Friday, August 8, 2014

Family Who Self-empower

The Mormon leaders have listened carefully to these words of Jesus:  
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For 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. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:34-37 )

The temple is the sword by which Mormons carry out Jesus' teaching that a family divided over belief is unworthy of Him. Yes, temple worthiness is a weapon.

Mormon youth, especially young girls and women are inundated with families-are-forever lessons about being temple worthy and finding a young returned missionary to take to the temple where they are sealed together. A faith-doubting spouse can crush that.  Perhaps not officially, but certainly in the minds of every member.  They know this because almost every Mormon family has an un-tithed sister or excommunicated uncle who paces outside the temple alone while the rest of the adult family recline in plush seats watching the young couple get sealed inside the exclusive LDS temple.  It’s a pay-per-view ordinance and pay-to-play ceremony, where you must prove you're tithed and show your sustaining devotion to all that is Mormon before you can walk past security at the temple doors.

The temple worthiness interview questions your devotion and loyalty to the church leaders, your chastity, honesty, and even your friendships.  The interview asks: 
"Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?" (wording as of at least a decade ago.)

By implication, if you befriend or even dare associate with apostates, you might have to stand with your rebel-uncle or welfare-sister outside the temple while your own daughter is sealed in marriage.

In fact, if you have a family member who is actively engaged in apostate groups, the bishops are instructed, according to one recent edition of the Church Handbook of Instructions in a section entitled, "Members Whose Close Relatives Belong to Apostate Groups" that:
"Bishops and their counselors must take exceptional care when issuing recommends to members whose parents or other close relatives belong to or sympathize with apostate groups. Such members must demonstrate clearly that they repudiate these apostate religious teachings before they may be issued a recommend."

Is this institutionalized shunning?  Is this their way of fulfilling Christ’s words that he came with a sword to divide “daughter against her mother”?  It seems to portray Jesus’ words about a “man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

When asked by a BBC reporter in 2012 about official shunning, Apostle Jeffery Holland said, "If I had a son or a daughter who left the Church or was alienated or had a problem, I can tell you I would not cut that child out of family life," stated Holland.   He further clarified (~5:20 in above video): "If that is what they believe, it's probably a good thing they leave, because we're not a cult."

Holland fails to understand that not cutting that child out of family but encouraging unbelievers to leave the family church for not agreeing strictly with them does sound very cultish to non-members.  Perhaps not as high-pitched as Amish-shunning, but...  In one breath the apostle wants to claim he wouldn't cut his child out and then says in another it is a good thing that disbelieving members leave because "we're not a cult". 

Today, Friday Aug 8 at 2PM MDT, the FairMormon conference in Provo, UT hosts a panel discussion on “Family members who left”.  LDS church members see family members who do leave as a problem worthy of panel discussions. Never mind that airing family matters in public is distasteful and is well beyond improper boundaries—most LDS members are encouraged by their leadership to use guilt and manipulation for breaking personal boundaries.  But the panel will likely encourage self-victimhood. 

I can just hear some of the dialogue this afternoon; not disimilar to ramblings from a Fast-n-Testimony meeting.  “When I married him, he was the perfect returned missionary,” one woman-panelist says, “but then he read that stuff online and began doubting.  Now I don’t even recognize the man I married.  I fasted and prayed for him.  I went to the temple and put his name on the prayer rolls. But it was no help.” Tears well and a sob catches in her throat as she laments, “Now he openly fights against the church and he lies to our kids.  I fear Satan has such a grip on him that even my own elect children will fall away, too.”  The heartfelt audience raises sympathy for this poor woman who is a victim.  The FAIR panel moderator will ask, “What kind of lies does he tell your children?”  Then begins the litany of "sins" which justify shunning “family members who left”. 

It is not uncommon for Mormons to turn the individual actions of a disbelieving loved-one into a reason to feel victimized.  Because if you leave, you have severed their temple sealing and it affects their own salvation.  This is the doctrine of families are forever, until you begin to have reasonable doubts -- then often families must avoid the apostate and feel victimized because they can no longer be forever with the deceived loved-one.

