Zelophehad’s Daughters

Hoping for Change

Posted by Lynnette

A couple of recent threads have gotten me thinking about the merits of staying in the church and hoping for change (as opposed to staying in the church and trying to accept the way things are, or simply leaving the church). I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hope that the church will change; our ever evolving history provides an obvious basis for such an outlook. It’s because of things like blacks finally getting the priesthood and the temple ceremony getting toned down over the years that I’m able to cling to the hope that the aspects of the church which most bother me aren’t necessarily eternal. Yet I can also see potential problems with this way of thinking.

One question I sometimes wonder about is how realistic my hope is. The fact that the church is constantly changing doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to take the path which I hope it will follow. Am I hoping for things which are in all likelihood never going to happen? It’s also worth remembering that not all change is for the better–I sometimes wonder if I’ve been mistakenly seduced by a kind of Enlightenment view in which the march of history is inevitably one of “progress.” Am I simply setting myself up for years of disappointment?

People might be thinking at this point, just who are you anyway to decide in what direction the church should go? Which is a very good question: to what extent should I be hoping that the church will change? How do I avoid the pitfall of seeing myself as the one person who truly knows How Things Should Be Done? Can I hope for change while maintaining the humility to recognize that what I’d personally like to see happen might not actually be the best way to do things, that my understanding of truth is of course limited and flawed?

And on a related note: what does my commitment to the church mean if it’s marked by some rather fundamental disagreements? I don’t accept the “love it or leave it” mentality– since all human-run organizations are inevitably fallible and riddled with ambiguity, I think our challenge more often than not is to find ways to function within them, rather than fleeing them in search of non-existent utopias, or asserting that membership must be “all or nothing” in character. On the other hand, I think there are real questions about the ethics of staying in a church with which you sharply disagree, as well as times and situations when it’s better to leave than to stay and keep beating your head against the wall.

Which brings me to another point. I’ve been repeatedly told that I shouldn’t focus so much on the negative, on the things that bother me, but instead focus on the parts of the church that I like and find uplifting. I have mixed feelings about that view. I think there are real problems, and simply attempting to have a positive attitude isn’t going to make them go away. However, I also have to admit that I can’t concentrate exclusively for too long at a time on the aspects of the church which I find disturbing, because I’ll start to go a little crazy. There’s definitely something to be said for doing what you can to find peace about the things that are difficult for you. (Though I must confess that sometimes the way I’ve found such peace is by reaching the simple conclusion that something isn’t inspired.) And there are certainly times when I need to simply focus on the good and not think too hard about the rest, because I don’t have the emotional energy to do otherwise.

I don’t have answers to all these questions. Yet I tenaciously hold to a belief that certain things will someday change. It might be naive, or even misguided. But it nonetheless strikes me as better than the alternatives: I don’t want to leave (at least not most of the time!), and I resist any requirement to accept things which I see as deeply wrong. So instead, I continue to hope.

25 Responses to “Hoping for Change”

  1. 1.

    What are the things you disagree with? Have you blogged about them before?

  2. 2.

    Lynnette,

    Welcome to the self-doubt club!

    I’m going to suggest that having the church agree with you on all important issues wouldn’t be an outcome worthy of desire. Part of the point of all of it, after all, is to learn how to have unity in difference, right? I mean, that’s what Paul says. And, aside from appeals to authority, that perspective seems sensible to me; there’s a lot of learning and spiritual growth that can result from having to accomodate ourselves to serious points of difference.

    On the other hand, deciding to try to disregard the points of difference seems to me to be immoral. If your concerns are purely aesthetic or cultural, of course, morality doesn’t come into it. But to the extent that you have differences on matters of principle and conscience, I don’t think you can safely ignore them. Instead, it’s necessarily a kind of matter of balance, isn’t it? Of paying enough attention to the problems that you can find those (few) moments in which you can exert a genuine influence, while also maintaining enough harmony with others that you can feel the unity necessary for spiritual communion.

    Like any other community on earth, the church doesn’t “progress.” In some ways, the church was more liberal 50 years ago; in others it was more conservative. Change isn’t in any consistent direction, and we can’t necessarily expect it to become more directed in the future. (The one exception I would note is that the church has consistently changed in the direction of inclusiveness. Perhaps that direction will persist.) But I do think it’s worth staying as long as you find God in the church community!

  3. 3.

