30 comments for “A Place to Start: “How to Stay in the LDS Church After a Major Trial to Your Faith”

  1. admin
    October 23, 2008 at 6:19 am

    I agree. I’m looking forward to making it better. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. tortdog
    November 10, 2008 at 7:06 am

    >In the end, I am quite convinced that a majority of them are simply not aware of peep stones, polyandry, Adam/God theory, blood atonement, the Danites, etc. Of course they have heard these terms throughout their lives, but they would have no real impetus, and most importantly, no time to study them deeply.

    I doubt the accuracy of this statement. The few contacts that I have had at that “level” indicates that they are very aware. Elder Oaks is a prime example. They see these and do not believe that they stand as an impediment to the truthfulness of the teachings of the Church. I believe that they have a more “mature” understanding of the difference between a perfect God and an imperfect spokesperson of God.

  3. tortdog
    November 10, 2008 at 7:10 am

    >If you were in their shoes, and the future of the church were riding on your shoulders, would you seriously rock the boat, and risk destroying an organization that you loved, believed in, and knew was an asset to literally millions of families worldwide? In my opinion, to do so would be grossly irresponsible.

    I think you ignore the possibility that some have really seen angels, and that they believe these testimonies to be true. In my mind, intellectuals who remain active in the Church and bear testimony of its truthfulness have to reconcile facts on the ground with the whisperings of the Spirit in their hearts. Facts on the ground include ministrations of angels. I think that the GA’s generally come from the view that they KNOW the testimony of Joseph Smith is true, but how does that fit with the history?

    Some may be ignorant (but I doubt that is many, if any). But others may have found a way to reconcile the two. I think that’s the key.

  4. P.C.
    November 12, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    OK. I know that if a family member becomes disaffected we are supposed to press on with faith and hope that all will turn out fine some day 9maybe the next life). It would help with hope if there were some examples of someone becoming totally disaffected with the Church (Church history and misc. doctrine) and then coming back to full fellowship and activity. Any examples out there? Thanks

  5. Chris
    November 13, 2008 at 11:22 am

    The temple recommend section is not offensive at all. It is not lying. The whole point was to say you can answer the questions and really not be lying at all. Perhaps it was set up this way intentionally to open the blessings of the temple up to those who are not so absolutist. I don’t think they want to exclude all these people. No. There’s no reason to get rid of the temple recommend section. You can’t have a website like this where you don’t offend anyone. People need to stop seeing ideas that challenge their own as needing censorship. The answer is always to have a variety of opinions expressed. If you try to repress something like this, you are going to end up repressing everything in order to please this or that person. Maybe you see the temple interview thing as lying but part of the purpose of sites like this is to demonstrate that people interpret things differently. I personally don’t see it as a moral wrong in any way.

  6. Matthew Komos
    November 18, 2008 at 7:45 am

    I personally think this is a great essay – I am not Mormon or do not practice any religion for that matter, but have done a lot of reading and research on many religions of the world. I am actually a practicing Buddhist(more a philosophy than religion), but I find that internal struggle with religion can be common (I was once Catholic). I have found that humans are innately good and can have a good moral and ethical belief system without being religious. For me personally, spirituality (which can easily be seen as doing the right thing, being good to your fellow human, etc.) far transcends religion. But, I can respect all religions and those that have a belief in them.

    I think your essay presents a reasonable alternative to follow the strict guidelines of Mormonism without sacrificing a connection to your God, which is ultimately what is most important in any religion. Sorry if my opinion is not wanted, but thought I would chime in as an outsider!

  7. Lisey
    November 18, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I loved this essay and did not feel at all that anything needed Censoring. Keep in mind the audience for this essay are people who already feel this way, not devout people who would be offended. Addressing the temple rec section is necessary and while some ‘true blue’ LDs will be shocked, it is how most of us Buffet Mormons feel. I go to Church regularly yet I have so many ‘gray’ areas with those questions. I strive to answer no to most, and STILL get that recommend (which I always do) because I want people to see how it’s not simply yes or no… Luckily, my bishop just smiles and understands me.

