Subject: what controls an exmo?
Date: Apr 24 10:40
Author: SLDrone

I have long believed that Mormons, especially life long Mormons, lack a certain internal locus of control. Mormons in my view are cultivated in an environment that promisses eternal punishment for misbehavior and eternal reward for compliance. Mormonism is both carrot on a stick and a whip on the ass. Mormons grow up always looking over their shoulder, knowing that God is watching and judging their every move. They fail to develop an internal moral compass because they are controlled externally by their imagined God. I have to admit that my high school and college years were certainly restrained by the belief that I would be instantly damned should I ever sow a wild oat, as much as I wanted to.

So Bob's analogy of a young school boy going off to join the frat in his freshman year is a good one. The newly exmoed are suddenly cut loose without the external controls, and yet rather immature when it comes to self government. Regardless of age, self government, or development of an internal locus of control, takes practice. It is a learning curve that can be wrought with mistakes and missteps.

Be careful Mateo, be sure you gain the internal maturity you need before you venture off on too many experiments. You will know you have arrived where you need to be when your motivations become pure. When you do the right thing because it is right and not for reward, and when you avoid the wrong things because they hurt others and not because of fear of punishment then you have internalized your morals.

If you want to know who you are, remember who you really are is who you are when no one is watching you.

Subject: Re: For all my bravado...
Date: Apr 24 11:01
Author: SD

not much really has changed in my life post-MO. I do drink frozen coffee granitas now and then cause those suckers are really good. I did take my family to see "Hair" the other night. It was awesome, especially when the cast got all, well, you know, hairy. We all enjoyed the show and didn't experience an ounce of guilt. Does that mean I'm evil now?

Subject: Thank you, Drone. I think you're right on.
Date: Apr 24 11:03
Author: Breeze

I think even us former converts have some maturity issues as we exit. I joined in my mid-20s, which is right when you come out of that intense, I-know-everything-now-and-can-change-the-world period and we're looking at the opportunity to learn compromise and negotiating skills. What I found is there is very little opportunity for compromise or negotiating in the black and white environment of the lds. Confrontation and contention are not exactly of their gospel. So we all stuffed our views or anger or desires in order to conform to the "higher" standards. Once we had conformed, we could NOT change (read: grow). And we couldn't admit that we had views that were out of line with the church's (such as acceptance of active homosexuals). We might have deepdown known we were okay with gays, but we couldn't exactly come out and say that in sunday school or relief society.

When I got out I realized I sucked at having an opposing opinion. Fortunately, I've been in a great environment where there is safety in opposition and I've learned some diplomacy, patience, and anger management. I don't obsess as much now as I did a few years ago over things I see as "wrong."

Leaving, IMO, needs to be a slow process. There's the initial culture shock, which can be lessened if you do like I did and precede the exit with outside volunteer activities and have friends on the outside at the exit. But some people are thrown from the fire into the clear air without that luxury and don't have a frame of reference on their new normal.

Change can be difficult--for the changer and those that live around the changer. It would probably help to accept that as a given and have patience with ourselves and those around us.

Subject: Willpower is a poor excuse for life.
Date: Apr 24 11:18
Author: Cheryl

Mormons fanatically try to hold to the rod of righteousness minute-by-minute. They fail every day of their lives. They lose control in small ways, if not large. A thought or word trips them up because iron clad will power is no excuse for authentic living.

The problem mormons have is that they don't know who they are as individuals. Their only reality is being a cog in the morg, read "borg."

People who know who they are and who are comfortable with themselves don't need willpower to avoid drugs, crime, or depravity. Those who have a degree of self-actualization don't depend on an outside control system. They want to live well, be kind, and seek out what is best for themselves and others. They are actually more decent and moral than any narrow-minded TBM mormon could be who is using willpower alone to try to adhere to arbitrary church standards.


Subject: "I don't know where I'd be without the church."
Date: Apr 24 11:48
Author: Stray Mutt

People who say that have no internal locus of control. They depend upon being told what to do and not do. I tend to think, fine, if you have no idea how to conduct your life without someone micromanaging it, then by all means, stay in the church. Or join the military.

