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Rejecting the Binary - Learning to Find your Path

Updated: Jan 5

Now that we have run through the possible scenarios that eject people from Mormonism and discussed the ways we can parse through them and come out with a better understanding, we may be in the position of trying to understand what to do with that information. For many people who learn ugly truths about Mormonism, they struggle with the idea of staying within that community. Some run for the hills, never to look back. These are the typical responses of those who accept the binary and see Mormonism in black and white. We shouldn’t begrudge these responses, and for many that may be the only recourse. But for those that reject the binary, believing in elements of Mormonism, while rejecting some of the history, action, and doctrine, we may be in an even more difficult position where we wish to stay with our Mormon brethren, but are forced to either remain silent about our new ideas, or we open up and risk being rejected and ousted for not being orthodox in our belief. There are other options as well, such as living Mormonism in our own way, through like-minded believers, in a way that respects the wider Mormon community, maybe even worship with them in and serve in common causes but leave a space for smaller intimate fellowships that allow greater discussion and depth of belief. Finally, we may wish to learn and worship with other groups and beliefs, exploring options from other faith groups and belief systems, even as we keep part of what makes us Mormon. Risks and rewards rest with all these responses. It may be useful to examine the different ways in which we could respond and the underlying ethical frameworks the inform that response. Remaining a Latter-day saint For purposes of this discussion, for the most part, we will narrow down Mormonism to the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, mostly since this is the largest denomination and affects most of the divergent issues that drive Mormonism. For simplicity sake and to respect the Church’s recent desire for appropriate nomenclature, the term Church of Jesus Christ or Latter-day Saints will be used. When the term, Mormonism, is used, it is intended to relate to overall Mormonism, Mormon history, and cover all Mormon groups that span from Joseph Smith. The very first option to consider the value of remaining a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ and even there, it can be broken down into sub-categories. For people steeped in family tradition, church tradition, community, and common service spaces with Latter-day Saint member, this is an attractive option, regardless of theological belief, particularly in the Mountain West where the Church of Jesus Christ is such a large part of that community. This church is also one of the best systems for:

  • Participating in group charitable giving

  • Compelling youth to give two year of their life serving others

  • Neighborhood deed operations

  • Organizational opportunities to serve that can advance the best “servers,” to more responsible positions

  • Socialization within an intimate familial-like group bond

  • Youth programs

  • Behavior boundary maintenance

  • Attention to instructive ritual that can instruct to save

  • Attention to family worship and scripture study

  • Focus on prayer and personal revelation

  • Leadership structure that generally doles out inspiring, pragmatic, and caring advise regularly

  • Educational advancement both in terms of religious high school education and competitive and strong high education opportunities

Finally, there is the element of testimony in the organization. For many in the church, they simply believe that it is the Lord’s church and that He leads the church, despite all the mistakes made, despite even some inconsistency in authority in the early days. Nothing said or learned can budge some from this position, and so they will continue to stay and participate. However, depending on their knowledge and belief even within that framework, they may wish to consider different ways of approaching their religion. In particular, the larger challenge of this presentation is to not necessarily challenge the belief IN the church, but simply to encourage the ideas of pure religion within Mormonism that emphasizes faith in Jesus Christ, being a disciple of Christ, and ideas of personal revelation that are inherent in Mormonism. In this way, people can avoid the pitfalls of the binary, which at the extreme ends, can destroy any faith or spirituality. Latter-day Saint Context Continuum It’s clear that the Church of Jesus Christ has fantastic benefits as a community, even spiritual ones, that when placed against any other institution, make those institutions pale in comparison, regardless of whether it is “true.” However, we also know that depending on where someone falls on the belief/community continuum, that there are challenges to the Church’s narratives and ideas, and that finding a place within the community can be daunting from a heterodox perspective, either from the standpoint of a personal choice, or from the standpoint of ecclesiastical pressure or threats of ejection from that community through excommunication. However, one can find a suitable place in the Church regardless of facts and circumstances. They simply need to find where they lie on the continuum to interpret those essential facts, understand the benefits that come with that position on the continuum, as well as the risks and pitfalls. For a visual representation, a scale is provided:

