4 Ways That We Can Fix Mormon Culture

Is Mormon culture the same as Mormon doctrine? It is hard to tell the difference, especially in heavily Mormon populated areas.

Church membership does not only mean that a person accepts the doctrine, it also means that they become part of a culture built around attempts to live the doctrine. Sometimes this is helpful, but sometimes it can be harmful when mainstream members assume that parts of the Mormon culture are actually doctrine. They may become militant in their beliefs and people leave the church.

Against this, I would like to suggest four things that we can do to make Mormon culture more accepting off all people.

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1. More support for introverts in meetings.

Nobody is completely introverted or extroverted, but everybody has tendencies towards one of those personality types. Introverts tend to be more thoughtful and quiet, avoiding large social settings and feeling awkward around large groups of people. Extroverts thrive on social connections and are outgoing. Church services and activities are geared towards extraversion.

We see this a lot in social activities or group meetings, where people assume that a member not actively participating is somehow unhappy or in spiritual danger. We are constantly told to reach out to those people, which is good, but we reach out to introverts by forcing them to extroverted.

This is why we have some youth who dread mutual or why we have members who do not like church meetings. It may not be because they do not want to be around other members, they just feel uncomfortable being forced to be extroverted, because introverted church members are seen as lonely, withdrawn and struggling.

It would be helpful if in church meetings we gave time for people to sit and think instead of constantly bombarding them with questions and call for involvement. I have been in Sunday schools where I have spent the time to think and ponder, only to be dragged out of my thoughts by a teacher who somehow thought I was not involved enough to be “feeling the Spirit.”

Would it not be nice to have meetings where we were given time to ponder and think without interruption?

We also need to recognize that not everyone feels comfortable in social settings, and that is ok. Not every member of a ward needs to enjoy ward activities to feel like they belong. Instead of insisting that everybody be friends with everybody else, we need to realize that some people feel comfortable with only a few close friends in a ward. Being quiet and awkward at church does not mean that a person is struggling.

That being said, we still need to be friendly at church meetings. When we see new people at sacrament meeting, we do need to be friendly and make them feel welcome. It is important though that we help them on their terms, not ours.

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2. Greater support for sensitive topics such as homosexuality and mental illness.

Sometimes, I have felt like the culture of the church has told me: “We want to help you, but only if it is something that we understand and have easy answers for.”

I struggle with depression and social anxiety, and have often felt outcast or even attacked in church meetings. I have sat through many lessons and church talks where the speaker has talked about how the gospel will always make us happy and if we are feeling down, we just need to pray, read our scriptures, and attend meetings. Then, we will feel all better. Can you imagine what that would do to somebody struggling with mental illness? Not only are they having internal struggles, but people are teaching that outward solutions make one happy. It is implied that if you are not happy, you must be doing something wrong.

Mental illness support is almost completely missing from church services. We need to acknowledge that people with mental or emotional problems have real medical conditions. Telling them at church that if they have more faith or if they try harder they will automatically feel better is alienating and losing our members. It does not give them the support that they need during their difficulties.

More dire is the way that Mormon culture deals with homosexuality. Instead of providing love and support to homosexual members, the culture tends to actively alienate good homosexual members.

Does anybody really think that a fiery sermon about homosexuality will do any good? Being told that you are going to hell for feelings that you can not control is destructive and un-Christlike. Regardless of personal opinions about homosexuality, we should have the decency to treat these members just like any other members.

We are losing many homosexual members because in church meetings we are focusing less on helping them understand what they can do with their feelings and spending more time preaching about how their feelings are destroying the family and leading us into the apocalypse. Even when members begrudgingly acknowledge that homosexual tendencies themselves are not evil, the love is not felt.

The key here is to recognize that members have a variety of difficulties. Applying blanket messages and outright ignoring the feelings of members is only driving people away.

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3. Stop preaching about things that are not doctrine.

In the past few months I have heard about the evils voting for Democrats, accepting organic evolution, watching R-rated movies and girls wearing leggings during church lessons. Are these really topics that need to be brought up during Sunday schools and priesthood meetings? Sure, these opinions may come from doctrinal truths, but they are not doctrine in and of themselves.

Often times, church members (myself included) will give their opinion as gospel fact. Even worse, we will use the real doctrine to back up fake doctrine. I remember one lesson from early last year where we were talking about self-reliance and hard work. During the lesson, a member of the bishopric went on a lengthy rant about how everything that the Democrat party stood for was contrary to this doctrine. He was convinced that his politically ideology was backed by the lesson and had the need to share that with everyone. Not only did I disagree with what he was saying, I was being told that because I disagreed I was in conflict with gospel principles.

We spend far too much time in lessons discussing how certain political ideas and entertainment choices are contrary to the gospel or against the teachings of the church, even though there is no doctrinal foundation for those claims. When this happens, good members of the church feel isolated.

Whenever you feel the need to preach against topics ask yourself: if somebody does any of these things (i.e. vote for Democrats, accept organic evolution, watch R-rated movies or wear leggings)  will that keep them out of the temple?

If the leaders of the church have not spoken out about something in an official setting we need to be silent about it in church. No matter what opinions you have, what blogs you read, or what you saw on TV, if the brethren have not officially made a statement about what you are teaching, stop immediately! Too many church members feel alone at church because a homogeneous Mormon culture is telling them that their opinions are against the doctrine. We must acknowledge that the church has many members, and everybody has different opinions, and none of these opinions are imperative to get into heaven.

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4. Acknowledge that some different lifestyles and ideas are not contrary to the gospel.

This is the underlying principle behind all of my suggestions. We need to start destroying the stereotype of the standard Mormon. We need to be aware that people with different ideas, cultures and lifestyles may be a part of our church. The mindset that because somebody chose to follow the theological ideals of Mormonism also means that they need to assimilated into the culture must be destroyed. Instead of having a single homogeneous culture, we need to be a church of diversity. We need to have multiple opinions, multiple lifestyles and multiple types of people. As we spread throughout the world, every unique person that gets baptized adds something new to the body of the church. By insisting on making everybody the same, we are ruining what makes us so special as a church: that people of all shapes and sizes can unite under the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As I write this, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God’s commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences. The Church thrives when we take advantage of this diversity and encourage each other to develop and use our talents to lift and strengthen our fellow disciples.

We may believe this in an academic sense, but do we actually feel and practice it?

I hope that anybody reading this is aware that I am not criticizing Mormon doctrine. I believe that the doctrine of the church is pure and un-defiled. It is the truth that God has revealed to humanity for generations. I am eternal grateful that I am a part of it.

But the culture needs to change, and it needs to change fast. All of these suggestions can be implemented. It will only take a little effort.

 

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322 responses to “4 Ways That We Can Fix Mormon Culture

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Posts Of 2015 | A Wallpaper Life·

  2. I am an introvert and a convert of 20 years. LDS culture has always been difficult for me. Since we moved from the Seattle area to Arizona 5 years ago I have struggled mightily with culture. Arizona, Utah and Idaho are our LDS equivalent to the bible belt, I call it the garment district. The cultural expectations and judgment are overwhelming. I truly believe that if I ever lived in Utah I would leave the church. I’m barely holding on now. I have no issues what-so-ever with the doctrine, none, but the culture is killing me. I need people to stop dropping by my house unannounced. Stop pressuring me to give a prayer, or go to RSE or a ward social. I’m barely making it through the 3 hour block of torture that is Sunday meetings. I know there are people that feel spiritually renewed and uplifted from spending 3 hours gathered with the saints….I feel exhausted, over socialized, and judged. I just need them to please back off….it’s too much fellowshipping. I hate the visiting teaching and home teaching programs, I feel so invaded. Please just give me some space.

  3. I’ll promptly grab your rss once i can not to seek out your email subscription website link or maybe e-newsletter support. Do you have just about any? You should permit me to understand so that I might subscribe. Cheers don’t make assumptions.

  4. Thank you for writing this. We moved to utah about a year ago, and ever since I have struggled so much with the Mormon culture. Where I had felt so loved and accepted, I now feel judged and inadequate. I’m a recent convert and I love the church, but I wish people in general were more focused on the spirit than appearances.

  5. That was a lovely and very apt quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

    “As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God’s commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences. The Church thrives when we take advantage of this diversity and encourage each other to develop and use our talents to lift and strengthen our fellow disciples.”

  6. Great advice. “No matter what opinions you have, what blogs you read, or what you saw on TV, if the brethren have not officially made a statement about what you are teaching, stop immediately!”

    It’s good to listen to one’s own advice.

    • I try not to talk about anything I wrote here when I teach Sunday School. That’s what I was referring to. Teaching anything that I wrote in church would be inappropriate but outside of Sunday schools I think it is ok.

  7. One other thing I’d like to add is the way singles are viewed. On one hand it is expected that we will marry and bring forth children, but at the same time, some of the expectations the culture places make it difficult for some of us to find that husband or wife. Yes, having a job is a good thing, but what about those of us that may not be able to get one because of a disability? Does this mean that because of worldly shortcomings I am less valuable than someone else? And what about those of us that just can’t handle the long meeting blocks? Are we less deserving of that love in our lives? It just seems to grate on me…

  8. Thanks Zachary for writing this, especially regarding #’s 3 and 4.

    I’ve never felt comfortable wearing a suit and tie to church, much less anywhere, and I have taken to wearing skirts the last couple of years, both to church and in my everyday life. In my everyday life, I wear both men’s skirts, like kilts and lava lavas and women’ skirts as well, and I even have a few maxi dresses that I just slip a t-shirt or other top over. On Sundays, I wear a kilt or a lavalava to church, with sandals or flip flops when weather calls for such. I have chosen to wear skirts/dresses most of the time as a man because I find them more comfortable than pants/trousers, or even shorts, as I overheat very easily, and when I overheat, I get very fidgety, agitated, and my Tourette’s Syndrome motor/vocal tics flare up more. I just get even more uncomfortable, despite being constantly uncomfortable and in pain a lot because of my Tourette’s tics. And at church, when I wear a lavalava, I tend not to tuck my shirt in but wear straight hem shirts, and I never wear a tie, again because such keeps me cooler and less constricted. I’ve even worn t-shirts under a sweater to church with my kilt or lavalava. This is my Sunday Best, according to my individual comfort, and I do not believe in making myself uncomfortable just so people can feel comfortable with me conforming or matching their ideas of what Sunday Best means, nor do I think God would expect such of me. I truly believe that the Spirit is capable of and willing to enter into the humble heart of the humble worshiper, no matter what clothing he/she wears to church. As you can imagine, there are many people who just aren’t understanding or the most tolerant when it comes to me wearing women’s skirts or other forms of women’s clothing I feel is comfortable/pleasing to my likes, but which I adapt to my own masculine style by wearing with my other men’s clothing. I constantly get stares and questions, tho questions are not as often as I’d expect probably because people are afraid to offend me by asking me why I wear a skirt/dress. Tho, staring is even worse, I think, because you have no idea what’s going on in their heads. But while the wearing of a skirt or dress has no doctrinal issues, culturally, within or without the Mormon culture, it carries a negative and depressing/discouraging stigma that unfortunately people just can’t seem to get past.
    Heck, I even got fitted for a bra today because I have gynecomastia, a medical condition in which there is a growth in the male breasts so that they look more like female breasts, mine being worthy of an A cup bra. I can’t help it; they’ve just grown, and won’t shrink no matter what I do. So, I decided on getting fit for a bra because I felt like I needed the support for my larger than normal male breasts, to see if it helped with my back aches in my mid to upper back, for that’s why women wear bras, for support of their breasts. But this would not go down without a fight or without much unjust, negative judgement in the Church culture, because differences from “norms” are not very tolerated, especially when gender and clothing is involved. And when girls find out about these things/see me in a skirt, they automatically get afraid and this ruins any chances of them wanting to date me, most of the time, even when I explain why I wear what I wear. And they then miss out on a golden opportunity to get to know a very good, spiritual, humble, friendly, caring and funny individual with a large heart, all because they pay attention to the outward appearance, not unlike the Jews in Christ’s time. I’m not homosexual, nor am I transgender. I just don’t feel clothing has an inherent gender and thus feel comfortable wearing any kind of clothing regardless of the gender it was marketed to by businesses, manufacturers, and society. Our culture has taught people for so long to conform, not be too different, and to not critically think or question traditions/norms/practices, that when one does differ traditions/norms/practices and questions them and their logicality and validity, they are automatically suppressed and shut down, even and especially in he LDS culture, where our differences and individualities, as well as questioning “norms” should be welcomed and treated with love, and you write. My reasons for being the individual I am in in the way I dress, both daily and to church are logical and not contrary to doctrine, but for some reason people just can’t seem to get their heads around this, perhaps on the assumption that norms are doctrine. Indeed, I’ve long found it quite unfair that women can wear a t-shirt, skirt, and sandals to church, all in vibrant colors, and be deemed by chruch culture as being dressed in “sunday best,” but men are regulated only, culturally, to the suit, tie, and loafers that cover the whole foot, regardless of climate, all often in dark colors. The same goes for the missionaries. The sisters can wear what they please, having more freedom to express their individuality and dress according to their comfort, while the Elders have one choice and one choice only: suit, tie, loafers. It’s a cultural practice not based on any doctrine, but cemented in people’s minds nonetheless to the point where they think its doctrine, and it’s something that is quite unfair, unequal, and that needs changing, I feel.

    One simple thing Mormons could do to improve the culture drastically that wasn’t mentioned in your article would be to simply do one simple thing: adhere all day, every day to the Mormon Creed of “mind your own business.” Brigham Young is alleged to have said:
    “Let us observe the “Mormon Creed” – let everyone mind their own business. Everyone has weeds enough in his own garden to attend to without attending to the weeds in his neighbor’s garden, for while you are attending to the weeds of your neighbor, those in your own will grow very thick and tall and will finally spoil the good seed.”
    –Brigham Young, February 6, 1853, The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 2:618.

    For too long I though I was the only one who understood the bit of Elder Uchtdorf’s talk “4 Titles” on being Disciples of Christ the way you also understand it to mean, but I’m glad others are starting to see this too and apply it to all aspects of life, like you have.

    If you see someone at church or a member around town dressed or looking differently in a way you might think is odd or contrary to “norm,” go out of your way to say hi to that person and compliment them on what they are wearing, the way they look, even if you wouldn’t particularly wear what they are wearing, for it probably took them a lot of courage to get up that morning and go out they way they felt comfortable, despite it being different for the “norm.” Make them feel appreciated and wanted, and aside from complimenting them on what they are wearing, just don’t bring up how they look at all if you don’t wish to compliment them on how they look. This will help make them feel more accepted and appreciated. Before you judge something about someone or something in general, be 100% sure you have true doctrine to back you up in your judgement and fall back on when explaining your reasons for judging. These few, simple things will drastically change Church culture quite quickly.

    • I also have Tourette Syndrome, but my issue is with siting still through the meetings and staying focused for the three hour block. I’m okay with the suit and tie, but I used to skip out of Sunday School and leave the chapel after the Sacrament was passed to let me get through the block. Where I really burned out is when I started having sleep troubles on Saturday nights, then had to attend meetings before church then have to wait around afterwards because my ride was sought after for help with family history. With a long drive both ways, the day became too long to handle. Now battling depression and with my sleep issues getting worse, the prospect of even longer days is just too much for me.

      • Great to meet another ticker, gnarrflinger! What does you’re TS consist of mostly? Apparently you must have to endure a lot of motor tics, from your description. Where do you experience most of your tics? Does your TS affect your sleep as well? I used to have foot and toe tics that kept me awake until the wee hours of the morning, and I remember pacing the house just trying to distract myself from the tics, which prevented me from sleeping. I know your struggles very well and empathize with you. Are your motor tics painful as well, in that they strain your muscles? I have developed I think arthritis or carpal tunnel in my wrist due to a wrist tic that makes me strain my muscles so hard it bruises everything in my wrist on one side and makes it extremely painful to move, which is not a good sign as I am a guitar player.

        I understand and know exactly what you go through with having to sit still for 3 hours. I also have the exact same problem, due to my TS. I too have to take periodic breaks, both during and between hours at church and at school, where I must get up and walk around for a little while. Sometimes I can cope with standing at the back of the room or in the chapel during Sacrament, but if it’s hot in the chapel, I don’t really stand a chance. I don’t frequent the chapel here in Scotland where I’m living right now for school on Sundays because it is always way too hot; so I sit in the hall near the door where its cooler or go into the YSA room where there is audio form the chapel and I open the window. We must all do what we can to focus on learning from church on Sundays and elsewhere, and that means doing what we must to cope, despite it being different from what others do, and this should not merit any judgement from others. For you and I, that means moving around, or fidgeting with something in our hands. I used to bring a tech deck mini finger skateboard with everywhere I went because it helped distract me from my tics and helped me survive whatever I had to sit thru. My TS struggle has taught me great empathy, patience, and non-judgmental-ness, and this has come into great play in my studies in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), AKA, ESL, where individual learner differences are very important and must be taken into account when teaching and learning. I have finally discovered just within the last two days what I wish to do for my Master’s dissertation now in my field, thanks to my struggles with TS; I would like to do something pedagogically related regarding differentiation/individual differences in language education and somehow tie in TS. Not quite sure yet how I’m going to do that, but I have a focus now.

        Keep doing what you need to make yourself comfortable and survive/cope; there is no shame in that. I find simply explaining to people why you do things the way you do helps put them and their judgements at ease most of the time. But, there will always be those who can’t or won’t understand, which make life quite hard. But, remember, God has to deal with those people too, them being His own children, and our having to deal with them and learn patience makes us more like the Deity.

        I find these words from Elder Hales very inspiring when dealing with judgmental or otherwise offensive and culture driven members at church and elsewhere in life:

        “When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage.”

        This our duty in our responsive behavior to those who are unjust to us, as followers of Christ.

        • I compare my case to an all you can eat buffet. You get a little bit of everything, but without paying attention, you’ve piled up your plate to the point where it’s hard to balance it and it’s kind of heavy getting it back to the table. I think I have a bit of every symptom out there, and the whole is more troubling than the sum of the parts.

  9. Thank you for your post. To see people thinking this way gives me hope for the future of the church. It’s clear that for a number of readers your remarks have hit a nerve, something I interpret as evidence of how important and needed your ideas are. Keep up the good work!

  10. As for the R-rated movies thing, the current leaders have made mention of movies in For the Strength of Youth. “Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable.” While they don’t specifically cite R-rate movies, you cannot find an R-rated movie without any of that. It nixes most PG-13 movies as well.

    • Please stop this . . . The point of this article was stop using doctrines of god as weapons in your culture wars

      • I think in this case, the poster was using the rating system to weed out movies with such content. I find that the rating system is becoming more permissive every day, so that piece of culture may be unsatisfactory in terms of doctrine. At some point you just have to live, fight the influences around us and rely on Christ to forgive our shortcomings…

    • I don’t watch rated R movies either, but I think it’s very important to not judge those who do. I made an exception for “Saving Private Ryan,” and I’m glad that I did. I majored in history and I don’t think that movie “presented violence as acceptable” at all. Instead, it showed was war can really be like: difficult, violent, scary, etc. It showed what those who have fought for freedom have actually been through.

      I’ve heard it said that the exception to the rule generally proves the rule, and I think that was the case with that movie. I have heard of other movies (not many) that follow that same standard. I have made the mistake of watching 3 other rated R movies in my adult life, and they all left me feeling “icky.”

      As for how movies have changed? I do think that the standards have gotten worse overall, but in the 80’s, when I grew up, there wasn’t a PG-13 rating. Some of the PG rated movies from back then are as bad, in some cases, as some R movies today. It’s definitely not a perfect rating system. Trivia tidbit: did you know that “Saints and Soldiers” was going to get an R rating? I can’t remember how they resolved it.

      To have the best luck convincing those you care about to not watch inappropriate movies, I think it’s best to do it the way you’d want someone else to correct you. Do it with love and concern, when it’s your stewardship (or they’ve asked your opinion) and not from a place of pride. It’s a lifelong struggle/goal for all of us to be able to do that with any weaknesses we have and those of others. Don’t assume that you’re better than they are.

      • I’m pretty sure that the Saints and Soldiers pulled it off basically by arguing with the MPAA, making a few slight edits and throwing money at the MPAA. From what I understand, the film barely changed at all.

      • Because these comments are quite lengthy, and my previous comments not read, will repeat myself here. Most, 99% okay, R rated movies are completely unacceptable (to me) under this standard as currently described in For the Strength of Youth (which is a pretty good source for our leaders “current” advice). And yes, the “R” letter isn’t mentioned there. And yes, some, probably most, PG-13 movies are unacceptable as well. IT IS AN INDIVIDUAL CHOICE best made personally seeking the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

        As mentioned, Saving Private Ryan is an example of the exceptional 1% (or whatever % it actually is). A few others would be Schindler’s List which gets its R rating from very adult, very serious and from very necessary detail in order to convey the atrocity that was the Holocaust and is CONTINUING instances of genocide in our world. And The Passion of Christ; crucifixion and the events surrounding the end of the Savior’s mortal life were violent, and being there (or imagining, appreciating His sacrifice) would be graphic. A great film. The King’s Speech has been noted here; another worthwhile, uplifting film. In Braveheart we see conviction and integrity, as well as bravery; but, especially the film is a treatise on war when it was personal, hand-to-hand and not sanitized by guns, missiles, drones and bombs.

    • “For the strength of the Youth” made great mention of what to avoid specifically for a youth’s developing and maturing brain. A [assumed] mature adult watching an R movie with some immoral or violent scenes will cope with, understand, and perceive what they are watching in a much different way. Just something to think about..

    • Dear Truthseekr,,,,,.,. um.,.,,,.,., Are trying to use the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet to assert that the church has stated R-rated movies should never be watched? If you are,.,.,.,um,.,., then please step back and really try to realize … . . THIS. IS. THE. PROBLEM. People making statements tying one behavior to a more general church statement.

      • DrRDOlson, step off man, that guy is just saying what he feels and who are you to tel hi to shut up? Just step off and take your own advice. Let others act and believe how they will right? Quit hating people because they are different than you.

  11. I enjoyed this very much. I know there is a culture within the church.
    I know from personal experience that as my testimony strengthened and enlarged that I walked away from many of the things you pointed out that exist in Mormon Culture. I feel closer to my Savior and more in-tune with the promptings of the spirit. It took my son being seriously injured in the MTC to see how damaging the culture of the church could be. Members going as far as saying if he had been more righteous he would have been protected. Our family feeling rejected by many. As you find yourself in trials and you allow yourself to rely on Heavenly Father and Christ’s Atonement, I have found, many too come to the realization that Doctrine is what our membership in the church is about. I have more compassion, love, and patience with those around me. I love many of the comments to this post. They have increased my testimony! Is it not amazing that when we are taught by the Holy Ghost that we all come to the same understanding! I am grateful for a prophet and apostles that teach us doctrine!

  12. I feel that you have hit this perfectly. I wish the church was more like the way you are saying it should be. Very well written!

  13. Many have this vision of Zion as a place where everyone is exactly the same. The seems more like some strange hell to me. My vision of Zion is like a song that we all sing in harmony. some bass, some tenor, some alto, some soprano, and even some variants in there for good measure. All different notes swelling together in a wonderful harmonious and diverse Zion.

  14. Just so everybody knows, the comments on this post are closing out in two days. So get any last ideas in. Your comments have been awesome, and I hope that you will read and comment on any future posts.