Mormonism teaches that little sins, if left uncorrected always lead to bigger sins. I had a hard time believing that, even when I was a kid. Maybe it was a sign (if I had been aware) that I had a fledgling internal locus of control. I knew I had lines I wouldn't cross, even if they were beyond the church's lines. Because I had my reasons for those limits, reasons that made sense to me, practical reasons, reasons I had internalized. So I could leave Utah and the church for Los Angeles in the mid '70, when sex was free and nonlethal, cocaine was a "good" drug and liquor stores delivered 24 hours a day, and yet stay out of trouble and build a successful life.

But the CoJCoLDS doesn't trust its members to create and internalize their own limits. Joseph Smith's statement that he taught correct principles and then let the saints govern themselves is total baloney these days. Because setting your own limits might take you outside the control of the church.

Subject: My observation is that Mormonism keeps it's TBM's at about 12 years old
Date: Apr 24 12:17
Author: SusieQ#1

They make a big deal out of being "in the world but not of the world" and they are to be "like a little child" but not "childish" which are all contradictions.

Mormonism attempts to instill internal controls like a parent would give instructions to a small child about to cross the street.

The subtle inference is that a child of God is just that -a child and not capable of making good,right,moral, ethical decisions for themselves unless they are tightly governed and threatened with eternal punishments.

Almost every single detail of a person's life is attached to some teaching, and when there are questions, the obedient, good TBM searches for the church's position on those details that have been left out.

Then the church has the audacity, after telling the TBM that he must follow the prophet, that they are not to be commanded in all things.

On top of that, there is no real voice for the TBM male in the church unless they are in a leadership position, (and even less for the female) then they can be overruled by leaders up the line of authority and their interpretation of the policies -- which equal commandments.

Many who leave the Mormon Church are like a fish out of water as they have been programmed to think in terms of being told what is right and wrong about every facet of their lives.

Often, as we have observed, the new initiate into the world of freedom, tries everything imaginable in his new world. Some have the idea that they are in a candy store and have to try each piece! Our choices in the world of freedom have natural results and it is a great feeling to know that there are no other ones artificially imposed by a God.

I prefer to look at our experiences as all part of our own purpose and plan that we select and chose as we live our lives and there is no right or wrong about any of it.

When we make a decision, we automatically choose the result or consequences that follow. There is no way to learn, but by experiences, either our own or from the wisdom of others.

Exiting Mormonism removes the extended, eternal type of rewards and punishments and that opens up a whole new world of thinking about making choices. And that can be daunting at first.

I have had a great time rewriting those Mormon scripts that were so subtlety programed they ran automatically in my head.

Ditching the notion that there are certain kinds of clothing, thinking, actions, behavior that are required to gain acceptance from the Mormon God of Regulation Skivvies has given me a new appreciation for the real world of freedom.

I have gained a whole new appreciation for the rest of the world and a greater understanding of other people since leaving Mormonism. I find no down side only up sides.

Subject: Yes! NATURAL consequences versus unnatural consequences.
Date: Apr 24 13:04
Author: Stray Mutt

That was a big enlightenment for me. So much of Mormon training is based on fear of unnatural consequences or promises of unnatural rewards. It's not that hard to follow the rules when they're based on natural cause and effect. It gets really hard when there's no rational connection between an act and its punishment or reward. That's when religion is forced to play the God-says-so card. Oh yeah? Are you sure it's not just you saying so and blaming God for it?

Subject: Reciprocity
Date: Apr 24 12:13
Author: samuel beckett

I believe that people are, for the most part, incredibly virtuous, even though they have a tough time following any given set of rules. Most people are pretty nice, most of the time. And who can blame them? Being nice to people feels good. And other people like to associate with nice people more than with mean people. This is pretty basic stuff, and I think it forms the foundation of the entire human system of morals and values.

I think the principle that most governs my behavior is the principle of reciprocity. With everything I do, I try to think “what would the world be like if everyone did it?”

For example, what if everyone was constantly pushing their religious beliefs on their neighbors? Well, eventually (over a period of decades, maybe), people would move away from their neighbors. They'd move into very homogenous communities where people already held the same beliefs. Some people wouldn't be able to move out of their area, and they would be discriminated against in their jobs and their relationships. The politics of the majority would destroy the civil liberties of the minority. And people would be sad. So, on the whole, pushing your religion on other people is bad.