This scale is based on two axes, a Belief axis and a Community axis. While this may over-simply, it gives a two-dimensional context as to where people may find themselves when they need to absorb and apply facts they have learned and methods of interaction. In terms of the axes, here is how to interpret them:

  • Belief Axis – This axis deals with how credible one views the stories of Mormonism, the foundational and metaphysical stories, miracles, history, what have you. On the belief side, some people are more apt to believe in things that aren’t readily understood by known science than others. They have a better sense of awe but can also be more gullible. On the flip side, the skeptic believes almost nothing (in Mormonism) unless it can be verified either by their own senses or through some sort of secular institutional consensus.

  • Community Axis – This axis deals with how people associate with the community of Mormonism, the sociology, rules, ethics, and fellowship. Some people have a strong sense of belonging or needing to belong or feel connected to community while others do not. This is more about a visceral sense of community need than loving THE Mormon community. For people on the extreme ends, any community works and they simply will do what it takes to belong. Family ties often play a big rule. Feeling like they don’t fit in can provide a large and painful disconnect. Many who deal with LGBTQ issues relate to this community disconnect and this looms larger than any doctrinal discontent at first. On the other end, independents have almost no need for a larger community, and tend to be more comfortable striking out on their own or can be content in smaller communities. They are also less inclined to go along in order to belong. They tend to be more curious but can be more rebellious.

Evaluating the pros and cons of each type of Mormonism, listed above, can be helpful to figure out the risks and rewards of each position type on the continuum. This isn’t intended to be exhaustive, but simply thematic of where one may fall on the continuum. As one understands them, they can evaluate which positions fits best. Understandably, this isn’t so much about each position being equal. Some have more value than others, particularly those that give a large measure to personal spiritual quests and personal freedom and agency, which fulfills the pure spirit of Mormonism. Others may find they must adhere to the boundary of LDS keys and ordinances and see that as the domain they cannot leave.

There is room in this continuum to remain a Latter-day Saint, fully worship, and find a vibrant and holistic position within the community that fulfills personal spiritual needs while remaining true to the rules of the wider community. Those positions are shown in RED. Elsewhere, there are certain positions where either it’s impossible to remain a Latter-day Saint, or where the Church finds it impossible to allow one to remain. Those positions are shown in BLUE. We will start at the top with the apologist position. APOLOGIST Position - LDS Safe

The apologist position is one of a truth warrior. They see Mormonism as under attack by the adversary. They believe very strongly in the stories and mission of the Church. They look to find a rational position on any controversy or question concerning the Church, but more than that, they polemically argue not only the point of view of the person who disagrees, but also their motives. If there is any wiggle room in a position, they break for a position of loyalty to the Church. They aren’t necessarily committed to sociological elements of the Church, they can be fully active or somewhat nomadic. Some are absolute jerks who may not necessarily participate in the Church at all but may sit at home on Sunday fighting the Church’s enemies by trolling on Twitter. Many are academics or professional hobbyists and have the time to dispose doing this sort of work. They usually display extensive libraries.

  • Ethics – Apologists are loyal, they tend to have an abundance of professed faith. They can be courageous at times.

  • Drawbacks – They may stumble in their applied faith, overlook errors in their logic, have blind spots, and are not always charitable. Proud. Ends justify means zealotry.

  • Church posture – Studying FAIR websites during the Sacrament and taking up all the air in Sunday School. Tend to be Gospel Doctrine teachers or membership clerks.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Low. This position is high on binary thinking and has very little flexibility, adaptability, and is averse to change. It’s both an emotional and spiritual risky position, prone to burnout and flipping to the opposite end of the spectrum.