  15. Zachary, good post. I’m teaching a lesson in Priesthood today based on Elder Uchtdorf’s talk with the quote on diversity you cited. Considering the passionate comments your post generated I’m wondering if that’s now a good idea 😃

    • That was 1986. This is 2015 I’ve seen way cleaner r rated movies than there are some pg-13 just because it’s not rated r doesn’t mean it’s ok. I’d rather see American sniper than dumb and dumber too.

      • Doesn’t negate what President Benson said though I hate whem people disregard that! Some might be ignorant others ignore saying different time does mean it is not still important!

      • I think the rating system is insufficient, but I still don’t watch R-rated movies. Even though the statement was 30 years ago, IMO the standards have gotten more lax, meaning there are 1986 R-rated movies that are cleaner than some 2015 PG-13. I prefer to use the the kids-in-mind website system. It ranks and provides great detail on sex, violence, language, and drug use.

  16. Just because you support your culture does not mean your an apostate. By the way, J. Golden Kimball, drank coffee plus many other people in the SLC area.
    You nailed it right on, brother! Sorry for those people who will not open their minds.
    Yes,we all come from different backgrounds, we need to remember to “do the best we can,” a quote I remember from Pres. Hinkley.
    Stay strong, don’t let others knock you for your opinion which is a lot better than many members of the church in the valley.
    Good on you.

  17. “We are losing many homosexual members because in church meetings we are focusing less on helping them understand what they can do with their feelings ”

    This sounds kind of condescending. Do you mean a bunch of heterosexuals are most qualified to tell homosexuals what they can do with their feelings?

      • There are members of the church who are homosexual. A person can be homosexual without having sex (violating the law of chastity) and are thus in full fellowship in the church. One’s sexual orientation is entirely independent of one’s sex life. I was heterosexual before I had sex.

      • Of course homosexuals can have membership in the church, as long as they are living within the Gospel Standards.The same goes for heterosexuals. In order to have full membership in the church and qualify for a temple recommend you must live the law of chastity regardless of your sexual orientation. We had a good friend who was a homosexual who converted to the church while I lived in the Midwest. This is a perfect example of culture vs. doctrine.

      • Sorry Dan but you are incorrect. Someone who identifies as having homosexaul feelings is more than welcome to be a member of the church and have membership The only time a problem arises is when those feelings are acted upon. No one in the church is perfect. We all have faults and problems to overcome. I am an inactive member of the church and what was said in this article is so true. There very much is a Mormnon culture and it can be very judging and alienating. Maybe there should be a sign put out the front of all chapels saying, ” All Non perfect smoking drinking fornicating inperfect members and non members welcome” The church is suppose to be about helping us on our journey back to Heavenly Father not judging us for not being perfect when we attend church.

      • Still working my way through new comments to this blog. So others may have already corrected you. Not only are there homosexual members of the Church, but there are homosexual temple recommend holders and those who hold callings — including in bishoprics (since I know one) and perhaps bishops, stake presidents… maybe even general authorities. Again, there is NOTHING sinful about same sex attraction. Just as with heterosexual attraction, the sin occurs when acting intimately outside the bonds of marriage; breaking the law of chastity.

  18. Zachary,
    I’d like to start by saying that I appreciate your tone in this article. It is very careful and clearly you are trying to be helpful, not hurtful. It is rare to see a blog post about “Mormon culture” that is so diplomatic, even from professed members of the LDS church.

    That being said, I’d like to, in the same manner, take issue with the theme of the post. While I don’t deny that there is a culture that is unique to the heavily LDS populated areas of Utah, I do think that it is deceiving to call this “Mormon Culture”. If it were so, you would see the same habits performed in all wards and meeting houses wherever LDS members meet, and that is simply not the case.

    I believe that what you are referring to is actually Utah culture, and that culture naturally seeps into the meeting houses of the LDS members in the area. Utah is a highly conservative state, but that does not mean that being conservative is “Mormon Culture”.

    My concern is that by applying political cultures to the LDS Church, you are in fact not helping the problem, but increasing it. Such things as people preaching opinions as doctrine is not “Mormon culture”, and calling it so degrades the intentions of the LDS Church and its members. I’m not saying that these problems don’t exist, or that you shouldn’t be writing about them. What I am saying is that this post titled “4 Ways That We Can Fix Mormon Culture” should more truthfully be title “4 Mistakes That Some LDS Members Make That You Shouldn’t Take Personally Because They Aren’t Perfect People” (though that is a bit of a mouthful). By making blanket statements claiming that this is how LDS members behave in a general sense (keep in mind, “Mormon Culture” is the blanket statement I’m talking about here), you are giving ammunition to those who seek to degrade the LDS Church Organization as a whole, or seek to condemn its members, and provide specific rallying points for those who are trying to convince themselves or others that the LDS Church is not for them.

    Let me be clear and state that I was born and raised in “Happy Valley” Utah, and live there still, but have spent significant amounts of time in areas outside of the “bubble”. What I have witnessed in my years is that these instances, these cases that you bring up, are extremely rare, and even, I would guess in most cases, predictable. You know which members of your ward will act in such ways, and you can probably count them on your own hands, if you even need both of them. In a ward of hundreds, that puts them at a very slim minority.

    In my experience you will not find a more accepting crowd of individuals of varying opinions, hobbies, and backgrounds, that congregate for a united purpose of showing love and kindness to all around them, no matter what labels the society of men have placed on them (or that they have willing put on themselves), than members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. THAT is LDS Culture. That is the experience you will find when you walk into an LDS Meeting house in Tokyo, Toronto, Miami, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, or any place on this planet, in any country, any society or culture, whether or not you are a member. This is LDS Culture because this is how LDS doctrine teaches us to live.

    LDS Culture is one of realizing that none of us are perfect, but we can all help each other become a little more so through tolerance, patience, service, forgiveness, and love. Does that mean that each member or investigator will only have positive experiences? Actually, it practically ensures that they will not, because of the first statement that none of us are perfect. But anyone, current member or or not, who keeps that statement in mind, and summarily dismisses the negative opinions, words, and actions of those members who exhibit such imperfections (aka “not take things personally”), will find that the true LDS Culture needs no fixing. There’s no doubt that LDS members need fixing, but then again, that’s why we’re here.

    “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” Matthew 9:12

    • Thank you Deehan for commenting the above, I agree with you that if this really were “Mormon Culture” than you would see it in many wards, but like you said, that is not the case. I live in Indiana, and I rarely see this, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but it is very rare. I also agree that we as members may not be perfect, but that is what we came here for. We were sent here to work hard and to follow the steps of our Savior and return to our Heavenly Father.

    • I have to disagree with you. Having lived in several wards myself and having heard stories from many others what you say isn’t Mormon culture in fact is and this is outside of utah. The politics part isn’t but one truth that I have come to learn is that we may be kind and loving to others that are not lds but we are harshest and most judgmental against each other and that is where I feel he is coming from. I loved every bit of this article. I did not feel that he was once off on any of it. I am young and I can see it and have seen it too many times. We do all of these things. I completely understand that we are not perfect. That church isn’t a house of perfect people but a hospital for sinners but when it comes to each other we like to brush things off and judge each other or think we’ll we are right and they are wrong when in truth there could be different aspects than we realize. I think that he did an excellent job on conveying that.

      • Maria,
        Simply because something happens does not make it “cultural”. It is the acceptance or expectation of a thing happening that makes it a part of a culture. As an extreme example, people in the USA sometimes murder other people, but that does not make murder part of our culture. Citizens of the USA look poorly on murder, it is therefore the case that murderers are the abnormal members of society, and working against our culture of “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. As a non-extreme example, in some countries people greet each other with a kiss on the cheek(s). For them it is normal, but if you were to try that in the USA you would probably get sued for sexual assault. Thus this way of greeting is a cultural thing in some places, and not in others, because in some it is looked at as a positive thing, and in others a negative.

        When we speak of these negative things happening in the LDS Church, that does not mean they are part of our “culture”. The fact that people here are posting their negative views on these things happening, and no one is defending the right of people to act in such ways, means that those who do these things are the abnormal members of LDS society who are working (in these cases, for the most part I would assume, unknowingly and unintentionally) against our culture.

        So the question, therefore, is: Do you, as an LDS member, accept these behaviors as normal and expected, or as rare extremes that are looked down upon? If it is the former, then I suppose you are part of the problem =). If it is the later, then the fact remains that it is not part of LDS Culture.

        Again, I will reiterate, I do not take issue with talking about these problems and potential solutions. I take issue with calling them “Mormon Culture” because they are not part of our culture, and calling them so demeans our true culture. Would any citizen of the USA appreciate being told that rape, murder, and theft are just part of “American Culture”?

  19. When someone says that a population must change to meet their needs, it brings questions to my mind. There’s a lot of popular psychology behind some of the concepts presented, and I’d like to discuss them in relation to the article. At the center of the concepts presented, although not spoken of, is offence. The author talks of people being offended by members of the Church. The fact is that no one can offend another. Offence is something that you choose or not. One person can say the same thing with the same thought behind it to two people, and one can be offended and one may not be. The originator has no say in whether offense is taken. We often jump to assume offence regardless of the other person’s intent. It’s our own fault and we can control it. Leo Buscaglia, an author and motivational speaker told the story of driving on a mountain road. A lady drives around the corner and she yells at him “Pig!” as she goes by. “How dare she!” “She’s a horrible person!” are the thoughts going through his mind. So he yells back at her “Hog!.” Shortly he rounds the corner where she came from, and almost hits a pig standing in the road way.
    To put this in the context of the article, my father smokes. A big violation of the Word of Wisdom. He smoked before we were baptized, and our Bishop, trying to be helpful, told him not to worry about it, to go ahead and get baptized and work to overcome it when he can. The problem was that whenever my Dad went to Church, he just knew everyone was judging him. But that wasn’t true – at least not on most peoples’ part. It was his assumption about the others. It was a chip on his shoulders for years. It became the focus of his faith. He would find the problems others had and suggest that they were worse than him so why should he get judged. Except, remember, that he wasn’t. He was his own harshest critic. It kept him out of Church. Could the Church have done more to make him feel welcome? Maybe. But would it have mattered? Until he gave others the chance to know him, he remained outside.
    Pop culture has twisted our focus on ourselves, and we feel judged. We rarely give others a chance to know us and get past it. It’s not the culture that’s problematic, it’s our feelings about ourselves and our faith. When we focus on service to others, the judgment that we the think others have for us goes away.

    • Rick,
      I don’t agree with the original post 100% (do any of us agree 100% ever?) but yes, sometimes “the church” or at least a part of it makes mistakes, or we wouldn’t have leaders who correct us. I think the recent Public Relations announcement where several leaders spoke is a good example. I think all of us need correction and we take turns being the ones that need correcting. Sometimes I need it more than I have at other times. There have been general conference talks that acknowledge that every ward and branch has its own strengths and weaknesses that can be different from other wards and branches.

      And when it comes to being offended, we are commanded to both learn not to take offense and to try to learn how not to give offense. I doubt that any person who has posted here has not been on both sides of that. We’ll probably all struggle with it (in my opinion and experience) most of our lives. If we could all be more forgiving it would probably be great. If we could work on our pride….same thing. I hope I’m making sense.

    • Oh no. I just randomly chose it. I will change it right away. I didn’t even realize I did that. I am going to change it right away. I am really sorry about that.

    • Ok fixed it. I am really sorry. I did not mean to imply at all that you are teaching false doctrine at all. I love your message and you have really inspired me. I changed the image. Please accept my sincere apologies.

      • Don’t say sorry. It’s ok. I really don’t mind when people use the picture at all, just prefer if they ask. Glad that it could be an inspiration to all who entertain the story. You can change it back if you want! Just want to make sure people don’t think I was teaching false doctrines! 🙂

        • I think I’ll keep it with the different picture. I just want to make sure that people aren’t confused into thinking that you are teaching false doctrine. I wouldn’t want that.

          This is my first time with any sort of popular post so I totally didn’t think of asking permission. Definitely something I need to do.

          You guys are great. Thanks for reading my blog as well.

  20. Mormon culture is a natural expression of the doctrine. When Mormonism gives up its legalistic doctrine ( a cup of tea will keep you out of the temple, but saturated fat and cholesterol won’t) for a real relationship with the merciful, true, and living Christ, the culture will become less legalistic and judgmental.

    • John, I found your comment hurtful and not constructive. I do not find Mormon culture to be a natural outgrowth of the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – it is one of many possible cultures which could grow around it. The doctrine of the church is correct – a cup of tea represents disdain for prophetic council – that is what will keep you out of the temple. While many Mormons could benefit from a closer relationship with the Savior, the Church overall has a very close relationship with Him.

      • It sounds like what you are saying is that there is nothing intrinsically evil about drinking a cup of tea. It sounds like you are saying that prophets make up arbitrary rules to test our desire to obey their counsel.

    • We can be friends!

      Seriously though, this is unfortunately what happens on every LDS opinion article. Church members are a passionate bunch (many of them are willing to give up two years of their lives for the gospel) so any opinion is a potential challenge to our faith. If you disagree with any article then it seems like your way of life is under attack. And so any comment section On an LDS opinion article turns into personal and doctrinal attacks. It’s hard. I know some of my responses to people’s comments have been full of snark. The good thing is though, as mean as some comments are, I always think that it’s nice to see how passionate people are about their religion.

    • He’s not. People are leaving the church over stuff like this. Just because it doesn’t affect YOU doesn’t mean it’s invalid. Personally, I like that someone is finally saying what a lot of us are thinking – the church needs more diversity. The only people that oppose that are the ones who aren’t actually interested in getting more people back to Heavenly Father, they just want their white washed club to remain the same and expect anyone who comes in to conform.

  21. I find a big issue in all of this, first I’m an ex member, reasons because the book of Mormon contradicting the bible. It’s doctrine is separate teaching from a man named Joseph Smith, rather than the doctrine given by our Lord. People say the bible is corrupted from the church… If that were the case you’re calling God a lier… And if it weren’t for the Bible where in the work would the BOM be in the first place. Having 478 verses taken word for word from Isaiah and other parts of the bible. Why use the same proverbial during the time of Joseph Smith. Who do you believe him or Jesus? Bible says nothing about godhood. Or a heavenly mother, no hint of it. As a matter of fact several scripture says in the bible he has done it alone threw Jesus… He never had a body of flesh…. Says it in the bible… Mormons I love you even though I’m Christian, as Christ forgives you for you know not.

    • So you aren’t a Mormon you just want to come onto an LDS blog and arrogantly tell us how wrong we all are. How classy. I’m being sarcastic – how pompous and self-important. Do you seriously have nothing better to do than to go onto blogs of other faiths and be like “You’re wrong and this is why.” I can’t imagine being that smug and judgemental – how about you go to your church and do your thing and let US worry about ours, word? Bye, Felicia.
      Now, Zachary – this is fabulous. I’m a ward missionary and I have been pondering how to reach out to less actives and every reason I am being given for people not being more active is culture – not doctrine. People have told me I’m a bad Mormon because I’m a Democrat and a friend to the gay community. Hogwash. My best friend on earth is also transgendered and none of that will keep me from the temple. I have sent this article to our mission leader and he loved it – I’m also printing it up for the Sister missionaries serving in the ward. Thank you for this.

      • You go to the doorsteps of the world and tell people they are wrong, just in a nice way. (All their creeds are an abomination, God says.)

    • Actually, The Bible prophesies of the Book Of Mormon. In Isaiah, In Genesis, and other books in the Old Testament. FYI it wasn’t Jesus who wrote the Bible. It was the People he called as Prophets. One of them was Joseph Smith. (FYI Mormons study from both B of M and the Bible.) It was the affects of the Council of Nicea that made everyone think their couldn’t be any more scripture, not actual prophets. and if you don’t think you learn anything about Godhood or Heavenly Mother in the Bible, then you must be reading it wrong, because that is where most of the doctrine comes from when we talk about it.

      • I never said Jesus wrote it but the doctrine he had already given us, this to us prophesied, Galatians 1:6-10 ESV / look also in KJV

        I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

      • Look im not trying to argue but send out what I believe is true, sound familiar. If the church was perfect there wouldn’t be such a problem of confusion with “culture” and “doctrine”. There our over 60 “books” in the bible itself. A few that were sealed. I don’t think it was BOM when it’s teaching a totally different doctrine.

      • Mark 7:6-9 ESV

        And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

      • 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 ESV / 32 helpful votes

        For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds

        • Ezekiel 13:6 ESV / 23 helpful votes

          They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.

      • I have no idea what you got the council of Nicea idea from, probably from the lds church itself of course. Here’s words straight from Jesus Christ’s mouth himself written by his last apostle.

        Revelation 22:18–19

        18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

        • Here’s a couple of facts for you that doesn’t come the LDS Church (IE you get this from any accredited divinity school, ivy league or educated place), but certainly known to LDS scholars. The “Bible”, that “Holy Bible” is a collection of books or manuscripts or scrolls (whatever) written by multiple authors at multiple times… it’s a collection created long after that authorship. It isn’t in any way complete. Allowing that divine inspiration led to its assembly (agreed), it remains a collection of books where it happens that Revelations is the last book bound with it. But AFTER John wrote those closing remarks about this book, that is LATER, he wrote what is the fourth book in the New Testament and by far the one most dear to Christianity — The Gospel of John.

          To reiterate and make this clear, he is at most referring to the Book of Revelations with this oft quoted, misinterpreted passage.

    • Bible person, you’ve made a few things clear. That misinformation, disinformation, misunderstanding and a lack of information is where you’re coming from.
      There’s just too many holes in your statement to bother with being it’s on such a basic level meaning it’s not that confusing or complex. Even never-been Mormons disagree with you.
      Only based on experience I’ve seen in others do I suggest you begin with more accurate research and clear up the misunderstandings first.
      One way to do that is ‘Ask the owner’. If you want to know something ask the one who owns that information.

      • MORMONISM vs. CHRISTIANITY

        Mormons consider themselves Christian? Here’s more info for you then.
        • = Christian Response

        MORMON THEOLOGY CHRISTIAN RESPONSE
        The Church has 4 Standard Works that are authoritative: The Bible (in so far as it is translated correctly), the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. Speeches and writings of the current president of the church are also authoritative. The Bible is far below the other standard Works because it is full of errors (wherever it disagrees with Mormon doctrine).
        bullet The only authoritative scriptures given by God are the 39 books of the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible. God promised to preserve his word and to suggest that the Bible was mistranslated and corrupted would be to call God a liar. If God were to give additional revelations they would be consistent with any prior revelations thus eliminating Mormon writings, since they stand in direct opposition to the divine revelation that has already been given in the Bible.

        One God

        There are many Gods. Brigham Young-Journal of Discourses 7:333 “How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods.
        • There is only one God. (Dt 6:4; 33:26-27; Isa 43:10; 45:5; 46:9; 1Ti 2:5)

        The Nature of God
        God the Father is an exalted man (a man who has progressed to godhood) with a body of flesh and bones.
        Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1973 ed., p. 346 – “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man…I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in a form-like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man.”

        D & C 130:22 “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also.”

        • The Bible is most explicit in stating that God is not a man (Nu 23:19; 1Sa 15:29; Hos 11:9). God the Father, the eternal God is Spirit (Isa 55:8-9; 6:1-5; 57:15; Pss 90:2; 113:5-6; 123:1; Jn 4:24: 8:23) Jesus said that a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Lk 24:39)

        God the Father became a God after learning truth, aggressively pursuing godhood, and being obedient to the laws of the gospel.
        bullet God the Father has always existed as such (Dt 33:27; Isa 43:10; 44:6; 45:5, 21; 46:9; Mal 3:6; 1Co 8:4; 1Ti 2:5; Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13).

        • As Psalms 90:2 and 93:2 state, God has been God “from eternity to eternity.”

        God the Father has a wife, through whom he procreates spirit children.
        “Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of an Eternal Mother. An exalted and glorified Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57) could not be a Father unless a Woman of like glory, perfection, and holiness was associated with him as a Mother” (Mormon Doctrine, 1977 ed., p. 516)

        • The Godhead determined to make man in their image, not to procreate spirit children (Ge 1:26). Nowhere does Scripture even hint at the existence of an Eternal Mother.

        God is not a uniquely eternal being. All spirit is self-existent matter and is eternal (without beginning or end). Such “matter (called intelligences) sometimes becomes organized into a spirit being through birth to celestial parents. Then that spirit is born through human parents on earth. Like all people, God took this course and eventually reached Godhood.
        God would stop being God if intelligences stopped supporting him as God.

        (D&C 93:29, 33; Abraham 3:18-23; Mormon Doctrine, 1977 ed. p. 751)

        • God is not God unless He is all-powerful, all knowing, absolutely in charge. If God exists only as God because of support given from other intelligent forms, He is not God at all (Isa 44:6; Ro 3:4; Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13)

        • God is unchangingly omnipotent, and no purpose of His can be thwarted. He is not overruled by anyone (Ge 17:1; Job 36:22-23; 42:2; Isa 14:26-27; 40:13-14; Jer 32:27; Mt 19:26; Lk 1:37; Ac 17:24-25; Rev 19:6)

        Man and Sin
        Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be” (D&C 93:29)
        Life, intelligence, mind, the ‘light of truth’ , or whatever name one gives to the center of the personality of man, is an uncreated, eternally existent, indestructible entity…In the first stage, man was an eternally existent being termed an intelligence…The next realm where man dwelt was the spirit world….eternally-existing intelligences were clothed with spirit bodies…numerous sons and daughters were begotten and born of heavenly parents into that eternal family in the spirit world” (The Gospel Through the ages, pp.126-127)

        • Man is a finite being, not an eternal one. The first man Adam was created at a specific point in time (Ge 1:26-27; 2:7; 1Co 15:45-49). Man did not exist in the beginning when God was creating the universe, for if he had, God’s question to Job would have made no sense (Job 38:4). Man was created lower than the angels, so that David wondered why God is even mindful of him (Ps 8:3-5; 144:3). Not a single verse in the Bible suggests that God has a wife, but Isaiah 44:24 explicitly says that the Lord made all things by Himself. Moreover, several passages in Isaiah indicate that there is only one God and there is none beside Him (44:8; 45:6) or like Him (46:9).

        “…these spirit children were organized, possessing divine, eternal, and godlike attributes, inherited from their Heavenly Father and Mother. There in the spirit world they were reared to maturity, becoming grown spirit men and women prior to coming upon this earth” (The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 127).
        “Jesus is man’s spiritual brother. We dwelt with Him in the spirit world as members of that large society of eternal intelligences, which included our Heavenly Parents and all the personages who have become mortal beings upon this earth or who ever shall come here to dwell…Jesus was the ‘firstborn,’ and so He is our eldest brother” (Ibid., p.21)

        • Jesus was and is Almighty God from everlasting to everlasting. He is the creator of all that exists and is “firstborn” over all creation in the sense that He is the preeminent originator of life and the universe (Mic 5:2; Ps 90:2; Jn 1:1-3; Ac 3:14-15; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2). This meaning for the word “firstborn” can be understood by comparing Genesis 41:51-52, which states that Manasseh was Joseph’s “firstborn” son while Ephraim was the second, with Jeremiah 31:9, where God calls Ephraim the “firstborn.” Obviously, “firstborn” does not always mean the one literally born first.

