Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Regretted Anti-Mormon Zeal:

I received a poignant letter recently from a man who regrets his anti-Mormon zeal on the woman he wanted to marry, inspired by the rhetoric he heard at his church. The relationship he damaged may be beyond repair, but he gave me permission to quote from his letter in hopes that it might benefit others. I disagree with his suggestion that he should have converted for love without necessarily believing in the religion (though investigating, attending services, and learning what the religion is really all about from our perspective would have been a great step), but I find value in his painful recognition that his intense anti-Mormon efforts were misguided and morally wrong. I hope things work out for him somehow.
A few months ago, I started dating a Mormon woman. I came to love her dearly, and still do.

After imagining spending my life with her and raising a happy family together, she told me that there was no longevity in our relationship because of religious differences. She didn't want there to be any "friction" in her family. I now understand why it is important for her to maintain religious cohesion in any family she might have, but at that time, I felt like she might as well have said that we couldn't be together because I'm Scotch-Irish and she's a German Swede. I was devastated. I have come to believe that the biggest concern was her desire for a celestial marriage in the Temple. Obviously I couldn't be in the picture unless I converted. If we couldn't be together forever, we couldn't be together temporarily on Earth either.

It was a two-way street though; I think it always is in this life. Having been brought up in a church that often espoused anti-Mormonist rhetoric, I have been conditioned to manufacture poorly constructed arguments against their beliefs and, having had a potential spouse at stake, my fervor to defeat the forces keeping us apart was increased tenfold. My strategy, attempting to apostate her so we could be together, was fundamentally and morally flawed. If I had been more tactical, I would've known that the people in my life are more important than their beliefs. I would've happily done whatever necessary to gain the Priesthood and enter the Temple with her. I would've known that the idea of being together forever is a beautiful thing, not a wrong thing. Now she very well may be lost from my life forever because of the offenses I have committed.

This kind of inter-religious contention shouldn't be happening. It is counter-productive to the peaceful harmonization that I know Christ wanted. As long as we love all things, the mechanics of religious doctrines are completely unimportant. This is evident in the early disciples' readiness to conform to certain aspects of a target population's dogmas so that they might be more willing to accept the message of Jesus Christ. It is our duty to Christ to love those who we think are "lost" even more than we love those who are "found." Slanderous conflict is in opposition to His will.
There are real and meaningful differences between various Christian that can't be glossed over, especially when you have folks like us who really believe that a divine restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ has occurred, but we all can recognize that we each may have some very strong reasons for waht we believe that we can discuss and even debate, when appropriate, without destroying friendships, stirring up hostility, and belittling those who disagree. And yes, this cuts both ways.

19 comments:

Florida said...

A very good post and an amazingly tough topic.

It seems to happen so much where a mormon girl falls in love with a non-mormon guy. Or of course the other way around.

Its rough on families on both sides. I should know. I wish this guy the very best but a person should only convert for themselves not for anyone else. I urge anyone in this situation to keep praying, thinking, and reading about mormonism. Then make the decision either way.

SingleSpeed said...

I'm not sure I think it's a horrible thing for someone to join the church for love, not for doctrine. It's not ideal, perhaps, but there are plenty of lifelong members of the church who don't really believe a lot of the doctrine but stick around for family/cultural reasons, why should our converts be any different?

Joseph Antley said...

Yes, unfortunately it definitely does cut both ways.

Cliff said...

Too often we think that it if can take away the opposing beliefs of the people we love, then everything will be perfect.

But more often, it is those opposing beliefs that make the people we love the people we love.

jackg said...

I think this is a good reminder that we should not date people we will not consider for marriage because of faith differences. The woman did the right thing, but they shouldn't have dated each other in the first place. Often times, we date people of another faith hoping that they will come around and believe the way we do. As a former member, I began dating an LDS woman; however, it had to end because I was not going back to the Church and she was not going to leave it. Fortunately, we only dated a handful of times.

Bryce Haymond said...

That's a tough story, but we must be careful not to take it to the other extreme. Along with appropriate desires, hopes, dreams, and emotions, the "mechanics of religious doctrine" are also important. The "early disciples' readiness to conform to certain aspects of a target population's dogmas" is precisely part of what caused the Great Apostasy. Christianity adopted Greek philosophy and supplanted the beautiful doctrines of the gospel for Neoplatonic conceptions. So while we can love and treat others with respect, we can't let that love interfere or replace the truths of the gospel.

le35 said...

