Jesus Was a Rebel

The bible is an interesting document. It is full of contradictions, nearly 500 of them. In church you never talk about them all that much except for the once in a while when a teacher goes off the bland correlated path and enters interesting territory that isn’t the basic you are evil and need to repent stuff. Maybe this is why people laugh at the dumbest jokes in church. It does get pretty boring hearing over and over how evil you are and how you’re in dire need of repentance. A little humor or some lesser known historical facts go a long way in spicing up the incessant repetition that is part of the religion I was born into. I think that is one reason I was loved as a sunday school teacher. Being willing to dig a little deeper to encourage personal thought and investment of your own intelligence rather than doing things just because you were told to was a common theme of my lessons. People that knew me then probably shake their head now and say it was only a matter of time…It makes sense to them that I would rebel and leave. You know, because I thought too much. Funny because years ago I got no end of praise as to how interesting, thoughtful and inspiring my lessons were at the time. Ah those were the days, but back to the topic.

The Bible, it is loaded with contradictions. From my current apostate perspective I think this might be key to its appeal to so many people. Think about it, if there is a pet doctrine that you want to justify, search out the bible you will find it in there. Need a reason to hate mom and dad? Yep that is in the bible. Need a reason to be kind to others, got you covered. need a reason to justify murder, you can find it in right there in black and white.  This is not only the case with the Bible, it is such with the Quran and the Book of Mormon too. In fact all the greatest religious books are somewhat bi-polar when it comes to right and wrong.

This is really super useful for the religious. It makes it so they can always find a passage to support their position, and since being religious requires the ability to block out any bit of information that runs counter to your personal bias it seems like the passage is just what you needed. Case in point:

As the world of Mormonism was recently rocked this last couple of weeks by some pending excommunications from the club. Pro Mormon bloggers took up the torch in support of booting them out.

One is this guy. He states in his opening line that:

Too many people are neglecting what is in the scriptures and trying to“customize Christ”. You can’t do that…seriously.”

And then he goes on to customize Christ to his own Mormon brand of Christianity. Seriously? Doesn’t he realize there are hundreds of churches that read the same bible he does and they walk away with entirely different takes, even on the very same passages he quotes in support of his position?

I read this blog where they author says “Kate was not in a position to receive revelation for the whole church” as one of the reasons the excommunication was justified. Well duh! She can never be in that position as a woman! Kind of the point isn’t it? Come on ladies think about it when you justify the patriarchy ruling over you!

Who rules over you
Over and over again I read blogs from believers saying that people must submit to the men that are called of God and just trust their version of what God says to do. This is no big surprise because that is what they are taught to do 1 by the religion. The same guys they tell us are human and make mistakes. Because you know they were wrong about that whole black priesthood thing.

These guys are fallible seems to be the message, but not right now. Not on this thing. 2 How in the world do you know they are right now when they were so very wrong back then? Are you so sure that you think booting out a person for only asking them to think about it is the right thing to do?

Then I saw this commentary that used Jesus to declare that intolerance was a really good thing. After comparing the son of god to a purple dinosaur he said something about Jesus that I totally agree with.

He condemned. He denounced. He caused trouble. He disrupted the established order.”

You see you can use the bible to preach love, but you can also use it to condemn. Ironically you can pick and choose from the verses in such a way you can customize the scriptures into your own personal doctrine. I don’t think this would be possible without all the convoluted contradictions in there. Is it likely that the reason scriptures make an emotional impact on the reader is because they are so convoluted that you can match them up to just about any personal doctrine you fancy? I think so. In that vein let me customize christ to make a point.

Jesus was a rebel, he spoke out against the status quo, he disrupted the established order. He even made a woman an apostle. Jesus rebel At the time he lived very few people followed him. The established order went so far as to kill him for his rebelliousness. But a few people listened, and in time the world changed.

When I see Kate Kelly condemned for her actions by the established order, when I see a small but dedicated group support her in her efforts, I see history repeating itself. We love rebels that stand up to the rulers that tell us how to think and boldly declare they are mistaken. But usually not in mass, at least not until after the revolution happens. This is why rebels often become martyrs to their cause.3

The masses of the established order ALWAYS vilify the rebel at the beginning. This is why my FB feed is over run with comments of believers pointing out all the reasons that Kate deserves what she gets. Think about it. Would Jesus have been up on that cross unless the masses of jews though he deserved what he got? Now maybe Kate won’t make quite the impact Jesus did some 2000 years later, but we can only know for sure if we wait 2000 years.

