26 March 2011

THT: No Question

This is part two of my previous post. It also has to do with taking ownership for our own actions. This I write to every person really, but especially to the members of the church.

You, and only you, are accountable for the choices and decisions you make. Try as you might, you cannot hold another person accountable for what you have decided to do or say. I was having a facebook discussion with someone over the homosexuality issue and the church. He has since removed his remark and so I can't reference it here, but I will give you the gist of what he said (which I hear ALL the time).

Basically he said that he believes in revelation and that our leaders are prophets, seers, and revelators. He said that no matter what his personal opinion on matters are, he will always accept their words without question because they are called of God. He said that his reasoning for being against gay marriage is because that is what the leaders teach. He then said that if tomorrow, President Monson announced that the leadership supported gay marriage, he would just as quickly support gay marriage.

Oooooh, this makes me so angry. I know it shouldn't... but this type of thinking (which is SO prevalent in the Mormon culture) is extremely dangerous. Like I have said before, ALL people necessarily have limited understanding and experience (including prophets) and therefore their concepts of what is good and true are fallible. Each person can only envision a part of our shared reality. Such partiality, when presented as the totality, can severely limit the lives who embrace it as truth.

How nice it is that this person can flip a switch in his mind from being against gay marriage one day, and for it the next. It is so easy. And there is no responsibility. You ask this person why he supports or doesn't support the idea and his answer is, "because he (pointing his finger) told me so." No responsibility need be taken. All the while this person feels completely justified because his blind obedience is supposedly a mark of his faith. Meanwhile, the thousands upon thousands of people that have suffered long years due to the actions taken by people like this is completely disregarded. Those years of hurt cannot be so easily switched in a single day. Where is the compassion in that?

I asked, so let's say you were a supporter of "separate, but equal" back before blacks were given the priesthood. In your Sunday School classes, on your mission, you taught people that blacks were cursed and would never hold the priesthood. You perpetuated the idea that people with a certain color skin were some how less than others. Then the revelation comes that all that was wrong. You accept it and go on your happy way. In the meantime, the words you have spoken and the things you have done continue to affect and influence the people you have had contact with. It wasn't the president of the church who taught those things to the people you interacted with, it was YOU. YOU taught those hateful and prejudice things. It is on YOUR head. YOU had the power to find the truth of what had been said. That was YOUR responsibility.

Wake up! You are supposed to be seekers of truth, lovers of the word of God. You are supposed to thirst for knowledge and truth... have a hunger for the best books. That requires work, and YOU are responsible for it. We are required to actively test the knowledge we learn and find the truth. If you think that at the end of the day your conscience will be clear because you simply did everything the prophet said, think again. You are the owner of your choices, not the prophet. At the end of the day, YOU will be judged for what you have done, not the prophet. So you better be damn sure that what you claim to be truth is actually true. 

We look back on the way blacks were treated and we gasp. We can't imagine how any Christian could really say the things and believe the things they did about black people. Are you doing the same thing today? Will your children look back and think the same about you?


Trev said...

Amen! Great post.

Steven Lester said...

Then why follow these men if they are only men and so they make mistakes? How can you trust in anything they say about anything? Why do you call the prophet a prophet when he hasn't prophesied anything during his entire life? Why do you care about what they say about homosexuals when what they say is essentially void of any meaning at all? Since they are only men and so they make mistakes. It is because nobody can be truly Mormon without worshipping those men and what they say as if it was God speaking Himself, standing there on a pulpit that nobody else can stand at unless they are a GA or the equivalent (in the Relief Society). The entire premise of being Mormon is exactly what you condemn: that ONLY by following these men and their words will anybody be allowed into the Highest Heaven on the Highest Level Therein. What they say or do on Earth is as it is done in Heaven...period.

These men condemn Homosexual activity of any kind...period! You are a Mormon, you say. If so, as the Mormon is defined today (which wasn't back when Joseph was alive, but after he died became the definition that we all so well were and are trained in) how can you call yourself Mormon and disobey or ignore totally what they have said to you as a gay man? Your answer is that you don't follow these men. You follow Christ instead. Great. Glad to hear it. Then stop calling yourself Mormon. You ain't never gonna make that highest heaven if you continue to ignore their will for your life, or so they have claimed, and if that isn't your largest goal during this probationary period of your eternal existence than I think you've missed the whole point of being a member of the Church. Your friend has it right. He is a faithful member. You are not, although you are a great Christian.

jen said...

