Recently the LDS church has decided to emphasize Sabbath day observance as a way to help people stay active in the church. In a video shared with church leaders and then local congregations, Elder Bednar explains why many members are becoming inactive. He says: “The biggest losses occur between baptism and receiving the endowment. Of all the reasons that contribute to that rupture, first, foremost, and most powerful is weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home. Thus living the Savior’s gospel in the home is essential in creating and maintaining these multi-generational families.” Elder Bednar provided this slide to help explain what he means:
So if people leave the church, the mostly likely reason is it’s the parents’ fault? Oh, my poor parents. I hope they were spared hearing this message. I’m afraid they will blame themselves for the way I’ve pulled away from Mormon orthodoxy. Instead of blaming parents, I wish the leaders would look inwardly. Could it be some people leave activity because they don’t feel inspired when they come to LDS worship services? Maybe they’re sick of hearing how only “traditional” families are worth having? (How does our sad history of polygamy fit into “traditional” families?) I pity single members who haven’t been able to find an LDS mate, or those who are divorced, or homosexuals who are told if they want to go to the Celestial Kingdom, they can never marry a person they’re genuinely attracted to. Or maybe there are people like me who are tired of hearing the continuous emphasis on the One True Church. We wish we could hear messages that focus on being Christ-like, and being loving and accepting of all people, regardless of what they believe.
Was Heavenly Father guilty of “weak gospel teaching and modeling” in the pre-mortal existence? According to LDS doctrine, God lost ONE THIRD of all his spirit children before anyone ever came to earth. How about the prophet Lehi in the Book of Mormon? His two oldest sons Laman and Lemuel rebelled and didn’t follow the gospel. Was Lehi a lousy parent? It makes me think of the second article of faith:
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
It doesn’t read:
We believe that parents will be punished for their children’s transgressions.
Of course, I don’t see someone choosing not to be active in the LDS church as a transgression. Someone might feel the church no longer works for him. Another might find spirituality in a different church, or she might decide she doesn’t need a church at all. As I’ve said more than once on this blog, there is no one right way to live your life. Instead of making parents feel guilty when children choose a different path, I wish we were taught to celebrate agency and respect how we’re all on our own path. I can’t choose what my kids will grow up to be, and nor should I want to. I love them, and I will trust that when they’re adults they will choose what works best for them.