Six Ways the Church Strengthens Families

Our fourth son is about to graduate from high school. As I think of his life and the lives of his older brothers and as I ponder the joy and challenges my wife and I have had in raising our children, I have a growing sense of gratitude for what the Church has done to help us in this journey. That gratitude grows especially great when I think of what the Church has done for my marriage. So much of what matters most in my life has been blessed by the Church and its teachings, and so much has been helped along by its programs and by association with its members.

Here are a few of the ways the Church has blessed me in these relationships.

  1. Foremost, I think, is the eternal perspective the Church gives. Marriage and family ties are meant to be eternal. They are of supreme importance. They are worth great sacrifices to build and preserve. This basic LDS perspective can do so much for parents and couples as they make decisions, face temptations, and plan their lives.
  2. Also vitally important are the Church’s teachings and commandments on moral standards. More than just “no sex before marriage” and constant fidelity afterwards, the Church helps young people and adults understand why sexual morality matters and why the powers of procreation are so sacred. It teaches men to respect and honor women as daughters of God, not as objects. It teaches me to cherish my wife as an eternal companion and to avoid anything that would jeopardize that relationship. It teaches to absolutely avoid pornography, one of the most insidious and relationship-destroying vices out there. These teachings have blessed my marriage and my family, and have helped us as parents in so many ways in raising our children that they might have better and richer lives.
  3. LDS teachings on personal revelation have brought so much help over the years. More than just believing in the power of prayer, we are taught that parents can and must receive personal revelation to guide us our duties and decisions. We are taught that the Gift of the Holy Ghost received after baptism can help us receive constant guidance in our lives and ares of responsibility. How wonderful it is when facing a challenge for a couple to prayerfully turn to the Lord and seek His guidance on behalf of a child or family challenge or decision. When a husband and wife are united in this and jointly seek to make inspired decisions pleasing to the Lord, it brings such peace and strength, even when things are difficult. This kind of approach can bring a family together in many ways in addition to finding wise solutions and making better decisions.
  4. The LDS rhythm of life, including daily prayer (including prayer as a couple and as a family), regular scripture study, and weekly Family Home Evening, bring our family together frequently and bless us repeatedly. I love being part of a family that prays and reads together. In addition to the spiritual blessings, the time spent reading with young children helped infuse them with reading skills that have made their lives much better, and made our work as parents much easier.
  5. The programs and people of the Church have provided constant positive guidance and good examples to my children and us as a couple. What a blessing it is to have our children’s lives enriched with seminary, Sunday services, Scouting and many other youth activities, wholesome youth outings and dances, inspiring speakers (some of the time, anyway), and loving adult leaders who really care about them and their eternal welfare. Anyone who has the least doubt about this Church would be amazed if they could put on a ring of invisibility and sit in on the leadership meetings of Young Men and Young Women leaders (group, ward, and stake levels), bishoprics and ward councils, and stake presidencies and see what really happens behinid closed doors–I’ve done all that, but usually in visible mode. You would encounter amazing, loving people who are prayerfully working and planning in their precious volunteer time to find ways to help young people have better lives, to succeed in personal growth and education, to have wholesome growing experiences, to love their families, to make wise decisions about marriage and education, to avoid destructive influences like drugs and alcohol, and above all to find joy by accepting and following Jesus Christ. Yep, that’s the big conspiracy behind everything the Church does: plotting and planning to bless lives through the power of Jesus Christ. And it works! I’m so grateful to the numerous people in the Church who gave of their time to help my boys long in so many phases of their lives. So many of my flaws and limitations as a parent have been compensated by the steady stream of help my children have received through the Church and its people and programs. Thank you!
  6. Ultimately, the best thing for families is the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which the Church helps us to make a part of our daily lives. The doctrines of forgiveness and repentance of sins is so vital for a healthy family. It adds to the charity, cooperation, and understanding that can bring joy to family life. We all sin and offend one another in the proximity of family life, but with the teachings and understanding of the Atonement in our lives, we can steer back on course and work together to look past our flaws and strengthen each other after we fall. The Atonement gives us the knowledge and hope that we can change and be better, and that we can be forgiven and have strength to forgive when hurt. We need that so much! It’s part of why we need to worship each Sunday, to partake of the sacrament and contemplate our relationship to Christ, and to partake of the doctrines and the Gospel and make them part of our lives. A crowning aspect of all this is the knowledge Christ and the Father intend for families to be eternal, and that through the blessings offered in the Temple make that possible.

