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A presentation entitled “What I’ve Learned after 15 Years of Mormon Transitioning” delivered by Dr. John Dehlin at Utah Valley University on August 18, 2015. Sponsored by the Utah Valley PostMormons.
They called the wrong apostles…
I really enjoyed your talk.
Sometime you might discuss your ‘beer fear’ aka Word of Wisdom residue. I’m curious about your thoughts and attitudes about alcoholic beverages. I’m sure you have studied alcoholism as part of your psychology education. I’m wondering if you have a fear of addiction if you take your first drink?
As an anecdotal data point, I drink an occasional beer. Beer goes down good when I’m hot and tired. I can take it or leave it, and almost never drink two beers. Wine with dinner at times is OK, but again, I can take it or leave it and usually only have wine if someone else at dinner wants some.
And what about coffee and tea? Have you tried coffee and tea? I drink coffee most days in the morning. I don’t feel the caffeine very much that I can tell.
Never mind smoking tobacco. That’s just plain self-destructive. Some studies suggest alcohol in moderation can be good for the body.
My TBM mother always said she likes the smell of coffee but has never tasted it in 91 years. Her own mother drank coffee, curiously enough.
Anyway, John, I’m sure many of us out here are curious about your Word of Wisdom residual behaviors, in case you feel like sharing sometime.
Gary in Ogden
It’s been assumed by my family on more than one occasion, that since I no longer believe, I’ll start drinking and swearing etc. As if the only reason I was abstaining was because of the church.
I saw this on a Reader Board today in front of a Protestant church:
“When you judge others you define yourself, not the person you are judging.”
So, decoding what your family assumed, it is this: “The only thing that stops US from drinking, swearing, careening into debauchery, etc. is fear of punishment by God and Church leaders. We have no internal compass or sense of ethical behavior on our own steam.”
Most remarkably, it seems the majority of TBMs have turned over responsibility for their core values to a bunch of Mind Control Wizards who are all too happy to accommodate.
One immediate problem I see when reading this conversation is that it’s based on the assumption that drinking and swearing are debauchery. They just aren’t. Drinking within appropriate limits is normal and swearing is insignificant most of the time, meaningful sometimes, and inappropriate in many circumstances. Neither are debauchery.
One of the things that sets Mormons and former Mormons apart from the world (and not in a good or impressive way, but in a “wow, something is off here” way) is their tendency to draw conclusions of any sort based on the assumption that adults are doing something wrong when they drink or swear.
Mormons and former Mormons are kinda weird (sorry).
Firstly, judgement and conclusions are a natural and sometimes essential component of being human. It’s a by-product of intelligence at the very least and at most, a survival mechanism. If you havn’t judged someone today there’s probably something wrong with you. Drawing conclusions is not a bad thing and in no way limited to Mormons.
Secondly, one major way in which we judge each other is by the things we do which are unnecessary; things that are a choice. It’s how we get to know someone and predict in a rather broad way what someone may do in different situations. We can judge someone as honest when we oversee them return change to a cashier whom gave them too much; or of strong fortitude when someone goes out of their way to remain anonymous when giving. They are a choice and it can be very telling.
In this case, when someone ceases believing, but choses to keep those same standards, they are saying something. When that person continues to pay tithing (give to charity), or not drink, or not swear, or not smoke, or set aside a day for resting/spending with family – it’s saying something. It’s saying that I wasn’t just doing it because I was told to. I did it because it made sense.
To me (not me),
BTW, I totally agree with you. Drinking responsibly is well within normal adult behavior. Fermemtation of organic matter resulting in preservation from spoilage by the alcohol generated automatically is one of the most natural processes on the planet. The belief that the resulting liquid is evil is an excellent way to control people, and it works quite well.
I personally TRUST people who pepper their speech with occasional bad language MORE than squeaky clean types. The swear words communicate to me that the person TRUSTS me NOT to judge them by a ridiculous Sunday School standard. Not only that, but intelligently delivered bad language can be really FUNNY.
Regarding debauchery aka sexual activity, it is normal for humans to engage in sexual behavior. Consenting adults smart enough to avoid unwanted babies and STDs are not harmed by sexual behavior. Saving one’s virginity until marriage is a personal choice. It’s a debate on whether that’s a good idea or not.
Thanks, me, for pointing out the missing thoughts in these posts.
Alcohol: Two decades ago, I stopped believing LDS church was true, and started drinking wine w/my neighbor. Long story to short: Gradually, slowly but surely, became an alcoholic. Didn’t see it coming. But, I learned AA works “if you work it” I am happy & sober. (I live far from UT, but there are many AA groups in UT, so I’m not the only Mormon who got caught in alcoholism.) Something to consider.
I hear you Rick. It might be worth a Mormon who ceases believing to spend a little more time around people who haven’t ever been Mormon so that he or she can gain more perspective about what is actually likely being communicated to the broader audience when drinking and swearing are spoken of as if they are debauchery.
The message a former Mormons is likely sending to him or herself and his or her Mormon extended family and community (namely, that I am still good people even though I don’t believe) is different than the messages he or she is sending to never Mormons (namely, drinking and swearing are debauchery and even though I am a former Mormon rather than a Mormon I am still better than people who engage in such activities, or I’m really unsure about who I am without these standards, or there is something strange or “off” about me that I can’t let go of or am not aware of, or maybe just I’m naive about the world outside of my small community.)
Some never Mormons might think it’s somewhat neat that the commitment to the standards is holding. Others are more likely to observe with curiosity and wonder at the strangeness of it all…. like a child peering through the glass at an interesting specimen in an aquarium: observing the former Mormon with both fondness and lack of attachment.
Beer is just beer. It’s nothing to be afraid of and referring to it as if it were equated to debauchery makes a statement about who the person speaking is and perpetuates the cultural problems there seem to be within Mormonism. Beer is malted wheat and barley with hops and yeast plus a little time for fermentation. The significance of the beverage and the meaning behind the message that it is debauchery is in the minds of those who hold it and/or hold onto the meaning. The messages perceived by the never Mormon about the former Mormon who is holding on to the meaning are likely more negative than positive.
Thank you for sharing John. In the last year since I last stopped attending church I have gone through many of the feeling you described. For a few months I reevaluated every moral belief I had. It was a little scary to do that but I made it through. I do think of any remaining years I have left as a gift. It’s now my blessing and privilege to decide how to give meaning to my life. I wish you well in your journey as well.
Thanks so much John. Your experiences are very easy to relate to. It is hard still for me to find the best ways to fill the “holes” that are remaining in my life, mostly being seen incorrectly by my husband, son and parents. I love them so much, and it torments me to know that I have caused them so much pain by no longer believing in the church. I am trying my best to accept how they see me, but it is a painfully slow process. No matter how many people I could find who see things the way I do, I can never replace the need I have for love, acceptance and approval from the people I love most. I am tired of the season of “winter” and have very little belief that a “spring” will ever come (them seeing that I am not what they think I am). But I appreciate you talking about being respectful of those who still believe. That is a reminder I always need. I sincerely hope that one day they will learn to respect me as well.
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