    If you start censoring to be more apologetic, you will lose the very audience it is intended for.

  8. November 18, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Excellent feedback. I appreciate everyone who is taking the time to let us know.

  9. derreamer
    November 18, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    A good essay for people like me. Interesting term, “buffet Mormon”. You mention you believe in President Monson as a prophet, but later refer (2 times) to President Hinkley as prophet, seer, having keys, etc. An easy oversight, but just FYI. It was a good essay though. I linked here from the retired “mormon stories”. Why is it retired? I enjoyed it.

  10. vincaminor888
    November 26, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    I agree, There is no need to change much of the original content. I want to see how I can stay in the Church with all my concerns. I don’t need for this site to be whitewashed as well.

  11. StevePowers
    December 3, 2008 at 8:28 am

    The Temple recommend section is what I was looking for. Leave it. I enjoyed the essay and the openness of the author(s).

  12. acm
    December 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    “It took us a while to realize that cynicism and negativity were more harmful to our souls than dogmatic religious tenets and observance.”

    The best line in the whole essay. Thanks for this.

  13. Elby
    December 18, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Fabulous! Replace “Mormonism”, “LDS” and any other vocabulary specific to this religion and society, and you have basically created an essay that could be used in any kind alienation-type situation:

    A victim of childhood neglect who has decided you’re not going to let your parents walk all over you anymore? Don’t force your decision or your anger on your siblings. Disillusioned with the US government? Probably not a good idea to start discussing your feelings with total strangers.

    Regardless of what the object of faith is–a young child’s beleif in her parents’ perfect wisdom and fairness, the power of medical science to cure what ails you (or help you lose weight), that the hard times in life will pass and things will get better–we are all, to some extent, “Buffet Mormons,” picking and choosing what we believe based upon both common sense, empirical evidence and, of course, faith. Human knowledge is a wholly, incomplete thing–even the most devoutly (I kid!) atheist scientist will tell you that she doubts the possibility of humans ever being able to know everything. Whatever omniscience is, if it exists at all, the one thing I am certain of is that I don’t have it. With that in mind, I have to keep an open, tolerant attitude towards other people’s faith, because I am not in a position to provide the answers to my own questions. I believe doubt is a good thing, and I accept the holes in my own faith.

    So many people who walk away from the church are emotionally scarred by the experience. While many others find a happy existence after LDS, I believe that your essay must offer a lot of comfort to the rest and will hopefully save somebody a whole lot of needless heart-ache by giving them the chance to reconnect with something important and good.

  14. anon
    December 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks – just like the ‘church’, the essay is not perfect, but it sure has helped me ponder what my current (and future) role will be

  15. Dave
    December 29, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I can’t tell you how much I loved this essay! And I’m sure hundreds if not thousaands of members could benefit greatly from it. DO NOT give into the pressure to make this more apologetic or fundamental. That is not what this site and your essay is for. You are serving a very narrow and specific niche – those who doubt and struggle but want to remain in the Church. What a phenominal missionary effort. Don’t let ANYONE sidetrack you.

  16. Jenny
    January 3, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I’d appreciate some source citing — Gordon Hinckley “said ‘we don’t know'” is one example.

    There are some quotes from the Joseph Smith manual that might help… or not …. on expecting perfection from Church leaders:

    I’ve always loved Joseph’s statement quoted at the link above: “I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself.” We must not villify ourselves or others because we can’t swallow it all.

    Those expecting perfection in their leaders will ultimately be disappointed in the LDS faith, or anywhere else. As a Relief Society president, I feel I’m learning at everyone else’s expense. I often screw things up royally, and I’m grateful for those who gracefully allow me to goof up and help me learn to do it better. I expect that just about the time I get a grip on this calling, I’ll be released and called to slog through a calling in the Scouts, while another sister does her time as Relief Society president, learning those same lessons. It’s all part of our eternal progression. Often, personal development seems to come at others’ discomfort. Regrettable, but true for all of us.