        Death and sin came through the fall of Adam and Eve. But their deed was not actually a “sin.” It was really a blessing because it enabled man to continue progressing on toward eternal life. “They (the Christian world) have been long taught that Adam and Eve were great transgressors…We, the children of Adam….should rejoice with them, that through their fall and the atonement of Jesus Christ, the way of eternal life has been opened up to us” (Articles of Faith, p. 476)
        • Rejoicing is hardly the proper response to Adam’s sin. Because of that sin, both Adam and Eve died spiritually and their physical bodies began to deteriorate. Eve was given pain and sorrow in child-bearing, Adam was required to work and sweat in order to eat, the entire creation was cursed, they were thrown out of the Garden forever, and the entire human race was destined to be born dead in sins and children of god’s wrath by nature. To rejoice in the fall of man is to embrace Satan’s lie. It was Satan who deceived Eve by convincing her that sin was good and would bring her knowledge and reward. (Ge 3:16-24; Ro 3:23; 5:12-15, 17-19; 8:19-22 Eph 2:1-5; 1Jn 3:4)

        The Doctrine of Salvation
        Christ’s death on the cross (the atonement) canceled the penalty of death imposed on ALL men through Adam’s sin, thereby ensuring that all men would be redeemed – resurrected and given immortality (the reuniting of spirit with body)-as a gift.
        “If there had been no atonement, temporal death would have remained forever, and there never would have remained forever, and there never would have been a resurrection. The body would have remained forever in the grave” (Mormon Doctrine, 1977 ed., p.63)

        “Redemption from death, through the sufferings of Christ, is for all men, both the righteous and the wicked” (Ibid., p. 65)

        “Immortality is a free gift which comes by grace alone without works on man’s part” (Ibid., p. 377)

        • Not everyone is blessed through Christ’s crucifixion. Only those who accept His sacrifice and surrender themselves to Him (Ro 10:9) will receive the benefit of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is forgiveness of sins (Ac 10:43) and salvation (Ro 3:24). Eternal life “in Christ,” and not just simply eternal existence through resurrection, is the gift offered by God to humanity (Ro 6:23). This gift is obtainable only by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-10).

        • Jesus’ death serves to reconcile all believers to God (Ro 5:10). In dying, Jesus broke down the wall of separation between us and God that was present through man’s disobedience to the Law (Eph 2:11-22)

    • bibleistheonlytruth4ever…..I am also an ex-member and was going to say pretty much the same thing you did. I didn’t leave because of the “Mormon culture” but because i had some REALLY big issues with the doctrine itself. I loved being LDS, it was the HARDEST decision I have ever had to make to remove my name. I had friends, family, and complete strangers who would always be there to help me whenever I needed it…..but in the end I knew it was all a lie I had been telling myself my entire life. It took me about 5 years (and a lot of praying, studying, and crying) to finally admit the truth to myself, and another 2 to make sure I wasnt making the wrong choice before I left. There is one thing I learned through that whole thing. You can’t make people change their opinions. Unless they want to know the truth and find it for themselves it is pointless to even try. Just like my family trying to keep me from leaving….as soon as I knew the truth I couldn’t forget it, no matter what I did, and they couldn’t convince me it was wrong. to each their own. I however changed my mind after I read the article (disagreeing with it) I still think the doctrine is….less than accurate but the things in this article would actually help. A LOT. People will still leave, people will still join. But it would help make the members who feel ostracized feel more comfortable and accepted. That, imho, is never a bad thing.

      • Munky54 I love what you said and you’re right. I’ll hold my tongue…and Humble my self. I can’t change anything unless they chose to.

        • Man… I was only a member of the LDS church for 3 weeks then I walked in with a. Staff and told he bishop your a church is false and sighed the papers to leave immediately. Then walked out with my staff and white bible. I’m also blood brother too bibletruth4ever i think I spelt it right. He told me about this blog.

        • Bibleistheonlytruth4ever….I never said hold your tongue. Just because they don’t/won’t listen doesn’t mean its not worth trying. As far as I’m concerned if I get even one person to start asking questions and ACTUALLY searching for the answers (not the standard “read the scriptures and pray” but REALLY look for the answers) then all the arguments will be worth it. Besides, I’ve been reading some of your comments on here and I have to say you are much better at explaining things than I am. lol

  22. Actually, the Church of Jesus Christ does NOT profess “…to have the complete gospel truth…” The church of Jesus Christ professes “… that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

  23. I completely agree with the points made in this article. The culture of the church drives people away from striving to live the doctrine of the church. With that being said, this is my reply regarding the people who live lifestyles not completely in line with the doctrine of the church. The church is a place full of people striving for perfection, and because no one is perfect, when you are gay straight, an infidel, drug addict or any other form of imperfection, you are going to feel insecure because of those imperfections, and this does not mean that you are always being judged when you enter a church building. Imperfection breeds insecurity. So continue to do your best and strive to be better, and realize that being judgmental is an imperfection of that individual and is no different than yours. So as an imperfect drug addict, we must love the judger of persons for their imperfection just as they must love us in ours.

    • So well said, Troy. To be like Christ we must FORGIVE! Our perception of others’ actions and motives is often incorrect. Remembering this fact prevents a lot of hurt feelings. Just let it go, and do something kind.

  24. Thank you for the article. I agree with so much of what you’re saying and I’m glad you were able to articulate it. It is scary to state opinions like these because that very culture can cause a violent backlash from some people.

  25. so I have just finished reading a grate personal development book called “Through His eyes rethinking what you believe about yourself” its by Virginia H. Pearce, other authors like Sherri Dew, Cathy Chamberlin and , Emily Watts and others helped with its construction.
    Its about all the beliefs (abut ourselves, others, the world) that we store up in our mind, that are either True with a capital T (based on eternal truths) partial truths or lies. These beliefs are what influence our choices, thoughts, actions, and emotions and behaviours (interpretations, expectations) that follow.
    This book helps us declutter and recatigorise our beliefs and the way we discern things so we can think clearer, resolve life’s challenges in a more effective, positive light so we can discard the half-truths and lies that may be hindering our progression and grater happiness.

  26. I just read your update:
    “The comments below have helped me realize something that was not very clear in this article. I want everybody to know that these are just suggestions. The key is to rely close to the Spirit and stick to the doctrine. Having suggestions in mind is great, but the doctrine and the Spirit are the key to knowing how to help ourselves and our fellow members.”

    thanks for clarifying that. Being close to and sensitive to the Spirit will help us uplift others, even if we say nothing and just smile, then move on, or do more depending on what the Spirit prompts us to do.

  27. Are you grant johnson?

    You are being asked to login because grantinchina@enoch.com is used by an account you are not logged into now.
    By logging in you’ll post the following comment to 4 Ways That We Can Fix Mormon Culture:

    I read this and thought it a bit negative, like there’s something wrong with people in the church who are gregarious and in trying to get people involved. Sure we need to be sensitive spiritual people who don’t offend by being pushy, over-bearing, or insensitive to the Holy Ghost who would tell us when someone is having a problem, but not all people are in tune with that and so you have a church full of people in all places, all kinds of opinions, and what this person wants for their personal preferences will never happen. But in the Celestial Kingdom it all goes away, isn;’t that wonderful? So in this life we get to deal with the challenges of life, the imperfections of life, the good and bad personalities, and it all boils down to OURSELVES, how do we stack up with the Lord? Are we keeping the commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ? Just because people don’t like us doesn’t make a bit of difference in the eternal scheme of things for the person not liked. SInce we don’t get into heaven based on a popularity contest, it matters not what people think. If there is a problem in the church might it be seeking political correctness and promoting a hyper-sensitivity so people won’t say things? Like walking on eggshells trying to anticipate if someone is going to be offended (of course there will be this happening)… so if someone is quiet at church, we should just leave them alone because they maybe want us to leave them alone? …because they are an introvert.

    Well, what if they are NOT an introvert and are just lonely?

    We can’t read people’s minds, so I guess we will continue to do what we think best, since we can’t achieve what this author wants… The church doesn’t need to be fixed, neither do the manuals, I think it is a perfect LEARNING CENTER for imperfect people (sinners) to overcome their weaknesses and personal problems through growth experiences. I hope the author can someday see that, and not see some irrelevant “culture” that HE sees, and not what everyone else sees. I see a lot of people I really LIKE when I go to church, no matter what city, and I am not part of a clique. I love the saints. Its just great to be there and feel the Spirit. I used to be afraid too of getting out of my shell. You overcome it. The church HELPED me a lot, and I am grateful for it.

    • Now I know I already wrote too much, but that’s what I do, so here we go some more 🙂 I think I’m one of the most sensitive people that goes to church, I really do care about the individual needs of people, and I really will not bother them or make them participate. The way that I do this, make these decisions, is to be sensitive to the Spirit during these times. I would never embarrass anyone if I sense that they are uncomfortable, I wouldn’t want to be that person that somehow had something to do with “driving them away” because of my callous insensitivity. I really do believe that the Spirit heals all of these problems. And I do believe there is not a problem with the CHurch, or some “culture” in it that is contrary to the real church, especially in “heavily populated LDS cities” etc. Its just personalities. Really, if we go to church and we are getting offended at the personalities there, I really do believe, and don’t take this wrong, the problem lies with the person getting offended and bent out of shape.

      Jesus would never get bent out of shape, so we need to think on that. Jesus would lead by example, he would just show kindness to everyone. If a person is not capable of being gracious when someone tries to be friendly to them, really, is that the fault of a friendly person who is reaching out? I hope that we can have everyone going to church to let go of these inhibitions.

      And on the political topics, some of those are not political, but the world has MADE them political.

  28. I have a lot of anger towards the church and myself for who I was when I tried being a member.

    I feel like I’m happier outside of the church. I don’t answer to a bishop who takes my privileges away if I engage in human weaknesses. I don’t have to conform to a library of questionable doctrine (pearl of great price, Adam and eve having no blood in their bodies) because “it’s true” and I’m wrong if I think otherwise. I don’t need to scour doctrine and falls in order to find a reason to have hope for the salvation of my gay friends and family. I don’t need to wonder fearfully about which of my divorced parents I’ll be sealed to in eternity.

    I’m glad I left, and I’m happy with the life I lead and I want lds readers who are questing the church to know it’s okay to disagree, to ask questions, have your own personal beliefs and yes, to leave the church.

  29. I read the blog and comments. With that said let me take a few moments to kick my 2 cents in;
    We are in a somewhat paradoxical mindset over the extrovert-introvert issue. Having served in stake level positions I have had frustrations with introverts who “utilized being an introvert” to not fulfill callings. Who takes the hit over such an issue? The stake and the ward itself because a faction of the flock is not being “administered or ministered” to thus a part of the mechanism is not working effectively. The other issue is how to accept the reality of the introverts in the Kingdom? Several times through the years I had confrontational “discussions” on effectively discharging responsibilities of said callings because one person’s complaints take center stage over the overall group. Imagine chairing a successful stake fireside ( 500 plus attending) or dance party(800-1,000 showing up) and being reprimanded due to one individual not finding the venue (OR) too many people showing up (OR) cookies served did not have enough raisins. Yes, the needs of the people do need their issues heard. Yet how far should attention be extended until it is acknowledged that the complainer(s) will NEVER be pleased with results?

    Utah Culture that effects the Kingdom overall? I had Bishops reprimand me for coming to Church without a tie on. I had experiences where unless I wore a WHITE dress shirt I was ushered off the Sacrament Passer Bench due to inappropriate color of dress shirt. A Bishop stated how invocations or benedictions that lasted more than one minute in duration would have the Spirit slowly withdrawing presence as the prayer progressed. The final rant was one time asking permission from the Utah Area South President directly to attend a certain unit within my residential stake. The Bishop split a head gasket and claimed I was going over his head. I kept my cool and reminded him that in the General Handbook of Instructions it unequivocally states that going to an Area Authority Presidency for permission is the process to address such concerns. If this is an example of lack of familiarity with Church Rules-Regulations IN PRINTED FORM IN THE HANDBOOK OF INSTRUCTIONS my imagination runs wild via other members with scenarios whereby Bishops are not familiarized with whatever policy is brought to conflict mode.

    This is a tough set of doctrinal/ Faith Promoting Rumors to address. I have seen very decent members “throw in the towel” and beat a hasty exit out of the Cause due to how things simply do not work for them. I have had painful experiences in Priesthood Executive Committee meetings of being “harangued” for not fitting the mold of certain positions. Yet within ten minutes amidst the Testimony portion of a Fast Sunday Sacrament meeting several people would stand up and express gratitude for how much I tried to care.

    Is there an easy solution? Either we as an institution would have had it come via the General Authorities in heartfelt prayers for answers OR the issue of differences of personalities are best addressed at the ward level in one on one scenarios of empathy and encouragement. I pray that a solution does evolve for the good of everyone involved.

    • First off, just become one does not want to hold a calling, does NOT mean that member is a bad person. Who are you to judge me? This is exactly why members leave the Church with bad taste. Secondly, I’m not going to lose my mind If an event if mind does not go right and I get reprimanded by someone from the church. That statement was laughable. Who cares…seriously. If I did my best then that’s what I did. You can’t always please everyone. Lastly, there are many who would love to hold callings. Not everyone needs too. The church is all about being with family and is such a family oriented church but yet 90 percent of church calling require individuals to stay at church late in the day after work and go on church trips on weekends because of their calling. For you to have held callings In the stake, would know about this as I’m sure you have spent most,of your time late at night and Sundays away from your own ward. Also, you can say it’s all about blessings received, but the best blessings you receive are being with your family and seeing them grow, both children and grandchildren.

      • Andrew, I have had a stake calling before, and I had an occasional meeting that took me away from family or my ward, but I made up for it on other days and spent much time with my family. While there are exceptions to the rule on callings and the demand of them, I do know that the Church has instructed to NOT have meetings on Sundays. In some exceptions, that is not possible, such as Bishoprics, etc.
        Remember, people are people, but I do know the Church has instructed that the family is the most important thing. What I have come to realize is that there are many people who are single, alone, and LOVE to get together on Sundays to have that Choir practice, and sometimes because of work it is the only practical day for them.

        So we are going to have exceptions, and personally I have chosen to avoid choir practices on Sundays to the consternation of many choir directors, who sometimes try to accommodate on a weeknight, or saturday, but with little to no success… It can be difficult, right? We roll with it.

        • Interesting/funny. I avoid choir practice, being in the choir and (as much as possible) listening to the stodgy church music (per handbook in instructions by the way) that seems to be one size culture fits all. Church has been trying to ram this stuff into my ears for four decades; just isn’t for me. Not that there isn’t great music made by LDS people that can be listened to. Just not Sunday.

    • So on that first little bit, what you’re saying is you’d rather have all the “introverts” never come than have them come and not fulfill their “callings”? That’s kind of shallow. You seem pretty bitter.

  30. you know you can’t have a beard and sing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir… and there is a hair length requirement for the LDS Institute of Religion – at the University of Utah choir… yeah, well it says in the scriptures if you have that length of hair, you basically condemned for all eternity, just ask Porter Rockwell or Samson in the Bible

  31. One of the biggest things about mormon culture I don’t understand is how members associate the republican/conservative party with the church, as if it’s the Lords political party. Conservatives claim to be more righteous; yet are some of the most un-Christlike people I’ve ever met. They are more judgmental and closed-minded than any other party out there. A friend of mine who is liberal had to transfer to another ward because members of that ward were sending her hate-mail over facebook when ever she posted anything with liberal views. She also said that she was intentionally ignored by a lot of members at that ward. I was judged by a lot of members for voting for a democratic governor this last election. I also have several other liberal friends that are given a hard time by members because of their political standpoint. I don’t understand. Political status doesn’t make or break a member of the church. Try to love a little more people. It’s sad that we have to be reminded by church leaders to respect others who have different views. WWJD?

    • Oh The irony of your statement that

      “They are more judgmental and closed-minded than any other party out there.”

      You totally missed that you are engaging in exactly what you are decrying. Now you see how easy it is to be small minded. The main problem isn’t with people believing that the church is conservative/republican only.

      The main problem is with members who espouse ideology on both sides of the aisle and are closed minded about others opinions. Oh yeah and add to that that they are typically rude and exclusionary about it. When we see other ideologies as stupid and/or immoral we are devaluing the people who have an honest belief in them. We should be more charitable towards differing ideas and not assume the worst.

      Fixing our assumptions about others and our civility is what Jesus meant about the note in ones own eye and that we have value because we are each his children

    • We’ve had some Democrat general authorities, so its allowed, but there’s not much difference between the two parties being so central. Except that one (democrat) booed God at their last national convention, that bothered me, oh yes and they support abortion and all that, which is horrible, but what they do better is have a heart for people on hard times. I will agree with that. There’s good and bad in both parties.
      Better not to align the church was ANY of these parties. Church is not about that, and the Republicans certainly do not represent me in any way, and I am not impressed with them either. But that’s another story.

      • When I hear people start complaining about Republicans have no heart and Dems do, and then complaining about the Church being so Republican and non supportive of Democrats, it usually follows that they have done no analysis on their own and live off what pop culture says about the parties.
        The fact is that the Church supports no parties. But the essential elements of the national parties either ally themselves with Gospel principles or they do not. The reason the majority of Church members fall in the Republican party is that they find the tenants of the national Republican Party more supportive of the Gospel. That’s not to say that the Republican Party is correct or more valid, it’s that it is more supportive of concepts that agree with the Gospel. Abortion is a big one as mentioned earlier. It would be hard to find support for it in the Gospel. Yet it’s a critical part of the Democratic Party position. So right off, a Church member who is a Democrat finds themselves at odds with the party or the Gospel on this one. Another major element is how to help others (those suggesting Reps don’t care about the poor aren’t listening – it’s all about the method). The Democratic Party platform is about taking resources from one person and giving it to others. That’s also a tougher one to find support from the Gospel. The Gospel requires us to give support to the poor and needy, but the key is that we give. When it is taken without choice, we loose the benefit of giving it, and it encourages indolent living. There are many tenants of the Democratic Party that most members would agree with, such as bettering the education system, but the Democratic Party’s heavy insistence on increased taxation to do it (taking from one to give to others) are so fundamental that most members won’t keep up the struggle.
        So it’s not that the Church is all Republicans, but that a lot of Church members choose the Republican Party over the Democratic Party because of the disagreement with philosophy. When Church members incorrectly associate the Republican Party with the Church and the Democratic Party as outside the Church, they are really thinking about the philosophy and don’t know how to express it better.

        • I think you may have said this also, but there are a lot of people (even members of the church) who treat it as an easy “I align with this party” and agree with just about anything they say. Most LDS Democrats that I know believe that abortion is wrong. I know a lot of LDS Republicans who get uncomfortable when people also preach politics in church (because it’s Republican) that a lot of the Republicans in the room don’t agree with. (Not talking abortion or gay marriage this time, but other things.) Political involvement belongs outside of the church (as a very good thing) but political discussion belongs outside church, except for those very few instances already mentioned.

    • There was a time when it was just the opposite. The members of the church used to vote Democratic. That started to change in the Great Depression. I heard former Senator Bob Bennett, grandson of Heber J. Grant, say that the New Deal turned Pres. Grant into a Republican. The government’s way of doing welfare undermines self reliance and work. This is where the shift started to occur. The abortion issue cemented Utah as the most reliable state for the Republican party. The Democrat’s position on gay rights reinforced this.

    • Dear EPLR, Read J Golden Kimball. He was a President of the 70’s AND a Democrat. Some of his experiences with the Republicans are hilarious.

      • Mike, that doesn’t really apply. The Democrats of today bear no resemblance to the Democrats of J Golden Kimball’s era. They were more like today’s Republicans until about the Dew Deal timeframe.

  32. We need to stop referring to members of the church as Mormons. This is not Mormon’s church. It is not the Mormon church. This is Christ’s church. I am not a Mormon. I am a follower of Christ. Although I have my weaknesses and am imperfect. I am member of Christ’s church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. I strive to follow Christ. If we focus on following Christ and his teachings, we wouldn’t have to worry about these things.

    • You’re correct that The Church of Jesus Christ is Christ’s church and has His name on it, not Mormon’s name. Nephites went by Nephites even though, with occasional exception, they belonged to a church that was Christ’s church.
      Referring to a member of a faith by a harmless nickname, in this case Mormon, should not demean them in anyways.
      If you feel strongly that members should not be called Mormons, you may want to discuss this with those in charge of the “I’m a Mormon” campaign.
      You may also want to refer to
      http://www.mormon.org/faq/why-mormons
      regarding why you should want to be called a Mormon.

      • You posted before me. The CHURCH endorsed the “I am Mormon” campaign be that’s how people know us. Let’s not argue just for the sake of arguing.

  33. First I would like to say I doubt there is anyone reading this article that has had more social anxiety then me, but Destroying a stereotype is to destroy a culture. Mormons have been long called molly for living principles that are not worldly. As the US and world changes increases in calls for change in the name of diversity and acceptance will be heavier. Members of our church have always believed that if their is anything lovely and praiseworthy it is to be strived for. Well some things aren’t lovely nor praiseworthy including subjecting the body to artwork. We have held a togetherness and tight knit society since the beginning. In the days of Joseph there were those that took darts from the world for and with church leadership when our society tried to snuff out The praiseworthy spiritual insights of the prophet. There is a common thread running through our society that can be explained this way-to love someone we must accept and celebrate the differences in life choices. So we do not alienate and just accept everyone. When we go to church we must realize the mission of the church is to perfect the saints, redeem the dead, and bring people to Christ through missionary efforts. All of these things by nature require individuals to get outside comfort zones, and an emphasis on cleanliness/oneness in our desire for betterment. It is for this reason the culture of getting outside ourselves is emphasized. People are imperfect and if a teacher had good intentions and tries to get someone involved well..he’s not a psychologist, nor a social worker most likely. The mormon church could hire college degree theologians with degrees in philosophy and social services for its clergy, then perhaps we would see your perfect teachers from a psychological point of view. This is why testimony of the church is crucial for members. Jesus said he who will be last shall be first in the kingdom of heaven. This isn’t a social club here, were in the business of helping people reach their potential. This means we understand the messengers are progressing just the same. Sometimes love is accepting a person who is doing the teaching. This doesn’t mean everyone has to be the same, everyone’s skills and talents are different it means we understand the culture is excellent, and the stereotypes come from being separate from the world.

    • Btw my heart goes out to the person whose post is below me. This isn’t a common occurrence in the mormon church for it safeguards itself by making sure multiple people are around when youth are involved. It is sad and I am sure our father above will compassionately handle this young woman’s pains with love. The man that did this is in grave judgement I am sure for the scripture says he that offends one of these little ones it would be better if he hung a millstone around his neck and drowned in the depths of the sea. Counseling is in order, and hopefully there will be a family in the future, but if not remember Christ’s atonement swallows others sins on someone. Our job is to love in the meantime. This young woman’s trust has been severely damaged and special care is needed to restore her faith in those who were supposed to lead. It is unlikely that change will happen for many years, but with prayer and a knowledge that this little one is precious in the sight if God healing can come.

    • First off, you can’t say that no one else had has more social anxiety than you. False. You have no idea what other people are going through… don’t assume that you have it worse than everyone else. that makes you sled righteous and no one likes the “I have tougher trials than you, pity me” attitude.

      So just stop.

      Thank you.

      • I don’t think that’s what they were implying, and you don’t have to be so abrasive about it. You don’t know their anxiety either, so let’s just stop judging people we don’t even know. If you wouldn’t say it to their face (which I hope you wouldn’t), don’t say it over the internet.

      • Have you been to the hospital and almost died from fear, have you had an in enveloped bowel because your insides did a nervous spasm from anxiety almost requiring surgery to repair? Have you had ulcers, and problems with hyperventilation. Have you had your body break out in rashes from extreme anxiety? Have you been to the hospital with rapid heartbeat requiring drugs to prevent damage to your heart. Have you been to the hospital with a heartbeat of 170-180 for hours, well I have. I say this only because I have had anxiety that most could never know and I chose to face it and with Gods help It has become manageable. If I can overcome this with Gods help I think anyone can the flesh is in his hands. As for my response to you I believe in you even if hardness has gripped your heart.