You might see a heretic, I see a Martin Luther. You see an apostate, I see a rebel. Who is right? Well the full story hasn’t played out yet so we don’t know. My money is on history repeating itself. Jesus was a rebel. So is Kate. This means the status quo they upset by being heretics will eventually change.

Just you wait and see.

  1. In this talk this submission of your will to a higher power uses the example of the BoM that you should even be willing to kill if God said so, of course only the leaders can tell you that. This is so obviously wrong in hindsight that looking back I am still amazed that I could make the same exact justification and think it completely logical without for a minute realizing in inconsistency of it all. Such is the power of zeal
  2. Can anyone show me a way to tell if the current leader is really inspired this time vs just telling us his opinion before 50 years have passed and we can look at it historically?
  3. Kate Kelly is a martyr if you think about it from the churches perspective. By revoking her temple blessings she suffers spiritual death in the life to come. She believes the church is true and according to the doctrine of the church she just spiritually died for her cause. Greater love hath no man… or woman…

Loyalty and Revolution, This is Gospel

We are born to be loyal. It is in our DNA, its even in the DNA of our closest primate relatives. It is why you can always find a Ford lover to argue with a Chevy advocate. There will be an Apple fan ready to take on all those PC users. Marriage is fundamentally a declaration and promise of loyalty to another human being. Likewise joining a religion often comes with an entrance ceremony that at a minimum implies loyalty if not outright covenanting it.

Also in our DNA is a natural hatred to those that are disloyal. We don’t just feel a little anger toward the flip flopper, often we literally hate them. When a person that for a long time agreed with you suddenly seems to take a different approach that you don’t think is right. It makes you feel anger. It is an interesting question, why would we feel anger toward a person that just simply changed their mind, especially when we are also at the same time declaring every person has a right to freely think what they will?

Well I think it comes back to loyalty. Loyalty is something that helped our own tribe survive the invasion of other tribes. In days long past you outright declared an oath of fealty to your kinsman. Why would this be a good thing? Because of reciprocity. It makes you sleep better at night when you trust your kinsman on watch has your back. Loyalty is tied in deeply with trust. Trust is one of those things that makes us moral beings. It is part of what bonds us socially. Along with a sense of fairness and altruism, trust and loyalty are key to keeping a group together. Ironically or not, these are also not human only traits, here is a Ted talk on it if you like to study that type of thing. Dogs are some of most loyal species on the planet. They are bred for it. Likewise these morals of loyalty and trust are part of our DNA, we are born with a moral center.

Personally I was born and raised a Chevy guy. That was the truck to have. I owned several over my lifetime. Then one day I test drove a big white Ford. Here some 10 years later I’m still driving that truck. Having a good experience with it had affected my loyalty to the brand I was raised with. Why is that? Is it because it was that much better of a product? Probably not, the differences aren’t all that big. More likely my loyalty ties to the fact I invested in it. It was the most expensive truck I had ever bought. You see loyalty goes hand in hand with investment. This is why all those frequent flyer programs and credit card points systems work. Think about it, if a credit company in the long run didn’t make more money with all their cash back incentives, would they keep doing it? There is a psychology of loyalty and investment at work. You keep doing what you have invested in. Why? Because you are vested in it. Kind of circular isn’t it.1 Because loyalty goes with investment, we can become loyal to any cause we sacrifice for.

Our loyalty bonds us to a group or brand. It helps us overlook little deficiencies, like the door locks not working on my truck anymore. I see those as not such a big deal, but the Chevy loyalist would readily point it out as a flaw typical of all Fords. Our loyalty to our own group makes us advocates of that society. Is it good to be loyal? Is there ever a time when you should be disloyal? I think the answer to both is yes. It is loyalty that binds us together, when we bond as a group and are loyal to that group’s ideology we effect change in the world. Because significant change doesn’t happen until a single voice becomes many and that takes loyalty.