    I find my doubts are ameliorated by thinking of the church as a person. (Which, as an aside, is why I think the “bride of Christ” metaphor is so often used.)
    We have absolutely no trouble thinking that an individual person can be inspired and led by God. We also have no trouble seeing that same person as not only not perfect, but decidedly less perfect than they have the potential to be *right now.* (I consider myself led by God due to my relationship with him, but I know that I am a far cry from what He wants me to be, and what I could be at this very moment.)

    Many people are will to accept that the church may not be in its ultimate perfect state, but they are unwilling to accept that it may be less perfect than it could be right now. For some reason we always imagine the institutional church to be straining its limits of perfection. So when someone expresses a righteous desire for the church to grow they are wanting to change what is a “perfect for right now” church.

    I’ve found that when I look at it that way my concerns about the righteousness of my desires for change are lessened. It’s no different than a loving friend wanting to see me grow, as long as that friend realizes that they may not know what is best for me.

  4. 4.

    I believe that in the end we are accountable to God for what we have done with our earthly gifts, not as a crtieria for receiving grace, but to decide what we want to do with the gifts we are offered for the eternities. Do we want to join in the work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of other spirits or do we just want to hang out for eternity? If we accept this perspective, the question becomes does God want us to be with this Church and can this Church help us carry out whatever work God expects of us here below? (I recognize that this approach presumes acceptance of some of the restored gospel’s truth claims, but without some acceptance of them why struggle with the question of sticking with the restored church at all?) Using this perspective, here is how I have broken down some of these issues:

    (1) Does this church offer me the ability to serve God and my fellows? For myself, I find that the lay ministry of the Church brings me to greater service than I think I personally would otherwise pursue. I also believe that this is true for enough other people to feel comfortable in advocating it generally. Whether I fit socially with my local congregation is a subset of this issue. Do I serve better by leaving or sticking around and being a member of the community? So far I come down on the latter side (and if you think being an older single woman in the Church is awkward, try being an older single man).

    (2) Do I believe what the Church teaches me about God? For myself, I accept the new insights revealed through Joseph and believe that they can be of universal value to others. That said, I find a huge range of doctrinal views can be accepted in the Church as long as (a) one is reasonably orthoprax and (b) can frame one’s views in a believing tone. As a simple example of the latter compare: (i) the Church is completely wrong when it makes us think the BoM is a direct translation of the gold plates when most of the time Joseph was dictating with his head buried in a hat if you can picture that! and (ii) Joseph’s use of the term ‘translation’ is different from our general sense since he dictated much of the BoM directly from the seerstones viewed through his hat indicating the BoM was as much a result of direct inspiration to Joseph as a direct word for word translation of some ancient writing. Now I don’t want to go off on a tangent with that particualr example. I just mean that Mormonism’s lack of credal rigidity or formal theology allows a lot of fluidity in doctrinal views of one is socially astute about expressing it. (Not that there aren’t some outside boundaries. Obviously if one thinks Joseph was a lecherous fraud, it would behoove one to pursue one’s path elsewhere.)

    (3) Am I serving God by giving my allegiance to the institutional Church in Salt Lake City? One can reasoanbly argue that one member can make a difference in their service in an individual ward or branch, even if one is uncomfortable with some of one’s fellow ward or branch members and their views. Indeed, humility would suggest that maybe that very fact helps bring us closer to God by forcing us to learn tolerance and acceptance and even love of people with whom we are not compatible. However, it is not realistic to think that we are ever going to influence the old men in Salt Lake City, who in the modern Church are quite insistent on demanding our allegiance. To date I have broken it down like this. (a) There are positive things that I wish they would do, like get more involved in economic development among members in LDCs, call more high church leaders from LDCs and minorities, give women more authority, etc., etc., etc. [detailed memoranda are available anytime Presdent Hinckley wants them — ;) –]. However, in the end whether or not the hierarchy undertake something is not determinative of my relationship with God. I can always undertake good actions on my own inititive (or at least pontificate about them on the bloggernacle). (b) There are negative things I wish they wouldn’t do, like mess unskillfully in political issues, unintentionally (I hope) disregard women, spend money on hyper-conservative and unknowledgeable CES full-timers, etc., etc., etc. [detailed memoranda are available anytime Presdent Hinckley wants them — ;) –]. Here I may be being perhaps a bit proud, but my attitude is that it’s my church too. I will not be a victim of their misjudgement and weaknesses, and I won’t leave as much as some might prefer. I will carry on as best I can, depending on God to sort it out in the end as with all other injustices in this mortal world. Besides, I can always vent by pontificating about it on the bloggernacle.

