John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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honorentheos
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by honorentheos »

fetchface wrote:
honorentheos wrote:During a period of being a poor student I lived next to a couple who were, frankly, criminals. They were supporting a drug habit and spoke about crime as if it were just another job a person might have. They had a son who was about 5 or 6 and he spoke of being a criminal as if they were his heroes and he was clearly being raised with a moral foundation that didn't match one that society as a whole would get on board with let alone find sympathetic. I felt bad for the kid but no degree of sympathy changes the facts that what he was being exposed to and taught to value was unethical. His upbringing was unethical. Everything about that situation left me wondering about how parents can be such screw ups.in their kids lives and made a lasting impression on me. But one of those impressions included the fact his story is hardly unique. And while I feel sympathy for the kid, the law is all the more important for being both a constraint as well as a disincentive acting against those forces.

Put bluntly, at some point you have to pick a lane or be a dangerous driver yourself.

I fail to see the relevance that an example of conscious wrongdoing without even a perceived higher benefit has to any argument I have made.

Look, if you think that LDS leaders are just conscious deceivers then you are attacking this problem from a very different angle than I am and you are going to come to a very different result. That is okay. I can respect that. But don't pretend you are engaging my argument with examples like this.

You fail to share their perspective on what is the higher benefit but frankly they did see one and would defend it in similar terms. They didn't see what they were doing as wrong. Illegal? Sure. But not wrong. It was society at large that was in the wrong and oppressing them. You reject their belief because you recognize their perspective violates fundamental moral behaviors as codified in law is all. It also helps that you don't have an emotional attachment to them. Like others watching this thread and scratching their heads over your and Kish's insistence the perogitive of the church mitigates the harm so who are we to judge, you recognize in the example above the need to maintain a non-relativist moral position. It didn't matter to you they find a higher purpose - making a living and feeding their family/drug habit - because you recognized there is a fundamental wrong in their behavior that matters to you.

Being consistent with your moral position matters. Even if you can acknowledge the person you see as behaving immorally or unethically has reasons they believe make it helpful rather than harmful according to their worldview. You can see how it works here. That's how it should work everywhere including when one evaluates the ethics of the LDS Church's behavior.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by Physics Guy »

Having good intentions has to count for something, and acting decently according to one's lights. People are bound to make honest mistakes or just see the world differently. So for me to criminalize every divergence from my own ideals would be dumb, because I'm fallible—and at my age I should know that.

Relativizing everything to the point where self-consistency is the only moral criterion can't make sense either, however. It's too easy for even absolute monsters to make the case that they are merely acting consistently according to their own values. Evil is almost never a matter of violating one's own personal code, after all, because the only people who ever deliberately do anything which they acknowledge is seriously wrong are people who haven't bothered to execute the minor mental gymnastics that are needed to concoct an excuse.

The defense of acting according to one's own values is like the defense of only following orders. It might provide a certain amount of extenuation, but not an unlimited atonement. Feeling that grave crimes were not crimes cannot be an excuse. At some point, letting oneself feel that way is an immoral act in itself: when your conscience should have been blowing the whistle you had it driving the getaway car.

So I'm pretty sure that morality needs a hard-to-define middle way, from which one can err on both sides. To err on one side is to be stupid or hypocritical, but to err on the other side is to let down victims and condone evil. Because the middle way is hard to define, though, it's easy to hear someone else's standing up for the middle way as a defense of either one error or the other. To those defending Mormon leaders in this thread, it seems to me, the other posters have been blindly condemning religious leaders just for the sin of thinking differently. To those accusing Mormon leaders, on the other hand, the defending posters have been supinely insisting that the Brethren are just boys being boys.

That's too bad, because I have the impression that there's less real disagreement here than apparent.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by honorentheos »

Hi Physics Guy,

I don't disagree with what you say above, in particular when it comes to the treatment of others where a good deal of humility and recognition of one's own fallibility is only prudent. And especially when one is in a position to elevate a moral judgment into law, criminalizing behaviors as you said.