RESOURCES - FAIR LDS, Mormon Interpreter

ORTHODOX Position - LDS Safe

The Orthodox position tend to believe in all the foundational doctrines, follow the narrative of current Church of Jesus Christ teachings, and view the leadership as being personally instructed by Jesus Christ. They are very motivated by this idea of living oracles. They also believe the foundation of the Church but don’t necessarily need to find their way through the paradoxes and hypocrisies that inform Mormon history as the Apologists do. They advocate for the Church, and often dip their toes into apologetics, but they don’t necessarily need to know all the answers. They can allow for a few areas of uncertainty while they meritorious practice their faith. They want to be seen as good by the leaders, as some aspire to become leaders. They abhor any behavior or practice that may come across as sinful or rebellious to their community or leaders. They strive to be ideal Latter-day Saints. Reputation is paramount.

  • Ethics – Loyal, Obedient to Church rules that can lead to spiritual growth. Tend to be supportive and giving to people who are in the Belief/Community quadrant.

  • Drawbacks – They can be overly critical of those NOT in the Belief/Community quadrant, they can sacrifice personal spiritual growth to being blindly guided. Can tend to have a high level of pride.

  • Church Position – Sits in the front pew perfectly dressed. Gives pat answers in Sunday School. Tries to make a Conference session in person. Leadership callings beckon.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Low to Mixed. The Orthodox are binary on both ends. Thus, they are not adaptable, flexible, and have difficulty adjusting to new information or situations, particularly on the community axis, such as things like divorce or apostasy of a loved one. But Church policy or belief changes can also threaten their position. They are often steeped in the prosperity gospel and view their successes in concert with their obedience. So, when they have any kind of suffering, it can cause lots of personal discord and ill mental and spiritual health. However, if their obedience has led them to draw upon spiritual wells of strength, they may be able to survive, or adjust and find a better position.

RESOURCES - LDS Living, Ask Gramps

IRON ROD Position - LDS Safe

This is the default position for many Latter-day Saints. They are unaware and/or averse to engage on fact analysis and interpretation of Mormon contexts to any level beyond what is taught over the pulpit. It’s not that they are lazy. They are simply busy, or they have prioritized, and they have drilled down to the core ideas of Mormonism, in particular, “following the Brethren and you won’t go astray.” And for them . . . it works at a certain level. They are characterized by the “Iron Rod” imagery in the Book of Mormon, the Iron Rod representing obedience to the Church leaders in defense of modern revelation. They are box checkers, but they don’t obsess about but also don’t forget about the weightier matters once boxes are checked. They have a sense of the purpose behind the rule. They are community-focused, but not to the exclusion of other people who believe differently at least regarding the other sensible positions. They have a form of humility. If they have any disagreement with the Church, and they always have some, they keep it to themselves or very close family members.

  • Ethics – Priorities matter, family caring trumps orthodoxy, loyal – but humble about their loyalty. Some adaptability and flexibility within bounds. Charitable.

  • Drawbacks – They discount facts that don’t matter to them. They have a hard time looking beyond the bounds they have set. Fierce loyalty to priesthood leadership can make them blind to personal revelation.

  • Church Position – Sits in the middle pews but isn’t perfectly dressed. Skips church for family events. Does best at being ward missionaries. Service callings work best for this type. Also end up in leadership.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Mixed to High. Because they prioritize, most of them place a high degree of trust in personal prayer and pure religion. They can get caught up in blind obedience but aren’t zealots about it. If they have any disagreements, they do it quietly to themselves or close family members. Because they allow themselves personal disagreement (as it IS allowed in Mormonism), many learn to live with their doubts and can overcome problems on the belief axis. They are patient to wait on the Lord to reveal His will to the leadership. However, this can also cause some internal discord and self-doubt if they hold contrary beliefs. Many iron rodders can suffer from depression and anxiety because they struggle with not being able to live up to expectations in belief or community.

