Comments about ‘How LDS Church members can help themselves and loved ones deal with doubt’

Return to article »

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 27 2013 12:00 p.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Salt Lake City, UT

Great article! Wish I had attended the seminars!

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

I think this is a good start, but if I'm right the LDS church will fall far short of truly answering peoples' questions. You guys can dismiss me all you want for not being LDS, I work with several ex-Mormons who in their words left because the church refuses to answer or address issues about their past.

My sincere suggestion.

Set up an official church website for the whole world to see where anyone can post UNFILTERED QUESTIONS. And by unfiltered I don't mean for vulgarity(I am ok editing those), I mean don't filter any question as it relates to doctrine or history, simply because you do not want to answer it or because it doesn't shine positively on the church. Let everyone see what others are asking and give the church a chance to have an official answer to each and every one of these "tough" questions.

And no, such thing does not exist.

I see it in between the many "anti-LDS" sites and the "LDS sites"

Allow the "anti-LDS"(or doubters or whatever term you want) people to ask their questions and give their proof.

And the church can respond.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

I agree with Chris B, but add that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles should be answering the questions, NOT BYU professors, public relations spokespersons, or any other unauthorized, non-ordained, people in the Church.

It is strange that the Church claims to have the ONLY men with the proper authority to receive revelation from god, yet those with the so-called authority are rarely heard from on the most troubling and controversial issues and questions.

IF these men have such priesthood "keys", it is a waste that they don't use them to answer the most pressing questions of our day.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

I’m guessing that compassion goes (for doubting members) only up to a certain point. If someone’s doubt reaches a critical mass – where big light bulbs start going off all over the place and the entire enterprise (religion) seems like little more than made up stories & superstitions – my guess is that compassion will go away pretty quickly and the Church will want nothing more to do with you (which is understandable but sad when that extends to friends and especially family members).

But this does seem like a big step forward from the days of old (perhaps not that long ago) when most churches would completely ostracize any who lost faith, and in some cases (Islam today) threaten their lives.

Daniel Leifker
San Francisco, CA

Doubt is a messy problem because the word "belief" has so many layers of meaning. When a religion requires you to believe in propositions that can be scientifically tested, all kinds of hideous arguments result. But "belief" is a totally human concept. I once read somewhere that the Latin word for "believe" (credere) means "to give your heart to" and comes from even earlier words for "heart" and "give" (cardio + dare). The happiest religious people I know have given their heart and commit to religious propositions because they believe those propositions lead us Godward, not because they can be proven true in a mathematical sense. I've always felt the true measure of a religion is how much it changes you as a person.


"Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel,” President Uchtdorf said. “

Some are treated by local leaders and members as "unworthy" because they have doubts and questions. Some are called unworthy for not belonging to the "right" political party. The Church perpetuates the idea that the Republican Party is the "correct" party through its ownership of DN. DN unabashedly promoted Romney's candidacy in its coverage--before and long after the election. Aside from a local BYU Prof. Richard Davis, (a recent addition) it does not carry a single left-of-center op-ed.

For me, the accurate and whole history of the church has caused me to adjust my views of the Church. Additionally, I am troubled in the way (negative, misleading, fear-mongering campaign, not the loving/positive/accurate campaign I would've expected) the Church got involved in Prop 8 and other political issues--such as the more recent statement by the Presiding Bishop regarding the contraceptive mandate--and its "war against religion" stance. The increasingly close alignment between the Church and political right-winged groups who don't have a high standard of accuracy and truthfulness is hugely troubling.

Salt Lake City, UT

Chris B - great suggestion. Would you kindly point me to the website where your church does that?

Indiana H
Mission Viejo, CA

The church's job is to teach the basics: faith, repentance, &c, and to give people opportunities to serve and grow. It's not to answer most of the hard questions and details. By following the basics you keep yourself clean enough to approach the Lord on your own and work out the details and hard questions.

The big reason for this is that many truths outside the basics change under different conditions and circumstances (including scientific truths). Plus many complicated truths offend people easily if they haven't had the life experiences or done the hard work necessary to understand it's reasons. The church, like any public institution in this day of political correctness, has to be sensitive to different people.

