Sunday, November 23, 2014

Agency and Morality

I wonder and I wonder at the concept of agency...

What does it mean to choose? Are we free to choose or are we punished if we make a choice that is counter to the *right* choice?  According to the Mormon church, there is ONLY one choice, to do what they tell you:

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God."
Ward Teachers Message, Deseret News, Church Section p. 5, May 26, 1945
Also included in the Improvement Era, June 1945 (which was the official church magazine before the Ensign)

"Always keep your eye on the President of the church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, even if it is wrong, and you do it, the lord will bless you for it but you don't need to worry. The lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray."
LDS President Marion G. Romney (of the first presidency), quoting LDS President (and prophet) Heber J. Grant "Conference Report" Oct. 1960 p. 78

"When the Prophet speaks the debate is over".
N. Eldon Tanner, August Ensign 1979, pages 2-3

"Follow your leaders who have been duly ordained and have been publicly sustained, and you will not be led astray."
Boyd K. Packer (General Conference, Oct. 1992; Ensign, Nov. 1992)

Yes, from the times of Brigham Young: "The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth."
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 9, p. 289, 1862.

To today, the leaders of the Mormon church have claimed that they speak for god  and will not lead us astray. There have been recent developments that have led many people to have a crisis of faith and to attempt to stem this, the leaders are once again telling the people to not trust in their own moral compass, but to trust in the leaders of the church. In the most recent Ensign article, the  LDS leaders want you to trust them even when they have lied to you 

I left the Mormon church BEFORE I knew that Joseph Smith took other men's wives from them (the church calls this polyandry, but since polygamy and all its various forms was illegal at the time, then these marriages were illegal so he was in fact just engaging in adultery. He also lied to Emma, his only legal wife. He also used manipulation to gain access to girls as young as 14 years old.  Link to LDS acknowledgments

I left because it isn't right to discriminate against people because their skin color is different than my own.
I left because it isn't right to discriminate against people because their sexuality is different than my own.
I left because it isn't right to discriminate against people because their gender is different than yours.
I left because it isn't right to pursue the impossible idea of perfection at the cost of being your best. I left because my moral compass compelled me to leave.

Why did I leave the Mormon church? I left because I could not trust priesthood authority over my own thoughts/feelings/intuition/spirituality.

Too many times the priesthood authority said what was right contradicted my moral compass and in the end, I must follow my own moral compass.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Power of Cognitive Dissonance

Can you ever imagine yourself defending something you despise? 
Would you defend adultery? 
Would you defend using manipulation to take another man's wife?
Would you defend coercion to get teenage girls to marry you?
Would you defend lying to your wife in order to take new wives?

I have been astonished for the last few weeks as the new Mormon church articles have come out on polygamy and I have watched good Mormons who are usually moral people defend these types of actions in Joseph Smith.

When I was a believing Mormon, my believing Mormon friends and I would have many discussions on polygamy and I remember those discussions well. We didn't like it, we were offended by it. We hated D&C 132 that stated we would all live it in the Celestial Kingdom. Of all the things taught in the Mormon church, it was this doctrine that disturbed us the most. We despised the doctrine of polygamy.

Now, the Mormons who are defending it are coming out of the wood work. They not only defend it, but defend it in gory details none of us knew about growing up, such as taking teenage brides, lying to Emma and taking wives behind her back, and marrying women who were married to other men at the time. Joseph would also use strong arm tactics and manipulation to gain access to these women. Since this has all been verified through and I love this article, I will only link to the sources as there is no reason to repeat it all again here.

None of  this is moral or can be justified, either by today's standards or standards from 200 years ago or 1,000 years ago. This is why; if God is in charge of his church and god is the same yesterday, today and forever, and these things are immoral today, then they were also immoral 150 years ago. If God would not tolerate Warren Jeffs taking child brides today, then he would not tolerate Joseph Smith doing it, nor would he tolerate Muhammad taking a nine year old bride in 600.  Immoral is immoral, no matter what generation.

So, my question is this...what leads good people to defend immoral behavior? Could it be cognitive dissonance?  

