Monday, March 23, 2009

I Follow the Lifestyle... Do You?

This past week I have spent visiting my friends and mentor down in Texas. I was staying with a friend and his family, who are not LDS, but are Episcopalian. Today I went to church with them and it was an interesting service.

Just as a preface, this was my very first experience with a church service that wasn’t LDS. I have grown up going to church every week for just about my entire life, I think I have missed about a dozen Sundays in my life. Throughout this week I had the opportunity to visit with many of the people whom I mingled with at the Episcopalian church and I realized that there is a large difference between the Episcopal (and I am assuming most other non-LDS religions) and the LDS faith.

The difference is that for all the flack that the Mormon and specifically Utah-Mormon culture gets it is what really defines us. We are not a church in the common respect. We do not just come to church on Sunday, take the sacrament and then go about on our merry way not taking into account the lessons and teachings learned at church. Granted many people in the LDS faith do this and many in the Episcopalian church do not do this, but from my experience it felt as if the LDS church wasn’t a Church in the traditional sense but it was instead a lifestyle.

It is a lifestyle that dominates all of our actions and forces us to constantly think in the eternal perspective. How often do you (particularly those in a bubble) schedule any activity on Monday or Wednesday night? How often do you find yourself repeating a scripture or a hymn throughout the day as a tool to lift your spirits? I think that I do not belong to a church, granted in legal terms of the nation it is one, but in practice it is not a church. It is a way of life. One that I am glad for because I believe that God and religion is either an all or nothing concept. That is it is either not important or it is the only thing of importance in this life. And I believe that it is the only thing of importance, granted a family is vastly important but it falls under the jurisdiction of religion and God.

I hope to always stay in the LDS church, but if for some reason I discover that what is right and truthful lies outside of it and I follow it and am excommunicated (I do not feel that I will ever take my name from the records of the Church by choice) I will continue to seek after not a church, but a lifestyle. Not the Gay lifestyle but the lifestyle modeled after the LDS church. I probably would continue to try and find meaning and solace from a ward and become a part of the ward family even as an ex’ed member because to me it is the only structure that makes sense and even then not fully but it does the best out there.


  1. Welcome back from Spring Break!

    I've only been to a few non-Mormon services. For me I wonder if I would eventually feel more of the spirit if I got used to some of the differences over time. Not that I'm planning on leaving the church, it's just that I remember as a kid that for me many foods were an acquired taste. I love them now, but it took a while to appreciate different colors, flavors and textures. I do feel the spirit in Mormon services, but I also feel it at home and in the great outdoors.

  2. I agree that the LDS church is (or should be) a lifestyle, and I'd like to 'think out loud' and add on to your insights. My thoughts are a bit scattered, but they struck me as important.

    -I was talking to my friend the other day and he noted that part of the LDS church is the social construct and sense of community, Zion if you will.

    -Everyone (not just church members) has the light of Christ and is thus entitled to spiritual experiences and personal revelation. Sometimes we get into the very dangerous paradigm where we think we're better than everyone else. In his famous talk, President Benson said that the greatest problem for latter-day saints is pride.

    -It is crucial that our testimonies are based on the things that actually matter. It's so easy to get caught up in 'letter of the law' type actions and rituals that we do because we've been taught we're supposed to... and those things are an amazing tool to help us get to our goal, but our ultimate goal isn't to have perfect church attendance or to read the scriptures through a hundred times or other innumerable checklists. The goal is to achieve a change of heart; to reach outside of ourselves and become like God.

    -For me, it all comes down to love. Why are we here? Why did God sacrifice his Son? Why did Christ suffer for our sins? How do we become like Him? The simple answer to all of these questions is LOVE.

  3. David, Ned and Aly, I like all the thoughts above. David, at first, I wasn't sure where you were going with "Following the lifestyle." I wasn't sure if you viewed that as a positive or negative. I suppose it can be both if not focused on gospel truths. Sometimes the LDS "Lifestyle" can be a bit self-righteous. On the other hand, it can have the positive effects you mentioned above. For some, it becomes more of a social club, which isn't necessarily bad, but ultimately if it is to have any redeeming value, it needs to point us toward Christ. I really appreciate your thoughts.

  4. Having been raised as a protestant, the Mormon lifestyle is one I've adopted rather than having it ingrained from birth. When I was on my mission, I would sometimes take my companion to another church service, if we didn't have any appointments. They would often come out amazed at how much truth was taught there.

    Do you follow the Young Stranger blog? He and his husband are foster parents and he is active in the LDS church - as active as he can be, given his excommunicated status. He is living the LDS 'lifestyle'.