I have found myself in discussion mode with the elders of our local LDS church without realizing the implications of such an agreement. Basically while attending a service with my husband, who is a member, (I love him and want to spend time with him while he is home as he works away from home, even if that means attending church), before we could leave after the service we were caught by the eager elders. Of course they had to ask if we were both members...grrr, why, why do they have to go there...and because I have this problem, (I can't be dishonest), I of course said that I was not. They asked if I would mind having them over to talk about stuff and me not liking conflict or confrontation or negativity said I would not mind. I didn't realize that this would begin a formal schedule of something they have been thoroughly trained for. I however only know how I feel, but like singing in front of strangers, when confronted with the questions I close up and can't speak the logic I believe. After one evening of apparently "The 1st Lesson" they had scheduled a second in less than a week from then, which I had to reschedule and haven't yet because I don't feel ready to do so.
How can I respond to their planned/taught questions respectfully and honestly so that they cannot deny my rational thinking and conclusions I have come to? I am not trying to offend or start anything that may get my husband treated negatively.
I may edit this later if I find a better way to bring my question to the "support group" however for now, I just really want some help.
I told the elders I don't know if I'll want to reschedule the discussions, but that in truth, I'm not ready for regular discussions/lessons. I said I am actively investigating/building the foundation for what I believe, but that at this point any questions I have, I can just go to my husband and I thanked them. They thanked me for my honesty and then invited me to 'continue to please pray to God and ask ....and blah blah blah' and promised me an answer that its true soon and then said I should totally have them back over for dinner soon. I wasn't surprised, but glad to have been able to say what I needed. I will be strong and honest with them, and anyone, anytime my beliefs are questioned.
Thank you for your help. I am grateful to have a safe place where I can ask for it.
I think you've nailed it Tiffany --
As a former mormon and now atheist, I think the best thing and really only thing to do is cancel the lessons and just say "not interested in the lessons" I was a missionary and that is all it took for me and the others I worked with to stay away from someone. Even if you go to church with your husband, you can just say you are there to support him but you are not interested in converting. Most people will respect that right away and the ones that won't can be ignored. After a little while, the vast majority of people will not even pursue the issue anymore. As long as you just tell them up front, that you don't want to convert and that you are not interested in the lessons. That is all you can do to keep the peace if you want to actually go with him. I found church to be extremely boring most of the time and many members to be very apathetic about the beliefs especially the strange ones. The music can be nice sometimes but it is not worth the pain of 3 hours of church nor the many insulting concepts and stories dressed up as being nice and kind when it is full of too much non-sense. Just my humble opinions, Good luck with everything :)
Wow, thank you for your comment. Coming from a former-missionary, the advice on how to handle this is very helpful. I may just have to add that into my next conversation with them. A thank you, but no thank you and maybe let them know if I do have any further desire to discuss anything I can just go to my husband... hmmm that actually might work. =)
Thank you so much.
Another thing you need to find out is if your husband secretly wishes that you would convert. This is a very sensitive subject to bring up so tread lightly. If he does, that is going to be a very difficult problem to face. But if he is REALLY fine with you staying a non-member then you should be okay to say to everyone that you are just not interested in converting etc. Your husband should respect your rights and not invite the missionaries over in the future. It is not cool that he did in the first place. It would be fine if he or you invited other members over but it is kinda sneaky on his part and on the missionaries part to just invite themselves over. You don't have to be so nice about their feelings, they need to respect your feelings and just stay away. Reasoning with them is not a good idea.
He has spent over 10 years trying to get me to see that my conversion has never been a focus of his. A hope, which he cannot deny and I respect his honesty, but as far as getting me to convert he has been the last person in the world to push it. He respects and understands my beliefs. I agree I was a little upset about having them over as well, seeing how I could just go to him for any questions regarding it, however it is my fault. Trying to be nice, when the elders cornered us after church and asked ME if I wouldn't mind having them over to chat, I said, no problem. I wish he would be able to say, maybe she would feel comfortable another time, but that for now I am not actively investigating. However he is not like that. They asked me, he lets me answer for myself and I said I didn't mind. He said we didn't have to have them over and could cancel it, but I don't want to start anything weird or bad for us. I am just not good at choosing the option that upsets anyone except for me. I need to figure out how to be ok with possibly upsetting others instead of myself. I just know I can handle it, but I don't need to do that to myself either...
