02 April 2007

Referring to yourself as a Mormon

Do you believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ?

If not, then you shouldn't call yourself a Mormon. If yes, move on.

If you believe that Joseph Smith had the First Vision, then you believe that he was called as the first prophet of this dispensation.

If not, then you shouldn't call yourself a Mormon. If yes, move on.

If you believe that he was the prophet that ushered in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, then you believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized under the power, authority, direction and approval of God.

If not, then you shouldn't call yourself a Mormon. If yes, move on.

If you believe the church was properly and authoritatively formed, then you believe in the succession of Priesthood Keys from one President of the Church to the next.

If not, then you shouldn't call yourself a Mormon. If yes, move on.

If you believe in the succession of prophetic authority, then you believe that Gordon B. Hinckley is every bit as much a Prophet, Seer and Revelator as was Joseph Smith, with all the keys, power and authority that God grants unto His Living Oracles.

If not, then you shouldn't call yourself a Mormon. If yes, move on.

If you've made it this far, then you must believe what President Hinckley teaches to be true. And not only what he teaches, but what he grants his approval on. He stood up at the end of conference and nodded his approval of all talks that were given. Therefore, everything that you heard (or will read in next month's Ensign) is God's will for us at this time.

What are some of the teachings of our Prophet, God's spokesman here on the earth, that you must therefore believe?
1) The unequivocal condemnation of gay marriage.
2) Abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of marriage.

If not, then you shouldn't call yourself a Mormon. I'm curious as to why some of the MoHos here in blogland refer to themselves as Mormons.

47 comments:

drex said...

Probably because being Mormon also implies a measure of understanding that perfection is not a mortally attainable goal. A Mormon who transgresses a law is still a Mormon despite, by action, showing a disconnect with the teachings of the current prophet. I am a little fuzzier with regards to the stance on gay marriage, more because I agree with standing against it, and it's hard to disconnect my rational thought from my personal belief set. Still, to not personally oppose gay marriage does not necessarily cut one out of the church. It shows some measure of dischord and disagreeance with the teachings of the church, but does not mean that they do not hold all other aspects of Mormon doctrine to be true. To base one's religious identity on only one or two issues is looking past the mark.

Still, I understand what you mean - there are some in the mohosphere who for all intents and purposes don't align with the church in thought, word, or deed, yet still refer to themselves by our commonly accepted moniker, and I don't see the rhyme or reason behind it either. I don't know that it can be funneled down quite how you have it, but the question as a concept is sound, and I'm also curious.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Drex,

I'm not really talking about people who are imperfect and sin (which is all of us).

If you are going to utterly refuse some of the most basic doctrines of the church, as laid forth in the Proclamation on the Family, why bother constraining yourself with the rest of Mormondoms rules and regulations? Either you believe in the doctrines of the church or you don't. It's fine to be in dischord with the culture of the church (I really hate potlucks and casseroles) but if you're going to refuse basic doctrines, why bother with the rest?

playasinmar said...

The logical fallacy of false dilemma—also known as false dichotomy—involves a situation in which two alternative statements are held to be the only options, when in reality there exist one or more other options which have not been considered. The two alternatives presented are often, though not always, the two extreme points on some spectrum. Instead of such extreme simplification and wishful thinking, considering the whole spectrum, as in fuzzy logic, may be more appropriate. A typical false dilemma is the assertion "You are either for us or you are against us."
The fallacy of this type of argument is that it tries to eliminate the middle ground.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Playa,

There is no middle ground with absolute truths.

Scot said...

I’d not answer yes to any of those questions and I’d not either refer to myself as Mormon anymore, as I’d agree that would be confusing. I can see though the rub is that there is a Mormon culture separate from the religion; many non-believers are part of that culture. Though I think a non-member’s use of the word should be explained, the word may still accurately indicate other behaviors or qualities.

Regardless, the dictionary definition is “a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” By that you’ve a lot of dictionary Mormons you’d redefine out of the word. Would you have applied the same standard when the doctrine in question was involving a person’s race, not sex? How much disagreement is allowed? None?

Kengo Biddles said...

I think, Maximillian, that they don't ascribe to the same viewpoint we share on the subject, and that's how they can feel okay using the title.

playasinmar said...

There absolutely is! (There are so many ways I can approach this. I’ll throw a few out and you can pick a good one to discuss.)

-The Family Proclamation doesn’t mention homosexuals or their roles.
-The Church is entitled to and does change it’s mind from time to time.
-Ancient scripture should be analyzed in a different context than that written for the latter-days.
-The Church does experience radical doctrinal shifts on occasion.
-God’s truths are eternal but the rules vary wildly.
-The prophets have insisted we question the prophets.