On the other hand there are times we should upset the status quo. We wouldn’t advocate a wife being loyal to a husband that is abusing her would we? What if she was sure he had good intentions and felt like was a good provider other than the bruises n’ all. She might even feel like she should remain loyal to him and be angry at you for telling her not to. When we have misplaced our loyalty, it is ok to change. When the whole system is corrupt being disloyal is the only way to fix it. Do you think Jesus was being loyal to his jewish roots when he challenged the religious powers of his time? He was a rebel, a traitor to the religious leaders, called them hypocrites and tried to point out a better more moral way. What happened to him for his rebellious actions? They kicked him out of the group. In fact kicked him clean out of humanity by killing him. Why? Because he was disloyal to his tribe.

This week some news broke in the tribe I was once loyal too. Some of the activists have just been told they have to tow the party line or leave, voluntarily or forcibly so. Their sin? Trying to make the group more accepting of people that think differently than the guys in charge. Not believing the guys at the top speak for God on these subjects was what they did wrong. The irony is the same organization that gave the them the boot declares its leaders are human and make mistakes. A reasonable person has to ask. Couldn’t the stance on Gays and Women be just as mistaken as the whole blacks denied priesthood and all that polygamy stuff? It’s not the same you say? Then why was this guy kicked out for not towing the line with blacks and the priesthood ban?

The June three’s reason for getting the boot is simple, they were disloyal to the tribe. In a comment thread I was reading earlier today, several people mentioned that they had pretty much gotten over their own emotions that followed their discovery of deception and subsequent loss of faith, but then this story broke and it caused them anger toward the religion that they hadn’t felt in a long time. This has to do with loyalty as well. Even after you leave a group you don’t ever expunge its effects entirely, your roots are there, they are your kin. Even though you don’t believe anymore, deep down you hope the religion you once were part of will shed the negative aspects that it has enshrined into orthodoxy. You want the best for for your kin that you left behind, because you still feel loyal to them. Think about that, you are no longer loyal to the organization, but you are loyal to the people in the organization. This kind of loyalty fosters revolution.

Rebel

Getting kicked out of the group hurts and it makes you feel bad, no longer being part of the tribe is heartbreaking as Miss Chill so beautifully pointed out. But it isn’t quite as bad if there are others that see things the way you do, it helps you get over the loss when you find a different group to be loyal to. When the church booted the September six for not towing the party line it made a few ripples amongst the average believers, but it was 1993, social media didn’t exist. This time it is different, this time you can find a new tribe quickly, you can reach across the planet and find a soul in Sweden that feels the same way you do about being lied to.

One thing that I suspect is still not quite getting through at the highest levels the church is the time for hiding the past is past. Being exclusive is not going to help the cause of bringing people to the gospel because ultimately the gospel is inside each one of us. Ultimately we have to square what we feel is fair and right inside with the declarations of the leaders of the group we belong to. By telling people like this to fall in line or else, you are forcing the choice. There are many that were remaining loyal, seeing the good things in the religion and still looking past the the ‘broken door’ locks of the brand they love. This action makes it a requirement to look at what they believe they have to decide if the religion they hold dear is inline with their own gospel of fairness, their own opinion of equity and right and wrong. This action says, it isn’t ok for you to be different, just like the guy that was cast out for thinking black people should have the priesthood you must do as we say to be part of the club. It says you must think like the leaders tell you to. Even if the leaders might be wrong. If you don’t, your only choice is to rebel.

A religion that excises the people that try to change it for the better shoots itself in the foot. By making examples of people they show that dissidence is not allowed, they create martyrs to the cause of justice and fairness that is innate in our humanity. Expulsion from society is one of that greatest punishments we enact on any human being. It is a significant threat. Here is the rub though, the threat of expulsion only works if you have no where to turn to. This act will hurt the church membership more than any other excommunication they have done till now for one simple reason. The people that don’t like it don’t have to fear being alone. Thanks to the hyper-social world we live in today there is a place to go, there is a gospel for the fallen ones.