I have so much to be grateful for, in spite of all the flaws and shortcomings I’ve had as a parent and spouse. I can’t imagine having had the joy that I’ve had in family life without the support and blessings made possible by the Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I would have fallen apart long ago! My mistakes would have been even more painful and my decisions even more short-sighted. And without the saintly patience of my wife, I would have been single again shortly aften marriage. How she endured those early months when I went through that country music phase (singing it, wretchedly, not just listening), I’ll never know. She truly is a saint.

In fact, I have the Church to thank for meeting her in the first place. We were both signed up for a seminary program called “Seminary Bowl”–a competitive Church-based quiz game–and I first set eyes on her at a seminary bowl meeting at the beginning of my senior year in high school. I can still remember that beautiful, flowing yellow dress she wore. What a sweet beginning to a wonderful journey.

From your perspective, what are the most important ways that the Church influences your family for good?


Author: Jeff Lindsay

44 thoughts on “Six Ways the Church Strengthens Families

  1. Jeff,

    The subject of your post fascinates me.

    I'm a non-Mormon (Catholic) who moved to Utah Valley almost 5 years ago when I got hired to teach at a local high school (very close to BYU)

    Before coming here, I imagined that all of my students would look like Mormon missionaries. I pictured clean-cut boys and girls who dress modestly and act like ladies.

    My first week here was a real eye-opener and it's been a learning experience ever since. The Mormons who come here from other places always tell me that it's tougher to be Mormon here for two reasons: 1) Since they attend church with almost all their neighbors, it seems everyone knows everyones business, but a lot of shocking things go on behind closed doors. And 2) LDS kids here are under tremendous pressure to live up to almost impossible standards and many crumble under the strain.

    As a teacher, I definitely see the effect on the kids. Many kids thrive within the framework of the churches guidelines (as it sounds like yours have), but many feel totally inadequate. They cave in to the temptation of pre-marital sex or drugs and alcohol, but cannot find forgiveness and understanding in a place where everyone tries to put on a perfect front.

    My wife and I have become friends with many LDS families over the last 5 years. The pattern we've noticed is that they have different personas in public and private. There's always much more going on than meets the eye. The divorce rate is shocking, as is the amount of adultry.

    I applaud the LDS church for it's family programs and the guidance it provides parents and kids. However, I often wonder if too much is expected. I've seen the pressure drive kids to drugs and alcohol and away from their families. I've seen husbands and wives hide their problems out of fear of what the church will think.

    I'm interested to read your opinion and that of the other LDS posters here. I promise I'm not trying to flame the church or point fingers.

  2. From:

    National demographic studies indicate that couples in which both partners are Latter-day Saints (and who marry in a Latter-day Saint temple) have the lowest divorce rate among all U.S. social and religious groups studied. "The divorce rates for Latter-day Saints who marry in the temple are 5.4 percent for men and 6.5 percent for women." (These may not be the most up-to-date figures available.) But statistics indicate that inter-faith marriages in which one partner is a Latter-day Saint and the other is not are more likely to end in divorce than other interfaith religious combinations studied, except for Jewish/non-Jewish couples. The general Latter-day Saint divorce rate is at or slightly lower than the national average for all marriages in which both partners are Latter-day Saints, if the figures include temple and non-temple marriages and both active and non-active Latter-day Saints. These statistics underscore the important distinction Latter-day Saints make between temple marriages (believed to be eternal and valid beyond death) and non-temple marriages (valid only in this life, comparable to civil marriage or marriage in other denominations). [Sources: Daniel K. Judd. Religion, Mental Health and the Latter-day Saints. Online article about book. Other sources citing the 6% Latter-day Saint temple marriage divorce rate: William Lobdell, Holy Matrimony: In an Era of Divorce Mormon Temple Weddings are Built to Last in Los Angeles Times, 8 April 2000; Dave Condren, New Temple Marks Origin of Mormons in Buffalo News, 27 March 2000.]

    Similar results were found in a 1993 study:

    A 1993 study published in Demography showed that Mormons marrying within their church are least likely of all Americans to become divorced. Only 13 percent of LDS couples have divorced after five years of marriage, compared with 20 percent for religiously homogamist unions among Catholics and Protestants and 27 percent among Jews.

    However, when a Mormon marries outside his or her denomination, the divorce rate soars to 40 percent — second only to mixed-faith marriages involving a Jewish spouse (42 percent).

