Missionary Work is Often Misconstrued

The Christian society has a split religious identity disorder known as Jesusphrania. It began as one being and split into various “emotions.” These emotions created different personalities of the Christian faith. These personalities then began to bicker and disagree. Some committed suicide, others became depressed, and some became stronger. As history continued these various identities began to become strong and eventually became beings of their own (mostly) Christian identity. In the present day these various “beings” have to face the idea that to continue existing in the modern world they need to start existing in a harmonic manner with the Religious personalities they separated themselves from. If this does not occur then the Christian faith will fail to exist. To do this Christianity needs to require its leaders to act as they preach, to have its churches convert in a non-converting manner, and to create opportunities to interact with other religious entities. Without these three changes, Christianity will become something that God did not intend for it to be.

 Gandhi stated the following about Christianity, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” The Bible warns against this type of behavior. In St. Mathew Chapter 23 Jesus warns the leaders of his church that the act of Hypocrisy will have an effect upon those they teach. Jesus says that this type of behavior will cause his followers to reject the very teachings of those who he will send to teach the people (aka, prophets), and in some cases even kill those who he sends. The hypocritical behaviors that Jesus mentions not only ruin the hearts of his followers, but also the reputation of his church.

 The Christian churches reputation is known worldwide as an entity which seeks to convert every human that it comes into contact with. This act of conversion is no longer what it was meant to be. Jesus’s entire criticism of his church’s leaders in Mathew 23 was centered around the idea that it is the example of these leaders which shapes Christianity. These leaders literally have the Christ given ability to make the Church either fail or succeed. Without the positive examples of these leaders Christianity will fail to become what it has the potential to become.

 The main issue of this hypocrisy is the act of conversion. Christian conversion is currently not what it is meant to be. Jesus and his disciples traveled from village to village, with their follower, while teaching and acting in a very Christian manner. They would serve, give a heartwarming speech and go to the next village. They would not seek out people, but give them the option of gaining help through the service offered and by having the option to listen to a teaching(s) of Christ. This type of proselytizing is no longer available. Instead, individuals go door to door with one tool, fear. Christianity has resulted to the tool of Satan in converting its followers. This tool and its effect on the Christian church is shown very bluntly in “Book of Mormon.” 2nd Nephi 22:23 states,

For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble…”

This scripture states that those churches who use the tools of Satan to grow will fail. This type of behavior is what the Christian church is seen as today. Its followers may be blind to the way Christianity is presented to the world, but the world is not blind to these behaviors. If the behaviors of “Satan” continue within the Christian church the church will simply fail to exist.

Once these behaviors begin to become less prevalent the Christian religions will need to start reaching out to other religions and offer their hand in marriage. This type of unity and understanding between all faiths is essential in Christianity’s existence. Without this unity the Christian world will chase away current members and those who may convert to Christianity. This act of unifying with other religions will open the doors of interreligious dialogue and other factors which will give back the respect Christianity once had. This will then allow Christianity to continue existing in the modern world.

 Christianity needs to re-become the example it was, it can no longer exist on lies and false personas. These “tools” have created what can be seen as the downfall of Christianity, and if these hypocritical actions do not become extinct then the Christian church itself will disappear as a major world religion. Christ did not intend for his church to fail. This occurrence can only be stopped if its leaders teach the followers how to be Christian through not only Christ’s teachings but through their actions.

-thatboyleroy

Advertisements

Seeking Understanding, not Judgement

  Over the past few months I decided to wear various types of clothing to church,, and church activities. Sometimes i would wear a colored shirt to sacrament, another I would wear a grungy looking shirt to FHE, and I would “dress up” like my normal self. I came to find out that Mormons act very differently if you dress outside of the “Undeclared Mormon Dress Code.” This dress code requires popped collars and nice shoes. And if you are a girl, a little “cancer” bump on top of your head. So, in response to how Mormons judge others I have dedicated this post to this topic (I apologize for the roundabout approach).