RESOURCES - Come Unto Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


The card-carrying Latter-day Saint looks and sounds like an Iron Rodder or Orthodox Church member in many instances. Within a church environment, you cannot tell them apart from another, except perhaps who is falling asleep in the pews or hanging out in the foyer and not in class. Card-carriers, when pressed hard and in private, hold almost no loyalty to the beliefs of Mormonism. They are simply in it for the club membership. This affects primarily those who live in the Mountain West or wish to keep the peace with their families and community. They are often simply active just enough to stay off the radar, or they are “duty” active in order to brandish their community credibility. They may love things like their calling, choir, church activities and sports, and that holds them to the Church. They make sure they play nice at Church, but at home, you may find a much more diverse lifestyle, with closer attention paid to entertainment, sports, and hobbies, than religion. The picture of the mantle in front of the temple often suffices for a home spiritual life. They hold fear of losing their image with their community and think that appearing disloyal to the community is one of the worst things imaginable, even if they don’t truly believe. And it’s not that they disbelieve in the faith per say, but that they don’t see it as important, or that simply belonging and participating is the most important element of it all. They were dealt a hand in life, and they intend to honor the idea of “blooming where you are planted.”

  • Ethics – They are widely adaptable to changes in the organization, with policies and doctrine which makes them loyal. They value being part of something other than themselves and consider their involvement a virtue above all others.

  • Drawbacks – They will often accept changes that fly in the fact of their own reason or ideals simply to get along. They are prone to sandboxing themselves when they hear something that will challenge their loyalty. They can often be insincere and self-serving in order to gain acceptance. They don’t preach what they practice, or they practice to be seen of men. Their children suffer from a lack of spiritual education in the home. Church is a crucial task but also dreadfully boring.

  • Church position – Dressed well but sleeping on the back pew hunched over. Or trolling Facebook. Sunday School, trolling Instagram or watching the game stats. Clock watcher. Do well in nursery or primary or library.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Low – Because they often practice their religion to be seen of others, they lack in critical areas of spiritual health such as prayer with real intent, sacrifice, or contemplation. They are often too satisfied with completing a duty task rather than interpreting its effect on their own spiritual growth.


PROGRESSIVE Position - LDS Allowed with Modifications

There are Latter-day Saints who are in the camp of being comfortable with the Church as an inferior moral institution with respect to wider values that supersede the Church in the wider secular/progressive community. They understand all the benefits pointed out in being a Latter-day Saint, but they view the sociological construct as lagging, and not leading, the world. Their politics inform their theology and not the other way around. They have strong trust in secular establishment institutions, particularly governmental and academic intuitions, due to elements of democratization, knowledge peer review, and a focus on equality. These are very strong ethics for them, and they are often at odds with the Church or perceptions of Mormon history, which does not view people on the margins of society as equals with respect to spiritual matters. They often see the world through a Hegelian frame of human progression. It’s not that God doesn’t exist, but that He achieves millennial and heavenly success through the advancement of humanity as it stumbles and lurches towards progress. They want to change the Church from the inside.

  • Ethics – Communitarian, egalitarian, compassionate, rational, forward-thinking, courageous.

  • Drawbacks – Overly trusting of wider institutions, discount personal economic agency or freedom while promoting social agency or freedom, impatient, lack humility in understanding the gaps of human knowledge.

  • Church position – Dressed well but usually a little more worldly. Women wear pants. Sit in a prominent area of the chapel to be seen. Desire leadership positions to make a difference, working with the youth, or service callings. They either avoid Sunday School altogether or groan and grunt when they disagree. Usually take out their frustrations on social media.

  • Spiritual Health – Low to Mixed. The Progressive is often so focused on political solutions that they forget the ethics of personal improvement. They tend to be less spiritually focused and more policy driven. They obsess over power infrastructure and how it needs to change, including within the Church. However, some progressives will put their money where their mouth is with pure religion and those sorts of efforts are enabling to the soul.