    Citing a variety of other studies, Duke found that Mormons are the least likely to cohabitate outside of marriage — 8.2 percent compared with 20 percent to 24 percent for Protestants, 23.1 percent for Catholics, 32.5 percent for Jews and 44.8 percent for nonreligious Americans.

    [Source: Bob Mims Mormons: high conservativism, low divorce, big growth, 6 March 1999, Salt Lake Tribune.]

  3. In short, the Church disseminates the doctrines and ordinances that bind us together in love on earth and give us hope for eternal life together as family. The Church is the vehicle that brings us to Christ, who makes all our treasured family blessings possible.

    In long, I recently finished writing a 12-chapter essay on this very subject here.

  4. Jeff,

    So glad your kids (and your familiy) have had positive experiences and that the blessings of the gospel are so evident in your lives.

    Of couse those blessings are not guaranteed. Our children may choose differently. They may not have the same confirmatory revelation that their parents do, and may, therefore not follow the same path. And, as your first commenter points out, they are as subject to the world's temptations as any other kid.

    Still, I believe as you do (and as my dad did when he joined the church so many years ago) that the Church offers great help in guiding our kids in a good direction.

    It is sadly all too easy for us to assume if our children choose a different way that the church or that we as parents are at fault, when, in fact, it may just be that our kids have a different path to walk in life.

    Congrats to your son on his graduation.

  5. Creek,

    Good observations and analysis. Your comments re-affirm my observations: that Mormons are still just people, and still human.

    I've only lived full-time in the midwest. My only visit to Utah was an 8-week stint in the MTC prior to a foreign mission.

    Nowadays my main contact with Utah Mormons is via the Mormon blogosphere.

    My understanding is that in Utah, the church, the gospel and the culture/society get conflated by members.

    The church isn't the gospel. Rather, the church is the vehicle to deliver and help implement the gospel.

    But more problematic is the conflation of culture/society and gospel. Yes, it's good to have a culture/society that promotes gospel living. But the downside is that failure to fully live the gospel usually results in some degree of societal shunning or punishment.

    Youth and young adults sometimes take a view of failure in the gospel (ie. sin, which we all do to a degree) as failure in life.

    And sometimes (perhaps often?) the admonitions by parents and church leaders to avoid sin overwhelm the other teachings of: If you stumble, pick yourself up, repent, and get back on track. So perhaps there is a fear among youth that if they sin they are forever more "damaged goods."

    One coping mechanism of adults, which you seem to have observed, is to compartmentalize public versus private behavior. But again, I think most of us do that to a degree too. We're not obligated to advertise our private sins outside of a confession to ecclesiastical authority.

    One of my favorite quotes from Brigham Young is: "If you can't be perfect, be as perfect as you can."

  6. Creek, I'm sad you've encountered enough bad apples to think that divorce and related problems are rampant – but for Latter-day Saints, divorce is lower than average, and for those who take their religion seriously enough to be married in the temple, it's much lower, based on the stats I've seen in the past. So if whatever you're observing now is shockingly high, I'm curious to know what part of the country you were in before. Might have been a nice small town like where I live here in Wisconsin.

  7. Jeff,

    I can appreciate what you write in this post. I have found that Mormons who are living as the Church teaches are usually the best people with whom one could ever meet and befriend. I'm sure you would agree that the Christian church also suggests wonderful ways to strengthen families. I say this because there might be lurkers on this site, and I wouldn't want them to come away thinking the Mormons have cornered the market on helping their followers strengthen families. With that said, I am all for strong families–not just because of the benefits they bring to the individual families themselves, but because of the benefits to the macro society.

    Peace and Blessings…

  8. Lucky Matt,

    I have to say that I am a bit disturbed by your comment that the Church is the vehicle that brings us to Christ. Christ brings us to Himself on His own steam. I see your comment as untrue. It presupposes that the LDS Church is the only true church, which I know is your position. Just take a look around at those who are not LDS who have found Jesus Christ. I don't want to make this a debate about the "real" Jesus Christ, and who is following Him or not; to do so would be putting myself in the position of having to say that Mormons aren't following the "real" Jesus, and that would be just as untrue as your statement. One of my pastors once said: "Christ doesn't call us to a church or to a denomination. He calls us to Himself." There is no middle-man.

    Anyway, that's all I have to say about that. Did I do better??? 🙂

    Peace and Blessings…

  9. Jackg, your comments were very civil–thanks for the effort. 🙂

    Let me see if I can clarify my statement briefly: since Christ is the author of His church, and He designed His church specifically to spread His gospel message and deliver His ordinances, it is through His church that people learn about Him and come unto Him. I absolutely agree that "He calls us to Himself," as you said. He does it through His church, which is a means to an end–His salvation is that end.