 I seek to understand the religions other Human Beings belong to, not judge them. By judging these religions I am not doing the will of God, but that of Satan. I always ask, What does this other Religion mean to me?

I have been taught that it does not matter what religion a particular individual relates to. This is a choice that everyone makes on their own. The famous question of “Why?” just does not matter. All that matters is that the teachings do not skew the beauty of religion (take this as you may). Beauty as a religious factor is everything that makes up the soul. It is not my job to judge those of other faiths based upon THEIR beliefs.

As I look at a faith that is not of my own I literally place myself into the shoes of an individual from that faith. I learn everything I can about the particular religion and seek the understanding needed for me to be able to love the religion as if I was a member of that particular religious group. I have been harshly criticized for using this tactic. However, to learn about other cultures, religions, etc. an individual needs to immerse itself in a particular group until the person understands everything he can about the religion. After the person has done this he is then able to step back, evaluate himself (not the individuals who were teaching him) and change his belief structure into one that includes the religious teachings that will make him a better human being. It is experiences like these which have taught me that LOVE and UNDERSTANDING is the best tolerance for Religious differences.

I will never forget an experience I had while attending a service at the Hare Krishna Temple in Boise, Idaho. After the service was over I decided to linger in the Worship area and listen to the amazing music that was being played. A few minutes later one of the band members invited me to join them and handed me a drum which looked very similar to one that I used to play as a kid during my first Shamanic Journeys, she then showed me how to play the rhythm on the drum and taught me the words to the chant. I held a bit of hesitation in playing in a Temple that was not of my faith and out of respect I said, “I am not Hindu, is it still ok that I join in?” She responded with “You believe in God, this is all that matters.” I then had an amazing time singing and playing a beautiful drum that reminded me of other ceremonies which helped shape me into the religious being I am today.

           In ending, I cannot “view” people of other faiths; I cannot judge them or make them different from me. As a religious being I understand that this is not what God wants.  Consider the following scripture from the KJV

Romans 2:3, “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?”

 

-thatboyleroy

Mormons and Gender: Cognitive Restructuring

In LDS doctrine gender is theologically important. This is caused by the idea that gender and the separate “life roles” of male and female continue not just during this life on Earth, but after death as well. The theological teachings of gender have created three distinct avenues that LDS feminism has grown into. Each of these three areas has produced their own ethical approaches to issues of gender and their own ideas of what is best for the progression of each individual woman. The three distinct areas of LDS feminism are: Traditional Values, Moderate, and “Liberal.”[1] [2] These three areas wish to improve the life of LDS women by keeping individual and communal autonomy in daily church and personal life. It is important to note that each area of LDS feminism has its own distinct approach to the life of LDS women and their interaction within the world and as a leader of a family unit, especially within the framework of LDS religious life. These varying approaches are an attempt at Cognitive Restructuring reinterpreting the religious/cultural environment and adjusting their response to it[3]- thus creating a new social format for LDS women to base the purpose of their lives off of. As will be seen, cognitive restructuring is the basic starting point when examining how LDS Feminists examine the roles of women today and how these ideas will continue to progress. Cognitive restructuring is the base theory for the cause of social evolution of the Ethics and purpose of Feminism within the LDS religion.

When cognitive restructuring is applied within the three areas of LDS feminism it needs to be critically examined with unbiased theological and cultural thought.  Each area has the same goals, but they have three significantly different approaches of reaching these goals. The area of Traditional Values Feminism takes a very conservative approach to LDS scripture and traditional Christian gender roles to form how the woman should behave, live, and adapt to her environment. Moderate Feminism is an effort to respect traditional and ethical LDS teachings while also respecting modern and traditional feministic cultural ideals. Moderate feminism looks at the role of LDS woman from the position of “reality” in its current state; it is neither conservative nor fundamentalist, but somewhere in between. When the issues of gender are approached from the angle of the Liberal LDS feminist the ultimate goal stems from the effort to change historical (traditional) culture biases that have been formed due to LDS interactions with the wider world and to change the intra-cultural phenomena that have occurred. This approach is, in essence, allowing the woman to become liberated in a manner that still respects LDS theological thought and doctrine while allowing the woman to be free of male dictates in all spiritual and life matters.

