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“Forever Families” a Hurtful Doctrine?

Many LDS members find comfort in the idea that Families can be together forever.  But does it have a darker side?  What happens when a family member leaves the Church?  In our next conversation with Christ’s Church apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer, we’ll find out that both were former members of the LDS Church.  Have they been cut off from their families?

Benjamin:  Right. So we believe that families are forever. But I view this statement that families can be together forever as essentially one of the most vile and apostate teachings that has ever been perpetrated upon the Latter-day Saints.

GT:  You just offended all of my LDS listeners. {chuckling}

Benjamin:  I’m so sorry. Let me explain the difference…So families are forever is what I believe. The Doctrine and Covenants makes it clear that the same sociality which exists amongst us here will exist amongst us hereafter, which basically means that if you’re viewing the sealing ceremonies, if you’re viewing these concepts of the eternity of families as an eternity of association, then I think we’ve got a really big problem. Because essentially, what they’re then saying is, is that if you don’t follow our rules, if you don’t make it to the temple, then you’re not promised an eternity of association with your loved ones. That would mean, you’d have to have some kind of enforcement method where people can’t be with their families anymore. This is kind of what I would call the geographic view of the Three Degrees Of Glory, like they’re separated so fundamentally by geography, that people in one Kingdom can’t visit the people in another. If that’s the view that you take, then God’s a monster by that kind of reasoning. Essentially, what you’re saying is, is that the single mother who didn’t pay her tithing and didn’t get sealed to her child, or the single mother, therefore, who isn’t sealed to the Father, and therefore, dies without having those opportunities–you’re saying that you’re going to tear these children from their mother’s arms. This is worse than the slave auction block. We’re not just talking about separation for life. There’s a separation for eternity. It’s just absolutely heinous.

David:  Benjamin, do you think the most Latter-day Saints are not going to be as maybe literal about the word can be together forever, and you may be a little bit more literal than they are?

Benjamin:  Perhaps, but I think that the thing is, is that when you have your whole family, everybody’s in good standing with the church. It’s true. You don’t really think about it that way. But the moment anybody leaves the church, the moment someone apostasizes, people do start to panic. I’ve seen it over and over again.

David:  Yeah.

Benjamin:  If somebody starts leaving the church, they say, “Well, but does that mean I won’t be with you in eternity?” It’s like one of the first things that a lot of LDS people immediately go to when somebody, even if somebody just drinks a beer or something, is “Oh my goodness, you’re putting our eternal family at jeopardy”. That’s why I think it’s a really invidious doctrine. It’s not that your average LDS family when everyone’s in good standing is even thinking about it. They’re all just feeling happy. They’re going to be together forever. It’s all good. But yeah, when someone leaves, I think it is fairly universal for people immediately to go to that more terrifying understanding of,  “Wait, does this mean then that we are separated?” I think that’s why it’s dangerous.

Have you thought of it that way before?  Are forever families a two-edged sword that both provides comfort and pain?  David & Benjamin talk about the impact on their families.  Check out our conversation….

“Forever Families” is a comfort for the LDS, until a family members leaves. Then it is hurtful.

Don’t miss our previous conversations!

386: Why Polygamists are Threatening to LDS Church

385: God in a Box or Pyramid?

384: Documentary Hypothesis & Adam-God

383: Intro to Adam-God Theory

382: Scriptures of Christ’s Church

381: Intro to Christ’s Church

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Messages From Those Struggling With Church (Part 6 of 6)

What advice would those who struggle with faith give to members of the Church?  David Ostler reads a couple of letters from people struggling, and I think they are really impactful.

David:  Can I read just one more story?

GT:  Sure, absolutely.

