Teaching our Children

children at the temple A rather random comment from my not-Mormon brother-in-law was a catalyst in changing my feelings about raising my children in the church. He said something to the effect of: 'I would never allow my daughter to participate in an organization or an institution that discriminated against her because she's a girl.' What he said kept popping into my mind as we were in the midst of preparing for our son's ordination to the priesthood and I was privately mourning the fact that my daughter wouldn't experience a similar ritual.

I realized that while I could handle the many ways in which I felt discriminated against by the institutional Church because of my gender, it was much more painful for me to see my children participating in the patriarchal Church system. I could also see that it wasn’t a good ‘fit’ for their personalities. For example, my son was apathetic about assuming the expected priesthood role and didn’t care for Boy Scouts. My daughter ambivalently attended Achievement Day activities where the girls painted their fingernails and learned babysitting skills. And my spouse and I frequently found ourselves explaining to our kids that we didn’t believe all of the stuff that they learned in their Primary lessons.

So for those of you who are raising your children in the Church and find yourselves at odds with some of its practices and teachings, do you teach your children what you believe and discourage them from participating in the church activities that you find objectionable? Or do you hide your dissenting feelings/beliefs from your children?


  1. Rory Swensen says:

    As to your questions – do I teach my kids what I believe, or hold my tongue, my response is somewhat neither. I share some of your frustrations, and shared those with a post last year called Feminist Mormon Dads dot com, but after I experience the frustration I tend to find that these are some of the best teaching moments I have as a father.

    Rather than tell them what I believe, I try to guide them to think about their own beliefs and convictions. Granted, my influence certainly points them in roughly the same direction that I face, but on the occasions where they don’t share my view I don’t try to convince them, I leave it for another day and trust that they will find their way. The important thing for me is to cultivate a desire in them to nurture their relationship with God.

    An example that comes to mind is the Word of Wisdom. We have family who are not members and who drink coffee and tea. When my older children asked about this, it opened us up to a great discussion about commandments, culture, and personal spirituality. The non-member family members are very religious, and my children think the world of them.

    Through our discussion, we came to the conclusion that there are commandments from God – love God, love your neighbor, etc. – and there are cultural or institutional norms. If we want to fully participate in our culture, we live according to those standards, and that includes the Word of Wisdom. But someone not living those standards, even if a member, shouldn’t be viewed by us as less spiritual or wrong, simply not participating fully.

    It helped my children a great deal, it relieved some of the stress they felt, and I feel that they view living this particular standard one that they choose to not out of fear, but out of a desire to be a part of their culture.

    Aside from that, I accept their frustrations with things like Boy Scouts or Achievement Days, we don’t force them to do it, but I find that they want to, generally, once the requirement is removed.

  2. Kathy says:

    We find ourselves in quite similar circumstances you shared, and likewise have many of the same concerns.

    Our son will turn 12 this year and is experiencing the common feelings of many 11 year olds in Primary – that it is “boring”, geared too much toward the younger children, all stuff he’s “heard before”, etc. However, this little person has been expressing these sentiments for several years. His current frustrations stem more from the apathy of his teachers and the irreverence and disrespect of his “peers”. This son of ours is our oldest, incredibly precocious, highly gifted, and an “old soul”. He questions why the priesthood is not available to women. He questions the dogma. He questions the apathy he witnesses. He questions the motivations behind the “rules” he is told he should follow. He questions why those who claim to be followers of Christ, seem to act less than Christian (especially while AT Church) much of the time. He questions why he doesn’t hear more about Jesus at Church and why the topic almost always turns back to obedience.

    This young man is someone who I feel honored to share a home and life with. He is obviously an “old soul”. He has such conviction and an amazing sense of self. He has proven since he was a very young and tiny person that he listens to the Spirit and is aware of those promptings. When he was 8 or 9 my friend was his Primary teacher. She confided in me that though she’d had at least 10 years experience in teaching Primary, she never had to study the lesson until he was in her class. This same friend also told me that we may want to caution our son about what he says to people: apparentl once he questioned, “Why do you seem to want to brainwash us?” (Please note, this is not a term that we have ever used.) It is difficult to raise this young man for several of the reasons above.

    He has a strong testimony of the Gospel. His father and I get nervous though, whenever he goes up to the pulpit to bear his testimony. We never know exactly what he will say! Once he spoke about the second coming, and he tied it in to tornadoes and hurricanes and great storms. The next week there were many storms around the country that made the national news. The next Sunday people started (affectionately) calling him “prophet boy”. We certainly don’t want him to grow up to be a “golden child”. Unfortunately, the ward seems content to do that to him. Interestingly, our bishop pulled us aside about a year ago to share with us that our son was “quite bright.” (really? 😉 He also told us that we ought to make sure that everything we teach him aligns with that which he will be learning in Church – especially in the YM program. He told us that we’d better change anything we’re teaching him if it doesn’t completely conform with the mainstream of the Church, or our son will start to “question”. My husband and I were shocked and saddened by this counsel.

    Anyway, our daughter was baptized last year. She is also very bright, but an introvert and a pleaser. We have concerns that she will simply follow the party line without thought or concern. My husband is particularly concerned for our daughter’s sense of self. We are concerned for the time that she finds herself in YW. There are many, many concerns we have because of what the culture of the Church seems to teach in regards to women. Just last month during stake conference one of the authorities in telling a story matter-of-factly mentioned “behind every great man, there is a woman.” Now, on the surface I have no problem with this. However, it’s the little things that add up. I realize this is a common phrase within our culture, but it would have been much easier to swallow if he’d said, “beside” instead of “behind”. There are many, many concerns we have with our daughter being raised in a society that appears to blame women and esteems them as inferior.

    We love the Gospel. We appreciate many things about the Church. However, we do find ourselves in a dilemma over what choices to make to best benefit our children. We feel humbled and honored to have been given the opportunity to raise and share a life with these amazing people. How do we help them recognize Who they are and what they are capable of? How do we help them to be Aware of truth when at times it may appear to run contrary to the party line? We feel that our family, our children, are our greatest responsibility. We consider them our greatest blessing and esteem them very highly. We feel that God has entrusted some of His choicest children to us. (We hope that everyone feels this way about their children.) How do we raise them to think and to grow their testimonies, when compliance and conformity are touted as the most important thing? How do we help them find and search for Truth, to live the Gospel, when fear is oftentimes the common factor used to motivate to righteousness? This makes little sense to us.