    You may also be interested in some of the articles by Richard L. Bushman, in particular, “My Belief”, which recounts Bushman’s struggles to reconcile faith and scholarship:


    I like the “Don’t freak — sit tight” tone of the article. I’ve found that keeping to the Seminary Basics, even when my faith is shaken, I always manage to keep the toehold I need to keep going. I would suggest adding a section on continuing with the basics that lead to direct, personal communion with God as essential to staying in the faith: praying, reading favorite scriptures, meditation, and attending the temple as appropriate.

    I look forward to seeing your work continue!

  17. LEBR
    January 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I can’t tell you how this essay has helped me. Please do not change anything, at least don’t make it more mainstream!!! I found this essay about 1 year or more ago I guess. My wife also finds it to be right-on.

    I miss the original author of this essay being available and doing the things he use to do. I guess for his own church membership perhaps he had been warned to “cool” it. I just want to say “Thank You” for putting yourself on the line like you did.

    If you feel a need to add/change alot maybe do essay #2

  18. Name (required)
    January 4, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I would add a section about staying LDS while being single–with or without doubts. As an ex-Mormon who left the church in her late thirties, never married, I strongly believe there are challenges unique to the single state that, if addressed, can ameliorate the mental, emotional, and spiritual health of the single member.

    1. Recognize that marital status has nothing to do with one’s intrinsic worth. Understand and accept that not everyone will be married in this life, and that there is no surety that there even is a next life, much less what that “next life” entails or involves.

    2. As a single Mormon I watches as the months, years, and decades passed me by; friends in singles wards and student wards were pairing off right and left, some as a result of what I perceived as “unrighteous behavior”, yet there I stood, steadfast, obedient, multiple-times-a-week-temple attender whose prayers never seemed to generate a fiance or husband. Praying about a married life is futile. don’t fast and pray for what can only be attained by serendipity, makeup, and flirtation.

    3. Lower your standards if you have to. I observed single people in my wards become stricter and stricter as the years went by–adopting an ultra-protective shell around their emotional exteriors to avoid getting badly hurt. As a consequence, these 40-somethings had never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, never been loved. Some were afraid of any contact and were rapidly becoming increasingly more neurotic. I blame rigidity and strict adherence to church standards for this ultra-prudishness. Realize that “For the Strength of Youth” and other materials for tweens and teens published by the church are FOR YOUTH–not for adults with fully developed brains, sex organs, and emotional lives.

    3. Before leaving the church, I was counseled by a loving bishop to not be afraid to “make mistakes”–which I took to be tacit permission to be a sexual person. As a single adult, enjoy and own your sexuality. If you feel like confessing to your bishop–do that. If you don’t feel like it–you don’t have to. Know that you do not *have* to do anything in this life that you don’t want to, and there’s no SkyDaddy who’ll rain down thunderbolts if you don’t obey.

  19. res ipsa
    January 10, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Excellent essay. Profound…I’ll definitely re-read it. First thing of its kind I’ve read. I’ve been lukewarm (to say the least) in the church for at least 3 yrs now, due to several discoveries re doctrine/church history. This essay gives me hope that there is a way I can remain part of the community, without feeling like a hypocrite.

    I like the first person references. Makes it more personal. But if you’re trying to make the piece more academic, I would take it out.

    Not a suggestion, but more of a question. person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys

  20. res ipsa
    January 10, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Oops, inadvertently hit the submit button.

    Last paragraph above should read:

    Not a suggestion, but more of a question. How do you get around the question that the Pres. of the Church is the only “person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys” if you happen to be one who does not partake in that part of the “buffet”?

