On dissuading others

The phenomenon of trying to dissuade someone from their current beliefs is a fascinating one. What inspires such behavior? For the LDS faithful, it is a heart-felt desire to share what they believe is the world’s most important message (the Restoration) so that others can come to enjoy the blessings of the gospel in their lives now and eternal relationships with their family members in the next. For those who have left the LDS faith, it is often a heart-felt desire to share what they’ve learned about the dubious foundations of the church so that members can come to enjoy the blessings of independent thought and spiritual exploration rather than fear-filled conformity to whatever the apostles and prophets teach (evidenced by members “putting on the shelf” any doubts/concerns which church dogmas or practices inspire). Many who have lost their testimonies of the church feel judged by devout members (“You’ve lost the Spirit”– “You’ve failed the test of faith”– “You wanted to sin”– “You’re listening to Satan”–etc.) and would do about anything to convince their family members that the church should be the one on trial, not the whistleblowers. “Live and let live” is one possible mantra for life. “Share what you learn” is another. Which philosophy you choose to follow is often determined by your level of “passion” for improving the world and promoting your definition/understanding of “truth.”  I, for one, am very passionate.
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On the ills of monogamy . . . ?!

Someone recently noted how the church makes a crisis attack on the family with itself as the solution . . . Ironically, the arguments/ideals the church uses today as its solution for civilization and the family  (i.e. fidelity within monogamy) are diametrically opposed to those upheld by Brigham Young and other early church leaders, who claimed monogamy was going to bring the ruin of modern civilization as it had the Roman empire.

Familiar with these quotes?

“It is a fact worthy of note that the shortest lived nations of which we have record have been monogamic. Rome…was a monogamic nation and the numerous evils attending that system early laid the foundation for that ruin which eventually overtook her.”
– Apostle George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 202

“…the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people.”
– Prophet John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227

“Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire….Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers…. Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord’s servants have always practiced it. ‘And is that religion popular in heaven?’ it is the only popular religion there,…”
– The Prophet Brigham Young, The Deseret News, August 6, 1862

“This law of monogamy, or the monogamic system, laid the foundation for prostitution and the evils and diseases of the most revolting nature and character under which modern Christendom groans,…”
– Apostle Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, page 195

“We breathe the free air, we have the best looking men and handsomest women, and if they (Non-Mormons) envy us our position, well they may, for they are a poor, narrow-minded, pinch-backed race of men, who chain themselves down to the law of monogamy, and live all their days under the dominion of one wife. They ought to be ashamed of such conduct, and the still fouler channel which flows from their practices; and it is not to be wondered at that they should envy those who so much better understand the social relations.”
– Apostle George A Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, page 291

“I have noticed that a man who has but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and dry up, while a man who goes into plurality [of wives] looks fresh, young, and sprightly. Why is this? Because God loves that man, and because he honors his word. Some of you may not believe this, but I not only believe it but I also know it. For a man of God to be confined to one woman is small business. I do not know what we would do if we had only one wife apiece.”
– Apostle Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses Vol 5, page 22

“Just ask yourselves, historians, when was monogamy introduced on to the face of the earth? When those buccaneers, who settled on the peninsula where Rome now stands, could not steal women enough to have two or three apiece, they passed a law that a man should have but one woman. And this started monogamy and the downfall of the plurality system. In the days of Jesus, Rome, having dominion over Jerusalem, they carried out the doctrine more or less. This was the rise, start and foundation of the doctrine of monogamy; and never till then was there a law passed, that we have any knowledge of, that a man should have but one wife. ”
– The Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses Vol. 12, page 262

“Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout Christendom, and which had been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious.”
– The Prophet Brigham Young Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p. 128

(List of quotes found at Rethinking Mormonism.)

I say, “Pish posh!”  Being loved and cherished (exclusively!) by my husband is the most beautiful thing in the world!  A great marriage is a great deterrent to depression.  It brings great stability to our family, and a sense of security to the children.  I have come to understand that Erik is my gift and that my happiness is to be found in my (monogamous!) marriage.   Sorry guys–you got this one wrong!

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The Inner Search

I, for one, am very grateful for my evolving beliefs about God.  I have found peace in believing that it is not God’s primary intention to test us–nor to solve our problems once we’ve “dotted all our i’s and crossed all our t’s.”  In things both spiritual and temporal, I believe he waits for us to think things through, to try things out, to ask questions, to seek meaning, to learn from our experience, to determine what is good, to fill our lives with joy –which is the very purpose of our being here.

Having one’s understanding of God gift-wrapped in the revelations of a holy book or a living oracle may be comforting, but it tends to keep one from a free, responsible search for truth, goodness, and meaning.  Relying on (i.e. fully trusting) the received wisdom of one’s prophet, guru, or holy book as the “Answer” to all of life’s questions is the very seedbed for stagnancy and susceptibility, for it diminishes one’s inherent wisdom/conscience/perception while also thwarting future personal growth and enlightenment. More troubling, however, is that blind submission to authority can lead individuals to do atrocious acts which they would never have considered without the religious indoctrination fueling the flames of hate.

Enslavement of the mind via religious tyranny is a pathetic condition, a tremendous opportunity cost for the oppressed, and I cannot believe it is a divine principle.  My experience is that God does not force us to see things his way!   I imagine he delights in our strivings but also accepts us at whatever spiritual place we “rest” or “abide in” for a time.  How different from religions who attempt to force their adherents to accept and follow their “Way” to salvation, who hold up the threat of eternal damnation for those who cannot believe.  Exercising coercion with fear-filled threats is diabolical, in my view.  How ironic.  I worship a much more benign God, a god of complete understanding, who is thrilled at our wonder, ambitions, and growth but who also sympathizes with us when we are simply not ready to change.

I have experienced the great blessing it is to wonder, to inquire, to open the door to my heart.  The Inner Search– seeking the “light within”–is a process I’ll never tire of.

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