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Trusting Parents, Trusting the Mormon Church

January 24, 2014

Jeff has written a response to my most recent Wheat & Tares post discussing what we do if everything is a lie. His post centers around the following series of questions:

My question to you is simple:

“How do you handle the fact that almost everyone in your life, at one time or another, has lied, mislead, withheld information or deliberately deceived you in some way?”

Starting with your parents, your siblings, your spouse, your friends and acquaintances, your teachers, your employers, the clerks in the store, institutions, and on and on.  Chances are, they have not been totally honest and forthcoming about every aspect of their lives or having to do with their interactions with you.

For example, how did you deal with the fact that your parents lied to you about Santa Claus, or where babies came from, or withheld certain unflattering facts about their lives?  Did you divorce them from your lives? Did they stop being your parents? In some rare cases, the answer might be “Yes.”

But, usually, you just dealt with the fact that they weren’t perfect and moved on. Maybe your respect for them diminished slightly, but they were still your parents.

This can be applied to every other person or institution in your life.

In short, ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. So, how do you reconcile that from the rejection of the Church for committing the same sins and omissions?

I’m not so sure the analogy works:

As I commented:

The extent of the deception, and the extent of the feeling of betrayal, is magnitudes different. Even the lies my parents told me did not ultimately cause me to pay thousands of dollars to causes I found to be morally repugnant, or cause me undue emotional and mental trauma trying to change core sexuality, or doubt core aspects of my personality.

I guess what I would say is something like this — I still feel comfortable associating with my parents because I get the feeling and the evidence supports that my parents care for me and my well-being — and that’s important. I would trust my parents only to the extent I found them *trustworthy*. And they do seem trustworthy, notwithstanding the Santa fiasco.

But I know other people who tragically can’t say the same thing about their parents and their relatives, so they are either estranged from them or they make a conscious decision to distance themselves if the relatives don’t do it first.

And here’s the kicker — when we’re talking about other people, I can make this calculus of care, trustworthiness, etc., But I don’t think it’s appropriate to do the same with an organization or corporation. The organization doesn’t care for me. The organization isn’t trustworthy. Engaging with organizations has to be more cynical and transactional, because there aren’t such guarantees of care anymore.

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  1. Jeff’s analogy works if you are a believing member because in essence the church is not an institution but a family and that family cares deeply for you. However to someone, such as myself, who has long since left the ‘church family’ the analogy sounds ridiculous.

  2. As someone who has family members who I have cut off, because they are not only not trustworthy, but are abusive and continually seeking to hurt me. I absolutely have had to cut them off completely and in the case of my biological father, I have taken the legal steps to protect me and my children.

    I can see where former members, who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender would feel that the church as a whole is abusive, and that only through cutting those ties, can they be assured of stopping the abuse to them individually. When the church attacks the basic rights of those members, through through the system if laws in our country, fighting against the entire institution makes perfect sense. I say this as someone who chooses to be a member of the church, but who refuses to be part of the abuse of the legal system, and who fights to change the institution where I can.

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