    I realize I haven’t answered any of your questions. Let me make an attempt: “do you teach your children what you believe and discourage them from participating in the church activities that you find objectionable?” We teach our children what we believe. We discuss with our children what we believe and why we believe it. We allow for them to share their feelings, and if they have a different viewpoint, we respect it, and take note. We are VERY communicative as a family. We try to show respect for those in authority over them (and ourselves) at Church, but when we have a different viewpoint, we explain it (to our children). We do our best to teach our children to think and to question. We love the question, “why?” It’s very powerful. So much more can be learned from a thoughtful question, than an answer. 🙂 As to church activities: scouts and activity days are usually enjoyed by our kids, so not too much trouble there. As for FHE, we don’t subscribe to the standard one hour on Monday evening. When our children have questioned this, we’ve explained what we believe the purpose of FHE is supposed to be and talked with them about how we try and accomplish that each day and at every opportunity. You also asked: “Or do you hide your dissenting feelings/beliefs from your children?” Nope. Although, we try to only share in quantities/amounts that they can handle. We try and recognize who each of them are, and make every effort to not overpower them with our viewpoints. We attempt to engage their minds, and not simply state our beliefs.

  3. Even though I do not have children I would deffinetely follow my heart and tell them what I believed in. I think sometimes church culture and church doctrine get too interwoven. There is deffinetely nothing wrong with teaching your girls that they are free to become police officers, government leaders, engineers and scientists, and not just housewives.
    Peace, Rolland

  4. Elise says:

    Wow, Rory and Kathy, it was really interesting to read your detailed accounts of your own kids and what/how you teach them.

    I’m not a parent, but I think one of the important aspects of teaching my kids someday what I do/don’t believe would be to respect (especially as they get older) their own perceptions and experiences, and try to also learn what *they* do/don’t believe and why.If they can respectfully disagree with my beliefs when they see fit, and I can respectfully disagree with their beliefs, I think I would feel a sense of success as a parent. Open, honest, and respectful communication about matters of belief, feelings, and even dissent seem like the most important goal to me.

  5. Kevinf says:

    This is a somewhat painful topic for me. My wife and I are active, faithful, and very involved in the church. We also are somewhat liberal in some areas, my wife less so than me. Our youngest is 19, just preparing to go on his mission, and our oldest is in his 30’s, and currently not a believer or active at all.

    We’ve tried to be open, but have always encouraged the kids to participate in all activities, even though we have issues with some things. I have some big issues with Boy Scouts, and was very open and pointed about my reservations regarding the BSA when I was called to be a scoutmaster. We have been quick to point out, perhaps often too quick, where folk doctrine and real church policy diverge. We’ve told our kids that the official church statement on the Word of Wisdom “hot drinks” is identified in the Handbook of Instructions to be “coffee and tea”, so they are all pepsi drinkers, but we also have advised them that they should not be trying to be confrontational with others who interpret that differently.

    We’ve also been pretty open about historical issues and some of the contradictions there. But the bottom line is that our oldest son, a return missionary, got involved with a lot of the historical issues in the years following his mission, and has gone completely inactive, and I suspect even agnostic at this point. When I reassure him that he has read or seen nothing that I have not also seen, it only seems to widen the gulf we feel about religious feelings that I have remained active and committed, while he has turned away. Both my wife and I both wonder about where we could have gone wrong, and even when we convince ourselves that he really is exercising his free agency, we both feel differently down deep.

    And yet, I can’t subscribe to some issues. Even though I did accept the calling as scoutmaster, and served to the best of my abilities for two years, I struggled with the recent request to contact our senators about the defense of marriage amendment this last year. While I accept that there are moral issues involved, there are also moral issues about legislation that some may interpret as discriminatory and use to not treat others as our brothers and sisters. It’s not just a fine line, it’s jagged, nasty and has many unsuspecting turns and twists.

    I come back to what I consider my internal liahona, and strive to keep it working correctly. There are times that I have to put personal feelings on a shelf, and leave them there to deal with later, as I see much good in the church and especially it’s youth programs. I did my best as scoutmaster, but also never crossed some lines that I felt would violate that internal compass, knowing that my kids, and the other kids, would know in a heartbeat if I wasn’t true to myself, which is largely based on understanding my relationship with the Lord.

    I guess, I would say that the jury is still out.

  6. Kevinf, I’m glad you keep commenting here.

    Elder Holland gave a conference talk a few years back called “A Prayer For the Children” that addressed some of the issues in your response. I didn’t agree with it then and I don’t agree with it now. He said, among other things:

    “In offering such a prayer for the young, may I address a rather specific aspect of their safety? In this I speak carefully and lovingly to any of the adults of the Church, parents or otherwise, who may be given to cynicism or skepticism, who in matters of whole-souled devotion always seem to hang back a little, who at the Church?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s doctrinal campsite always like to pitch their tents out on the periphery of religious faith. To all such?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùwhom we do love and wish were more comfortable camping nearer to us?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄùI say, please be aware that the full price to be paid for such a stance does not always come due in your lifetime. No, sadly, some elements of this can be a kind of profligate national debt, with payments coming out of your children?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s and grandchildren?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s pockets in far more expensive ways than you ever intended it to be.

    “Parents simply cannot flirt with skepticism or cynicism, then be surprised when their children expand that flirtation into full-blown romance. If in matters of faith and belief children are at risk of being swept downstream by this intellectual current or that cultural rapid, we as their parents must be more certain than ever to hold to anchored, unmistakable moorings clearly recognizable to those of our own household. It won?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t help anyone if we go over the edge with them, explaining through the roar of the falls all the way down that we really did know the Church was true and that the keys of the priesthood really were lodged there but we just didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t want to stifle anyone?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s freedom to think otherwise. No, we can hardly expect the children to get to shore safely if the parents don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t seem to know where to anchor their own boat.”

    Nothing like having one more thing to feel guilty about. There was a Sunstone panel at the 2003 Symposium in SLC called SL03173, Panel. Where Have All the Children Gone? Keeping the Faith, and Passing It On that responded to Elder Holland’s talk. If you haven’t heard it, it is definitely “download worthy.”

    Brother Holland’s talk seems to suggest that we need to “trick” our kids into becoming Believers, that we should hide our natural questioning behind a veneer of Iron Rod faith. Is truth really on that precarious a footing? His talk puts membership in the Church ahead of personal questing, or finding one’s personal testimony. There is no magic formula for turning our kids into lifelong active Mormons. Nor should it be the primary goal. The primary focus should be on the individual, not his or her place in the community. It should be on developing humanity, not conformity.

