Sometimes it can be too painful to admit that we’ve been deceived – Self-deception

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“Faith in a lie is a damnable false hope!”

Any believing member of the Church needs to consider that we, ex-Mormons, were once believers too.

As a Mormon for 46 years, & for my final 7 years as a Bishop, I ‘KNEW’ the Church was true!

Just because I don’t believe any more doesn’t mean I can’t remember the beliefs & how I felt about those beliefs. I remember the wonderful feelings I attributed to the Spirit or Holy Ghost. In fact, I still experience those same ‘spiritual’ feelings, but I now attribute them to a different cause.

But feelings are not an indication of truth. Many people all around the world have those same wonderful spiritual feelings about their own particular religions. And, even athiests feel spiritual feelings.

Just like in the Wizard of Oz it all seems so wonderful & amazing till you pull back the curtain & look behind it.

Then I discovered that the version of reality I was taught, believed in & loved with all my heart was in fact a sham.

It was shocking, but eventually wonderfully empowering to finally base my life on the truth, not someone else’s version of the truth.

There is a psychological principle at work for all human beings, which adversely affects our ability to see the shocking truth in front of us. When the truth has the potential to cause pain & insecurity most people will be unable to acknowledge it. Their subconscious minds block their view.

This principle is well understood in psychology & also by con-men, and is called self-deception. Our subconscious minds speak the ‘Vital Lie’ to keep us from getting hurt emotionally. Not realising that it is protecting us from the truth. A truth which potentially could allow us to enjoy life more fully without the guilt, fear, shame, biases, phobias & prejudices which stop us seeing & enjoying the world as it ‘really is’ rather than through the Church filter.

Every member of the Church needs to honestly & open-mindedly ask the question: “If the Church was not true, would I want to know?”

Till they can do that they will never experience authenticity, but rather a hollow fantasy.

I know from personal experience because I have been on both sides of the fence.

Know that there are many more ex-believers than believers, and they are wonderful happy people who have found greater joy in knowing the truth than they ever did when they thought they were happy in the Church.

Initially the transition out of the Church belief system is not consoling, as most believing members think, but rather is a very ‘bitter pill’ to take!

It can be far more difficult to face the cognitive dissonance & accept the uncomfortable truths.

I can honestly say it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.

It has been likened unto a grieving process & rebirth. I am so grateful to those who have been down this path before me who offered advice & support.

Sadly, none of my Church member family or friends could listen to or empathise with my painful concerns. At times it felt I was dying as my whole version of reality felt like it was collapsing.

None of the Stake Presidency or Stake Leadership tried to stop me resigning as bishop or leaving the Church. In fact it was actively suggested by the Stake President that I resign my membership, when he repeatedly asked me, over & over again, “Why don’t you resign from the Church?” At that time it would have caused immense emotional trauma for my wife, parents & extended family, yet he could not empathise with my concern for them.

Only one of my friends in the Stake contacted me in over a year. Even our Mormon extended family ignore us. It’s just too painful & scary for them to approach us. Leaving the Church is one of the loneliest experiences of our lives. We don’t call it shunning, but it sure does feel like it!

But just like any birth, the initial pain is gradually overcome & the new life outside of the Church is far more wonderful & beautiful than I ever imagined.

As ex-Mormons we can offer those with honest questions & concerns the empathic support they need.

We welcome all sincere followers of truth, without prejudice.

Please know that we will be there for you or any of your family & friends who may in the future change the way they feel about the Church.

Best regards,
Steve

My letter of resignation as Bishop

http://MormonThinkUK.wordpress.com

I Am An Ex-Mormon

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6 Responses to Sometimes it can be too painful to admit that we’ve been deceived – Self-deception

  1. Alex says:

    “If the church was not true, would I want to know?”

    I had my doubts for a long time, and pushed them aside. I honestly wish I’d asked myself that question much, much earlier, because it would have saved a lot of time and a lot of pain. When I really tried to find out whether the church was true or not, it was because I was at BYU considering putting my mission papers in. If I’d asked myself that question as soon as I had doubts, I wouldn’t have had to wait until the last awkward moment not to serve a mission. I could have planned my life out very differently.

    The longer the self-deception, the more damage you do to yourself.

  2. It is one of the sadder aspects of belief, but there are, in fact, many who would rather not know the truth. The tired adage, “Ignorance is bliss”, is far from inaccurate in this case. My mother will follow every logic loophole available to her in order to continue believing, because her beliefs give her a sense of pride and hope and contentment.

