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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:11 pm
by moksha
Kishkumen wrote:
honorentheos wrote:Fox News is kewl, then? ;)

Fox News is not “kewl.”

Pretty sure Honorentheos was specifically using the Obliblishian word "kewl", meaning a purveyor of bogus rhetoric.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:10 pm
by Kishkumen
kairos wrote:Anyone think the pressure on children and young people to follow/live/comply/carryout the life "package" we have been discussing comes mostly from non-local leaders, local leaders, ward members, friends/relatives or close family?? i see pressure from all angles in my TBM family (me the nevermo). Like the Mormon life package is just assumed to be the way to go and it is emphasized at every level. Case in point, grandchild had numerous athletic scholarship offers but chose YBU because of the nonmormon influences at the other schools which included ivy league and stanford 4 year full ride scholarships. Seems like BYU fit the life package being dealt and even though this young person could become much more educated and career oriented in the other environments, parents felt she might also 'lose" her faith and applied some pressure in the decisionmaking.
maybe blame is not the game to be played here- perhaps every child and young person currently caught in the web of the Mormon life package needs someway to discover other life packages! but how?

what do you think?

k


So many people are fixed on the webs of their cultures, including upper-middle-class secular kids. What are they missing out on? What great tragedies are they being set up for? Where are their blind spots?

Some people find genuine peace and contentment living a religious life. Some people don’t want or need a thousand options to choose from. The opposite of these statements is also true.

I really don’t see that being Mormon is necessarily a bad thing unless it really does not suit you. Will bad things happen to Mormons? Yes. Will bad things happen to non-Mormons? Yes. Are some Mormons miserable? Yes. Are some non-Mormons miserable? Yes.

May we all live decent, productive, and happy lives. May we be grateful for the good things and lighten the loads of those who find life difficult to bear. Let us not be busybodies looking to stir up trouble for others. These are my prayers this evening.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:11 pm
by Res Ipsa
Amen, Reverend.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:44 am
by Meadowchik
Kishkumen wrote:So many people are fixed on the webs of their cultures, including upper-middle-class secular kids. What are they missing out on? What great tragedies are they being set up for? Where are their blind spots?

Some people find genuine peace and contentment living a religious life. Some people don’t want or need a thousand options to choose from. The opposite of these statements is also true.

I really don’t see that being Mormon is necessarily a bad thing unless it really does not suit you. Will bad things happen to Mormons? Yes. Will bad things happen to non-Mormons? Yes. Are some Mormons miserable? Yes. Are some non-Mormons miserable? Yes.

May we all live decent, productive, and happy lives. May we be grateful for the good things and lighten the loads of those who find life difficult to bear. Let us not be busybodies looking to stir up trouble for others. These are my prayers this evening.


I repeat the spirit of your prayers, Kish, and yet for me, that means generating some discomfort and living with discomfort indefinitely. I think that lightening loads, and being productive and decent requires it, (and I don't think that qualifies as being a "busybody," though we might disagree.) The LDS church is a human institution that makes human mistakes, and as a human beings who have experienced it from within and without it is completely reasonable and decent to call upon it to improve its relationships with human beings.

The church as an institutional is immoral. As an institution, it claims authority over human beings and while doing so, it has has covered up and avoided unflattering facts about it and it has persistently marketed itself without full disclosure. The church consistently secures premature adherents to lifelong commitments who have little to no knowledge of its doctrines and policies. Calling it out, expecting it to account for itself for its actions is a moral expectation and it is precisely something that can help it adapt and change and continue to exist so that it can be an institution that contributes value to peoples lives.

The church is not alone in its immorality, but we have the experience and interest to bring forward insight relevant to it in particular. I want it to be better.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:01 am
by Kishkumen
I repeat the spirit of your prayers, Kish, and yet for me, that means generating some discomfort and living with discomfort indefinitely. I think that lightening loads, and being productive and decent requires it, (and I don't think that qualifies as being a "busybody," though we might disagree.) The LDS church is a human institution that makes human mistakes, and as a human beings who have experienced it from within and without it is completely reasonable and decent to call upon it to improve its relationships with human beings.