As each area of LDS feminism is examined it is important to extract the poles of the various “feminist types.”  By understanding these poles one is able to thoroughly examine why LDS feminists argue for what they believe to be what is ethically, theologically, and socially correct. It is only through being able to understand these poles that one is able to examine why the various feminist thoughts exist.

To begin, the LDS Church has a very clear understanding of what the roles of women are. It has stated what women do in the church and has “implied” the role of women when in a family unit:

“In weekly worship services and classes, women preach sermons, offer prayers in behalf of the congregation, and teach adults and children. They may also serve as missionaries and as presidents of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations. Women participate in councils that oversee congregational activities throughout the world. They also perform a vital work in nurturing and teaching in the home.”[4]

The above quote is the middle pole of LDS feminism, EVERY argument stems from this statement. Each area within LDS feminism has gained its views and approaches from what is said above. Everthing comes from what LDS women do and do not do, what they are and are not.

As said above, the basic starting point when trying to understand what is occurring in LDS feminist thought is at the level of cognitive restructuring. The entire relationship between LDS Feminism and cognitive restructuring is a relationship of the woman entity to the wider culture and how the woman entity acts upon the perceived negative culture that she interacts with. This relationship exists between the two major poles of ‘traditional’ social culture and a ‘liberal’ social structure. Both poles, and the area between, use Cognitive Restructuring to ‘modify social culture to fit the wider culture.’

-thatboyleroy


[1] It is important to state that my use of “Feminism” in this paper is relating to the argument FROM women about the rights that the Female Gender deserves. It is my opinion that LDS Feminism is a label placed upon Women arguing for their rights to belong within a male dominated society.

[2] Beaman, Lori G.. Sociology of Religion, “Molly Mormons, Mormon Feminists, and Moderates: Religious Diversity and the LDS Church,” 62:1, pg. 65-86. 2001.

[3] Beaman, p. 2

[4] http://lds.org/study/topics/women-in-the-church?lang=eng. Intellectual Reserve Inc.. 2011

LDS Feminism: The Conservative “More Traditional” Approach

The traditionalist argues that the woman needs to stay within the traditional social culture that her “roots” began in. Traditionalists see this as the woman staying in the house, raising kids, cleaning, cooking, and teaching, all of which are conducted under the dictatorship of the father/husband figure of the household. This approach wishes for traditional family structures to stay intact and that this form of running the family is the only way to create a peaceful society. An analogy that is often used to describe this type relationship is that the Father is the head of the household and the mother is the heart. Heaton[1] describes these traditional values as forming from the commonly referenced metaphor, “Mormons believe in male authority and in a more traditional division of labor between husbands and wives.” (p.88-89) The particular division of gender roles, that is shown through this quote, within the household creates the glue that binds traditional feminism into what it currently is today. However, it is interesting to note how the approach of Traditional Feminism incorporates the abilities that are more prominent within the Female Gender into the daily socio-cultural life of the intra-religious social interactions, and within the culture inside of the religion and outside of the family. The family is seen as the most important commitment to the mother, but offering and giving service to the needy is a close second.  

Even though the traditional feminists are in support of a patriarchal run social hierarchy, these women also recognize that they are an important unit within the LDS social system and within the culture of their respected communities. This can be seen through the actions that are taken by the Relief Society, a philanthropic and educational women’s organization and an official auxiliary of the LDS Church. It is important to note that the relief society is completely female ran. This organization exists within every Stake, Ward and Branch of the LDS Church. Through the relief society LDS Women prepare major service projects which help society and specific needy individuals. Along with this service oriented goal the relief society teaches women that it is their DUTY to keep the males in the church worthy of the priesthood and their children worthy of the sacred covenants that they will gain as they get older. These two separate roles of “Motherhood” create a sense of individuality as a Mother and Wife and a sense of communal responsibility towards the church. An example of this is the following quote from Beamans research. This quote is from an interview Beaman held with a woman named “Martha” who is an LDS Traditionalistic Feminist,

“Martha is a 60 year old mother of 5 children who has always been a full-time homemaker, although she has training as a teacher. Her family has a long Mormon heritage of which she is proud. She is angry about the changes in the church during the past two decades, and is especially bitter about the diminishing of women’s roles and responsibilities in the Relief Society. She has gradually developed a feminist consciousness over the past two decades, and now describes herself as a Mormon feminist.”

