always enjoy it! [even if I don't comment that often] Katherine

Lauren Kay said...

Lisa, I skipped that post because I didn't like what he had to say, but I reread it after reading what you wrote in response. I think what you said was fantastic and I hope it made him think about it. Thanks for posting.

MelancholySmile said...

Wow, that's a lot to chew on first thing in the morning. I, too, don't read MMM that often because I find it disquieting. So often people quote research and site philosophers but neglect to mention God.

Sadly, I know what it's like to have doubts and misunderstand the nature of God, but I've discovered time and again that believing I know better has only resulted in pain. I wish there was a way to magically give someone child-like faith. I've seen so many people veer off into sad places, waylaid by trivial nuances of culture instead of sticking to simple prayer and scripture study. I was lucky-- I felt the comfort of the Holy Ghost and was reassured of Heavenly Fathers love for me. I wish 'Abraham' would take a break from his philosophy group and dedicate that time to prayer. I think he would find the peace he's seeking.

Ps- you don't come off as self righteous to me. I'm always impressed and inspired by how steadfast and strong you are. Can I be you when I grow up?

Janelle said...

I have self moderated many bloggernacle websites from my google reader for your same reasons. I do think that people's life experiences can influence the lens they see the Church and even God through and have compassion for that but to use the Internet as a medium to bash, change or invent doctrine makes me uncomfortable. I believe in the Doctrines of our faith. I may not understand everything, but what I do understand brings me peace.

Sylwia said...

i think the truth is somewhere between your comments and jc's. God is not a man or a woman, God is a couple. for now 'He' likes us to address him as Father. but we were made in 'his' image, male and female.

God calls polygamy and abomination in the book of Mormon, but he says that at times he commands his people to live it for a short time and purpose.

God wants all of his children to have the priesthood. but in this world, some people are not ready at certain times (ie the white people not being ready for the blacks to have the priesthood) joseph smith ordained both blacks and women, but later God said that it was not the time. And women temple workers have the priesthood in order to administer the ordinances. God delegates his power to certain people at certain times for good reasons.

people questioning these changes are not dysfunctional or without a testimony. it is ok to question and to ponder. you don't have to loose your testimony over it. i know i haven't but i like to question and wonder. it brings me closer to the answers that one day we will have the privilege to understand.

Sylwia said...

i think it's interesting how we in the church encourage people to pray about everything. let God tell you, we tell them. but if they don't get the exact answer we got, then surely they are going apostate. :) maybe the just got a different piece of the answer.

joseph smith put it best:
We claim the aprivilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the bdictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them dworship how, where, or what they may.

Erin said...

I haven't ever read that blog but I just started looking at Mormon Feminist Housewives and it seems to have lots of positive and negative aspects (and crazy stuff in comments). I don't think you can say that every person has to have an all or nothing kind of testimony. There are lots of people that believe the church is true but struggle with certain issues. It is a process of studying it out and praying and coming to a deeper understanding. I feel like I need to reach a deeper understanding of the 1978 issue. Yes it seems like the church was behind the times. I have heard of "folklore" surrounding this--the prophet was praying constantly about this issue, ready for the change. It was the membership that wasn't ready for the change. But I haven't studied it, I don't really know what is credible. I feel like the people on these sights are really digging deep so that they can feel good about it and not just accept that the prophet is always right without studying it out. And frankly, this stuff doesn't get talked about in church and the internet is a place that they can talk about it in anonymity without everyone thinking they are crazy and should be released from their calling. I think you were right in calling out some illogical reasoning and just plain false doctrine in this guy, but I think it important not to judge someone who is struggling with some issue because I wouldn't want them to judge me and say I have a plastic testimony because I believe in a true and living prophet. Sorry this is so long winded. It is too late to be commenting.

Erin said...

Blogs like Feminist Mormon Housewives and Modern Mormon Men definitely have pros and cons. On the pro side, reading them can get your mind working, and really make you think (and occasionally reevaluate) what you believe. You can see both sides, think about it, pray about it, and make an informed decision. On the con side, people in both camps feel very passionately about what they feel and are unafraid to share their feelings, often going into judgmental or condescending territory to "prove" their point of view (which is actually not proveable, on either side).

I remember reading this post, and I actually had a lot to think about because Christian and I both lean more toward his way of thinking. The difficulty for the post author is that his spouse feels differently from him. And yet, I knew as I read the post that the comments could become a veritable firestorm, and I chose not to read them because I didn't want to experience the extremes of either/both sides.

I don't know (yet) how I feel about blacks and the priesthood and polygamy - I don't feel like I have studied enough to make an informed decision, and I don't know that I want to study it right now to actually MAKE an informed decision. I do believe we have a Heavenly Mother. I also know that some people have extreme thinking regarding all of these subjects. I personally am somewhere near the middle, trying to see both sides and trying my very hardest not to condemn or judge anyone.

I know I believe some things that conservatives would either roll their eyes or shake their heads at. And I'm okay with that. But I also know that I am a temple worthy member, even if some of my points of view differ greatly from most mainstream members of the church.

Whew, long comment. Can you tell that I feel passionately about this?

Melissa Bastow said...

Can I just say "ditto" and have that be enough of a comment? Because I agree with you about all of that. So yeah, DITTO.