On the other hand, what if everyone opened car doors for their passengers? It’s a nice thing to do. It shows respect. If a couple was fighting on the way to the car and someone opened the car door for the other person, it might be hard to keep arguing. If women opened doors for men, and men opened doors for women, we might not have such conflicts between the genders. So, people would argue less and be happy more. Therefore, opening car doors is good.

Finally, what would happen if everyone had a cup of coffee once every few days with their dessert? Nothing. Everything would be exactly the same as it is now. Therefore, drinking coffee is neither good nor bad. It doesn’t matter.

So, looking at Mateo's case, what if every man was looking at porn all the time and going to strip clubs? I think the current societal reputation of men being selfish, horny, inconsiderate bastards would be intensely increased. Women wouldn't trust us. We wouldn't be able to have long-term relationships with women we love. So, indulging in this type of extra-marital sexuality is probably a bad thing.

I think it’s tough to go wrong by living the principle of reciprocity.

Reciprocity is like investing in the collective morality of mankind. When you do something nice, you make a deposit, with the expectation that there will always be enough good feelings in the bank when you need to make a withdrawal. As long as everybody deposits more often than they withdraw, the system stays up and running. Of course, not everybody’s like that. Not everyone tries to be nice all the time. Like I said, most people are nice most of the time, but some people are mean most of the time, and most people are mean some of the time. That’s life. Hopefully the deposits outweigh the withdrawals.

The only reasons to live the law of reciprosity are that you value life, you respect other people, and you like to live in a world where other people are consciously trying to make it a good world. Of course, people disagree on what a good world looks like in practice, but those differences are, I think, mitigated by our mutual desire to do good.

And hopefully, at some point, we can outgrow even having to rely on reciprocity. Eventually, as a self-actualized person, you should discover that the stuff you want to do is the same as the stuff that the principle of reciprocity tells you that you should do.

Subject: I learned about that in college (locus of control)
Date: Apr 24 12:18
Author: Terrasanct

Or at least, I put a name to it. When I was married to my first husband, and before that, when I was a kid, I let other people and circumstances control me. I was still a very active Mormon when I learned that was wrong. But really, the mormon church DOES want its members to have an internal locus of control in some respects. Mature mormons aren't watching out for the boogeyman. They do what they believe is right because of an internal sense of right and wrong. Sure, those parameters are partly set by the church. But Jesus certainly tried to teach people to be free agents and not dependent on others for their will to do good.

Think of the scripture (which I always loved) "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." To me, that spoke of internalizing the right and wrong, not letting someone else determine your actions.

Not everything in the church was black and white. There were good moral lessons to be learned. I left because I found out that the church lied to me. If being a mormon were the most important thing to me, I would have rationalized those lies and still be in the church. Ironically, the church helped teach me to have integrity. When it didn't have that same integrity, I was out of there.

Subject: Right on! Many Morgbots and xtians assume that non-believers
Date: Apr 24 12:23
Author: Romans house go

have removed all boundaries, that anything goes. They mistake the disavowal of Mormonism as a direct hop to anarchy and lawlessness.

I believe people gravitate toward religion because they naturally discern the need for social/societal order. Since the only 'godless' societies of consequence have been declared evil by religious bullies and clever politicians (apt bedfellows, to be sure), the most trusted repositories of order in faith-based societies become the churches. Totalitarian religious societies, such as Mormonism, claim divine dispensation and direction of everything that's 'just', 'right', and 'good'.

Subject: It's all about the mistakes and missteps. . .
Date: Apr 24 12:28
Author: Ether

One doesn't climb on a bike and ride it the very first time. Life is all about mistakes and missteps. That's how people grow and learn. Life is about failing just as much as it is about succeeding.

That's what I hated about the Church. Mistakes were often view as sin, instead of a learning curve. The Church never wants its members to go out and experience life. Instead, they tell you what life is all about, and do what they say.

Ever meet someone who took a year or two and traveled around the world? They are by far some of the best people I have ever met. Why? Because they've experienced life.

That's what I've loved best about being exmo. I can experience life on my own terms, not someone elses. It's my lessons to learn, it's my life.

Subject: I don't believe that "maturity" is the ultimate goal, nor should it be.
Date: Apr 24 12:48
Author: Imlois

all the people I know who are considered mature are old and have lost so much of the playfulness and humor they once had. Better to be happy and never lose the sense of beginning!