In this case, it seemed necessary to find an example where the party in question did not see the consequences of their actions as immoral, but rather furthering a their own aims that contrasted strongly with how most people would view it, while noting there was reason for being sympathetic. The need, IMO, being to force the recognition home that there is always more to the story, so to speak. People usually do act based on their own beliefs of what is for the greater good, or at the least in the moment they don't see themselves doing harm. But one shouldn't then throw their own moral reasoning out the window and say it doesn't apply when judging the behavior and resulting harm done by others.

Lemmie was right, in more ways than one, but in particular when noting there had to be more to what was going on in this thread than a discussion of the subject. There's history and baggage, and the subject was barely about morality or even the behavior of the church. Once I disagree with Kish it inevitably becomes about whether or not certain people know their place when their betters tell them what to think. It can be funny, but it's the kind of egotistical dick swinging that shouldn't be done in public yet here we are.
The world is always full of the sound of waves..but who knows the heart of the sea, a hundred feet down? Who knows it's depth?
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by Meadowchik »

Lemmie wrote:Totally agree with that. It’s also extremely difficult to search for and land on the essays, the drop down menus are inconsistent and unhelpful in finding information, and even their publication and updating seems buried. It’s a pattern of obfuscation that reads as disingenuous at best, if not outright dishonest.


And it seems to be continuing. I think I mentioned it upthread, but the recent issue with the racist quotes in the new lesson manual illustrates the pattern, too. In early January 2020, Apostle Gary Stevenson said the inclusion was a mistake, and that "they" became aware of it "late last year," and that they wre instructing local leaders to tell the members to refer to the online version for the correction. However, to my knowledge, there's no reports of any units receiving top-down instructions. The only anecdotal examples of such message getting through are cases of individual members bringing it to the attention of the leaders, and then leaders then checking the statement from Elder Stevenson. There doesn't seem to be any readings of letters from the FP about it in Sacrament meeting.

It seems to me that instructions should have been easily passed down as soon as the mistake was known, to prevent misunderstanding at the local levels. I wonder what is going to be the impression given to the members in poorer countries without knowledge of Stevenson's remarks (or a translation of them) and without regular internet access? Who will be taught this and led to believe it? It seems so negligent that it might even be intentional.

And the damage that this kind of negligence and silence can do is real.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by Physics Guy »

That's again a point where authority makes a difference, I think, because people with authority have a wider range of degrees of intention. An ordinary person may simply intend to do X or not intend to do it, but for a leader with authority there is the third, higher level of intention, namely the level of making sure that X happens.

Because of this, it's not enough for a leader to protest that they meant to do X, or to point to token measures that demonstrate good intentions towards X even though they didn't actually work. If X didn't actually happen then it means that the leader didn't mean X enough.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by Kishkumen »

Physics Guy wrote:Relativizing everything to the point where self-consistency is the only moral criterion can't make sense either, however. It's too easy for even absolute monsters to make the case that they are merely acting consistently according to their own values. Evil is almost never a matter of violating one's own personal code, after all, because the only people who ever deliberately do anything which they acknowledge is seriously wrong are people who haven't bothered to execute the minor mental gymnastics that are needed to concoct an excuse.

The defense of acting according to one's own values is like the defense of only following orders. It might provide a certain amount of extenuation, but not an unlimited atonement. Feeling that grave crimes were not crimes cannot be an excuse. At some point, letting oneself feel that way is an immoral act in itself: when your conscience should have been blowing the whistle you had it driving the getaway car.

So I'm pretty sure that morality needs a hard-to-define middle way, from which one can err on both sides. To err on one side is to be stupid or hypocritical, but to err on the other side is to let down victims and condone evil. Because the middle way is hard to define, though, it's easy to hear someone else's standing up for the middle way as a defense of either one error or the other. To those defending Mormon leaders in this thread, it seems to me, the other posters have been blindly condemning religious leaders just for the sin of thinking differently. To those accusing Mormon leaders, on the other hand, the defending posters have been supinely insisting that the Brethren are just boys being boys.