I'm very religious and scientific (work in science every day) and have very little doubt. People need to learn to pray and get answers. D&C 8:2 says the Lord speaks to you in your Heart AND Mind. You stay humble, work it in your mind (study & research), pray, and repeat until the answers come. You'll come to a point (sometimes soon, sometimes longer) when you'll know what's right in both your heart & mind.

Tooele, UT

@Red Corvette

You said - "My suggestion would be to EDUCATE yourself and learn to USE that knowledge and logic instead of superstition and sanitized histories that are being spoon-fed to you."

It cuts both ways.

I recently chatted with a co-worker who is not LDS and has only lived in Utah for a short time. She asked me some simple questions about the early LDS Church and my family connections and was surprised to learn a few things which went against what others had told her.

She told me that the LDS Church gave up polygamy only so that Utah could become a state. She did not know about the hundreds of men who were imprisoned because of polygamy. She did not know the government was on the verge of confiscating church property.

She did not know that many early LDS women were educated and that some even had master's degrees. She had been told all LDS men practiced polygamy and that, like Warren Jeffs Church, the early LDS Church kicked their "lost boys" out. In fact only about 1/4th of LDS men, at the most, were polygamists.

Average Human Being
west jordan, UT

It's actually OK to leave the church to see if your doubts are valid. If they end up not being valid, you can always come back to the church with open hands. If your doubts end up being valid, you no longer need to belong to a church that was unable to answer your doubts. That's the part the church leaders are afraid of.

If enough people are willing to live a life outside of the gospel and find out for themselves their doubts were valid for a reason, the church will have to change. Just like Bro. Marsh quotes science not knowing and always changing because someone was willing to experiment with touching a human heart, you have to be willing to experiment with life outside of the gospel because of your doubts to see if your doubts are valid or not. Maybe a changed church will be a better church.

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

Doubt is normal, natural behavior. It's what we do with doubt that either leads us to grow or decline. Those who doubt who then put in effort to find an answer will find that answer and will have grown for the experience. Those who doubt but fail to put any effort into finding an answer will linger in doubt and will eventually have eroded confidence, and little chance to come out of the hole. God has promised that the Holy Ghost will attend truths and will help us realize truths but we've got to put forth the effort.

@ChrisB - I'd guess that your friends didn't put any effort into finding the answers and just waited and waited for someone to offer an answer. Had they put forth some effort they'd have found an answer, which might have still not eased their concerns.

If you're not finding answers then look harder and try harder, they're there. God wants us to be happy and informed, else why would we not still be in a Dark Ages kind of society where knowledge is controlled by the few and the masses are restricted.

Cedar City, UT

Maybe they can't (or won't) answer some of the questions because they either don't know the answer or because it isn't that important to overall scheme of things.

Cedar Hills, UT

Various levels of doubt will exist for all of us so long as we live on planet earth. The veil that separates us from our former life as well as the next life requires that we 'work' to develop faith. As the New Testament states "the things of God are foolishness to man". The actual correct translation is better stated that the things are God are foolishness to the "natural man". The natural man is an enemy to God and has been from the beginning.... We learn this truth from the Book Of Mormon. Our work here on earth is to overcome the natural man and become a saint. It takes humility, study, patience, persistence, courage, and above all it takes an honest and open heart and mind. Doubt never really leaves us but faith can replace doubt to the point where we can find peace at the moment we depart this life rather than that awful fear and anxiety that results from a wasted and worldly life. My wife had an aunt who was dying and the fear that shown in her face was truly heart breaking. She was a worldly person and death was near.

Danbury, CT

It seems every time an article of this sort comes up, the same kinds of comments are there:
- the truth is on the outside of the church and "rational" people are finding the real answers
- church leaders don't know how to deal with "tough" questions
- all who question feel ostracized and pushed out of families and communities

While the above may be the experience for some, it has not been mine. I've lived in several countries and parts of the US and have seen dissenters treated with respect and love. I've had my own questions treated with respect and have observed church leaders (even General Authorities) to have insightful answers.