        • Again, you don’t KNOW what anxiety that person has gone through. They may very well have experienced exactly what you listed and more, and even if they haven’t, does that make it any less of a problem? People can only feel what THEY have gone through. To them, it might be the worst thing in the world even if you think, “Oh, it’s not that bad.” Everyone tries to compare their problems to eachother, but you can’t compare your pain vs someone elses. You can’t compare OCD against a back injury. You can’t compare emotional abuse against physical abuse. Pain is pain and all we know is how we feel, and that it HURTS. Of course people think their problems are worse than others–you seem to as well. It’s because we can’t feel what other people are feeling, and that’s okay. If people can just accept that we ALL need help sometimes, I think we can drop the issue of “my pain is worse than yours”. There is no way to measure, and that attitude is a strange form of pride.

  34. I have a daughter who at 16 came out as gay. She was molested and raped by a member of the church and his son. The father is in jail awaiting trial. My daughter has now moved into a transgender life and is recognized as a boy. She has come back to church. She understands she can never hold the priesthood, marry in the temple, etc. The Bishop doesn’t know what to do with her. If he “allows” her to go to priesthood all hell will break loose. We are living in some really difficult times. My heart breaks for her. I understand her pain.
    I grew up with mentally ill parents. My mom was finally successful at taking her life at 72 years old. My “Elders Quorum President” father molested myself and all of my sisters, getting one of them pregnant. This had a huge impact on my life. The atonement has healed me. However, the reality is that people don’t know the shoes that others have walked through. We should not live with tolerance in our heart…for tolerance is a precedent for judgment. The bottom line is other people’s sins are none of our business. Our only responsibility is to love, with boundaries while showing unconditional compassion. This is not unrealistic… I do it everyday.
    Oh and one more thing. This is not a Mormon Problem, these 4 issues you raise…It is an organized religion problem. We should just know better with the revelations that are ours and the with the constant companion of the Holy Ghost that we have been blessed with.

    • Not sure what the harm would be in allowing your [son] to attend priesthood. Clearly the matter of ordination, were that to ever occur, would rest with the First Presidency.

      Life is real. Has lots of permutations. All our lives are complicated. Maybe as you say tolerance isn’t the correct word or approach. But accepting differences and embracing diversity, opening our minds and hearts, is the spirit of charity, purely loving as the Savior does.

      • BGtaylor, there are revealed doctrines of God here, that gender is an eternal identity, and not some option to explore in this life. Well you can, but God knows what kind of body he gave to each of us, and that we decided in the premortal existence to come here.
        https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation
        “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
        In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body.

        Do you honestly believe that God sent some daughters into a boys body, just to confuse them? I really absolutely do not see this is even a possibility, it defies logic and love of God. It denies the doctrine of the premortal existence of ourselves.

        There will be no First Presidency ordination approval, just like there will be no gay weddings in the temple. The doctrines have been in place the whole world long… this PC wave is not going to change that.

        • Forgivable because I’m certain your insensitivity on this subject comes from ignorance. First, there are live births where the “evidence ” of gender is not clear or certain, where parents or doctors have to make a decision — sometimes with some surgery involved. And wrong decisions are made. Yes, percentage wise these are rare; however, in a world of 7 billion people small percentages can still be large numbers. Second, while I don’t seek to define what God might cause or allow in terms of tests, and there are many “tests” that come with birth, nor disagree that gender is set in the eternities before and after this life, but there clearly are MANY (still a percentage, but a larger one in a populated world) born very seemingly male in female bodies and vice versa. And as the brethren have made clear, some (many again) are born with the burden (or blessing as some like to call all sorts tests in this life) of same sex attraction.

          I suggest you look up and study hermaphrodites, as well educate yourself on transgenderism and homosexuality prior to make such sweeping, insensitive statements.

          • Its distracting to bring up hermaphrodites (what a strange term they gave it), when transgender is the wholesale changing of plumbing, and there is no comparison between the two. It is also a distracting strawman to throw out false suggestions, like suggesting that others educate themselves. Really?
            Let me steer it back in the right direction here, I made a statement about gender being an eternal identity because the doctrines are given on that, and you bring up a birth defect outlier like its even relevant to the discussion. Its a distraction. To transgender is to change one’s physical body sex. Not fix it. Change it. And then there is the spirit body which did not change.

            It will all get sorted out in the resurrection when these people get changed back and wake up to what really happened. If I pierce my nose, or stretch my ears with hoops, in the resurrection, it all goes back to NORMAL. We are given the free agency to do what we want here, but we don’t get the change the consequences of choices, and homosexuality is a choice whether to act on it or not. You are not born an adulterer, a pedophile, a homosexual or a murderer. You have the ability to make choices and the sophistry that we are “born” predispositioned without the ability to resist is not true, and that is common sense.

  35. This is refreshing. I have never agreed with the idea that you have to have a calling and that by having one, it will “Fix” you.
    I moved from a wonderful loving ward that accepted that some people had limitations that weren’t always visible to one where if you don’t toe the line, you’re not welcomed here.
    Needless to say we go to drop our tithing off. Our little son gets sick a lot and the Bishop thinks we need a calling. Sorry, you missed that I work full time while my husband takes 18 credit hours at school to get done faster. That’s why I’m the one working. We can’t do it all like you.
    It’s frustrating. Can I move back to my old ward that’s 15 minutes down the street?

  36. Great article. All members need to read this and think of how it applies to them. I would guess that most of us have been guilty of at least one of these suggestions. I do, however, disagree with one part.

    You asked, “Whenever you feel the need to preach against topics ask yourself: if somebody does any of these things (i.e. vote for Democrats, accept organic evolution, watch R-rated movies or wear leggings) will that keep them out of the temple?” and then stated, “If the leaders of the church have not spoken out about something in an official setting we need to be silent about it in church.”

    Would you consider General Conference an “an official setting”? I would.

    Here is what President Ezra Taft Benson said in April 1986 General Conference, “We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic.” Even though this talk was given in a priesthood session, it is for all members. Not only does he counsel not to watch vulgar videos, but lists R-rated movies specifically.

    This counsel has also been given multiple times from the same pulpit after President Benson spoke.

    Just my 50 cents worth (I don’t know how to give only 2 cents).

    • That makes you also about the tenth or twelfth person to ignore the fact that he was speaking to the Aaronic Priesthood — to youth under the age of 17 (R rating = 17 or older) — and glossing over the date (1986) when the rating system was more reliable as a guideline. At that time studios were less prone to seek the R rating as they are today. Thus, while this quote is certainly available to the church curriculum department, the advice in For The Strength of Youth concentrates on the “spirit” of the advice in media selection rather than the “letter” — because those elements President Benson speaks of are present in PG-13, PG and even G movies, as well as popular literature, music and television where no such “letter” ratings are clear. His is a great quote and certainly worthy of our consideration. But as has been pointed out in these comments, there are not only R rated movies worthy of higher regard, but some important films as well.

      • I always cringe a little bit when someone pulls out the “spirit of the law” guns. It’s such vague territory–one could argue it lands in the same spot as “Stop preaching about things that are not doctrine”–and I find that we typically use the spirit of the law argument to justify when our behavior is beneath a perceived standard–I say that as an R-rated movie indulger.

        Does watching R-rated movies, despite all their potential to uplift, put me on the wrong side of a clear line? Absolutely. It’s just a question of whether or not we want to spend our time focused on that flaw in my character rather than the good I can and could be doing or the more serious things I should avoid.

        We can squirm and rationalize our way out of all kinds minor rebellions, but when Christ introduced the spirit of the law, he was elevating a standard, not poking loopholes in it.

        • I was mocking the idea that movies are given “letter” grades in contrast to the actual “spirit” of what we’re advised to do. That is, don’t a distasteful, vulgar movie simply because it somehow wriggled out of getting a R rating. And don’t skip a movie rated R that uplifts, educates and is meaningful simply because its makers wanted to add secular gravitas by purposing getting it an R rating — something that happens quite a bit for marketing purposes.

  37. One thing that people are always forgetting, is that the world is changing. We have been taught and encouraged to think and act certain ways for so long. It is just the past couple of decades that we have started to change into the culture, in our country as a whole, that we are now, and still changing into. We are putting people down that not too long ago we as a culture we’re celebrating them for. Change takes a long time. Not only do we need to be more considerate to those who have been persecuted for being different for so long, but also considerate to those having a difficult time changing their perspectives in our evolving communities.

    • Not exactly sure where you are going with this. Yes, the world is changing, but God and His doctrine does not change. That is one sign of the true and everlasting gospel is that it remains unchangeable amid changing times. We are to be “in the world, but not of the world.” It will be harder and harder to hold firm to truths taught by our prophets and the scriptures as the world moves further from those truths.

  38. Wow! This is “the missing link” that I couldn’t put my finger on that was bothering me about the church. I am a 4-generation Mormon. It is in my blood and I love so many within the church but feel inactive for 10 years. I am back, full force, now and it bothers me to think some may think I truly was spiritually inactive during that period. I have always been very spiritually minded and tried to live by my own high standards. Also, I used to wonder, “how does a truly creative person fit into the church.” My sister is an artist, owns an art gallery, has been inactive for years and is completely against the church now. If only she could be who she is and still live the doctrine of Jesus Christ. She believes in Christ. Whoever has learned of Him does, of course. People just resent being told our beliefs HAVE to match those of everyone else’s “interpretation” of them. I think your post has really hit the nail on the head, where the problem lies and what is dividing people into either the “In Crowd” or “Outcasts”. I shared it on FB. I have 5 kids: Four are inactive and one is a bishop! My Bishop Son is AMAZING! He is open minded and very Christlike and loving. Plus he makes being a Mormon fun!!! If everyone could just be themselves and keep growing into a better version of their true self, I think this would be the success of the church! To help us all come and progress together.

    • “If everyone could just be themselves and keep growing into a better version of their true self, I think this would be the success of the church! To help us all come and progress together.” I love this! We don’t need to be perfect, just try to be the best we can be.

      • To me, this would be “Heaven on Earth”. To be accepted, just as we are, and we know we are trying to get better but not according to the “people’s standards” but to our Heavenly Father’s standards. We just really need to let go of the judgements!!! Even Christ told us this in very explicit terms. But I feel there is so much judgement going on within the church, even though often unspoken. This then leads to people feeling like they need to put up an image at least so the “wolves” don’t hurt them. The image is our protection. But it keeps the real growth from happening. Soon protecting that image becomes our goal. I have seen this over and over and over.

    • But Maggie, there are these commandments.

      I don’t doubt for a minute your sincerity on believing in Christ. But there are so many people I know that have left the church thinking that they have elevated themselves and freeing themselves of the burden. They may “feel” free for a time, but the convenants have been broken and none of that can be pleasing to the Lord with whom they made the covenants. If they don’t think the covenant they made at baptism, and maybe in the temple, are important anymore, then that is an issue about testimony and faith in it.

      So the commandment to go to church each Sunday and partake of the Sacrament, is one of the true doctrines that this Jesus Christ personally revealed to Joseph Smith in D&C 59. Here is a Thou SHALT from that:

      Doctrine and Covenants 59:12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.

      Keep the commandments.
      Jesus says “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

      The fact is, the Lord does love you and all of us, and He did seek after you and you are back. You did miss out on a lot during 10 years, I guarantee you, and its none of my business to ask if you repented of all that, but I hope you did. Welcome back. I only commented not to judge, but to clarify what I believe is the doctrine on this, that there are commandments and not keeping them is sin, and the Lord is not pleased with this action. We all sin.

      • I sent this original post to my 5 kids; 4 are inactive and one is a bishop! Go figure! My youngest and I are having an ongoing discussion on all this. She is wondering why I am getting so religious. (She doesn’t realize I have always been spiritual.) It’s hard. I don’t want to alienate myself from my inactive kids by coming on too strong; we have a great line of communication and can discuss anything. They don’t feel put away from me by their inactivity. I would say probably every parent in the church has one child (or more) who are inactive, or even non-believers. My kids are all good adults; no drugs or bad addictions, thank heavens. I don’t want to alienate them from me through religion.
        I also do not want to alienate my Bishop Son from me, through religion. So far, he has been very patient and accepting of me, all his family.
        I guess this is my “dilemma”; I feel like there is a lot of tact necessary in talking to my inactive kids.

    • There are creative people in the church. I am one of them. My kids too. But the desire to be outside the box has to be kept in check, and it can be difficult to do, depending on what the goal of our creativity is. If it is to help build the kingdom of God, then that’s always going to be OK, and if it is to get famous, that’s probably a conflict waiting to happen in the church setting, because its not about being better than others… its about sharing and loving people and seeking nothing in return.

      • My creativity comes as a gift from God, I know this. I am an artist and a writer. Art has been in my family for many generations. I just think a lot of creative people don’t want to feel they have to do their art or anything in a tight, restrictive way. Albeit, creative LDS people can adhere to the church doctrine and still be very expansive in their art. God is expansive. There are plenty of good ways to demonstrate our talents without dipping into the low end of things to do so.

  39. What a fabulous, insightful article! Thank you for sharing, clarifying and uplifting with your clear and compassionate words. When I saw the post title I was thinking what is this going to be about, a bashing or what? I was so pleasantly surprised at how candid and on point you were. I am also a member born and bred and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and its teachings, but the distinction between culture and doctrine was well written and heartfelt. I have seen and felt the loneliness and sometimes sadness of our some of our quiet or socially shy members around lots of noise and activity that can feel lost, my husband is a member that is looked upon as a bit unusual, he doesn’t attend regularly and the whole 3 hours but loves the gospel deeply. I am an extrovert and am involved in everything and have had to recognise the limitations he may feel and honour and respect him for the way he lives the gospel. After all who. I to judge? He doesnot fit with the cultural norms of Mormonism, but is fiercely protective and an advocate of the gospel. Anyway thank you for your article, as a membership it would be wise to heed your suggestions, not as doctrine but as a way to more fully love our brother’s and sisters and honour each other individually as well as collectively. Thank you 🙂

  40. How about this for a blanket statement: All the people who have problems with this article either have never lived in Utah, or are part of the problem themselves. Thanks for a very interesting, thought-provoking read, Zachery. And congrats on your viral status. 😉

  41. Holland had a great talk about mental illness in a general conference a couple years back, and the Brethren have talked about R-rated movies. That’s a couple off that list.

    “What difference does it make why it is rated R? The fact is, a prophet of God has said not to go to R-rated movies. That ought to be enough” (Ensign, July 1998, 16). —Elder Cree-L Kofford of the Seventy

    • Read this article earlier today, and thought about Elder Hollands talk “as a broken vessel” it’s a great talk! He doesn’t say if you just read your scriptures and pray you’ll be happy. He says it’s a real disease people deal with and should be treated as such. He talks about how he struggled too. I think in general people need to be more understanding of emotional illnesses. Though praying and reading the scriptures may not overcome depression i think prayerful scripture study still helps.

    • In regards to R rated movies, in 1986 President Ezra Taft Benson specifically mentioned not to watch R rated movies. However nearly 3 decades later the Church’s stance on movies has changed to discourage us from watching any sort of inappropriate film.

      Honestly, the rating system is corrupt and is not governed by gospel principles in any way. There are many PG13 films that honestly are not worth watching, and there are some R rated movies that have wonderful and empowering messages.

      I believe that the church has broadened it’s sense of this doctrine so that we may look past the letter-of-the-law and look towards the spirit of it. While I do personally own & watch some rated R movies, I do not believe that R rated movies are generally an exception to the rule. Just as I believe that if a movie happens to be rated PG13 this doesn’t mean that it’s some sort of get out of jail free card.

      The Lord wants us to choose for ourselves. If it was a vital enough issue the church would create it’s own form of rating system.

      • I cannot stand most of the pg-13 movies. There are some amazing life changing movies that are “R”. They are true stories, they are real. The bible…if made into a movie, as written, would be rated “R”. I have found the scripture.D&C 58:26 to be very true. “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” Often time people of all religions have not fine tuned their critical thinking skills. (I am not talking judgmental skill…but evaluation, with the spirit of things that are a part of our world. BTW going to go see “American Sniper” tonight.

        • I have heard that one too, Bible rated R, etc. But for the kids sake we have to draw lines, and this “critical thinking” is not applicable to the young who will see mom and dad being hypocrites. But every parent gets to learn these things for themselves and deal with the consequences of decisions.

          • Actually the R rating is accompanied by the words 17 and older — for adults. There is no hypocrisy in telling children they cannot watch movies, read books, listen to music and view television meant for adult audiences. To those saying if it isn’t right for children it isn’t right for adults, someone pointed out recently, you don’t give peanuts to babies, but they’re quite good for you.

            • you are rationalizing here. we also don’t give peanuts to babies because they might put it up their nose. Word of advice, that’s not good for adults either.
              The diet of the R Rated movie is hardly good spiritual food for the mind or soul… harsher murder, harsher language, etc. so its not as simple as babies and peanuts is it?

        • With regards to “American Sniper”, I was so disappointed. That man was excellent at what he did, loved his family, and was mentally changed forever, by the experiences that he had to endure. Unfortunately, because the entertainment industry thinks that they need to be vulgar and obscene, the movie was ruined for me. I was so uncomfortable with the Lord’s name being taken in vain, and the F-bomb thrown out too many times to count, not to mention all of the sexual talk and visuals, as I sat watching with my husband. It made me side. It also made me think about the counsel that we shouldn’t watch “R” rated movies. On a side note, I consider myself very far from perfect.

  42. Really good article. I had just one thought about point 3 (stop teaching things that are not doctrine) – the truth is that- holy cow!- we actually teach TONS of things that are, in fact, false doctrine. I don’t mean the overt extra-obvious things, but lots of little things. So, extra-obvious aside, I actually think that if I don’t hear a little bit of false doctrine in church every sunday either a) I wasn’t paying enough attention or b) there wasn’t much said worth saying. I will admit that there is a chance of c) ward is celestial material, but the practice hasn’t reached that point yet.
    summum bonum; I think that as we strive to teach the truth we should realize that despite our best efforts, a good portion of what we and the instructor said isn’t actually doctrine so we should be more forgiving, more aware of this, and more reliant on the spirit (and prayer, fasting, scriptures…)
    in the spirit of this post, I fully realize and am aware that what I just said may be false doctrine ;). inquiry as necessary of the spirit before application.:D

    • Yup. I think that as long as we are imperfect, there will be inconsistencies. Unfortunately. I think the speaking of politics in church is an easier one to handle, though, as long as leaders are of the same mind. When I moved to my ward here, I was dismayed that politics occasionally crept into the Sunday School or RS discussions. I finally just starting raising my hand to politely say, “no politics at church.” It stopped, at least while I was around. People know that we’re not supposed to, so when they’re reminded, they usually cut it out. At least, in my experience. I know there are wards who are more challenging. We had a bishopric change about a year ago, and I happened to mention to our bishop in conversation that I was a little frustrated with two regular visitors who would go on political diatribes at the end of Sunday School, when it was hard to politely ask them not to, especially since I don’t know them. He actually got pretty worked up and said, “You tell them no politics at church!!” LOL. I know I have backup. 😉

  43. This is a great article. I am usually the first to be odds with LDS culture/doctrine. I do, however, have a few minor issues that may be possible oversights that happen when writing. In speaking of any inclination people may have, whether it be same gender attraction, depression whatever, you said in essence these were feelings over inclination that the person has no control over. This is incredibly contrary to the plan of salvation in principle. It is true these inclinations each individually come to each individual as their particular test and lott in life but we are told there is NOTHING given to us that we cannot challenge and overcome and conquer, though mostof the time we cannot on our own. You may struggle with that inclination your entire life, but the lie that you cannot help it is the warm and fuzzy lie of the world that ultimately causes destruction.
    Secondly, while it is very true there is no set doctrines concerning politics and entertainment choices etc, there are many principles of the gospel to follow here. YES, there can be political ideals that are contrary to the gospel, not parties mind you, political principles. It is also very true that there are indeed entertainment choices that are contrary because of their content, the spirit they invite and sometimestheir message, no matter how good any other message or educational goods they may allocate. You cannot go by any rating system, it may help but ultimately its content. And idisagree with you, the elders of the church HAVE warned about many types and this principle im repeating is what they are getting at.

    • Chad,
      I have to disagree with you in one sense, though. The members of the church who are gay and active and the ones who are struggling to want to stay active and heavily aware of these things. So, when in some wards there are extremely vocal members who (possibly meaning well) hammer out these things again and again, those who struggle with same gender attraction are already aware, indeed probably more aware, of these teachings and what this means. For a lot of them, the tone of the arguments comes across as alienating and not helpful. To their credit (and particularly some of the ones I’m aware of) they keep coming to church, despite the offense. To others who are more fragile emotionally, I can only imagine that it’s extremely painful. We do all have these tendencies (I think) to be overly critical in certain areas, and to do so when perhaps to “help the hands that hang down” would be the better strategy at the time. We are all seeking to be more Christlike, hopefully, so hopefully we can learn from each other and take each other’s strengths to heart and forgive weaknesses, all the while doing more improving instead of backsliding. Hopefully. (speaking for myself)

      • and…..what does your long spew have to do with disagreeing with me on some point you never got around to? because i can find nothing that disagrees with what i said in essence. so either that was a tangent rant that never got around to the disagreement or you didnt understand my comments.

      • Pickleclub1971,
        That is not really a gay issue. That’s an issue that everyone who struggles with a commandment deals with. My father, struggled with smoking his whole life, and felt that all we did was focus on smoking. We didn’t, nor do we now, but his sensitivity to the subject makes it seem so. It kept him from Church. But the problem was his, not the Church’s.
        So does the alcoholic, the pornography addict, etc. We can’t ignore the commandments because someone struggling with the issue is sensitive to it. We would have nothing to talk about.
        Instead, the real task is to bolster those who need it so they can understand the teaching and help learn from them.

  44. I have to say this, i have seen way too many people here criticize the author of this article, taking it as personal attacks to the church or its members, and to you people i say: work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord, and stop getting your panties in a bunch. people are allowed to have opinions. period.

    • Sure, everyone is allowed to have opinions. When you share them in the public marketplace, you have to expect some discussion. That is how knowledge and wisdom are created.
      If you don’t want the discussion, then you shouldn’t speak out in public.

  45. Couldn’t get through all the comments without just wanting to jump in. I’ll try to brief; but some fail to see the validity and examples of what you’ve written in this excellent article. An article that made my day and even may be the highlight of 2015. You nailed it.

    Some examples of each of these four things. For introverts, and believe me you struck gold to my heart with number one, it is difficult to be commanded at church do “simple” things as member missionaries that are not in any way simple to introverts. I don’t have lots of friends and acquaintances, people I see and speak with in my life every day. I don’t have the urge to socialize and therefore invite people to social gatherings. The assumptions are galling and alienating.

    While I understand the final point to be friendly to everyone, the truth is I cannot stand (it takes patience and understanding, and some weeks that ability is more limited than others) people coming up to greet me at church, shaking my hand (despise that) and generally talking to me. I prefer to be left alone when I come to church on Sunday to worship.

    I love the temple. It’s quiet. Once I get to the celestial room it’s not even interactive. It’s great! My hope for eternal life is a billion years of absolute solitude — including from my family.

