I think a lot of us at some point in our lives had questions or doubts about something related to Church, whether it was a policy or a doctrinal point or perhaps an obscure fact in LDS Church history. But let’s just say it was definitely something we struggled with and we tried our best to come into an understanding of that particular point, sometimes successfully and many times unsuccessfully.
For a lot of us, those points weren’t resolved in a few days or a few months”¦for a lot of us, sometimes those points still pretty much unresolved but we move forward hoping somehow that those points we struggled with will either disappear by magic, be reminded that ‘they are not important for our salvation” (If I have to get paid every time I know someone will use that phrase, I would be a billionaire), that we should repent for our lack of faith in “God’s chosen servants”, or simply be asked: “Why are you asking this”? with that tone of voice that only an FBI agent would use while investigating a case.
Do we realize how uncomfortable we are making people feel when we react this way? Oh wait, that’s the purpose?! They”re supposed to feel bad when questioning because questioning always equals wrong. Gotcha.
When someone has a question and hopes for an answer from you and you truly do not know the answer, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the words: “I do not know”. You can even tell the person that you think X person might know if that’s the case.
I feel we struggle with the concept of accepting we do not know all things, it is okay to say “I don’t know, sorry”. Heck, it is way better to say “I do not know” than to invent crazy theories or speak for the sake of using saliva. Not knowing doesn’t make us look dumb, it doesn’t make us weak, and it doesn’t make us less smart.
When someone is perhaps going through a Shaken Faith Syndrome period (As Brother Ash nailed the term a few years ago) it is vital that we could support the person in the best way we can and be there for them, as friends. Perhaps, we might not be able to help them with the answers they seek but it doesn’t stop us from continue fellowshipping with them.
Often times, like the Amish, Mormons have a ‘shunning” all of their own. This is not unique towards those who doubt or question, this same attitude sometimes is found towards those whose political views (Mormon Liberals) do not align with mainstream Mormonism.
Perhaps our shunning, isn’t the same as the one used by the Amish community when they completely ignore the person (Silent treatment) and pretend they do not exist but we do it, oh yes we do”¦very subtly to send the message across that we are not in favor with questioning and we do not wish to associate with someone whose faith is not as strong as ours or whose political views are questionable.
After all, questioning is contagious and we want to continue going to Church and fulfill our duties to the Lord. It is too risky and too dangerous to hang out around someone whose faith is weak, whose testimony (We think) is like the man who built his house upon the sand and there is no way on earth that *we* have room in our own beautiful brick house for someone like that.
Nope, those who build houses upon the sand must hang out with people who build houses upon the sand, plus they can feel more comfortable that way…you know, with people like them. Modern day lepers.
Leprosy in the old times was a sort of a death sentence and just like sin it grows very slowly, sometimes it stops and remits for a while but returns with time and does it in the worst shape and form, causing the total deformation of an individual and the complete numbness of the body parts (Pass feeling).
But you see, those experiencing Shaken Faith Syndrome are not sinners (Well, yes they sin but they are not sinners just for questioning). They are just normal people, trying to understand the incomprehensible.
They don’t need us to be in their case preaching them about why they should question. They have questions, they want to question, they have the right to question, they want to know!
They don’t need us to tell them that what they are asking is worthless, that it is not necessary for their ‘salvation”. Instead, they need validation, they need to be heard, they need someone who can at least empathize as they walk through their own journey.
Peter Abelard who was a medieval French philosopher and theologian said:
“By doubting we are led to question, by questioning we arrive at the truth”.
When was the last time you doubted anything? When was the last time you questioned anything? When was the last time you arrived to the truth you was seeking?
Questioning is part of growing and developing. When we try to measure people’s spirituality we fail horribly because we do not have all the facts, plus let’s face it, we are more religious than spiritual. A lot of people struggling in their faith, continue living according to the covenants they made when they were baptized.
They do not stand in testimony meeting crying non-stop (More tears, doesn’t equal stronger testimony) and a lot of them do not hold callings because they feel they need to take a break, pause and reflect and not because they have been disfellowshipped or excommunicated. So no, there is no need to peek or whisper to the person next to us whether or not they are taking the sacrament.
They are simply seeking. Juvenal said: “All wish to possess knowledge but, a few comparatively speaking, are willing to pay the price”.
What price are YOU willing to pay?