How To Stay in the LDS ( Mormon ) Church After Losing Your Faith
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How To Stay in the LDS ( Mormon ) Church After Losing Your Faith



How to stay in the LDS Church after losing your faith.

How to stay in the LDS Church after losing your faith.



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How To Stay in the LDS ( Mormon ) Church After Losing Your Faith How To Stay in the LDS ( Mormon ) Church After Losing Your Faith Presentation Transcript

  • How to Stay in the LDS Church After a Major Trial of Faith John P. Dehlin October 12, 2007
  • 3 Disclaimers
  • Staying is not for everyone Especially if you have no interest in being social
  • I am not advocating disobedience This is oriented towards those who need radical solutions to keep from leaving the church completely
  • “I am not a role model”
  • My Story
  • My Story
    • 5th generation LDS
    • Mormon world view
    • Very conservative theological and doctrinal LDS education
    • Served mission
    • Married in temple
    • “ Morally clean”
    • Aspired to high level church leadership positions
    • Called as early morning seminary teacher
  • In spite of 32 years of church education, didn’t ever learn about….
    • “ Peep stone in hat” treasure digging and translation of Book of Mormon
    • Credibility issues w/ the 3 and 8 witnesses
    • Multiple 1st vision stories, and the changing narrative of founding stories
    • Book of Mormon historicity issues
    • Book of Abraham papyri issues
    • Joseph Smith having 30+ wives, 8+ of them married to other men at the time they were sealed to Joseph
    • Post-Manifesto polygamy, and polygamy as a requirement for exaltation
    • The depth of the Temple/Masonry connections
    • The basics of Mountain Meadows (though lots about Haun’s mill)
    • The extent of female participation in priesthood ordinances
    • The extreme racist statements and opposition to civil rights by top church leaders
    • Etc., etc., etc.
  • I felt….
    • Deceived
    • Disappointed
    • Angry
    • Like it was all a fraud
    • Like I had a moral obligation to resign
  • I quickly discovered that I was not alone….not by a long shot
  • “ Dear John, For now I will let you know I am active but disillusioned somewhat. I used to be a hobby apologist but could no longer defend what became un-defendable. I am currently serving as the bishop of the XXXXXX, XX ward and am four years and 9 months into that call.” Three a week……
  • “ It was about two and a half years ago when I concluded much to my dismay that things really were not what I had always believed I had a strong and abiding testimony of. It has been very difficult to come to that point while serving as a bishop. But still I maintain my faith in God and Christ and much of what I have come to love from the LDS Church.”
  • Common causes of crisis….
    • Never received a satisfactory witness
    • Emotion vs. spirit
    • Inspirational non-Mormons
    • Doing the numbers
    • LDS church history
    • The marginalized
    • Abused in some way
    • Not being edified / bored
    • Often occurs in those who care too much, not too little.
  • The most common instincts…
  • Try to talk to loved ones or trusted leaders….to little avail
  • Try to discuss in Sunday School/Priesthood/Relief Society
  • Isolation and Depression
  • “ Mr. Dehlin, I came across your website by accident. But I have found something that I have been searching for, [for] a long time…”
  • “ I have been VERY naive in my faith with what I have been taught. In the last year…I started to realize that my testimony, the testimony that I held to so very close to my soul, was being attacked by what looked and acted like truth [and] that contradicted what I was taught. I began to feel betrayed.”
  • “ My immediate reaction was one of going to my close friends and family… all that did was make my relationships with them strain to a new high. I realized I was now on a island, all by myself, no one to talk to or pull from…”
  • “ And then something happened just recently, the Stake President called me to the Stake High Council. … very reluctantly, I accepted the call. So here I am, as a member of a Stake High Council with SERIOUS issues…”
  • ” I have entered a very dark place. I refer to it as a dark place because what I believed was light, now seems dark.”
  • “ The church is either exactly what it claims to be, or the biggest fraud ever perpetrated upon mankind”
  • “ I would that ye be either hot or cold. But if you art luke warm, then I will spew thee out of my mouth!”