RESOURCES - Mormon Stories, New Order Mormons, LDS Church is True, Exponent

RESCUER Position - non-LDS

The Rescuer position is probably what is typified as the classical “anti-Mormon.” This position is blue for the obvious reason as both not wishing to belong within any Mormon framework as well as rejection from the Latter-day Saint community. It is dual binary, opposite to the Orthodox as well as the Evolvers. Rescuers believe that Mormonism was a lie from the beginning, that church members are succored into a cult with controlling leadership and stifling rules. Since they are community focused, they cannot leave Mormonism without the need to feel like they need to rescue Mormons, and specifically, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not subscribing any evil motivations to this position, it’s likely these people are genuine in their attempts. Many of them convert to other community groups such as Christianity or some sort of secular system and wish Latter-day Saints to join with them as well. They see light and freedom outside of overall Mormonism. Sandra Tanner is a type of Rescuer, for example. They cannot see any good in any Mormon leader, particularly Joseph Smith. They need him to be a scoundrel for their position to have foundational merit.

  • Ethics – Courage, Learning, willing to buck trends and stand up for their beliefs.

  • Drawbacks – Arrogance, not accepting of outcomes of people’s religious agency, often too focused on others’ problems to see where they need to improve themselves. Pushy, and they push friends and family away, isolating themselves and becoming pariahs with their instance of the rescue position with other Mormon groups.

  • Church position – None. Unless they are there to spy.

  • Spiritual Health – Low. Often, they are so engrossed with rescuing others from a perceived nightmare, they don’t see their own nightmares and challenges. They may find some spiritual benefit if they can find other spiritual communities that encourage faith, but their obsession with the wrongs of Mormonism cloud their ability to grow that faith. It’s a beam in their eye they can’t see.

RESOURCES - Utah Lighthouse Ministries

DEBUNKER Position - non-LDS

Like the rescuer, the debunker is obsessed with proving Mormonism to be false. Unlike the rescuer, the motivations are not about helping others leave Mormonism, but simply to prove to themselves that they are right. They are exactly opposite of the apologist. They care very little about where a disaffected Latter-day Saint lands when they begin to disbelieve. They are simply happy that their own views are validated. They are the trolls of the Internet, the guardians of the various forums to expose Mormonism and the Church of Jesus Christ, where they measure their own satisfaction in the memes and zingers they can zap. While they tend to be progressive, debunkers are almost always agnostic or atheist, simply because they like to debunk everything, including the magic sky daddy. While some are loyal to establishment institutions and tend left, some of the most virulent are libertarian, or rabid alt-right.

  • Ethics – Debunkers are spirited and intelligent. They are useful in finding the best blind spots relating to groups they disagree with.

  • Drawbacks – Arrogance and ill-tempered. Trollish online.

  • Church position – None. They troll Church forums to be snarky. They will only attend for a funeral of a family member.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Very Low. This position is high on binary and cares more about being right than being true. They often revel in the misery of others when they cut them down on their own beliefs.

