Saturday, November 1, 2008

It's time to change.

This is a work in progress and I will be rewording and changing things as I see fit.

I will look at life as an adventure to be lived and enjoyed. I am in control of my life and I will make my own decisions on how to live it. I will listen and learn from other's opinions and experiences and thoughtfully consider the positive and negative consequences of my thoughts and actions. I will take ownership of my thoughts and actions. I realize that my thoughts and actions affect others and will strive to respect other's thoughts and actions.

I will lift up and inspire those around me. In particular my wife and three daughters. I will look for opportunities to show love and service; to understand others and to have myself understood; to learn and teach; to grow myself and nurture others.

I will use my time wisely and efficiently, balancing family life, work, leisure, and self-improvement.

I will exercise and eat healthy and gain control over my appetites and desires.

I will use my money and resources wisely, working on becoming debt free and financial secure.

I will take time to meditate, visualize, and search my soul.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Why I don't believe. What I don't believe.

Ultimately I don’t believe the Mormon Church is God’s one and only true church led by God himself through revelations to his prophets because I could not get an answer to any prayers or even comfort for any of my questions that arose regarding the church and God. At a certain point I realized that I could not make logical (and believable) sense of all the problems associated with Mormon history and doctrine and that the only chance I had to believe in the church as I once had was to have a spiritual experience that could give me comfort from my questioning (and yes I understand that many people have studied the same things as I have and who are much smarter and know the issues much better than I do and yet they are still faithful, believing Mormons, I speak only for myself and my own experience).

I did not expect anything I would consider miraculous. I just needed something I knew was from God and not from my own emotions. I was looking for something that I knew was the Spirit as taught in the scriptures and which I believed was how God answered prayers and communicated to his children. It has been suggested by my Bishop that I may be sign seeking. I thought I was following the admonitions in the scriptures-Matt. 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” I had come to fear, as I believe now, that the experiences that I had previous in my life that I credited to the spirit of God were actually self-induced emotions and feelings. I prayed nearly every day for something that would help me believe. I asked God to guide my mind. If my thinking was wrong or misguided, I asked him to help make it right and guide me to truth. I prayed, fasted, meditated, read the Book of Mormon and other scriptures and generally tried to open myself up to God’s communications. I also (for the most part) stopped investigating church history and going to message boards during this time just so I could clear my mind of these influences. At a certain point I gave up reading the Book of Mormon because it was literally causing me to lose faith even more. I prayed and had the resolution to follow God’s will whatever it may be but in reality I really wanted God’s will to be that the Mormon Church was true and somewhat tried to make that answer happen while still being open to other answers or any type of communication from God and his spirit. After about 18 months of this I finally gave up because the whole process was so depressing and fruitless. If anything, I became more convinced that the church and God were man-made institutions. If there is a God, for some reason he did not answer my prayers in any way that I could recognize. [As an aside, I no longer believe that feelings and emotions (the so-called Spirit) are a very reliable way of determining religious/spiritual truth. However, at the time my frame of mind was that if I could get an answer/comfort that I really believed was from God then I could shelve my questions and strive to remain faithful to the gospel. That issues deserves its own essay.]

The Mormon Church, as a foundational claim, believes that they are “the one and only true church of God” and that the church is lead by God himself through revelation to his prophets. This creates a black and white, right or wrong dichotomy. There is not a lot of room for any gray areas or for disagreement of any kind. Therefore, if I come to the conclusion that polygamy was not inspired by God and was never a righteous principle or that the Book of Abraham was not a translation of the papyri then I must conclude the church is not true and that God does not lead the prophets and church. This is not a dichotomy that I created but is taught and ingrained by the church itself.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said-

"Well, it's either true or false. If it's false, we're engaged in a great fraud. If it's true, it's the most important thing in the world. Now, that's the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Interview "The Mormons"; PBS Documentary, April 2007)

President Joseph Fielding Smith said-

"Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth." (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188).