The church as an institutional is immoral. As an institution, it claims authority over human beings and while doing so, it has has covered up and avoided unflattering facts about it and it has persistently marketed itself without full disclosure. The church consistently secures premature adherents to lifelong commitments who have little to no knowledge of its doctrines and policies. Calling it out, expecting it to account for itself for its actions is a moral expectation and it is precisely something that can help it adapt and change and continue to exist so that it can be an institution that contributes value to peoples lives.

The church is not alone in its immorality, but we have the experience and interest to bring forward insight relevant to it in particular. I want it to be better.


Hey, Meadowchik. I think it is great to want to improve things out of a sense of responsibility. The question is always how one best goes about that. Calling the LDS Church immoral is an interesting choice of tactics. I would guess that it does not work well with most people who enjoy their church experience as Mormons, not that you would do that in addressing Mormons in person.

Do I like the LDS Church’s lack of financial transparency, heavy emphasis on authority, interviewing practices, and policies on gender? No, there is a lot there not to like. Impugning the church as an immoral organization, however, seems to me to be extreme and off-putting. Is the entire organization immoral? Does it have no redeeming traits? I think it does have its good points and redeeming characteristics. Calling it immoral occludes those positive characteristics.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:20 am
by Meadowchik
Kishkumen wrote:
I repeat the spirit of your prayers, Kish, and yet for me, that means generating some discomfort and living with discomfort indefinitely. I think that lightening loads, and being productive and decent requires it, (and I don't think that qualifies as being a "busybody," though we might disagree.) The LDS church is a human institution that makes human mistakes, and as a human beings who have experienced it from within and without it is completely reasonable and decent to call upon it to improve its relationships with human beings.

The church as an institutional is immoral. As an institution, it claims authority over human beings and while doing so, it has has covered up and avoided unflattering facts about it and it has persistently marketed itself without full disclosure. The church consistently secures premature adherents to lifelong commitments who have little to no knowledge of its doctrines and policies. Calling it out, expecting it to account for itself for its actions is a moral expectation and it is precisely something that can help it adapt and change and continue to exist so that it can be an institution that contributes value to peoples lives.

The church is not alone in its immorality, but we have the experience and interest to bring forward insight relevant to it in particular. I want it to be better.


Hey, Meadowchik. I think it is great to want to improve things out of a sense of responsibility. The question is always how one best goes about that. Calling the LDS Church immoral is an interesting choice of tactics. I would guess that it does not work well with most people who enjoy their church experience as Mormons, not that you would do that in addressing Mormons in person.

Do I like the LDS Church’s lack of financial transparency, heavy emphasis on authority, interviewing practices, and policies on gender? No, there is a lot there not to like. Impugning the church as an immoral organization, however, seems to me to be an extreme and off-putting. Is the entire organization immoral? Does it have no redeeming traits? I think it does have its good points and redeeming characteristics. Calling it immoral occludes those positive characteristics.


Hiya. Calling it immoral, though, is no different than calling "the natural man...an enemy to God." Except that the church has built an internal culture of assent, where criticism and dissent are characterised as attacks. This is an unhealthy environment that it has created.

I agree that I am using language that is uncommonplace and unpleasant in the church, but that is due to the church's unhealthy management of criticism.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:56 am
by Kishkumen
Meadowchik wrote:Hiya. Calling it immoral, though, is no different than calling "the natural man...an enemy to God." Except that the church has built an internal culture of assent, where criticism and dissent are characterised as attacks. This is an unhealthy environment that it has created.

I agree that I am using language that is uncommonplace and unpleasant in the church, but that is due to the church's unhealthy management of criticism.


Elder Oaks' declaration that it is wrong to criticize the leaders even if the criticism is true is one of my least favorite public comments of any. Yes, you are right. The LDS Church does not handle criticism well, and, as a result, those who are flexing their freedom muscles like to criticize the church with gusto. I am a case in point there.

But, I do not agree that the church's unhealthy management of criticism (great writing there, by the way) is the sole reason why critical language is unpleasant and rare in church. It may also have something to do with the fact that other Mormons are happy being Mormons under the terms which the church has established for membership.

It may seem crazy to us, but some people like having an uncomplicated, pleasant experience in church in which they intone the same old lessons every week. Some people like to have strong male leaders who are set up as divine oracles for the people. Some people like to go confess their sins to a paternal leader who will mete out God's punishment and forgiveness. Some people like life in a cis-gender world where dad wears the pants and goes to work, while mom wears a skirt and stays at home.