Having been very much in this situation in some ways, I have a husband who was a member of another Christian faith when I met him, and I stuck to my guns on my religious views. I told him that I wasn't willing to have a relationship that I might have to decide later between my church or whether or not to marry someone I loved. So we stuck with just a friendship. I think you can have a friendship and have some heated discussions, but in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship or marriage, those things hurt a lot worse.

My story has a happy ending, mostly because we were both open to discussion and learning, but I think that the very worst thing for my marriage would have been if my husband "converted for me."

it's me, andrea. said...

This makes me sad. I think if you convert for love it'll eventually catch up to you. Unless you are truly converted you'll begin to resent your spouse, at least I think I would.

Willis Whitlock said...

Reminds me of last weeks discussion of Zeezrom in GD class. Hope it works out for your young corespondent along those lines.

I attempted to date a girl who was a very good friend in high school. Her older sister had converted and married in the temple. The family was very upset about not going to the wedding.

I was young and dumb and just wanted to go to a movie. When I came along to ask her out, she was prepared. No, absolutely not. She didn't want to repeat her sisters story. I don't know how that all worked out. But I'm grateful this girl was mature enough to look a little ahead.

Doug Forbes said...

Protestant arguments against Mormonism have no legs. They have two basic arguments.
1. Mormons don't believe in all doctrines put forward at the Council of Nicea.
2. Mormons believe things that are false.

ANSWERS
1. Jesus clearly stated the requirements for being saved. Neither belief nor knowledge of post biblical metaphysics were among them.
2. As Joseph Smith said no-one is condemned for believing too much. People who believe in Bigfoot will be saved as will people who believe that an alien space craft crashed in 1947 and the US government has been hiding it from the people ever since. True or Flase, these beliefs have no bearing on salvation.

Tracy Keeney said...

Singlespeed said:
"I'm not sure I think it's a horrible thing for someone to join the church for love, not for doctrine. It's not ideal, perhaps, but there are plenty of lifelong members of the church who don't really believe a lot of the doctrine but stick around for family/cultural reasons, why should our converts be any different?"

I don't think it's that individual converts should be any different. I think many people DO join for reasons other than "pure intent", and often, as time passes and they learn and grow, the true conversion begins to take place. Of course for some, that DOESN'T happen, and they fall away.
But I think the point is that we're talking about marriage partners, not just individual converts.
It's dishonest to a future spouse to join the church soley to please them, to use membership as a way to convince, persuade and essentially, sneak your way into a marriage. The spouse DESERVES to know who they're marrying. Someone's religious beliefs are a part of who they are.
I know that I wanted to marry someone who shared my beliefs, had the same goals, wanted to raise our children according to gospel teachings. I wanted him to WORTHILY hold the priesthood. I wanted him to HONOR it so he could bless our children, baptize them, and perform other ordinaces. Bearing the priesthood just so you can get married to a Mormon is anything but honoring it. It's being deceitful and manipulative just to get your way.
Horrible way to start a marriage relationship. Even worse if they never really embrace the gospel and drop the bombshell later.

SingleSpeed said...

Tracy Keeney:

I agree completely. I never said anything about deceiving or concealing anything, neither did the original post.

Couldn't someone join the church without fully accepting all the church's teachings and still remain fully honest with his/her spouse about his/her feelings and intentions? I think so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Single Speed,

I'd like to weigh in here as someone married to a mormon, but still a practicing catholic. I think the fundamental flaw in what you are suggesting is that converting without fully embracing the belief one is converting to is that it compromising the integrity of the relationship. In my situation, I have taken the discussions and prayed about them, but still do not accept your church's teachings as being the gospel of Christ. I am open and honest with my wife about this, and she is open and honest with me about her beliefs. Were I to convert, without believing wholeheartedly, the honesty of our relationship would be destroyed. This would lead to a failed marriage for us both.

For me much of the problem in your church lies with the teachings of Joseph Smith, and the teachings about Joseph Smith. I could not say to my wife that I believe JS to be a prophet, because I do not. Were I to just go along with the plan, and embrace the aspects of your faith with which I agree, I'd just be lying to myself, my wife, and to God.

I won't pretend that having two different, and sometimes diametrically opposed beliefs about God in the home is easy. It is not. But, I love my wife more than any other person I have ever known. She is the most spiritual woman I know. I respect her beliefs very much. In fact, I respect them far too much to just partially embrace them as a means of placating the relationship. That would hurt her far more than me staying catholic ever could. Instead it is far better to support her beliefs, focus on the teachings that we both agree on. and allow God to sort out the details of all the rest.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Tracy Keeney said...

Singlespeed said:
"Couldn't someone join the church without fully accepting all the church's teachings and still remain fully honest with his/her spouse about his/her feelings and intentions?"