It is apparent to me that people believe I am being a moral relativist, but I am not. I believe that individual leaders have done wrong in their handling of historical issues. I do not give whoever it was--probably Joseph Fielding Smith--a pass for hiding the 1832 account. I did say that I sympathized with a difficult situation, but that is not the same as condoning. I also do not condone Elder Packer going after Mike Quinn for publishing scholarship that showed the Church continued polygamy on the sly after the First Manifesto. I have a very difficult time being sympathetic with Elder Packer.

Indeed, I think there has been something of a troubling culture of authoritarian handling of LDS history that must be addressed at the same time we discuss the difficulty of dealing with the apparent incompatibility between the faith narrative and the scholarly history.

Here is where I lose people who hold themselves to be faithful Mormons. There is an unfortunate authoritarian strain in Brighamite Mormonism that has very troubling ramifications and, frankly, a deeply morally troubling record. I believe that strain continues today in such statements as President Oaks', "It is wrong to criticize the leaders even if the criticism is true." I know this has been addressed to defend Elder Oaks on this point, and my intention is not to attack him personally, but there are too many other indications that strict obedience to the leadership is demanded in a way that causes me a great deal of discomfort.

When the overwhelming authority of the leaders of the Church is brought to bear on individual members to punish them for pursuing historical truth, I find that to be unacceptable.

I am not a moral relativist, whatever impression may have come about either through my own words or the way others on this thread have interpreted them and thus depicted me.

That said, I think it is reasonable to suppose that believing leaders and members will not want to leap to negative conclusions about their faith drawn from scholarly history. This is one reason why the faithful narrative will not be swiftly edited or new scholarly history immediately promoted by the Church. Arguably it would be irresponsible for the Church to update its narrative swiftly in response to scholarly discoveries that would be difficult for them to integrate into a faithful perspective. We ought to have some sympathy for that conundrum and not rush to impugn the apparent failure not to embrace new, alternative narratives of Church history, no matter how sound the scholarship supporting them.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by Lemmie »

Meadowchik wrote:
Lemmie wrote:Totally agree with that. It’s also extremely difficult to search for and land on the essays, the drop down menus are inconsistent and unhelpful in finding information, and even their publication and updating seems buried. It’s a pattern of obfuscation that reads as disingenuous at best, if not outright dishonest.

And it seems to be continuing. I think I mentioned it upthread, but the recent issue with the racist quotes in the new lesson manual illustrates the pattern, too. In early January 2020, Apostle Gary Stevenson said the inclusion was a mistake, and that "they" became aware of it "late last year," and that they wre instructing local leaders to tell the members to refer to the online version for the correction. However, to my knowledge, there's no reports of any units receiving top-down instructions. The only anecdotal examples of such message getting through are cases of individual members bringing it to the attention of the leaders, and then leaders then checking the statement from Elder Stevenson. There doesn't seem to be any readings of letters from the FP about it in Sacrament meeting.

It seems to me that instructions should have been easily passed down as soon as the mistake was known, to prevent misunderstanding at the local levels. I wonder what is going to be the impression given to the members in poorer countries without knowledge of Stevenson's remarks (or a translation of them) and without regular internet access? Who will be taught this and led to believe it? It seems so negligent that it might even be intentional.

And the damage that this kind of negligence and silence can do is real.

Yes it is. You may have seen Ben Spackman’s blog entry about this; I think his first piece on inerrancy was discussed here, but he recently added a follow up where he said this:

First, this is not the first time I have seen de facto inerrancy. I hear it with some frequency.

.... I know first-hand accounts of junior faculty at BYU being rebuked by mid-level admins because “we’re not trying to disabuse students of their myths about Church leadership.”

(Sidenote, um, why not? Shouldn’t BYU, Institute, and Seminary be the ideal places to counteract false ideas and promote correct ones about the nature of Church leadership? Places of faith and intellect where we can tackle hard questions together, in constructive ways that build faith?)