We may not be those people. But such people exist. I think fewer of them exist than once did, but I would be surprised if they ceased to exist altogether. So, it may be that the LDS Church will continue to shrink over time, but I doubt it will disappear, and I doubt it would be fair to say that the people who lead this Mormon life and those who lead their church are altogether bad people, such that it would be accurate to call the whole thing "immoral."

I think it is important to take account of all of the good things the LDS Church, its leaders, and its people do as well. That list is pretty long, I think. I have a hard time imagining myself as having been a bad person when I was a member of the LDS Church. I have a hard time thinking that my time serving other people was poorly spent. I have a difficult time believing that sitting in meetings and talking about being a good person, so that I could go out during the week and live the life of a good person was an immoral activity. I do not think that it was immoral of me to go on a mission, or immoral for the LDS Church to send me on one. I don't believe my experience in the temple was immoral. I didn't find attending General Conference to be immoral. I did not think that being a leader in Young Men's was immoral, or that serving in Scouts was immoral. I can't think of singing hymns, praying, or partaking of the sacrament as immoral.

That does not mean there is nothing to criticize there. There is plenty to find fault with, sure. And I think there are serious problems. Very serious indeed. I quit going for a reason.

And yet, to look back at my experience as a Mormon and say, "Man, I can't believe I was so immoral," or, "How did I ever involve myself in that immoral organization?," well, that just sounds unreal to me. And, I think it sounds unreal because it is, at the end of the day, simply inaccurate.

I can easily imagine a better LDS Church, but I doubt I will ever participate in one. I think the best thing to do in this situation, however, in which one really has the idea of making a better LDS Church is to go out and make one. I doubt that many of us will commit the time and energy to doing this sort of thing. I know I am unlikely to do so. The other alternatives, including hanging out on this board and venting our spleens, which, by the way, is practically my avocation, are probably not going to achieve that goal.

But, again, I am not against criticism. I am not against trying to nudge the LDS Church in a better direction. In my opinion, however, nurturing and expressing a kind of dark caricature of Mormonism and the LDS Church is probably not the way to bring about positive change. If you tell happy Mormons that they are immoral, or that their church is immoral, they're probably just going to look at you as though you are some kind of nut.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:04 am
by honorentheos
It seems to me the debate comes down to a false dichotomy, and a flattening of what it means for something to be immoral.

We can agree that Mormonism is like any other worldview that has some tenacity because it works for people. We can agree that the percentage of people who identify as Mormon who benefit from living it is greater than zero and could be quick high, if equally as likely as it being less than 100 percent and there being people harmed by it. We can agree that we like the Mormons we continue to affiliate with even if we aren't in the fold. We can agree in general that Mormonism encourages people to do things that have positive results, and there are far worse worldviews operating in the world.

Where we seem to get stuck is in calling the behavior immoral when LDS leadership manipulates the message around the history and authority of the church in a way that removes agency from people. Personally I find calling out people or, by extension, institutions immoral to be painting a little too broadly. I don't intend to reduce everything about the Church to it being Good or Bad, Moral or Immoral. That's a learned attitude I've tried to evolve past since leaving the LDS fold, in fact. We all do things that aren't morally perfect or always modeled on ethical ideals. None of us would like to see our own life reduced down to a binary when I recognize myself to be complex and having to make tough choices at times.

It seems this is a false dichotomy, if the original quote is about a particular behavior which is how I read it. Here it is again -

"There’s this massive amount of decisions that you make, you know in a finite life, and to base that life on a narrative, when not only the narrative isn’t what it claims to be, when leaders know the narrative isn’t what it claims to be, and intentionally - for as long as they could - withheld the information that would allow people to make an informed decision about how they spend their finite time and resources –that’s profoundly immoral."