    I know you probably don't agree with what I'm saying, but Jeff's invitation was to elaborate on how Christ's church strengthens my family, and that is what I have done.

  10. Jeff,

    I am thankful that the Church has had a positive effect on your family; unfortunately this is far from universal. Just ask any young person in Utah who has left Mormonism, or come out as gay, if the Church "strengthens families." Most young people in the Church do NOT feel unconditionally loved by their parents, who actually see cruel & cold-hearted lawyers & businessmen like Dallin Oaks as some kind of spiritual person & "Authority," and believe their abominably bad & un-Christlike advice about family life.

  11. Lucky Matt,

    Thanks for the confirmation.

    I'm truly glad that the LDS Church has helped you where your family is concerned. But, being the EV that I am, I have to pose the question: is the LDS Church teaching you the truth you need to know about Jesus that saves us? And, I think this is an important question. If you believe the LDS Church is teaching you the truth about Jesus, which I guess you do, then could you elaborate on the truths about Jesus that differ from the biblical perspective that would be deemed necessary to living eternally in the presence of God? As a non-LDS, what am I lacking in my knowledge of Jesus Christ that would keep me from the presence of God? I'm posing this question to you, but anyone can jump in and answer it. I'm giving you the opportunity to present your case as to why I would need to rejoin the LDS Church, based on how and what one believes in Jesus as it relates to families.

    I think we need to be honest with each other, though, in that we are both evangelizing. That's not a bad thing. It's what we're called to do. Jeff's post is being used as the platform, because it represents the presupposition that the Church is true because it teaches us how to strengthen our families. The reason I say this is because of its emphasis on eternal families, which is used to define the veracity of the LDS Church.

    When all is said and done, we engage in these conversations to make converts. When I was a Mormon missionary, my goal was to make converts. We all want others to be saved in God's Kingdom. It's the common link we share. The issue is which of us actually represents the truth that saves. The thinking behind this post (Jeff, you can correct me if I'm wrong as I am making an assumption) is that the LDS Church is true, and the fact that it teaches us how to strengthen families is proof of that claim. Preaching the concept of eternal families is a huge hook when teaching investigators about the Church; in fact, it is often an opening line to engage someone in discussion about the Church: "Did you know families can be eternal?" Jeff stated it this way: "A crowning aspect of all this is the knowledge Christ and the Father intend for families to be eternal, and that through the blessings offered in the Temple make that possible." It's common knowledge that such an expression is the LDS way of saying that such a blessing can only be yours if you join the LDS Church.

    I think it's great that the LDS Church puts a high premium on families. I just don't believe it's part of the equation that saves souls into the Kingdom of God–Jesus Christ is the only part of that equation.

    Peace and Blessings…

  12. Good Afternoon All,

    As a Catholic married to a Mormon, I am proud to say we've made it 8 years as a married couple. I also believe we will succeed as a married couple for many more years to come, and even into the afterlife. In my opinion, the statistics that Anonymous posted do suggest that being mormon and following the teaches of your church helps in lowering the divorce rate. However, that probably has more to do with how people view marriage in the LDS faith, than it does with LDS gospel principals. Marriage isn't viewed as disposable in the LDS teachings. Catholics also don't view marriage as disposable. We follow Christ's teaching that what God has joined, no man can separate. None of these teachings has anything to do with the high divorce rates in this country though.

    As a culture, Americans don't value marriage. We are a society that consumes and disposes of everything. We have disposable paper products, disposable TV's, disposable diapers. As Americans we have disposable friends; and, very unfortunately we have disposable marriages. It isn't the religious teachings that is the problem. Its our culture as a whole that has led to high divorce rates. We now have no fault divorce in virtually every state in this country. As a result, you don't even have to have a reason to divorce. You just have to ask and a judge will grant the request. As a culture we've devalued marriage. And as a culture we've devalued morals which would lead one to even seek marriage as an option.

    I think any of the Christian faiths can lead us to a happy, long lasting marriage. All of them teach that marriage is forever. We as a culture need to change how we view marriage though, if that counsel is to mean anything.


    Catholic Defender

  13. Jackg, there are no truths about Jesus that differ from the Biblical perspective. The Bible contains the truth.

    That said, according to Wikipedia, there are over 30,000 different Christian denominations. There are thousands of different opinions about how to interpret the truths in the Bible. So which interpretation, if any, is correct?