RESOURCES -, Mormon Think

FUNDAMENTAL Position - non-LDS

The Fundamental position can be typified as one who finds the doctrinal purity of teachings out of line with the community and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because they are less concerned with community impact and more concerned with what they perceive as God’s truth, they are comfortable expressing or living heterodox views. Even though they are called “apostates” by Latter-day Saints, a more accurate term cold be “heretic,” since most fundamentalist still consider themselves Mormon. It may not be completely accurate that they aren’t community oriented, but they won’t sacrifice the need to be within the Latter-day Saint community in order not to be true to their own beliefs. To be clear, a Mormon with a fundamental position isn’t necessary a polygamist, although many fundamentalists are polygamists. Likewise not all “fundamentalists” are fundamental under this rubric. For example, a fundamentalist Mormon that grew up in a fundamentalist church could be driven by orthodox, card-carrying, or other inclinations more in tune with a communitarian need than in knowing or wanting to follow truth. Most FLDS would not be of a fundamental position, but an orthodox one. Independent-minded fundamentalists are a more appropriate example. More and more, however, one who follows a fundamental position may be averse to polygamy, since fundamentalism deals with going to back to a point from before polygamy. Most Mormon traditional fundamentalists would look at 1890 as a point of divergence. However, it is now just as common to see those of a fundamental position look at the years 1844 or even 1832 as points of divergence, and thus have no love for Brigham Young or his institutions and beliefs but follow the teachings that Joseph Smith publicly taught. Sometimes they are called neo-fundamentalists. Some even go far as a desire to reboot the Law of Moses. This is one of the problems with the fundamental position – trying to figure out where the fundamentals need to be anchored. Looking at polygamist groups is a telltale sign of the challenge with fundamentalism. Early groups were part of a cohesive group called the Council of Friends that saw divergence almost instantly. Staring in the 1950’s, as leadership changes and ideas shifted, the fundamental lines were remade with every change of guard to the point where there are hundreds of offshoots looking at some date certain as to where the truth is taught, finding apostasy after apostasy. Finding the point of origin of truth through some sort of study and discovery can be painful, difficult, and often fruitless.

Most fundamentalist are so loyal to their beliefs and practices that they act on them. This usually requires them to be removed from institutional Mormonism through excommunication or by having them resign.

  • Ethics – Loyal and obedient to their own values, focus and care about key foundation truths, less worried about what others think

  • Drawbacks – Focus too much on the impossibility of historical and scriptural proofs, get caught up in implausible theories. Can be proud and lonely.

  • Church position – They try to look as normal as possible as not to draw attention to their multiple wives. Sometimes they get in trouble and get escorted off the premises.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Low to medium. The value of the fundamentalist position is often tied to closely to a particular doctrine and less popular reading of an historical or scriptural fact and community loyalty are sacrificed on the altar of this doctrine, typically polygamy. This over-rationalization of an idea can isolate people from the fruits and values of serving in a community and so can create low spiritual health. On the other hand, being true to an ideal that is held, and finding ways to live pure religion in other communities, this position can find a way to thrive spiritually. Some of the polygamist fundamentalist groups are healthier than others.

RESOURCES - Year of Polygamy Podcast, Mormon Fundamentalism (opposition site but informative)

LIAHONA Position - LDS Allowed with Modifications

Somewhat related to the Fundamentalist position, the Liahona position anchors itself less to a fixed point in doctrine or history where the truth diverged, and more to a fixed point in the soul. Belief is important but tempered by reality of truth claims as well as an individual sense of direction. The truth claims in fact temper direction that is too far away from Mormonism. The Liahona position takes very seriously the idea of personal revelation. Unlike the fundamentalist, the Liahona position is typically driven by the need to practice personal revelation within the confines of the community, though not necessarily. While the Card-carrying sleep in church, Liahona’s pray in church. Some find that they are led out to find other ways to practice their Mormonism in other hetero-dox ways. They are also not as wedded to historical or doctrinal ideas. They allow changes in understanding to define their direction. They are often in a constant state of flux, looking for prayer and guidance to define that direction. Sometimes the stress between what they believe and how they are led can push them into paths that are inevitably post-Mormon or non-Mormon. They become Evolvers. Since they look to personal revelation for everything, they can also become confused by revelation from the wrong source, and there are risks in becoming fanatic to this type of truth-seeking. They can be hijacked by spiritual entities that do not have their best interest at heart.

  • Ethics – Loyal and obedient to their own sense of personal revelation and direction, less worried about what others think, but are drawn to participate in and help others in their community for all the right reasons due to their usually overall spiritual health.

  • Drawbacks – Because personal revelation is tricky, they can get sidelined on ideas that don’t come from God, but from other entities or even their own ideas. They can delude themselves. Sometimes they don’t temper their revelations with enough grounding from facts or history.