Martha’s feministic attitude and approach shows exactly how Traditional LDS Feminism approaches its goals and what these goals hope to accomplish.

-thatboyleroy

 

[1] Heaton, T.B. K. L. Goodman, and T.B. Holman. 1994. In Search of a Peculiar People: Are Mormon Families Really Different?  In Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspective, edited by M. Cornwall, T.B. Heaton, and LA. Young, 87-117. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

 

The Potential Example of Islam on Mormons: Wisdom, Intellect, Jesus, and the Unfortunate “Sometimes” God of the LDS Faith

The Identity and purpose of Jesus are two things which are contested between the LDS faith and Islam. Between these two religions individuals are faced with approaching either a man, or a divine figure. However, the purpose of Jesus seems to be almost agreed upon between the two religions. By examining Jesus and his mission through the use of “wisdom,” the act of Intellect on the Spiritual Being, and the purpose of Jesus, it can be shown that the Jesus of the LDS faith can coincide with the Jesus of Islam, and that the teachings of Islam can dramatically help the members of the LDS faith. To show this, it is important to first look at scripture.

Jesus was a man of wisdom. Within both LDS and Islamic cannon Jesus uses wisdom as a tool to teach his followers about life and about God. Mormons use a variety of scripture to explain their theology; one of the less known cannons (at least from an outsider’s viewpoint) is the Wisdom of Solomon. Wisdom of Solomon 9:18 says, “And thus the paths of those on earth were set right and people were taught what pleases you, and were saved by wisdom.” This idea of wisdom within LDS theology continues to delve deeper by stating in several various scriptures that, “… those who hearken to the Lords council shall learn wisdom.” (2 Nephi 28:30) In LDS theology it is through obeying the Laws of God that you gain [Spiritual] Wisdom. By bringing us the ‘new and improved’ version of God’s laws Jesus opened the gate to a new treasure chest of wisdom that allows those who worship God to gain wisdom within the realm of spiritual identity and understanding. Due to confusion, many Mormons get confused who is talking in the above scriptures. They often argue whether it is God or Jesus who is talking. These religious arguments are not needed, because all teachings come from God, Jesus is only his messenger. Mormons can learn how to better approach this idea by using Islamic texts and the teachings that they contain.

The Quran states, 43:63-64: “When Jesus came with clear signs he said, ‘I have brought you wisdom; I have come to clear up some of your differences for you. Be mindful of God and obey me: God is my Lord and your Lord. Serve Him: This is the straight path.’” These two verses can teach Mormons to focus more on God, and less on Jesus when examining the gain of “wisdom” from God. By doing this it will put God in a higher place within the mind of Mormons and place Jesus in the seat of, “the Son of God” which is often not realized until late in life. The idea that Jesus is below God is a strict rule that many Mormons ignore, and they can better learn this distinction by examining the connections between God, Jesus and “wisdom” and how these three entities interact with the Human and their purposes.

The Human purpose is often skewed by the intellect of Man. This problem has been recognized and identified in both LDS and Islamic scripture. In Jalaluddin Rumi’s, “The Mathnawi,” Rumi writes about how man forsakes Jesus and how this creates men to be as the ass. By stating this Rumi delves into how men allow their intellect to go above God, and thus ignore God and his teachings. Through this story Rumi places a clear message to man that they need to not let intellect overtake and be placed above their relationship with God. This problem is very prevalent in LDS social circles and often leads to much false doctrine being tossed around. This has become a big enough problem that LDS leaders have created an online interface for Church leaders that communicates which false doctrine are being thrown around and to address this within their congregations. If LDS communities approached intellect and doctrine in the manner that Rumi is suggesting, in “The Mathnawi,” certain socio/cultural issues between religions and within the faith would become extinct.