“This Is Gospel”

This is gospel for the fallen ones
Locked away in permanent slumber
Assembling their philosophies
From pieces of broken memories Oh, this is my beating heart, this is my beating heart
The gnashing teeth and criminal tongues conspire against the odds
But they haven’t seen the best of us yet, If you love me let me go
If you love me let me go
‘Cause these words are knives and often leave scars
The fear of falling apart
And truth be told, I never was yours
The fear, the fear of falling apart Oh, this is my beating heart, this is my beating heart
This is gospel for the vagabonds,
Ne’er-do-wells and insufferable bastards
Confessing their apostasies
Led away by imperfect impostors Oh, this is my beating heart, this is my beating heartDon’t try to sleep through the end of the world
And bury me alive
‘Cause I won’t give up without a fightIf you love me let me go
If you love me let me go
‘Cause these words are knives and often leave scars
The fear of falling apart
And truth be told, I never was yours
The fear, the fear of falling apartOh, the fear of falling apart
Oh, the fear, the fear of falling apart(Oh, this is my beating heart, this is my beating heart)
The fear of falling apart2
  1. It seems to me that the very nature of our thinking is circular, consider how recursive and circular this sentence is. ‘I think about thinking about thinking about……’ and yet we can grasp this. Because our brains are wired in loops. maybe even our consciousness depends on this loopy wiring! Is it really any wonder that we can get so easily trapped in circular reasoning?
  2. Brendon Urie understands what it means to be branded an apostate, he was once Mormon as well, maybe that is why this song speaks to deeply to me.

How Modesty Hurts Men

If there is one topic in the church I used to revere that seemed to create a lot of discussion, controversy and all sorts of issues, it is modesty. Specifically female modesty. People in the LDS church have been all sorts of concerned over female modesty pretty much ever since the beginning of the religion.

Speaking of the beginning of Mormonism, for what is about to follow we should note that  was just a few years into the restoration of all things that the practice of polygamy was ‘restored’. This different version of marriage was so fundamental to the beginning of the church that offshoots lead by prophet Warren Jeff’s from his jail cell 1call themselves Fundamental Latter Day Saints or FLDS. Current LDS church leaders deny polygamy as any kind of thing we do these days, but if pressed or in private you find out it is all fine and dandy to be a polygamist from an eternal perspective, meaning you can have lots of dead wives but only one alive at a time. (the second of the three videos in the link below shows just how much pressing it might take to get an answer.)

Of course once all those wives are resurrected they will be all good with the polygamy thing because the word on the street is they will have an eternal perspective by then. Heck there might even be orgies in heaven because if Joe Smith is right God is already more liberal than we can handle. Maybe we just needed time to accept all the cool things he started. But alas polygamy didn’t stay restored, after fighting the US for a change in definition of marriage the main church gave up and quit doing it. Considering the history it shouldn’t be a surprise that some leaders and members think it will be practiced again someday. Which is totally ironic when you consider it is those same people that get all nutted up about another definition of the word marriage that isn’t the norm, but I digress.

The real topic at hand is modesty. Why is that? For me it is because last week there was a bit of a hoo-fur-rah caused by the modesty police in Utah. In case you missed it, the story is here. Bare shoulders, tattoos, and necklines were covered up with a little creative photoshopping. I guess the schools were worried about year books being filled with smut and filth or something. Of course in todays liberal society this created some controversy and even made Fox news. 2 Staunch Mormons defended the increasingly oddness of their faith, bloggers took to both sides of the issue. On the pro modest side I enjoyed this girl’s take quite a bit. She recognizes the fact that modest really isn’t hottest and comes up with another reason to be modest, to attract a guy that likes a frumpy girl apparently. Because why? Because guys that go for immodest girls aren’t the kind of guys you want to marry and they aren’t the type that likes marriage seems to be the gist of her post.  While I agree with the first part of her assertion, I disagree with the second, let me explain why.

First take a look at this picture, tell me exactly how modest these women are.

modest wives

Nope, no plunging necklines, no bare shoulders or midriffs, nothing fitted too tightly. You have to admit in terms of modesty these ladies are well covered up and couldn’t be considered immodest in the slightest. Here it the rub, what kind of man is attracted to these ladies? If you follow the news at all you already know. It is the prophet of the FLDS church, Warren Jeffs. How do we know he likes this modest look? Because he married all these women, He definitely isn’t afraid of commitment and marriage! Now before you think this is just one case and doesn’t count as a pattern of human nature consider this picture as well.

muslim wives
The modestly level of this religion realizes that a girl can still be sexy and attractive with her hair and face exposed. But we can’t have that in the Muslim religion can we? Can’t have guys seeing those exposed ear lobes and getting all aroused, because Allah said so. And in case you didn’t know, Allah also says lots of wives is a-ok too.