A centrist view can't be written-off automatically. Any one of those can provide some middle ground.

Chris said...

For the record: I do not call myself Mormon anymore.

That said, it seems to me that Mormon identity is associated not only with professed religious beliefs, but also history, heritage, family and culture. Many people who no longer believe in the Church still value their connection to the heritage and history of the Church and so still identify as Mormon. It would be easy to turn this on its head and say that if you refuse to live a gay lifestyle, you ought not to call yourself gay. For some Mormon homosexuals, that would be fine. But for others, that's a problem. They want to identify as gay even if they don't live in a way that is gay.

There is no middle ground with absolute truths.

Maybe not, but the issue here seems to me to be less about absolute truth and more about how people identify and associate with the LDS Church. Identifying as Mormon is not entirely a function of being obedient to Church teachings.

Mormon Enigma said...

After answering all of your questions, I'm able to call myself a "Mormon" by your definition. However, I disagree that a person who can't answer all of your questions correctly shouldn't call themselves "Mormon". IMOHO, being Mormon is like being Jewish. It's as much of a culture as it is a religious belief.

Besides, didn't they read a letter in sacrament meeting a few years ago telling us the preferred terms are "Latter Day Saint" and "LDS church"? Perhaps this could be the distinction: "Mormon" refers to the culture, "LDS" refers to the religious beliefs. So, we have MoHo's and LDS MoHo's (because LDSHo's just doesn't work for me :-) )

AttemptingthePath said...

I think I may have to insert a z-snap with a ghetto head roll.

mmmHMmmm

isaac said...

"you are either for us or you are against us"

"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." Matt 12:30

Sounds pretty close to me. That is all.

Wayward Son said...

Good post,
I've wondered the same thing. Personally, I like the title moho because (beside the fact that it sounds cool) I try to think of myself as mormon first and homo second. Sure I'm attracted to people of the same gender, but I'm mormon first so I don't act on it.

Anyway, maybe some would be better classified as cultural mormons. In Judaism if you are born into jewish families you are a jew your whole life whether you believe or practice or what. Maybe it can be the same with Mormons.

People who are raised in the church are inevitably going to have a lot of mormon culture. I don't think that just because people choose a path that deviates from the prescribed path of the church that they should be denied use of the title of Mormon.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Scot,

I don't put race on the same level as sexuality.

Throughout history from Adam on down, God has chosen (for whatever reasons He has) to single out particular races of people for certain blessings/cursings. The Old Testament is replete with examples of that. I don't know why that is, but it just is. The Lamanites were cursed anciently, but look at the dramatic turnaround they have had and what amazing members they are now. The largest portion of the church's membership is in Latin America.

On the other hand, the definition of the family and the law of chastity have not changed through the millenia. That is why they should be considered absolute truths.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Kengo,

That's exactly my point. If you are going to fight against the fundamentals of the church, why bother being associated with the church? Isn't that the definition of a masochist? One who purposely inflicts misery on their self?

You definitely are going to be miserable living with a salad bar view of the commandments. The beets and garbanzo beans are going to make you hate the salad bar. Why not go to a pizza factory?

I don't understand what makes people hate so much about the church but still hold on to it.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Playa part 2,

Refer to my response to Scot, and insert any one of your topics in there for the word "race".

My Best Is All I Have said...

Chris,

Kind of the same response as what I wrote to Kengo. Why would anyone be so masochistic as to make themselves suffer by associating with the church? What is the draw?

My Best Is All I Have said...

ME,

Agreed, it has a lot to do with culture. But I come back to the same question, why associate yourself with something you don't agree with? Isn't that a source of pain for people? Why then, in spite of the pain, do they wish to be associated with it?

Chris said...

My question to you is, why do you care?

My Best Is All I Have said...

To sum it all up:

If Chewbacca was a Wookie, why did he live on the planet Endor? That makes no sense!

And truly, I wasn't trying to be offensive with this post (or do a Z-snap). It was an honest inquiry as to why people who don't seem to believe in some of the fundamentals still hang on to the other stuff. It just makes no sense to me.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Chris,

Why do I care?

I don't know. I'm just curious about stuff. That's why my friends call me Whiskers, cause I'm curious like a cat.

playasinmar said...

Matt 12
30. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

Yes. Interesting. Also...

Mark 9
40. For he that is not against us is on our part.

Loyalist (with defects) said...

I think we can astutely answer that there is indeed cultural mormons as well as "true believers" (though i hesitate to use that particular phrase as it carries with it certain conitations that are ambiguous at best).

