Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Free Agency"

An article over at MormonTimes was brought to my attention which commented on the rhetorical issues of "I can't, I'm Mormon."

The author thinks this is crap because, duh, Mormons have a choice.

This is a sticking point between many ex-members and current members. It's also an issue between never-mos and current members. For example, my brother had a really bad experience with a scary roommate of his. The guy ended up going to jail because of my brother. He threatened my brother--you know, "When I get out..." I don't remember the specifics, but my brother had to do what he did because, as he said, he didn't have a choice.

A member told him "Of course you do."

This was during my initial disaffection, and as such I had a progressively heightened sense for bullshit. I told said person that when it's a "choice" between living or dying, it's not really a choice, is it?

This person is like this...all the time. He can't let anything go. He'll walk into your home and preach. He'll call you to task on anything he feels strongly about. It's his way of spreading teh gospel. It's fucking annoying.

To his credit, he let it go that time because really, what is the choice?

He didn't quite learn the lesson though. The church is all about "free agency." Freedom to choose. "I teach them correct principles," Joseph Smith said, "and they govern themselves." Every member is under this delusion that you always have a choice.

Of course you do, technically. You could choose to die if you wanted to. But most people aren't looking to be martyrs without a cause. Most people want to live. What choice is it when your hand is effectively forced?

But, members would say, the church doesn't force your hand. Ask past-President Gordon Hinckley:
No, I reply, the Church will not dictate to any man how he should think or what he should do. The Church will point out the way and invite every member to live the gospel and enjoy the blessings that come of such living. The Church will not dictate to any man, but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein.

Isn't "expect loyalty" simply a euphemism for "dictate"? 

The church is confusing choice with force, not to mention forgetting the paternal nature of its organization. They treat you like a (jerk) father would treat his little child--but it's worse than that. It is akin to a father saying "Don't ever say anything bad about me or I'll disown you."

What is the choice in that?

The Church takes it a step further, however. It's not simply about excommunication because excommunication as an LDS concept means so much more. What ought to be said is "Don't say anything bad about me or I'll disown you and effectively not only take away everything you've ever had, but your salvation as well."


Truly, if I wanted to, I'd make a shirt that said "I can, I'm not Mormon."

Hmmm. I might look into that.

*Also, just for fun let's also discuss the funny that is an attractive, young blonde thing with "come hither" eyes wearing a shirt that says "I can't, I'm Mormon."


  1. I agree, there are no choices in Mormonism. If you disagree with the church, you're wrong. If you're offended at church, it's your fault.

    And yes, you should make that shirt!

  2. Already done by someone!

  3. Its an really interesting dichotomy. The church is talking out of both sides of her mouth. You have agency, but we will scrutinize every move you make if we're suspicious that you aren't following the rules, but of course it still up to you, but if you don't conform you are screwed.

  4. You have a choice. It's this: Conform to our standards and we'll accept you. Be true to yourself and we'll be very disappointed -- but we'll pray for your speedy repentance.

  5. Looking at choice as a non Mormon, I have always hated to hear people say, "I didn't have a choice." It always seemed like an excuse. I remember thinking, "You always have a choice." but I think now that I'm a bit older I would amend that with, you choose between what you know is right and what someone (or everyone) else thinks you should do. It is still a choice. And you don't have to justify the choice you make. Any group or person who makes you choose between who you really are and their approval is not a group I want to be part of. I think I agree with, I just feel like, if I say "I didn't have a choice." than I'm saying that I can't act of my own free will. I think it's just a language thing. Anyway, hoping to add to the conversation, really. :0)
    And that picture is very sexually seductive and very disturbing. It's like a challenge. "I can't, so you'll have to come make me."

  6. The T-Shirt says, "I Can't", but her eyes say, "Baby, I can and I will rock your world while doing it."