Monday, March 27, 2006

Excommunication

Since the topic came up at Our Thoughts, here is my analysis about excommunication and Mormon theology:

Excommunication is too much of a temptation for leaders to exclude people that disagree with them. Particularly, the excommunication of historians and other scholars is problematic.

If one takes Mormon theology at its face value then researchers who are threatened with excommunication find themselves in a situation where salvation is unobtainable regardless of what they do.

If the scholars get excommunicated for their research then they lose access to the necessary sacraments. If they submit to authorities and deny their research then they are denouncing their best efforts of determining the facts. That amounts to a lie. Lying is a sin, which results in damnation.

Creating a situation where neither repentance nor salvation are possible is a much greater sacrilege than anything that any historian could possibly say.

8 Comments:

Blogger annegb said...

Hellmut, this is what I think: if a researcher acting on his/her conscience refuses to back off a stand that leaders find unacceptable, which leads to excommunication, God is going to fix it.

Your statement "excommunication is too much a temptation" is a profound one. It hangs over the heads of those of us who live in southern Utah big time.

I also believe it is possible to be excommunicated and still be faithful. We've had the fear of God put in us that Satan will be able to overcome us, but that doesn't wash with me, because I know a lot of very good people who are not LDS and I know a lot of supposedly active LDS who are jerks.

For instance, were I to be ex'd (God forbid), I don't think I'd live any differently than I do now. I would have more time, but I would put that time into public service and I'd give my tithing to my friend to pay. It's not in my nature to turn into an axe murderer.

No, let me re-phrase that. It's not in my nature to be totally sinful. I could probably kill somebody given the right circumstances.

18:38  
Blogger NFlanders said...

My feeling is that excommunication is a remnant of 19th century Mormonism that doesn't make too much sense in a modern church. We are no longer an insular society with brand-new authority claims and power struggles.

Of course, I suppose you could argue that the reason Mormons don't have (recent) power struggles is that they ex anyone and everyone.

20:40  
Blogger annegb said...

Although it is a huge deal here in southern Utah. It's a social thing, in my opinion, almost more than spiritual. Fodder for gossips.

I myself am not above the raised eyebrow when I hear someone has been x'd that I thought was perfect.

Although as I get older, it matters so much less. I'm not saying I don't value my membership, I do, but I certainly don't judge anybody by that.

00:19  
Blogger Hellmut said...

it's inteeresting that your perspective changed, Anne. What brought it about?

10:11  
Blogger annegb said...

Well, I hate to blame you guys, but I think it's you guys :).

No, my paradigm shift (do you think I use this word too much, I learned it in my Humanities class and just throw it in Relief Society to impress the sisters) began when I was disfellowshipped as a young single mother over an affair with a very interesting person.

I never tried to keep it secret, nor did I find that I changed drastically. I was the same person before, during, and after. I committed a sin, yes, but I wasn't intrinsically evil.

And I realized how much life is about repentance and progression. And I realized how we in this little southern Utah town judge each other by our activity. That professor of one day in my psychology class who said, "there is power in conforming to the norms and mores of the society in which we live" sowed a powerful seed in me.

I took that class one day, in the fall of 1974, and I never forgot what he said.

As I get older, Hellmut, so many people I have put on pedestals have fallen off, and stayed loveable and human. Many have repented and been rebaptized. Very few have gone off the deep end.

Off the subject a little, I'm not sure if your blog is to explore the nuances of homosexuality, I have a dear friend who came out, although to me, she discovered or decided, she was gay, and now lives a gay lifestyle. To my knowledge, the church refused to excommunicate her because she'd been badly abused.

Which brings me to another conclusion that all the gay people I know have been abused, hence...admittedly a tiny percentage, but still...I conclude abuse has something to do with what I believe to be a dysfunctional lifestyle.

Not awful or worthy of condemnation, but I don't know very many truly happy gay people. That could be because society doesn't accept them, or it could be they were unhappy to begin with. I don't know.

However, going back to my first sentence, blogging has freed me in some fundamental way, validated things I've thought, introduced me to intellects far above my own, and elevated me. Also uh, what's the opposite of elevate?--sometimes we get in the gutter. Not here, though, I actually just discovered your blog and I enjoy it, so far.

10:23  
Blogger annegb said...

Plus I list these alphabetically when I remember to save them and yours comes first, so I've been spendind a lot of time here the last few days.

Then I neglect my friends at the bottom of the alphabet and I must go to spread my bluebird of happiness in the V's, U's, and T's.

10:47  
Blogger Hellmut said...

Just for the record, I am straight. I am involved because homosexuality is a human rights issue.

11:43  
Anonymous Mike Kessler said...

annegb, I'm a gay man and have been all of my adult life. (And I've met Hellmut, and there's no way he could be mistaken for gay -- nor could his wife or kids.) Regarding your statement about all the gay people you know having been abused, I would hazard a guess that my circle of gay family members and friends is probably larger than yours. I haven't been abused nor has anyone in my closest circle of friends. Yes, a few people I know have suffered some abuse, but I don't think the percentage is any greater than in the general population. In fact, I know far more heterosexuals who have been abused (in opposite-sex abuse) and they are still heterosexual. And the only reason I believe there are more heterosexual abuse victims is simply because most of the population is heterosexual. After all, abuse is about power, not sex.

14:59  

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