    Brother Hugh B. Brown said: “I hope that you will develop the questing spirit. Be unafraid of new ideas for they are the stepping stones of progress. You will of course respect the opinions of others but be unafraid to dissent if you are informed. Now I have mentioned freedom to express your thoughts, but I caution you that your thoughts and expressions must meet competition in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth will emerge triumphant. Only error needs to fear freedom of expression.”

    If we follow Brother Brown’s advice, hopefully our children will turn into good human beings, Mormon or otherwise. If, as you say, you were “true to [your]self… largely based on understanding [your] relationship with the Lord,” then it sounds like you are/were a model father.

  7. Stephen Carter says:

    Good points, Matt.

    If I were giving Holland a liberal interpretation, I could agree with him.

    It seems to me that adults who are raising children should have a generative center. There should be a part of them that is nourishing both to themselves and others. If they’re always balking, never doing anything beautiful, what kind of world will our children see through us? It will be one without beauty, one that isn’t worth investing in.

    If that is what Holland is talking about when he says we need to be anchored and moored, then I agree with him. (However, I admit this is a real stretch of an interpretation considering that he says we need to be anchored to the orthodox church.)

    While I was at the beginning of my “downward spiral” I was finding out things that changed my whole view on life. It was very exciting to feel like I was uncovering truth. Truth was very important to me then.

    But as time went on I found myself nitpicking and doubting just out of habit. If I heard it in church, it must be rife with lazy thinking and cardboard spirituality. When I realized that I was in this rut, I understood that I had taken the world apart, and that now I needed to build something of my own. I needed to generate something that nourished me now that I had uncovered the poisons. I had to create beauty. Otherwise I’d wither up and start writing conspiracy web sites.

    So I put my free time into writing things I thought were worthwhile. I examined my life to find out how I could generate ideas, relationships and situations that seemed nourishing to me and to other people. I started living very deliberately.

    Now it doesn’t matter to me much what stories my kids bring home from church. I’m not as stuck on truth. I don’t feel the need to say, “this is dumb and that is dumb” and make my opinion known on every church related matter. Because, it seems to me that one of the beauties of life is watching people make their own sense out of the world. The sense they make won’t be the sense I make. But it will be fun to compare notes and think about each other’s ideas. My kids don’t have to be carbon copies of me. In fact, I hope they’re different. Their convictions will be different from mine. The more the merrier. Among us we will find new things under the sun.

    It’s kind of like my dad and me. My dad is a computer science genius. But I left the technology fold and pursued writing. Now my dad is interested in writing some novels, and we have lots of fun together planning and writing stuff. Because I chose to follow my bliss, I have a whole different set of skills and worldviews to add to our interactions. And it makes our experience together richer.

    So, in answer to Holland, I’d say, “Yeah, we should find our bliss, we should let our light shine. And we should enjoy watching how our children find their own bliss. Our best example isn’t believing and preaching a particular set of ideas, it isn’t to be stuck in a perpetual skepticism either, rather, our best example is to be full, generative people.

  8. Matt Thurston says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Stephen. I wasn’t happy with my rather hasty comment, nor was I happy to diisagree with Holland unequivocally. As usual, you say what I feel better than I do.

  9. Kevinf says:

    I can’t help looking at Elder Holland’s talk, and not agree with some aspects of it. I’ve continued to serve faithfully, kept active, kept paying my tithing, because I have felt the fruits of the gospel in my life. The best thing I can do is to keep going, because I find little outside the church that holds anywhere near the magic and peace that I feel within.

    However, I see the other side. Some of you may have seen the firestorm going on over at the BBC blog about Bill Maher’s comments about some of the seamier sides of the Church’s history. While I consider the source, I remember being taught a bunch of things as a child that simply were not true, and I was taught them by my parents, by local church leaders, and by general authorities. It took me a while to get over those. What helps me is knowing that my parents were committed, active, and willing to change as doctrine became more clear.

    I am sure that I will regret many decisions I have made, and some things I have taught my children, but I continue to try and fill my spiritual reservoirs, to paraphrase SWK. I continue to try and teach my children, even as they move into adulthood, now mostly by example. I still cringe when I hear some of the things my youngest son hears, but even he now has pretty good common sense at picking out the folk doctrine from the true stuff.

    Not to make light of this, but a few years back, living in Davis County, Utah, our ward was being divided. Our half of the ward (very young ward, almost all families in their 20’s and 30’s) got all of the divorced single sisters. The other half got an almost exactly equal number of seminary teachers and CES employees. When someone asked me how that happened, I quipped, “We got first choice”.

  10. Rory Swensen says:

    Interesting discussion – and this comment from Kevin points to where I think the real strategy for a parent should be:

    I still cringe when I hear some of the things my youngest son hears, but even he now has pretty good common sense at picking out the folk doctrine from the true stuff.

    If I can nurture an ability in my children to think critically, I’ll consider myself successful. They needn’t believe everything I believe, I just want them to think about why they believe the way they do. Not to accept uncritically anything anybody – including me – tells them.

    One key aspect of this is not over-reacting to most of the things that come home with them – from school, from church, from the neighbors home. If they bring home a concept or idea that I cringe at, I ask them about it, I talk them through it, and usually they come to a fairly solid conclusion. If they don’t, at least they have thought through it.

    I’m struggling with how best to put this into words, but I think it is important to approach these things with a positive attitude, looking for the good, giving perspective, and cultivating a thoughtful faith. Such an approach is not one of constant cynicism, nor is it one that undermines our associations, it simply develops in our young ones an ability to pick out “the folk doctrine from the true stuff”. Such an ability is critical – I wouldn’t want them to always look to me for their answers.

  11. Rory Swensen says:

    One more point – our approaches need to be age-appropriate, as well. I can’t yet cultivate the critical thinking in my 4 year old that I do with my 13 year old, so I don’t cringe when my little one comes home with the folk doctrines.

    His is a concrete, absolute world. I’m just living in it.

  12. Kevinf says:


    My youngest just turned 19. His world is anything but concrete.

    You are absolutely correct, though. There are definitely age and maturity dependent issues involved. I still remember when I introduced my two youngest, late in their teenage years, to Eternal Man by Truman Madsen. I don’t think they got much of the King Follett discourse in seminary, and we had some very interesting discussions. They both came away saying that it all made much more sense hearing our eternal nature described that way.

    On the other hand, the first word spoken by a couple of my children was “pepsi”. I had to introduce some critical thinking much earlier for them.

  13. DMP says:

    Years ago, when attending the University of Utah (I bleed RED, sir), I did a voluntary stint at the “Chrony” (The Utah Daily Chronicle). There were a number of “interesting” individuals there. But I remember overhearing part of some conversations by two co-eds. One claimed to have sung in the (Mormon) Tabernacle Choir. Both sounded like standard liberal apostates. They each in turn “dissed” different things about the (LDS) Church, members, Utah, etc.

