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.
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?
To me the key is the part I emphasized. There's a definite relationship between your ability to be respectful and honest and making sure they can't deny your rational thinking and the conclusions you've come to, but the key is that you have to make sure you're informed about their arguments. Read up on the history of Mormonism and the nature and origins of Mormon scriptures. Read up about arguments for and against God generally. Do this so that when they say something your responses will be something that they cannot deny is rational thinking because it will be rational thinking. They certainly won't agree with you. But at the very least they'll leave knowing that you've given it more thought than most people. And here's where the relationship between being respectful and honest and making sure they understand that you've arrived at your conclusions through careful thinking. When you actually have arrived at your conclusions through careful thinking, you'll be more confident in those conclusions and therefore more likely to be honest and upfront about them. And when you've arrived at your conclusions through careful thinking you'll be better able to express a defense of your conclusions, thereby being more respectful in conversations on the topic.
The best way to ensure that you can be respectful and honest and make sure they understand that you've arrived at your conclusions through careful thought is to actually arrive at your conclusions through careful thought. :)
"...make sure you're informed about their arguments. Read up on the history of Mormonism and the nature and origins of Mormon scriptures. Read up about arguments for and against God generally."
Good word =) I really appreciate this response. Are you aware of any solid readings in these areas? I started a search online only to find mostly individual opinions, etc., but to have any kind of reading that is not deliberately against the church, but instead deliberately regarding historical truth, or findings at least, if no truth can be agreed on, I am not sure how to search exactly. I am going to the library today, so if there is something you know of I would love to look it up. Thank you, again.
While Nelson has pointed out what he thinks is key, I'm going to point out what I think will be the most difficult.
"I am not trying to offend or start anything that may get my husband treated negatively."
Regardless of what you do or do not say, your husband may be treated negatively for the fact that he is married to an unbeliever. No offense to your husband, but Mormons believe some crazy things. Bringing up these points and refuting them even in a polite and civil matter may cause offense. I say may because quite frankly I don't know these people so can't make any assumptions except from my own experience.
Personally, I think that they will likely deny everything you say against their religion to include the things that are obviously silly, talk you in circles, and then when they realize that you are too intelligent to be converted, the portcullis of their gated community will come crashing down.
On the other hand, they could be genuinely patient and kind people who think that they will wear you down in time. If that's the case they will be accepting and open towards you... as long as they think that there is the possibility that you will convert. Hopefully, the best outcome will happen and there is something of a truce where they accept that you won't join their church, but won't keep your husband from it. You do have the benefit of the fact that since Mormons take marriage so seriously (so seriously that they think believers are married for eternity) that they will probably be adverse to breaking you two up.
I'm a cynic and don't think this will end well just because the Mormons I have met typically are zealous in their beliefs, but if your husband married a non-believer, well there might be hope of a good outcome.
Just remember, they are trying desperately to sell you something that you don't want to buy. It's far more important to them that you buy into it and they will do what they can to convince you that you want it.
I will look those up right now! Thank you!
This is a reply to Sagacious Hawk. For some reason my reply keeps going to others comments I haven't even read yet, hopefully this goes in the right spot. Try #3:
Thank you for your reply. I really loved how you left your assumptions open to possibilities, an ability many are incapable of, at least in a world of so many "open minds" who are in truth, quite closed.
I also appreciated that your response was really such a message of what to expect embedded with hopeful outcomes. One of the struggles for me has been how to keep them (the elders...or any of the members, I suppose) at that hope for my conversion, only because I want them to keep treating my husband, and my family, well. To keep them at bay would probably require me leading them on a bit, which is dishonest. However, I also want to be ready to stand up for truth when it is requested or questioned. If that means my family will be treated differently, then so be it. I only then hope my husband will not feel down or less of a man in his own eyes. How he feels about himself, is the only thing I care about where anyone's beliefs/feelings of him are concerned. But that may be a whole new topic to discuss one day when I need help in the area of being a good wife.
Thank you. I look forward to any future words from you.
I agree with Sagacious Hawk - your greatest concern should be your marital relationship, and that could suffer if these people react to your husband because of you. If I were you - and I assume your husband knows you don't share his views - I would lay the whole thing out and ask him what he thinks you should do. He may say, "Tear into them, it won't bother me!" - likely not, but at least you'll have some idea as to how important he considers the issue to be, which should give you some idea as to how the issue might affect your relationship. Then you have to decide what your priorities are, and that's a decision only you can make.
During my adolescence I visited a variety of religious organizations,LDS included. After several weeks of the brothers indoctrination attempts, I was still unperturbed in my atheism, at which point one of the brothers offered to take me out behind the barn and "beat the hell" outta me. Needless to say, that was the end of my investigation of the LDS Church.
What a horrible and unacceptable attempt to show anyone the ways of Jesus. I'm always blown away at the ways believers treat non-believers and then preach the love of Christ and that God is love.
Then again, Jesus did preach and support some pretty horrible and unacceptable things as well. And as far as what God has been accused of doing, this isn't too far from his ways, either.
And you didn't just turn the other cheek?
Thank you so much for your reply. Being married to someone who has been my best friend for almost 20 years and who has loved me as much as I love him for as long, the area we seem to disagree in, although not small, is one of the only areas we disagree in. I wouldn't marry him over 10 years ago for fear that he wasn't truly being honest with either of us and would in fact one day try to convert me, but he has been by my side and loved me for so long now and finally convinced me that he always new I would never convert. He loved me so much and wanted to be with me even if that meant I was never a member. And when I realized he was serious I also made sure he understood that I would never want him to be treated differently by the church or his family/friends, but to realize that he might, to which he replied that we'll cross that bridge if/when we come to it and that it would not matter to him anyway. No one has ever made him so happy and that makes it worth the risk of the suffering he has or will encounter because of my beliefs, which is much less suffering than either of us encountered in not being together.
That being said, I will do some reading to be able to respond confidently and respectfully. To debate is not my wish. I'm not good at it anyway because I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt to avoid conflict, even if I don't agree with them. I do want them to see that I respect their right to believe and hope they can reach a point where they respect my right as well.
I will post an update when it comes, welcoming/looking forward to your reaction.