    You have different beliefs than Jeff and I do. With all the different opinions out there, even among us Bible-loving Christians, how can anyone really know the truth? There is only one way: through the revelation of the Holy Ghost (see John 16:13, among many other references). The Holy Ghost testifies of Jesus, and leads us to Him–that is his most important mission. But another vital mission of the Holy Ghost is to help us sort out all truth from error through personal revelation. There is simply no other way to do it.

    I agree with Catholic Defender that any good person who follows God's teachings can have a wonderful marriage. Anyone devoted to the idea of self-sacrifice on the behalf of others (one of Jesus' main themes) will be much more likely to have a happy marriage than someone who is devoted only to serving himself.

    The Holy Ghost has taught me with certainty that God wants more from our families than just to live happily together on earth; He wants our family relationships to continue throughout eternity. That can only be done when family ties are bound together by God's power, the only power with authority that extends into eternity. Hence, it is vital to discover the truth about how to secure God's binding power in my family. The living prophet of God in Jesus Christ's church has been given that power in the latter days, as was Peter in former times (see Matthew 16:19). The Savior is anxious to give these blessings to all who will accept the truth. And for me, having that eternal perspective really does make a difference in my family life here on earth.

  14. Jeff,

    I didn't say divorce is rampant here in Utah. I said the divorce rate is shocking. I expected it to be much lower, same goes for the amount of adultry.

  15. Lucky Matt,

    Thanks for sharing your views and beliefs. We will always have to agree to disagree, though, and I sense us going down a path we've already taken. With regard to the Holy Spirit guiding us, I really believe He won't guide us into something that is not supported by what He has already inspired, which is the biblical text. The Holy Spirit either inspired the Bible or He didn't. Regarding marriage in heaven, the only marriage God has revealed is the marriage between Jesus Christ and His Church–which is made up of those who believe in Him. We are His bride. The concept of eternal marriage sounds good, but it's just not a biblical concept.

    Regarding the comments about the statistics of the LDS Church and divorce, etc., I think CD brings up a good point about the culture of our society. Post-modernism has crept into the Christian church, and I'm certain there are a lot of LDS who have been contaminated by post-modernism. Maybe Jeff can speak to that and give us some facts and insight. There are lots of families who don't heed any counsel, whether it be counsel from LDS leaders or other leaders. But, what Jeff has established as ways the LDS Church helps to strengthen families is sound counsel. Basically, it's not the LDS Church's fault that her members don't heed their counsel regarding family life. I think some of the other comments have placed the blame on the LDS Church for the failings of her members; if we were to take that line of thinking, we would ultimately have to blame God for His disobedient children. I think this falls into the area of free-will. The LDS Church has not taken away free-will from her members and, therefore, they have the right to disregard sound counsel if they want.

    Anonymous mentioned gay Mormons coming out. Again, the LDS Church doesn't teach her members that homosexuality is okay. Now, if one wants to argue that LDS parents are ill-equipped to handle such news and respond appropriately, well, that argument can be made for any parent. My return-missionary son "came out" a little more than a year ago. He has left the LDS Church, and his mother and her husband don't know how to cope with it. I know I am struggling with it. I know the LDS Church didn't give him the go-ahead on being gay. So, one just can't blame the LDS Church when her members go astray from her teachings in the areas of obedience and morality.

    Again, I think Jeff wrote an excellent post on how the LDS Church has helped his family, and I'm all for that. I just have to contend against what I believe to be unbiblical teachings regarding the idea of eternal marriage within the context of living eternally in the presence of God. Christ gets us into God's presence on his own steam; He doesn't need the institution of marriage as a means to that end.

    Peace and Grace…

  16. "Most young people in the Church do NOT feel unconditionally loved by their parents,…"

    I think that's an untrue and unfair statement.

  17. Creek,
    I've lived in Utah Vally (Go T-Birds!), but it was longer than five years ago. I felt it was actually very easy to avoid drinking/drugs/premarital sex in UT valley as a teenager and young adult because there were so many others around me who shared the same beliefs. I can see school/financial/popularity/"success"/boredom pressures causing LDS kids to turn to drinking and drugs, but it doesn't make sense given my experiences in UT valley that the pressure to "be good" would drive them to it.
    I knew quite a few people who didn't live LDS values despite being LDS. Just being baptized doesn't make someone immune to temptation. My mom does family law in UT valley, so we know there's plenty of divorce and adultery going on; my general impression is that marriage failures occur more often with those who've become superficial in their faith and/or focused on materialism and "good times" as portrayed in popular culture.
    The fact that there are just so many LDS people in UT valley means that people who aren't very religious when alone still go to church for social reasons. The presence of so many Mormons also means lots of "jack-Mormons", who spend their lives rebelling against "those Mormons" (even though they technically still are members). Finally, a lot of LDS people simply don't know how to respond to someone who has gone beyond certain standards of behavior, and they're scared that the bad behavior will influence their children if they are perceived to be condoning it; in the New Testament, we see that Christ repeatedly tried to teach people a better way to deal with sinners. Please be patient with those mortals in UT valley and set them a good example of how to love sinners even while instructing them to "go and sin no more"!