With problems that arise with the gaining of wisdom through the words of Jesus, and the problem of the intellect of man due to these teachings, Mormons are often faced with several “faces” of Jesus. This is usually due to a lack of scriptural understanding and a lack of respect for God. This respect is what Islam can teach many members of the LDS faith. The worship structure of Islam has many avenues that allow the Muslim to appreciate God and to show his/her love for/to God. This act of understanding God as a supreme being who deserves respect and who is put above all is not fully realized in the minds of many Mormons. In 2 Nephi 33:14 the old LDS prophet speaks about how he treated those who did not show respect to God, Nephi states that he would “…bid(s) farewell to those who will not respect the words of God.” Being taken in a symbolic form (for most actions of the prophets in the scripture stories can be taken as symbolic actions of God) this can be taken as God letting those who do not respect him be on their own, intellectually, until they show respect to God, for God is a Jealous God and will not let anything come above him. (Exo. 20:5)  A lack of respect towards God, due to intellect, can go as far as saying that those who practice intellect in this manner are using intellect as an Idol that they worship. By taking the strict worship structure of Islam, and implementing these values into the members of the LDS faith, much could be gained in the realm of understanding the teachings of God within the LDS faith.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, by examining Jesus and his mission through the use of “wisdom,” the act of Intellect on the Spiritual Being, and the purpose of Jesus, it can be shown that the teachings of the Jesus of the LDS faith can coincide with the teachings of the Jesus of Islam, and that the teachings of Islam can dramatically help the members of the LDS faith. It is shown above how the values/teachings of Islam can help improve the understanding of God and his place within the LDS faith. without this understanding many members of the LDS faith are faced with a false understanding of God, and are putting his teachings and at times, his first-born Son (Abr. 3:27) above that of God, thus idolizing these things and putting God below them, which is a major sin in the LDS faith. By the example of Islam (an ironic statement) this rising cultural phenomena of putting Jesus above that of God can start to enter into a pattern of decline, and God will once again be a God and not something that is less than his own wisdom and Intellect. With Islam’s example the “Sometimes” God can become the God He meant Himself to be.

 

-thatboyleroy

Day 5: Do not go into a Lavender Marriage

Hello Readers!

I am in one, yet I tell couples not to do it… LDS gay men should NOT go into mixed orientation marriages (M.O.M.’s), otherwise known as a Lavender Marriage: a marriage meant to cover up or fix a persons sexual orientation.

For me, this is an awkward conversation because it is one where my thoughts and my actions did not go into the same direction. Many people assume that because I am in a Mixed Orientation Relationship that I think that it is what EVERY gay man needs to do, that they should do this to “fix themselves,” and that this is what God wants of his children. This is entirely not the case and is the exact opposite of my opinion and actions on this issue. When asked, “Do I think that a gay man should be married to a woman?” Almost always I would answer by saying, “no!” Here are my thoughts on this issue:

When someone finds out that I am gay and engaged to a woman they almost always ask me, “How does that work?”, unless they are LDS (Mormon), then I am usually congratulated and told something that means: “Good, I am glad you did the right thing.” The first response is easy to answer and the second makes me very sad and sometimes angry. The interesting thing about these two reactions is that I almost always answer with the same goal, to get them to understand that I did not expect or seek out my relationship with Anna to please God, I did it because eventually I realized that I had somehow fallen in love with a woman (an amazing lady at that!).

