Recently, I had the privilege of becoming the confident of a Church member who is struggling with extreme doubt about his faith. This man is the husband of a friend of mine, and both husband and wife come from old-line Mormon families. He found me through the blogs, and he and his wife approached me one Sunday with questions.
This opened up some serious dialogue that was better moved from the Church foyer to our living room. Ignoring the fact that I feel totally unqualified to offer spiritual advice, I was able to offer a sympathetic ear and a forum free of judgment.
What they are going through has been completely kept from their families. Any tiny overtures towards expressing doubts have been quashed and shunned, and it didn’t take long to realize that road was closed.
Recently, during dinner at their home, the Wife relayed that she had mentioned apologetics, Sunstone and Dialogue to her sister, and the reaction she got only underscored that she needed to keep their struggles very quiet. She was told not associate with _those people_, how they must be messing up somewhere, and if they only would exercise more faith, this wouldn’t be happening.
This got me thinking.
If a person is having a faith crisis, what should they do? Well, that answer is a varied and each individual, but if you have a family who won’t tolerate questions of any kind, what are the options? My friend, right now, is in a “black and white” stage of his faith- and can’t really seem to discern the baby from the bathwater, as it were. His options, as he has related, are: Lie to himself and preserve his familial relations, or Leave. Through our discussions and the publications I have shared with him, hopefully he is realizing there is another path, albeit to a more complex faith, but to faith nonetheless.
It seems to me, the unknowledgeable convert, that having a forum of people who have experienced a crisis of faith and come out the other side with a love of Christ and the restored Gospel intact, would be a good thing. So why are these alternative areas for exploring our faith shunned and even feared in more traditional circles? Why do my friends have to hide their association with “them”, or more accurately, with me?
I have a testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a temple recommend. I have gone against the wishes of my entire family by becoming a member of this Church, and by raising my children in this faith. I do not understand, cannot even comprehend, how it is better to throw the doubter to the lions, than to allow them a safe, soft-trodden path to explore their questions and doubts.
It seems to me, listening and supporting someone through such a crisis would be truly an act of Christian charity, and casting them out would be the job of the Pharisees. But then what do I know? I’m just an angry convert.