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I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Hypocrisy of Sin

One of the most hypocritical parts of the church is their treatment of apostates verses their treatment of unworthy members. On the one hand, some people--men in particular--are protected in their sins. I myself have known to rapists to go through the temple, one of them being my abusive ex boyfriend. When I reported that I knew of him having raped (by coercion rather than force) and sexually assaulted at least two or three young women, the church didn't even put his membership in question. He has not, at this time, answered for his sins, legally or within the church.

While knowledgeably protecting sex offenders and abusers isn't exactly widespread, it happens. And even more often, "unworthy" men and women attend the temple and hold good standing in their ward by lying to their bishops. Sometimes the bishops that are supposed to determine worthiness have an inkling of a member's unworthiness, sometimes they have no clue. But the member lies to the leader, and off they go to the most sacred of places in the LDS religion.

Why is this a problem? We all know that people lie all the time, and most people can't tell they're being lied to 100% of the time. Covering up illegal acts is obvious, but its also more to be put on the shoulders of the individuals, and a small part on the people who allowed the male-dominated authoritarianism of the church to go a step too far. The real problem lies instead in the claims of the leadership in the discerning power of bishops and other leaders.

It is a bishop's sacred duty and ability to determine worthiness, and to protect sacred ordinances and places from unworthiness, subsequently helping an individual under the burden of grievous sin to repent and become worthy. They are supposed to have inspired spiritual guidance and discernment. A search of conference talks on LDS.org shows this quite clearly. Yet hundreds lie on a regular basis and go to temples and missions when not worthy. The leaders were wrong about this apparent spiritual gift to protect the Lord's most sacred and important requirements.

In the cases where a bishop or other leader is aware of "unworthiness" on the part of a member, they are supposed to protect the member's privacy and secrecy, except in cases where they are obliged to report to law enforcement, or share with other local leaders because the person's membership is at stake and a Council is required.

And yet, when someone leaves the church and becomes "apostate," the lines blur and hypocri
sy begins.

When a person comes into the church, people get excited for the new member. Often, people outside the church aren't happy with the new member's choice. During the brief time my husband was a member, his family was scared for him and unhappy with his decision, and it caused tension between all of us. They had done research, and as Christians, could not approve of some of the teachings of the church.

The supportive LDS are of course very much against this behavior. The convert is happy and isn't getting into illegal things or anything. They still believe in Christ, the members say, so what's so wrong about joining a new religion?

Yet when someone leaves the church, even if they leave and become Christian (or stay Christian, as the LDS would put it), there are many within the church who react in the same way they condemned. My family did that--disapproved of the reactions of my husband's family, and then made me feel unwelcome in their home when i left. I lost a friend, my family told me they were losing me for eternity and treated me like I was just off-track and would come back, and on and on. Sometimes people are disowned. Sometimes they're excommunicated.

But perhaps the worst part is that most LDS can't accept that the apostate left for a logical, reasonable, sensible rationale. It has to be a problem with the person, not the church. Its a common thing for people to fight their doubts simply because they're convinced that the church has to be right, and its them that's wrong.

When someone else in my ward began having doubts (before even knowing I'd left), our bishop told her that I'd left because of "morality issues" and that I'd justified it with "alleged false prophecies." Moralities issues were not my reason for leaving, and the bishop certainly hadn't been told by me that there were any. Whether or not it was true, whether or not I told him or someone else did, he would never have had the right to say that to her, for his promises of privacy if nothing else.

But because I moved in with my fiance a few weeks after leaving, the whole ward assumed it was a "morality issue." It didn't matter that I moved the wedding up by more than four months so that we wouldn't live together outside of legal marriage for too long. It didn't matter that the only reason we weren't already married was because we had put out the date for a temple marriage. And it doesn't matter that I'm now five months married and therefore would no longer have the morality issues implied anymore, and yet neither of us have any desire to return now.

No, it has to be the fault of the person, and nobody reacts in the way that they think non-members should react when someone joins the church. Its hypocritical. But if they acknowledged that the person deserved to be treated with complete and unbounded respect for their choice, if they acknowledged that maybe it is for a logical reason and not for a shortcoming on the individual's part, then they would also have to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the person might be right in leaving the religion.

Logic and facts have little place in LDS teaching for this reason. Its all based on spiritual experience, feelings, and trust that the church is always right.

1 comment:

  1. I never knew your ex-boyfriend had raped you. That's a terrible, terrible thing that no woman should ever have to experience.

    Forcing someone against their will--or even coercing-- was never God's plan. It's too bad he left you no choice in the matter.

    I don't envy the talk your ex-boyfriend will have with the Lord on Judgment Day.

    It's curious why your evidence against him wasn't taken to legal authorities. What evidence did you offer? Rape charges are very serious, and really need to be brought to proper legal authorities.

    As far as the hypocrisy goes, well... is it really any surprise that people are people no matter what faith they claim?

    LDS teachings may say that the aim of those teachings is Christ-like perfection, but I guess I missed the idea that simply being "Mormon" automatically perfects anyone.

    I've seen the same kind of hypocrisy you mention, Lee, and it makes me sad as well.

    I suppose we'll have to deal with it as long as we're living around imperfect human beings. It's a very good thing that Christ promises us healing, and that He will "dry our eyes"; justice and mercy may not seem to come quickly enough for us, but Christ assures us they will come, and that they will be more than adequate.