  • Church posture – Reading scriptures and praying in any meeting. Have smiles on their faces and keep to themselves unless they get into a fascinating conversation worth having in class or the hall. Callings include gospel doctrine, librarian, can get called into leadership positions but often flame out because they are too independent. They often teeter on the line of getting excommunicated for expressing or practicing new beliefs or ideas that aren't allowed by the institution . . . if they are too public about it.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Medium to high. The value of the Liahona position is their relationship with God or Christ. If that can be developed, they can have the highest of all positions with relation to spiritual health because they put that relationship above all others. However, if they end up developing relationships with other entities or their own delusions, they can end up rejecting important truths, or, in extreme cases, become mentally ill. Because most people in this position understand the value of spiritual health through prayer and meditation, they tend to be happier in their grounding, wherever they land, and can usually navigate uncertainty better even if they don’t comprehend or they reject key truths. They usually absorb the most important principles such as seeking God and loving other people.

RESOURCES - To The Remnant, Learn of Christ, Denver Snuffer, Pure Mormonism, Doctrine of Christ, Pure Revelations, Upward Thought

DELINQUENT Position - LDS Allowed

The Delinquent position is characterized by a deep level of individuality, not necessarily in being true to an idea or value, but being driven by personal preferences, goals, passions, habits, even lures and addictions, that subsume desires to be with, or conform with, a fellowship of believers. It may simply be inconvenient. It may also be uncomfortable if one is ashamed or guilty for their behavior or lack of involvement or motivation. Delinquents are usually neutral between belief and non-belief because their lifestyle isn’t impacted by their beliefs. When pressed, there is a usually a level of belief, but it is again, overwhelmed by lifestyles that don’t match beliefs. If they had stronger beliefs, they would align with the standards. If they were in complete disbelief, they usually camp out in other lower quadrants. Delinquents are almost always inactive members of the Church of Jesus Christ, but they are also usually sympathetic with the Church. They are often nostalgic to the way they were raised and encourage children to join and attend so they can have the same experiences. They are the fodder for missionaries in this way. Sometimes their lifestyle is simply a matter of selfishness and chasing after money, leisure, and the lusts of the flesh. Some are rebellious by nature. They believe but flout their belief. On the other hand, others can be trapped in sin, or habit, and that keeps them on the edges of fellowship. Some of it is based on neglect, either from the community or from themselves. Often many are new converts that simply viewed Mormonism as a flavor of the year.

  • Ethics – Wish to follow their own path, experiment, try new things, but are usually loyal to their own beliefs even if they don’t practice them.

  • Drawbacks – They are lured by the lusts of the flesh, money, and chasing after Babylon more than they do their own spiritual health or needs of their spiritual community. They can get trapped in addictive sin they wish to escape. Their values are at odds with their behavior. At the extremes they can be lost on one hand, or overtly rebellious to God (mad at God) on the other, even as they believe.

  • Church posture – sitting in the back, only came to watch a baby blessing. Head down, they dart for the door after the meeting. Callings could include youth activity leaders, sports or activities committee.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Low to medium. Because they torn between their values and their actions, this position is almost always a low position with respect to spiritual health. Addictions, neglect, chasing after the lures of the world, all tend to decrease spiritual health. However, because of this, they tend to have less pride, and can be humbled into repentance. This is one reason they are good candidates for converting to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once they’ve had enough of themselves, often they will change. In many ways, many Latter-day Saints at one point in time, find themselves on this end of the spectrum.