I love this!
Very powerful!

Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

Erin said...

LOVE this!!

Sean said...

But its soo much easier to have someone else do the thinking for you. Mormonism works well with lazy Western culture.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, I love the fire in your belly. Onward! When I read a previous comment comparing you to Martin Luther, I thought, Jonathan could just as well start a church of his own. Yes, you're *that* strong, smart, and passionate. I'm not a Mormon and I don't know that much about Mormonism, so I'm sort of an outsider looking in. But I have learned a bit about LDS (did I say that right?) just by reading your posts and the comments. I haven't figured out why I'm so fascinated by this ongoing discussion, but I am.

Jonathan Adamson said...

@Steven- I disagree with you on this one pretty much 100%. You talk about Mormonism as if it was once something else, and that it lost what it was meant to be because of ways that people have misinterpreted or misrepresented the religion's beliefs and teachings. So, if you are someone that believes in the foundational Mormon church and Mormon doctrine, what would you call yourself?

I can subscribe to any belief system I want. You think any Mormon is perfectly in line with everything every prophet has said? IMPOSSIBLE. If the basis for calling yourself a Mormon was that you did everything right according to Mormon doctrine, there wouldn't be such thing as a Mormon.

Also, "Mormon" was a nickname given to the members of this church. The term didn't ALWAYS exist. So what would people who lived before the nickname caught on claim to be? Latter-day Saints? Modern Christians? True Christians? So what then is the difference between calling me a good Christian and calling me a Mormon?

And in that case, how could anyone call themselves anything?? Not every Lutheran is the same, has the same values and thoughts on religion. Not every Catholic goes to church. Not every Buddhist goes to the temple. Not every person that claims to be a man has male genitalia. The list can go on and on. And I believe much of the problems of intolerance and ignorance these days is that everyone assumes that because someone identifies with a certain label, they have to be a certain way.

I'm gay. But many people wouldn't know it. And just like being gay isn't who I am (only a part of what makes me who I am) Mormon isn't who I am... it is part of me.

When I study Mormon doctrine, the scriptures, Christ's teachings (all of which Mormonism subscribes to) I do not find any sort of teaching that suggests we are to accept everything that comes from the mouth of a prophet as truth. I find that we are taught to understand that even prophets are men. Look at the examples of prophets in the bible and book of Mormon. Are their not countless examples of prophets making mistakes and being reprimanded by God?

I don't want to sound rude or offend you, but I couldn't care less what you or anyone else thinks that I am. That is all superfluous. I'm done letting others define me. I will define myself how I choose.

I was raised Mormon. I believe in the power of the priesthood. I believe in revelations and inspiration. I believe that there are many valuable and true things taught in the Book of Mormon. Just like you (it seems) I believe Mormonism at its core is something that perhaps hasn't been kept alive in the people that practice it. That somewhere along the way, misinterpretation, misrepresentation, laziness, or what have you, has resulted in a culture that isn't really in line with the foundational doctrines of what Mormons believe is the RESTORED church of Christ.

I know that you hate to hear me say anything that might be interpreted as supporting the church or it's beliefs. But while I, myself may not excuse my leaders for wrongs that I believe have been committed, I will never hate them or the church. So if your goal is to see me become that bitter, angry person, you will fail.

Perhaps I don't fit in with your definition of a "Mormon." That's fine. But that is exactly what has caused so much pain within Mormonism. Members excluding others who don't "fit" their own definitions for what a Mormon should be. So it seems you may be just as guilty of exclusion and intolerance as many of them are. It just happens to be in an opposite way.

Boris said...

On your last comment (@Steven), I think you are more-or-less heading in the right direction when you say “somewhere along the way, misinterpretation, misrepresentation, laziness, or what have you, has resulted in a culture that isn’t really in line with the foundational doctrines of what Mormons believe is the RESTORED church of Christ.” Of course, as you probably realize, I believe all that “restoration” and “gold plates” and “urim and thummim” stuff belongs in the category of “myth.” But then, I would say the same about the life and teachings of Jesus, or of the Buddha or Mohammed. Does that mean there is NOTHING of value to be taken from the Book of Mormon, or the teachings of Joseph Smith, or of Jesus or the Buddha or Mohammed? Of course not!