    (4) And as you say there is always hope. And it need not be a passive hope. Did the prayers of faithful members help end the ban on black men holding the priesthood? Some would say yes. Mormonism does teach us that we have a direct line to President Hinckley’s boss. More importantly, I have hope that God can guide me to know how to participate in this church in a way that draws me closer to the divine purpose.

    (And there is always the bloggernacle. God bless the bloggernacle, each and every byte.)

  5. 5.

    Brad, I was a little evasive about the specifics because I didn’t want to turn this into a debate about particular issues, but rather to think about the more general question of my approach to them. However (and somehow I doubt anyone will be surprised to hear this!), many are related to feminist concerns, some of which have indeed come up at some point on this very blog.

    RT, thanks for the thoughtful remarks. I think that’s a very good point about it being healthy to have points of disagreement. And I like what you say about seeking a balance where you don’t lose sight of the problems or of your connection with the community.

    Starfoxy, you nicely articulated something I’ve been trying to put into words for myself. To say that the church is genuinely led by God doesn’t have to mean saying that in this exact moment it is perfect and precisely where God wants it to be. And your analogy with caring about a person and wanting them to grow is helpful–I think it casts light an important aspect of this, that usually (at least in my experience), those who desire change do so not simply out of antagonism, but precisely because the church matters so much to them.

  6. 6.

    I don’t really have much to add except thanks for your thoughts. I’m definitely in the same boat of hoping for change yet doing my best to try and be humble and recognize that I do not have all the answers.

    I like what RT says about balance (though it can be a hard balance to find sometimes!)

  7. 7.

    Brava Starfoxy! While I labored away on my tedious left brain guy-type analysis you came up with a succinct creative right brain relational way of making the point I was slogging toward. It ain’t perfect but we love it anyway.

  8. 8.

    Lynette, you have articulated my own struggles. I think there are many of us who feel this way. What I also wonder about is should I keep my thoughts to myself? Is it right for me to sit back and act like things are okay in the church when in some instances my conscience and my spirit scream out that some things are absolutely wrong? Not that I have any type of voice in the institution, but can I sit silently either? It is a constant struggle for me. JWL has some good points about doing good in our own congregations. Perhaps I just need to be more humble and focus on serving others. Then again, the church is not the only place where I could do that.

    I liked Starfoxy’s ideas about a friend. But would I remain friends with someone who is abusive toward me and treats me as less than because I am a woman? I don’t know that I would.

    Kudos to those of you who have found peace with this, or who are at least more positive than I. I’m in a more ansty stage right now and often church is quite painful for me. I’m still plugging along and I am grateful for voices of reason like those here. I wish y’all were in my branch!

  9. 9.

    “(Which, as an aside, is why I think the “bride of Christ” metaphor is so often used.)”

    Heh, that makes me think of those couples where you like one spouse, but not the other. “I just love it when Jesus joins us for dinner, but MAN, that wife of his is lousy company!” :)

    Back to topic: the trouble with dealing with our Church’s imperfections is that we never really admit to them. Any positive acts or change are God’s work, while mistakes are always the work of mortals (see especially “When a prophet is speaking as a man, not as a prophet.”). I think we could draw some strength by directly pointing to the positive influence of individuals while still maintaining a belief in God’s authority. That is, I don’t have a problem with pointing to recent positive policies as particular acts of President Hinckley and the current leadership just as much as God. President Kimball may have communicated with God directly about the black priesthood issue, but if President Hinckley “raised the bar” on missionaries of his own accord, I don’t think it dilutes or changes the message any.

    I sometimes feel that God (and Satan, for that matter) have much less direct influence on our lives than we might expect–and with that in mind, that we should take responsibility as an institution and as individuals for any positive growth or change we’d like to see.

  10. 10.

    Eve: I would add one point to RT’s analysis. It is not simply a matter of finding unity in diversity and learning to love those (and that) which we disagree with and regard as mistaken. Fallibism goes both ways, and it might well be the case that when we find ourselves uncomfortable with some aspect of Church doctrine or practice it is our convictions rather than the doctrine which is mistaken. One of the difficulties of having a church where one agreed with the particulars of every single teaching is that it would probably lack the ability to teaching you anything that you didn’t already know or change and alter you. This doesn’t mean that the Church is perfect and that all doubters need to repent, it just means that we need to take doubt and fallibilism seriously.