It is interesting to note that the LDS faith is world wide and that not all within these countries subscribe to the Mormon Culture. Which i find very welcoming.

Culture is defined by beliefs in or about the sociological structure in which humans find themselves.

Even within the sphere of the True Believer there are shades to which one is "true". I, for example, am a left of center, politically speaking, but that doesnt disway my beliefs about God, prophets, or the Priesthood. I may disagree with the viewpoint of some of the more radical righties I meet at church but that doesnt bother me - just makes me more entrenched. LOL

Beck said...

I'm a "hold to the rod" kind of guy, always have been. I can answer your test of being "Mormon" in the affirmative.

But, my struggle with SSA / SGA or being "gay" and finding me questioning what has been going on inside me, has made me realize that life is not as "black and white" as I've been raised to think. And so I question the "absoluteness" of the Prophet and the Proclamation on the Family. And I realize not everyone is so neatly categorized as perfectly as described.

So, because I question, does that make me a non-believer? A non-Mormon? Of course not! I want to believe and I want to understand the "absoluteness" of the way.

Many of us MOHOs in the blogging world may voice doubts, confusions, cynical viewpoints, from time to time - as this medium is a means whereby to express such "wanderings" from absolute thinking. It doesn't mean that we are truly non-believers. And it does not mean that our "blog personality" is our entire essense.

In your world, can there be no room for doubt? for self-questioning? for struggle? for cynisism with the intent to discover the truth? To be so rigid in your definition of what one calls oneself seems judgmental and requiring perfection in one's belief with no room for doubt.

It reminds me of my personal belief at one time years ago, that a "gay mormon" could NOT exist. Because if you were gay, you could not be a Mormon, and if you were a Mormon, you could not be gay! I fully and completely believed this, to the detriment of a dear friend who killed himself over this very issue.

Though I believe in absolute truth, I don't believe in being so concerned about what we call ourselves along the path to that truth... leave some room for those of us who, still holding to the rod, are not perfect in our faith and beliefs to not occasionally look off the path.

Many still call themselves "Mormon" because deep down they still believe or want to believe or know that something is there - the fire is still burning, even if it's faint.

Chris said...

Why do I care?

I don't know. I'm just curious about stuff.


It seems like more than curiousity. Your post is emphatic that unless one hold to a certain sets of orthodox LDS belief, he should not call himself a Mormon.

Scot said...

"I don't put race on the same level as sexuality."

To be clear, I said sex, as in sexual anatomy, not sexuality, as in sexual orientation. The discrimination here is not done on sexuality; it’s done on sex anatomy. One person’s orientation is okay, but the same orientation in another is not, depending on their sex.

"Throughout history from Adam on down, God has chosen (for whatever reasons He has) to single out particular races of people for certain blessings/cursings."

Could one say He’s done so through millennia, but stopped the practice in the church in 1978?

Don’t make me find the quotes from leadership of decades past :-). My question is, simply, would you call someone a Mormon who advocated the inclusion of dark skinned people in the priesthood, or who advocated interracial marriage, when those practices were said to be wrong, regardless of the history? There are modern black members of the LDS church I know who think past church leaders were in error, even in that time, with their religious prescriptions regarding race; are they not Mormons?

My Best Is All I Have said...

Chris,

As I stated earlier, it was out of curiosity as to why people would continue associating themselves with something that causes them pain. If you can't believe that, and it offends you that I asked the question, then don't read my blog.

Unlike homosexual feelings, taking offense at things IS a choice.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Many still call themselves "Mormon" because deep down they still believe or want to believe or know that something is there - the fire is still burning, even if it's faint.

Beck,

I really liked that closing paragraph in your answer.

I do have to ask in reference to the first part of your response, if people don't believe in the absoluteness of the Prophet then why try to believe the other stuff? The entire basis of this church is centered on the absoluteness of the Prophet. He is God's voice, and we're supposed to do what he says. Submission to God's will, even if we don't want to agree with it, is what this life is all about.

Abraham 3:25
And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Scot,

Sorry, dude, but you're comparing apples and oranges. Race issues are not absolutes. The Law of Chastity is an absolute. You can't compare the two.

Beck said...

MBIAIH said: "I do have to ask in reference to the first part of your response, if people don't believe in the absoluteness of the Prophet then why try to believe the other stuff?"

Because there is still a feeling that it IS true, or it MAY be true. The burning embers, the spark, is still there. So, they (I) are trying to figure it out. Faith is not completely snuffed out!

Chris said...

I'm not sure why you think I'm offended. I'm not.

Scot said...

“Sorry, dude, but you're comparing apples and oranges. Race issues are not absolutes. The Law of Chastity is an absolute. You can't compare the two.”