    You mentioned homosexuality. It’s a big topic and quite topical. Our leaders have been crystal clear here describing the difference between what one is and what one does; the clear line is living the law of chastity. We may have some opinion on this behavior, but heterosexual youth and adults attending church together, holding hands, dancing, kissing appropriately, dating, sharing love and common bonds of friendship, and otherwise being couples, where the law of chastity is not in any way being violated, are temple worthy. And there is nothing sinful about two homosexual youth or adults acting the same way — so long as they are not violating the law of chastity. Yes, dating leads to marriage. As wonderfully described in one of Jolie Hales “What Mormons Believe” videos, these good brothers and sisters will at some point have to either accept a life of celibacy or enter marriage properly and with growing love, male and female, for the myriad of reasons people become couples other than sexual attraction.

    For number three I’ll just say the comments have nailed this. There is no commandment to not watch or read or listen to anything based on what is an arbitrary, flawed, misleading and completely useless system of ratings. To those who single out the R rating, while I doubt this is the case with all you watch on TV and movies, all your music and certainly your reading choices (if so I commend you in that this is hard to do), but be careful with your consistently, judgement and lack of hypocrisy. I like to point out two things to those on their high horse on this. First, the prophet David O McKay was considered to be one of few, a handful, of world experts on Shakespeare; that is, he completely understood it. As renowned as these works are, they CLEARLY both in text and performance would be R rated. Second, my opinion, every child starting at kindergarten/elementary school should be exposed to Schindler’s List; every teenager should see Saving Private Ryan and Braveheart; you’ll see nothing in The Passion of Christ, graphically speaking, you’d have not witnessed had you been there in person and which you shouldn’t understand regarding the Atonement and death of the Savior. These four films deserve, by definition, their R rating. No one needs to watch movies at all. But if you watch films, and missed these because of the R rating, you’re missing some of the most important art/literature on the Holocaust and war (anti-genocide and anti-war) themes of our generation. If we didn’t continue genocide and war across this globe maybe such education, from film, wouldn’t be needed. In summary, there are valid reasons to chose and omit media; the brethren have asked us to deliberate and thoughtful in those choices. That is all they have commanded us to do.

    There are so many things applicable to the third point in the article. They are abundant at church each week. I’ve made this error; so have you (reader). The point is to be aware and diligent to not do so.

    The fourth point was well stated. Tolerance. Opening our minds to the the good we can take from others and the diversity added to our wards and to our lives by learning new things and seeing things in new ways. I love converts; their shaky, seemingly awkward, unpolished, but oh so genuine testimonies.

    Sorry to, as Michelle did below, go long. I’m verbose. thanks for reading my thoughts.

    • The youth acting out homosexual tendencies at church functions? I have a problem with this. Just as I would have a problem with youth bringing cigarettes and smoking them but as Clinton say “never inhaled.” SO they could rationalize that. Or bringing a bottle of scotch, swishing it around in your mouth and spitting it out, not partaking, but pretending. Or youth dressing extremely immodest, like underwear, and as long as they don’t break the law of chastity through fornication, this is OK to you? This mindset of allowing the very appearance of homosexuality in the church? How successful will this plan be? Is there supposed to be this day when the church will reveal a new doctrine that says its all ok, someday? Is that how you see it? If not, then why promote the temptation of this?

      Not acting on something is just that, not acting out on it. Its not a sin to have temptations and desires, but if they are overcoming us to the point of us making these things outwardly OBVIOUS to all those around us and as examples to other young impressionable minds, even flaunting it, then that really does cross the line into a problem not to be embraced.

      • Grant, your comments have been well written and thought provoking, but I think that we all understand at this point that you did not like this article or many of the opinions stated in the comment section. Your point has been made and we all have been very happy to hear it.

        • zbrasier, its not just your article, its the comments. There are many thought provoking comments. I am not making some single point. If you will carefully read, these are many different topics addressed in the COMMENTS

          • I know. I just have to laugh because every time I look at my phone I am getting an update that says I got another comment from you. It’s kind of flattering. Makes me feel loved. If you feel the need to correct all the people here go for it, I just don’t know if it is the most effective way to try to fix what you perceive as people’s flaws.

            • thats a very interesting comment, coming from you, the author of the article on what the whole church needs to do to improve itself, talk about a comment that might not be the most effective way to fix what you perceive as people’s flaws.
              the fact is here, zbrasier, that you indeed have attacked the church in this article, and you have added fuel to the fire of many apostates who have already left and you have reinforced the way they already feel about these things you wrote, and you have not considered the effect that your words might have on those who are maybe on their way out. Rather than build faith, you have made people get distracted with what can lead to a personal apostasy. You have said, for instance:
              “Even when members begrudgingly acknowledge that homosexual tendencies themselves are not evil, the love is not felt.”
              Homosexual tendencies are as evil as adulterous tendencies. Both of these sinful actions, if acted upon, lead to consequences. They should be avoided, not coddled or embraced. If you are going to talk about homosexuals and their desires as something we embrace, then you have also got to throw adultery tendencies in there as well, and embrace that too, because its the same sex outside of marriage temptation there. At least acknowledge the truth that adulterous relationships are destructive and also filled with high emotion and tears and feelings of love. Homosexuality does not have a lock on these things and does not deserve a special place in the church.

              • Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog! I hope that you are able to forgive me for the anger I have caused you and the testimonies that I have evidently broken. I am sorry that you could not did not find anything worthwhile in this article. Please be sure not to share it on Facebook. With the amount of traffic this article has been receiving we sure do have a ton of apostates in the church. But, I am glad that this article did not shake your faith too much or force you to apostatize.

                • zach, I can see you are focused on traffic you say is happening, and I can explain this, anyone of us can do this, its called writing a biting and scathing article on the people of the mormon church and throw a little homosexuality in there for good measure, and you will have this picked up by that radicalized and highly mobilized element in our society today, who has banded together as one activist family, no matter where they live in all of the world in fact, and then that is why things go viral in todays world. Its not going viral with regular members of the church, because regular member of the church are not feeling this way about the church. If you can’t see this evident fact in the comments, you are in denial.

                  If you had written this article and left out the homosexuality parts, I suppose you probably would have got maybe two comments.

                  I am not angry, never have been here, but your tone is one of constant flippancy in response to my statements, but I have been real with you. When you are flippant it communicates that you are not serious or real about what you write. You are more interested in attacking people about things you don’t even know anything about, making wild assumptions. If you could let the words and the discussion stand on the merits alone, and not try to put words and intents into others words, or assume things like my faith could get shaken by what you wrote, etc., that would be more helpful dialog. Young people should be more teachable, especially when they are making mistakes in the things that they write, which you actually did.

                  I do hope one day that you can see the mistake of what you did here in expressing your negative opinions about the church and its members, and I will not be commenting more.

        • what we try to do zbrasier is to “teach each other diligently the doctrines of the kingdom.” If that would be done, rather than expressing opinions, and if we knew what the prophets actually said on certain things rather than think these things are culture related, then it clarifies. Thanks for listening 🙂

      • What I think is you miss is the alternative. You may not want to see that there are members at church driven as it were by same sex attraction, but they exist, have always existed probably. And they suffer in silence and guilt because they know you’ll be uncomfortable with them being themselves. And yes, this leads to suicide and severe problems short of that.

        Again, our leaders, who are prophets, seers, revelators and those directed to guide us, have made abundantly clear (even more so of late) that same sex attraction is real. It is not a sin. And THEY have drawn the line at marriage and at chastity.

        So whether you’re uncomfortable or not, whether you somehow think being themselves while properly living the standards of church is somehow going to spread or model homosexual behavior — you are wrong. This is part of the diversity we need to accept to be ONE and truly love people, our members of church included, as the Savior loves them.

        • There are members of the church driven by adultery too. And this is a much much bigger problem than homosexuality, but the latter gets all the press because people are suggesting that these are “born” this way, and that’s just not true. Then heterosexual men or women are “born” to have those desires that cause them to give in to adultery, even though its wrong and sinful and has an element of “falling in love” etc.

          Don’t you see its all the same thing? And don’t you also know that SUICIDE exists in heterosexual situations as well? Of course same sex attraction is real. That’s not the point. Different sex attraction is real too. And if leading to marriage is right and good. For the other, there is no marriage in the Lord, so what’s the point of promoting homosexuality and embracing it? Spiritually speaking, and not secularly speaking? Can you suggest how this helps a person progress to say, the Celestial Kingdom?

          btw, I have never once heard the prophets promoting homosexuality. And you are making it up that they have somehow drawn this “line” at marriage and the law of chastity. Heterosexually inclined people are TAUGHT, at church, to control their thoughts, even the scriptures teach that we will be held accountable for our thoughts, so what if a church member is thinking about adultery all the time? Is that OK to you? This is the point.

  46. I enjoyed this article as well & agree with it. I would just have to add something- the stress that’s put on young men and women to serve missions. While I served a mission myself, it’s definitely not for everyone. I feel like the culture has branded those who don’t for whatever reason as failures in some way. Also, missionaries come home early all the time! I ended up having to return home 6 months early because of some medical and mental illness challenges I faced. It is not an easy thing to do- especially the fear of being judged by those in culture as a failure for not completing the “full 24 month mission” some of the greatest people I know either served and came home early, or never served full time missions at all. We need to stop stressing about the status of it all and just focus on what’s really important, which is service in any form, and love for our fellow men.

    • Amen! One of the finest bishops I’ve ever known never served a mission, and was completely open and unabashed about it. He encouraged everyone who was able to go, but he was also clear that it isn’t for everyone. The church has gotten better about recognizing that not everyone who wants to serve can serve a full 18 or 24 month proselyting mission. My son is currently on a 2-transfer mission, will be evaluated at the end of it and a determination will be made whether he is assigned another mission of 21 months or given an honorable release. Either would be completely acceptable. This is because of medical conditions he has had, that we believe have been put to rest. However, the church is being careful because of his description of the conditions as they affected him in middle school. If those conditions were to arise again, he would not be able to be able to keep up with the work required of a full-time proselyting missionary. I am grateful the brethren have recognized that there can be issues that should limit a person’s time on a mission, or require modifications to what folks usually think of as a church mission, and are making adjustments and accommodations for those.

      I have also known a few other folks who chose not to serve a mission. Having served myself, I know that it isn’t for everyone, and I think members need to be careful how they approach this subject.

      • My brother has social anxiety and depression. To give a talk or a prayer is very hard for him and bearing his testimony? Forget about. when he blessed his chilren it took him weeks of mental preparation to be able to get up infront of the congregation. My brother came home early from his mission because of mental health issues. He has trouble answering the phone if its somebody he doesn’t know so you can imagine how scary it was for him to be constantly meeting and talking to new people.He almost passed out as he gave the talk for his. farewell. I am extremely proud of him for being willing to go and serve the Lord and Heavenly Father knows he gave his best and that was all that was expected of him. Ithink that there is a place for Missionarys like. my brother who has on ofthe strangest testimonies and faithfully spirits of anyone I know . The brother could make accommodations fir people with anxiy by giving them fewer transfers or make an office position. Thankfully my brothers missing president was a doctor. He was very understanding and he was released wit honer . He was married in the temple and serves as a ward cleark. (please excuse the typos Im doing this on my phone ).

      • What you say is not being taught by President Thomas S. Monson when it comes to the CHOICE of serving a mission. Sure there are exceptions for health, mental and physical, etc. even finances, but when it comes to a preference, consider this recent teaching:
        Pres. Monson: “First, to young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and to you young men who are becoming elders: I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord. Maintain your health and strength. Study the scriptures. Where such is available, participate in seminary or institute. Familiarize yourself with the missionary handbook Preach My Gospel.”

        https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/as-we-meet-together-again?lang=eng

  47. I appreciate this post. I lived outside of heavily LDS-populated areas for the first half of my life, some of those areas outside of the U.S., and never experienced any of the described phenomenon. I experienced culture-shock upon relocating to a largely LDS area and longed for the “mission-field culture” I had always known. It was shocking and mind-numbing to experience the difference, and it honestly made me want to quit attending church. I wonder if I would have made it to adulthood as an active member, if I had experienced the church cultural I experienced after my move. I feel you were adequately clear in your support of LDS doctrine. I choose to ignore comments to the contrary. Having family members that fit each category, I applaud your intentions and recommendations! And, until it stops snowing and freezing in the winter or pants are commonplace for women, the females in our family will wear leggings and boots! I see nothing wrong with common sense and caring for yourself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  48. I appreciate your article. It’s hard for me to see so many people pick apart your person opinions when clearly your not trying to be contentious or belittle the church in anyway. I love being a member of this church. I love the doctrines of the church! They bring happiness and above all else are true! We shouldn’t get defensive and worried when people talk about our culture! Especially when something’s like the items you discussed above do need to change (in my opinion). Our doctrines are amazing/life changing! I love them and I love the church! I appreciate your opinions and feel like sharing things like this are by no means dissing on or hurting the church. We are good people and have wonderful things in our culture. We are also imperfect and have allowed some traditions and culture to creep in to where many think it’s doctrine! I’m rambling now. Once again thank you for your fresh opinions.

  49. Isn’t the Sacrament a time to sit and ponder and be thoughtful without interruption? Isn’t that the sole purpose of Sacrament Meeting? Not that your thoughts and feelings aren’t valid. If you feel this way, then hopefully we(meaning other members and leaders) can be understanding and helpful. However, I agree with many statements that its not a “Mormon” thing, but a ‘human nature’ thing and to specifically call out the Mormon culture, cuts me the wrong way. We have so many people and groups these days trying to tear us down and find fault with us. We need to stop trying to tear ourselves down from within. AND….although, again, I feel that you’re well intentioned and sincere, I think publically critizine even the culture of the Church is just the start to finding other faults….maybe with doctrine or leadership. I’m not saying that you can’t have concerns, worries, offenses, questions, etc. But is better to complain and criticize in the public forum, or to humbly and quietly take your issues to the Lord and your leaders? They are where the understanding and change is going to come from – not from random people on the internet.

      • I wasn’t looking for advice. I was curious about your thoughts. I assumed since you were allowing comments, that you were interested in others thoughts as well. If you were interested in opening a discussion, then why is my opinion not valid if I disagree?

        • Your opinion is valid. Sometimes my responses are too sarcastic. It’s something I struggle with. I am sorry if you felt invalidated. I don’t necessarily agree with you, but that doesn’t make either of our opinions less valid.

    • Sacrament meeting (the sole, commanded to attend, purpose of which is to take the sacrament and renew covenants) is aside from time we take sacrament NOT an uninterrupted, quiet opportunity to ponder. This is because there constantly has to be something going on. And then the background noise (and not just babies who cannot help it) of the social butterflies and attention deficient with the constant need to whisper (or louder) commentary, krinkle bags/crunch teeth/smack lips because eating is 24/7, play with toys… Ours is noisy church even in our most reverent Sunday meetings.

    • What a disappointing comment. While it’s easy to get offended if you allow yourself to be, the author was not attacking the Church from within. He was pointing out ways to improve–and merely starting that dialogue with local leaders doesn’t get very far. In this case, what he’s hit upon is widespread throughout the Church and isn’t limited to his ward or stake. So, yes, it’s worth discussing and analyzing in a public forum in the respectful way in which the author has done so. Trying to hide imperfections instead of acknowledging areas where improvement could benefit a great number of people alienated by individuals who have attitudes similar to what you’ve expressed here in your comment is part of the problem. I’d encourage you to stop being part of the problem and instead become part of the solution.

      • Part of the problem? I guess your opinion is the only one that matters? The author is allowed to have an opinion, but if I disagree then I’m part of the problem? How is that a healthy dialogue?

  50. I respect many of the opinions in this article. Some, like having more time for pondering in church, are not feasible. Attending church is a time to do the things that can only be done in a group, like participate, talk, and share. Individual daily worship is the time for meditation and pondering. Also, the article uses terms like “The Mormon Church” and “Mormonism.” These two terms actually don’t exists. We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the only name of the church that we recognize. Secondly, Mormonism is a misnomer. It denotes that we are followers of Mormon or the philosophy of Mormon. I’m sure there’s a more accurate way to represent the Church or adherents of the doctrine as we know it besides “Mormonism.” It smacks of sectarianism, which we reject.

    • I used the term Mormonism just for ease of writing, but I do recognize that the Mormon church was not the correct lexicon to use. It just flowed better. But you are absolutely right in pointing out that this is technically incorrect wording.

    • Then Jermaine I would submit that, just showing up at church long enough to take the sacrament and leave might be the only viable alternative for some people. And that people doing so not be considered inactive or lacking adequate testimonies.

      I reject your notion that we cannot be reverent enough or have breaks for solitude/contemplation within the block meeting.

    • Huh? I chose my username as Zbrasier, the first initial of my first name and then my last name. And the URL of my blog is my full name. My name is Zachery Brasier. Nice to meet you. You can follow me on all the major social networks. Zbrasier isn’t a fake name… It’s my name….

  51. I found the article well-intended, but simplistic and over generalized. I just moved with my family to Utah from Nebraska. It is a cultural shock for my children and husband, all of whom were born and raised outside of Utah. That being said, I feel tired reading this post. I am tired of the judgments and harsh condemnation felt toward good people who are doing their best. Section 1, Introverts, in my opinion, was absurd. Perhaps, not being an introvert (but definitely not being an extrovert), I don’t understand all the dynamics. (I do not have to have the spotlight, but I am not afraid to speak when I the need arises.) I have never EVER seen or witnessed our leaders suspect someone who is introverted as being spiritually in danger or unhappy. I have several friends, one who comes to mind is a female OBGYN, that are introverted and prefer to not have the spotlight on them. Not once has anyone said or intimated that they were unhappy. Now, I have had people think they were stuck up or standoffish, but once I explain that they are shy or not outgoing, people understand. Misunderstanding people — that is human nature — not a mormon thing.

    Having an anxiety disorder, I do get tired of hearing people make stupid comments — both in and out of the church. Again, I do not think that is a Mormon thing, but it is an UNEDUCATED THING. People are assuming and ridiculously unaware of mental illness inside and outside of the church. I had my own mother in law tell me that if I put on more make up and tried to appear happy, I would not be so sick when I was pregnant. People say stupid things — mormon and not mormon. Mormons, for some reason, are just held to a much higher standard. It is something I do not understand. We proclaim to be a church of sinners. The church is perfect, the people in it struggle just like any other humans on this planet. By declaring that we should be a better people will not make that happen. I do not know many people who TRY to say or do stupid things. People make mistakes.

    I have many friends that are homosexual AND actively pursuing that life (ie, married or partnered with someone of the same sex). I love them. I want them to be happy. Life is hard and I cannot blame them for wanting to carve out their own piece of happiness in this world. I am not uncomfortable in their presence. Do I think their lifestyle aligns with the churches teachings? No. Is it my place to make judgments on their life? No. Do I need to make righteous judgments as to what I expose my children to in their young years? Yes. Shrugs. It is a fine balance but I try to be sensitive. Most of the church members I know try to be sensitive too. BUT, the church is predicated on certain beliefs and principles. Those should not, and will not, change to fit the life of sinners. We sinners must change our lives to become like unto the Savior.

    I firmly believe that most Mormons (if not all) are just people trying to do their best. I don’t think ONE mormon person wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I wonder how I can make someone feel judged and misunderstood today.” I think ALL OF US, homo and hetero sexual alike, short / tall, fat / skinny, should cut each other some slack. All of us need to get offended less and give each other the benefit of the doubt more. Be more humble and less prideful.

    I guess I agree that people should not preach as doctrine that which is not doctrine. However, until the general authorities start each talk with “This talk shall be doctrine” or “This is just my opinion, don’t take it as doctrine”, we, as mormons, are once again left to do our best and make our best judgments. I have heard SOOO many general authorities say to not watch R-Rated movies that I am going to listen. Is it doctrine? I don’t know. It has been said over and over from the pulpit by our PROPHETS that I am going to at least call it dang good advice I intend to follow. If you want to watch R-rated movies, by all means, go ahead. BUT, if you tell me you went to see an R-rated movie and then ask my opinion on whether you should have, you do not get to be offended when I say, “Well, they prophet has said not to see R-rated shows and so I choose to not see them.” All of this to say, don’t go looking for a fight or a reason to get offended. You want to watch r-rated shows — go for it. But don’t be surprised if people give your their opinion on it when you publicly go looking for a fight.

    You want to let your kid go to homecoming at 14, that is your call. But I can (and will) reserve the right to feel frustrated with you when my child uses YOU and your child as a reason why SHE should go against the church’s teachings of NOT dating before 16. And I may even say to my child (let’s face it, I DID say to my child), “Just because Shelley’s mom and dad choose to not follow the Prophet’s instructions that children are not to date before 16, does not mean your mom and dad will not follow the prophet. When you are a parent, you can choose whether or not to follow the advice of our prophet.” Does that make me judgmental? Maybe. Could I have said it differently? Yes. But I am human. And I let my frustration get the best of me. Did it scar my child permanently? Let’s hope not.

    Why are we so concerned about whether it is doctrine or just the prophet’s and general authorities guidance? It is so we can pick and choose what we will listen to, follow, and obey. Does that not seem prideful to you? If the prophet says something, whether it is doctrine or his good advice, I intend to follow. Because, remember, the Lord will not let our prophet’s lead us astray. He has promised us that.

    Whether or not the Democratic party is aligned with the teachings of the church — I think a sweeping statement either way would be unsatisfactory or overgeneralized. But I do believe that, as church members, we have to follow our conscience. And I do not believe that the pulpit is the place to make an overgeneralized statement as to the rightness or wrongness of a political party. I think those that do so are doing so against the instruction of the general authorities, who has expressly asked that church leaders NOT make judgments on political parties. BUT, again, there are uneducated and uninformed and prideful people everywhere — not just in the mormon church. We, as mormons, are just people trying to do our best. Rather than be offended, maybe we could drop a note in the mail, to the member of the bishopbric, with the printed article from the church website that ask the leaders not to discuss politics from the pulpit. To me, that would be more effective than insinuating that many (or even more than just a few), leaders push politics from the pulpit.

    Now, it is my opinion, that I have a right, as a member of the church, to have an opinion on politics and if I am asked about my opinion, outside of a church setting, about the democratic party (or tea party, for that matter), I can freely express it. If you don’t want my opinion, don’t ask for it. If you don’t want me to rant at extremes in either party, or if you get offended when I flat out say I don’t understand how you can reconcile your political party with your church beliefs, then DON”T ASK MY OPINION. It is not fair to label me as judgmental and unaccepting of people if YOU ask my opinion.

    My mom always said that the world would be a boring place if everyone was the same. I love diversity. My friends are as different from each other as night and day. And I love it! However, there is a culture and a history that comes with being mormon. I love that culture and that history. It is as part of me as my DNA. We are hardworking people; we descend from pioneers who walked across the plains for religious freedom; we stand out, stand proud, stand strong, stand true, and STAND FOR SOMETHING GREAT in a world full of sin; we help each other in times of financial hardship; we raise strong-minded and righteous children; we help strengthen each other and we help guide each other. That is (a part) of our culture. I would invite those that join our church to not just join our culture, but EMBRACE our culture. Add to our wonderful culture, but don’t try to change our culture or diminish our culture or dilute our culture. That, dear author, I will NEVER agree with or understand.

    • Thank you for your feedback. You should really start a blog yourself so that you can publish your thoughts. You have good things to say, I just don’t know if piggybacking an article length comment on somebody else’s piece of writing is the best way to get your opinion heard. Let me know if you do decide to start a blog. I would love to read it.