Is the Church whitewashing it's history to maintain control a moral act? No. I'm not in the mood to debate it, either. I know people defending the church in this thread don't agree with the very same behavior when done by other entities so it isn't a principled position but one of affection for the church of some kind. And that's not rational so I'm not intending to keep beating against irrationality.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:28 am
by Kishkumen
It seems this is a false dichotomy, if the original quote is about a particular behavior which is how I read it. Here it is again -

"There’s this massive amount of decisions that you make, you know in a finite life, and to base that life on a narrative, when not only the narrative isn’t what it claims to be, when leaders know the narrative isn’t what it claims to be, and intentionally - for as long as they could - withheld the information that would allow people to make an informed decision about how they spend their finite time and resources –that’s profoundly immoral."

Is the Church whitewashing it's history to maintain control a moral act? No. I'm not in the mood to debate it, either. I know people defending the church in this thread don't agree with the very same behavior when done by other entities so it isn't a principled position but one of affection for the church of some kind. And that's not rational so I'm not intending to keep beating against irrationality.


If the situation were as stark and uncomplicated as Dehlin portrays it, I would be more inclined to agree. Then again, the lack of accuracy in his account, when he knows what the Church has done to deal with problems in its narrative, may strike some as immoral. Or would that be unfair to say?

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:36 am
by Meadowchik
Kishkumen wrote:
Meadowchik wrote:Hiya. Calling it immoral, though, is no different than calling "the natural man...an enemy to God." Except that the church has built an internal culture of assent, where criticism and dissent are characterised as attacks. This is an unhealthy environment that it has created.

I agree that I am using language that is uncommonplace and unpleasant in the church, but that is due to the church's unhealthy management of criticism.


Elder Oaks' declaration that it is wrong to criticize the leaders even if the criticism is true is one of my least favorite public comments of any. Yes, you are right. The LDS Church does not handle criticism well, and, as a result, those who are flexing their freedom muscles like to criticize the church with gusto. I am a case in point there.

But, I do not agree that the church's unhealthy management of criticism (great writing there, by the way) is the sole reason why critical language is unpleasant and rare in church. It may also have something to do with the fact that other Mormons are happy being Mormons under the terms which the church has established for membership.

It may seem crazy to us, but some people like having an uncomplicated, pleasant experience in church in which they intone the same old lessons every week. Some people like to have strong male leaders who are set up as divine oracles for the people. Some people like to go confess their sins to a paternal leader who will mete out God's punishment and forgiveness. Some people life in a cis-gender world where dad wears the pants and goes to work, while mom wears a skirt and stays at home.

We may not be those people. But such people exist. I think fewer of them exist than once did, but I would be surprised if they ceased to exist altogether. So, it may be that the LDS Church will continue to shrink over time, but I doubt it will disappear, and I doubt it would be fair to say that the people who lead this Mormon life and those who lead their church are altogether bad people, such that it would be accurate to call the whole thing "immoral."

I think it is important to take account of all of the good things the LDS Church, its leaders, and its people do as well. That list is pretty long, I think. I have a hard time imagining myself as having been a bad person when I was a member of the LDS Church. I have a hard time thinking that my time serving other people was poorly spent. I have a difficult time believing that sitting in meetings and talking about being a good person, so that I could go out during the week and live the life of a good person was an immoral activity. I do not think that it was immoral of me to go on a mission, or immoral for the LDS Church to send me on one. I don't believe my experience in the temple was immoral. I didn't find attending General Conference to be immoral. I did not think that being a leader in Young Men's was immoral, or that serving in Scouts was immoral. I can't think of singing hymns, praying, or partaking of the sacrament as immoral.

That does not mean there is nothing to criticize there. There is plenty to find fault with, sure. And I think there are serious problems. Very serious indeed. I quit going for a reason.

And yet, to look back at my experience as a Mormon and say, "Man, I can't believe I was so immoral," or, "How did I ever involve myself in that immoral organization?," well, that just sounds unreal to me. And, I think it sounds unreal because it is, at the end of the day, simply inaccurate.

I can easily imagine a better LDS Church, but I doubt I will ever participate in one. I think the best thing to do in this situation, however, in which one really has the idea of making a better LDS Church is to go out and make one. I doubt that many of us will commit the time and energy to doing this sort of thing. I know I am unlikely to do so. The other alternatives, including hanging out on this board and venting our spleens, which, by the way, is practically my avocation, are probably not going to achieve that goal.