I had a fellow from one of my previous jobs that I had been chatting with during breaks want to come over and discuss his religion with me. I felt, at the time, that it was pretty harmless. I knew I didn't really want anything to do with the religion, but he seemed like a nice kid, so I figured this was his way of making friends... or trying to. I just sort of listened to him when he and his fellow member of the church came by to tell me all about what they believed in and how happy it made them. I only had a real objection to it all when they started talking baptism. Not just talking about it, but really PUSHING it. I told them no, that I was not interested, and when it came up over and over again, and the pressuring got heavier and heavier, I told them I was not interested in them coming by to talk to me about their beliefs anymore. They stopped visiting me after that.
Someone else has mentioned your husband may face negative treatment by his fellow believers, and I think I agree with them on that. I admit to not knowing very much about the Mormon faith, but from what I've heard from others and what little I experienced myself, they can be really pushy and don't take well to rejection.
It very much depends on where the LDS congregation is located. If it is in Utah then the people tend to be very pushy about everyone joining them in the "in" group. Many did react with sadness or disgust (my subjective observation as an insider at the time) and will have negative reactions (but mostly mild and annoying "discussions to convert you") But if the LDS congregation is outside of Utah, the reactions can range from extreme apathy about trying to convert people to extremely pushy missionaries and members. The more "liberal" areas tend to have more "liberal" members and the same with conservative areas. In any case, it is not a very easy situation to deal with when one person is a member and the other one is not but I have seen it work for some couples that I knew. Everyone knew that their spouse was not a member but they still accepted that and didn't push about it too hard. I may be looking at it with rose-colored glasses but most mormons I knew were very cautious to not offend someone especially if they thought that "someday" they might convert them. Just make a principled stand and don't compromise to make others comfortable at the expense of your own freedom of mind and conscience. :)
"Just make a principled stand and don't compromise to make others comfortable at the expense of your own freedom of mind and conscience."
Thank you, again! This is so true as we are in a more liberal area here in Colorado. I would like to just tell them that I am not interested for now, while still building a firm foundation in my 'principled stand' for the purpose of being able to stand up for myself and my beliefs. I am especially interested in strengthening that foundation since I have a weak one right now since I am really a baby atheist (maybe, maybe I kind of always was, but was giving God the benefit of the doubt, too).
The part of your comment that I emphasized, I wrote it down. I need to read this back to myself often. Thank you for it, Nate. Spreading the good word. =)
This is a reply to Rachel
Sometimes I have reply issues, hence the random "." replies. Sheesh technology.
It's interesting that you dealt with that, because I don't know if I even mentioned it yet, but at the end of the first discussion with them, they were trying to find a time to come back for a second one and casually brought up that, although they know I am still 'unsure' about it all, they would like to put me down for a baptism in 3 weeks because that's when the next one would be and that although timing is completely personal and they want me to do this all in my own time frame, that 3 weeks is 'really just perfect for our church' haha. Man, I was like, "Oh haha um, ok well, for now, No. If that ever changes, I will let you know."
Maybe I shouldn't have added the last part, but I have a problem leaving people hanging in a position that could hurt them or something. I don't know, I am pretty ridiculous. But after telling them I do agree with some of their beliefs (yes family is important, yes choosing the right is good), but that to commit to something that requires faith in something I could never truly know, I was unable to do that and stay honest with myself. Apparently that is reversible after only 3 weeks.
Thank you for your comment. You remind me of myself in that I would also invite them to talk to be nice and possibly make friends. The good news is, in being true to yourself, you found out sooner rather than later how good of friends they would have been. It's just unfortunate how many "friends" are "friends" for such untrue reasons.
I'm glad I could offer something helpful. :)