    Some weeks or months later, however, I was a bit more than stunned when one of them (a taller girl) happened to show up to an LDSSA activity. She was already to take part in the lifestyle of a supposedly good LDS girl. But, when I remembered the absolutely awful things she said to the other girl about the church, members, etc, the thought arose of itself, “What a hypocrite! Worse than that, what a traitor!”

    I have/do/likely will have issues with other church members, leaders, etc. But, I grant unto them the same humaness I have and exercise. I am subject to error.

    But, I also have an abiding testimony that this institution (“The Church”) is all it claims to be. It is the only church upon the whole earth with which the Lord is pleased (and has authorized). And this despite the foibles of biships and stake presidents, elders quorum presidents, etc, etc, etc. I was taken misadvantage of, I feel, in my early days, by a man who later served in one of the quorums of 70’s (in a business transaction). But what is that to me? Am I going to renounce my membership? NO! Heavens, NO!

    When the children of Israel were entering into the “promised land”, their prophet-leader asked them how long would they halt between two opinions?” Either choose to serve the only true & living God, or the false gods on the other side of the ‘drink’ (in Egypt), or anywhere else. He didn’t say, as Brigham Young did, “Come hell or high council”, but, he possibly could have (had he chose).

    We had a bishop’s counselor who outright embarassed my wife as a counselor in Relief Society some years ago, when she needed a key, and the stake was supposedly limiting those who had them, because of some problems that were being had in other buildings in our “FM Group”. The bishop, apparently, was much more onerous in this area than were others. The RS president was ditsy, and many of the responsibilities for actually getting RS work done fell to my wife. He castigated her over her visiting teaching record. (We found out not much later that his Home Teaching record was far worse). My wife knows now what to do in such a situation.

    But, SO WHAT? The Church is true, as trite as that phrase may seem to most or all of you. I view it to be not only genuine, but genuinely important.

    What do you think is “folk” stuff versus whatever you consider to be “real”. Polygamy? Polyandry? Danites? Mountain Meadows Massacre? What? DNA and American Natives? Book of Mormon and archeology? Tell me, what PROBLEMS do YOU have with any rumors, stories, or ‘whatevers’ regarding “The Church”? Because, once you, or anyone else cares to lay down a litany of ‘whatevers’ regarding the Church, the Prophet (JS or GBH or anyone in between), whether the First Manifesto, Second Manifesto, Third Manifesto, Blacks and the Priesthood?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùyou name it, I have a litany of questions for you and/or anyone else to answer that should be as hard, as embarassing, as anything you can bring up or throw at “The Church”.

    If you have doubts, either study, live the gospel, pray until you resolve them?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùor “get out”! Don’t pretend that you are LDS, when you are traitors in training, or like Jannes and Jambres withstanding Moses!

    I have a brother-in-law who is a practicing homosexual, and an RM. He claims a lot of things. And, he has a lot of good qualities. And “…inasmuch as men (straight, homosexual, or castrated) do good, they shall in no wise lose their reward.” But, on the other hand, we read where “they have rewarded themselves evil.”

    What do we have now in the Church, a bunch of wafflers? A bunch of whiners and complainers? I have issues over how the Sunday School program is treated (or neglected) in many wards and branches. I have found that many Church members have many misconceptions about many things in Church history, doctrine, etc. But I have had in the past also. And gradually, bit by bit, line upon line, here a little, and there a little, I have been able to clear up in my database (mind) and in my perception of things things the way I thought they were with things that I believe and hope are much closer to how they actually were. And, so what? I still find bazillions of things to be incredible and miraculous regarding The Prophet (Joseph Smith), his successors as Church Presidents, and much, much more.

    I am often frustrated more with myself and what I do (and don’t do), far more than I am with anyone or anything else out there.

    Remember Guenevere’s “‘umilite'” (Hu-mi-li-te) she advised to Lancelot? Well, we could all use a huge dose of that between us. Myself certainly included.

    But, goodness gracious, have we lost our way? Is the Church NOT true, because it doesn’t fit a lot of misfits?

    Adapt. Make do with, or do without, as President Kimball use to throw out the adage oft-repeated during WWII. Figure out how to make BSA either work for your sons, or help your sons to fare as well in that organization as possible.

    And what about holding the priesthood? If the Church is true, and is led by God, and he deems that only men should have it, what, are you going to fight against God?

    I was raised with six sisters. I have seven daughters. And I have 11 sister-in-laws. And far, far more nieces and grandnieces. NONE of my sisters, sister-in-laws, daughters, nieces or grandnieces are disadvantaged in the least regarding not being able to hold the priesthood. By golly, what we need is not men to match our mountains, as much as we need men to match our WOMEN! Why cry and complain and be distraught over not holding the priesthood. Hopefully, you don’t have to shave every morning. I do!

    My wife told me last week, “I know, you wish you had periods too!” Of course I don’t. Women have a lot of problems in life. Men do too! Women, as you know, also live longer! Is that a plus to you, or a minus? Our stake financial clerk, who is the former bishop of a singles ward, an old time neighbor and friend, to whom I home teach, told me about meeting a woman in Ecuador on his mission, who was well over 100 years old. (Her brother was slightly older). When he & his companion visited her and asked her why she thought she had lived to be so old, she replied, “Because God hates me. He’s punishing me!”

    Well, perhaps he is! Maybe this male God has something against women.

    Certainly, it follows the law of expectations. Just like the guy who received one talent (in the Parable of the Talents/or Parable of the Money Managers, as I view it), he knew that his master (client) was a ‘hard master’, reaping where he hadn’t strawed, etc, so he dug a whole in the ground (stuck it under his mattress, or threw it into a safe) and gave his master (client) back what he had given him (with no increase). (Gee, that’s where I would want to put $50,000 or so, is in a bank that pays NO INTEREST)!

    I’d fire such an inept banker as that one too! But he was treated, ultimately, the way he expected to be treated (because he acted foolishly, like a real knit wit. But he who was given the sum of 2 talents, as well as he who was given 5 talents, also, each received according to THEIR expectations. But they did what they were suppose to do. The doubled their clients money! And he rewarded them both most handsomely!

    But, you’ll notice, that that “money manager” played it “safe”. Just like the farmer who didn’t put his seeds in the ground so he wouldn’t lose them to rain, frost, wind or tornadoes, he (the farmer), ended up with what he began with (but that would not be enough to feed oneself or the world with, now would it)? (Life or ‘mortality’ is full of risks, going all directions).