There are many other quotes that emphasize this black/white, truth/fraud dichotomy. You cannot pick and chose which things you believe and which things you do not believe about the church and still be accepted in full fellowship in the church as Elder Maxwell states:

Our relationship to living prophets is not one in which their sayings are a smorgasbord from which we may take only that which pleases us. We are to partake of all that is placed before us, including the spinach, and to leave a clean plate! [Neal A. Maxwell, Things As They Really Are (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), p. 74

So I feel my hand is forced. I am told that I cannot pick and choose what I believe and agree with. According to the church, I must take it all. I reject that belief as well because it lends to the idea that it is either all bad or all good. Certainly it is neither. So on personal levels I can see and make use of the good things the church has taught me and disregard the problems I see the church has knowing all the while that it is only an organization trying to do what is right and not God’s one true church. However, I cannot say this publicly and expect to remain in good standing in the church on an official level or a cultural/social level. Meaning, if I say publicly what I really think I will be officially disciplined and/or de facto disciplined culturally/socially through strained friendships, gossip, shunning etc.

So I reject the belief that the Mormon Church is the one and only true church, led and directed by God himself through revelation to his prophets. I believe men and not God established the church. These men probably/possibly/hopefully had mostly good intentions, but they made many wrong and immoral decisions in the process. They knowingly told pious lies/deceptions that they felt were justified by the end result they hoped to bring about. I believe the church today is run by good men with good intentions that can and do error. I believe they continue to tell pious lies and feel justified by the good they feel comes from the lies/deceptions (what would church leaders do if they knew a member gave deceptive/half-true answers in the temple recommend interview feeling justified by the good that comes from their deception/lies?). There are way too many examples that prove this to be the case in my opinion. Again, while I can agree with and accept much of their teachings I am told that I must accept all of it in order to remain a member in good standing. The notion is the more obedient you are to the Brethren the more righteous you are. In the church, there is no honor in respectful disagreement with the Brethren and church leaders but great honor in pure (some may call it blind) obedience. When a member sincerely believes that the prophet or other church leader is God’s representative to them then one feels obedience to their counsel is obedience to God. This can create a situation where one may do things or believe things that go against their own moral compass or reasoning in order to be in compliance with what they believe is God’s will. Research the Mountain Meadows Massacre or discrimination against blacks for examples of this unhealthy and dangerous mindset.

I reject the notion that the only way to true happiness in this life and eternal reward in a potential hereafter is through obedience to the teachings and ordinances found in the Mormon Church. There are many things the church teaches and does right including Christ like love, forgiveness, service, family importance etc. However, all of these same things can be taught and internalized in people without the Mormon Church’s help. The church likes to think it has a monopoly or trademark on these things (or at least that they do it the best) but experience proves that there are many good and moral people who achieve these things without any kind of organized religion or even a belief in god. In addition, I am no longer willing to trust the teachings of a church that I believe has clearly demonstrated wrong and some times immoral teachings (polygamy, blacks and priesthood, blood atonement, temple vengeance oaths, temple penalty oaths, rape causes loss of virtue, homosexuality is a choice) and will most certainly do so again in the future. I believe the current Mormon teachings toward homosexuals are wrong and immoral. I think it would be better to accept homosexuals and to teach morality and monogamy in their homosexual relationships. I believe the patriarchal order of things is also wrong and that it does indeed create a degree of inequality between men and women and unfortunately see this influence in my own way of thinking and habits.

So for these reasons, and many others, I reject the Mormon Church as the one and only true church led by God through his prophets. In addition, I reject the idea that there is one true religion or spiritual philosophy. If there is indeed a God (which I am agnostic about), I do not believe he is this all-powerful, all-loving being who is intimately involved in the lives of all humans. I hope there is a God but am agnostic about it being so.

I do not pretend to have answers to life’s questions but believe that love, kindness, honesty, respect, integrity, charity, and the golden rule are principles that one should strive to live and which will generally bring one happiness in their life and fulfilling relationships with those around them. I believe life is best lived as a journey that needs to be experienced and fulfilled and the journey itself and not the destination is the purpose. Life should not be lived as a testing ground in which you fulfill all the requirements and try and learn all the answers (and handshakes (sorry, I couldn’t help myself)) in order to go to graduate school.