No need to be sorry, but I’m still interested to the answer to my questions if you’re willing.

Forget sex and sexuality; cut your post off at “What are some of the teachings of our Prophet, God's spokesman here on the earth, that you must therefore believe?” The criteria you’ve listed are relevant to these issues of race on their own, for both modern Mormons (if you’d call them that) who today believe the leadership was wrong back then and for those members decades past who disagreed with these teachings. No need to compare to understand how you’d classify those people, is there?

(wow, a lot of comments; you hit a nerve :-))

playasinmar said...

"Race issues are not absolutes. The Law of Chastity is an absolute. You can't compare the two."

The law of chastity has changed. Ask yourself. Could a member of the church in good standing ever sleep with two women? Could he do so today?

Polygamy isn't illegal everywhere the church is practiced. Some places it's the cultural norm. Today, the church says, "No, under no circumstance is that acceptable."

And even that will change again someday.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Chris,

I thought you were offended based on the nasty message you sent me yesterday. Or maybe that was someone else. I can't remember, I deleted it. If it wasn't you, then I apologize for thinking that it was.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Scot,

Who says the leadership was wrong? Like I stated before, God has throughout history (read your Old Testament, New Testament and Book of Mormon) for whatever reasons of His own, denied certain classes of people certain things.

The first account is in Genesis when the entire posterity of Ham (the Canaanites) was cursed, by Noah, to be the servants of Shem. Why? I have no idea. Does it make sense to me? None whatsoever. Do I believe that Noah wasn't a true prophet and didn't know what he was talking about because I don't understand something he did? Not on your life.

You can't challenge the concept of absolute adherence to what the Prophet says because you don't know the mind and will of God.

Which brings me to this question: When did you come to the realization that you were more enlightened than the Prophet? Obviously, since you feel he doesn't know what he's talking about with respect to gays, you've received some sort of revelation/enlightenment for the rest of us that for some reason God's mouthpiece just can't get through his thick skull.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Playa,

Buzzzz. Wrong, please try again. The Law of Chastity, as officially covenanted to is that "you will have no sexual relations except with your [spouse] to whom you are legally and lawfully wed."

It doesn't say anything about how many you are legally and lawfully wed to.

-L- said...

I've never gotten this many comments. I'm so jealous. ;-)

I liked the original post, all uncompromising. I've had discussions with folks at work lately about "fundamentalist Mormons" and it pains me to be mistakenly associated with folks who rape children.

On the other hand, I get annoyed when people want to tell me that I'm not allowed to call myself a Christian--I'll take whatever title I like, thank you very much. And that sentiment may be analogous somehow.

As for your dialog with Playa, I've wondered about the wording that emphasizes "legally and lawfully" wedded since there are places where gay marriage is legal (but this does not change its immoral status with the church, regardless of how monogamous one may be). I do agree though that the principle behind chastity is one of eternal families and procreation, and it's an entirely black and white one.

My Best Is All I Have said...

L,

You just need to be more of a jerk like me. :D

I have a tendency to stir things up. I'm not sure why, because it's not really in my personality to have arguements with people - especially live ones. Live arguments, not people. Well, I guess live people too, because arguments with dead people would be really one-sided. I'm lousy at real-time debate. I would never make a good politician. At least the blog debate gives me time to sit back and think of how to respond before I say something completely incoherent. I must admit that some of the comments have been very challenging to respond to.

And I think Playa just wants to make out with me.

My Best Is All I Have said...

L,

Also, I agree with the comparison of people telling me I can't call myself a Christian. That annoys me as well.

I went back and re-read my original post, and it would appear that I wrote it late at night and didn't write down all that was in my head.

My whole point with the post was supposed to be something along the lines of why do antagonists still associate themselves with the very thing they hate. It's counterproductive to the life they have chosen.

By the way, half the comments are my own responses. So, really, you have to divide that number by 2 to get the true number of posts. I still like your blog the best. :D

playasinmar said...

So [spouse], [spouses], no difference?

And marriage law, like cultural expectations, vary wildly. The church handles marriages in Europe differently then in Polynesia and America.

It's like the tattoo thing at priesthood session. The prophet says, "You'll regret it if you get one." He never says you can't because in Oceania it's legal, socially mandated, and the church has tons of members there.

My point here is the church isn't the rigid thing your original post implies. Like the definition of the word "Mormon" it both has flexed and is flexing and that's fine because God is infinite and the heart of things never changes.

Scot said...

"Who says the leadership was wrong? "

People who call themselves “Mormon.” That’s the point. I know some in the modern community, and I’ve read accounts of members expressing the same back when darker skinned people were kept from the priesthood. Do you think they are or were “Mormons” despite disagreeing with the leadership’s teachings on race?