    If your expectations are such that the Church, and many (if not all) in it are going to mess up (have messed up, or are now messing up), then why do you stay? Have you know belief in it? Don’t you believe it is what it claims to be? Why pussy foot? Why pretend?

    The train leaves tomorrow for some. But for others, it left town months or years ago.

    “66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

    67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

    68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

    69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

    70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?”

    ?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄùJohn 6:66-70

    I believe that not only are we testing things, but we are being tested. Are we honest, in all ways?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùnot just “intellectually”, but all ways. I can imagine Judas Iscariot blogging and saying things similar to what I read on church blogs. I can also see him doing some things he shouldn’t do.

    Don’t be a Judas! It make seem intellectually ‘chic’! But the devil does not support those who heed him, in the end.


  14. LauraC says:

    DMP –

    I’m glad you have found a way to feel comfortable enough in the Church that you are able to explain to the rest of us exactly how it works for you. Perhaps in your surety and comfort with so much of the gospel you have forgotten that not everyone has been given the gift of knowledge, or even easy-to-find faith.

    Your tone, particularly some of your admonishments to take it or leave it [the church], has cut quite deep for me, someone who is a lifelong member who has struggled and continues to wrestle with my own soul, even as prophets of old have wrestled with angels, in trying to find balance between my very personal and loving relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus and my sometimes rough relationship with various aspects of the church.

    For instance, in my personal experience, God is no respecter of persons, male or female, bond or free, sinner or saint. Yet, in some ways there are programs in the church and, yes, even doctrines that either now or in the past have not been in line with my understanding about God. Every time my personal experience with God is in conflict with my personal experience with the Church/church teachings, I feel parts of me being squished and chipped away. As I struggle to come to terms with the differences, sometimes the growth is extremely painful.

    Would to God that I could find answers that would preserve my children from experiencing similar pains. Is there a way that I can ease the burden of their developing testimonies? How do I help them to see past the klutzy critics of my faith and find the Light of Christ in everyone?

    And where I have huge concerns about Church programs, how do I find balance between my concerns and my children’s need for spiritual growth? Elder Holland encouraged us not to share our doubts with our children by keeping our tents away from the edges. But if I don’t express my doubts to my children (when they are at ages appropriate to understand and consider those doubts themselves), am I doing them a disservice? We have the same DNA and the same living environment; they are likely to have the same kinds of questions I do. If I live my life hiding my doubts and questions, not sharing with them my own coping skills, then are they doomed to suffer doubly – once on their own, wrestling with my demons and once again when they learn that I wrestled with those demons once and, instead of arming them appropriately, I let them suffer the consequences on their own?

    In other words, if I set an example of no questioning, although I have questions, do I set my children up for failure because I’m presenting them a (false) idealized version of belief, faith and action?

    Jana, I don’t have answers for your questions, but I do share many of your same concerns, and wonder if I can encourage my sons to belong to an organization that treats their mother and sisters with less respect than it does their father. How soon do I point out to them the fact that there are few, if any, photos of women in their Primary room classes (not even photos of the General Primary Presidency)? How do I convince them that boys are not more important than girls when their Primary lessons on Priesthood preparation come up? How many times do I have to deal with my teenage daughter coming home from church in tears because, yet once again, the YM are going camping or hiking or boating and the girls are specifically uninvited? How many times to I have to de-fuse the situation when she comes home from a lesson where she’s told, once again, that she is responsible for boys’ and men’s thoughts, and can assert this mind-control merely with the way she dresses (even to the point of whether or not she is wearing nylons or has more than one set of earrings)?

    Good luck with your kids, and hang in there – you’re certainly a thoughtful adult, so they’ll probably follow in your footsteps.

  15. kevinf says:


    So now, I am a traitor in training, and a waffler at that. Sorry to hear you slam us like that. I’ve served as a gospel doctrine teacher more times than I can count, as an EQ counselor, a HP group leader, scoutmaster, young men’s president twice, bishop, and now on the high council. If you like, I’ll give you the name of my stake president so you can report me.

    As to my kids, I’ve had 5 of them serve missions. Two so far are married in the temple, a third just got engaged, and my youngest is getting ready to go on his mission. My concerns are for my two oldest boys, one who served an honorable mission, and one who chose not to, and both are currently inactive. I wish I had your surety as to why that happened. It certainly wasn’t because I was a traitor to my church, or that I waffled.

    As to folk doctrines that I have issues with, I’ll just give you three. One, that blacks were cursed to come through the lineage of Cain, and thus were unworthy to hold the priesthood or obtain temple ordinances until 1978. Reality, we don’t know for sure why the priesthood was withheld for so many years, but it becomes clear with the the 1978 revelation, that any of our explanations are just that, ours, and not the Lord’s. Two, that you can’t be a democrat and be a good Mormon. See Harry Reid, Hugh B. Brown, the Matheson family, Ted Wilson, at least two of my former bishops, several mission presidents I have known, etc. Three, for the really silly, that there were no rainbows before the end of the flood, as it had never rained before. That last one was taught to my two oldest kids in Seminary in Utah.

    I have found that not everything in my life has gone as planned. I’ve been blessed with six wonderful children, a beautiful wife who has loved me for over 30 years despite my traitorous waffling ways, and a powerful testimony of the gospel, the atonement of Christ, and the reality of revelation, both through the prophets, and also of a more personal kind. I try to cut some slack for my friends who have doubts, and also the ones who never do.

    Ten years from now, I hope to be on a mission with my wife somewhere, and that by then, or maybe through that service, I’ll finally get to see my two oldest sons come back. Meanwhile, I wonder, I ponder, I pray, and I serve. That removes some doubts, but it doesn’t always answer my questions. It does, however, give me the faith to continue. I hope you can find some healing for the anger you have shown here. If nothing else, I have learned that the Atonement allows me to get over the things I have no control over, and keep in the faith.

  16. Kevinf says:


    I responded late last night after several hours of study for a project at work. I may have been a little short. Let me go back to what I referred to earlier as my internal compass or liahona. It’s something that I refer to often as the world presses in, and helps me to keep going. It also reminds me that I am here to serve others, something that I am always trying to measure up to, and worry about my personal performance.

    Helaman 5:12

    And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

    That’s where I return to, and find peace. I hope and pray you can too.

  17. Elise says:

    I was given the “take it or leave it” advice by someone very important and influential in my life when I was about 20. It had not occurred to me before that suggestion that ?¢‚Ǩ?ìleave it?¢‚Ǩ¬ù was really a choice, and the way it was presented ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú and the way the advice was perceived by my 20 year old mind ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú caused me to feel such an intense sense of dichotomy that my rather immediate choice was to leave it. I did so, too abruptly and without enough thought. It took me a few years to realize that my options had not been so black and white and that my choice was made with too much haste.