  3. Travis says:

    Self-deception has been a struggle within my own family. My loved one’s don’t want to talk to me about the many significant aspects of LDS history that are conveniently left out of Church discussion. It’s as if, as long as we don’t discuss it, it never happened and we don’t actually have to face it. Not only did I subject myself to deception, but the religious institution promoted it through the omission of historical facts and the perpetual shallow discussions of belief. The two, both institution and individual, play off of eachother, supporting eachother in a world void of painful realities concerning LDS theology and history. I have recently declared myself no longer LDS, and I am ready and happy to move on. Thanks, Steve, for your words. They have been a comfort to read.

  4. Joel Rees says:

    One thing puzzles me. So much time spent in the Church, but you say you left after only one month of honest research. I’ve spent a lot longer than that engaged in arguments with the Lord about quite a variety of things. One argument carried for more than twenty years, I think, before I finally accepted that the principle of repentance is more important than any human ideal. And I’m sure my discussion with the Lord about the meaning of freedom took at least fifteen years before I found, in the complexity of computer programs, hard evidence that makes me sure that intractible problems do exist for mortals, which is at least one principle that would require that freedom be an essential element of the Gospel.

    You know why being barefoot outside is considered rude in Japan? They used to use human waste as fertilizer in the fields. I don’t think most Japanese people understand the problem with the parasites, but the custom still remains. In the US, I like going barefoot, but not since I got married. One of the sacrifices we make for family.

    The 33 wives. If the Church were trying to hide that, why does the Church allow the family history site to keep that information where anyone who happens to search on Joseph Smith will find it? And lots and lots of people will continue to perform exactly that search, of course.

    You should be aware, however, that the sealings do not all represent marriages consummated. You should also consider the reasons for Jacob/Israel having more than one wife, as compared with the reasons Solomon got spiritually hamstrung by his multiple marriages.

    And you should be aware that the legal status of polygamy in the US has varied from state to state and over the years. Blanket stating that it was illegal is not exactly accurate. If you accept wikipedia as a starting point, see for some starts on the history of legality of polygamy relative to the Church. If you already know that, I think it a little disingenuous of you to hold up the illegality as a doctrinal issue.

    I have three great-grandfathers who were polygamous. I know the problems, and I read something into the prophets’ proclamations that others might not. Polygamy, if allowed to remain elevated above other principles, could well have proved too much for the Church members to handle. Nonetheless, the Constitution did reserve family welfare to the States, so the appeals to the Supreme Court to overturn the Edmunds-Tucker Act’s prohibition of plural marriage in the territories were not without reason.

    Charity is more important that performing miracles. Repentance is more important than discipline. Faith in Jesus is more important than faith in any one principle.

    I’ve singled out polygamy for convenience, but there’s more to every point than meets the casual glance.

    Members make mistakes. Even when we are convinced we are following the Holy Spirit, we often get too ambitious in one thing and let something else slip. That’s one of the reasons David’s soul would not be left in hell, for example. That’s why others are supposed to forgive us when we need to search into things that make them uncomfortable. It’s also why we are supposed to forgive them for being so uncomfortable they have a hard time forgiving us.

    Mistakes might include a second wife who was not quite ready for polygamy thinking that she had to compete with the first wife for her husband’s affections. Or it might include the husband failing to reassure one or the other wife about his feelings. Many polygamous families misunderstood the prerogative of the first wife, and thought there was some importance to establishing one wife as the preferred wife, when we are all supposed to be equal before God.

    And, yet, God could not simply immediately dissolve every marriage in which someone made such mistakes. That wouldn’t leave us any room to try again.

    I spent some time trying to leave the Church, but the Lord would not let me. I didn’t think I belonged, and He told me otherwise. The reasons are not important. What’s important is that I know there is at least one more side to every issue that you think you have found with the historical veracity of the Church, and I think you would find it profitable to consider the possiblity.

    One does not have to close one’s eyes forever to people’s errors to have a firm testimony of the truthfulness of the Church, even though it might be necessary for some to do so for a little while, and they might have problems with others talking about things they aren’t ready to deal with yet. It’s good to learn the truth, but you can’t stop with one truth and think you’re done. Not if you want to be ready to meet the source of all truth at the end of the journey.

    And that’s the case whether the truth you want to stop on is a prophet or some detail about the prophet’s life.

    Have to shut this rambling down somewhere. Best to you in your efforts to find the truth.