  18. Jackg said: "Jeff's post is being used as the platform, because it represents the presupposition that the Church is true because it teaches us how to strengthen our families."

    Not so. I was just expressing my gratitude for the help I've had with my family. I was not arguing that this help is some kind of argument as to why it is the only true church, or that other churches do not do teach things that will bless families.

    I believe that every family can be blessed by the basic teachings of Christianity, including the principles of self-sacrifice, service, love, morality, prayer, and the commandments that Christ taught (gasp – I know some people have been trained to gag at that word, but yes, he gave commandments, affirmed the 10 commandments, and even said "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments"). In spite of the different perspectives and emphasis that different Christian churches have, I think most of them teach many elements that will strengthen families, though some do a terrible job in teaching sexual morality.

    As for unique things that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers, here are a few:

    1. The Temple the blessings of eternal families. This is a big deal. It's real. The influence of the Temple, including the ability to be sealed as a family not just until death do you part, as well as the core covenant relationships that it brings, are a huge anchor to a marriage and to family relationships, and bless us innumerable ways. You don't find this anywhere else.

    2. The Restoration of priesthood authority blesses families in many ways also, from valid baptismal covenants, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the ability of a father to give blessings to members of the family, and the blessings of the sealing power of the Temple. "Where is the authority that Christ gave His apostles?" is a fair question for people to ask in considering what their church does for them.

    3. A knowledge of our relationship to God and Christ, including a knowledge of who we are (the pre-mortal existence is part of that) and the restored biblical knowledge of who God is–a Being that is truly our Father, who looks like us, whom we are related to. That restored knowledge, clearing up centuries of confusion and error from bickering counsels of philosophers and politicians, does much to enhance the genuine covenant relationship between man and God that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ brings, and that lays a foundation for much of what we need in our personal and family lives.

    I could also mention Family Home Evening and some of the specifics of church programs as added blessings, but of course anyone can do this and we hope they do!

  19. Jeff,

    Fair enough.


    P.S. Thanks for the link to the article on the block program. I have read a good chunk of it, and I appreciate the time you took to research the subject. It's exceptionally well-written and very strong.

  20. I think that the assertion & PR used to promote the mormon church as family friendly is unmasked when a family member leaves the mormon church, but tries to maintain contact with family members. The one who leaves finds out rapidly that he/she has been shunned, lied about, & disinherited by his/her mormon family. It is a shock. Where is all the talk then about families are forever?

  21. C T,

    Thank you so much for your comments. I really appreciate your insight and experience.

    I counsel students almost everyday on issues that involve the church. Comments like yours help me to understand both sides (church and student) of the problem. I've found that when LDS kids succumb to drugs, pre-marital sex, etc. (which is far more common than their parents realize), it's extremely difficult for them to get back in the good graces of the church once the problems become known. They feel like complete failures. Many of my coworkers has been in "Happy Valley" for most of their lives, and they see a huge difference from the "good ol' days" before the internet and cable TV 🙂

    The problems aren't limited to kids, either. My wife's best friend here is lifetime LDS and just 2 years ago seemed to have a picture perfect marriage. Now she has moved out from her family (husband and 4 kids) and divorce seems imminent. She has turned to my wife for support because her ward has treated her very cruelly. They don't know 10% of the whole story, but have virtually shunned this poor woman.

    Of course, these situations happen to people of all faiths. I'm just surprised how much it happens in "Happy Valley"!!

