A Word About Disaffection from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
By Ken K. Gourdin
I don’t recall which thread at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion I was going to post this on recently, but the thread got shut down before I had an opportunity to do so. Still, I thought these are good thoughts; if nothing else, I can share them here.
While it is difficult for me to imagine, I cannot say, in an infinite number of possible universes, that there isn’t at least one possible universe in which someone cannot have valid historical, doctrinal, or other concerns that might, to his way of thinking, compel him to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
However, I’m not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ because I’ve had all of my questions answered about these things: I think it’s impossible for someone to have a halfway well-functioning brain and not have such questions. Questions notwithstanding, I choose to believe; if someone makes a different choice, that’s their choice.
Different paradigms are useful for different purposes. I have adopted the paradigm provided by the Church of Jesus Christ for, e.g., considering questions of what happens after we die because I think it is the best paradigm extant for considering the questions involved.
Anyone who attempts to use the same paradigm for all purposes, or who insists that people use the same paradigm he does for a particular purpose is apt to be frustrated because people don’t see the world exactly as he does. Notwithstanding my flexible approach to paradigm use, I cannot simply demand that people use the same paradigm I choose to use for any particular purpose.
And when it comes to matters of faith, essentially, all of us are our own triers of fact: we decide what evidence we will admit, what evidence we will exclude, upon what basis we will admit or exclude evidence, how much weight we will accord any particular piece of evidence admitted, and so on. I use the “rules” I do because I think they’re what work best, and others use what “rules” they do because they think they’re what work best. And, as I’ve said so many times before, to quote the great Steven R. Covey, we see the world, not as it is, but, rather as we are.
We’re apt to respond differently to any given situation or circumstance because each of us brings different habits, attitudes, aptitudes, perspectives, and so on, to it. If two people are of exactly the same opinion on absolutely everything, one of them is unnecessary. However we might agree (or not), I certainly don’t think you’re unnecessary.
While I would do my level best to persuade someone to not abandon what Elder M. Russell Ballard [of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] has called “The Good Ship Zion,” whether or not you remain my shipmate, and whether or not you acknowledge our common spiritual heritage, we still have the same spiritual DNA: you’re still my brother or my sister, and I still will strive to treat you as such.