"Like I stated before… and will of God."

I do understand that; been there. But we’re not communicating very well; I’m not sure why you posted that. Simply, do you call the people I describe above “Mormons”? That’s my question. It’s not why you think they're wrong to think black members should have had the priesthood when the leadership said they shouldn't.

"Which brings me to this question: When did you come to the realization that you were more enlightened than the Prophet? Obviously, since you feel he doesn't know what he's talking about with respect to gays, you've received some sort of revelation/enlightenment for the rest of us that for some reason God's mouthpiece just can't get through his thick skull."

So there was some date on which you decided you were, say, more enlightened than the Pope, or the Dalai Lama? I'd assure you they could take us both in debate :-).

I must assume your question is a rhetorical one? Mine is not. Just in case, I left the LDS faith in my youth for a strict and sole focus on the Bible (ultimately left that too), and I don’t pretend to talk to God, if that’s what you’re honestly asking, but, to my mind, no one better understands the LDS religion than its leadership.

Look, if this is just going to get more ugly, I’d rather we let the question drop. I’m simply curious as well.

Greg said...

Mark 9:40:
"He that is not against us is on our part."
There seems to be a contradiction here.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Playa,

If you read the book of Jacob, he defines marriage. It is between one man and one woman, unless the Lord wants to raise up seed unto himself, then he will command multiple spouses.

I don't see that as a rigid/flexible stance by the church on the issues, I see it as that is how the Lord defined it. Flexibility depends on the original definition, and what that definition encompasses. In the case of plural marriage, the original definition ecompassed that as potential future state.

So, as far as cultural-type issues, I do believe in the flexibility you speak of (such as for the tattoo example you gave). But, for the absolutes, I still abide by what I said before.

Hey, maybe someday I'll be proven wrong and we'll get the message that "gay couples are super-awesome." I would be a liar if I didn't admit that a portion of my gayness didn't want that to some degree.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Scot,

It all boils down to this: If you don't believe in following the prophet, then, no, you shouldn't call yourself a Mormon. Prophetic leadership is the thing that sets us apart from all the other churches. If you don't believe in following the Prophet, then you don't believe in the basics of the church. If you don't believe in the basics of the church, then you're not truly a Mormon. That is my final answer.

My other question was not rhetorical. I wanted to know what platform you were standing on so that I'd know why you make the arguements you do. Now I understand you better.

I'd say that I became more enlightened than the Pope or the Dali Lama when I was 8 years old and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I may not be as eloquent or mild-mannered as they are, but I have the constant companionship of the Spirit in my life - something they do not enjoy. And even if it wasn't when I was 8, it definitely was by the time I turned 12 and received the Priesthood. The lowliest Mormon Deacon on the earth has more power and authority than the Pope, the Dali Lama and Al Gore combined.

playasinmar said...

txp“If you read the book of Jacob, he defines marriage. It is between one man and one woman, unless the Lord wants to raise up seed unto himself, then he will command multiple spouses.”

Yes, that’s exactly my point. “Unless.” The law, the eternal truth, is unchanged but here we see the fine print; a variable in scripture. What’s “Mormon” Today isn’t exactly “Mormon” as it was defined years ago and isn’t necessarily what “Mormon” will be in the future. The followers of God get different rules from time to time. Could the ancient Jews foreseen a change in acceptable food items? Did the first Christians foresee the gospel going to the Gentiles? Did the early Mormons foresee interracial marriage?

Absolute truths are, indeed, absolute but the followers of God are not static because God never wanted us to be. So I’ll ask Scot’s question in a slightly different form,

Is it wrong to anticipate, request, or hope for change? Does that make a man any less Mormon? Has it ever?

Chris said...

I didn't send you a nasty message--I did post a comment in response to something someone else posted on your blog that you never posted, so I assume you think it was directed at you. It was a pointed commented, but I didn't intend for it to be nasty at all.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Playa,

We're defining absolute truth differently. To me an absolute truth is not necessarily something with only one statement, rather it's the entire definition of a thing. So the "unless" in that statement is part of the full definition of what defines marriage, and THAT is an absolute.

I'm not talking about wistful hope on change in policy - I've already stated that. I would be liar if I didn't sit there every conference hoping for the "gay couples are awesome" announcement. I am solely referring to people who fight against the church and it's policies while still claiming to be full-blown Mormons.

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

Woah... That, my friend was a post to be remembered. 46 comments?!?!?! Mine is the 47th. I guess you can give yourself a pat on the back for starting such a lively conversation!
:-)

-Caspian