    There are many, many parts of the church that I can not simply leave, for several reasons: 1) they are a part of my heritage. 2) they are a part of my upbringing and deeply engrained. 3) they are beautiful expression of a supreme being?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s interaction with us. 4) I still believe them.

    There are also parts that I do not believe, that I find rather ugly, and that I no longer want as a part of my heritage.

    If only it ?¢‚Ǩ?ìtake it or leave it?¢‚Ǩ¬ù were possible, DMP, my life would be much, much, much, much more simple. Instead, I find myself now trying to figure out how to re-incorporate certain parts of Mormonism back into my life without violating my own integrity by accepting and/or participating those parts which I feel are wrong. There are other churches that make this process easier, because members have more encouragement to develop their own personal set of beliefs within certain frameworks. While this is true in theory of the LDS church, it is not practiced openly ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú I feel that members are encouraged more to accept a very defined, specific set of beliefs that go far beyond basic framework and intrude on even insignificant parts of a persons?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ life.

    So as far as the original question goes (sorry if the above was a bit of a thread-jack), I hope that, as a parent, I will have developed a strong framework that I can teach my children and then allow them to build up their own personal beliefs, choices, personalities, and life around it. And although it must be very painful for parents when their children choose instead to dispose of the entire framework and construct their own, I hope I can be respectful and do my best to find the similarities in their framework and mine and see what I can learn from them, too.

  18. Elise says:

    Oh, and the people that waffle, address important issues through complaints, and talk intellectually about religion while incorporating a quest for faith – those people are the kind that made me realize the black-and-white, “take-it-or-leave-it” choice doesn’t work. Without them, I think I would have never re-visited or re-analyzed my choice to leave it.

    I want to stress to my kids someday that they don’t need to think black-and-white about religious-type things, but that they can always ask questions without fear and that I will always do my best to help them discover the answers. I don’t want to be unapproachable as a parent because my future kids think I won’t try to reason and discuss difficult questions. If they approach me with a serious problem with an aspect of belief (as opposed to just being lazy or rebellious), then I will probably feel they are old enough to hear my concerns, objections, and even dissent from whatever aspect of religion is being inspected. I really agree with the age-appropriate cautions/thoughts mentioned above.

  19. Kevinf says:


    Your post reminded me of the often quoted statement by Joseph Smith, “I teach them correct principles, and the govern themselves”.

    While I believe the church actually is getting better at accepting diversity in our congregations, there seems to be a strong sense of doing what everyone else is doing, and a striving for uniformity. That’s not all bad, but I know the single sisters in our ward struggle feeling accepted all the time. There is a need to be one with the Saints, but that, in my view, does not require us to be indistinguishable as individuals.

    Good luck with building that framework. Grace really is an operative principle in our lives, and helps us to make up where we fall short.

  20. The Poptart ---Tami says:

    I think the Church is so unenlightened with the boy/girl character development department.
    Rewarding the boys with ceremonies and sqat for the girls—no GIRL POWER GIGS.
    Just pink flowers, banal poems, and cheesy syrupy music at that girl night—-I forgot the name. Standards, or Don’t Touch My Petals or something.

    However, I will relay a few musings regarding this subject if I may.

    Years ago while working with a bright feminist male manager in Scottsdale AZ, we conversed frequently about the church. He was repulsed by the Mesa Republicans yet wanted to understand more about LDS people and the policies. Intriqued by my membership—- he thought they had a voodoo hex on my mind…..lol (they did—I am now de-toxed)

    He stated he could never belong to a church that withheld the priesthood or so-called appointed callings from his two daughters. How could he explain to his daughters the priesthood was available to MEN only. He was a modern man teaching his daughters to be equal to men, socially, economically, and politically (mind you they were not femi-nazis- they were lovely sweet girls).

    That got me thinking about how I would explain it to my own daughters if I ever had any.
    Then I remembered the discrepancies between the boys and girls when I was growing up.

    The boy scouts/explorers in my ward in Reno did the coolest activities. They had contracts with all the casinos and other businesses to place American flags in front of their locations every holiday. The scouts/explorers made so much money they rented a schooner or tall ship from somewhere off the west coast and sailed to different islands—I am not making this up. They did other activities of that nature. Some helicopter camping thing in Canada too.

    AND what did the girls do? Knit and crocheted pot holders! Wrote a description of our eternal mate in some flowery journal. What a rip off!!! grrrr.

    Yes I know domestic skills—however when I am decorating that wretched ugly cultural hall for a ward event and stringing rope to elegantly drape material on — I wish I knew those rope tying skills that we didn’t learn as Beehivers. And how to change a tire! And I know you men learned how to
    re-fold a map—-we Laurels missed that very useful task!

    And yes Jana—I created a Babysitting Kit. How about a Career Kit? And most importantly teach the young women how to speak in a normal humanoid woman voice—not a squeaky Primary Teacher’s voice. We may have to present something in front of business colleagues one day…..

    Idealistically I desire the LDS church to be forefront with this issue–can’t the The Brethren contact the Covey/Phil McGraw types to implement some changes and get hip? (not that I endorse those dudes —just used their names for an example). I think the programs are somewhat important because I have friends in split and one parent family situations and their children need more interaction than just one parent can provide.

    As much as Primary and Mutual can be hokey and some of the leaders ineffective and jerky (at times not always), I have wonderful memories, learned many skills and developed great friendships from those church programs. I don’t think all the kids are too warped by the system. So to conclude—I feel the inequality of the youth programs could be greatly improved between the sexes.

  21. Thomas says:


    “When I realized that I was in this rut, I understood that I had taken the world apart, and that now I needed to build something of my own.”

    I don’t know why, but that struck me as one of the wisest things I’ve ever heard.

  22. The Poptart ---Tami says:

    Regarding my comments, this a retort from a friend of mine in Houston –(cheeky monkey):

    So let me quickly make a comment to you as a mother with a son who just became an Eagle Scout.

    When Claire and Paige receive their Young Womanhood Recognition awards, I plan on sending out an announcement to let everyone know just like I did with Matthew. We will then have a party of some sort to celebrate and I will submit an article about them to the paper. Shawn Johnson who made a board with all Eagle Scouts listed on it said he would make one for the girls, too. Our state representative gave the Eagle Scouts a flag that had flown over the state capital so maybe I could ask Hillary Clinton to have all the female senators sign a potholder and send it to my girls! Any other suggestions?!?–ghh

  23. Thomas says:

    Re: “take it or leave it”

    People who don’t “take it [all] or leave it” are trying to hold fast to that which is good about the Church. The Church is not, despite what anyone says, all true or all a fraud. Christ is still the Son of God, and “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” is still true whether or not there were really Jaredites.