  21. jj
    January 10, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Love the attempt at getting a wiki going for those in the middle ground. The eight hundred pound gorilla not being given it’s due, at least in what I’ve read in the discussion so far, is the priesthood.
    In a sense the priesthood is like what Bushman said of the Gold Plates; while one can get away from literalist interpretations of much of Church History, to the point of Joseph Campbell-izing or “mythologizing” much of the fallible “hero’s journey” our earlier leaders played out, at some point you have to address the “fact” of the Golden Plates, or the Priesthood. Their reality are the bane of symbolists and progressive reframing of one’s response to the literalism. In my experience, many leave because they have been unable to come to terms with something as “literal” as the priesthood. Yet it informs almost everything within the Church. So middle grounders should be discussing this important issure much more than we have in this wiki.
    Anyway, I’d like to see more ideas on how to deal with these types of very real “literal” elements.
    For instance, my current stance on the church’s “truthiness” is this: the church does not hold all truth, indeed it does not pretend to be universal in it’s understanding. Yet it has been given a role to play in Christian eschatology in that it has been duly authorized to serve the world with God’s blessing during the great tumults of the last days.
    In that sense, for me, the church is true, not because of it’s possesion of all knowledge, but rather in it’s role as a facilitator, or a worm up act for the end of times.

  22. valoel
    January 16, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you everyone for excellent and thoughtful suggestions. Thank you for taking the time to post them here. At some point, when one of our volunteers has time, we would love to incorporate all these new ideas into a “version 2” of this document.

    I am in favor of keeping the original around as-is. I captures something important, I think so at least.

  23. Lady Wisdom
    January 20, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    For now, I would just like to say thanks for this site and for the essay as is as the original author wrote it. The TR section is very helpful as I just had the chance to be asked them all over again tonight, The essay helped me feel more at peace with having to answer them, and that it was OK to not take them so literally as I had done in the past and to redefine them in my own mind for the sake of wanting to attend the parts of temple that are reassuring to me in some way or that I desire for my ancestors, such as baptisms.

  24. happy now
    January 29, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    This essay says everything for me! I adopted the “buffet Mormon” attitude some time ago, figuring tht I’d never be perfect and frankly, I don’t have time to try. I’m doing my best, that’s all I can do. This really comes from having a life before joining the Church, which I did mostly for my children. I figure, some stuff is pretty weird but is it THAT much weirder than stuff I was asked to believe as a Catholic? Nah, not really. The overall value of the Mormon church, for me, outweighs the weirdness/inconsistencies. And I’m all about “the church is good, but people are not always.” The church is made up of imperfect people (sometimes) trying to do their best (sometimes not). I get to pick what I truely beleive in, not my bishop (who, BTW, will not talk to me!).

    Anyway, I think this essay (and entire site) totally rocks! I have not been to the temple yet (partly because I am hung up on the recommend questions) and now maybe I can see what the fuss is all about.

    Please don’t make this more mainstream! It is really great as is!

  25. Greg
    February 17, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks for this site and for your essay in particular. You really made a difference in my life.

  26. wick
    March 22, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    I strongly identify with the feelings echoed in this essay, even though I don’t have all of them any more. I know the heartbreak of learning about not-so-beautiful church history and trying to reconcile personal belief. But while my faith isn’t perfect, there are parts of it I will never deny, and I didn’t gain that faith by stopping my search for truth when it became difficult to understand. I’m not sure if this essay would have helped me during every weak moment. I almost feel like it marginalizes my efforts to study and learn and test the gospel while I moved (sometimes back and forth) through challenging elements of the church. It seems like instead of encouraging one to stay with the faith they have and keep going, it encourages one to stay put. Not every church leader and member is a blind bigot (I know that’s not the intent here). But I sincerely appreciate the efforts and purpose of what you folks are trying to do and this has potential to help a lot of people.
    I think it’s important to not disregard the many hardworking members who also struggle with these issues and are called to be church leaders and teachers. it’s easy to criticize their positions. Not many contrasting positive things are said to defend them.
    Again, this is a great idea and I think many out there are looking for something like this.

  27. Tom Haws
    April 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Yes, it probably would be a very good thing for the essay to address the issue of missionary service. I hope I can bring that up in the forums here.

  28. Bill
    April 7, 2009 at 8:48 am

    What pops out at me after reading your essay and in particular, the posted comments to the essay, is that there are many many varieties of Mormons. D&C 46 talks about this: 11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. 12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby. 13 To some it is given by the aHoly Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. 14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful….