There are great lessons to be learned from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Qur’an, the Vedas, the Tripitaka, and other sacred texts. But, as might be expected from the humans who wrote/translated/edited/revised these texts, there is probably a lot of “static” as well. So, how do we sort out the static from the truly inspired? That, I think, is a matter of individual conscience and/or inspiration and/or (as the Quakers say) “inner light.”

I’m never quite sure what @Steven believes, but for my part I earnestly hope certain of the LDS General Authorities will be held to account, either by history, or in the (mythical?) Final Judgment, for the terrible damage they have caused to the lives of “SSA” (or whatever the current, approved Church term is) Mormon youth. (As a matter of fact, I would be inclined to say, “may they rot in hell,” but that would be just as dogmatic as their own narrow-minded pronouncements.)


Hinton said...

PART I (too long to make one)

My religion is not Mormon or Christian. I grew up in a locale in which almost no one would dare question the validity of the religion (Christianity) or any of its teaching. Oddly I believed in science on the creation of the earth and evolution and believed that the Bible was correct. Incompatible but I never questioned this. There is no evidence to support the Bible but there is evidence to support that the earth was not created in less than 7 days.

The thing that started my questioning and doubting Christianity was the story of the flood. One day, as a 20 years old young man, I started thinking about the previous Sunday sermon in my church. I realized that it was not possible to put all life that existed on the ark. I kept thinking about this over the years and continued to realize flaws in the thinking. If the earth was covered by water - enough to cover, I think, Mount Ararat, which according to Wikipedia is over 5,000 meters tall.

Even if the impossible of getting two of each of the maybe over 2 million creature and plant was achieved there would have to be enough food on board to last the 40 days. It would have needed at thousands of people - and not just Noah's family - to feed the creatures and water the plants. The plants would have need light to survive as well as water. Animals eating, some a lot, would produce a lot of waste. As I write this I realize that many of them would have needed to move around to get exercise so there would have been a lot of space to enable them to move about.

What did the life form eat during the 40 days? If what they ate before and after the flood there would have to have been space to accommodate a lot of food. Without refrigeration some of the food would have been other animals.

Because of so much water the ocean would have experienced a rapid change and many of the living forms would have died from the shock unless they were also on the ark in environments that was similar to their areas of the ocean. This includes chemicals and pressure for life that exists below maybe 100 meters. Even a slight change in the chemical composition of water would doom a lot of water live, including plants. If the world was covered with water, even if it was 15,000 meters deep, the change in the chemical composition would have been enough to affect fresh water life. The two by two life forms saved would have had to include any sea life that could not endure the changed ocean.

According to Christianity, at least as interpreted by the conservatives, evolution is not true. So all life that exist now was created less than 10,000 years ago and Noah and his small crew went out over the earth and gathered two by two of the animals. I don't think that anything is written about plants but a lot of them could not have survived being in water for over a month.

So maybe if the religion is wrong about the ark and Noah leading a small group into building it large enough to accommodate all of the life that could not have survive an earth that it rain enough to cover most of the land, or all of it, at least all up to 5,000 meters, maybe it is wrong about other things, including sexual orientation.

Hinton said...

Part II

Another thing that comes to mind is if God has unlimited power why would he not just kill the sinners. An even more fundamental question is if God has unlimited power and mankind (ok, humankind) was made in his image and is special to him why did he not make us perfect.

There is a saying that God would not make people homosexuals because he doesn't goof. Is the sexual orientation worse than the numerous afflictions that people are born with and develop during their lives? Why don't Christians condemn people who are born with severe mental and physical problems?

Another thing. If God exists as believed by the various religions why do we have to go to wars that kill not only the innocent but bystanders? God loves us and why is he willing to allow us to kill each other is wars.

The more that I learn about Buddhism the more appealing it is. There are many varieties of Buddhism and being Buddhist doesn't automatically makes a person good. Pure Buddhism doesn't deal with the concept of God and might be labeled deity neutral.

I could write more but I am falling asleep.

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