Although pained in the beginning by her animosity toward me, I've come to a place of peace and understanding. With the objectivity of 2 years out of the church, I can more clearly see that my sister (and parents to a lesser degree) are simply products of Mormon culture. Their reaction to my questioning and leaving the church has only reinforced my understanding of some of the destructive elements of Mormon doctrine and culture.
Among these destructive elements are:
1- a paranoia of anything which is "anti-Mormon"
2- the belief that apostates (those who leave the church) are to be shunned
3- the belief that leaving the church (apostasy) is the worst of all sins and is unpardonable
4- the belief that family bonds are of ultimate value, can only be preserved through temple sealing, and are surely shattered when a member leaves the church.
5- the belief that we are saved through our performance and adherence to commandments/rules (such as the word of wisdom, temple rituals, obeying the sabbath, etc)
6- the belief that men (us mere mortals) can be ordained by God to sit in judgment on one another
7- the belief that God loves us conditionally (Mormons in turn love themselves and others
8- the belief that the LDS church is the only true church and that all other denominations are "an abomination in the sight of God" (words of Joseph Smith).
9- the belief that the best angle to investigate the church is from the church, itself (to me, this is akin to asking a homeowner to do his/her own home inspection for a home buyer - no one in their right mind would do this due to obvious bias)
10- the belief that drinking a cup of coffee or having a glass of wine are indicators by which you judge character.
I find the irony of Mormon culture pathetic. On one hand, they claim to be centered on family values and love/compassion, but on the other, judging, hating, shunning, are a big part of the culture toward anyone or thing not pro-Mormon. Pathetic.
Families are an adversary to the church!
This is because the family presents a competing loyalty. The church requires complete dedication from the individual, not the family unit. Anyone who has had a parent or spouse have a calling of any kind knows the demands on time, talents and energy the church requires at the expense of time away from home. The church does not hide this fact. It is stated explicitly in the temple ceremony.
Even Jesus agrees, and makes no bones about it: “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. … He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”
It is worth pointing out that the high level of loyalty the Mormon church (and all churches) demands goes against our biological hard-wiring, which inherently makes us care for kin more than any other persons or organizations.
Another revealing practice is the edict to focus on the atonement rather than the person at funerals. The church handbook says:
“When a bishop conducts a funeral, he or one of his counselors oversees the planning of the service. He considers the wishes of the family, but he ensures that the funeral is simple and dignified, with music and brief addresses and sermons centered on the gospel, including the comfort afforded by the Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection. Members of the family should not feel that they are required to speak or otherwise participate in the service.”
“Funerals provide an important opportunity to teach the gospel and testify of the plan of salvation. They also provide an opportunity to pay tribute to the deceased. However, such tributes should not dominate a funeral service. Having large numbers of people share tributes or memories can make a funeral too long and may be inappropriate for a Church service.”
Even here, the church wants to undermine the family and the celebrating and remembering of its departed members. The church wants the focus for itself. It takes the control out of the family’s hands. “Members of the family should not feel that they are required to speak or otherwise participate in the service.” In other words, don’t say anything. Just sit there passively and let us talk about Jesus and further our organizational purposes.
Another example is the ostracizing of family members who do not practice Mormonism. Persons who do not hold “recommends” are not allowed to see their family members get married. Oh, but they can, the believer says, they just need to abandon their beliefs and agree to ours. Then they can participate with their family in one of the most central rituals in human society.
Apostates like me become an antagonistic force in my family, even if I never say a word about my unbelief. To the church, I am the enemy. By extension, since the church is my parents’ more important family (body of Christ and all that), I am an enemy to them. This discomfort between me and my folks is evident even though I am rarely vocal about my lack of belief.
I do not think the church is good for families, or built with them in mind. The church is built with the church, and its interests, in mind. It seeks a peaceable co-existence with families because it is good for business. But should the family unit grow too strong, that would be bad for business because that would present a competing loyalty.
The Church uses families to strengthen the hold of the cult on the members. Family Home Evening is when church lessons are given as a family at home. Parents (who made no vows of love to each other in their temple marriage ceremony but did vow to keep all covenants to the Church) are instructed to point boys toward missions and girls toward temple marriage from infancy.
The Church doesn't strengthen the family, it hijacks the family to strengthen itself.
I came to the realization that the Church is what it is and uses the family orientation as a marketing tool. As you point out, once you don't agree and it seems to be no turn back then you are subject to be rejected as you no longer can inherit the celestial kingdom with them.
Missionaries tell common-law partners to either marry their partner or abandon the relation to become members. Or missionaries also tell kids to find another home if life is too impossible to bear with coffee drinkers under the same roof.
I think mormons are isolating themselves from the world more and more, they rationalize this saying that the world is wicker and wicker, I think is the contrary, the Church is using fascist regime techniques and eventually will not be able to cope with youth desertion.
That is what i find now, my marriage is better, my relation with my litle children is of better quality and more time, I cannot wait until eternity to enjoy my family.
Big issue is that as a mormon you actually believe you are doing the best for your family... Plato cave
I think you're right. I never noticed those things when I was a believer, of course, but I see how true they are the further away from the gospel and my family I get. Also, as I read what people like you say, I can see the truth in it. Thanks.
By the way, I like your pictures of Hawii (It is Hawii isn't it?), Beautiful! I used to free dive and scuba when I lived in the California Bay Area. Brings back memories. Never been to Hawii, but would love to visit.
My sister sent me an email last year stating that she and her family were leaving the church, I believe her words were "there is no way on earth it could be true". I completely ignored it. I was uncomfortable talking to my sister because I couldn't relate to her experience, and it scared me that there might be some reason for her and her RM TBM hubby to reject the church. So I looked into it, and boy was I right and so was she. I hope your sister will check it out on her own - she needn't even look at anti-mormon sources. I have found the true history to be quite eyeopening without reliance on any "anti mormon" stuff. After reading thousands of pages of history books, I contacted her last week to tell her that I agreed with her. I hope this for you, dear Kate.
Pollypinks, I too ask my family to cremate me because it was the cheapest. I don't care where the ashes are thrown either. Even when I was a believer, I thought this way. I could see no reason for burial. God would have no problem resurrecting me, even from ashes. But, does the church say you're resurrected from our remains, or can it be from any atoms? Oh, well, nevermind. It's all hokum anyway.
The last time I mentioned it to my family, I said do what you want. I won't care when I'm dead. It's your money.