    The “Mormonism as metaphor” may not work for everyone, and it may for many be a way station to another faith — but for most people, it’s simply not possible to pull up stakes and move closer to Elder Holland’s campfire — at least not without an unhealthy dose of pretense. The evidence is what it is. Some people are convinced one way, some are convinced the other, and some genuinely find it ambiguous enough to call their decision to choose one side or the other “faith.” But for those who are honestly convinced that the evidence against the Church’s claims are stronger than the evidence for, and who haven’t received any unmistakeable spiritual witness to trump the evidence of reason, “faith” isn’t an option — any more than I could have “faith” that if I drop a baseball under ordinary conditions, it won’t fall downwards.

    I suspect the Brethren’s recent emphasis on “it’s all or nothing” may have something in common with the warning on packages of Q-Tips not to stick the things into your ears. Of course everyone knows that’s exactly what most people will do — that’s why they buy the silly things. But the Q-Tip people can’t exactly say that, because they’d then be liable for all the injuries for everyone who wasn’t smart enough to keep from jabbing a Q-Tip all the way through his brain.

    Similarly, the Brethren can’t exactly endorse the “faithful unbeliever” position without doing serious damage to the organization of the Church, and to the developing faith of millions of people. At the same time, I suspect they’re at least somewhat happy to take whatever loyalty and dedication they can get. If people want to utilize the Church as just a good church, as opposed to the Kingdom of God — well, the Church still gets to count them as members, collect at least some tithing and offerings, employ their often abundant service, and enjoy the credit these people often are to the Church in the eyes of society — just as the Q-Tip people are as happy to sell a Q-Tip to stick in your ear as for swabbing a wound or making a school crafts project.

    For some people, something less than a regulation Testimony is as good as it’s going to get. And it would be nice if some people would stop trying to be plus royaliste que le roi, recognize that this isn’t as easy as it looks, and would you please stop trying to establish your iron rod bona fides by taking gratuitous whacks at people’s spiritual lives when it’s really none of your bloody business.

  24. Kevinf says:

    I am feeling guilty now about letting DMP and his “take it or leave it” post get to me. I guess I am still learning how not to react when I fell someone has gone on the attack, so if I responded badly, I’m sorry.

    My point in my posts, is that it is possible to have doubts, to see things in shades of gray, and still be involved, have a testimony, and enjoy the fruits of the gospel. I wish I could say that everyone else has the same “big tent” mentality. However, I try to cut everybody else as much slack as I can, and hope that they do the same for me.

    I had one daughter, and it is different for them in a lot of ways. My daughter never felt particularly unfairly treated, but we had lots of other extracurricular things for her that seemed to keep her very busy and happy (ballet for 10 years, soccer, volleyball, basketball). She also, though, has been a very strong and independent spirit on her own. Suffice it to say that her father in law, a man with very black & white views of gospel issues, finds her a frustrating and not easily intimidated daughter in law. The first time he tried to hold a family council, and proceeded to tell her and her husband how they should vote, my daughter cut him off quickly.

    A good friend of mine spent several years in Missouri, and served in the bishopric there. They decided that the girls in primary needed something comparable to the cub scout program, and so the ward sponsored a 4H group for the girls 8 to 12. This was before the activity days program. Most importantly, they just went ahead with implementing it, and did not go to the stake president for permission. Once he saw the results, he had no issues with it.

    I spent a Wednesday evening last summer teaching the Laurels in our ward, at the request of the YW president, how to do minor car maintenance and repair, including changing tires, checking and adding oil, looking for worn belts, etc.

    I realize that these things don’t address all of the issues, but I think there are some creative means of trying to be flexible and leveling the playing field. We just need to cut each other a little more slack. BH Roberts once said, quoted here as best as I can remember, that we need “in truly important things, unity; in unimportant things, freedom; and in all things, charity”.

    I’ve tried to keep these words in mind, especially the last part.

  25. riverstone says:

    “In this I speak carefully and lovingly to any of the adults of the Church, parents or otherwise, who may be given to cynicism or skepticism, who in matters of whole-souled devotion always seem to hang back a little, who at the Church?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s doctrinal campsite always like to pitch their tents out on the periphery of religious faith……

    No, we can hardly expect the children to get to shore safely if the parents don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t seem to know where to anchor their own boat.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

    I want my children to know that my boat is anchored to Christ. I really get frustrated when I hear quotes like the one above, in entirety, because it is misleading and leads to much suffering especially for those who are trying the most earnestly to find God in thier lives. I don’t know of any two people on earth who have pitched their tent closer to the Church, it’s doctrines, practices, council… than my parents. They also happen to be very Christ-like and have truly given their whole souls to living the gospel. So here they are, the parents of ten children, grandparents of twenty-five and growing, serving a local service mission so they can care for ailing parents, and they still are made to feel through this kind of teaching that they somehow didn’t do enough. Actually, if my parents had been a bit more flexible in allowing questions and breathing room to grow, I and at least one other sibling may have been able to find a place that works for us in the church. I have tried for years to stay with the church and make it work in a conscienable way. Finally, I realized through God’s help, and atleast for right now, continuing in the church is harming both my spirituality and the spiritual growth of the family I have started with my husband. I have felt good about this decision except when it comes to being completely honest about my life with my parents. My mom already doesn’t know how to act around me because she knows I seriously question things about the church. In one conversation with her she broke down crying, blaming herself form my questions. Trying to figure out where she went wrong, what more she could have done.
    This is where the pitching a tent close to the church falls apart for me. I know it hasn’t worked for me. Until unforseen experiences in my life forced me to ask questions, I was as devout as my parents. I served a mission, graduated from BYU, married in the temple, served as relief society president, I even worked as a temple worker for several years when trying to start a family. I was very obedient, my parents have always been very obedient. What happened? I sorted out the tangle of rope attatched to anchors and found the one to love of God and to Christ and his teachings to be the only one that remained for me after my struggles. I thank God every day for parents who were a firm example of anchoring themselves to Christ. The difference between me and them now is that where they perceive only one anchor, I percieve at least two, which while crossing over many times are not attatched to the same rope.
    I certainly don’t blame my parents for my anguish, but I will also not teach my children to pitch their tents right next to leaders of any group who insist on conformity and obedience over personal revelation and individual spiritual journeys. I feel that being honest with our children about our own journey is part of helping them deal with life’s unpredictable curve balls. I miss many things about being a full part of the church. I wish things could have been different, but then again I am immensely grateful for how my life has turned out. In the end I believe there is not an only true path. I believe the true path is found in following your heart as it leads to love of God and all living things. In other words my advice is to listen to your heart to know how to talk to your children.

