Subject: Do many TBMs [Mormons] love the notion of a "forever family" more than they love the people in their real family?
Date: Sep 26 21:30 2003
Author: Perry Noid    

I am increasingly troubled by the way that TBMs treat doubting members of their real families--especially the way they treat doubting spouses who are otherwise still loyal mates and good people, but just have for good reason lost faith in the organization known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mormons talk about the importance of families incessantly. This emphasis on "family values" is really a big draw to a lot of potential converts who are looking for a nice, wholesome community of faith that will help their individual families to develop closer and more loving relationships. (The attraction to the "family values" touted by the Church is often probably more decisive than the Book of Mormon or any specific doctrines of the Church.)

However, there is a dark, perverse aspect of Mormon family values, specifically in the way that the Church twists the family concept to promote blind loyalty to the Church above all else.

Just as a politician may repeat the mantra "it's for the children" as a misleading label to promote the politician's own selfish interests with little regard for the welfare of real children, the Church uses it's concept of Forever Families® as a misleading label to promote the interests of the Church at the expense of the bonds of love and loyalty between individual members of real families.

Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of Mormon "family values" is the way that the Church exploits the notion of eternal families ("Forever Families"). In Mormonism you are required to pass a worthiness test to become a member of a Forever Family®. And loyalty to the Church is the essence of the worthiness test.

This is conditional love. This means that Mormon Forever Families® are not based on bonds of affection for particular individuals. They are based on the family as an administrative unit of the Church.

Forever Families® consist of (1) a Father who is certified as a loyal member of the Church, (2) a mother who is certified as a loyal member of the Church, and (3) the kids who must prove their loyalty as adults in order to remain qualified members of the Forever Family®.

The individuals who are assigned to particular roles in the Forever Family® are interchangeable parts. In a way, Mormons treat these different familial roles as Church "callings." If one of the family members proves to be disloyal to the Church, considerable pressure is felt to replace that member with a "worthy" person.

Sadly, we see this happening quite often with people who post here on this board. When one spouse begins to doubt the Church, they are jeopardizing their position as a member of the Forever Family®. The TBM spouse will often threaten divorce unless the doubting spouse shapes up and renews the loyalty oath to the Church (which can be taken at a Temple near you, if you are certified by the Church as being worthy to enter.)

When TBM spouses do this, they are essentially declaring to the world that they have no particular loyalty or love for the doubting spouse as a unique individual. The TBM spouse is declaring that they love the concept of the Forever Family® and if the doubting spouse is decertified by the Church and labeled as being "unworthy" of being in that Forever Family® unit, they can and will be replaced.

When you replace affection for real, flesh and blood, unique individuals, with a love for the abstract concept of a Forever Family®, the way that so many TBM spouses do, as revealed when confronted with a doubting spouse, the family concept becomes meaningless. The family turns out to be little more than an administrative unit of the Church. Something like a Primary Presidency or Elders Quorum.

Mormons ought to go one step further and, like the Moonies, let the church assign "worthy" spouses to each other and designate substitute spouses to step in if one of the spouses proves later to have defective loyalty to the Church.

Too many TBMs love belonging to a Forever Family® more than they love any of the individuals who are in their real family.

Subject: That's exactly it. Great thoughts Perry.
Date: Sep 26 22:00
Author: TLC

Furthermore, the Forever Family® is used as a bargaining tool to extract obedience: "Do what you're told or you're not going to be with your family in the hereafter." To a kid, that's pretty heavy stuff to deal with. To most kids, the idea of being separated from their family is terrifying.

I remember as kids traveling though Europe with my folks in what sometimes seemed like insufferably long journeys from one place to another. When us kids would misbehave or get too rowdy, my mom would stop the VW camper by the side of the road and threaten to drag us out and leave us there at the side of the road for the gypsies to come along and grab. It was such a scary thought that it immediately got us to shape up.

I felt the same way when I was told that if I didn't obey the commandments, I wouldn't be able to be with my family in the next life.

It's emotional blackmail and mormons have elevated it to an artform. All of this talk about families has nothing to do with families. It's about using a vulnerable part of our psyches to control us.

Subject: You're right. Emotional blackmail has been elevated to an artform by Mormons.
Date: Sep 27 09:21
Author: Perry Noid

In a way, it's like the Church takes the love between family members and holds it hostage to ensure obedience to its demands. Then if that's not sufficient to keep individual members in line, the Church manipulates the TBM members of the family into pulling the trigger and terminating the love that's been held hostage all that time.

Your story about your mother's threats to leave you for the gypsies reminds me of similar experiences I had when I was a kid (like threats to take me to the animal shelter and leave me there--of course I was too young at the time to realize that animal shelters wouldn't let frustrated mothers drop off their kids).

