In a different thread on this blog, an ex-member of the Church mentioned that he and his friends—some still in the Church and some no longer in the Church—regularly met for lunch and were able to remain friends despite their now-different takes on the truth claims of the Church. As part of his comment he made what I consider to be a very interesting statement:
Our biggest problem was that we maybe believed in the church too much…and to some here it seem too literally and then tried to learn more.
That was it; the statement was almost singular, as the individual drifted down a different tangent. The comment is interesting to me, however, because if I am understanding the described process correctly, it really happens quite often:
1. A person believes one thing.
2. The person discovers the belief is wrong.
3. The person tries to learn more about the original belief.
Many people—myself included—have gone through the same process, sometimes over and over and over again. (After all, I am not alone in holding many, many beliefs which may or may not be wrong.) At the end of the three-step process described above, some people are able to salvage faith (and grow stronger) while others jettison their faith.
I’ve often wondered why there is a difference in outcome. Those who end up jettisoning their faith often come up with various reasons for why those who stay in the Church do so: they are either (1) lazy, (2) duped by the Church, (3) tied in for social or employment reasons, or (4) liars. (I’ve been accused more often than not of being in category #4. Just the other day someone on the RfM board described me as a someone who “will lie, cheat, steal and do anything to defend Mormonism.”)
On the flip side of the coin, those who stay in the Church come up with their own reasons to explain those who jettison their faith: they are either (1) lazy, (2) duped by Satan, (3) enticed by the world, or (4) sinners. (I know many ex-members who rile quite a bit—and rightfully so—at #4.)
These reasons—from both sides—seem rather simplistic to me. While there may be some contributory truth to these reasons in some isolated cases, they are not neat bins into which people can be placed.
So, the question still remains: What accounts for the difference in outcome? Why can person A go through the process described above and become stronger in their faith, while person B can go through the exact same process—many times using the exact same data—and walk out the door and sometimes start nuking bridges?
What say ye?