Friday, March 26, 2010

No Judgment Is An Easy Judgment, Even Apostasy

"Judge not, that ye be not judged."

I agree completely with the idea that everyone must make judgments every day of morality. I just don't believe that judgments regarding individuals should ever be based on collective, communal generalities. An example is the idea that all who are baptized and then leave the Church will be more hardened than before their conversion. That is making an individual judgment on each and every person in question, while the scriptural example is of "a people" (an entire community or a group of people) that reject after conversion. For an entire people to reject something they once believed requires active convincing of some by others - active missionary work, if you will, and that effort almost necessitates openly fighting against what was believed.

Individual decisions don't require that type of active fight, and, in some cases, there really is a "natural peace", per se, that accompanies leaving the Church. For a perfectionist who can't let go of unrealistic expectations, striving for perfection can be devastating emotionally - especially if "perfection" is misunderstood, as is common even in the Church. For someone who feels strong sexual urges (heterosexual or homosexual), abstinence can be brutally difficult - especially the longer it is required. Often, abandoning the effort to overcome "the natural man" reduces stress and brings a type of relaxation.

Finally, we almost always have no idea whatsoever what weaknesses and tendencies and inclinations are "natural" for any given individual - what aspects of their personality and mortal challenge are nothing more than the effects of the Fall - which of their struggles are the result of Adam's transgression - what actions of theirs will be covered by the Atonement, because, in the end, they will die still not fully complete and whole (perfect) no matter how hard they try. If we don't know those things, we can't judge those people. We just don't know enough to do so righteously ("in the right manner" or "as God would do").

Fwiw, I try hard not to speculate EVER about the spiritual condition of any particular individual who leaves the Church - and I try hard to avoid generalizations about broad groups of people that tend to paint them harshly. I believe strongly in identifying things that might contribute to someone leaving the Church, since I care deeply about that decision, but any conclusion that uses "always", "all", "never", etc. is, in my opinion, judgmental in nature - since I believe it paints too broadly and judges at least some people un-righteously.

1 comment:

Jack Mormon said...

Wise counsel, Papa D. I do not assume every ex-Mormon is an apostate.

If an ex-Mormon simply goes his own way and finds his own road to spiritual satisfaction, no problem - I respect that decision. Even if an ex-Mormon complains about the Church from time to time on an ex-Mo discussion board, I will not consider that person an apostate. Leaving the Church and its associated social infrastructure can be traumatic for some, and they might need to vent from time to time as part of the healing process.

However, if an ex-Mormon deliberately and maliciously launches a public campaign against the Church, in which they misrepresent and lie about the Church, I will consider him or her an apostate. They are relatively few in number; Ed Decker, James Spencer, Sonia Johnson, and Deborah Laake come to mind. Even then, I will not classify them as sons of perdition, because only the Lord possesses the wisdom to make such a call. In the case of Deborah Laake, her apostasy was actually provoked in part by psychological problems, so she cannot be held fully responsible.