But, again, I am not against criticism. I am not against trying to nudge the LDS Church in a better direction. In my opinion, however, nurturing and expressing a kind of dark caricature of Mormonism and the LDS Church is probably not the way to bring about positive change. If you tell happy Mormons that they are immoral, or that their church is immoral, they're probably just going to look at you as though you are some kind of nut.


I'm already a nut, Kish, universally so. Being Mormon in the Bible Belt was good practice, I guess! :D

I think it is a fair charactiersation, especially when precisely described as has been done, in the OP quote and in some replies. I could say ways in which this and that in the church is immoral even when it felt pretty wholesome at the time. I have five teenagers at the moment and it is a hard thing to be open and communicative with five teenagers. They can be tough, while also being respectful, critics. It can be tough to swallow, but darn it, it's just a part of trying to be a good parent. It's part of having a good relationship.

Allowing for a time and place for the venting of spleens, I do think that a serious, productive conversation is going to dispense with language that dismisses the church as having no value. In contrast, I would like to see language that can simultaneously hold up a surviving AND self-aware institution.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:56 am
by honorentheos
Kishkumen wrote:If the situation were as stark and uncomplicated as Dehlin portrays it, I would be more inclined to agree.

The comment is withholding information that would allow people to make informed decisions about how they spend their time and resources is immoral. You don't agree that is a fairly accurate reflection of how the Church has managed it's claims to divine authority? Again, I'm fairly confident I could replace the LDS church with numerous parallel examples and we wouldn't need to debate the abuse of authority involved is damaging to democratic ideals. So, I am not that interested in chasing the details around as to what makes the Church's influence somehow special enough we stop agreeing enabling adults to make decisions that affect their lives in profound ways is the moral position.

Then again, the lack of accuracy in his account, when he knows what the Church has done to deal with problems in its narrative, may strike some as immoral. Or would that be unfair to say?
You said it. Do you feel like you are an immoral person now for doing so? ;)

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:57 am
by Kishkumen
honorentheos wrote:The comment is withholding information that would allow people to make informed decisions about how they spend their time and resources is immoral. You don't agree that is a fairly accurate reflection of how the Church has managed it's claims to divine authority? Again, I'm fairly confident I could replace the LDS church with numerous parallel examples and we wouldn't need to debate the abuse of authority involved is damaging to democratic ideals. So, I am not that interested in chasing the details around as to what makes the Church's influence somehow special enough we stop agreeing enabling adults to make decisions that affect their lives in profound ways is the moral position.


Well, the Church isn’t a democracy, and I am not sure it claims to champion democratic values in the area of religion. It is pretty clearly an authority-heavy religion, and some people seem to like it that way. Those who don’t, like us, leave. We find that we don’t like the emphasis on authority.

One might think that the emphasis on priesthood and “the prophet”, beginning in the missionary discussions, might be a clue, along with the commandment that the prophet spoke for God in telling you not to drink coffee or tea, but so many of us went along with that knowing full well that we had leaders micromanaging us in place of God concerning which beverages we should not drink.

But it is very human to miss stuff like this.

You said it.


Not exactly, no! :-D

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:02 am
by Kishkumen
I'm already a nut, Kish, universally so. Being Mormon in the Bible Belt was good practice, I guess! :D


It was in Northern Virginia, too! :D

I think it is a fair charactiersation, especially when precisely described as has been done, in the OP quote and in some replies. I could say ways in which this and that in the church is immoral even when it felt pretty wholesome at the time. I have five teenagers at the moment and it is a hard thing to be open and communicative with five teenagers. They can be tough, while also being respectful, critics. It can be tough to swallow, but darn it, it's just a part of trying to be a good parent. It's part of having a good relationship.


That definitely works better on an interpersonal level in a family.

Allowing for a time and place for the venting of spleens, I do think that a serious, productive conversation is going to dispense with language that dismisses the church as having no value. In contrast, I would like to see language that can simultaneously hold up a surviving AND self-aware institution.


Yes, we need to vent our spleens on occasion, if we are not happy with a situation. It would be nice to have more allowance for that.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:30 pm
by Jason Bourne
kairos wrote:The below quote attributed to John on ExMormon Reddit some hours ago has a depth of thought, I,as a nevermo, never thought about it in the way he puts! On the other hand being raised in the "one true church" Roman Catholic way of life, the quote applies too; but not as rigidly as it applies to Mo'ism. I see the narrative being played out in the current life of some of my grandchildren!