  • Can’t do hot. Can’t be luke warm (no spewing, please). What can I do?
  • Inactivity! (for some) and for others…..
  • Resignation!!!!!! The “cross the Rubicon, burn the bridges, Exit Letter” approach
  • Be aware of the costs/risks of this approach
  • Potential practical downsides to public resignation
    • Somewhat selfish/narcissistic -- your problems are not always their problems
    • Seems to lead to a downward spiral of cynicism, bitterness and negativity
    • High risk of alienation from LDS family, friends, and community
    • Can be highly disruptive to children / marriages
    • Important life decisions should rarely be made from a place of anger and pure emotion
    • Would you sell a car or house without having a replacement plan?
    • Gives you little room (from an ego perspective) to change your mind later
  • John, ….We continue to attend a local neighborhood church, which is fine except for the times that I miss being a Mormon. Do you know what I mean? I sometimes wonder if I can ever shake it, or if I'm supposed to? It's in my blood, to a certain extent. I think it's an emotional reaction, but it is real and I have to work through it. I would love to know how you are hanging in with the church. Is it working? I try to envision it, and find that there is so much I wouldn't be able to do and say that my ward would want me to do and say..... I don't know how I would make it work when I can't tow the party line. But I love many things about Mormonism. This is my dilemma....
  • Anger is a cancer
  • Avoid negative, critical, intolerant people
  • Embrace this stage. Prepare yourself for deeper levels of enlightenment, empathy, understanding.
  • I had to let it go David Wilcox
  • I watched it sinking down The treasure I’d almost found is gone I had been holding on so long I had to let it go
  • I wagered my heart and soul All of that weight in gold and dreams The man that I thought I should be I had to let it go
  • High above the broken opening I see A light of love is spoken Welcoming me
  • Now that I remember How this love can be Full of my surrender Emptying Into the deep blue sky
  • When it’s my time to fly away I can believe relieve this weight Now I can let it go Now I can let it go
  • All of this love I’ve saved I get to let it go.
  • Embrace this stage. Prepare yourself for deeper levels of enlightenment, empathy, understanding.
  • Why Stay?
  • Practical Reasons to Stay
    • Reinforcement of spirituality
    • Culture/identity (“my tribe”)
    • Community
    • Family
    • Children
    • Clean living
    • Undeniable good
    • Best there is?
    • Much of the doctrine
    • Make it better -- much pain to assuage
    • A place to serve, and be served
    • The hymns ROCK!!!!
  • Baby and bathwater
  • What I’m not saying…. That you can’t find this stuff outside the church, or that Mormons have a monopoly on any of this stuff
  • What I’m not saying…. No one should leave, and all will find misery
  • What I am saying….
  • Replacing all these things is perhaps possible, but in reality very, very hard The home schooling analogy
  • Rethink the role of religion
  • “ Religion is a realization -- not talk, not doctrine, nor theories -- however beautiful these may be. Religion is being and becoming, not hearing and acknowledging. It is not an intellectual ascent -- but the transformation of one’s whole life.” Swami Vivekandanda
  • While remaining open to literal truths, don’t minimize the importance of myth and metaphor
  • “ Myth is what never was, but always will be.” Joseph Campbell
  • The truth behind the “myths”
    • Divine worth (civil rights, respect, decency)
    • Prayer (meditation)
    • Faith (optimism)
    • Baptism (commitment)
    • Repentance (positive change)
    • Revelation (being “present”)
    • Service (love)
    • Priesthood power (natural law)
    • Authority/hierarchy (order, leadership)
    Even if you were a 100% non-believer, consider the practical value behind messages like….