There once was a couple whose marriage was threatened in part by testimony differences.  Their bishop counseled with them and told the doubting husband, “In the temple you covenant to obey God, while your wife covenants to obey you, her husband, as long as you obey God.  How can I counsel her to stay with you if your relationship with Christ is jeopardized by your doubts of the church?”  

That bishop chained the entire future of the marriage around the ankles of the man’s doubts.  The bishop justified the wife to feel victimized by her husband's concerns, rather than develop healthy willingness to consider the validity of her love’s thoughts.  The woman, who believed the sexist doctrines that her covenant was to a man and not with her God, was also caught in the snare that LDS teachings lay for them both—that it is the Mormon church who controls your marriage, not the partners.

Controlling the marriage and the family is the "political economy" of the invisible line between public and private in Mormon matters.  Who benefits from the fact that family matters are publicly aired by panels or controlled through temple worthiness?  The LDS church itself -- financially, by ensuring compliant and frightened members who will do everything they can to remain temple-active.  And they maintain that line by indirect encouragement of ostracizing family apostates right in the worthiness interview.

It is a typical behavior of those defeated by reason and logic to just attack the messenger. It is probably ridiculous to worry over it; except that Wasatch Front jobs and family status are jeopardized when these apologetic henchmen start their ad-hominem whittling.   Molly Ivins once said, “I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.”  I suppose that’s the worst of it—a slimy after-feeling.  We ex-Mormons are freed from being guilted into sobbing victimhood. It is incredibly self-empowering.

We don't have to encourage our LDS family to leave, but we do hope they become self-empowered.

Do other religions use their temples as swords?


  1. When I was a missionary, I viewed myself as a family sealer. When people acted evasive and tried to get away from us, I was totally confused. "What's the big deal? I'm just sharing the truth, and helping families stay together forever!" Now I understand why my actions were so insidious. I wielded a social sword. I was a family stealer. I spread falsehoods without knowing the full story. I fully regret being a Mormon missionary.

  2. Words cannot convey how much I hate the Mormon church. It has wounded my heart from more directions than can ever be explained.

    Morning Glory

  3. The Savior didn’t say, “a family divided over belief is unworthy of Him”. He said, “He that loveth father or mother (or son or daughter) more than me is not worthy of me.”

    These two thoughts are different from one another. The ‘sword’ Jesus talks about is any instrument that ‘cuts’ through false ideas (doctrines) and exposes the truth, even though raw and bloody as it may appear afterward. So, when someone chooses to submit to social and religious memes established by an organization that declares itself the ‘one and only true church’, instead of following Jesus according to the dictates of his or her *own* Christian understanding, then that person is not worthy to be called a Christian.

    Sure, the Mormon church uses temple sealing rituals to drive a wedge between family members, but the irony is that those who are deemed ‘unworthy’ by the Mormon church and cast out, are many of those who have chosen the harder road to follow Jesus in real truth rather than give into strong and powerful social pressures and tactics of intimidation and guilt levied by the Mormon church. These are people who are truly loyal to Jesus rather than to a powerful, social organization that can negatively affect a person’s life.

  4. The first introduction to sex was when my older brother raped me, his younger brother.

    The only thing my parents ever said about sex was when my horribly abusive father gave me an abbreviated "birds and the bees" by talking about how women like to have their breasts and privates touched, and this is why he did it to my sisters. And why he got kicked out of the bishopric, for which he was a victim of some sort.

    So, is the problem in our family that of the sex abuse? The physical abuse which sent us to the ER (back in the 60s at LDS Hospital, so questions were never asked)? The emotional and psychological abuse which has left a number of us with lasting emotional and mental illness?

    Or, is it that some of us decided we could have a moral life outside the strict authoritarian patriarchal order which allowed such abuse to continue?

    If you guessed the later, congratulations, you picked the winning answer.

  5. Family Home Evening Lesson #12 - The Lord has provided non-LDS churches for your marriage ceremony so all of your friends and family can be with you. A year later you can go to the temple for a nice private sealing.