So just askin- what strikes you about the quote and it's applicability to your experience?

"There is something fundamentally immoral to presenting a narrative that people build their entire lives upon. They decide what to do with their education, how much money to give, who to marry, when to marry, how many kids to have, what professions to pursue… There’s this massive amount of decisions that you make, you know in a finite life, and to base that life on a narrative, when not only the narrative isn’t what it claims to be, when leaders know the narrative isn’t what it claims to be, and intentionally - for as long as they could - withheld the information that would allow people to make an informed decision about how they spend their finite time and resources –that’s profoundly immoral." John Dehlin.


You know I think I agree with him. I just finished the Sam Harris book The End of Faith-Religion, Terror and the future of reason. Humanity has to move beyond religious faith as a basis of what we do and how we do it. Faith my be rather evil. At least Harris thinks so. I based my whole life on what Dehlin outlines. Maybe my life would have been better without it. Maybe worse. But my choices were subsumed by my faith that the LDS narrative was God's one truth.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:56 am
by Physics Guy
Kishkumen wrote:Is the entire organization immoral? Does it have no redeeming traits? I think it does have its good points and redeeming characteristics. Calling it immoral occludes those positive characteristics.

If nothing which has any positive characteristics can be immoral then what can ever be immoral?

I get the converse argument, that if anything with any negative characteristics counts as bad then nothing real can be good. So to justify calling Mormon leaders immoral it's not enough to list a few things they do that aren't great. Once a certain weight of charges has been made, however, I don't think it's enough of a defense just to list a few good things. I think you need to be able to argue for at least comparable weight.

I also think you'd need to show that the major good and bad things were tied together, such that there would be no straightforward way to improve the bad without losing the good. A car dealer sells products that get people killed, but there's nothing the dealer can easily do to provide mobility without risk of accidents. On the other hand if an emergency room doctor is selling meth on the side there's an obvious option to stop selling meth and keep on saving lives.

I would call such a doctor immoral. She could do much less harm than she does, while still doing as much good as she does, but she refuses to change.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:45 am
by I have a question
Another good example of Mormon immorality is the Temple Endowment. You have to solemnly and eternally agree to “it” on pain of everlasting penalty before you know what “it” is. That’s coercive and immoral.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:19 am
by Kishkumen
Physics Guy wrote:If nothing which has any positive characteristics can be immoral then what can ever be immoral?

I get the converse argument, that if anything with any negative characteristics counts as bad then nothing real can be good. So to justify calling Mormon leaders immoral it's not enough to list a few things they do that aren't great. Once a certain weight of charges has been made, however, I don't think it's enough of a defense just to list a few good things. I think you need to be able to argue for at least comparable weight.

I also think you'd need to show that the major good and bad things were tied together, such that there would be no straightforward way to improve the bad without losing the good. A car dealer sells products that get people killed, but there's nothing the dealer can easily do to provide mobility without risk of accidents. On the other hand if an emergency room doctor is selling meth on the side there's an obvious option to stop selling meth and keep on saving lives.

I would call such a doctor immoral. She could do much less harm than she does, while still doing as much good as she does, but she refuses to change.


One of the many complications here is that the definition of moral/immoral is one of the issues. There are traditional meanings of these words that are now contested. On some issues, such as those of gender/sexuality, the LDS Church and many of its members see themselves as being faithful to traditional conceptions of morality. Doubtless many of us disagree.

And here is how I see your meth doctor analogy falling apart. Most people openly agree that illicitly dealing highly addictive substances under the table is immoral. Most. And the doctor doing this is clearly violating the law. Many of the issues that we are taking the Church to task for are not clear cases on which there is near universal consensus.

One of my problems with this whole conversation is the vehemence and certainty with which the Church and/or its actions are branded as immoral, as though accusing in this way were at all productive. OK, ex-Mormons boost their sense of rightness for having left when they can say the LDS Church acts immorally. Fine. But do statements like Dehlin’s do much to improve the situation? I don’t think so. I am not sure we understand what the situation actually is if we are relying on highly simplistic and one-sided proclamations such as his.