      • I agree with zbrasier in that your response was as long as the original article 🙂 Furthermore, I would love to see references for the “over and over from the pulpit” regarding R-rated movies. I can think of one time a general authority has said from the pulpit not to watch R-rated movies. I can think of one time Gordon B. Hinckley said from the pulpit that he did not intend to see what Hollywood called the Best Movie of the Year (Chicago), and that movie was PG-13. The line is arbitrary. It’s the content that matters. They have always instructed us to be mindful of what we’re taking in, regardless of the rating or accessibility.

        Additionally, I would just like to point out that zbrasier titled this piece “4 Ways We Can Fix Mormon Culture,” NOT “4 Ways That Only Mormon Culture Fails.” You seem to be accusing him of exclusively blaming Mormon culture for these shortcomings, and that’s not what he was doing at all. And his distinction between doctrine and culture seems fairly spot on to me. We need to find ways to include everyone, to make everyone feel a valued member of the ward, despite the individuals limitations. Jesus spent his time with lepers, the most social outcast there was. He defended the adulterer when the men wanted to stone her, saying “He who is without sin shall throw the first stone.” They all walked away. He loved people unconditionally, but our culture doesn’t promote that approach the way you think it would in the true church, the one with the fullness of the gospel, and a living prophet. I have often felt judged by (and likewise judged) someone who in essence sins differently than I do. It breaks my heart to read stories like that of the bishop who dressed up as a homeless man and sat in the congregation and the members shunned him. I’m certain members who deal with SSA often feel the same kind of distance from the people who are taught to love them as they would love themselves, but don’t necessarily act on those teachings.

        With all due respect, while there are many parts of our culture that I love and wouldn’t change, your statement that the author should, “Add to our wonderful culture, but don’t try to change our culture or diminish our culture or dilute our culture,” is a bad case of tunnel vision. In my opinion, there is always room for dialogue and room for personal/congregational/cultural improvement within the boundaries of the actual doctrine. Always. To say otherwise is to suggest we have found some level of perfection.

        • Here are some comments from the church regarding R-rated movies. Since people wanted quotes, or if some think that people just pull ideas out of thin air, I would like to show that there are indeed quotes on the subject. As to whether or not people consider it doctrine, I’ll leave that up to them. It’s good enough for me, but some people see things differently with regards to doctrine/counsel vs opinion etc. (Some quotes may be repeats, or people/manuals quoting other people, but reaffirming what was said, or making it more applicable to more people.)

          Before the quotes, I would like to point out the erroneous assumption that it seems some people have, that we have to pick and choose between only not watching R-rated movies and deciding media choices for ourselves based on content.
          People seem to think that because some R-rated movies are better than other ratings, that we can’t use the R-rated rule, and must only chose for ourselves. Others may think that anything that is not R goes. The counsel not to watch R-rated movies was not given as the ONLY counsel with regards to media, it is just ONE of the criteria given. So if places don’t have USA MPAA ratings, or if we say the MPAA rating system is changing etc., that does not mean we have to disregard the counsel against R-rated movies, that is when the other counsel becomes more relevant not to watch anything vulgar, violent, pornographic etc… As to what constitutes vulgarity/immorality etc, that is something that people may have different interpretations one, and may need more personal consideration. As to whether or not something is rated R, is usually more clear. If a movie not R is worse than an R movie, then don’t watch it. If an R movie is better than some non – Rs, (or there is an R-version that is the exact same as an unrated, or foriegn film etc. ) boowhoo, I’m sure it’s not going to kill us to not be able to waste time watching TV.

          ELDER ROBERT L. SIMPSON
          : “It goes without saying that all X- and R-rated movies are automatically eliminated.”
          https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1972/10/pollution-of-the-mind?lang=eng

          ELDER H. BURKE PETERSON
          : “I know it is hard counsel we give when we say movies that are R-rated, and many with PG-13 ratings, are produced by satanic influences. Our standards should not be dictated by the rating system. I repeat, because of what they really represent, these types of movies, music, tapes, etc. serve the purposes of the author of all darkness.”
          https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1993/10/touch-not-the-evil-gift-nor-the-unclean-thing?lang=eng

          Elder Robbins
          “In 1986 President Ezra Taft Benson warned members of the danger of anything “R rated” or beyond. The members thought he had drawn a line. I know that because I have heard many members of the Church say, “Oh, we can watch that movie. It’s only a PG-13. The prophet gave us permission.” They don’t say that last part, but that is what they are thinking, because they thought he posted a speed limit, so to speak.”
          http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=2135

          Van C. Gessel
          “Now, what about movies? I’ve been listening carefully for the past 19 years, and I haven’t heard any prophet during that time declare null and void the straightforward declaration of President Ezra Taft Benson, who was, I might note, president of the Church in 1986 when he said: “Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic” (Ezra Taft Benson, “To the ‘Youth of the Noble Birthright,’” Ensign, May 1986, 45; emphasis added). Nor have I noticed a significant reduction in the portrayals of violence, profanity, and sexuality in motion pictures. Au contraire! The Church booklet For the Strength of Youth similarly provides a useful standard: “Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way” (For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2001], 17; emphasis added). What does that standard do to the excuses “Well, it’s only rated that way because of the violence” or “just because of some bad language”? Why do some think they have reached a certain level of adulthood where prophetic counsel no longer applies to them? To those who stand at the doorways leading into graphic representations of the blood and sins of our current generation, the Lord’s call is: “Come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things” (Alma 5:57).”
          http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1451

          ELDER JOSEPH B. WIRTHLIN
          : “So-called little transgressions are especially serious in our effort to live a life of moral purity. Satan would have us believe that the minor infractions do not need to concern us. Why worry if we do not control our thoughts or if we allow pornographic or immoral entertainment to be part of our lives? Does attending just a few R-rated movies or immoral PG movies really damage us? Are we so unworthy when we watch just two or three questionable programs on the cable television channels? Are the lewd novels of the day really so bad?”
          http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=431

          ELDER CREE-L KOFFORD
          : “All too often, we get ourselves enmeshed in the process of trying to understand why God gave us a particular commandment. We want to rationalize. I don’t know where that is more evident than in watching movies. Young people know they should not watch R- or X-rated movies, and yet time after time I hear them say, “Well it’s only rated R because it’s violent.” What difference does it make why it is rated R? The fact is, a prophet of God has said not to go to R-rated movies (see, for example, Ezra Taft Benson, “To the ‘Youth of the Noble Birthright,’” Ensign, May 1986, 45). That ought to be good enough.”
          https://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/07/marriage-in-the-lords-way-part-two?lang=eng

          Eternal Marriage Student Manual:
          (
          “President Ezra Taft Benson
          “We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterward. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 58; or Ensign, May 1986, 45).

          Elder H. Burke Peterson
          “Again I say, leave it alone. Turn it off, walk away from it, burn it, erase it, or destroy it. I know it is hard counsel we give when we say movies that are R-rated, and many with PG-13 ratings, are produced by satanic influences. Our standards should not be dictated by the rating system. I repeat, because of what they really represent, these types of movies, music, and tapes serve the purposes of the author of all darkness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 60; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 43).”
          https://www.lds.org/manual/eternal-marriage-student-manual/pornography?lang=eng
          President Benson
          “We counsel you, young women, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterward. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. And don’t accept dates from young men who would take you to such entertainment.”
          https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1986/10/to-the-young-women-of-the-church?lang=eng

          )

          President Benson
          “We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading.”
          https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1986/04/to-the-youth-of-the-noble-birthright?lang=eng

          Joe J. Christensen
          “It is a concern that some of our young Latter-day Saints, as well as their parents, regularly watch R-rated and other inappropriate movies and videos. One more reason why the “devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice” (3 Ne. 9:2).”
          https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/10/the-savior-is-counting-on-you?lang=eng

          ELDER JOE J. CHRISTENSEN
          : “In addition to making a resolution that we will read only the best in print, it would be very beneficial if now we resolved not to watch even one R- or X-rated (NC-17) movie, video, or television show from now on. That may sound extreme to some of you, but I assure you that much of our future happiness and success depends on it.”
          http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=875

          Elder Joe J. Christensen
          “Even though your children say, “Well, everyone else is going to stay out until one or two in the morning, and their parents don’t care. Why can’t I? Don’t you trust me?” let them know that there are some things that, as members of your family, you simply do not do. Some parents seem to be almost pathologically concerned about their children’s popularity and social acceptance and go along with many things that are really against their better judgment, such as expensive fads, immodest clothes, late hours, dating before age sixteen, R-rated movies, and so on. For children and parents, standing up for what is right may be lonely at times. There may be evenings alone, parties missed, and movies which go unseen. It may not always be fun. But parenting is not a popularity contest.”
          https://www.lds.org/general-conference/print/1993/10/rearing-children-in-a-polluted-environment?lang=eng

          Elder Scott
          “Whether it be turning your back on an off-color joke, refusing to see an R-rated movie or videocassette, or walking out of a party that is moving in the wrong direction, make your standards clear to others by quietly making the right choices when the temptation is first presented. A decisive, correct choice made once and consistently kept thereafter will avoid much heartache. You then can use your energy in keeping your resolve rather than repeatedly wrestling with the same challenge. Also, you will greatly reduce the possibility that you will be overcome by temptation.”
          http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=474

          Elder Groberg
          “Oh, brethren, please don’t sell your precious priesthood birthright for a mess of X- or R-rated pottage.”
          https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/04/priesthood-power?lang=eng

          Ellen W. Smoot
          “Do we show our love to the Lord if we spend our time at R-rated movies, reading pornographic material, or involving ourselves in activities that would be degrading or unbecoming a daughter of God?”
          https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/steadfast-and-immovable?lang=eng

          Bruce C. Hafen
          “Can you see why the Brethren tell us to stay away from X- and R-rated movies?”
          http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=652

          Quotes Elder Benson:
          (
          Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3, (1995), 104–8
          https://www.lds.org/manual/aaronic-priesthood-manual-3/lesson-26-blessings-of-chastity?lang=eng

          Book of Mormon Student Manual, (2009), 232–41
          https://www.lds.org/manual/book-of-mormon-student-manual/chapter-31-alma-36-39?lang=eng

          Eternal Marriage Student Manual
          https://www.lds.org/manual/eternal-marriage-student-manual/pornography?lang=eng

          Van C. Gessel
          http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1451

          ELDER JOE J. CHRISTENSEN
          https://www.lds.org/ensign/1994/12/resolutions?lang=eng

          Elder Wirthland
          https://www.lds.org/new-era/1988/05/little-things-count?lang=eng
          )

            • That is a very thorough reply. Thank you, unknown, for taking the time to link all of those. I will take the time to read through them. While I personally don’t watch R-rated movies (with the exception of homework in film school), despite working in the film/tv industry and feeling the pressure to do so, I also don’t watch many PG-13 movies, and very few television shows. For me, the content drives away the Spirit or makes me think things that contradict the way I’ve been raised are actually no big deal, or totally okay. Therefore, I mainly stick to cooking channels, hallmark, and kids’ shows. When I do go to the movies, I first find out the content at the Web site kids-in-mind dot com, which is an incredibly thorough site for any movie already released. They are so vigilant and so conservative in logging the content in categories of language, sex, and violence, that on their scale of 1-10, depending on the category I can often go up to a 4 or 5 before I’m bothered. This is a great source for anyone wanting to be better prepared for what they’re about to see, or to find out if they want to see it at all.

              In film school I had to watch King’s Speech, which in my opinion is a perfect example of a film that was R-rated, (for reasons of language in one therapy scene that contained 4 F-words) and yet is a film everyone should see. It changed me. It changed how I treat others. It was a spiritual experience, and I would hope people wouldn’t miss the chance to change how they see the world and others simply because of a rating. It was later re-released as PG-13 because they changed those F-words into S-word. Silly, really.

              Saints and Soldiers was initially given an R rating because when one of the main characters died, the violence was too intense. When the producer argued that thousands get slaughtered in Lord of the Rings and it was PG-13, the MPAA responded saying that was fantasy violence. So one death in S&S, a scene that would drive home the reality of violence/war, garnered a stronger rating than the CGI death of thousands. Does that make sense to anyone? No. The catholic church has its own internal rating system according to its congregants’ beliefs, and I think that would be a better approach for our church than just drawing the line based on the rating from an arbitrary body (MPAA) that doesn’t share my beliefs and would let things slide that I wouldn’t. But again, this is just my opinion.

              • Two excellent examples of not letting the world (a secular panel) make your judgements for you. I do appreciate all those quotes. And perhaps life would still be full without ever seeing a R-rated movie, even great ones with something worthy to share. Probably so. I like movies; great movies. Thanks for sharing.

      • I am a mother of five and work full time as an attorney. While I wish I had time to blog, I do not. Honestly, I didn’t realize that there was a suggested length for a comment. I was trying to sincerely address your article and be thoughtful – not sweeping. I apologize if you felt I was trying to piggyback on your article. No one could possible know me by my posted name and I was not attempting to garner followers. If my comment is too long, it will not offend me if you delete it. Good luck in your endeavors to bring more happiness to disenfranchised members of the church. I believe anything that brings people closer to Christ is of merit.

        • Oh I’m sorry. I was not trying to belittle you. I just thought that you did such a good job that I wish other people would be able to read it. I was not trying to give backhanded criticism. If you have the time to blog I highly recommend it. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

          • I am the associate general counsel for a large healthcare corporation that has publicly traded debt. I have always wanted to blog but could not do so under my real name (mainly by my employer would frown upon it.) I don’t think I could blog under a pseudonym because that lacks courage imo. Anyways your article made me think and respond–which I haven’t done in years. Must have been pretty thought provoking.

      • I agree with your point that Michelle is making some excellent points here, and that, because this was in the comments section, her thoughts will be missed by a large segment. Close examination of your article and hers largely show you both in the same camp.

    • I was mostly with you until you started talking about being the descendant of pioneers in the last paragraph. That is the exact Mormon elitist culture that I couldn’t stand while I was in Utah. As if your ancestors somehow make you a prestigious figure worthy of recognition within the church.

      “we descend from pioneers who walked across the plains for religious freedom; we stand out, stand proud, stand strong, stand true…”

      Unfortunately, people within the church seem to take it upon themselves to stand out from OTHER members of the church because of their heritage. This sometimes alienates new members and makes them feel as though they shouldn’t be as proud of their family heritage.

      “The man who has not anything to boast of but his illustrious ancestors is like a potato,–the only good belonging to him is under ground.” – Sir Thomas Overbury

      • Our culture descends from pioneers, not necessarily me. That’s why I said “we descend from pioneers.” Our Mormon culture descends from those great pioneers. Whether or not you are a direct descendent or a convert, the principles, the very culture of perseverance, hard work, devotion to God, is available to embrace and adopt. In case I am still not clear, I was not referencing my own lineage.

  52. People can be in denial all they want about it but R rated movies have been discussed plenty of times by church leaders. President Benson talked about it. Yes it was in a talk addressed to Young Men, but tons of talks are directed to certain groups, but does that mean that we can exclude ourselves from this counsel from the PROPHET of the LORD. Again, people can deny it and find all the excuses in the world but the fact is the Prophet said we should avoid R rated movies. He was not the only one to say it either.

    “What difference does it make why it is rated R? The fact is, a prophet of God has said not to go to R-rated movies. That ought to be enough” (Ensign, July 1998, 16). —Elder Cree-L Kofford of the Seventy

    The pamphlet “For the Strength of Youth” also says ; “Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable.”
    R rated movies are rated R because they contain a certain amount of vulgarity, immorality, violence and nudity. Those things are not acceptable for members of the church, no matter who you are. It states it simply in that pamphlet, which is not only for youth. It is a guideline that can be applied and followed by all members of the church.
    Anything can be justified but not matter what vulgarity, immorality, violence and pornographic images drive the Spirit away no matter if they are presented in a humorous or serious tone.

    My comment is not intended to be judgmental in any way, shape, or form. All I intend to point out is the obvious about what the prophets have said throughout the last few decades.

    • Thank you for your comment! See, I really appreciate contrary opinions, so I am glad that you posted your in such an eloquent manner. I like when people can see two sides to an opinion.

      • Ezra Taft Beson April1986 Priesthood session of general conference “We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading..”

    • I disagree. Why should the media we consume be determined by the MPAA, a corrupt organization created by man? Should we not rely upon the Spirit of God? Ezra Taft Benson was the only apostle to ever make a statement about the rating of movies, and indeed, he was talking to young men. Some direction given by apostles is only appropriate for some certain groups. When the prophet tells people in a priesthood session that going on a mission is a duty, is that applied to the sisters?

      Just as there are age requirements for serving a mission and being baptized, I believe that there are certain films that can be watched by adults that should not be watched by younger children. I have been uplifted and felt the spirit by watching several R rated films, such as The Passion of the Christ and The King’s Speech, that may not have been appropriate for me to view at a younger age.

      The film program at BYU, a church-owned school, has its film students watching certain movies that happen to be rated R, which instruct and edify us. Often the professors here explain that while we do not choose certain movies to “consume it upon our own lusts,” we refuse to “make a man an offender for a word” and look at the greater message of the film.

      Would you reject somebody you were assigned to hometeach because they happen to swear a lot? You could be missing out on an important spiritual experience. I believe the same can be true when it comes to film.

      What about church members in other countries? They have no such thing as an R rating. Are they supposed to make their media choices based upon the supposed almighty American system or risk losing the Spirit? The bottom line is that we are supposed to choose media that brings us closer to the Lord. I believe that with all my heart, and I have come closer to my Heavenly Father by watching some R rated movies. I’ve felt distanced from my Father by watching some PG movies.

      TL;DR – Choose media by the Spirit, not by an organization created by men.

        • As far as I understand, the Church leaders do not talk about R-Rated movies specifically because we are an international church and our MPAA rating system is not the same in other countries. However, in the US, R-Rated movies are a minimum standard. Does anyone REALLY think that the Spirit is going to inspire them to see a movie with language, sex and/or violence in it – as all R-Rated movies have one or all of these things. That does not mean that everything PG-13 or even PG is appropriate. Yes, I agree that some things are appropriate for adults, but not appropriate for children. But, aren’t there some standards that apply to everyone? You can watch what you want – you have that free agency. You can still get a temple recommend if you watch R-rated movies. You can still hold a calling, but don’t try to convince me that watching them isn’t going to hurt your spirituality. And, don’t try to tell me that I’m being silly for following a guideline that is a pretty good guideline, and for publically talking about a guideline that is getting looser every year as the MPAA rating standards continue to lower.

          • I would never say that you are being silly. I think that your mindset about this issues of movies is a great mindset. I wish that everybody would have it.

          • “…don’t try to convince me that watching them isn’t going to hurt your spirituality.” A spiritual inner life is complicated and personal. You can’t with any legitimacy define what “[his] spirituality” is like or what might harm it. Whats harmful for one person may not be harmful for another. And how do you define “spirituality” here?

            • “Don’t try to convince me that watching them isn’t going to hurt your spirituality.” This can be taken as valuable time-saving advice: He’s not open to being convinced otherwise, so don’t bother.

              I think a pretty safe definition for spirituality here is the ability to feel the Spirit. He references offending the Spirit several times, and the influence of the Holy Ghost. True, such spirituality is between oneself and God – but that doesn’t mean bryce isn’t right about what he says.

      • would I reject someone as a home teacher because they swore – no – but I’d ask them not to do it in my home or in front of me. Poor analogy.

        • I wouldn’t however as their home teacher in their home deny people the right to be themselves. And since the point was brought up, other than taking the Lord’s name in vain, there is no clear directive to not use [a certain list of words]. Why? Because what one person might put on such a list might not be included on another list. Cultural. Contextual. Semantical. Linguistic (foreign swear words and phrases count). Little examples:

          Not that you’d (the reader) ever or should call someone a dork. But a dork is by definition a whale’s male member. And if you say something sucks, which actually got used in this last conference, this term is at its core a crude reference to something most LDS folks (or, maybe not) would deem inappropriate. Woodworkers have a name for some files; which happens to be the correct term by definition for my birth status. Dog breeders use a certain term. There is a certain animal that is neither donkey or burro or mule; some people act like these animals. Some language is meant for the bedroom. J Golden Kimble ( I do wish there were other examples) was infamous for using two words from the pulpit clearly describing both the lack of eternal progress and where these people go. And it’s a personal observation, but of all the words describing the revolting thing that is fecal waste, be it bovine, canine, equine, fowl or other, all but two are simply too dainty in their description, whereas the two perfectly fit.

  53. i don’t agree with the points…especially 2&3. The church or “culture” has come out and said that we do not approve of gay marriage. There are some people that may not feel comfortable around homosexuals. Can you blame them? Our Father in Heaven has said that that isn’t acceptable. For the third point, I’ll just say one thing. Doctrine isn’t just the Book of Mormon or the bible. Doctrine is anything that those servants of God say and do. We should, as faithful Mormons comply with these doctrines. We should obey the Lord. I makes no sense when mormon people support gay marriage. The prophets have said “no gay marriage”… Do you not like your religion because you’re going against it…

    Thanks for showing the world through this article the Mormons are crap. Means a lot.

    • I think that you misunderstood what I wrote. I am not saying that support gay marriage. The brethren have been very clear that that is against the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I believe them. What I am saying is that we need to have a different approach to how we treat homosexual members. We all sin, but treating homosexual members like they are somehow sinning more strikes me as problematic. That is what I was trying to say.

      I am sorry to have offended you. I tried to make it clear that I love my religion, but these are just some suggestions that will help us all be better. I hope that you will forgive me for any offense that I may have caused you.

      • I also was a little confused with your stance on point number 2, and I am really glad you clarified. The biggest issue why people find Point 2 arguable is because of the unclear definition of a homosexual person. Having homosexual desires is not a sin, but acting on them is. I wouldn’t call someone homosexual for having those desires. For me, the definition of a homosexual person is someone who continually acts on those types of feelings. While it is a commandment to respect, love and help people like that, we should not, under any circumstance, accept them. Again, most people don’t understand the word accept either. Accept means to believe or recognize that an opinion or practice is correct. Someone who goes to church every week, but continually acts on homosexual desires every weekend is indeed a sinner and cannot be in good standings with the church. I feel that it is our duty to love them, respect them, be nice to them, do good things for them, say hi to them in the streets and treat them like our friend. However, it is also our duty to help them realize that what they are doing is wrong, and that it will never be okay with me or with the church. We should love, care for, nurture and help homosexuals. But we should never accept or support their lifestyle.

        • Uhh.. you make it sound like all homosexual people, ‘the gays’, are out clubbing and sleeping around every weekend. There’s a lot more straight people in absolute terms doing that than gay people but you may not feel the need to engratiate yourself to them but saying ‘not that there’s anything wrong with that’
          I’ve never been promiscuous but I for sure am gay.
          Check your assumptions dude.

          • I don’t think he at all implied that “all homosexual people… are out clubbing and sleeping around every weekend.”

            As you pointed out, however, that sin is sin is sin – promiscuity is wrong whether gay or straight or whatever.

            • Yup, he did imply it heavily when he talks about “continually acts on homosexual desires every weekend”. He’s not talking about a group of people who have committed, loving relationships, he’s talking about people who sleep around and are all cloak and dagger about their sex lives.
              That is unless he assumes that no one anywhere has sex on weekdays… poor guy.
              People who are gay are just like everyone else, people of all kinds except that they happen to be attracted and make close bonds with people of their own sex.
              Another bombshell… you don’t have to be actively seeking sexual relationships with people of the same sex to be gay. Being gay is not the act of having sex with people of your same sex, it’s a slightly different shift in the way one’s whole life works. It’s not that different from you, but it is distinct. The church, until just a couple days ago, refusing to even acknowledge LGBT people as being a distinct group has done a lot of damage to people like me. It removes us from the support and community that we need to survive.
              Even when I was married to men I was still a lesbian. That’s part of why it just didn’t work.