I believe the best way to come to truth is through thoughtful reasoning and logic guided by personal experience and the consideration of other’s experiences and reasoning. I believe one should not be so rigid in their thinking that one is unwilling or afraid to reconsider or examine their beliefs when better information, reasoning, and experience become available. That is not to say that one should allow their beliefs to be moved to and fro by the winds of popular or current thought. When seeking truth one needs to have courage and a willingness to honestly assess legitimate information and experiences even if they contradict one’s strongly held beliefs/views. I also realize that two honest truth seekers can examine the same evidence, information, and consideration of other’s experiences and come to two very different conclusions about the matter. And that is ok. I can respect and appreciate a well-considered difference of opinion. I have difficulty having the same level of respect and appreciation for those who are unwilling to honestly assess legitimate information and then tell me they already know the Truth and therefore do not need to assess any more information, and that includes myself. However, I realize why people do this; it is very difficult to admit that one could be wrong about things that have played such an important and vital role in one’s thinking, mindset, and life. Cognitive dissonance is very real and can be very uncomfortable and distressing. I also realize that many others who I love and respect have come to different conclusions than I have about the church and I hope to show respect for their beliefs in the same way that I want them to respect mine.

In conclusion, I believe the church is an imperfect religion like so many other organizations and religions. I recognize that it does many wonderful and good things and that it brings happiness and fulfillment in many people’s lives. I can respect and appreciate these aspects of the church. I also recognize that is has had, and continues to have, many problems, some of which in my opinion are immoral and wrong. I do not believe God leads and guides the Mormon Church through prophets but that it is led by sincere men who really believe in what they are doing but who can and do have the capacity to make major and ultimately immoral and unhealthy decisions. I thank the church for the many good things it does and the many good principles it teaches and that I have learned from. However, I will no longer allow it to be the supreme guide and source of spirituality in my life. I am going to take on that responsibility for myself.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

How can I be sure of myself this time?

I use the line “These are my thoughts today; don’t hold me to them tomorrow” as part of my signature line. I know this is somewhat of a cop out but I have come to realize that right now I keep changing my mind about things and am less sure of what I think than I have been in the past. So the question comes to my mind, how can I be so sure that I am right this time that the church is not what it claims to be? I was once fairly confident in my belief that the church was God’s one true church and I had my many good reasons. Now obviously I feel I have better information than before and I see the picture more clearly now. However, I am certain that I do not have ALL of the information, nor do I think that I see the picture as clearly as it can be seen. I guess I have to make the best decisions I have with the information I have and then be willing to change if better information or a clearer picture becomes available.

I’m not sure where I am trying to go with this other than to say that I reserve the right to change my mind about things as better information and reasoning becomes available to me. I don’t want to be so locked in to certain ideas that when better information becomes available I will have a difficult time changing my ideas about things. I can, have, and will again be wrong about many things. I hope that in the future I can quickly see when I am wrong and be willing to exchange my ideas in for better ones.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

why so complicated?

One thing that I have come to realize about nearly every significant aspect of the church and its history is that every story is so complicated from a rational standpoint. I want to lay out various aspects of the church and then give what I think would have been a simple explanation, a little more difficult yet reasonable explanation, and then a very difficult explanation. In every situation the actually explanation used in the church is the difficult one.

Book of Mormon-

Easy- Joseph Smith says he received the plates from God, there are real plates for all to see and examine, there is archeological evidence that supports the claims made in the book and no or very little contradictory evidence. There seems to be no plausible way that Joseph could have produced the plates and the translation of the plates but through the way that he claims, i.e. divine intervention. Joseph translates the plates with the Urim and Thummim given to him by God for the purpose of translating, there is a real Urim and Thummim for all to see and examine.

Medium- Joseph Smith says he received the plates from God, there are no real plates, but there is archeological evidence that supports the claims made in the book and no or very little contradictory evidence. Joseph translates the plates with the Urim and Thummim given to him by God for the purpose of translating; there is no real Urim and Thummim.