.... Inerrancy is not to be written off as an arcane, academic concern, or irrelevant bit of pseudo-doctrine; its presence has real effects on real people...

https://benspackman.com/2020/01/31/iner ... -followup/

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

I recall my mother saying something to the effect, "We should follow the prophet, but if he leads us astray, he'll be removed from the Earth."

Well. That's all good and fine for the prophet, but the damage done following a prophet who we are counselled to follow is done. The absolute devastation left behind by bad counsel echoes for decades, if not hundreds or thousands of years. Ben Spackman (thanks for linking him Lemmie, because I'd never heard of him prior to your post above) is in a tricky position discussing inerrancy because we're all kind of left with 'follow the prophet except when you think he's wrong, but you really should because you might be wrong' which essentially leads to a confusing 'yes, but no, but yes' kind of devotion by the flock.

And, honestly? All of this leads back to just following the prophets/apostles. Because, why would God risk leading you astray in the here and now?

I suppose this leaves us with the uncomfortable realization within the Mormon paradigm that God, in fact, did inspire His leaders to enact the policies and doctrines suitable to their times. He did curse people with dark skin. He did take away the priesthood from Black people. He did institute secret polygamy. He did practice a top-down autocratic theocracy reserved for family dynasties. He has, in fact, directed His church to be transformed into a real estate holdings company with a primary focus of accumulating hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth. He has, in fact, directed His church to openly discriminate against homosexuals, keep women subordinate to males, and to blur the line between His church and the state. So on and so forth.

How does the average member distinguish between His will and that of His servants? I say it's impossible.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by fetchface »

honorentheos wrote:You fail to share their perspective on what is the higher benefit but frankly they did see one and would defend it in similar terms.

1. I have.
2. We're going in circles here.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by kairos »

[quote="Doctor CamNC4Me"]I recall my mother saying something to the effect, "We should follow the prophet, but if he leads us astray, he'll be removed from the Earth."

Well. That's all good and fine for the prophet, but the damage done following a prophet who we are counselled to follow is done. The absolute devastation left behind by bad counsel echoes for decades, if not hundreds or thousands of years. Ben Spackman (thanks for linking him Lemmie, because I'd never heard of him prior to your post above) is in a tricky position discussing inerrancy because we're all kind of left with 'follow the prophet except when you think he's wrong, but you really should because you might be wrong' which essentially leads to a confusing 'yes, but no, but yes' kind of devotion by the flock.

And, honestly? All of this leads back to just following the prophets/apostles. Because, why would God risk leading you astray in the here and now?

I suppose this leaves us with the uncomfortable realization within the Mormon paradigm that God, in fact, did inspire His leaders to enact the policies and doctrines suitable to their times. He did curse people with dark skin. He did take away the priesthood from Black people. He did institute secret polygamy. He did practice a top-down autocratic theocracy reserved for family dynasties. He has, in fact, directed His church to be transformed into a real estate holdings company with a primary focus of accumulating hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth. He has, in fact, directed His church to openly discriminate against homosexuals, keep women subordinate to males, and to blur the line between His church and the state. So on and so forth.

How does the average member distinguish between His will and that of His servants? I say it's impossible.

Good insights above1

Are actions taken as a result of God's will always error free/inerrant? To my mind yes! Are those of God's servants error free/inerrant? To my mind no!

So take an issue "discrimination against homosexuals"- to my restricted mind, God is perfect and would/does not discriminate. So if church leaders like Hoax or Bedwetter or the church's magisterium , the teaching authority of the 15 Apostles in consultation together declare a policy,doctrine,proclamation, manifesto or whatever that openly discriminates against homosexuals, how is the member able to distinguish between the two "wills". Perhaps impossible if the member has been so "brainwashed" as to equate God's will with the church leaders . If not so brainwashed a member might question whether the church leaders' will conforms to God's. A member who is down or sliding down the rabbit hole might be able to conclude the church leaders will is in serious error.
So it all seems to depend on the member's state of mind in terms of how much he/she has linked concretely God's will and the church leaders' will as being the same.

just postulatin'
k

ps- above assumes God is perfect without error - your mileage on this obviously may vary!

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