There is built into religion, safeguards for protecting the flock from disbursement. It is in early and consistent discussion that the Adversary is working tirelessly to lead you away.
In Mormonism we are taught the Plan of Salvation, and in that plan we learn about the pre-existence, our time before this world. In the pre-existence, Satan’s plan was to enslave us into doing good to insure everyone’s salvation. His plan was rejected. He was mad. A war ensued and in the end 1/3 of the host of heaven was expelled along with their leader, never to receive a body. Their anger continues with fervor of no bounds and they are there tempting us away from the Word of God.
And they are skilled because they lived with us in our pre-mortal realm. They KNOW us. As a child I imagined that they knew I liked bubble gum and the color hot pink and that sometimes I picked my nose. They knew it ALL and they used it against me; helped me think mean things and lead me into bad situations. Situations that after I had sinned, I’d chant in my mind: “That was stupid, stupid, stupid. You are stupid, stupid, stupid.
With my adult mind, I wonder if the chant in my mind was more dangerous than the sins I committed. My fear of letting Satan get to me won. I became my own worst enemy.
And now I am here questioning my faith. The claims of my religion. The white-washing of history. The glaringly obvious detours we have taken away from Christ as an organization. And I find warnings all over from people and my mind. I keep thinking am I finding truth or am I being led away? Are the hosts of the Adversary guiding my research or am I just discovering accuracies even when they are bitter pills to swallow?
You can’t just walk into church and say “So I found out Joseph Smith married a teenage girl by promising her family an eternal link to a prophet.” Because people don’t hear the issue I voice: this is just Satan leading another person away. You are not a person struggling with truth, you are a person under dark influences.
I know. I thought it about other people.
When I say how devastated I was about my sister being told she couldn’t serve an LDS mission because she was fat, I see church members lost for words. They can’t show me true compassion and be loyal to church leaders at the same time. One contradicts the other.
What is slowly happening in my brain since I stopped calling myself stupid is that I’m not going to feel guilty about thinking angry thoughts when they are valid.
It is OK for me to be angry at my religion.
It is OK for my feelings to be hurt.
It is OK for me to want to stand up and scream this is NOT right. This is not the whole picture.
Yet rhetoric from my church lately is not comforting. Instead of addressing the issues head-on that many disaffected members are struggling with, the tone has been to blame the members. Admonish them to repent:
It is not surprising that some in the Church believe they can’t answer Alma’s question with a resounding yes. They do not “feel so now.” They feel they are in a spiritual drought. Others are angry, hurt, or disillusioned. If these descriptions apply to you,7 it is important to evaluate why you cannot “feel so now.”
Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices. Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants. Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed. (General Conference Source)
Or to compare them to “flat earthers”… in other words, silly:
President Uchtdorf said that Satan has caused many members of the Church to stumble when they discover information about the Church that seems to contradict what they had previously learned.
“If you experience such a moment, remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything, at any time and every place,” he said. “You will find even those who still claim they have evidence that the earth is flat, that the moon is a hologram, and that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet.”
President Uchtdorf also reminded listeners that just because something is printed on paper, appears on the Internet, is frequently repeated, or has a powerful group of followers does not make it true. (Source)
And in this recent talk a female leader of the Church addressed the issue of women peacefully agitating for women’s rights within the church:
Young women you will be the ones who will provide the example of virtuous womanhood and motherhood. You will continue to be virtuous lovely praiseworthy and of good report. You will also be the ones to provide an example of family life in a time when families are under attack, being redefined and disintegrating. You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights.
I did nothing wrong. I am not breaking from the faith of my childhood because I want to. Not because I long for a different life. Not because I want to sin.
These issues are real and they are messy. But comments like the ones I am hearing are not welcoming or understanding or likely to lead me back to still waters.
For the record, I do not feel under the grasp of the Adversary. I am just frustrated.
Janie is a regular contributing writer at hatch* – see her bio and read more about our writers here!
Helen Mar Kimball, Feminist Mormon Housewives