  • The truth behind the “myths”
    • “Traditional families” (important component of society)
      • Family Home Evening
    • Gender-based roles (order)
    • Genealogy (appreciation for history)
    • Personal purity (clean living)
    • Scripture study (deep thought, meditation)
    • Lay clergy (self-governance)
    • Tithing (sacrifice, charity)
    • Home teaching
  • The truth behind the warnings about leaving Many do find sadness, alienation, isolation, regret, etc. on the other end
  • Go slowly
    • Don’t burn bridges
    • Be careful who you talk to
    • Don’t try to “shock” or “enlighten” people
    • Where will go you? Is another church, or no church really the solution?
    • Many regret having left, or ultimately come back
  • Accepting Imperfection
    • You
    • Your spouse
    • Your family
    • Your employer
    • Your country
    • The world “Is it a Mormon problem, or a human problem?”
  • Adjust your expectations
    • The Church
    • Church leadership
    • Members
    • Ward experience
    • History
  • Unplug from caring about what others think of you religiously
  • Physician…heal thyself. Whatever weakness or anger you retain, will only follow you
  • On being a “Buffet Mormon”
    • Everyone falls short. Everyone.
    • Instead of getting depressed, embrace this notion.
    • I’m NOT encouraging this approach.
    • However, if push comes to shove….
  • Temple Recommend
    • Never lie or deceive
    • There will always be some disconnect between what the questioner and the answerer mean
    • Understanding the setup:
      • Intentionally vague questions
      • No additional questions allowed
      • You are the judge
      • Nobody’s perfect
      • Results may vary depending on the leader
  • Dealing with the main questions
    • God
    • Jesus
    • Restoration
    • Gordon B. Hinckley as prophet
    • Affiliation with anti-Mormon groups
    • Word of wisdom
    • Tithing
  • Raising Children
    • Be specific about why you go
    • De-program as necessary (but constructively)
      • Vengeful God
      • “ One trueness”
      • Infallibility of leaders
      • “ Better than non-LDS”
      • Bigoted God
        • Connections between race and cursings, homosexuality
      • Science and religion
    • Focus on the positive
  • It’s all about the people “ one one one” relationships
  • Focus on the “average” member, not the most vocal
  • Seek out like-minded folk Inactives, Quiet
  • Sometimes it’s the culture, not the leadership
    • 5,000,000 active members
    • International church, multi-language
    • Hard to steer a very large ship
    • Focus on the sensible, reasonable folks
    • Ignore the more vocal, dogmatic ones
    • Better yet, learn to love them
  • Always protect yourself and your loved ones (Not just a church thing)
  • Supplement for spirituality
    • Good books
    • Nature
    • Family time
    • Meaningful friends
    • Exercise
    • Small groups
  • A place to serve, not to be served
  • Common Courtesy, Good Manners “ Treat devout LDS members at least as courteously as you would members of other faiths”
  • Understanding the “One True Church” Position
    • Successful, growing churches make absolute truth claims
    • The brethren sincerely believe this
    • Follow the Reorganized LDS Church’s model?
    • Learn to move past the binary world view. This is dangerous in or out of the church.
  • Seek to understand Why are people acting the way they are acting?
  • Understanding the Brethren’s dilemma
    • Raised devout
    • Mission, early marriage, work
    • Little time to dig deep
    • Sincerely believe
    • Past attempts at openness backfired
    • Undermining their own authority
    • Managing for the many, not the few
  • Understanding the root causes of orthodoxy in family/friends
    • Fear
    • Death of family
    • Depression
    • Addiction
    • Divorce
    • The Santa Claus analogy
  • James Fowler’s Stages of Faith
    • Stage 3: Everything in the world makes sense. All the pieces fit. You, or someone in your faith community, knows all the answers. Your thinking comes from trusted authority figures.
    • Stage 4: Life experiences cause you to acknowledge other perspectives as good and valid. Maybe mine is one among others. You begin to pull apart your beliefs (the fish), and to take responsibility for the formation of your own world view. Can lead to anger, bitterness and resentment in more conservative traditions. Danger is faling a bit too in love w/ your own positions.