Difficult- Joseph Smith says he received the plates from God, there are no real plates, there is no archeological evidence of anything in the Book of Mormon, nearly all archeological evidence seems to contradict the claims made in the book. Joseph translates the plates by placing a stone inside of a hat and the words appear on the stone. The stone is one that Joseph found years ago while digging a well and he had previously used it unsuccessfully in money-digging and other magical adventures.

Book of Abraham-

Easy- the papyrus that we have does date to the time of Abraham; the translations of the facsimiles are supported by current knowledge of ancient Egyptian language. The translation is purported to be a true translation of the actual papyrus we have.

Medium- the papyrus that we have does not date to the time of Abraham; however, the translations of the facsimiles are supported by current knowledge of ancient Egyptian language. The translation is purported to be a true translation of the actual papyrus we have.

Hard- the papyrus that we have does not date to the time of Abraham; the translations of the facsimiles are not supported by current knowledge of ancient Egyptian language. They are recognized as common funerary texts that were buried with nearly all mummies. The translation is purported to just be inspired and the papyrus was just actually a vehicle to open Joseph’s mind to revelation and that it was not a true translation of the text in the general sense of the word.

First Vision

Easy- Joseph has a vision and then records it or at least tells people about it and there is a record of what he said happened at the time it happened. He tells the same story throughout his life with little or no variance, at least on the major details. The main point being that he prayed to find truth and had an actual physical visitation by God the Father and Jesus Christ and was told of his mission.

Medium- Joseph has a vision and then records it or at least tells people about it and there is a record of what he said happened at or near the time it happened. There are small discrepancies in the story over the years but the main details remain the same. The main point being that he prayed to find truth and was visited in some manner by God the Father and Jesus Christ and was told of his mission.

Hard- Joseph has a vision but there are no current recollections by anyone that Joseph told anyone and the first record of the vision is 12 years after it occurred. There are many discrepancies in the various versions with major details being different in the various versions. From only seeing angels, to only seeing Jesus, to seeing God the Father and Jesus. From having a dream type vision to having an actual physical encounter with God and Jesus. Also, different accounts as to the year and time the vision occurred.


Easy- God gives Joseph a revelation regarding plural marriage. Joseph announces this revelation to the church and how God wants it to be lived and then the saints begin to follow this revelation.

Medium- God gives Joseph a revelation regarding plural marriage. Joseph announces this revelation only to the top leaders in the church and then Joseph and the top leaders begin to follow this revelation and then eventually the revelation is given to the saints as a whole to live by.

Hard- Joseph gets caught by his wife Emma having an affair with a live in maid named Fannie Alger, Joseph then tells those who are accusing him of adultery that he had a revelation from God regarding plural marriage and that God had given Fannie Alger to him as a plural wife. He tells the top leaders about the revelation but instructs them to keep it secret and then publicly denies polygamy and then gives a revelation for general consumption that it is against God’s will to have more than one spouse (which is then canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants) all the while teaching the top leaders that polygamy is required for entry into the Celestial Kingdom. The revelation regarding polygamy is not given until 1842 (at which point the old revelation on having only one spouse is take out of the Doctrine and Covenants), over 10 years after plural marriage was first begun, and the practice is not publicly taught until 1852.

I could do the same with the following and may do so at a later point. Or feel welcome to do it yourself.


Priesthood banned from African descendants

Manifesto ending polygamy

I would actually like to make a satire of this post from an apologist point of view and then say how since discovering this pattern of difficult and unreasonable explanations he has applied the principle in his life. Now when trying to understand God he looks for the most unreasonable, difficult and faith requiring explanation possible in order to discover the truths of God. I think it should be obvious to a true believer that God does not reveal things in a simple, rational manner but prefers the difficult to understand faith-requiring method.

How I feel about my relationship with the church.

The following story expresses how I feel about my relationship with the church and why, though I see many good aspects of the church and its membership, I ultimately feel the relationship is an unhealthy one.

This is a story of John (the church) and Mary (me), a couple which have been married for 20 years. It is about their relationship and a decision that must be made by Mary.