Melanie Jacobson said...

Yeah, I had a hard time with that post, too.

Jolene Perry said...

There's knowing something is right in your heart, and knowing something is right in your head, and I think sometimes people just aren't thinking with their hearts the way they should. Mostly, because not everyone knows how.

Kazzy said...

I don't subscribe to that blog and have never read it, but I do know that it is very difficult to determine tone and intent in text. Even emails can be misread and misunderstood sometimes. I would assume these posters are trying to reconcile some of their concerns with the mainstream, and coming across as much too liberal. We all do our own figuring out of truth, but most of us do it personally. It is a risk.

I like what Sylwia said about the blacks not getting the priesthood because WHITE people were not ready for it. That helps me to reconcile myself to that doctrine. Good thoughts.

Susan said...

I loved his post. I'd never seen that site. (of course, I'm not on any blogs but family's) I agree with Sylwia's comments. (actually I agree in general with everyone's, but would write something more along the lines of Sylwia's...)

I don't think that everything that is happening currently in the church is 100% eternal. Look how many times they've changed the RS program in the last 10 years! (just kidding, I know that's nothing like what we're talking about here :) )

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I hesitated to respond because I disagree on a fundamental with both the quoted post and some of the comments, and I really hate entering into what maybe feels like a point of contention. But the more I thought about it, the more I couldn't keep my mouth shut, so for better or for worse, this is my opinion:

The reason that I have a very hard time with blogs/posts like the one you mentioned is that there is an undercurrent of assuming to know more about a given topic than either God or his called prophet. There is also a quick trend to take anything that someone considers a mistake and make a sweeping generalization about the Church in general based upon what they perceive as wrong in another person's choices, attitudes, or behaviors.

Here's the thing. The God I know is perfect. And so is his church. People are stupid. They make mistakes. Even prophets make mistakes, but not in their role as a prophet. The policies they set for the church, the commandments they teach, and the doctrines they reveal are not mistakes. Why not? Because God does not make mistakes. What we, in our mortal mind frame may see as a prophetic injustice or poor church-wide administrative decision simply is not. We may not like it or understand it because we can identify "victims" of that policy, but we fail to see God's overall plan. He has promised that all of his children have access to ALL that he has. He is no respecter of persons; He does not discriminate. In an eternal sense, no one is denied His glory except by their own choice to reject it. But, in the meantime he DOES call prophets, he does inspire policies and guidelines that help the church to roll forth and fill the earth in His own time, in His own way-- fulfilling ancient and everlasting prophecy, despite the bumbling inadequacies of some of its members.

Saying that "God is in charge," and "things will all work out in the end" are not just mindless shrug-offs. It is a conclusion that can be arrived at by faithful prayer and confirmed by hopeful peace. It is a testimony that God does not make mistakes and that his ways are higher than ours, and that neither His plan nor His church are just a willy-nilly journey through trial and error, but that He is absolutely in charge of choreographing perfectly the pathway for all of his children to return to him and inherit all that He has.
While I completely get that it is human to not understand every single thing about it, we do ourselves (and God) a great disservice to write off something that what we don't understand as some kind of mistake. God knows what He's doing. Period.

Annette Lyon said...

I'm tempted to go over just to read that post.

But as with many other "edgy" LDS blogs, it's usually a waste of my energy. Get me annoyed or angry. Not worth my time.

Lara said...

I can't read sites like that. I read Exponent II for a while and Feminist Mormon Housewives, and I found they made me question my beliefs way too much. Some would say that that is a good thing, and I definitely did become firmer in my beliefs in some areas, but sometimes I think my testimony is actually a bit shakier in others.

I love what Stephanie said. That is basically how I feel. While it is so difficult for us to not be able to understand the end from the beginning, we aren't meant to. We are meant to have faith, not a perfect understanding. And if that means accepting that I don't have the priesthood (which I'm not sure I want anyway), that's fine.

There are issues that I wonder about and am not sure why Heavenly Father has taken the Church in certain directions. But I comfort myself in knowing that His ways are not my ways and that my questions will be answered someday.

I have no problems with the blacks in the priesthood or polygamy. I understand the reasons for both and I can see why the changes had to happen. This is a living church, and that allows for change. But the change has to be wrought by God and the prophet, not the people.

Suzanne Millar said...

I read Modern Mormon Men, most of the posts are quite funny. However, that particular post was very sad. I read that article and wanted to cry for his wife. I was so disturbed by his cowardly attitude...if he believes in what he says then why post it anonymously!
His wife has many good reasons to be upset with the man her husband has evolved (ha) into...he is secretive, manipulative,and condescending. Deep down, this guy knows he is full of it...I hope at least.
It is so sad to read about a man that used to want the right things turn into such a heartless and unfeeling man. His God given talents have been twisted by the great deceiver...what once was good about this man is gone, and what has been left in his place is a man of little worth. His article should have been titled..."Reasons I am Justified for Breaking My Savior's heart and My Wife's Heart."
I ache for his wife.
So, for me, this post wasn't so much an evaluation of conservative vs. liberal members of The Church of Jesus Christ, as much as it was a heart breaking (and sadly, so common) tale of what happens in this world when we fail to place the Savior in the center of our lives and also when we don't place our spouses needs before our own.