Let's take a look at some salient excertps from Sethpayne's blog:
I believe there are two major types of LDS critics; those who are critical of particular Church policies and practices, and those who are critical of specific LDS truth claims. If I am to be considered a Mormon critic, I would fit in the former category as I have no real interest in the veracity of Mormon truth claims.
This, perhaps, might be the ultimate definition one could field regarding the term "Cultural Mormon".
Granted, when I get together with my Mormon buddies who find such things interesting, we’ll discuss Mormon doctrine critically — meaning we will analyze specific doctrinal truth claims in an academic, rather than a strictly spiritual way.
This is pregnant with implications, but we'll move on for brevity's sake.
Frankly, I have no real interest in criticizing Mormon truth claims, even though there are many I don’t personally find plausible (see below).
Now Sethpayne's claim to be a "believing" Mormon begins to show its problematic nature. Note that the gospel's foundational "truth claims" have been, to a large measure, rejected, while something approaching, if Sethpaynes arguments here are any indication, a vague ethical/social Christian worldview that goes little beyond, what from an LDS perspective would be a arguable positive and admirable - but spiritually tepid (the gospel of Jesus Christ offers deification and eternal life, after all) ethical engagement with the world.
So, while I am not a critic of Mormon truth-claims; I am a critic of some LDS Church policies.
This is logically incoherent. Sethpayne has already claimed, in the same essay that "I have no real interest in the veracity of Mormon truth claims", and hence, by definition, has become a critic of those claims. I don't think an attempt at a pure neutrality is going to wash, philosophically (it never does) here, because this would imply, if taken seriously, that Sethpayne, when confronted with a fundamental LDS truth claim, could claim absolute neutrality and simply throw up his hands and walk away from "the terrible questions".
This isn't philosophically tenable for the reason that, in the first instance, by having no interest in core metaphysical truth claims, one has already staked out a critical position regarding them. In the second place, if forced into a corner and asked to make some intellectually substantive statement regarding those truth claims, that response could not be anything other than the reasons one does not find them interesting or relevant.
It would seem to me that not finding the fundamental propositions of the gospel regarding the nature and meaning of existence and our mortal experience of any interest or relevance is, itself, a clear statement of value judgment as well as a clear intellectual positioning upon those subjects that both, by definition, would place one in an apostate situation regarding those truth claims (as the details of gospel belief are inextricably linked with the core metaphysical propositions).
Namely, I vehemently disagree with the Church’s stance on Same-sex Marriage and I have made my views public on several occasions.
No single criticism of Church social and moral views could be more exemplary of open hostility ( an open condition of apostasy
, in other language), than this. Again, that position of homosexual marriage is inextricably linked to the Church fundamental view of sexual morality and the purpose and place of human sexuality within the mortal context, and these understandings are themselves inextricably linked to the gospel''s fundamental truth claims.
Most of my criticism of the Church’s stance came right after the Proposition 8 fallout in 2008. I have many close gay and lesbian friends and one, in particular, who’s Mormon family disowned him after he “came out” in 2008.
This is interesting in and of itself, as I do not have many such friends, nor does anyone I know. What we could have here is yet another example of running to the Great and Spacious Building when the finger pointing and mocking from the cool people becomes to great a perceived burden, no? There are welcoming arms in that building for one who sees the error of his ways and comes to hold the "politically correct" positions.
I want to stress that this is not typical of Mormon families. Most Mormon families with gay or lesbian members struggle with it, but in the end they ultimately accept their son/daughter/sibling despite the fact that Mormon doctrine is clearly opposed to homosexuality.
I have no idea what Seth knows or does not know about "most Mormon families with gay or lesbian members", but suffice it to say that, with exclusive homosexual orientation existing at about 3% of the population, its presence in LDS families could not be more than this, making the phenomena exceeding rare.
A close family member came out as homosexual about ten years ago, and then later left it behind. In no case was he ever not accepted as a family member. Nor at any time did our faith in and testimony of the Church's teachings of eternal principles on this matter waver.
My open criticism of this policy came as a result of my personal relationships with friends who were deeply hurt by this particular Church position.
Woe, the scriptures tell us, to all who are, in the end, "overcome of the world".
Having said that, I become extremely frustrated when people try and label Mormons as “homophobic” or “bigots” etc… Its just not that simple. My mother, for example, absolutely adores my gay friend Devan but she supports the Church in its policy. This is not bigotry.
No, it isn't
The other Church policy I have been openly critical of is the one-year waiting period required to receive what is known as a temple sealing if they chose to have a civil ceremony first. I understand the origins and intent of the policy but at this point in time I feel it does more harm than good. Additionally, it only applies in the United States (and perhaps Canada). Most countries require a civil wedding ceremony. In those countries the Church does not require a waiting period. To me the current policy is antiquated and counter-productive. I would not be surprised to see this policy change at some point in the next 5-10 years.
This is no surprise for someone who does not take the core metaphysical claims of the Church seriously, as without this, even a rudimentary understanding of the deep importance and sacredness of the Temple is not even approachable.
Am I an apostate? My own personal views are rather heterodox and some things I enjoy (in terms of the Word of Wisdom etc…) are certainly heteroprax but I think it is completely inappropriate to call me an apostate. I love attending Church and participating in Church activities. Simply put, I like being a Mormon and as I’ve stated above, Mormon truth-claims are really not all that important to me. Serving within my Mormon community is what matters.
One can see Sethpayne playing psychological and rhetorical games with both himself and his readers now.
Granted, I am not trying to defend the historicity of the Book of Mormon or the authenticity of the Book of Abraham — I believe both to be apocryphal. However, I will defend Mormonism against offensive and absurd attacks.
In other words, as Sethayane here makes quite clear, what he defends when he does defend is not the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, or the restored Kingdom of God on earth (the Church), but his tribe; his people and his culture.
Belief that the BofM and BofA are "apocryphal" places Sethpyane, of course, in a position of essentially being a non-member of the Church in all but name. This raises problems for the individual (participating in the religious services and practices of a religious system that is, as to fundamental truth claims, a bald fraud) but perhaps not for others around him, if as sethpyane claims, he is not an evangelist of unfaith. But is this logically plausible?
Can one who believes both the BofM and the BofA - both foundational sources of core truth claims - are fictitious creations, possible avoid, in any discussion with faithful lDS, making those beliefs explicit, and the reasons for holding them? Might this not have an effect on others, especially those spiritually weak or immature and who are susceptible to intellectual/psycholgical doubt and instability?
Most "believing" LDS would think such people need precisely the opposite.
1) I have never made it a secret that I am not a literal believer in the metaphysical truth-claims of Mormonism. My Bishop knows it, my family knows it, and my EQP knows it. In other words, I have never claimed to be a "believer" in the sense that you are a "believer." Certainly, our beliefs differ. I'm a bit confused at your attempt to "out" me as a non-believer by quoting from my blog.
2) Saying that I don't view the Book of Mormon or Book of Abraham as plausible history is not a "rejection" -- it is simply my opinion. You can't prove the Book of Mormon isn't history just as you can't prove that it is.
3) If my membership in the Church is a concern to you please feel free to contact my Bishop, my EQP, and the families I home teach. I have provided this information previously in the thread but for convenience I will repeat it here:
PM me if you would like to speak with my Mother, or any of my siblings. I will happily provide you with contact information so you can warn them of the wolf within their family.