Mary met John when she was 20 years old and he was 27. John had just finished law school at Harvard after graduating at the top of his class. He had just been hired by a top law firm and was beginning his career. During his years at Harvard he was the star of the basketball team and a leader in student government. He was handsome and polished and seemed to say and do all the right things. Mary quickly fell in love with John and was very impressed with the way he lived his life and the decisions he had made to get him to where he was in his life. They married and began their life together and Mary came to have great respect and trust in her husband. He was the leader of their home and she came to rely on John’s wisdom and counsel to help her make most of the decisions in her life. She knew she could trust in John’s wisdom because he had gained her faith in him by the life he led and a lifetime of events and accomplishments that proved his astute judgment, wisdom, and honorable character.

John became highly regarded in his profession as a lawyer. On one particular case he was required to defend a man that had been charged with widespread discrimination and sexual harassment in the work place. John was reluctant to take the case because he felt the man was guilty but was required to take it on. The accused had been a good client of his from the beginning of his practice and John had defended him in many other similar circumstances. There was a lot of money to be earned by John if he could get his client off but he felt morally uneasy with continuing to defend a man he realized was guilty. John had used his skill as a lawyer in the past to keep his client out of trouble but this time it was too much. John knew that he could get his client off again on the current charges but instead he used his skills to convince his client that is was morally right to plead guilty to the charges and to change his pattern of discrimination and sexual harassment.

This story makes Mary very proud of her husband and his moral strength to not only do what is right for himself but to convince his client of the morally right thing to do. She knows that John will always chose what is right over money or any other worldly praise or gain.

Another event that happened in John’s life occurred at work late one night. John was forced to stay late to finish up a project with a very attractive co-worker. They are the only two people in the office. The woman starts to flirt with John and comes on to him. John being happily married and loyal to Mary stops the woman’s advances and decides to leave the office immediately and remove himself from a potentially compromising situation. He tells Mary about the episode and she is very proud of him and how he made the right decision. Mary tells her family and friends the story and they are all very impressed with John and praise him for his behavior and loyalty. John and Mary’s relationship is strengthened by the event. It gives Mary a sense of security and trust in her husband. She has a deep feeling inside of her that John is special and different from most other men. The event strengthens her resolve to be faithful to her husband. Mary develops a deep sense of trust and love for John in part due to this event.

Other events happen in John’s life in which he is able to demonstrate to Mary what an incredible and extraordinary man and husband he is. These stories are used in the ensuing years to teach their children about loyalty, honesty, love and other good principles. These stories are also used to convince Mary and the children that John’s wisdom and judgment is greater than all others and that his counsel should be followed and obeyed. When she sees other women’s husbands she notes their imperfections and feels so blessed that she has been given such a perfect husband in John. Over the years John continues to make Mary happy as he leads her and their family in a direction that he thinks is right. Many other experiences happen in their lives that continue to confirm to Mary that John is a truly special man unlike any other and that she can fully trust him do what is right and lead their family. Mary truly loves John and follows him as he leads their family.

After many years of marriage Mary begins to hear rumors that some of the events in John’s life are not quite what he made them out to be. For instance she hears from an old friend of John’s from college that they didn’t go to Harvard but actually went to the University of Massachusetts. Another associate said that he didn’t think that John was the star of the basketball team but was a reserve player that played sparingly. These things didn’t make sense to Mary. Why would John lie about going to Harvard? It’s not like a law degree from Umass would be any less of an accomplishment. Why the need to say he was a star basketball player? Was he really the top student in his law school? Other things occur which seem to put a question on other events in John’s life. He tells her not to listen to others and that they do not have her or their family’s best interest in mind. Besides isn’t she happy? Hasn’t she always trusted him? Hasn’t he always made her happy? Haven’t they had many kind and loving experiences together? What about the good feeling she always felt when John told the various stories from his life. John counsels Mary not to listen to any of these other people and that she needs to have faith and trust in him and that she will be more happy that way. She has become very dependent on John to lead her and help her make life’s decisions. Mary believes John has more insight and wisdom than she does and so she goes along with his counsel believing that he will not lead her astray.