    I always find it interesting when people say things like, “Just pretending there isn’t a problem will not make the problem go away.” On one level, this is obviously true. On another level, however, it seems that the opposite is also true. There is no particular reason to think that being intensely concerned about an issue will actually have all that much of an impact on the world. The sad truth is that we actually have less power than the stories we tell ourselves assume, and that the effect of our acts on the rest of the world is generally less than we assume in our more ideologically charged moments.

  11. 11.

    I sometimes feel that God (and Satan, for that matter) have much less direct influence on our lives than we might expect–and with that in mind, that we should take responsibility as an institution and as individuals for any positive growth or change we’d like to see.

    I’m not sure I agree. How do you reconcile that with scriptural concepts such as the following?

    D&C 59:21
    21 And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things….

    All good things come from God as well, we are told. God is in the details. We take responsibility for doing our best, but still, we give the glory to God. Things progess when we listen to His voice. And if we listen to the other voice, we take responsibility for that, too, but that doesnt change the reality of his influence. We are enticed by one or the other, but left to exercise our agency. We cant exercise agency, by definition, without the enticements. So God and the adversary, methinks, are alwaysthere “enticing” us to do good or evil (think of Elder Bednar’s talk — the potential is there for us to ALWAYS have His Spirit, which would mean His influence CONSTANTLY. The opposing influences have to be felt in order for agency to come into play. We just take responsibility for whose voice wins out in our choices. :)

  12. 12.

    It’s a curious thing. We believe we belong to the “only true and living” church (D&C 1:30). We focus a lot on the “true” part (i.e., I know this church is true) but seem to disregard the “living” part. Things that are alive are dynamic, growing, and changing. We also claim to anticipate that God “will yet reveal many and important things.” (AofF #9). Given this, as a people, we should be the most open to newness and change. Yet, we often seem to be troubling close-minded.

    But I think we still have reason to be optimistic for change. We can consider that the restoration is not an event that has happened; rather, it is an on-going process. It seems to me that many of the doctrinal inconsistencies are occurring because the restoration isn’t complete — what we have is a blending of the centuries-old religious tradition and modern revelation. And in many instances they don’t blend well. While the restoration may be about restoring lost knowledge, I think it’s also about restoring the human thinking process to a more accepting state, which will allow people to let go of deeply ingrained traditions.

    Thanks for this post Lynette — I think it’s good to hope.

  13. 13.

    Nate, just a minor quibble: Lynnette is the illustrious author of this post, not I. But we’ve been told that we ZDs all talk a little alike (guess that’s what comes of growing up together and a common genetic heritage and all), so it’s a very understandable mistake.

  14. 14.

    Oops! My apologies…

  15. 15.

    I was reading this and suddenly it made me think of hoping for change, but hoping for change in myself.

  16. 16.

    “Yet I tenaciously hold to a belief that certain things will someday change”

    Perhaps the Church will change. And perhaps you will change. Perhaps both. Would it be a terrible thing if you changed?

  17. 17.

    I always find it interesting when people say things like, “Just pretending there isn’t a problem will not make the problem go away.” On one level, this is obviously true. On another level, however, it seems that the opposite is also true. There is no particular reason to think that being intensely concerned about an issue will actually have all that much of an impact on the world.

    I suppose this may be true. But perhaps I lean towards being an optimist. I really do feel that talking about problems, writing about problems, discussing problems with church leaders can have huge impacts. I don’t think the women’s obedience covenant in the temple would have changed without thousands of people expressing concern. I don’t know if blacks would have received the priesthood when they did without thousands of people being open with their discomfort over the issue. Perhaps one person may not make a difference on an institutional level, but I think there is a powerful possibility for change when there are many people expressing similar concerns.

    Lynnette,
    Thanks for your great post. I am one of those that is sticking with the church, taking it on faith that things WILL change. I take comfort in the idea that not only is this the gospel of progression, it’s a church of progression. And I think that’s the best attitude I can have right now, as contemplating a future in which the church is not better for women fills me with sadness.

  18. 18.

    It’s not the church I want to change. It’s the people in the church I want to change. And I want them to change how I think they should be. And that changes, depending on my mood.

    The church/it’s principles are wonderful principles. I see nothing in the principles and/or doctrines that tell people to be mean to each other. No matter what sex they are. People decide to do that.

    My problem isn’t with the Masonic nature of whatever, homosexuality, womens rights. It’s with the ***hole nature of my stake president. My last stake president was a wonderful person. What has the church got to do with that? People are people. And I so wish I’d stayed in heaven. Where people were spirits.

  19. 19.