        • I completely agree with the points made in this article. The culture of the church drives people away from striving to live the doctrine of the church. With that being said, this is my reply regarding the people who live lifestyles not completely in line with the doctrine of the church. The church is a place full of people striving for perfection, and because no one is perfect, when you are gay straight, an infidel, drug addict or any other form of imperfection, you are going to feel insecure because of those imperfections, and this does not mean that you are always being judged when you enter a church building. Imperfection breeds insecurity. So continue to do your best and strive to be better, and realize that being judgmental is an imperfection of that individual and is no different than yours. So as an imperfect drug addict, we must love the judger of persons for their imperfection just as they must love us in ours.

    • #2 didn’t say anything about gay marriage. Homosexuality is a temptation on par with lust. Some men lust after women, and some men lust after men. The temptation isn’t sin.

    • People like you are the reason this article had to be written. Opinions are not doctrine. And the Brethren have recently(yesterday) stated that we need to love all people as the Lord does.

    • He said nothing of supporting gay marriage, he’s talking about “TTreating others as we’d like to be treated.” Do you run around telling alcoholics that they’re a big ol’ sinner? Do you enjoy when people call you out on your sins? If they’re familiar with the church, then they know that you don’t approve of their lifestyle, and then it’s your job just to love and support them in the good that they are doing.

    • I think you missed the point. Why are you uncomfortable? If you are witnessing in church or elsewhere actual homosexual (or heterosexual) copulation, I’d understand the discomfort. But again, as I noted above in my comments, we shouldn’t be uncomfortable with two people showing the same tasteful affection towards one another regardless of their genders. The example of the Savior touching and directly interacting with lepers, Samaritans, publicans, harlots and such is quite instructive.

  54. This article upsets me for a few reasons.

    There is a notion that the culture of Mormon church is a major driver in people becoming disaffected is preposterous. Yes I’m sure there are people who feel pressured into doing too much or being more social than they would prefer but in my experience it’s not so much the people that are the problem but the whole system.

    I was a devout member in good standing into my late twenties. Married in the temple and had 2 children while my husband was going to school. Pretty normal little Mormon family. My parents and grandparents were all active and worthy members. My brothers, aunts and uncles and most of my cousins are Mormon as well. I was doing my best to live the gospel. I was young women’s president, I organized girls camp, my husband was in the bishopric and had stake callings. Everything seemed fine until I discovered undeniable proof that my husband had been having affairs with other women online for many years. I brought it up to my bishop and after a few prayerful meetings I was counseled to stop watching so much TV and to spend more time as a family.

    I have no idea what abstaining from TV had to do with my husband’s infidelity but we did it and he apologized profusely and promised that he had repented and that he would never do it again. He was not able to live up to that promise. I later found more incriminating photos and chat logs on the computer while I was looking for a picture to set at my wallpaper on my desktop. I left him with my children a few days later.

    I moved 2 hours away and lived in my parents basement for a few months while I tried to get myself back together. During this time I went back to my home ward from when I was a child. When I started going I got nothing but pity and sometimes tearful demands for explanations about why I had fallen and decided to not be married to my husband anymore. Eventually I hid in the breezeway between the chapel and the cultural hall during sunday school and RS doing introspective journaling while my kids were in primary.

    After a short while my bishop brought me in for an interview and I told him my story. He sympathized and said he would make it right. But nothing happened. Even when my ex-husband moved into my parents ward after I had moved on an jeered at them from the pew directly across the aisle nothing was done. There was no church tribunal. There was no inquiry. Nothing. My husband was an online sexual predator searching for innocent religious young girls to seduce and nothing happened.

    I lost all faith in the system that completely failed me both personally as I was shunned and shamed for being a divorcee and ignored the very real problem of my unworthy husband.

    To compound all of this the whole time I had been fighting with all my might to repress the fact that I have been gay all along. I had told my husband and had never acted on my inclinations but I felt that I was somehow intrinsically bad or evil for having these feelings. They were my cross to bear and I just had to put my shoulder to the wheel and push through my life for my eternal reward. That is a very heavy burden. Sometimes it feels too much and the thought of suicide is a very real out for the daunting years of denial and repression that lay waiting for me. But suicide is only another form of homicide and that is not looked upon lightly by God. So I didn’t even have that release.

    There was no way that God’s plan would work for me if I was actually gay. It couldn’t have been right if I decided that I was justified in seeking those of my same sex. I couldn’t be right AND God be right so I went with the easier answer for many years and assumed that I was wrong all along. I couldn’t trust myself. I couldn’t trust my feelings. I couldn’t trust others because what they said didn’t make much sense, I couldn’t relate to it.

    I put on a happy face and floated in a giddily dazed state for most of my 20s. Not really connecting with people and always feeling alone. Shame does some pretty horrific things to a person.

    I left the church finally in 2009.

    I was still ashamed of my homosexuality. It takes a long time to deprogram that feeling of wrongness. I married again a man who was not a member. That fell apart after 2 years after I came out.

    Attempting to live the “gospel” has been one big disaster through all of my adult life. It is not at all the truth and it does not work for me at all. I cannot deny who I am and I cannot live with good conscience and with loyalty to myself in that damaging system.

    That has nothing to do with being left along in meetings to ponder my thoughts or about how friendly the membership are to gay people. It has to do with big systematic problems of a church that is far from prefect. The gospel is not perfect, it hurts people.

    It hurt me.

    I am now in a committed relationship with a wonderful woman for the past year and my children and I are doing better than we ever have before. Better than when we were going to church. Better than when I was mismatched with men.

    I don’t want to hurt you but the church that you participate in hurts me every day. It’s not cultural Mormonism that hurts it’s The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that hurts.

    I write a blog occasionally.
    notastraightstory.com

    • This comment is complete BS, there is not a Church leader in the world who would say as solution to your husband’s infidelity “you need to watch less TV.” Your whole comment is sensationalist garbage to get people to go to your blog. “I write a blog occasionally” = I write a blog where I spew bitterness towards a religion, my family, and my upbringing as my sole source of non-government assisted income.

      • Yeah, I very much disliked her comment. I would delete it, but I want to provide an open forum for discussion and debate.. So I can’t really start censoring…

        • Thank you for letting me have a voice here too. I know my story is not convenient but it is my reality. I didn’t want it to be true either, but here we are. Btw I dont make any money at all from my blog at this point its just being able to tell my story and feel heard. Who can blame me for trying to have a go at blogging for a living?

          • No problem. Although I may not agree with you, that does not mean that you do not deserve to be heard. People need to see all the points of view and make decisions for themselves.

        • Yes, its good to not censor comments, but I would not doubt that your blog post got picked up by a pro-homosexual newsfeed and so we are seeing many opinions that are not friendly to the church. Not really a surprise there. I am here as a natural inclination to be this defender of the faith, but I think that’s a good thing. Sorry for posting so much. I think its just balance needed in the comments, because really, the comments don’t percentage wise represent the cross section of thought that exists out there.

      • Sadly, yes. There ARE, in fact, imperfect church leaders. They are human, just as you and I are human. The only infallible being that has lived on Earth is Jesus Christ. The bishop may have thought he was advising as best he could, but from this person’s (LisforMe) perspective, it was detrimental.
        Too many people think that their church leaders can do no wrong. If you want to follow the doctrine and obtain true answers, do what Joseph Smith did. Ask the Big Guy Upstairs. I don’t mean to preach, but that’s the only place to get undeniably true answers. An answer from anyone else has the possibility of not being true.

      • Im sorry if my life upsets you so much but not a word of that is exaggerated of a lie. There is no formal education or training on marital counseling required for bishops and sometimes the advice they give is just pain ridiculous.
        I want to share how the church is hurting some and its not just the people its the system. It pained me greatly to leave. It still hurts my parents and my family but I couldn’t stay.
        Im sorry to have upset your reality.

        • I think you are absolutely fine to give your thoughts on here, lid forms. You weren’t rude or preachy. Just telling your experience. I also had experiences where I was given ludicrous advice from those in counseling positions of authority, after abuse happened. It shaped my self esteem for years. It’s not pretty to think about, but it does happen.

          I choose to believe that it is not an error in the gospel, but personality flaws in the men that I trusted. Big ones. Huge. I did learn, through these experiences, to be an advocate for me. It sounds like you have, as well. Congratulations.

          I still go to church quite a bit, but have come to peace with it. I go, knowing the culture can be inflexible and abrasive. It can also be warm and welcoming. Both. Some Sunday’s I go and am edified. Some Sunday’s the culture gets in the way. So I take it a little at a time and do the best I can. I stopped listening to people who have proven their ignorance and insensitivity by spewing scripture and talks and negative comments at me, MORE than listening to the spirit of the conversation. It is nonproductive and exhausting.

          Nothing productive comes from conflict, when conflict, for its own sake, becomes the focus. Nor does bullying or being manipulative “on behalf of the church”. I believe in most of what the gospel teaches, but not all. The one thing that does NOT inspire me to change my opinion about my conflict in doctrine are those who feel the need to “set me straight” on my views. There have been some comments here that fall into that catagory, and my reaction is to shake my head. The conflict has become more important than the spirit of the article. It’s the opposite of inspiration. It is a form of manipulation, and is off-putting. I’m not talking about having an opposing view, I’m talking about using it as a sledgehammer.

          I absolutely agree with the author’s post. I found it insightful, refreshing, and honest. Again, it might not be everyone’s experience with church time or people, but it is mine. And many, many people I know. So thank you for being inclusive to those of us who have felt, at times, like we don’t “fit in”. And that we count, too.

          We all deserve to be happy on our journey in this life. I’ve found mine in giving myself permission to recognize the positive in something, and embrace that part, but also be ok with parting ways with the destructiveness that may exist in that same situation.

          This article embraces just that. Thanks to the author for writing it.

    • I felt like I really connected with your story, and appreciate you sharing. The whole system IS wrong and does not work the way it was meant. Honestly, even though I was baptized at the knowledgeable age of 8, I was never actually very active in the Church. But…I’m more temple worthy than almost all the people I’ve met that are active. There’s a reason why Utah is the top state for Pornography addiction and Meth addiction for Mormon mothers. The world is evolving and changing and if the Church doesn’t make some changes along with it, I see it going down-or being taken down by force-in the very near future. I don’t think the LDS religion aims to breed repressed and unhappy people but that’s what’s happened on a large scale.

      • Its just important to keep in mind that those problems are not problems with the doctrine, which was the point of my article. I believe that the church will only keep growing until the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ because the doctrine is truth. Thanks for reading.

        • Hey LisforMe hang in there! The church has a lot of good and is really beautiful in a lot of ways, but its not perfect and neither are its leaders. Bad advice is given, uninspired counsel is given, and people get hurt sometimes. Sorry that happened to you. Don’t worry about people who say your words are garbage just because they feel threatened. There’s a cute saying, “Catholics are told the pope is infallible…but no one believes it. Mormons are told that the prophets are fallible…but no one believes it.” I don’t discount the great good in the church when i say that not all prophetical counsel is absolute.
          I’m so happy that you’ve found some happiness in your life. I don’t think you’re a sinner for acting on your love for your gal. I hope that someday the systems and policies that made you feel so much pain will be altered

  55. I am reminded of President Heber J. Grant (a Democrat) and his tearful pleadings with the Utah legislature, which represented Mormon culture. Later he said in General Conference that falling to get the Legislature to follow correct doctrine was the biggest humiliation of his life.

    The culture (ie, the political polity) and the doctrine are occasionally do widely divided that it is hard to defend the culture’s actions.

  56. Great article and many points I agree with. We definitely need to be more accepting of diversity & understanding of mental health etc I’ve been on the receiving end of assuming your doing something wrong if your depressed..really?!?!?! Its ridiculous that someone would actually believe that and many other sad views that are spouted out in meetings!
    Regarding leggings and high rated movies I thought that the prophet had spoken out on these topics in the strength of youth? There’s a chapter on media and it being appropriate (obviously the higher the ratings the less appropriate?!) and no tight or revealing clothing..id class leggings as tight and very revealing? Unless they’re being worn as tights with a knee length skirt or dress then totally fine surely?

  57. I find your article thought provoking and helpful.. Not to over simplify, but if we all recognize that each and every one on the planet is a precious son or daughter of our Heavenly Father, some issues could possibly be resolved with that in mind. I am a senior who has seen many of these difficulties, and I tend to be somewhat introverted. But I will not allow that to interfere with my testimony.

  58. How about just understand why we go to church and not worry about the culture and just follow Christ. Stop trying to change things and worry about what others think of you, but worry about what you can do to improve your own life. People will always find a reason to leave the church and blame it on whatever reason or whoever.

  59. I loved every part of your article, thank you. You worded it quite well too, acknowledging that while you feel very fervently about these issues, you do admit that you are merely stating your opinion, which anyone is free to disagree with. I’ve never commented on anything like this before, but I really want to purely because I am relieved that I’m not the only one who feels there is a problem with Mormon culture. I’m from South Carolina where I converted to the Church at the age of 12. I later moved to Provo, Utah to attend BYU, and I have to admit, my testimony has never struggled more being in a highly secluded Mormon culture. I have to remind myself often that while the Gospel is perfect, the people are not. I too struggle with depression and anxiety, and am quite the introvert. And since the population here is primarily 18-24 year old Mormon students, it seems they somehow try to incorporated a forced-participation game into every lesson and activity for fear that it would be too boring otherwise. It makes introverts not want to attend, or if they do attend and at some point don’t want to participate, they are seen as being too negative or perhaps just not feeling the spirit. But nothing could be further from the truth. The spirit is calm and quiet and doesn’t need to be entertaining to work its way into people’s hearts. The Gospel IS enough. We don’t have to try so hard to jazz it up. And I really wish someone had explained to me that it’s ok if I don’t feel happy all the time. It doesn’t mean I’m not following the Gospel or not trying hard enough. Sadness is part of being human. And while my relationship with my Heavenly Father has helped me greatly with my feelings of self-worth and peace, I still in general consider myself to be sad. And it only made me sadder thinking that it was somehow my fault. When I found out that there was a non-religious cause for my depressed condition, I felt so relieved. I accepted the fact that I was never going to be as bubbly as everyone else, and that there was nothing wrong with that. In fact it would be horrible of me to pretend to be or feel ways that I am not. I can’t imagine a worse torture. I still struggle with depression for which I seek counseling outside of the church, but in the meantime, I’m no longer making myself feel guilty for something that isn’t my fault. Attending church activities still has its difficulties, but once I understood a few key things about Mormon culture versus my own individuality, life became much easier. We need to be ever mindful of other ways of life and other ways of thinking. We need to possess the capacity to be not only tolerant of others, but to be kind and caring as well. Not just to act caring, but to actually love other people and want them to be happy, first and foremost. Thank you again for your article. It was very helpful as well as understanding, and I appreciate your insight 🙂

  60. I’d like to add that more support & socialising with single parent households is needed. For a long time I was ok with it being just me & my kids but then I started noticing that it seemed like only families with 2 parents were invited over (to each others homes) after church for dinner. Adults also can feel left out.

  61. What is doctrine; Do we want to go back to the law of Moses or something? I understand what the author is saying but can anyone honestly believe that the church does not teach us that R rated movies are wrong (even if it is not a temple recommend question)? If prophets can give their opinion, as you call it, why criticize others for giving the same opinion (where does follow the prophet come in anyway. I know what your saying but wouldn’t it be better to encourage trust to follow the prophet)? Being Judgmental is wrong, maybe that is the point the writer is trying to get at. But the comment about movies struck me wrong. I liked the insights though. There are so many wrongs of all members of the church that they can’t be numbered, both in leadership and in regular members. We are all imperfect, it’s not “mormon culture” as much as human nature. Leaders/members should show true love (charity), But members that are offended should have a hard reality and learn to rise above being offended, even if they were really wronged.

    • I think this article was about you. The problem in mormonland is that too many people think we need to not be offended never even thinking about trying not to offend. We teach and do by what the spirit says and use that excuse to justify just about anything. But that’s wrong. R movies for example. If you were called to teach your opinions is Sunday school they’d have told you. But you weren’t. If the spirit inspires you to something does that mean do it immediately? No. It means think about it pause, even for minutas or hours and ponder on how to
      present that light. There is a wrong way to teach a right principle

  62. Really great post! I think this stuff all the time and I am SO frustrated with it. I live in Northern Utah and I think it will kill me. People have no idea the difference between the gospel, church, and culture. They think it’s all the same. 😦 I only disagree with the part about if the leaders haven’t spoken about it, don’t talk about it in church.

  63. I agree with the spirit of this blog & the implementing of it is entirely a personal work. Growing up in Nebraska & moving to Idaho, then to Utah, has been an eyeopener. I love the gospel & know the difference between the gospel & the church. My husband is employed by the church & there is DEFINITELY a fuzzy line between doctrine & business. One other item that will apply to our acceptance of all is the cultural idea that all families need to have many children. This is a VERY personal choice & ward members who ask questions about pregnancy, babies, & timing are, in essence, asking about a couple’s sex life. Most of my family has fertility problems & comments of this nature are out of line. There was a wonderful article in the LDS Living magazine on this topic recently. (No, I don’t remember when, sorry) Women are heartbroken & ache for children. Men feel emasculated & ‘less than’ if not able to ‘produce’. We are here to keep the commandments & love others. Embarassing, personal prodding just distances us from each other. I appreciate your taking time to listen.

  64. If you haven’t read “The Cost of Winning” by Dean Hughes, it may be worth looking into. It’s one that I read around the time I stopped going to church, and it was such a great read – and very much falls in line with this post.

  65. There are some valuable words here. I once read the account of a young man who didn’t like church dances. Upon being forced to go to one, he ended up asking a YW leader to dance and was thoroughly shamed by his bishop and ward for it. Church dances are NOT doctrine. We need to see people as people, not obstacles. With that being said, people bash Mormon culture often, but there are many positive aspects of it as well. People want to be accepted for who they are, but don’t we also want people to help us become better? It’s a difficult balance and nobody has the right answer.

  66. It’s worth pointing out that none of the things that need fixing are “mormon”-the Church itself and the leadership have been exemplary in every one of the 4 areas in this article. The experience one has at church on a weekly basis is not so much due to leaders or culture, but due to the individual people you interact with- some wards might be very introverted, others might be the opposite, etc. I think it’s misguided to call these ‘Mormon’ problems- they are human problems and like everyone Mormons are human.

    Keep in mind that the Church is supposed to be a hospital/school for healing and growth of imperfect people, not a museum or club to display perfection or congregate only the ‘coolest’ most refined individuals. We can and should celebrate the examples of the excellent leaders we are lucky to have (and focus on the manuals and teachings of the church, rather than our own preferred ideas, in lessons). But we shouldn’t feel ashamed or inferior or as if being a Mormon makes you worse in any of these areas- if your character or habits are deficient in one of these ways being a Mormon is actually one of the best ways to work on fixing it.

    • I agree that the official church stance on all 4 points are right on. unfortunately there are stupid incentive people in every group of people. This blog certainty got the conversation rolling and that is good. self evaluation is the key progress .

  67. I am not eloquent in my writing, but I cannot say enough about how much I loved your post! I am one of those introverts you speak of. It would be so nice if activities weren’t always catered to the extroverts. I always feel a sense of panic when forced to participate. If I want to participate in a discussion, I’ll do it if/when I am comfortable. It’s worse being in a singles ward when they mostly (not always, but mostly) cater to the physically active members as well. I used to be very active but have many injuries that prevent me being involved nowadays. Church sports are great, but it’s hard to meet new people when all activities are basically basketball, softball, or whatnot. Most wards have so many diversities in the personalities & talents. It’s a shame that those cannot be developed further.

    I’ll stop there on that particular thought because it’s a soap box I’m not going to finish in a short comment.

    Almost my entire family (all but my dying father) have been offended by people making comments that were not theirs to make. The comments were judgmental and not loving and accepting.
    Example-My brother was exiled from passing the sacrament (which, in a small town means social exile as well) due to his choice in hair color-which I understand…don’t get me wrong-but someone else who was well known for his drug use was passing the sacrament every week. Had someone been more accepting and loving of my brother and his orange hair, maybe he wouldn’t have left the church and literally tried everything under the sun to find acceptance…
    Had people listened to the spirit instead of their own thoughts and concepts, maybe my mom wouldn’t be surrounding herself in Ex-Mormon ‘doctrine’ now and planning to move away after my father passes and abandon her faith.
    I’ve been involved in many conversations throughout the years that have stated much of what you have said.
    We need to stick to the doctrine. When we put our own twist on it, people get hurt. It doesn’t matter if we choose to take offense or not. There should be no REASON for offense in the first place.

    34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

    35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
    John 13:34-35

    • I’m sorry you’ve had these experiences. I imagine that it’s even more difficult in a young singles’ ward. I attend a “mid-singles” ward, and there are a few of us with disabilities, so maybe we’re more well-heard. Thankfully my bishop has told me that I can e-mail him or talk to him at any time, so I’ve felt more comfortable going to him or to other ward leaders (especially with activities) to ask for certain things. I’ve been surprised how accommodating they want to be. Things aren’t perfect all the time, but thankfully I can commiserate with the others with disabilities if I need it. My friends here have also been great (I’ve almost been here four years now) and gain understanding of what I’m going through more as time goes on.

      One of my friends in the ward is paralyzed from the waist down and has been in a wheelchair since she was 14. She has been a huge example to me of how to deal with things when I’m frustrated with my disability, even though ours are very different. (I have severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and accompanying physical issues with it.)

      I happen to live in Utah now. I’m originally from Orange County, CA, and I’ve also lived in Arizona, New Hampshire, Idaho, and a mission in France. I’ve had mostly good experiences that have helped negate some very bad ones. I know this may not work for everyone, but in a couple of places when I’ve had really bad experiences with church members, I’ve been stubborn and thought, “Heavenly Father wants me at church.”

    • Also, excellent post. 😉 Sorry, I got into a diatribe that had nothing to do with you after the beginning of my comment. If it does help, I know there are wards who would not make a big deal out of the orange hair. I wish it was the case everywhere. I’m sorry about your mom and dad and hope that your mom can find some healing, and the rest of you some comfort. I lost my mother when I was young, and I still miss her.

  68. I am grateful that you wrote this! As a life long member I was guilty of some of the things mentioned in this post. Whole in college I met my husband who was not a member and got to see the church and the gospel through his eyes as he learned about it and finally decided to become a member. When I get up to share my testimony now I won’t say “I know the church is true” because I don’t feel like “the church” is what is true. I say that I know that I know the gospel is true and that the doctrine is correct because it truly is the gospel and doctrine that is the truthfulness not the church.

  69. A lot of people on here seem to be missing one key component in their rebuttals to the author:

    “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church.”

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

    So topics such as herbal tea, organic evolution, henna tattoos, and R-rated movies (don’t even get me started on the dozens of other rating systems used in dozens of other countries and this being an international church) are ultimately up to the individual to decide. It would be wise of them not to pass judgment on the author.

    Very good article.

  70. I have felt judged all the time. But I have come to the conclusion that the Gospel is perfect and we are here for our own Personal Progress! We are instruments in God’s hands and we should not rely on acceptance, but rather teach by example! My son became a father at 16 and since then we have been treated as outcasts. I know My Heavenly Father knows our heart and I am working out my personal battles so that I may continue serving Him.

