Step One- Doubt
Not everyone goes through every step. This is intended to be a basic guide to help people who ARE in these steps to cope and move on rather than an indication that something is wrong if an individual doesn’t have all the steps.
Characterized by You have a shelf of issues you’re uncomfortable talking about. When leaders talk in sacrament meeting you cringe when you hear certain phrases or talking points you know aren’t correct.
Most common symptoms
You seek others you can discuss the issues with. You’ve had the conversation where the other person shuts you down for daring to ask about such things. You feel nervous, timid, or even afraid of certain websites because they discuss the topic in detail and you’d almost rather not know.
There are moments where you briefly consider “What if it’s not true?” and you quickly remind yourself of all the testimony moments in your life, or simply tell yourself “I know it’s true” rather than entertain the doubt. You feel shame, guilt, or fear from these episodes.
You marvel at people who can speak freely about topics that are non-standard. You’ve heard about polygamy and probably mostly dismiss it. You know that blacks received the priesthood in 1978, but the details are sketchy. If it doesn’t affect you directly, you let it go and focus on “the work”.
Typical phrases in conjunction with this phase
I don’t really let history get to me
Does this even matter to me?
He was acting as a man, not a prophet
But that doesn’t affect the doctrine, that’s a policy
God works in mysterious ways. His ways are not our ways
I’m going to wait to find out about that until after this life
I need more faith, I just don’t understand this
Asking questions like this illustrates how proud you are
How to move on
You need to decide if you would really want to know if it was false.
If not, I want you to really consider this. The answer is non-trivial. Let’s assume there is an afterlife and the typical christian god is true. If Joseph Smith Jr. was a fake, then your baptism is, in fact, not valid. If Judaism is true then that bacon you ate at the ward breakfast could be condemning your soul. If the FLDS are right, then you’re lost in an apostate church.
Further, you’re paying 10% of every penny you earn towards your wager on truth. You’re spending countless hours in callings, preparing lessons, etc.
What I’m saying is, this is non-trivial. It’s not all about “Wanting to sin” it’s about “Return on investment”. If you invest that much, and end up in Hell, or simply wasting the investment… well that’s not smart.
If so, then I’d recommend you do research. You’re going to have to take that issue off the shelf and face it head on. Some good questions to ask:
- “How do I know what is true?”
- “What level of bias will I accept from both sides on this issue?”
- “How could I prove it wrong?”
- “What would prove it true without a doubt?”
Now before you start answering these questions, I’d recommend reviewing the wiki on Locial Fallacies. Logical fallacies abound in church reasoning, and it’s important not only to understand that the thinking can lead you astray but the “why” of it leading you astray and how to correct for it.
Once you remove the logical fallacies and see the issue for what it really is, you’ll probably get a solid answer and belief about something that was on your shelf. Once you know you can know for certain that these issues have answers, you’ll likely want to explore every issue on your shelf. Similar time and effort is required on the first few, but then your brain will find shortcuts and you’ll be able to answer several questions at once based on previous research.
With this, we can move on to future issues