Why all the LDS disciplinary council backlash?

I hope that I can give some insight into the strong feelings associated with this story without breeding the contention that frequently accompanies religious conversations. I only began listening to The Mormon Stories podcast regularly about a month ago, but my exposure to it has been so positive and reaffirming. A week ago, listening to the Radio West story on New Order Mormons I felt a pang of regret for leaving so decisively. That regret has obviously dissolved since then.

Where I am now with Mormonism is the culmination of many years of intense prayer and thought. I started having questions in college after becoming close with a gay friend almost a decade ago. I had my big crisis of faith shortly after moving to Provo in 2007. I “came out” to my family about not being Mormon in 2010. I resigned formally in April of last year. At this point, I feel as if I will never finish leaving. I’m alright with that. I was raised LDS and it has shaped much of my life and worldview. I will always be a product of Mormonism, and I feel its influence in my life daily. Many may say that my opinion on The Church’s policies and doctrine is moot because I no longer have a stake in it. To them, I respectfully disagree. My mother loves the church. My father continues to believe it in spite of his excommunication. My sisters are active, enthusiastic members. My nephew will be raised in it. I have wonderful friends who have found their peace and purpose in it. I’m convinced that the social nature of my local ward is a primary contributor to my neighborhood being so friendly. As long as I have a stake in the well-being of my loved ones and community, I have a stake in the church.

John Dehlin has not created a crisis of faith for others, he has mitigated ones that already existed. He has fostered much-needed support for those of us who felt we lost a sense of community when our integrity could no-longer continue to ignore inconsistencies The Church presents. His candor gave me permission to ponder the difficult parts of Mormonism, but his tone and example gave me the tools to let go of anger associated with them. He addresses the duality of The Church which has allowed me to appreciate how it has blessed me in the past, how it continues to bless others, and not to judge where another person is in their spiritual journey.

John is the embodiment of one of my most firmly held beliefs which is that you can’t fully love something unless you know it. The good and the bad. John’s curiosity has meant learning every nook and cranny of Mormon history and culture, and he has stayed. The Church has a fiercely loyal, however unorthodox, ally in John Dehlin, but doesn’t seem to appreciate their need for him. Something I have heard repeated on the Mormon Stories Facebook page and blog comments the past couple of days is, “If there is not room in The Church for John Dehlin, there is not room for me.” I don’t believe The Church realizes what they would be doing by disciplining John & Kate with excommunication. In my opinion, this move could force many members further into isolation and secrecy. It would be breeding resentment that comes from being compelled into a state of cognitive dissonance.

 

I feel angry about this news because John has been diplomatic and respectful, but in return, he’s being punished. I feel sad because a couple years ago, a friend shared this message of him explaining why he stays in The Church and he is being threatened with removal from it. But mostly, I feel discouraged because for all the progress The Church has made, however slow, this is a big step back to 1993.

My thoughts and prayers go out to John, Kate, their families, and The Church. I hope that, when all is said and done, the good that comes out of this is greater than the pain and confusion it has caused.

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4 thoughts on “Why all the LDS disciplinary council backlash?

  1. Respectfully, Your opinion may not be moot but in this piece it reveals a real bias and lacks intellectual honesty and certainly gives evidence to your speaking out of your depth.
    You have described John as showing diplomacy, candor, and respectful behavior, as NOT having created a crisis of faith for others, as no longer ignoring inconsistencies personally, but instead is an ally (somehow).
    How is it that you have come to the knowledge that given his influence of the internet, he has not created a crisis in faith of anyone or perhaps hundreds outside of your sight? Who would know of that best within the church?
    These other attributes you identify have no essential bearing on judgements made by leadership in regard to apostasy. Perhaps you are not aware but those other attributes you mention are not the substance of his actions that bring HIM to this crisis in the church.
    “There is a road to the heart and it doesn’t go through the intellect.’ (G K Chesterton).

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    1. Yes, this post was meant more to articulate the feelings being expressed by so many disaffected and struggling LDS and less of an exhaustive intellectual pursuit. I believe feelings are important. I believe it can be therapeutic to express them. I wrote it because I was surprised at how upset I was. After crying off and on for a few days and reading a lot of Facebook arguments between good friends on either side I thought it could be helpful to share why this has been emotional for so many people, myself included.

      To help limit the scope of this article, and because I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to speculate about the Church’s line of thinking, I decided not to go into that. I think I can partly see where the church is coming from and what a difficult position it has created for itself over the years. No one person is to “blame.” In my opinion, the situation The Church finds itself in seems to be a result of cumulative decisions made by well-meaning men trying to do what’s right for the greatest number of people under their jurisdiction. Part of the appeal of The Church are the rules and structure it provides. It demands a lot from its members. Without the work and dedication it requires, I think that The Church loses some of what sets it apart in many people’s eyes. The leadership told John it was okay to have his ideas but, “not to buy a printing press.” That prompt went unheeded because to go against it would be to go against what John knew to be right. As you probably know, he is a counselor who works closely with LGBT members and I imagine has seen firsthand the anguish and damage that comes from trying to internalize and ignore feelings like this. To be silent, I’m sure, did not seem like an option.

      My claims about John not initiating crises of faith are based on my personal experiences, other friend’s experiences, and a study commissioned by church leadership, conducted by Mormon Stories, and presented by John here:

      http://mormonstories.org/top-5-myths-and-truths-about-why-committed-mormons-leave-the-church/

      I don’t necessarily think you need to listen to it, but I think the title speaks for itself. In my experience talking with other people in my situation and listening to others’ stories, the thing that started their issues with the church came from church literature and/or history. Most LDS people are afraid to read anything that may be in the same vein as “anti-mormon.” So, while my original statement was broader than it should have been (I’m sure there are exceptions), I stand by it in general terms.

      I hope those not in a position to articulate their feelings right now are able to take a deep breath and know they aren’t alone in this. Before I told my family I was leaving was a very difficult and emotionally tumultuous time in my life. Back then, coming across someone else’s story, someone I could relate to about these issues, was like manna from heaven.

      I also hope it helps to highlight the common ground TBM and strugglers have. I hope it helps elevate the conversation. I do appreciate you reading and your input. I’ll try not to be so lax about my qualifiers in the future :)

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  2. I’m not Mormon, but I can tell that this event is causing a tremendous amount of pain to many people. I have to say, most people are handling this with a tremendous amount of grace. (I have yet to see a post with swears or death threats, which is good.)
    Oh, I do think your opinion matters.

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