Mary agrees with John and refuses to listen to anything or anyone that may show a different version of events. Eventually though, curiosity gets the best of Mary and she decides to listen to a friend who knows a different version of events regarding that night in the office with another woman. Mary’s friend happens to be an acquaintance with the woman in the office that night. Her friend’s version relates that John encouraged the flirting and intentionally set up the late night at work with no one else around. John is known as a big flirt around the office and many rumors have been attached to his name. John and the office woman have been attracted to each other for some time and had little flirtations in the past. The flirtation continues and eventually they are right next to each other and embrace each other. They both know that the other is happily married but they throw caution to the wind on this night and begin to kiss passionately and continue to embrace. The passion continues and soon they are touching and undressing each other. After several minutes of kissing and touching the half-naked woman pulls herself away from John. The woman says that they should not be doing this and that she is very much in love with her husband and that it makes no sense to do this even though they have a strong physical attraction. John reluctantly agrees with the woman and they both leave the office without anything more happening.

Upon hearing the woman’s version Mary is initially shocked and saddened. However, she loves her husband and does not want to believe that he could have been dishonest with everyone for so many years. Besides, why should she believe the office woman’s version of events? Perhaps she is the one being dishonest in order to save her reputation.

Mary decides to confront John about what she heard and his response is to remind her that he had counseled her not to listen to other versions of the event. He points out how this is making her sad and hurting their relationship and isn’t that evidence that what she heard is not good? He also points out that the information is not reliable because it is second hand and besides her friend that told her about the office woman’s version of events has never really liked John anyhow. John is able to explain away the discrepancies in a fairly complicated but initially satisfactory manner to Mary.

Mary agrees with John and feels guilty that she did not listen to his counsel not to listen to what other people were saying about what happened that night. She also recognizes that she is not as happy as before and that even if things didn’t happen exactly as John had told her she knows he is a good man and has made her happy over the years. She loves him and does not want anything to change the way she thinks about him.

Mary puts her concerns on a proverbial shelf and continues on but is still bothered by what may have happened that night. She reminds herself of all the good things John does for her and the many ways he makes her happy. Besides, no one is perfect and even if things did happen differently than she had always been told that does not make him a bad person. Then one day while cleaning out John’s closet she finds his journal and reads about what actually happened that night in the office. The journal basically confirms the story Mary’s friend told her. She confronts John with this new evidence and he can no longer deny that he has been telling a faithful version of events. He admits that he wrote a different version of events at the time but it’s been so long since it has happened that he cannot totally remember what actually happened and how can anyone be sure what really happened that night. It has been so long ago. Perhaps he wasn’t telling the correct story in his journal when he first wrote it down. Besides, ultimately he did the right thing and he did not have sex with the office woman. Isn’t that the important thing? He says that he always told a faithful version of events because he knew what was best for her and only wanted her to trust him and love him.

Mary eventually forgives John and decides this one instance of human frailties should not be held against all the other good things he has done. However, over time Mary discovers many other things about John’s life that were different than the version he had always told her. And the real version of events always make her husband look a little more ordinary and human than she had believed him to be. Mary finds out that the case involving John’s client charged with discrimination and sexual harassment was actually a settlement forced upon him by the court when John realized there was no way to get his client off this time. His client’s business would be shut down and he would loose all he had if he did not accept a guilty plea.

John tries to explain that it was with good intentions that he told the faithful version of events. He said, “Didn’t the faithful version make you trust me and love me more than the actual version? I knew the actual version of events would cause you to not fully trust me and to question my ability to do what is right and lead you and our family in the way I felt we should go.” John believes that his intentional deceit and pious lies are justified by all the good that comes from them. He feels he was inspired to develop this false impression of him so that he could be a better leader for the family and one the children could always trust and have faith in.

Mary could forgive John of one or two stories that had to be explained away but when nearly every significant event in John’s life has to be explained in the most complicated and implausible manner it becomes too much for Mary to believe. She now realizes that John is not the magnificent hero he had always led her to believe. She realizes that he has many faults and can make poor decisions at times. She begins to question her love and trust in John because she now realizes that those feelings she had for him were based on half-truths and pious lies. She realizes that she cannot just rely on all of the things he tells her and that she needs to verify things for herself before following any ideas or counsel her husband may think is best. But Mary still loves John and realizes that most husbands have faults and problems and that overall he is a good man and that he has done many good things over the years. John does indeed have many wonderful and good qualities that Mary admires but his need to be right all of the time and his inability to admit mistakes is overpowering and making their relationship unhealthy.

