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I think most members of the LDS faith are Risk Averse. They are not likely to gamble, they seek steady employment, and generally try to have stable families.
And I don’t think that is by accident. Much of the church’s philosophies push risk out to after death, or to say that one needs not fear, things are in God’s hands.
And I think this lack of appetite for risk exposes itself as an individual leaves the church. Let me explain
If I were to ask a member how sure they were the church was true they would probably say they were 100% sure. That is to say, there is no risk that they have made a bad choice. They might express this as
“I know the church is true”
However, if one talks about any of the details of church history they are less sure. Even some current doctrines can be skipped over or be less concrete in their minds. Is Coke against the word of wisdom?
“Didn’t president Monson say it was Okay? I hear he drinks Pepsi and that is like coke, sometimes I drink a Mountain Dew, I like it better, but not coffee because it is a hot drink, but hot chocolate is okay”
When members learn more about Joseph Smith or church history, they essentially take on more risk. It’s like doing research in the prospectus for your 401k and not just throwing money from your paycheck into the 401k each month. “Is Joseph Smith Jr. a good investment”.
And each historical item; Kinderhook plates, 33+ wives without telling Emma, Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, etc. call into question the risk amount there is for following Joseph.
A member may go through periods where they are 50% sure their investment in the LDS church is sound. Exmormons sometimes make the statement
I am more sure today that the church is not true, than I ever was that it was true
Under what context would this statement make sense? Well now they’ve done their homework, they’ve read the prospectus, and decided to move their investments to another location. They are still Risk Averse; trying to find stability, they just found the church is not as stable as it claims.
Dieter Uchtdorf framed the question as
“One should doubt one’s doubts, before one doubts one’s faith”
But once we see the situation as “appetite for risk” this statement (Stolen from a 1920’s Christian Minister by the way) becomes almost ludicrous:
One should remain constant in an investment, even as more risk appears
Imagine you have a portfolio of stocks in the banking industry in 2007. You look at the earnings ratio, you look at the reserves. Something doesn’t add up. But instead of pulling out; you doubt your doubts, and continue to invest. By 2008, you are a poor person.
Each of us is going to have a financial crisis. We are going to die. The question should be “Can the church provide salvation after death for me?” Given there is little evidence for it, and so many questions about their story and moments were the balances on the books don’t seem to match the actual reserves, a risk averse person should LEAVE the church.
But they don’t; and this is why the Essays and such are so difficult on members. They want to be Risk Averse. They are trying to maintain stability; but leaving the church carries with it an immense quantity of “unknown” It is a challenge. And so it becomes easier to refuse thinking about the risk; and to fall back on the concept that “one knows that the investment is sound”.
Maybe the investment is sound, maybe it isn’t. But it is worth reading the prospectus to figure out; rather than to pretend the risk doesn’t exist.
Similarly, I think the common factor in people I found on my mission is that they were all risk averse; and learned to see the church as a safe investment.