Cognitive dissonance is being in a mental state of having conflicting beliefs, behaviors or attitudes.When confronted with information that conflicts with their current state, they seeks to balance it. The more extreme the conflict is, the more the discomfort and people desire a state of equilibrium and will work to achieve this state, so they must change their beliefs, values, behavior or reject the new information.

With the acknowledgement that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and in such an immoral way has come out, it has put Mormons in a state of cognitive dissonance. They must now find a way to rectify that. How can the church, the Book of Mormon and the prophet they have been told all their lives be god's true church, while also being immoral?  The only way they can rectify these two opposing states of mind is to embrace polygamy where they never did before. To reject polygamy is to reject their esteemed prophet and ultimately the church and everything they have come to believe is true.
It is a crisis of faith they did not expect and are not ready for.
I say if they are going to defend polygamy with such force, they need to embrace it fully and live the principle once again...let go of the cognitive dissonance once and for all and just live it!

"What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago [when charged with polygamy shortly after his marriage to Emma Hale]; and I can prove them all perjurers. (LDS History of the Church 6:410–411)"
Joseph Smith, perjuring himself 1844

If you are a believing Mormon or a former Mormon, how many details of polygamy did you know about as a Mormon? Take this quiz and find out:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How to Avoid DV

I am a survivor-- I have survived abuse from my childhood, marriage and the strangulation of a short term relationship. The number one question people ask is why women like me go back to the abuser. I had learned by the third man to walk away, but in my 20 year marriage, I separated from him seven times; yes, seven times before I learned to walk away for good. Instead of looking at this from the woman's point of view, I want to look at it from the man's point of do they get the women to stay.

How do abusive men get the women to come back to them time and again when the women suffer such abuse?

From the time we are infants, we are programmed to attach to our caregivers...our very survival depends on it. Our food, shelter and even love are dependent on our caregivers providing that for us.

Abusers are able to capitalize on this basic survival need all humans have, to bond with those who provide for our every need, our shelter, our emotional needs, our physical needs, even our very lives. They slowly take away the ability for the person to independently take care of themselves or to think they can get their needs met through family or friends.

There are four elements or conditions the abuser must control in order to make his victim his domain:
1.  A perceived threat to the victim's existence, and the victim believes the the perpetrator will carry out the threats

2. The perpetrator gives small acts of kindness to the victim...these acts of kindness may be in the form of jewelry (known as apology jewelry) telling the victim they will not hit them tonight even though dinner is burned, or taking out to dinner for a rare night out on the town.  These acts of kindness are given in the context of terror (the victim knows the perpetrator may turn on them at any moment.)

3.  The perpetrator isolates the victim. This happens over time and by several means...the victim knows that if family or friends are part of their life, their lives are also in danger; that by telling family what is going on, the victim's life is in peril, and the victim comes to believe the perpetrator has complete control over life and death.

4.  The perpetrator is able to make the victim believe they do not have the capacity to escape.

When asked victims of abuse, 'Why did you stay so long?' Most will say something like, 'I know it doesn't make sense, I just loved him.'  Yet, it is in the perpetrator's behavior that we find the answer.  The perpetrator sets up the victim through a series of constant threats followed by acts of kindness. The perpetrator will then cycle through the threats (followed by actual violence or emotional abuse) then followed by more acts of kindness.

The victim goes through cycles of having their self-esteem shredded followed by feeling loved.  This causes an imbalance of power called Trauma Bonding. This causes a hostile environment emotionally, physically and mentally, or a constant state of survival mode known as cognitive dissonance is set up to help the victim to survive.

When a person is in a trauma situation they have three options, fight, flight or freeze. The victims in these situations have learned to freeze out of fear. Fear is the number one weapon of the perpetrators.  When we are faced with fear, we often regress and the perpetrator uses this regression to his advantage and the victim is often seen as infantile, she takes her perpetrator back, and is immobilized to inaction, and becomes powerless. The perpetrator is then in the position of parent and the victim in the role of child.

It is important to know the patterns of perpetrators, so that women can recognize them early on and escape and family and friends can better understand why it is so difficult for victims to escape.

Narcissist and Stockholm syndrome