    I personally am at the margin of all of the above however. I hold a temple recommend, for years having used much of the rationale in your essay. But I don’t attend the temple … attend church pretty regularly because I like the feeling … generally love most of the people … believe in the basic living standards … have a cultural and personal Mormon heritage and tradition … and often feel running screaming from some members’ outrageous literalism, obsessiveness, and arrogance.

    For me, believing in the “truthfulness” of the church is almost moot. I get something out of my affiliation, I contribute via tithing and church service, and often feel better by maintaining my membership. I suspect there might be other spiritual congregations that are more suited to me but I also know I’d find problems with them too.

    Mostly I just take comfort in the belief (not knowledge) that God lives, that He loves us, and that there’s a possibility I’ll be able to live with my incredible wife forever. If she’ll have me.

  29. Absolutely Annonymous
    April 10, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    I’ve often heard of this essay on NOM but had never read it till this week. Last night i gave it to my recently released bishop husband. He’s always been the questioning type and I’ve long known (30 years or more) that there’s much he doesn’t believe literally. I left him for an hour. On my return i asked what he thought. He told me he was so comforted to know someone else feels exactly like he does. I was surprised because he’s read Sunstone and Dialogue for years so he should know. I think what I like best about the essay is the gentle tone of it. We don’t know everything and we don’t know why people do what they do and think what they think or believe as they do. Best not to judge others but be kind, I want people to treat me the same way. When i went to my husband a year ago for my TR, I burst into tears at the first question ( I don’t think he was expecting that reaction!). He asked me if I hoped for it to be true because that was the way he answered the questions. BTW, he didn’t serve as bishop out in the mission field where they might have been desperate for a bishop (we lived in the boonies for 20 years, we know), he served in a historical Salt Lake City ward, right under the nose of several GAs. The ward loved him; most thought he was the best bishop they’d ever had.

    I was amused by Jenny’s comments. I didn’t look up the JS manual quotes, I don’t need to. JS said not to expect perfection from him. We say that, but in practice, we worship the “brethren” anyway. President Hinckley (whom I really liked) says “women! one pair of earrings!” and we make it a commandment and judge a young woman’s worthiness based on whether she “obeys” a capricious standard that has nothing to do with modesty or good character. It was the opinion of an older gentleman who didn’t like more than one set of earrings–nothing more.

    We cite examples that say Joseph liked to wrestle and that some members didn’t like it but we wouldn’t dream of finding anything to reproach the current GAs.

    Anyway, I like the essay a lot. Don’t change a thing. I’ve been struggling for quite a while. My husband’s attitude has been, “it’s my tribe. Two of my great-great grandfathers were in the vanguard company that entered the Valley on July 22. I can’t leave.”

    I was also amused by Jenny’s counsel that we all pray more, study more and attend the temple. Some people just don’t get that this hasn’t worked for us and that it’s not our fault and we’re not going to go around carrying guilt because somehow, “it’s your fault. You’re not doing it right.”

  30. ResIpsa
    July 20, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I do not know what to make of this essay. It seems to empathize with people such as myself who just can’t bring themselves to believe in parts (maybe large parts) of the doctrine. It seems to offer a hand of fellowship, I think…

    But a fellowship to what? Since I have read this essay, can I prevent my tithing dollars from supporting political causes which I find odious? Do I get to attend my daughter’s wedding? Do I get to give voice to my doubts at church meetings? If I do give voice, do I get to expect my doubts will be approached with the same respect, empathy, and sincerity that I have tried to approach the teachings? Or am I more likely to expect the fates of Quinn, or the “Sep Six”, or other? If not excommunication, maybe something writ small, like mere awkwardness or judgmentalism? If I go to church expecting that this essay is a true offer of fellowship, is that a realistic expectation?

    I have to think not.

    If it is not realistic, perhaps the point of the essay is more in the writing than the reading. Does the author feel this is a good missionary turn done? The tone is approachable, welcoming, and sincere, even while it asks me to return to a lifestyle into which I just don’t fit (yet strangely, can’t seem to live outside of). Is that the message here? “Even your doubts are not sufficient reason to leave the church”?

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