So do you still think you want a guy that thinks modesty is the best thing? Consider this personal experience. I was raised LDS from birth. Modesty was a big deal, sex was to be had only in marriage. Even thinking about a girl sexually is considered a sin. Can’t have those unclean thoughts running around in your head unbridled. In fact my bishop once told me that only the people that make it to the celestial kingdom 3 get to keep bopping eternally and if you mess up the sex thing here in this life that is the surest way to get banned from it forever. Talk about a message that will stick with a teenage boy and distort the way he thinks about procreation.

Sex was a big deal, maybe that is why I felt such an attraction to porn that as a teen I once found a magazine on the side of the road and couldn’t stop looking at it for hours. Maybe that is why once on a school trip I bought a dirty magazine, got caught and faced the wrath of the school leaders who couldn’t seem to stop looking at the magazine as they raked me over the coals for it.

You see modern psychology indicates that repressing these natural desires is not typically a good thing. It can lead to perversions, like the dieter that denies herself any food eventually binges in exorbitant and unhealthy ways. In the case of sexuality, this means more perversion… You know like a need for more wives for example. Is it any wonder that Utah is a leading consumer of online porn considering this fact? If this denial is so good, then why are women 23% more likely to be raped in a conservative state than a liberal one?

When you raise a boy in this type of atmosphere you can’t stop him from gaining a twisted view of sexuality because it is human nature to perversely want that which we are denied. In my example I struggled with the porn thing my whole life, going for decades without an issue, then failing and then recovering.modesty hijab It certainly was a core component of marriage struggles because women in the church are taught that if a guy looks at porn that is equivalent to not loving their wives and cheating on them. Being honest with your wife about this being an issue has lead more than one LDS couple to divorce. Some men become far more perverted in their outlook than just checking out dirty magazines. I personally know two women that as teens had advances from bishops in their ward that they fended off. From stories I have read on the RFM recovery board, there are many more out there.

Is it possible that this denial of sexuality and this need for modesty is actually the main cause of sexual perversions? Once I let go of the church and eventually religion all together porn was suddenly not a ‘bad thing’ anymore. But the irony of it all… once it was ok and not unnatural, I didn’t have near the desire for it that I used to. 4

I am still somewhat amazed by this occurrence for I have always had an extremely strong sex drive, definitely above average. Then in less than a year and a major change of belief system I think I am actually less sexually perverted in my own thinking now than I was a few years ago. It is even more apparent as I deal with other True Believing Mormons in my day to day life, I notice the comments and the looks these men give a girl walking by, on one hand condemning their immodesty and on the other hand leering at it… They definitely seem obsessed about things that aren’t that big of deal to me anymore.

checking out the hotty

Who would have thunk it? Acceptance of who I was was a better treatment than denial of my nature. Turns out in my own research on this topic I’m not the only one to discover this fact. One Heber J Grant figured it out too albeit for a different addictive behavior.

So I hope the teenage bride that confessed modesty is a good thing because of the kind of men it attracts might consider the kind of men it creates from the boys that type of thinking raises. Maybe instead of drilling the idea that women’s apparel affects men’s thoughts we should just teach the boys that no matter what a girl wears, no means no.

We can argue all day long the benefits of modesty to women, but when it comes to the way it affects men the facts don’t agree with the religious assumptions. It simply isn’t a chicken and egg problem, if you look at the data it is pretty clear that all this focus on female modesty actually increases perversion of normal human sexuality, not the other way around. 5

chicken or egg

  1. In a lot of ways Warren follows the example of Joe Smith, leading a church from jail is just another one of them, he also married other mens wives and really young girls too. Make sure you watch all three videos in the link above and consider the type of perversion that goes hand in hand with the modesty that both leaders professed.
  2. You know you are over the top conservative when Fox finds you worthy of a news story!
  3. Top tier heaven in Mormon theology.
  4. This change didn’t happen overnight, there was a time period over which it all faded away.
  5. Want proof? If the cartoon offended you, dollars to donuts you have a porn addiction and a 50/50 chance that not a soul other than you knows about it. IMHO, only such a focus on modesty could lead to bubble pr0n, if that isn’t whack and perverted I don’t know what is.