  71. The brethren teach this… we just suck at listen and thats why the basics are taught over and over again. We are human. We are imperfect. We fall sooo short of the glory of God, but He knowing this, still asks us to become like his perfect son. Hence, Jesus Christ and His atonement. Far from perfection, our “natural man” may be a reason for our daily mistakes and shortcomings, it is not an excuse not to try everyday to be a little be better. A better you. A better follower of Christ example.
    “…while the Atonement is meant to help us all become more like Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same. Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin. We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold—that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other. This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different from his brother, every son different from his father. Even identical twins are not identical in their personalities and spiritual identities.
    It also contradicts the intent and purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ, which acknowledges and protects the moral agency—with all its far-reaching consequences—of each and every one of God’s children. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God’s commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences.
    The Church thrives when we take advantage of this diversity and encourage each other to develop and use our talents to lift and strengthen our fellow disciples.” – BY PRESIDENT DIETER F. UCHTDORF, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, General Conference- Priesthood session, April 2013

  72. I think another thing is the YW are always told they need to marry a return missionary, or YM are told they need to go on a mission. A YM can be very temple worthy & take a bride through the temple, without going on a mission. Do I want my son to go on a mission? Yes. I think it would be a wonderful spiritual & life experience he could not get anywhere else. But will he be “less than” if he doesn’t? No. I’ve actually seen people teach, “YW, if you see a YM [at college] who is not a return missionary, you just high five him & keep on walking.” Meanwhile a most worthy man in our Ward (& former Bishop) was originally married to his beautiful & worthy wife outside the temple. Which leads me to another point – if all you associate with are members & only participate in church activities, how can you meet & possibly spread the gospel to others? As a convert, I am grateful to those members who befriended & reached out to us & made us feel loved & welcomed.

  73. My comment is not about the article, but the replies. I am blown away by the courtesy, respect, and care that went into every comment (with the notable exception of Claire and Getaldo). Reading comments to LDS articles usually makes my blood boil with the uncaring, unthoughtful, and turgidly opinionated replies. My hat is off to each of you who took the time to respond.

    • I agree Gregor. I was expecting lots of mean comments when I posted this, but all the comments have taught me so much. I have learned much more from the comments here than writing this blog post. They have been insightful and inspiring.

  74. I really enjoyed reading this article it was very well written. As for stating that not watching rated-R movies is not doctrine, President Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk in April 1986 Youth of a Noble Birthright stated, “We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading.” Do I personally think we should condemn or shame people for doing so? Definitely not, it is not my place to judge:)

    • Anna, this talk was given to teenage boys. What do you expect him to say? Also, not everything that comes out of a prophets mouth is revelation or doctrine. Opinions can be shared as well. Prophets have told us not to use our cars on Sunday besides driving to and from church…not to go to parks with family on Sunday’s, etc etc..these aren’t revelations, these are opinions. Don’t hold the prophets to a standard in which they don’t even hold for themselves…they have been very clear about this.

      • There aren’t many sources of church doctrine. Scriptures, published conference talks, church manuals and handbooks are it. So, the DOCTRINE of the church is this: “Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable.” (From the Strength of Youth pamphlet.) The doctrine goes much farther than R-rated movies. I will watch certain R-rated movies–“Saving Private Ryan” and “American Sniper,” for example. There are many PG-13 films I won’t watch, because I feel they violate the above statement, which I believe is the doctrine. But that’s just me. You have the spirit or the light of Christ. You have the words of the prophets. It’s your choice to make.

        • I am glad that you brought up Saving Private Ryan. Does that movie present immorality or violence as acceptable? Absolutely not. Watching that movie makes me never want to be violent. In fact it inspires me to give my life for the people around me and to appreciate what the generations before us sacrficied for us. I can not understand why somebody would find that immoral. Thank you for your comment.

  75. Liked the article. I think that the imperfect culture within the church that we experience is just a fact of being in an imperfect world. We need to realize that when we are at church that people are going to offend you. Yes, we can improve, but we’ll never be perfect. I expect to be offended as I attend, and have learned to ignore it. I hopefully have enough gospel knowledge to know when something is not doctrine, and to call it out.

  76. Some things MANY of the members have said for years are mentioned in these four suggestions. As an inactive member, it was the members who finally drove me off. I want to go back, and have several times, but I simply feel like an outcast. Because I tend to be quiet, unless asked my opinion, I get treated as if I were not there, or even worse, as a snob. And, of course, I am judged because my children all left the church. My daughter will never come back, not after dealing with the Young Women’s groups. Talk about a hateful bunch of holier than thou leaders and kids! Wow!

    I wear leggings to church, under my skirt if it is cold outside. Guys just don’t get how drafty and cold it is for a woman to wear a dress or skirt in the winter. I think the whole diatribe about clothing, tattoos, ear rings, and the outer appearance of members is so far from what the Gospel is about that it is falling off the edge into worldliness. I don’t care what a person looks or dresses like, I care about bringing them into the gospel of Jesus Christ. If the Savior didn’t care about dress, wealth, or political attitudes, why the heck are WE making such a stink about things? Do members think they know better than Jesus how folks should be treated?

    I have lived all over the world and traveled most of it. Trust me when I say that the Utah/American Mormons are a small minority these days. I loathe going to church here, but I would be active in a hot minute if we were living abroad in a place like Hong Kong or New Zealand – or anywhere the members were truly focused on the gospel and not on social priorities.

    I could go on, and on, and on about how far the American Mormons have distanced themselves from the real meaning of the gospel, especially how the Savior treated everyone.

    Good article. Thanks for enlightenment.

    • Thanks for reading. I really liked your insights, because it is nice to hear somebody who had this experience. I hope that you find your way back eventually. We need people like you in the church. I hope you know that there are people who would really care for you.

    • I like your comment. I have struggled with many of the same issues that you and this article point out. Also, I would like to say that not all LDS congregations in America are this way. I live in West Virginia and am a member of the bishopric. I love the ward that we have. Yes, we have a few members (usually ones that have a background from Utah or other concentrated areas) that input their ideas as doctrine, often times without even knowing it. I have often said to my wife that I could never move back to Utah again even though I love the state. In short, there are many places that the culture of the church isn’t stronger then the doctrine.

  77. Thank you for this post. I’m currently an inactive member, and so vividly felt the downside of many of these ‘mainstream Mormon’ feelings. Just because I’m divorced (Failed Temple Marriage), I’m happy to be a single Mom, I’m tattooed, and I’m an introvert at meetings and church functions, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the gospel doctrine. I grew up in a family of converts that taught me tolerance and love. I wish I could walk into a church building and feel that same love.

    • I am sorry to hear about your experience. I hope that you find your way back to church one day. I know that you will be able to feel loved and accepted at church as soon as you make those first steps back. Thank you so much for your comment, and I hope that you will be able to know that you are loved and wanted.

  78. Much thought went into this post. I appreciate that.
    I think if people mind their own business and be nice, treat with kindness than we wouldn’t have the distance between culture and doctrine.
    Its not any of my business if the sister sitting next to me likes action movies that happen to be R rated, unless my children go to her house and spend the night. That is just one of many examples.

    A few years ago I was struggling because I didn’t understand the difference between culture and doctrine. So I decided that when something bothers me I’m going to search doctrine. That would get my the answers I need. I can ignore most culture now that we are empty nesters so that culture isn’t negatively influencing my children.

    My mind wants to wander into the weeds. This post has triggered something and I need to think it out.

    Thank you for your thoughtful work.

    • Thank you for your post. My idea behind this was to get people thinking. As Arden Shackelford commented so eloquently below, the key is doctrine. If we stick to the doctrine, everything else will work itself out. The suggestions I listed are things that we can do help the other members that we come in contact with. But if we know the doctrine, then we will not be lead astray.

  79. Jess Buck hit the nail on the head: it is about helping and supporting each other, but it should go beyond the internet where people try to ” set the record straight” or give their insight to the masses (those are some ways, and not always bad), but perhaps it is something that needs to be practiced in real life, and at church too. It is what comes from everyone, as imperfect as we are.
    For example: there are going to be introverts who are bothered by the extroverts. There will be people who are shy although not introverts, but would love to be seen and may ven leave the church because they weren’t seen, there will be extroverts who enter the personal space of the introvert without knowing, and there will be extroverts who are so afraid to offend someone that they stop speaking. I know this is a small example (just going off your introvert section), but it shows that maybe more can be done, such as increasing the communication and understanding from both extravert and introvert–and everyone on between.

    The same things can happen (support and help of one another) in regards to everything else. For instance, as was pointed out, each member is imperfect and therefore it is important for the individual to remember this (it can be hard). It is also important to remember that we are in charge of our own testimony and ultimate learning so that when we hear things from other members that are “off” we may recognize them and if the Spirit leads us to offer a correction then we do so in the proper spirit.

    Ultimately, it all comes back to supporting each other, and might I say loving them too. Every member is going to make mistakes, and every member is going to have opinions that may accidentally get in the way and unintentially offend another. —–I say this coming from someone who has become increasingly afraid of offending others at church that whenever I teach it is filled with apologies and attempts at trying to recognize all opinions. I always add disclaimers and even then the fear is there that someone will still be offended. I am also someone who is shy and almost left church once because nobody talked to me. I also am someone who is like everybody else: human and just trying to do my best.

    • Thank you for your comment. I really should have gone into more detail in this post about feeling the Spirit and letting that guide you into helping church members. My whole goal with this article was to help people be aware of possible difficulties that members may face. Every case is definitely unique, so I appreciate your comments. We are all human and trying to do what is best, which makes our church so special. Thank you for taking the time to write that out. I have learned a lot from comments like yours and the other ones on this post.

  80. So what was really said is stop being a Mormon and start being a Latter Day Saint in the Church of Jesus Christ. Sounds good to me. Stop calling it the church and start saying we are followers of Christ. Got it. We all need to reread 3 Nephi Chapters 11-30 as often as possible. Perfect. Finally we need to take more heed to our prophets and apostles. Found it. Looks like that’s everything the prophets have been saying from the beginning of time up until now. However we are not a culture we are a people. Huge problem right there. Stop calling us Mormons. We are of the Church of Jesus Christ. Who amoung you was baptized in the name of Mormon? None, for we are given the name of Christ, and by that name we are raised up in the last day. Take this “Mormon culture” and cast it far from you. The prophet have warned us about this. This is what we can fix as followers and dispels of Christ. Take that which binds the church of Christ, and remove both head and tail from Israel. Now what I am about to say is important, more important than anything this artical has and will ever have. This is directly from our Savior. Contention is of the devil. If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ stop debating, and stop arguing. Can you hear me? If you do not do this you are not of Christ. 3 Nephi 11:29 look it up. Silence your tounges and repent lest the devil binds you down into captivity. This things I say in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

  81. I thought this was a great read. I do think that we are pretty adept to do these things. We have come a long way as a Church, and though as people I think not much as changed, it as only gotten, as we know, much into the wicked culture. Church doctrine doesn’t change though, but the rules do pertaining to the doctrine, assisting in perfecting the Saints with each generation. I think that things that are said in Sunday School are necessary to ensure the truth of the restored gospel continues to enrich the lives of members, converts, and other troverts finding their way to return with God. We don’t return to Heavenly Father destructing the path of the Celestial kingdom through core Church doctrine to those who might seek to find it. I’m so happy you shared the quote from President Uchtdorf, because now we just get lost in temple work. #AdmonishtheWordsofPaul #EmbellishintheArticlesofFaith. Thank you!

  82. Shouldn’t it be sufficient that I believe God is god (whatever that means), that Christ accomplished the atonement (whatever that means), that Joseph restored the Gospel (whatever that means), that the keys (whatever those are) reside with the current church president (for whatever it’s worth), and that I otherwise not use myself or others as a ‘means,’ but treat myself and others as ‘ends,’ with love and respect? I wonder . . . .

  83. I found the post to be very insightful. Thanks for taking the time to organize something so important. The culture of the LDS Church and the doctrine of the Church are not the same. And that’s okay, as long as we realize that and can tell the difference. As members of the Church, we can simply be the change we want to see in the Church culture and in the world in general–holding fast to the doctrine as we do so. Thank you for the post!

  84. Though, overall I do feel that this whole topic would be “resolved” as per your #4. Too often do we focus on the applications when in reality we are commanded to discuss the Doctrines and Principles, rather than the applications. It’s when we discuss applications that contention has an easier time getting in. Applications are not doctrines. They are the how to the Doctrines and are different on an individual basis.

    • This was my big problem when I was writing this article. I realized that I was just providing extra-doctrinal suggestions, which is something I criticized above. Unfortunately there was no way to really avoid that contradiction. But I definitely agree that we need to focus more on the doctrines. If we have a perfect understanding of the doctrine, we will not have to worry about little suggestions. That is something that we all can strive for.

      Thank you for reading and your kind words.

      • There is a huge difference between the doctrine of the church and the culture of certain individuals who claim they’re own ideas as church doctrine I fit in completely with LDS doctrine and I really don’t fit in with socalled “mormon culture”, mormon culture is how people get offended and leave the church when mormon doctrine only acts out of love and not judgement, doctrine is blunt at times but it is out of love, because love is god’s way

    • Being a gospel doctrine instructor, I have to disagree with you. We are definitely meant to discuss the applications and principles in addition to the doctrine. In fact, in every lesson there are multiple questions asking “how can we apply these teachings in our lives?” I believe the problem comes not when we simply discuss application, but rather when we suggest or assume that applications are universal.

      • That’s fair, thank you for the better understanding. I think I usually just avoid discussing them in a class setting for the sake of making sure that it’s not taken as universal. Though, with what you said in mind, I could do a better job myself of finding ways to discuss applications without them becoming considered “universal applications” by class members. Along with that, I could do better about discussing them in general, with the focus being on the Doctrines and Principles.
        Though, to be fair to my own point, if we were to discuss and teach just the Doctrines and Principles, the need to discuss applications would diminish. While there are questions in manuals and such, I don’t feel that we need to use those. Rather, why not give those questions as an assignment/commitment and have the individuals find their own personal applications? This is something that I’ve been taught within my local Stake by the Stake President. We aren’t instructed to avoid them, rather not to focus on them. It’s the Doctrines and Principles that we need to more fully understand. As we do so, the applications themselves will follow.
        I think a benefit to what you’re saying is that when we discuss the applications, we can often get some ideas as to how to apply things in our lives from the examples of others. Many find that useful at times, including myself.
        I think it should be more of a mix. I don’t really think either response is a full “solution”. It would also depend on the individuals and other variables.
        What I think the larger issue is, similar to what you mentioned, is that members in general have a tendency to take applications as a universal thing. So is it culture… or a lack of understanding of a Doctrine/Principle? I think that the lack of an understanding of the Doctrine’s and Principles is the larger “issue” at hand.

        Again, thanks Jess. You helped me better understand the discussion of Applications as well as helping me think through my thoughts a bit more. I feel like I still might not grasp the topic as a whole, but I am getting there.

  85. Overall, I enjoyed the post. To your #1, to be fair when people don’t socialize or vocalize their feelings, it’s hard to tell how that person is doing. Now, this does mean that others need to spent more time getting to know those individuals. To that point, I did feel the article was a little one sided, though with fair points. If a little more of a comparison was given here, a little bit more about the other side. It takes two to resolve issues. One side shouldn’t be doing all the work.
    I hope that makes sense. Thanks again for the post!

    • As an introvert, my introverts isn’t an issue to be worked on. God made my personality too, and its just fine the way it is.
      The whole world is organized for extroverts. Its exhausting just functioning in such a world, work, church, social, charity organizations, etc. Introverts need down time, needing down time, quiet time, thoughtful time isn’t something that needs to be worked on. If one tries to “work on” an introvert you will lose them.

      If I have misunderstood your post, please forgive me.

      • Amen. We live in a very “chatty” church at times. Not every activity or lesson needs my full participation.

  86. You mentioned a few things that ‘haven’t’ been addressed by general authorities when they clearly have. For example: organic evolution, & watch R-rated movies. Both of those have been addressed by the prophet of God. President Ezra Taft Benson and again by President Gordon B Hinckley told church members not to watch rated R movies. One example Google for more:https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1986/04/to-the-youth-of-the-noble-birthright?lang=eng
    Further many general authorities have said that organic evolution is not in line with our teachings. Here is just one example https://www.lds.org/new-era/2004/05/my-answer-to-evolution?lang=eng Google for more.

    I’m really not sure where you want to go with this blog post except to justify yourself and other for being offended by imperfect church members weaknesses. You say at the beginning that the doctorine is perfect but the members are not and yet you blatantly go against the doctorine (links provided) in the few examples you’ve given & mentioned taking offense to other members weaknesses (extroverts calling on introverts, republican thinking he is right). By taking offense over their imperfections and failings and pointing the finger elsewhere is failing to realize that you are imperfect yourself. I appreciated your insight into giving introverts time to think and ponder in class that was of use. But as Claire stated I do agree this article is full of hypocrisy.
    I’d recommend perhaps spending more time studying the doctorine than finding fault with your perception of ‘Mormon culture’.

    • Annita,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and to provide your insight on my post. It is my goal with this blog to provide a place where we people can have discussions about topics. So I appreciate your feedback.

      I would just like to make one thing clear. I am not offended at all at the “imperfections” of others. This article was not intended to be pointing out other people’s weaknesses and criticizing them for it, rather I wanted to point out somethings that I think would help members who feel alienated at church. I have weaknesses, everybody does, and my suggestions are things that everybody can work on, including myself. Pointing out things that we can do better is not justifying taking offense. An example: Say that I point out in a ward that the home teaching program is not as effective as it could be. I am not justifying sinning, I am pointing out something that I think could help all the members do better. That is what this post was intended to do.

      As for your point about organic evolution and R-rated movies. Organic evolution itself does not have anything against our doctrine, but the way that people apply it sometimes causes problems. There is a great BYU pamphlet on this issue. I will find it for you, but I am typing this out at my girlfriend’s apartment and I don’t have the time to do the research. I hope that you understand. Like any scientific idea, it can be used for bad. R-rated movies is a little problematic, but notice that the talk that you linked is called “To The Youth Of The Noble Birthright.” It was directed towards the young men. Do you know what other council is directed at young men? Not dating, at least until they are 16. There are wonderful movies that are full of artistic merit that need to be seen. For example: Schindler’s List. An excellent movie that is beautiful and inspiring. Every time I see it, I want to become a better person. I make it a rule to only see R-rated movies if they have artistic merit and do not have excessive graphic nudity. Maybe I am justifying. That is for you to decided.

      I may seem overly defensive, but since you took the time to type out a lengthy rebuttal, I thought that you deserved a response from me. I am glad that you found my blog and took the time to comment. Please continue to read, and I hope that you will find something of value here.

      Zachery Brasier

      • Actually Zachery, your personal stance on R rated movies isn’t for anyone to decide. It’s between you and God. One of the best things about personal revelation is that we don’t have to settle for one-size-fits-all answers.

        I greatly enjoyed your thoughtful post and the respectful comments that have followed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • WelL said. This is something I have thought for a while . When someone excludes something completely due to an opinion or because that’s how they were raised I just shake my head. There is a need for free thinking in the church. That sounds off balance at first but when you use the revealed truths as a foundation, free thinking can take members to areas heretofore undiscovered. evolution for example. I have on multiple occasions pondered on it (I’m a professional scientist) and I’ve discovered great truths that have brought fulfillment and joy to me.

    • Remember though that the Church has never has an official stand when it comes to science and it’s discoveries, evolution being one of them. President Hinckely, along with others, never took an official stand as the Church in regards to evolution. We simply don’t know as it has yet to be revealed to us. All we know is that Adam was the first man. What that means or how or when it occurred, we don’t fully understand, yet. President HInckley simply moved on from what was discussed and stated that his testimony of what he did know to be true was what truly mattered, rather than what his science teacher was telling him.
      As for the R rated movies and the like… eh… that’s an application of something rather than a doctrine or principle and should be taken as such.

    • Anita,
      There have been differing opinions given by General Authorities over the years on the issue of Organic Evolution, but the Church hasn’t come out officially either for or against it. This book contains the official First Presidency statements issues over the years on the subject, and is a part of BYU’s “Evolution Packet” that is given to BYU biology classes. http://www.amazon.com/Mormonism-Evolution-Authoritative-LDS-Statements-ebook/dp/B005H7UMJA/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1422404399&sr=8-5&keywords=first+presidency+evolution

      I haven’t read this book yet, but I did research on the subject and read most of the primary sources at the library at BYU, and this seems to talk about many of the things I read, as well as opinions since that time (I was concentrating on the late 19th and early 20th centuries.) http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Mormonism-Understanding-Trent-Stephens/dp/1560851422/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422404399&sr=8-1&keywords=first+presidency+evolution

      • That was the packet I wanted to link to. I’ve read it a few times and it is the best statement about our relation to evolution to the church. Thanks for finding the link.

    • Actually neither of the articles posted discredit evolution. We know Christ is the creator, but we know not all the tools he used for his creations. I am a scientists and LDS. Everything I have worked on indicates the evolution happens. I also know that Christ is the creator. This is why these topics should not be taught as doctrine.

  87. Enjoyed your thoughtful post, thanks for taking the time to write about it. I hope you aren’t bothered by people who don’t think you should have an opinion or that you should share it.

  88. This post describes attitudes that make church difficult for me and I deeply appreciate it. A majority of members with strong opinions doesn’t make something gospel. Thank you for speaking out for those who feel marginalized!

  89. This article reeks of hypocrisy and blanket statements. The very thing it complained about others doing. Just worry about you, make sure you’re doing what you’re suppose to be doing and stop complaining about others.

      • Thanks for the article it’s a good reminder to be less judgmental; more understanding; and to have more charity for each other. I do feel that many of the things referred to in the article are done by a minority in many cases. I think it’s important on both sides to not be easily offended, no one is perfect, our instructors are not professionals by any means in most cases and sometimes people don’t communicate in the most effective way or things come out in a way not intended, that happens to the best of us.

        One question I did have is about R-rated movies, for instance here is a quote from President Ezra T. Benson, April 1986 general conference, stating don’t see R-rated movies.
        “We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading.”

    • Claire,
      Your comment is mean-spirited and a bit hypocritical itself. In essence, you are saying to zbrasier: “mind your own business.” Yet, in posting a mean-spirited comment on a blog you don’t even like, you are not following your own counsel to mind your own business! I personally think a lot of members of the Church can benefit from this post and I personally have. I hope you can see that even if you can’t benefit from it directly, others can.

    • “Just worry about you.” That’s one of the problems that he’s talking about. “You worry about you, and don’t regard anyone else or their feelings.” Part of the church’s mission is to build the kingdom of Zion. We can’t do this without unity. We can’t be united while intentionally or accidentally disregarding the feelings of others, or while judging the natural or cultural (and unsinful) behaviors of others, like shyness or wearing pants to church, to be incompatible with acceptable Mormon behavior.

      Also, what blanket statements and hypocrisy are you seeing? I see carefully chosen words to avoid blanket statements, like “often” and “many” which is what I rarely hear in gospel discussions at church and elsewhere. We do try to homogenize the Mormon experience. And there is great value in diversity throughout the church, if we will allow, accept, and embrace it.

      We are encouraged to help and support each other on our way, personally, or via social media and blogs. This is the kind of conversation I’ve had many a time with friends and family, and no one has had a problem with the conversation in that setting. I’m glad this conversation is more out in the open. I feel like I could have written this blog post.

      Thank you, Zachery Brasier for posting it.

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