So Mary tells John that she can still love him and forgive him of past indiscretions and that perhaps they can still be good for each other and make the relationship work. However, John refuses to allow the real version of events to be told to the children or any others and says that he knows what is best for her and their family even though he has made many mistakes in the past. He counsels her to just follow him and have faith in him despite her knowledge of his indiscretions and failings. He knows what is best for Mary and their children. What good would come from letting everyone else know the full truth? Others are happy with the current version of things and the real truth may cause more harm than good if they realize that John is as fallible as anyone else. He tells Mary that it is better that the children see him as an extraordinary man that they can fully trust and follow. He reminds her that his faithful version of events always made people feel good inside. He reminds her that his faithful version of events taught their children good principles and that they are living good lives because of those things. John tells Mary that none of the problems she is now having would have occurred if she would have just been obedient to his counsel and that she did not have enough faith in him. He even suggests that Mary is the one with problems or sins to hide and perhaps that is the reason she is now accusing John of doing wrong. He threatens Mary with divorce if she tells anyone else about the truth. He points out her own unhappiness about things now as proof that he was right all along to tell his faithful version of events. If Mary had been more obedient to him she could have continued in the happiness that he had given her.

Mary feels alone and betrayed by John and all the good things he does and the happiness he once brought has been lost to a large degree. The problem for Mary is not the imperfections in John’s character so much as the false impression given and John’s need to uphold these false impressions in order to maintain obedience to his counsel. For John it has to be all or nothing. Even though Mary agrees with many things that John feels the family should do she does not agree with all things and would like the opportunity to make her own decisions in these areas. But again John will not allow it; he thinks he knows better than her even though he has clearly demonstrated that he is not always right in his judgments. However, John requires that he continue to be viewed as a nearly infallible person with the wisdom and knowledge necessary for others to find true happiness. He will divorce Mary if she tries to tell any of their children about what she knows. Mary wants to learn and try other things that John will not allow and feels stifled by his need for her to be completely submissive and obedient to him. If she wants to teach her children something different than what John wants she has to do it secretively and then tell her children not to tell their father about it.

Mary feels that it is unhealthy to continue to teach the children these half-true stories and pious lies designed to give the false impression of John’s abilities. She sees other families in which the husband does not pretend to be right about everything and the family allows each individual to grow and learn things on their own. Questioning is allowed and even encouraged and old ideas can be replaced with new ones if they are found to work better. She wants a relationship in which the husband and wife can learn from each other and are willing to be honest about difficult issues. She wants a family relationship in which children teach parents, husbands learn from their wives and vice versa. No one is forced to agree with others on all issues but love, respect and understanding is the model.

Mary thinks that she might be better off without John since he is unwilling to change his demand for obedience to his counsel as well as the constant threat of divorce if she says anything to anybody. Even though he has brought her much happiness in the past and can still agree with him on many things, the feelings she once had for him are gone because of his intentional deceit and portrayal of himself as being one who will never lead her or her children astray or give false wisdom and counsel. Mary realizes that John can and has made bad judgments and mistakes and that she needs to think things out for herself before just agreeing to his thoughts. But John will not recognize his mistakes and allow his children to see him as he really is. He is prideful and sincerely thinks his ways are the right ways and that he should not have to be questioned by his wife or children in these matters. So despite all the good things John does and all the ways he has really made her happy Mary realizes the relationship is not a healthy one. She also realizes that John is unwilling to change his need to be followed and obeyed without questioning. In addition she realizes that John will continue to tell everyone pious lies and half-true stories to maintain a perception of near infallibility and superior judgment in order to get obedience to things he feels are right. She even realizes that John really thinks what he is doing it right and ultimately best for her and the children. But Mary believes that it is not.