  22. Creek,
    That's interesting the teachers note the difference since cable came in. My family didn't have cable when I was growing up, and my husband and I choose to go without a TV entirely (we still watch DVDs and get our news off the internet). I guess I'm sheltered from a lot of the bad media influences out there, even if I'm not in actual life (I live in a downtown area, and no one could argue my children don't see any diversity!).
    I don't know any more of the facts than what you just told me, but if your wife's friend just left her four kids behind, then most people would consider that abandonment and be appalled that she would do that to her children. If all her ward members know is that 10% of her circumstances, it's not surprising that they'd react so negatively. Surely the same thing would happen in any small, family-oriented group. (After all, consider a man who walked out on his four kids and didn't pay child support–wouldn't most people judge that act pretty harshly? Check the jails for deadbeat dads if you don't think they don't.)

  23. I met so many abusive men running the MTC back in 1984 (mainly the branch presidents), that I'm not surprised that some women in Provo walk out on their husbands.

    Whether it's physical abuse, or emotional/psychological/verbal abuse, it's a big problem in the church.

    The husband can be Mr. Perfect to co-workers and the ward members, so it's hard for many people to comprehend how such a "Mr. Perfect" could be abusive, and why a woman would want to walk out on "Mr. Perfect." But it's a common problem.

    My own father was well-respected in his work-place an in the community, but he was a real monster within the four walls of our house. (Maybe that sensitized me to some of the markers or "tell tales" that indicate abuse.) He didn't even start to change until my mom filed for divorce, and that was the first time he realized he had a problem.

    Most abusers are like that. The wife or the children complain, but the abusive father/husband sees it as _their_ fault for being whiney or not wanting to be perfect, and he feels justified in his domineering/abusive treatment.

    The abuser doesn't even start to "get it" until after the wife leaves, and often, not even then.

    Women need to document things with tape recorders or video-recorders and show people the rages, or the constant domineering and confrontation and belittling.

    Non-family members often don't get it.

    And in some situations, it's only the wife and/or daughters who get emotionally abused, not the boys. So the boys don't see the problem. They learn to see it as their father, it's the woman's problem for not doing what the husband/dad says. And they grow up to be abusers like him.

    I'm not implying that most of Provo is like that. But in 1984, during 8 weeks, _every_ branch president who spoke at the MTC's weekly convocation talked down to the audience in a domineering tone. But only with one of them was I convinced that he physically beat his wife.

  24. When I wrote "it's a big problem in the church" I didn't mean to imply that the majority of men are like that, or that the church promotes or condones abuse in any way.

    In the past 8 years that I've been attending, church leadership has made it clear that abuse in any form, even when it's not physical, is not to be tolerated. It's even part of the worthiness interviews now for priesthood callings and temple recommends.

  25. FWIW, my mom divorced her abusive husband over twenty years ago, and she received a great deal of support from church members and leaders afterward. Before she left him (taking us with her), the apostles had already given multiple talks aimed at abusive husbands, but my father chose to dismiss the talks as 1) not applying to him because "if you think this is bad, you should see what [his father (not LDS)] did!", and 2) he tried to characterize the talks as attempts by the Church to be politically correct in the wake of feminism.
    Also, abuse is hardly something that only men hand out. My mom, once firmly convinced that women were as a group much better than men, has changed her mind after doing family law in Utah Valley during the last decade. She says she sees just as many women as men who are doing bad things (i.e., verbal and physical abuse, child neglect, adultery, substance abuse, etc.).

  26. I come from a mormon pioneer family (first joined 1835). All my family are practicing mormons with temple recommends. My brother has been married & divorced 5 times. Two of his children won't speak to him because of sexual abuse. My sister & her husband have stolen the money from my father's trust. Not the behavior of good people, but common among the mormons I hear about. Mormons are no better and no worse than others. All have sinned & fallen short of the glory of God. All need a Savior and to turn from their wicked ways. However, mormons and the mormon church are led to pride which leads to a fall. Mormon pride certainly .leads in the wrong direction and does NOT strenthen families.

  27. Anon 9:29

    The Church is not "led to pride"… it teaches against pride. Creek's posts mention hypocrites. They are not following the teaching of the Church… specifically "to be honest in your dealings" with others. Jeff's point is there are blessing in store if you actually FOLLOW the teaching of Christ. There is pain and suffering for those who pretend to follow or those who puff themselves up with pride.

    So that begs the question, are there those in leadership positions who aren't perfect and act poorly / prideful? Yep. The Church is a hospital, not a museum of saints. Sorry for the pain in your past, Bookslinger. Glad your bigger than those who hurt you and are actively working for Christ these days. You are an inspiration. Always appreciate your comments.

