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.
You sound similar to my sister in law. She has a similar problem where she just agrees to anything if she feels the slightest pressure. My advice is the same for both of you: you need to learn to stand your ground. If you don't want Mormons coming over to "teach" you stuff, you need to tell them you are not interested in being taught. Your beliefs are your own and you are not interested, at the moment, in changing them.
Thank you. I think I'm going to go in this direction with the whole thing. If I have any questions I have a husband who can answer them.
Thank you for your comment, I couldn't agree more!
In my experience, an all-out rejection of any given belief system does nothing but inspire a shocking, hateful response from those that subscribe to those beliefs. If you reject the LDS elders teachings, it will probably reflect negatively on your husband within the church.My experience with Mormons is that they don't even like to have non-Mormon owned businesses in the same neighborhoods as their businesses, let alone that one of their following should be married to an atheist.
They probably assume that you are interested in becoming a member, or at the very least that you believe in God or you would not have been at church in the first place. I don't know if spending more time with your husband will be an acceptable excuse to these people or not, but I would start right there - with the truth - and see where that leads. At the very next "Lesson" I would explain that I was not interested in their teachings and that I was just attending church to spend more time with my husband - tell them exactly what you told us in the OP. I think that if they find out that you are an atheist, they are going to be even more relentless in trying to "teach"you their ways.
All thoughts on belief systems aside, I think the most important thing you should be worried about here is this: There is going to come a boiling point in this whole ordeal where you are going to have to stop dancing around the issues and either decide to put your foot down with these people and tell them to back off, or fold to their wishes that you become one of their flock. I don't think that there is anyway to avoid this, and I would discuss it with your husband before it gets to that point so that he is not hit with it out of the blue. You could be in the "deal breaker" territory as far as your marriage goes if you don't. But, I don't know your husband, so I really can't say. I am just saying that you need to realize that these people are probably not going to just go away. They will corner you again and you will want to be polite and accepting again...
You just need to remember that these people can't really hurt you. They can get angry, offended, threaten hell (and they will), but they cannot beat you up or kill you. Don't be afraid of being rejected by the very people that you already reject! Remember that you did the rejecting first, you have the upper hand, and you have nothing to be afraid of. Their threats are empty; If you feel that they are not empty, then question your status as an atheist, not your status as a Christian. Just put you foot down and tell them what you (don't) believe! Please don't fold in the face of their ignorance just because you want to avoid a confrontation, or (worse!) let them brainwash you into their way of thinking and start believing their BS!
I hope this works out for you! Keep us posted as this unfolds. I am curious to hear how they react!
I appreciate your input and support. Actually, I wouldn't even commit to calling myself an Atheist. I believe in possibilities. But it wouldn't be the "deal breaker" for us, or it already would have been. It's because of this issue that what we have is so much stronger than anything, ever. During this time he's only been supportive of me needing to call the discussions off at any time. I just need to remember that and focus on what matters, not their feelings. Which do matter, just not in regards to the matter at hand.
One thing to remember is that mormons believe in 3 levels of heaven and have a very watered down version of "hell" which basically no one qualifies for. They try to sell that you want to be in the "highest heaven with your family for eternity" but that means you have to follow all sorts of rules that compromise your dignity and independence in the long run. They use more of a "guilt and disappointment" kind of version of "hell" They will give you sad puppy dog looks etc. But remember that the elders transfer on a regular basis so you don't have to worry about their feelings in the long run. None are in an area for longer than about 8 months and most of the time they get transfered on average every 3 to 4 months. (wreaks havoc on their feelings of stability) Anyway, just pity them but don't give them an inch. They will go away with just a little firmness. Just like puppies :) hehehe You may run across the occasional aggressive elder but like I said they are not around for long so you can just ignore them :) Hope this helps and just enjoy your time with your husband, life is short, take care!
Thank you =)
To cut to the chase I would recommend asking them one question: Can you provide scientifically verifiable and repeatable evidence of the existence of god(s) and without making reference to a book? If there answer is no then the discussion is over for all intents and purposes. Extraordinary claims really do require extraordinary evidence.
As to your husband and his church I would immediately stop attending services. Do not support his delusion. Instead schedule what little time you do have together with more fulfilling endeavors. Walks in the mountains, cultural events, etc. If you stop participating in his religious activities he might decide to spend less time there as well. Your free time together should benefit BOTH of you.
"Can you provide scientifically verifiable and repeatable evidence of the existence of god(s) and without making reference to a book?"
That is a good question, I like it. Thank you.
We really do spend as much of our time together actually together, which is why I went. He doesn't go very often, so when he did this time I went, too. I do not have to go, but just being together benefits us both enough that anywhere is good. We usually spend our together time away from any church, though. We do want our time together to be enjoyable, so we try to do things both of us will enjoy.
A fair number of people don't like what they perceive as the negative baggage of calling themselves an atheist. You can call yourself a freethinker, a skeptic, science-based reasoner, a secular humanist, non-theist, non-religious, scientist etc. Just choose a label you feel comfortable with. Most of these labels have the atheistic position at their core but have a more positive sound or reputation associated with them. I hope that someday, the simple label of atheist will also have a totally neutral or positive association in everyone's minds as well but as us realists know, we have to make definitions and meanings very clear and earn our own individual reputations not based solely on any labels.
Skeptic sound like someone who is open to think and reason, but currently beleives there is no good reason to be a theist. Atheist sounds like someone arrogant enough to think they possess enough of the sum of all knowledge to call a final conclusion, when that is not the case. Dawkins has also give "atheists" a bad reputation and name, as people who think they have the intellectual high groung but can't actually even formulate a cogent philisophical argument, and runs for cover when there is a theist who can.
I am not saying that baggade is good or right, just saying what it is.
Atheist sounds like someone arrogant enough to think they possess enough of the sum of all knowledge to call a final conclusion, when that is not the case.
@ Trevor. But don't Christians do the same exact thing? It seems by your definition you would think Christians are arrogant, since they also come to a final conclusion.
I assume you believe there is an all powerful being out there somewhere that loves you. I assume you believe that anybody who has heard the message of salvation, yet dies without believing in Christ, will spend eternity in a bad place, even if they are a good person. If so, I find that very arrogant.