Have we forgotten our freedom from labels?
To my fellow ex-, post-, and former Mormons:
May your life be peaceful and joyful. I hope you do not forget — or fail to realize in the first place — the liberation you achieved from leaving your labels — whatever they may have been — in the church.
Before this liberation, we were held in custody under the label, locked up until that liberation that was to come would be revealed. So, the label was our guardian — providing us with our commandments, a paradigm for orthodoxy, what expectations we should have — until our liberation that we might be justified by our own independence. Independent, you are now the child of a liberated thought, for all of you who have been liberated have clothed yourself in freedom. There is neither “atheist” nor “theist,” neither “emotional,” “spiritual,” nor “rational,” nor is there “subjective” or “objective,” for you are all independent in liberation. If you are liberated, then you are heirs according to the promise.
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different than a slave, although he owns the entire estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the commandments and expectations and our church and our culture. But when the time had fully come, our liberation came to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
Formerly, when you did not know freedom, you were slaves to those who by nature are not free. You were obedient, because you were in a culture of obedience. But now that you know freedom — or rather are known by freedom — how is it that you are turning back to these weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Andrew S, tell you that if you let yourself become “objective” or “rational” or “atheist” or “spiritual” or whatever label you’ve found to the ignoring of your own thoughts, feelings, and inclinations, your freedom will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every person who lets himself be bound by a “label” that he is obligated to obey the whole law — you who are trying to be justified by your obedience to expectations of a label have become alienated from your liberation; you have fallen away from your independence. For through our liberation, we seek by freedom the authenticity for which we hope. And in freedom neither label of “religious” or “secular” has any value.
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from seeking the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from an authentic perspective. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to conform to new labels, expectations, and commandments; rather, serve one another humbly in love. If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk freely, and you will not conform to labels. For a label demands what is contrary to freedom, and freedom what is contrary to a label. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are liberated, you are not under a label.
The expectations of labels are obvious: adherence to some outward standard, suppression of conflicting feelings, desires and inclination, setting up of barriers and boundaries, hatred, discord, repression, fits of shame, denial, dissensions, factions and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not be free.
But the fruits of liberation are that you need not fit yourself to an “expectation.” If you find value in religious services, why not seek that value? You are not under the expectation that you must denounce religion wholeheartedly. Even if you do not believe in Mormonism, you have no reason to feel ‘ashamed’ for missing the community. You have no reason to buy into a “label” expectation either that your nostalgia is a residual effect of childhood “brainwashing” or an effect of your “secretly knowing the church to be true.”
What is another example..? In the realm of sexuality research, there has been an interesting phenomenon occasionally witnessed of sexual fluidity. It’s not that the people are choosing to have their orientations, preferences, and tastes shift over their lifetimes, but they find that these orientations do shift.
What is tragic is that many of those people — particularly ones who have “come out” as “gay”, who liberated themselves from a heterosexist label, who liberated themselves from repression and the “closet” — then feel they must “explain” subsequent changes. Are they “betraying” their identity as “homosexuals”? They get cast as traitors both ways as people of opposing “labels” seek to silo the experience into one group. Are they betraying the “in-born” homosexuality side? Are they supporting sexuality as “choice”?
Or are they independent of label?
If we independently discover ourselves gravitating to one thing or another, then so be it. But there’s a difference between doing things out of expectation or pressure to live up to a label and doing things because we direct ourselves to those things.
There’s a difference between obedience to a moral code we haven’t earned, and earning a moral code through painstaking effort, through introspection.