Yes- they could. I suppose you're right.
But as Catholic Defender so aptly expressed, it's STILL a problem.
The person is joining a church that they don't believe in JUST to get the spouse they want, even if the spouse knows ahead of time that the baptism isn't necessarily an honest one.
The original author even said something about how instead of trying to get her to aposticize (sp?), it would have been better tactics to join the church, get the priesthood so he could marry her in the temple.
You have to go through interviews for these things. He'd have to lie his way through the interview. You can't have a sincere "temple marriage" when you don't believe in the ordiance, or the power that seals it. All they would have done (even if the wife knew) was gone through the motions.
And what would they tell their kids? Is he going to be "honest" with them too? "Yeah, I joined the church so I could marry your mother, but I don't really believe in all this "temple" stuff. And I don't buy the "golden plates buried in a hill" thing either. I just SAID I did so I could marry your mother in the temple, and she knows that, so it's not like I lied to her."
Then he turns around and baptizes his kids? Puts and entire congregation under covenant during the sacrament, all the while not believing in the priesthood?
I wouldn't WANT to be married to someone like that. I wouldn't want the father of my children to set that example --to lie and manipulate like that to get what they want. And I don't think any LDS woman with integrity would want that either.
CD-- I loved what you wrote. "I respect her beliefs very much. In fact, I respect them far too much to just partially embrace them as a means of placating the relationship. That would hurt her far more than me staying catholic ever could. Instead it is far better to support her beliefs, focus on the teachings that we both agree on. and allow God to sort out the details of all the rest."
I agree completely.

Darion Alexander said...

I am not trying to poke an offensive comment here, having been raised in a bi-religious family of LDS and Catholic, I being the Catholic for just a number of years before becoming an LDS convert, but I thought about this a great deal and a thought occurred to me, couldn't the LDS spouse just perform the ordinances for their none LDS spouse after that spouse passes away and thereby be sealed to them for eternity...of course if the spouse accepts the Gospel in the Spirit World??

Anonymous said...

Hi Darion Alexander,

That's an interesting question. Not being mormon myself, I may not quite have things right in this response. I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong. It seems to me that one of the teachings of your faith is that if someone has been taught the gospel in this life and rejects it, they will have the opportunity to accept it in the hereafter, but that they won't achieve the celestial kingdom. That means the answer to your question is no, probably not. That assumes the LDS doctrine is true, which I surmise most here but myself believe to be the case. That also depends on whether that spouse has undergone the discussions.

Another thing I might point out, is that I as a Catholic have always been taught that we'd be reunited with our loved ones in the after life, assuming that we did our best to follow Christ's teachings and examples and made it to heaven. From that vantage point, I would see no need for the entire sealing process, since that is what I've already been taught would happen anyway, regardless of the sealing. The point being, why would the non-mormon spouse accept the gospel in the afterlife, if they already believe they will be reunited with their family? Just something you might want to ponder. For me it still comes back to letting God sort out the details.

Catholic Defender

Corey Davis said...

Howdy,
I wrote this letter to Mr. Lindsay and I'd like to thank him for posting it. I agree with most folks who've commented here: my conversion would've been completely dishonest and yes, I'm sure my insincerity would have evidentially become evident to my would-be wife, probably leading to conflict and strife. It's a shame that religion can do this at all; that was the point of my letter. A good, "true" religion should bring people together, not disable love. Any god who separates people in the afterlife based on their mortal acceptance of doctrinal "mechanics" is a god of iniquity, and I commend the Lucifer of Mormon theology for rebelling against such injustice. It would be better if we loved each other without the evils of free agency, even if this meant we couldn't get past the 1st grade of eternal progression. Now that's a utopian society if there ever was one!
But no, we live in the real world, where love doesn't really conquer all. Down here, we tend to let institutional doctrine and cognitive dissonance conquer more. Don't worry though, there's no one to blame. The "truth" is the "truth" right? Even if it means we can't love the one God sent us.
--UNWORTHY in Albuquerque

Corey Davis said...

I apologize for the comment I posted yesterday. Later in the evening, I read these words from Saint Peter, "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." It is unreasonable for me to hold any animosity toward the Church because of a failed relationship. If her and I want different things for our lives, then it is obviously not the will of God that we should be together. Rather, I thank the Lord for every second I did spend with her. May she find the one who makes her truly happy.
Some of the greatest people I know are Mormons, and I love them all. Thanks for being a part of my life!

Tracy Keeney said...

Corey, you made a very wise and very self-less decision, despite the personal pain it caused you-- you're truly a good and honest man.
May God bless you for your integrity.