  26. john f. says:

    Re # 11, Rory stated “our approaches need to be age-appropriate, as well. I can?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t yet cultivate the critical thinking in my 4 year old that I do with my 13 year old, so I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t cringe when my little one comes home with the folk doctrines.

    His is a concrete, absolute world. I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m just living in it.”

    This seems to be actually the same thing that Elder Holland is saying in his talk — I mean, exactly the same thing. Thus, if one agrees with Rory’s statement, can one logically at the same time disagree with Elder Holland’s talk on any basis other than just that it was Elder Holland who said it and therefore it must have a sinister overtone?

  27. Diane says:

    I am grateful for your comment, this is my first time to this website, I haave been struggling with all of the conformity, I have often wondered how a church that claims to be the only true church of Christ, can be quite un-Christian at times. I have never wavered on my testimony of Christ and our Heavenly Father, I believe in His atoning sacrifice and His teachings. I don’t, however, believe everything the church or it’s leaders say.
    Thank You for putting my thoughts into words, and I will strive to build something beautiful from what I believe in.

  28. tgm says:

    I am not sure by reading this blog if I belong to the same LDS church that some of you do. Boy, I am think ing that those who grow up close to nature and on a farm get a good base for what life is about and how basic the gospel is. I am a woman, a convert of 20+ years and live up in the great NW in farm country. My church experience has never left me feeling discriminated against because of my gender. Perhaps my experience differs because I live in an area where Mormons are a minority and our wards are more diverse? Could our “church” experiences be more related to our geographic area than one would think? Could the SL valley be so inbred with heritage that it is suffocating the ability for personal growth and testimony? Have all the academics, affluence and distance from the soil caused this discontent? I am surely not saying that my experience in the church has been perfect and that I have related to everyone I ever associated with in the church and that I agreed from day one with every point of doctine.. Quite the contrary. All I can say is line upon line, here a little there a little. It will take and lifetime and then some to understand have a testimony of all doctine. But as Elder Holland says the closer I pitch my tent the easier it will be for me in the eternal scheme of things. As the story says “when the boy was asked why he fell out of bed he answered that it was because he wasn’t in far enough”. So how far in is far enough?

    When I was investigating the church I attended a testimony meeting and took notice that while the members were up baring their souls and testimonies that people weren’t paying attention to them and one woman was even doing a crossword puzzle. This was grounds for my not joining the church I exclaimed! How disrepecttful these people were! A friend pointed out to me that the “church” (members) had it’s flaws but that the gospel was true and that made sense to me and I did join the church and have found that to be true and I even fall into the category as a member with flaws.

    The comments concerning the YM and Priesthood having richer experiences are quite the contrary to my experience. I always felt quite bad for my boys because their Priesthood experiences were weak in comparison to those of my daughter. In fact the YW in our stake are given every opportunity to learn all the survival skills (mountain and life) skills that the young men are given, but from first hand experience I saw that many young women did not take an interest in learning all their “knots”. While there were many capable women in our ward who did not work outside of the home I was called to be the RS president while pursuing a career in local government. Could this have been on oversight by the Lord? the Bishop?

    My husband struggles “living “the gospel but serves devotedly because he knows the gospel is true.. He is in no way an intellectual and is devoid of much doctrinal knowledge. Is he any less a member than any one of you who intellectualizes your way through life in the church ? He is pretty much a what you see is what you get kind of guy and when he bears his testimony it is not flowered with doctrine, it is just his faith that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the BOM is the word of God and that we have a prophet on the earth today and there won’t be many who hear his testimony and not know this man believes it, he may not know much else, but this much he knows and I think that is just enough. I struggle to not judge him for his lack of desire to increase his knowledge and lengthen his stride, but God knows his heart and if I am honest I do too.

    God Bless you all in your journey through this life, try not to over analyze it and see the big picture and we will all be just fine and as a friend once told me “don’t sweat the small stuff”.

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  30. Dorothy Guinn says:

    This resonates with my and our family’s experiences on so many levels! I hope to always leave room for my children’s thoughts and perspectives to develop…and then re-develop as they gain more experience. The basic structure of the Church is still of value to me in much the same way as taking my children to the park. I can not longer fit down the tight twists of the slide–it wracks my hips something fierce! But I still take my children to the park and supervise them there. So, I still incorporate much that is good and sound and of value in their instruction, but I let them ponder how the various things feel and fit and when. Isn’t that the very first gift given to us, Agency?

    For my youngest this has been a tougher adventure beginning much earlier than for my other children. She hated most of the sacrament hymns and would cry when I sang them at home and completely broke down in sobs at church. As her verbal skills increased and she could tell me what was wrong–the violence, the gore, the torture, the cruelty–it was too awful no matter how lyrical. I spent time over the years trying to explain the symbolism, the covenant, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the need to connect to our mistakes so we could make changes and allow His Gifts to make us whole once more. We tried singing happier hymns over the top of the ‘awful’ ones. We would sit out in the foyer until the sacrament was over–receiving from the traveling deacons who visit the tardy and unruly.

    Finally during one sacrament service she just looked at me during the song as a baptized 9 year old and said, “So, basically we have to kill Him EVERY SINGLE WEEK so we can feel guilty enough to repent fast enough before the bread comes?!?”

    Well. Yeah. Pretty much.

    We began going to a nursing home and partaking of the sacrament with just the prayers being offered, one individual at a time, without songs.

    A year later during evening prayer she stopped and asked, “How come we never get to pray to our Heavenly Mother? I think that is just rude! I would never call home and say, ‘Hi Dad, let me tell you what I did today, but I don’t even want to talk to Mom, so don’t let her get on the phone.’ I think She loves me and wants to hear about my ideas and what I am doing just as much as Heavenly Father does.”

    I asked her, “So, how would you like to handle that?” and she said she would think about it.

    The following night she explained her decision and began her prayer with “Dear Heavenly Parents…” and then poured out the most heart-felt prayer I have ever heard. She truly communicated with the Divine and felt absolutely adored and cared for and cared about by the Ultimate Source of Love.

    I wholeheartedly endorsed the new plan with the added caution of being careful not to pray like that in church settings because…

    “I know, I know, it scares the church people,” with a sympathetic smile for the poor, misguided souls.

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