David:  So this is a guy named Mike, and I put it at the end of my book. I introduced him in the first chapter, but I put him in the end of the book, because he wrote me a follow up email about six months after I first interviewed him. I told him, I was just about to conclude the book, and when he gave me this, I threw away the conclusion, and rewrote it to include his story. He’s in a faith crisis, unsure whether he’ll stay in the church. It’s hard for him to participate. He feels still alone and isolated, even though he’s been in this particular state for more than two years, I believe. He just gives us advice on what to do. He’s thought about it because he’s felt it.

David:  He said, “When I was in the dark night of the soul, there are a few things that could have really helped me. I needed someone to just listen, and then after listening, let me know and help me really believe that they trusted me and loved me, no matter what conclusion I came to.  I needed someone to show me that it was love that was the strongest and largest cord that bound us together, not our common belief in the church. I needed someone to not only listen but to encourage me to seek answers and say, ‘Great, I don’t know where that journey will take you, and it’s your own journey. but whatever conclusion you come to, I will absolutely respect you, and if you want someone to walk with you for a while on your journey, call me. I’m there for you.’  I needed someone to let me know that they have never experienced what I’m experiencing, so they won’t pass judgment. I needed to feel from people, not just hear words, that they trusted me and viewed me as a worthy, intelligent and spiritually sensitive human being. I needed a different space after sacrament meeting to be nourished spiritually, and if that wasn’t available, I needed an invitation to leave during the rest of the church block to seek spiritual nourishment elsewhere. (I still need this.) I needed someone to ask me, “What would you like to do in the ward that will help you thrive here?” For me that would have been teaching. I love to teach, but I became an unsafe person, and so I haven’t taught since coming out. I used to teach and speak frequently. I also needed someone to listen and then push back a little. I needed someone with whom I could engage in healthy confrontations. This is this faithful place I was talking about, because after resolution of these confrontations, relationships can blossom.”

David also mentions some of the challenges in an international church.  To hear the final segment, sign up for our free newsletter at https://gospeltangents.com/newsletter and I will send you a secret link! Check out our conversation….

David Ostler gives messages from those struggling with faith.

Don’t miss our other conversations with David!

322: Ministering to Mormon & African Polygamists

321: Creating a Better Church Atmosphere

320: 3 Ways to Help People Keep Coming to Church

319: How Active Members Get Ostracized at Church

318: Helping Leaders Understand Faith Crisis

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Creating a More Supportive Church Atmosphere (Part 4 of 6)

There are two types of people who attend the LDS Church: leaders and non-leaders.   No matter whether we are a leader or not, what are some ways to make church better for those struggling with their faith?  David Ostler has some great ideas.

David:  We don’t have to have a leadership role to be able to minister. So some of the things that I think we can do individually on this is that we can learn the issues and find ways to understand what other people are feeling, and then support them as they’re feeling that. So, for example, in a gospel doctrine class, if I’m participating, or if I’m teaching, and a comment comes up that I disagree with, or I think is wrong, or is controversial, I can respond to it in a particular way that is ministering, that reaches them, that says, “I understand. Tell me more about that. I really appreciate you raised that.  That’s a different perspective than what I’ve thought before. Thank you for expressing that.” Then also to be able to find ways to make sure that the class doesn’t jump all over someone.

GT:  Well, that’s what I was just going to say, because you’re going to start getting people, “Well, I bear testimony,” whatever.

David:  It’s a skill, and we have to practice it. There isn’t some magic answer on how to do that. But sometimes we can say things like, “I know some people in the class will disagree with what you’re saying. I appreciate how brave you are to say it anyway.”  I think that helps that person know that you know what’s going on in that class, and you know that they took a risk by asking that.  I think it helps the people that might want to testify away that issue, to understand that there is a person behind the comment, and that they have feelings and that they are struggling with that.

Check out our conversation….

David Ostler tells what lay members and leaders can say to make a more supportive church atmosphere.

Don’t miss our other episodes with David!

320: 3 Ways to Help People Keep Coming to Church

319: How Active Members Get Ostracized at Church

318: Helping Leaders Understand Faith Crisis