Satisfying our Dissatisfaction

[ 9 ] Comments

by jendoop

In the last few years there have been public displays of dissatisfaction with the church and it’s leaders. Some people are upset about the church’s stance on gays. Some people are upset about women not holding the priesthood. Some people want to breastfeed in sacrament meeting. Some don’t think the Elders’ Quorum should be a moving company. I’m not interested in debating these specifics right now, but I am interested in discussing what we should do when we are dissatisfied with our church experience.

The Apostles ask us to direct our concerns to our local leaders, who are in a better position to address our concerns. Often, if a person is passionate about their dissatisfaction, this doesn’t seem like enough, takes too long or doesn’t go to the heart of the problem which is perceived as coming from the highest authorities. On the other side if we take our concerns public does that really facilitate change? Why is the church so against public demonstrations and protesting?


About jendoop

Jen writes, reads, paints, walks, prays, eats and sleeps. Paul is her co-conspirator in teaching these skills to 4 children.

9 Responses to Satisfying our Dissatisfaction

  1. Becky L. Rose says:

    A few reason: Because we are the Lords church and should act as such. If we are not then I would expect that kind of behavior. We need to be an example to the rest of the world so they see harmony- a peculiar people.

    In the church things are done by revelation and at times suggestion. (I heard this from a temple president about recent changes in the temple) But I would guess that even suggestions would be passed on by the first presidency and the 12.

    Things are changed by prayer- all worthy men receiving the priesthood- prayer and years of it!

    Protesting means anger and that is from Satan!

  2. Liz C says:

    I don’t think protest is always misplaced, actually. I’m going to use a bit of hyperbole here, but it’s not too far-fetched: going for harmony, rather than gospel adherence (and being willing to call someone out when they’re acting contrary to the gospel), puts us at risk of a church that is run (at the ground level) by a few petty tyrants who bully others into “harmony” without any regard for the gospel. “All that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to stay silent.”

    What is a person to do when they encounter issues with unrighteous dominion at their local or stake level? If it gets passed up the chain as “Oh, this person makes trouble, and won’t sustain local leaders”, ecclesiastical abuse continues. And too often, when one encounters unrighteous dominion, the dominator’s response to any attempt at correction is, “I can make you comply. Shut up.” Repeatedly encountering that would make me lean toward public protest as the only viable way to expose a grievous error to enough light to get it corrected.

    In general, though, I think a lot of the problems with Mormon Corridor culture (as opposed to what we *could* have in a Zion-minded culture) could be resolved by simply not paying attention to attempts at unrighteous dominion. Truly, what can a person attempting to exercise unrighteous dominion do? Anything they do will be upon their own head at some point, though it’s brutally difficult for the individuals upon which their unrighteousness is perpetrated. I have a great amount of sympathy with those who are under “social condemnation” for things that are not right.

    The basics still work: Stay close to the gospel, in tune with the spirit, and ask Heavenly Father what we’re supposed to do. If someone is sticking in their nose where their stewardship doesn’t belong, politely ignore them. It can indeed work.

    Most of the time, we can find an alternative to correct serious issues at the local and higher levels. Sometimes, we’re called to battle—it’s not unprecedented in scripture, you know?

    • templegoer says:

      I think change at a local level is possible when we kindly reason with those who are attempting to exercise unrighteous dominion. I don’t think it helps to make that a public challenge-far from solving the problem we may make it harder for a change of heart to happen.

      I’ve had this experience with a Bishop who withdrew our recommends at a time when all we could do for our sick family was to pray in God’s holy house. We had to challenge that privately with our stake presidency. We did our best to deal with the situation, and had actually decided to submit to his dominion if necessary, but not without registering that this was in our opinion inappropriate. We haven’t spoken about this elsewhere. I think he needed correction and an opportunity to think outside his own box, but I also realise that this is onerous for presidencies and bishoprics.
      Apologies were made. That was the end of it. Now it’s our responsibility to forgive and move on, understanding that mistakes happen.