  • Fowler’s Stages of Faith
    • Stage 5 (our goal): Finding more depth and meaning in the universe beyond rationalism/humanism. Re-immersion in and finding value in myth, tradition, imperfection. Finding new depths of meaning through embracing paradox
    • (light is both wave and particle). Transcendence.
  • “ Why the church is as true as the gospel” Eugene England
  • Holy Now by Peter Mayer
  • Holy Now , by Peter Mayer
    • When I was a boy, each week On Sunday, we would go to church And pay attention to the priest As he would read the Holy Word. And consecrate the holy bread And everyone would kneel and bow Today the only difference is Everything is holy now.
    • Everything, everything, Everything is holy now . . .
  • Holy Now
    • When I was in Sunday School We would learn about the time Moses split the sea in two Jesus made the water wine And I remember feeling sad that miracles don’t happen still But now I can’t keep track ’Cause everything’s a miracle
    • Everything, everything Everything’s a miracle . . .
  • Holy Now
    • Wine from water is not so small, but an even better magic trick is that anything is here at all. So, the challenging thing becomes not to look for miracles, but finding where there isn’t one.
  • Holy Now
    • When holy water was rare at best I barely wet my finger tips. Now I have to hold my breath ’cause I’m swimming in a sea of it.
    • It used to be a world half there heaven’s second rate hand me down but I’m walking with a reverent air ’cause everything’s holy now.
  • Holy Now
    • Read a questioning child’s face, to say it’s not a testament, that’d be very hard to say. See another new morning come, say it’s not a sacrament, I tell you that it can’t be done.
  • Holy Now
    • This morning outside I stood I saw a little red-winged bird Shining like a burning bush Singing like a scripture verse It made me want to bow my head I remember when church let out how things have changed since then, everything is holy now.
  • Holy Now
    • It used to be a world half there, heaven’s second rate hand me down Now I walk it with a reverent air ’cause everything’s holy now.
  • Inspired, and Maybe Even True
    • God
    • Jesus
    • Book of Mormon
    • Joseph Smith
    • President Hinckley
    • The Church
    This is what “faith” and “the Holy Ghost” are really all about
  • Keep going to church. Keep praying. Keep reading the scriptures.
  • End with powerful stories
  • Stay Open An example: Ted Lyon
  • Making a difference by staying
    • Build credit
      • Serve, serve, serve
    • Spend it judiciously
    • Change hearts and minds one at a time
  • Not for everyone
    • Lots of work
    • Usually must really love people
    • “Fasten your seatbelts!!!!!”
  • Valuable Resources
    • “ Why the Church is as true as the gospel” -- Eugene England
    • “ What the Church means to people like me” -- Richard Poll
    • “ For Those Who Wonder” --Jeff Burton
    • http:// --Ann Porter
    • “ How to stay in the LDS Church after becoming disaffected” --John Dehlin
    • “ Why people leave the LDS church, and what we can do about it” --John Dehlin
    • Sunstone & Dialogue
    • James Fowler’s “Stages of Faith”
  • “ It’s almost time” David Wilcox
  • “It’s almost time” Just across the sea on this world so round the sun’s shining hot right now. And even though the winter still surrounds this town I can still feel that sun somehow.
  • “It’s almost time” When I know that my sun will shine just as sure as this world can spin, I can hold on fine, ’cause it’s almost time, for that sun to come ’round again.
  • “It’s almost time” So I’ll walk beside the sea on this frozen ground where there once was a warm weather crowd. Even though that summer’s been a long time gone, I can still feel that sun somehow.
  • “It’s almost time” When I know that my sun will shine just as sure as this world can spin, I can hold on fine, ’cause it’s almost time, for that sun to come ’round again.
  • “It’s almost time” When your love grows cold and your heart grows dark and the blame seems to fall on you. Well look how seasons must change and don’t think it so strange that your love goes in circles, too.
  • “It’s almost time” And just know that your sun will shine just as sure as this world can spin, and I know you’ll find, that it’s almost time, for that love to come ’round again. We can hold on fine, ’cause it’s almost time, for that love to come ’round again.