Apparently we cannot be trusted. Better safe than sorry.
Here's the thing: I may be a child of God, but I'm not a child. I'm not someone to be coddled or mistrusted as a human with uncontrollable urges, one who needs to be placed in a padded room to be kept safe from all evil at all costs. We would never do this to our own children. We allow them to learn for themselves. I'll teach them my ways and they'll give or take and I am to accept that because they are individual people. I am to trust in my ability to teach them and in their ability to discern and govern themselves when they become of age.
When it comes to Church, though, we are far too often saved from ourselves, spared the horrors of sin. The problem is that a person loses all ability to trust in themselves and in essence, their agency. Let the Church tell me what to do because I don't know if I should.
No? That’s not how it goes? I might have an Apostle publicly shame me for refusing to remove an earring, but the Church won't tell me what to do? I am not able to choose for myself when it's drink a cup of coffee or be "worthy" for the temple - for most, that's an easy decision. It shouldn't have to be a decision, though. I don't see how the crime fits the punishment anymore.
Just as we allow others, I want to be allowed to worship when, where, and how I may. I want to be able, even encouraged, to doubt and question and debate. If we are not to criticize our leaders, I would hope they would refrain from criticizing me for the very same reasons. If our leaders are fallible, then I shouldn't be encouraged to revere them as if they were because they're not, even when they're behind the pulpit.
Are we not to criticize Elder Mark E. Petersen for his abhorrently racist comments? We reject them now, but what of then? President Kimball for his ridiculous claim that masturbation leads to homosexuality? How about a good bishop who tells a tearful sister that leaving her abusive husband will only result in her being responsible for every bad thing that should befall her children?
Or are we supposed to remain quiet and faithfully bow our heads and say yes? Many do. Better safe than sorry.
Elder Ballard argues that "Discussions focused on questioning, debating, and doubting gospel principles do little to build the kingdom of God" and continues to say that to do so is to show shame in the gospel. Again, and I know there's an overarching theme here through many of my entries, but we should not be so damned concerned with the Church as we should be with the individual! Not every question is rooted in a dark desire to disrupt the Kingdom. I'd say most if not all aren't.
It takes an unbelievable amount of courage to question. Un-be-lievable, and yet we are so quick to shut a person down before they even start because to do so is seen as aggressive. So what does one do when they find the courage to question and discover the insufficient answers? I feel this shouldn't be about "The" church or any church, but about our individual selves and our personal relationship with God. Guidance is fine. Teach me the principles and allow me to govern myself, but for heaven's sake let me govern myself!
We're famous for saying we have agency, but where is the choice? Heaven or hell. The Church or hell-bound Apostasy. A social network or spiritual and emotional exile. You pick. Stay in the ship or jump overboard and drown as Brigham Young alluded. It is tantamount to an ultimatum. I'll theorize most who jump decide their own brand of agnosticism is the only realistic and comfortable alternative and go on to lead successful and happy lives.
While a person may not fit in a congregation or feel at home in a religion, they do fit in with God somewhere, somehow. I trust in that more than I trust in those who may mean well but can't see beyond their fear enough to actually have faith in God and allow me the same. The problem with our church as I see it is that we're not given this. It's all or nothing. Some try to find or forge a middle road but I don't see how it can be done. The road is too narrow for a middle road. It's all or nothing. Black or white. Others have tried to argue otherwise, but I just cannot see it. We preach His way or the highway.
The Church wrongly places dissent on the same stage as contention and betrayal when contention is bred when dissent is silenced or casually dismissed with quick and easy answers to complicated questions and concerns. Every question one asks of their leader too often comes with an answer rooted in just a sliver of truth. This is enough to make a person second-guess themselves. That's the hook, and if we don't know any better, we're loathe to stay in the ship because we're told we can't swim, that nobody can in the worldly waters infested with ideals ready to eat us alive. Stay in where it's safe, where we'll be saved. Better safe than sorry.
Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.
I can't buy that. Not anymore.