    AnneGB,

    If the institutional structure of the church were different, perhaps your stake president wouldn’t have such a big effect on you! The heirarchical nature along with unchecked authority makes a good set- up for abuse.

    In response to ideas about change, I certainly hope that I will continue to change and evolve. I hope I can move in the direction of being more loving and tolerant and kind. I hope that even more than I hope the church will change. I know the church will change, because that is the nature of institutuions. I just hope those changes will move in more inclusive and positive directions.

  20. 20.

    JWL, those are some great questions. I especially like your point about there actually being room for quite a range of doctrinal views, which is a good thing for me to remember. I think I grew up with the idea that what was required as far as belief was far more rigid than it actually is; I’ve immensely appreciated the leaders I’ve had who’ve taken more of a “big tent” approach and made it clear that I’m welcome even with my sometimes unorthodox views on things. And you’ve gotten me thinking more about hope as an active thing. For me, I think sometimes simply going to church can be a kind of “exercise of hope.”

    (And there is always the bloggernacle. God bless the bloggernacle, each and every byte.)

    That made me smile!

    Thanks for the support, S and AmyB; it’s always nice to know that others are in a similar place and also trying to work through this kind of thing. And Amy, those questions you ask are ones I’ve frequently wrestled with as well. (And I know what you mean about wishing we all were in the same ward! I think one reason we ZDs ended up blogging together is because we’re ridiculously geographically scattered.)

    Bro. Jones, I think the issue you raise is very central to this whole discussion: how directly is God involved? Like you, I don’t believe that God is a micro-manager; in fact, I think that part of what we’re here to experience in mortality is an environment where God isn’t directly running everything, and where an awful lot is left ambiguous.

    M&M, I have to admit that I have a hard time making sense of that scripture you cite, because you’re right– it does challenge the perspective I just mentioned. I’m rather fascinated by the fact that it doesn’t say to acknowledge God in all good things but in all, which raises hard questions about God’s possible involvement in evil. My tendency is to read the verse a bit more broadly, as making a similar point to King Benjamin that we are eternally indebted to God for all that we have and are, not as asserting that God is directly involved in all the details of our lives. My own view is that a lot of life “just happens” — it’s not inherently part of some divine or devilish plan. (Though of course God can bring good out of even the really tough stuff if we’ll allow him to.)

    So bringing this back to the context of the church– I believe that church leaders are inspired, but I don’t think God is immediately influencing everything that happens. I think he leaves quite a lot up to our best judgment.

    Heh, Nate, it’s been a while since I’ve been mistaken for one of my sisters (though it did happen on occasion when we were growing up!) I completely agree that this goes both ways, that I need to stay open to the possibility that I’m the one who’s mistaken, and not the church. When an individual and the church disagree, I don’t think there should be an automatic assumption that the church must be right, but I likewise see it as a problem to automatically assume that the individual must be right. My guess is that the reason we have both sources of authority (personal revelation/conscience and institutional pronouncements) is because they’re both fallible, and are meant to serve as checks and balances on each other.

    Tam, I like your idea of an ongoing restoration and how that’s connected to a “living” church. It reminds me of how theologians will often talk of our situation as being between the “already” and the “not yet” — Christ has come with salvation and has triumphed over evil, but that hasn’t yet been fully realized in the world. Perhaps we could think about the restoration in a similar way.

    Caroline, thanks so much for your thoughts. I appreciate your optimism; it encourages me!

    Stephen, that’s a good connection back to changing oneself. And Christy, I actually see it as inevitable that both the church and I will change– the question, of course, is in what direction? Like Amy, I hope for something positive on both counts.

    Annegb, the issue of to what extent the behavior of church members can be linked to church doctrines and policies is one I’d like to explore further at some point, because while I don’t want to identify them too closely, I’m not sure that they’re entirely independent of each other, either. In any case, I can’t say I don’t ever relate to your wish to change the people at church–though I also wonder sometimes how many of them are thinking the exact same thing about me! ;)

  21. 21.

    Hey you guys — non LDS here — I’ve been trolling around on fMh for awhile, because, well I have been trolling around LDS for a while, and I might as well do it in the virutal realm as well. Nothing like layering experience. My attraction to LDS (real and virtual) is mainly in what I perceive to be strong, if latent, feminism in the church. I am am also moved by the movement towards personal salvation, the building of Zion, and the strong, ever-present community y’all possess.

