I’ve been struggling to articulate to myself the difficulties that true blue Mormons have with new order Mormons. I’m not satisfied with what I’ve been able to come up with, and I hope you will be able to help me work through this.
The struggles of Mormons going through a faith transition to become new order Mormons or ex-Mormons is well documented within the bloggernacle. Through online communities they are able to find support and understanding that they may even be afraid to ask for in their families and congregations.
My concern in this post is the true blue Mormon. Are new order Mormons justified in being hesitant to come out to them? While some saints will be welcoming and loving of all people who want to be affiliated with the church in any capacity, I think a great deal of regular saints feel threatened by new order Mormons, and as a result have less than charitable reactions.
I can think of three areas in which a regular saint may feel threatened by a new order Mormon:
1. By being selective about which doctrines and practices to believe and adhere to, the new order Mormon is in effect denying the authority of the church (and by extension, God) to guide or mandate them in those aspects of their lives. This is seen as an act of blasphemy, and may be a taken as a personal affront by those who have sacrificed their personal preferences to live by the church standards.
2. A regular saint may be concerned that the new order Mormon may not be willing or able to carry his or her weight in the day to day work of the church. If they are selective about what to believe, they may be selective in how to serve, or may be seen as otherwise unreliable or untrustworthy. After all, if a true blue Mormon has difficulty making the necessary sacrifice to serve in time consuming and often tedious church callings, and they are only able to get through it because they have their faith to motivate them, how can they expect someone who lacks faith to be able or willing to carry their share of the load? The fewer people who contribute, the more work it is for those who do.
3. A person who has lost a traditional testimony, who has found an uneasy balance with their own faith and doubt may represent an implied threat to those who have not entertained doubts. The very fact that someone has expressed doubts about their faith, maybe even lost their faith, is itself a threat to the believer’s faith. It can be the start of an existential faith crisis. Our belief is so much a part of our identity, that to even think about questioning it is uncomfortable. Our faith defines who we are, how we view the world and our place in it (NOMs who have already gone through this process know exactly how painful this can be). Having a “faithless” person in close proximity can be terrifying to the faithful person whose faith is not perhaps as rock solid as they would like it to be. So the new order Mormon represents an existential threat to the faith of the true blue Mormon.
I freely admit that my analysis may be completely wrong. As I said, I’m still trying to understand this myself. Feel free to correct my list or add to it, but keep in mind the comment policy: we should respect belief and not call others’ righteousness into question.