Before Anna and I decided that we were going to get married we discussed the harms that we had seen happen to other relationships like ours, both of us were worried that the same fate would befall us a few years down the road. We read blogs and heard from soon to be or were long ago divorced M.O.M. couples where the relationship sent both spouses into a downward spiral of depression and attempted suicide, into sadness and broken families and into anger and hurt. In these situations no one was spared, children, parent, spouse, family and friends all suffered. Anna and I did not want this for our future, and we were concerned that this would happen. To prevent this hurt from happening in our relationship we talked, and talked, and talked about what we would do if the relationship was harmed do to me being gay and her being straight. When would we know when to end the relationship, if needed.

We eventually decided that we were not going down the path of self-destruction and decided to get married.  Soon after this decision was made I came out to Anna’s parents. My soon-to-be Mother-in-law, unknowingly sharing our past fear, asked us to see a counselor. She was worried that we were setting ourselves and our relationship up for failure, it is unnatural for a gay man and a straight woman to be together. The counselor cemented our past decision, that Anna and I were making the correct choice.

For us, our M.O.M. works. We realize and try to let others know that this is not always the case (in fact, very rarely!). For Anna and I it just happened, I was searching for a Man and so was she. I just happened to find a woman instead! We are also not in  a M.O.M. forced by religious belief, which I think is absolutely horrible and should never be done. civil_disobedience_gender_identity_Ekthesi_fotografias_kai_video_art_apo_to_gitv12

Suffering as a gay man in LDS culture and beliefs I learned and do not understand HOW the majority of LDS culture tries to convince gay men that they need to be in a heterosexual relationship. Religion forcing someone to be what she/he is not is a very cruel and horrible thing to do to ANYONE who identifies as being LGBT. I by ACCIDENT fell for Anna, and was intensely shocked when I realized I was in love with a women. The internal struggle of this realization was one of the hardest in my life, it was a choice of being honest to my sexuality or Anna’s and my  happiness. Eventually, after months of watching our relationship and having MANY conversations with Anna made the decision that it was ok for us to be together. As I said above, it took us thinking A LOT and seeing a therapist to make us fully comfortable with continuing our relationship.

Being in a Mixed Orientation Relationship is not a joke, and can end VERY badly for the couple if they go in thinking that the relationship is “commanded by God” or that it is something that they should do because religion tells them to do it. Do not EVER go into a “Lavender Marriage,” do not ever go into a relationship because God or religion told you to. Make sure YOU know your self in your own skin, as a gay man, before you commit to anyone else. This is especially true if you are thinking about entering into a mixed orientation marriage, where you and your gay may affect the relationship in ways you may not want it to.

For those of you thinking about going into a Mixed Orientation Relationship and even a Marriage, make sure that it is the right thing for you. Ask yourself if it will make and KEEP you happy. If you are going into the relationship for you or her, only because God has “told you so”  (I have heard many men say that the revelations telling them to marry a women were false), and/or that your bishop, parent or someone else is making you think it is your only choice. If you say “yes” to any of these I highly recommend that you rethink your commitment before you hurt yourself, your spouse/potential spouse and your future children.

I cannot say more than this without getting redundant, but I do recommend the following blogs that talk about the pro’s and con’s of being in a Mixed Orientation Marriage:

http://aaronandstephanieslife.blogspot.com/

http://www.joshweed.com/

http://www.rickross.com/reference/mormon/mormon336.html

http://mtagm.blogspot.com/2011_12_01_archive.html?zx=176f65e617a3901f

ex-gay

I am in a happy and successful Mixed Orientation Relationship, but I would not recommend to other gay men to do what I am doing. If I did I would fear that they would face the same fate of depression and hurt that so many other gay men have unknowingly gone into.

Also, I have a message to those of you who are considering fixing your gay through marriage, instead of trying to pray your gay away and seeking for God to fix you, pray and ask if He wants you to be gay. While doing this, ask for yourself and not for what others want from you or because you have been told you are supposed to be straight. Pray and ask if it is ok for you to be gay, then define for yourself what being gay means to you. Being gay is not a light switch that you can turn off, it is part of you and always will be you. God made you as you are for a reason. As Bruno Mars says, “You are beautiful just the way you are!” 🙂 (check the music video out here)

Sincerely,

-thatboyleroy and thatgalanna