To get back to Dehlin’s statement, I don’t know of many churches that spend a lot of time hashing through a historical examination of the foundations of their faith in Sunday meetings, or draw a lot of specific attention to the warts therein on their websites, in their PR materials, or in proselyting efforts. Perhaps the Community of Christ? I would be interested to know. Plenty of Protestant churches have interesting histories, but I do not know that they obsess over those so much as worship in the present. But the LDS Church is immoral if it does not spend its time scrutinizing its foundations exhaustively?

I don’t know. These questions are, to my mind, difficult and complicated. What I have problems with is the degree to which the LDS Church lionizes the memory of Joseph Smith. I agree that founders naturally attract a certain measure of respect and devotion. It is this emphasis on Smith that elicits the backlash of criticism. If anything, the LDS Church needs more breathing room and space between itself and Smith. The colorful history of Smith would be less of an issue if the ties between him and current Church leaders were not so tight. The fiction that current leaders are essentially colorless versions of the original does no one any favors, IMO.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:24 am
by Kishkumen
I have a question wrote:Another good example of Mormon immorality is the Temple Endowment. You have to solemnly and eternally agree to “it” on pain of everlasting penalty before you know what “it” is. That’s coercive and immoral.


Here is one place where much could be done to improve matters. Members should know more about the temple before they go through. I think the shroud of secrecy surrounding it is understandable but unnecessarily thick. Those things that are not to be revealed by covenant are relatively few in number.

I don’t think, however, that the intention was to be coercive. The intention was to protect the sacredness of the House of the Lord and His ordinances. The law of unintended consequences is at work here. Efforts to protect sacredness have backfired and produced a sense of alienation. The temple should be better integrated into the daily experience of all Mormons, or less emphasis should be placed on the necessity of participating in its ordinances.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:55 am
by Stem
I think Dehlin's statements works and resonates with people because people have been hurt. It sucks leaving religion especially one as exclusive as Mormonism. It's gut-wrenching to lose religion. It sucks to see typical reactions by associates, and it is excruciating to deal with loved ones who see you in a different way.

I think it's in that context where Dehlin's statement makes sense. The problem is its such a simplistic view of the situation. I thought the whole first vision thing was a good example. It's not that the leaders don't know about the different versions its simply that they feel convicted that the vision is best represented, most completely described in the official version--the one where Joseph claimed he was going to come out and tell it truthfully. I disagree with them, but I can't imagine why that would make them immoral.

If you break it down to issue after issue, the leaders conclude differently than most here. There may be something wrong with the logic they employ. They are likely being driven by their belief that God is behind them, and that He has personally told them in their hearts that the Church is true, type of thing. Calling their efforts immoral isn't helpful. It also seems to lack any degree of putting yourself in their shoes. They don't feel stuck peddling lies. They feel emboldened by that which they call truth.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:07 am
by Meadowchik
If it was just a simple history textbook, the editor might be easily forgiven for only selecting one version for its students. But this is not that. The gravity of standing as God's authority on earth should magnify the necessity for epistemological humility. Their process, then, deserves hyperactive scrutiny, especially their own. Anything, then, that is knowingly misleading about the basic facts of that process is highly problematic and at some point would be immoral.

Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:07 am
by Kishkumen
Stem wrote:I think Dehlin's statements works and resonates with people because people have been hurt. It sucks leaving religion especially one as exclusive as Mormonism. It's gut-wrenching to lose religion. It sucks to see typical reactions by associates, and it is excruciating to deal with loved ones who see you in a different way.

I think it's in that context where Dehlin's statement makes sense. The problem is its such a simplistic view of the situation. I thought the whole first vision thing was a good example. It's not that the leaders don't know about the different versions its simply that they feel convicted that the vision is best represented, most completely described in the official version--the one where Joseph claimed he was going to come out and tell it truthfully. I disagree with them, but I can't imagine why that would make them immoral.

If you break it down to issue after issue, the leaders conclude differently than most here. There may be something wrong with the logic they employ. They are likely being driven by their belief that God is behind them, and that He has personally told them in their hearts that the Church is true, type of thing. Calling their efforts immoral isn't helpful. It also seems to lack any degree of putting yourself in their shoes. They don't feel stuck peddling lies. They feel emboldened by that which they call truth.


Well said, Stem.