EXPLORER Position - LDS Allowed

Explorers are quite like the Liahona position, but they are less concerned with, or are comfortable with, drifting away from the truth aspects of Mormonism. They also like to explore spirituality, but they are more likely to look at esoteric traditions like meditation than to rely upon traditional supplication in prayer. They are usually still community-oriented enough to stay nominally involved, and they often do believe in some core ideas of Mormonism. However, they are likely to be enticed or explore other faith traditions or ideas. They tend to be Eastern or secular, otherwise they are open to looking at more liberal Christian traditions such as Unitarianism or mainline Protestantism. More conservative traditions either tend to attract Fundamentalists or Rescuers. They like to explore all aspects of mysticism, apocryphal beliefs, and other traditions. They adhere to the idea that “Mormonism is Truth” as Joseph Smith once explained. They wish to gather all the “good” there is in the world and bring it under their own belief and practice system. They could also be termed as a “seeker” of sorts. If they experiment with behaviors and indulgences, it is out of a raw curiosity and to see if it fits within a seeking tradition. They rarely indulge to excess but are more interested in these pursuits to enhance themselves. They are very comfortable studying Buddhism on one hand, going to the temple on the other, and attending church on Sunday.

  • Ethics – Very curious and unafraid of new things. Willing to believe all things and they put up very few roadblocks. Good at picking up what works and rejecting the rest. Good at developing a sense of “awe.”

  • Drawbacks – Because they seek out lots of ideas, sometimes they cannot commit, and they tend to be flighty and unreliable. Sometimes their experimentation can get them into trouble or send them down some dark paths.

  • Church posture – Meditating anywhere, wearing flowy hippie clothing, lots of spiritual books. Callings include anything that has little responsibility like greeter.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Medium to high. The value of the Explorer position is their willingness to seek. If that can be developed well, they can have the have the best of all positions with respect to universalism and finding the good in all traditions, which is a hallmark of Mormonism. Sometimes they can explore areas that are dark and can get them into trouble. This is the group that is most likely to get caught up in a cult because of their willingness to listen and try all things. However, for the most part, they have high spiritual health because they do not hold belief roadblocks when dealing with people. They are very accepting of all, and most likely to be charitable of all groups for its own benefit and not just to check a box.

RESOURCES - Thy Mind O Man, Mormon Transhumanist Association

EVOLVER Position - non-LDS by Choice

This position calls people who are explorers to “evolve” beyond Mormonism. Instead of losing the faith, they look at it as outgrowing their faith. They have grown past Mormonism. It worked for a while, but now they feel driven to look outside of Mormonism. This isn’t just relating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but Mormonism in general. They may hold on to some of the key ethics and some beliefs, but it doesn’t define them. Unlike progressives, rescuers, and debunkers, there is no need to confront Mormons, but they have a live and let live attitude. They tend to be spiritual but not religious. If they are agnostic or atheist, they tend toward a seeking type and avoid dogma. They are the most pleasant of “apostates” to have at dinner because of their non-confrontational attitude. Still, they like to share. They have typically found the Mormon binary to be toxic, and the path they have taken is to leave the binary altogether and taking the escape route to the far-right corner. This way, they don’t have to own any of it, but give place to those who do, because of their strong belief that individuals can make their own path.

  • Ethics – Very curious and unafraid of new things. Willing to follow paths few will tread. Define personal ethics only in terms of “doing no harm.” They live and let live.

  • Drawbacks – Because they are not dogmatic or religious, they tend to drift and have a hard time finding community or the communities they find are thin. Sometimes they take up new ideas simply because they are easier to follow and include little personal sacrifice. To that effect, since their morality is only defined in terms of “doing no harm,” they sometimes avoid actively doing “good.” Often they stop believing the best parts of Mormonism only because they are difficult to follow more than a problem with belief.

  • Church posture – If they attend, they try to play nice. They usually only go to support a family member.

  • Overall Spiritual Health – Medium to high – Since they are open to look at possibilities, they tend to have a high sense of “awe.” If they can overcome the propensity to drift into traditions that require little personal sacrifice, but instead, follow the more mystical traditions of their new paths, they can often find some of the best parts of Truth in their newfound home, regardless of whether the stamp of Mormonism is upon that truth.

RESOURCES - Joseph Campbell Foundation, Mormon Stories

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