    However, being a non-LDS idealist who would like to organize my spiritual seeking around a religion, it is hard for me to take the plunge. I know the church is on a hiking path to a great alpine lake somewhere, but right now, I smell skunk cabbage. Skunk cabbage has a purpose, being a very cleansing part of the wetlands. I see the recent pronouncements concerning the marriage amendment as a little poison being sent through the wetland (it’s like the truck of social conformity roared by on the freeway, dribbled a little poison, and now the Mormon wetlands are passing it through the ranks. Eventually, I think this position will get cleaned up.) So I hope I’m not offending the socks off everyone — it’s easy to sit outside here and criticize something close to your hearts — but I mean to say that I have faith that LDS is fluid enough to move through where it is now.

    OK, lest I outstay my welcome, I just wanted to add that I, too, am hoping for change. Oh, and if anyone wants to, they can do their best to convince me to join.

  22. 22.

    Someone else mentioned the marriage metaphor. I just had a thought that I thought I would share along that vein.

    Typically, one enters into a marriage covenant because of what one sees in one’s mate. However, nearly always, after the honeymoon phase (or even during), one realizes that one’s spouse is not perfect. Ideally, that would not be reasons to cancel the contract and walk away from that covenant relationship. Nor is it advisable to sit around waiting for the spouse to change in ways that one wishes he/she would change (or even thinks he/ she should change). I think most marriage counselors would agree that this is incredibly unhealthy for a marriage relationship, and not healthy for an individual, either. When I have heard marriage counselors (or our leaders) address this challenge, they counsel us to not focus on the faults, but to be grateful for the positives, and also to serve and love our spouse. Cannot the same counsel apply to our covenant relationship as members of the Church? We may see faults, but I believe it’s better to let them go, to serve and to love and be loyal to the Church. Usually, in a marriage, such attitudes and behavior can change the individual, regardless of what the spouse does. I think that same potential blessing is there in our relationship with the Church.

  23. 23.

    This may be a little off the subject, but I’ve often pondered on the nutjobs our church attracts and have come to the conclusion that it is the very nature of our makeup that could attract Jim Jones, etc. types.

    Perhaps, Amy, you’re right. Perhaps it is the makeup of the church that attracts men who will lord it over women.

    On the other hand, there appears to me to be a certain “rightness” (I can’t think of the correct word) to men having the priesthood. It feels right to me. I can’t explain it fully.

    Their priesthood has never deterred me from taking them on if they arouse the pit bull in me, however. I don’t feel they’re better than or smarter than I am.

    Whoever said they’re thankful for the blog, Amen. It’s changed my life in truly significant ways. I don’t feel so alone when I sit there on Sundays listening to crap. I just say my mantra (that I learned about from blogging), or read the latest book somebody’s recommended, or know I can check it out with you guys and let it go.

  24. 24.

    Pele, of course you should join! ;> Then you could take the gospel of feminism and social justice to the Mormons. (And you could teach nerds like me how to be, like, cool.)

    M&M, I appreciate your plug for loyalty to the church, which is of course important, but I’m not sure just how far the marriage metaphor gets us simply because the church is an institution, not an individual. I strongly believe in loyalty both in marriage and in faith, but I’m not sure to what extent loyalty in one is a helpful model for loyalty in the other. I think the clearer analogy is between marriage and individual _members_ of the church, who deserve our compassion and forbearance and restraint from fault-finding, but who also deserve our honest opinions, perspectives, and feelings, if we are to have significant relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Annegb, good point. Perhaps God is not cursing us with troublesome experiences at church but rather blessing us with blogging material.

    :>

  25. 25.

    M&M, I think you make a good point; I agree that it’s a problem in a relationship to focus on how you’d like the other person to change. On the other hand, it also seems to me that in a healthy relationship, if the other person is doing things that hurt you, there needs to be room to talk about those things. As a single person I obviously can’t say much about marriage, but I can say that I’ve run into trouble in my various relationships with others when I haven’t been willing (or felt able) to honestly talk about and work through the hard stuff. And I’ve felt something similar when it comes to my relationship with the church.

    Of course, as Eve points out, the analogy eventually breaks down, as relationships with institutions are in some ways quite different than relationships with individuals. If I say that I sincerely hope for change in the US government, will I get told that if I’m a loyal American I should instead focus all my attention on the positive? I realize that this is also an imperfect analogy in several respects, but I really don’t see hoping for an institution to change as being quite as potentially problematic as is hoping for an individual to change.

    Pele, I recognize you from FMH–glad you dropped by!

    Perhaps God is not cursing us with troublesome experiences at church but rather blessing us with blogging material.

    Eve, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with that one. ;)

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