Subject: Agora!
Date: Apr 24 14:43
Author: Susan I/S

Oh no, that's our software :). Serious though, I agree with what you all have said. I try to caution newbies not to go jump off the highdive, it will still be there next month ya know? Getting out of LDSInc and learning how to function in the world are things that don't run on time tables, there aren't tests. GO SLOW! Just because you CAN doesn't mean you should, or that you even WANT to.
There is a whole new wonderful world out there after mormonism, pick and choose what you really want.

Subject: An excellent book on this subject...
Date: Apr 24 15:21
Author: John Corrill James Fowlers, "Stages of Faith". It discusses how people evolve (or not) in how they view external authority vs independent morality. It helped me understand what TBM's are thinking and why. It also discusses in pretty good detail the crises of faith that many of us here have gone through/are going through, and what to expect next. He proposes that most religions work best when people's growth development stops while they are still dependant on external authority. He calls this the "coercion of the modal development level", or something like that. He encourages to religions to find a way to provide continued participation of those who advance to the "higher stages of faith" and lose their dependance on external authority. IMO, Mormonism has a hard time accomocating these types of people, although I think there are less controlling religions out there that do a better job.

Subject: External control = conformity = Mormon morality.
Date: Apr 24 15:50
Author: Rocannon

Great post and comments, highlighting the big problem with Mormon morality: it isn't morality at all!

Mormon morality is embodied in the Church Handbook of Instructions. Really! It tells Bishops *exactly* what to ask in order to award a Temple Recommend. It tells Bishops what conduct or public statements require or allow excommunication (and removal of all "blessings and ordinances") of a member.

The Handbook of Instructions functions no differently (and is no more an expression of morality) than a corporate Policies and Procedures manual. This is perhaps appropriate for a church that has taken Corporate America as its organizational and managerial model.

While some Mormons develop an internal sense of personal morality, they do so in spite of what they are taught at Church, not because of it. The Church is simply unwilling to consider morality as an objection to its organizational policies or imperatives. The Church tolerates morality among the faithful only as long as it is consistent with Church organizational directives.

This is true both presently and historically. It's hard to think of a public moral issue of the last fifty years that the Church hasn't been on the wrong side of: it embraced post-war right-wing McCarthyite extremism, it opposed integration and civil rights for African Americans, it opposed (and still opposes) an equal social role for women, and now it violently opposes gay rights (meaning just the right to be gay and not be victimized about it). The Church teaches 17th century morality to 20th century citizens who don't know any better. Mormons would burn a witch without batting an eye.

A recurrent theme in Mormon history is Joseph criticizing or excommunicating associates who attempted to raise a moral objection to Joseph's immoral actions: Oliver Cowdery (who thought Joseph shouldn't 'edit' revelations), Oliver Cowdery again (for criticizing Joseph's early affairs), Kirtland apostles (who were critical of Joseph's disastrous Zion's Camp expedition), and William Law and William Marks (who criticized Joseph's secret practice of polygamy).

Subject: Water
Date: Apr 24 16:58
Author: Sharyn

This is my take on your subject.

Last summer we were in the 4th year of drought in Utah. Where I live we were not required to cut back on watering our lawns. My husband and I cut back voluntarily. By the end of summer our lawn was toast. Our Mormon neighbors who surround us, on the other hand, had lush tropical grass by September. Why? I believe they were waiting for someone to tell them they couldn't water that much any more.

Do you see the connection?

Subject: Gee, the PROPHET didn't say anything about cutting back.
Date: Apr 24 18:52
Author: Stray Mutt

He only said to pray for moisture, so, duh. ;-)

Subject: apples. cookies and blindness
Date: Apr 24 17:55
Author: SLDrone

What makes this little story even more poignant is that it was sent to me by a very TBM relative, who sees it only as a cute little story. I see it as analogous to a life long brainwash the takes away personal "agency". Interesting especially considering all the lip service the Church gives to that particular principle.

Apples and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Upon a large table set up in the cultural hall, one of the Primary sisters had placed a
big bowl of bright red, fresh, juicy apples. Beside the bowl, she placed
a note which read, "Take only one. Remember, God is watching."
At the other end of the table was a bowl full of freshly baked
chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven. Beside the bowl, a
little note scrawled in a child's handwriting which read, "Take all you
want - God's watching the apples."