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Comments about ‘Ask Angela: My parents left the LDS Church, my siblings are furious’

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Published: Monday, Oct. 28 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Dennis
Harwich, MA

The reaction of the siblings is "part" of the reason your parents are leaving the Church. It's the "our way or the highway" mentality of some members that alienate people from wanting to participate. Wouldn't it make a little sense to give them a feeling of belonging and love rather than neglect and abstinence? Tell your siblings to lighten up. They might be in the same boat some day.

Ranch
Here, UT

This is not at all uncommon. If one partner (usually the husband, but not always) in a marriage leaves the LDS church, it more often than not leads to a divorce. Looks like these children are divorcing their parents.

Personally, I don't think being treated badly is a good reason to leave one's church, but it happens all too often. One of the problems with the LDS church's model is that you don't feel comfortable attending a different ward than the one you reside in. Most other religious groups feel quite comfortable moving from church to church until they find one that fits their needs.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

For many, LDS is an all-encompassing lifestyle. The LDS community is extremely close knit and in a place like Utah, one can live life with very little contact with the "Gentiles".

With that comes a reinforcement of ideas, both positive and negative.

I cannot begin to comprehend the mentality described in this letter.

I cannot fathom how anyone, let alone those who consider themselves Religious, could take such a stance. (towards their parents, siblings, or children)

As a non LDS, these "siblings" are the last people I would want as a neighbor.

People can get so caught up in their religion that they become blind to its teachings. That is when religion becomes unhealthy.

Farr West
OGDEN, UT

Great advice Angela. What is really sad is that the siblings cannot see that they are doing exactly what their parents are doing. They may not have left the Church; however, both the parents and the siblings have forgotten that as children of our Heavenly Father we all are in the process of 'becoming.' Sometimes that progression may be so slow that we cannot see it. Just because we cannot see either our own or someone else's progress, does not mean we givfe up. Remember, our Heavenly Father will never give up on us, so why should we give up on anyone else.

DrGroovey
Salt Lake City, UT

I have two thoughts on this one:

1) The siblings need to really reexamine their own understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the way they demonstrate His teachings in how they view and treat others.

2) It would be fair for one of the kids (or maybe a trusted friend) to sit down with the parents and talk to them openly about their decision. My experience has been that people use the "I'm not treated nicely by my ward" idea as an excuse that often covers up a deeper problem. It is a way to blame others and avoid responsibility for your own choice ("I'm leaving the church, but it is THEIR fault because they did or said ..."). If there is some other issue, it would be well for the family to find out about it now. Or, if the parents really just want to leave the church, the children need to accept and respect their decision.

joe5
South Jordan, UT

The recurring theme in questions submitted to Angela seems to be "How can I control the behavior of someone else?" Whether it is their style of dress or who they want to date, the writers almost always think they know a better way to behave.

In this situation, Home for the Holidays cannot do much for his/her parents other than, as Angela suggests, be with them and love them. Likewise, Home for the Holidays cannot do much for his/her siblings other than be with them and love them. Of the three groups of family members, Home for the Holidays only has control over his/her own behavior so the best thing to do is ensure his/her own behavior is loving and Christ-like.

We should try to own our own weaknesses and let others own their weaknesses. Our best tools to influence others include love, kindness, example, patience, forgiveness, and compassion. Teaching is most effective when the recipient is open to it, not when it is forced on him. Judging is rarely, if ever, an effective way to influence others. Neither is isolating the "offender." That is usually just a petty way of lashing back.

caf
Bountiful, UT

Great advice Angela! Unless there is some form of physical or emotional abuse going on, why on earth would they stop showing love for their own parents? The person who submitted this question needs a hug. It will be tough showing love toward all parties in spite of the crummy actions or reactions to the situation. I have noticed that we all seem to go through ups and downs in life. This situation is a great example of other possible scenarios that could be occurring in our own families. Are any of us withholding love and displaying hard feelings because of what another family member is choosing to do or not do?

Cat
Centerville, UT

I have been on both sides of this problem. We have lived in wards that were less then friendly. One is our current ward. Feelings have been hurt and unkind things have been said. We have been excluded from many things and somtimes we have been shunned. Either the church is true or it isn't. People are flawed and do unkind things. Even bishops. We have kept going to church because everyone has somthing to teach you, even unkind people. We got crative. Our daughter join activity days in my parent's ward where she was also baptized. Now after 18 years we are starting to feel more a part of the ward. We have quietly gone about doing our best in the jobs we have been asked to do and helping where we can. Slowly we have melted their hearts. Things are better now.

I also have a child who has left the church and is now living a life that we are not happy with. However, we have not disowned them. We invite them to what ever we can. We pray that one day their heart will soften. They are still family and familys are forever.

LittleStream
Carson City, NV

This story breaks my heart. I've been in the parents spot. What the parents need to do if they have not is to talk with their Bishop. Have the parents been married in the temple? Think of what you are sacrificing because of perhaps misunderstanding the other members actions. Eternal marriage and being a family forever? To the children who don't want to "condone" their parents actions I have two questions: 1) Did you forget about the commandment of honoring your father and mother? The commandment doesn't say if you agree with them. 2) Why aren't you looking at this as an outstanding opportunity to do missionary work.