I also find that in general, Gospel principles work i.e. forgiveness works better than revenge, serving and helping others helps keep the focus off oneself and the pursuit of wealth, prayer and meditation help one to find a higher purpose and meaning, being grateful helps one find the positive and reframe problems, family living fosters more well-rounded and better educated children...and the list goes on.

Danbury, CT

There are things that Joseph Smith said and did that still don't make sense to me, but he is responsible for over 800 pages of our scripture and to me there is so much depth and substance, thoughtful reflection on human behavior and its consequences, and pages of teaching about God and Christ that to me have the weight of scripture. And it works when put into practice.

So what can I do with stories of Joseph Smith taking others' wives or other strange accounts?? I'm not sure at this point. But I can't throw out all the good and what works. I also have many ancestors who were there and they seem to have come through it knowing Joseph firsthand and still stayed faithful. Who am I to say I know better 180 years later?

I hope those of you who have serious doubts can find answers and that you will be treated with respect in your search. Please allow me, as a lover of Science, History and seeker of Truth the same respect.

Los Angeles, CA

@Truthseeker: "I am troubled in the way the Church got involved in Prop 8 and other political issues..."

The scriptures are full of examples of people that were "troubled" by the involvement of prophets in their "political issues". That has never stopped God from sending prophets to make known His will and to condemn wickedness. They were regularly critisized, rejected, beaten, stoned and killed. Today is no different.

Also, like you, I live in CA. I know many good LDS members of both major political parties. In general, the more conservative social views of the Republican party naturally appeal to the majority of LDS people. Not to mention the removal of "God" from the DNC platform in Sept. 2012 - only to have it hastily added back when announced.

The truth is that every disciple of Jesus Christ has some degree of doubt (however small or large). That is why the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ is faith. It wouldn't be a test if we all had a perfect knowlege. The Church was restored because a sincere question was asked and answered. Questions are good. A modified version of Chris B's suggestion could be good.

Danbury, CT

One final word....I would just encourage all of you on both sides (doubters and believers) to stay engaged in things that really "matter" i.e. helping and serving others. I find when I am involved helping other people in some cause, no matter how small, all this other "stuff" really matters so little. When I have too much time on my hands and am focused on myself, I get critical of others and lose sight of what is important.

When I'm engaged building others up, I find people of faith and often people of no faith - all that have similar values, and we work together. All are enriched.

Hayden, ID

There have always been unanswered questions and there always will be because no person knows everything! To say that a person leaves the church because of unanswered questions is most often just an excuse. Those who do leave do so because they don't want to live the commandments; usually the law of chastity or the word of wisdom. Saying its unanswered questions just makes them feel less guilty about their personal failures, nothing more!

Average Human Being
west jordan, UT

@ Eastcoastcoug, I agree 100%. I think the problem some people have is associating that service with the church and therefore the church is true. I have seen hundreds of people engaged in a good cause and serving others outside the church. The church certainly provides an opportunity for service, but it is not the only way to lose yourself in service.

Being a doubter does not make you a bad person. Nor does acting on those doubts. I think more and more people are leaving the church, but those people are still good people. They still have good intentions. Still have hope for humanity. Still value family relationships. Still contribute to society. They just do it without the church.

So for doubters and believers alike, if you're a good person, you're a good person. Your church membership does not define who you are or want to be.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@ClarkHippo – “@A Scientist, Your comment reminds me of some… were just interested in mocking us.”

Why would you take it that way? Sorry, but I didn’t see his question as mocking at all… are you sure you’re not projecting some unpleasant missionary experiences here?

Why not give people the benefit of the doubt (pun?) and assume we’re all sincerely looking for truth. Why not engage sincere questions with that mindset rather than brush such people off as “not humble enough” or “childish” or whatever other dismissive label you want to attach?

You may not be able to answer certain questions, but wouldn’t you be on far better ground saying “I don’t have the answers you’re looking for” and let people decide from there? Isn’t that consistent with the LDS teachings on agency?

But you’re right - dishonest, misleading and slanderous attacks are fair game.

@patriot – “aunt who was dying and the fear that shown in her face was truly heart breaking.”

Religion’s main project has always been to provide answers to the unknown. And death is the biggest unknown of all.


Nice sentiments…

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments