Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Part 4 - How to handle a crisis of faith & Conclusion

To those who see crises of faith as a sign of spiritual weakness, I submit that instead of judging the 46ers, you should have great respect for the faith that they show by living faithfully without the witness.  Imagine how much harder it would be for you to pay your full tithing and sacrifice all those hours for the Church if you didn't have your witness.  Both sides should reach out with love to help people walk the path along the iron rod.  Help to inoculate others in gentleness and meekness.  Especially since you know that there are people against the Church who purposely set you up to stumble into a crisis of faith.  There is a verse in our body of scripture that describes this trap beautifully, "Treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear[22]."  Let's help people be prepared so they don't have to hear that earth-shaking voice.

To those who understand these issues, but have had a spiritual experience which keeps you from doubting the truthfulness of the Gospel, share your experiences more.  Share your testimony experiences so that we can "believe in [your] words[23]."  Members probably do need to keep certain very sacred experiences by not sharing them when it isn't appropriate, but I think we have let that line slide too far to the overly fundamental side of the spectrum as well.  Elder Oaks shares a very sacred experience in the modern story of a humble Tongan saint raising his daughter from the dead[24].  This has been a significantly faith promoting story for me.  It would be a shame to have kept this secret and not increased the faith of so many people.

Most importantly, don't fall for the same trick twice.  In other words, don't swallow the "black-washed" narrative hook, line and sinker like you did the "white-washed" narrative.  In fact, I would suggest that you use the scientific method to determine if there is something good for you in Mormonism.  You don't have to suddenly live a life of debauchery, but live your life for one week where you don't say your prayers and read your scriptures daily.  Then live a week where you do and compare how you feel.  Also, realize that you are a D&C 46er.  Live your life worthy of and hope for an undeniable experience, but know that you could be a 46er your whole life, and that is okay.  Share your experience with others to help them not feel so alone and give them strength to see how you have dealt with the problem.  Also, remember that you have to mentally struggle to believe just as much as you will have to mentally struggle to leave.  As Terryl Givens succinctly put it, to continue believing you have to throw aspects of the traditional narrative down the "memory hole" just as much as you would have to throw spiritual experiences down the "memory hole" if you completely stop believing.[25]  Imagine that the negative aspects of this experience are like pebbles in your left hand and the positive ones are pebbles in your right hand.  Keep both pebbles at an arm's length.  Don't pull the negative ones up so close to your eyes that they look like boulders compared to the positive ones.  Focusing on them too much will leave you unbalanced. 

This will be hard at first for several people because of the pain from feeling betrayed by the church when you find out the historical narrative is different than the traditional narrative.  Give yourself time to let that pain pass before making any final decisions.  When I doubted my faith in the Church and God, back from my mission as a young BYU student, I had to decide what I was going to do with my life.  I knew that I didn't know if the Church was true, but I didn't know that it wasn't true either.  Looking over my life I couldn't deny that the Church had helped to mold me into a better person.  That gave me a grain of faith to work with.  Moreover, if everybody in the world lived the precepts of Mormon doctrine, the world would be a truly great place.  Yes, there are some imperfections in the Church, mainly because it comes via imperfect human beings, but I also see the fingerprints of God here.  Because of this, I decided to err on the side of caution and continued to live as if the core doctrines were true.  I did this in hopes of eventually finding out one way or the other for sure.  As I have done the aforementioned scientific method test on the core Mormon doctrines with a serious intellectual integrity I have found that I have a greater peace[26] and sense of purpose in my life when I live my life as the "Primary answers" would dictate.  Whether those positive feelings come from evolutionary programming toward efforts that help the common good of the species, or mental programming from being raised LDS that subconsciously pushes me toward living the precepts, or finally because there actually is a God that sends me feelings of peace when I do these things, I am going to continue down this path because it is a happier path.  Especially when I embrace the inherent imperfections of a human-run Church.  It is my hope that we can help others avoid this kind of faith crisis and in its place "have joy[27]" on their way through this already difficult life.

Next Part

1 comment:

Miles said...

Thanks Carson! :)