Friday, July 17, 2009

Are Liberal Mormons Real Mormons?

I believe that the practice of our religion doesn't have to vary as much as our perceptions can and do. I really don't care in the end if the person sitting next to me in church is a "liberal Mormon" or a "conservative Mormon", as long as they are practicing Mormon - even if they are unbaptized but practicing - even if they are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and not fully active but striving to reconcile their own dissonance. (For example, I would rather worship in our pews and learn in our other meetings and associations with an excommunicated gay man who lives the Gospel to the absolute best of his ability than with a baptized member who is a hypocrite and doesn't even try to live the Gospel.)

I am one of those who drives many skeptical intellectuals nuts, since I am so adamant in my ability to say, "I know." On the other hand, I also drive some conservative members nuts, since I am so adamant in my inability to say, "I know" about some things - and my inability to expect others to be able to say "I know" about anything. Frankly, however, I admire those who can't be comfortable saying they "know" the Church is true but live the precepts and attend faithfully every bit as much as those who can make that claim based on powerful, miraculous experience - since, in the end, it is by our faith and our fruits (not our stated beliefs) that we shall be known. ("Not everyone that sayeth unto me, "Lord, Lord . . .") Also, I have a deep admiration for anyone who can live the life they want to believe but struggles to do so, since I believe that is the ultimate example of true faith ("the substance of things hoped for").

"Are liberal Mormons real Mormons?" Certainly, as long as they are trying their hardest - to the best of their ability - to "Come unto me," "Keep my commandments," "Take my yoke upon you," etc. I'm just saying it's not my place, since I currently am not a bishop, to make that judgment about anyone else - even by slapping a label on them, since it's true of ALL Mormons regardless of label.


Seth R. said...

Actually, I'd think that attending church with sinners and hypocrites can sometimes be a more godlike experience than being with the more cuddly variety of sinners.

After all, God doesn't get to pick and choose.

Why should you and I?

Papa D said...

Amen, Seth. I wrote about that in another post:

Steve M. said...

Why is heterodoxy more acceptable than heteropraxy? If one's religious practice is (at least to some extent) determined by his or her religious belief, then I don't see why a Mormon with nontraditional beliefs is a "hypocrite" for living a nontraditional Mormon lifestyle.

I understand that there are institutional consequences that may stem from a decision to stray from church standards. Doing so may understandably disqualify one for a temple recommend or service in certain callings, as setting the standards for participation in these rites and responsibilities is the Church's prerogative.

But sometimes nontraditional Mormons arrive at different conclusions regarding what constitutes a moral or Christian life. Choosing to act in accordance with those convictions does not make one a hypocrite, although you may disagree with such decisions.

I would propose that "conscientious objectors" who choose to live in a manner that is not typical of Mormons generally are not necessary guilty of the hypocrisy that you allege.

Papa D said...

Steve, I might have been unclear. When I speak of hypocrisy in this post, I mean someone who professes to be an active, believing Mormon but who doesn't attempt to live the basic standards of the Gospel. I said "baptized"; I meant "active" - and I meant someone who pretends to believe and live an orthodox life. Thanks for making me clarify that; it was very sloppy wording.

Anonymous said...

This is something the people in my environment have a hard time with whether it'd be in or out of the church: people have to be perfect inside a religious system and they have to be bad outside the religious system. And worse: when they know things are not that simple then they don't want to admit those on the other side of the fence can be as smart and subtle as they are and acknowledge too that things are a little more subtle. What is funny is that no matter what side they stand on they think very alike.
I am the same way as you.
I have often quoted you the past few days actually. I don't remember if you had written this on your blog as an answer to one of my comment or if it was on my blog. Anyway it was this allegory about being in the dark and trying to shot a target.
I like it a lot. It is exactly how I feel but the fact that I now KNOW that I am where I should be and no matter what is awaiting for me on the other side I feel in tune with God and that's all that really matter in the end.
I feel in tune when I take the sacrament. I feel in tune when I fulfill my calling but I also feel in tune when I voice my difference of thinking that can be very important when comparing with the main stream French Mormons.

To Seth: this is how I try to see things. I have come to understand what you wrote a little while ago but it still takes much strength to me.
And actually when I can love them I think I will have reach a fairly good point of progression in my life.

Anonymous said...

I don't think we can pigeon hole ppl or even ourselves, but one thing is for sure, if you disagree with a church policy or doctrine or even the norm and you decide to go against it, make sure your dead right, then make sure heavenly father thinks your dead right, and if you can't get that far then the Mormon in you should realize your best bet is to follow the ones the Lord has placed before you and eat some humble pie. If you can follow that bit of advice you will be ok. And one last thing, in my experience, those who talk about hypocrisy and judgemental ppl at church often are usually the ones who have that problem themselves.

I 100% agree, I would rather hear testimony and teaching from someone meek, humble and repentant then someone who sees themselves too high in gods eyes. BUT you don't have to be breaking serious sins to feel that way