    I will say that the Church leads to prosperity, in life and relationships. Prosperity can lead to pride when one forgets humility and thankfulness. I am thankful as well for the teaching of the Christ's Church and the blessings that have come to pass for my family as I have tried to follow Christ. One of the biggest ironies is how difficult life is living in a time with so many material comforts and instant gratifications exist. Humility, long suffering, and love for one's neighbor are the best defense against our trials today, IMHO.



  28. Jackg, thanks for looking at the articles on the block. Appreciate the kind words. Have a lot of updating to do, though.

  29. Jeff,

    I'm sorry that we've taken the conversation in a slightly different direction from your original post.

    In spite of the minority of exceptions described in the comments (including mine), my observations lead me to belief that your O.P. is spot on: When people follow the church's teachings and programs, good things follow.

  30. Jeff,

    I'm looking forward to the updates.


    I think the discussion has been interesting, but you are right to sum up Jeff's comments the way you did.

    When it comes to perspective, I think the basic Mormon premise that we are gods in embryo puts a lot of pressure on people–especially on parents, which could be the reason why some LDS fathers are prone to abusive behaviors in order to control their children. I no longer buy into the teaching that we are born with divine nature; rather, I believe the biblical text teaches that we are born with sin nature. LDS belief teaches that we are born children of God, but I believe the biblical text to teach that we become children of God when we confess faith in Jesus Christ. Also, the LDS Church teaches that the world is exactly the way it's supposed to be so we can be tested (you can correct me if this statement isn't accurate). I believe it teaches that the world is in a fallen condition as the result of sin, and that we are broken and fallen people who operate out of our brokenness. Because of this perspective, I can understand why all human beings–even those raised in the LDS Church–display sinful behaviors. So, it makes sense that the LDS Church will have the same problems with her members as all religious organizations have. Yes, the Church teaches principles that are designed to help families, but because of free-will people reject the message and choose to live their lives the way they want, which is in rebellion to God. Even though I don't believe the LDS Church to be true, I surely don't blame her for how her members behave. I have never blamed the LDS Church for my sinful behaviors. I blame her, however, for teaching me false teachings that negatively impacted my understanding of my relationship with God and how one overcomes sin, is saved in God's presence, and becomes holy.

    Peace and Blessings…

  31. I was baptized into the church 2 years ago this August. I have seen the blessings that have come from this church and I know that it is indeed God's church. I am sorry if all the readers do not agree but to go and bash on another person's religion makes them just as bad as the horror stories they are telling. If they don't believe in the church then that is fine but there is no reason to post these negative comments. This is a very inspirational blog to members and I'm sure it would be appreciated if they toned it down just a little.

  32. jackg: I think some of the concepts you mention are part of the overall dual nature of our existence. You don't have to take an either/or stance to the born-divine versus born-sinful issue. Those are not true dichotomies, rather, real life is a bit of both.

    Also, whether the world is "as it should be" or "fallen" is not an either-or proposition. It's both.

    Personally, I think the Book of Mormon and the D&C go a long way to explain how those conflicts work, and why they are needed as part of our mortal existance.

    Many non-LDS Christians are still agonizing over the questions of "why do bad things happen to good people?" and "why does God allow so much suffering?" In my opinion, the Book of Mormon and the D&C do a better job of explaining that than the Bible does.

  33. bookslinger,

    I think you would have to show some comparisons to support your claim that the BOM and D&C are better equipped to help us with questions of theodicy. I think the Bible does a pretty good job of helping me understand why bad things happen to good people, etc. Or, you could just explain why you believe such. Why do you think there is so much evil in the world? What is your response when someone asks you, "Why does God let these things happen?"


  34. "theodicy" (a vindication of the divine attributes, particularly holiness and justice, in establishing or allowing the existence of physical and moral evil.)

    2nd Nephi 2:11-15 for starters.

    Jackg: If you can point me to a biblical passage that gives a comparasble philosophical explanation as clearly as that, I'd be very grateful.

  35. I meant: As clear as that passage from the BoM. Not as clear as the dictionary definition. I just included that for people who don't know what "theodicy" means.

  36. Bookslinger,

    I've read the BOM passage, but struggle to see how it does a good job of explaining the issues of theodicy to those with questions. Could you please explain it to me in your own words from a teaching milieu? What I get from it is that there are opposites, and so without disaster we couldn't know peace and tranquility, or whatever. Am I getting close to what the passage is saying? I want to understand your view with regard to this passage before I respond. Also, I want to take some time to write out a response to your request that is thoughtful and as encompassing as I can make it. Your request actually requires the use of more than just one or two passages, but needs explanation on some important biblical foundations. I will try to be as succinct as possible, however. 🙂


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