Most of the reasons for becoming inactive is because of misunderstandings with other church members. This is no longer important enough for me to sacrifice my eternity. For the parents and the siblings who are not "condoning" - Remember Who You Are. How many times in the bible does it say Jesus walked away from a sinner?

Just trying
Webster, UT

The old they were offended reason pulled off the shelf. Yea that must be it. What horrible children. Cut off the parents because they don’t belong to the same church. Putting families first again.

Paul in MD
Montgomery Village, MD

I just have a little to add. Angela is spot on - leaving is the parents' choice, and Home's siblings are being just as bad as the parents' ward members are.

My mother has experienced this once or twice - she stopped coming to church because she felt uncomfortable with how other members treated her. Mom does rub some folks the wrong way, but we're taught to respect and accept everyone. Some folks just haven't progressed enough to really practice that.

To the parents I would say, if you haven't already, talk with the bishop about what you are experiencing. It is partly his job to see that this kind of behavior doesn't happen. I would also caution them about leaving the church because of how others behave. I have friends who stopped coming to church because of a disagreement, and came back after 10 years. They now regret ever leaving.

If that doesn't work, go to another ward. The stake president may approve a records transfer. Either way, they can't stop you from attending another ward. If the problem is social comfort and not a lack of conviction to principles, this could work out.

EW
HENRIETTA, NY

I'm with you, Angela. The gospel is about love, and not strife or divisions of any kind. When we show love and our thoughts and actions are motivated by love for God and others, then we're in line with our beliefs as Latter-day Saints. And we build unity. Arguably the ward "mistreating" the parents might not be in line (as are we all, really, including the parents and children), but it has long been my understanding that the gospel is perfect but people aren't. In fact, the fact that Church members of all kinds aren't perfect gives us the opportunity to practice the gospel qualities of love and forgiveness and compassion and refraining from judgement in ways we never could if all members were perfect like Christ. Obviously, that's not possible, and it is more than likely that Christ designed His Church to be administered by mortals just for this reason of helping us to practice living His gospel.

Hamath
Omaha, NE

@ Joe Blow

So true. We, LDS people, need to always be careful, of losing sight of what matters most for what matters much less. Of course, this is really true for anyone. These siblings are hurt by their parents decision. But they need to respect their parents decision and love them. Of course they need to love them. It sounds like they've had very few people love them in their lives. When someone does something that you disagree with, the natural reaction is rejection. It's definitely not the reaction we are taught. Of course the reaction we are taught is really really hard sometimes. I hope the siblings and the parents learn to draw closer to God as they work through this. The sister here should state her opinion without rancor, allow her siblings to chose rejection if they want, allow her parents to chose less activity in the church, and love them all.

Kralon
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA

To the parents - if your faith is based on the actions of other members you should have left long ago.

To the siblings - isn't any christian faith, and most non-christian, based on love?

To "Home for the Holidays" - follow your heart, love is always the best example and speaks louder than any words!

cagirl0628
Lufkin, TX

I agree with you Angela. I think "leaving the church" is not the best solution to the parents' problem, but they are grown ups with agency and have the right to make that decision. And they must have been deeply offended by something or someone to make such a big decision. So right now, more than ever, they need love, understanding and support. Perhaps after a while they will be ready to go back. But the behavior of their children is more likely to keep them permanently away from the church. The kids need to love them unconditionally, just like Heavenly Father does. I don't think that disowning a family member because they don't live they way you think they should is ever the right choice. Things can change in a heartbeat. You never know what the future holds. And I certainly don't think Heavenly Father will hold it against you and see it as "condoning" if you love and support someone who is struggling.

ladybuglover
MONITOR, WA

Was so embarrassed by a bishop in ward council one time i considered never going back, but i loved my family too much to leave. Can't imagine my parents making the decision these have but lots of great advice here. Also, have a son who's chosen to leave the church...doesn't mean i don't love him and his family. I try to insert info about church things we're doing as much as possible. Families should stick together. Hard on all sides here. Your advice is very good!

Bob A. Bohey
Marlborough, MA

Dear Home for the Holidays,
With all due respect, it appears that your siblings have much bigger personal issues than being upset because your parents left the church. Hopefully they can work out those issues and find peace. Please try not to be hurt by their actions, their deeper issues are preventing them from understanding how badly they are hurting you and your parents. In the mean time enjoy your relationship with your parents and hope that someday your siblings find the grace to put family first.

InspectorC
Wasatch Front, UT

This group of siblings really needs to meet with an LDS Family Therapist and get professional counseling on these very complex issues. Particularly since the siblings are "split" on their attitudes and opinions of how to work through this situation.

Cats
Somewhere in Time, UT

I'm going to defend the grown children to some extent. They feel extremely betrayed by the parents and I don't blame them. I doubt their anger will last and they will eventually forgive and continue to work with their parents.

To the parents, I would remind them that the D&C makes it clear that if we become offended by the actions of others in the Church and leave the Church as a result, we will be the ones who are held accountable for it. When we know the gospel is true, choose to dessert the faith and try to blame others, we are in the wrong. If I were going to leave the Church because someone offended me, I would have been out of the Church a long time ago.

I believe this family will come together and, I hope, the parents will eventually see their error and come back to full activity.

Unclefred
Ticonderoga, NY

Last time I checked, there were 10 "important" commandments. Honor thy father and thy mother were amongst them when I last checked. Not sure how the siblings are going to pass a Temple recommend interview....

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