    • stevebloor says:

      Hi Joel,

      Thanks for your comments.

      You’re right to question my apparently short exit period.

      My final struggle with cognitive dissonance took just over a month, but with hindsight I now recognise it was happening over many years, I was just in denial.

      As is the experience with many others who no longer now believe, over the years I had had many questions which remained unanswered about life, the universe & everything, but I just used my faith as a form of denial & my subconscious mind persuaded me to accept that my many questions & concerns would eventually be answered, but maybe not till the afterlife.

      I now recognise that I believed in the God of the Gaps. I absolutely believed God was all powerful & could explain everything that at present seemed unexplainable.

      I ‘knew’ God would make up the difference in my knowledge & His whole ‘plan’ would be fully understood one day.

      My brother, an ex-Mormon who I treated as an apostate, kept subtly asking me questions to encourage me to use my rational brain.

      In this way I began to question aspects of the Church in more detail.

      Eventually, as is illustrated by the metaphor of questions put on a shelf, my own shelf fell off the wall.

      The catalyst occurred when my brother openly criticised the Church’s stance on gays & lesbians.

      Being irritated by his criticism & wishing to discipline him as his bishop whilst at the same time wanting to avoid causing a dispute between us, as I had done on a previous occasion, I diplomatically asked him, “Why be so public about your criticism of the Church Dave?”

      It was his sensitive & deeply compassionate response which caught me off-guard.

      As I had a great deal of respect for him & because I felt his sincere compassion for gay & lesbian members of the Church, some of whom are committing suicide out of a sense of desperation, I was motivated to find out for myself if the so-called ‘anti-Mormon’ lies were in fact true.

      This was the beginning of the end for my faith in the Church and, though I didn’t realise it initially, my faith in God Himself.

      I started by visiting the website created by a friend of my wife, Chris Tolworthy, “The Church is True, The Church is Not True.” (http://www.exmormon.org.uk/tol_arch/atozelph/twosides.htm)

      I had become aware of the website some two years earlier, but had avoided reading it due to a fear it would destroy my testimony, & because of the anxiety I felt as I considered that prospect.

      This time I felt a desire to prove the Church was true in spite of all my brother’s criticism.

      Reading Chris Tolworthy’s website was just the start of a very disturbing & painful journey.

      With each new uncomfortable fact I renewed my determination to prove the Church was true by further research. This led to me reading many books & articles written by Church members & ex-members, but all to no avail.

      A list of some of the best sources of objective information is on my blog post: http://stevebloor.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/the-truth-will-prevail-bibliography-of-interesting-websites-and-books-to-read/

      One of the most informative & objective websites is: http://MormonThink.com

      And Tyler Young’s thoroughly researched essay: http://bit.ly/whytylerleft

      In the final analysis the whole conflict of opinions & ideas which causes such widespread cognitive dissonance is resolved when we come to realise that God is most probably only an idea constructed in our own minds.

      When we consider that God is just an imaginary friend, it all makes so much more sense!

      I appreciate your calm & considerate comments Joel.

      You seem like a sensitive person.

      I do not wish to argue with you or persuade you to believe my opinions.

      I respect everyone’s right to believe, so please accept my sincere best wishes to you on your journey too.

      If you get chance to check out the benefits of barefoot walking & running this site is brilliant: http://www.primalfootalliance.org/

      Cheers,
      Steve

  5. Joel Rees says:

    Thanks for responding.

    I checked out Chris’s and Tyler’s sites, and, well, for instance, I find a third option where Chris says, “Either the church is led by God or it is not.” I didn’t read far enough to see whether or how Chris might have considered the third option, but it really isn’t important to me. I have a good eight hours worth of translating to do today, and another eight tomorrow, and I need to take my daughter to the docomo shop to look at phones. (Maybe I should go with my ideals and tell my wife the kids don’t need the leash. Heh.)

    And I find the same third option that Tyler seems not to be considering, which I mentioned in my first post here: If Church leaders had to give up being human to be Church leaders, I wonder that there would be any purpose in having the Church at all.

    But testimony of truth is not in argument, at all. It’s in what you do.

    Running around barefoot outside is a good thing to do if you can find a field that you know hasn’t been fertilized with unprocessed human waste, and if the people who are important to you would let you back in the house afterwards. (Sometimes I miss west Texas, where I grew up mostly barefoot, except for school and work.)

    Back to work, so it may be a while before I drop in here again.

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