  3. Brenda says:

    As a church that is locally governed by imperfect lay leadership it is no wonder that misunderstandings and differences of opinion come up. At a time in my life when my husband and I were experiencing what we perceived was mistreatment and unrighteous dominion by a Bishop, I was given some counsel by a trusted and faithful friend that comforted and gave me a different perspective.

    He reminded me that this Bishop had been called by inspiration to his position. That meant that for whatever reason he was the person God wanted there at that time. This didn’t mean that he couldn’t make mistakes but in God’s plan for my personal spiritual growth I needed the experience of being tried in this way.

    He also reminded me that with priesthood callings comes tremendous responsibility and if a leader is misusing his position of power, the Lord holds them responsible. It is a heavy burden and in the majority of cases those leaders are trying to do what is right.

    I also knew that I had raised my arm to the square and sustained this person. That was not simply a political vote in the affirmative. It meant that I had a responsibility to pray for, and do what I could to help that leader in his work.

    It reminded me of a story about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young in the early days of the church. Joseph got up in front of a group of the brethren and reamed Brigham for something he had not done. When Joseph finished, instead of standing up and protesting or defending himself or getting angry, Brigham simply asked “what do you want me to do?” The prophet then broke into tears and ran to Brigham telling him “you passed.”

    Is it possible that these issues are tests of our faithfulness and longsuffering? We have local outlets to air our grievances and if that doesn’t turn out the way we like, is our testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel strong enough to let it go? Can we pray for leaders who have hurt and angered us?

    It’s a difficult situation but I have a testimony of the framework that is in place. It may seem that things move slowly but I know that the great majority of leaders in the church want to do God’s will.

  4. Lisa says:

    I think it is pretty simple. It’s the Lord’s Church and not ours to change.

  5. Bonnie says:

    I wrote about this a while ago. My feelings haven’t changed much. As in at all. I have to agree with Brenda. I’ve learned the most in my life through being inconvenienced.

  6. ji says:

    what we should do when we are dissatisfied with our church experience

    It’s hard for Americans to do, and others also, because our consumerist and democratic ideals are deeply imbued in us, but we need to remember that our consumer mindset doesn’t fit at church, and our democratic mindset doesn’t fit at church — we can’t look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a product or service that we buy as long as we like it — and we can’t look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ as something that we can change by our voting. Well, in both cases we can, but such approaches cause dissonance because they are incompatible with the real nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    If we look at the Gospel as a gift, and a gift from our God who invites us to make covenants with him, and if we look at those fellow pilgrims and neighbors whom we sustain as God’s priests, called to serve God in those offices for a period of time, all the while mindful of our duty to lift up and strengthen, our perspective will be different. Will it erase all instances of poor judgment by others? No, but our perspective will be different. Our dissatisfaction might be changed to patience or long-suffering.

  7. Amber says:

    Often lay leaders who are exercising unrighteousness dominion are also unreasonable. The way the church is set up, the only thing you can do is move or wait for them to be released and in the meantime, distance yourself from them as much as possible in order to protect yourself and your family. If they are acting contrary to the gospel, understand that it is not your fault, The Lord will make things right and help you through it. You need to find support elsewhere and protect yourself by keeping your distance and not giving them opportunities to hurt you. It is especially important when dealing with your children and their leaders. I don’t trust my girls’ YW leaders, that gut feeling I had was recently confirmed when they plucked the beehives eyebrows as part of their activity on inner beauty– they did make up hair and eyebrow plucking. Fortunately we didn’t send our girls to this activity and I had already decided that I would not be sending them to girls’ camp for a week with these women, this solidified it especially when after I raised my concerns they became defensive and don’t care what I think and don’t want to even talk to me, the mother of 2 of their girls?! I think they are trying and doing their best, but my girls need good role models. And I need leaders I can communicate with and who share my values. So until something changes, and they call leaders who want to involve the parents and truly do what is best for the girls and not teach values contrary to the gospel–like they botched with their inner beauty lesson which focused on outer beauty– our contact will only be the very minimum- church on Sundays and only certain activities that look worthwhile. We have to find another support group for our girls. We really have no other recourse. It is very sad that church is the source of our biggest pain and trial bumping into the world.

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