In hindsight, I think my mother didn't think too much about what she was saying, because to adults the threat was so ludicrous as to be comical. And it did work, temporarily, to quiet me down I guess. But to a literal-minded little kid, such threats can be horrifying.

Subject: good point. Every mormon marriage should begin with the question
Date: Sep 26 22:02
Author: dialectic

"Are you marrying me or the church?"
Subject: Re: who would be asking that question? n/t
Date: Sep 26 22:26
Author: dialectic

Here are three possibilities, but the first is almost not possible-

1. The church would teach this and incorporate it into the temple marriage interview

2. Parents would teach this to their children

3. The couples would ask it of each other

I know I'm going to be discussing the issue with my children

Subject: A perspective on this from developmental psychology.
Date: Sep 26 23:02
Author: Faraway

The "Families Forever" attracts people because of some intuitive truth there, but it's not the way that humans (egos) usually frame it. (I sense that the intuitive truth is that all people, even all beings, are fragments of one holy Family and that spiritual evolution brings us ever closer to realizing our Oneness. Individually, this takes the form of the same beings appearing together or in relationship in many conditions (or incarnations, if that suits you) in order to reach this realization.)

Light on how the church interprets this idea can be seen in psychological models of the evolving self. Harvard psychologist Robert Kegan has a revealing book on this, "In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life" (1994), which states that schooling in general equips people psychologically to deal with life in the "traditional" societies of past centuries (monolithic truth, sacrifice for the community, entering into defined social roles, and sharing of a common 'adult' mindset). The demands of marriage, parenthood, work, and higher education, however, seem to contain a "hidden curriculum" requiring people to expand their thinking to fit modern & postmodern conditions of multiple roles for the individual, need for autonomy, and a diverse society. Kegan also considers families and marriages from the perspective of these different evolutionary stages (traditional, modern, postmodern).

Briefly, the traditional view is that members must think and feel alike, sharing all perspective and values if there is to be the comforting sense of unity. Individualistic differentiation, in the form of thinking for oneself and critically examining inherited traditions, is threatening to the consensus of a traditional society (family, marriage).

The modern emphasis on authenticity, autonomy, a separate and stable sense of self encourages people to define their own value systems, and in group interactions this calls sizing up situations, sticking to one's ideals, setting boundaries, honoring others likewise as independent individuals, tolerating differences, and compormising (marriages are often complementary unions). Although this appears to be a core "American" ideal, Kegan estimates that up to 70% of Americans don't make the transition to this stage.

But beyond this, some individuals start to question their separate individuality and their self-authoring likewise as fictions, just as before they had questioned the inherited views. When this happens (only to a small number, and usually not until middle age), new possibilities of relationship open up. In marriages, for example, one sees oneself not as anything "set" but as a transforming being, aligned with one's partner in a convergence beyond what were before the defining differences.

I see the Families Forever truth in this last, post-individual perspective, where people realize a deeper spiritual connectedness as their truer identity than their idiosyncratic differences (which are not threatening & which soften considerably as members come to recognize neglected aspects of themselves in others). The church view, in practice, appears staunchly traditional, and those who question & leave that traditional view appear to favor more of a live-and-let-live view of Family.

Subject: Hmmm, I'll have to get that book.
Date: Sep 27 10:40
Author: Stray Mutt

I'm particularly intrigued with the idea that institutions prepare us to live in the past, and that many people have a hard time making the transition to the kind of thinking necessary to live in the present. This might explain those who cling so tenaciously to tradition, systems, institutions and the idea of absolute, universal, unwavering truth.

Subject: One of the most influential that I've read
Date: Sep 27 11:23
Author: Faraway

Very readable, with so many extended examples of people confronted by transitional demands (e.g., are you completely honest with your children or do you fudge on honesty for their own good?--an example of how modern life presents ethical problems that education & socialization haven't covered). Kegan also writes extensively about that troublesome transition between egocentric, concrete thinking and empathetic, abstract thinking--adolescence. Adolescents really don't understand the new demands made on them across the board, since these are never explicitly explained, yet they are encountered in school, family, peer relationships, & work. Hence the turmoil of those years. In fact, he sees (with many examples) that many in our society who are labled sociopathic (mentally ill or delinquent) simply have not been able to make that transition.

Subject: My mother can't see past the "forever family" to accept her real family
Date: Sep 27 11:29
Author: spinner

I think the idea of the perfect forever family has done a severe disservice to my mother and kept her from ever enjoying her real family. I have a very successful family, all good people, all with college and some with advanced degrees. Nevertheless, my mother is constantly beset by the idea that her family is a failure. She thinks that to be successful, her family has to be some sanitized, cover of the Ensign eternal unit. Otherwise, she and we are failures. This unhealthy attitude has made her look at almost everything she has done as a failure, because every moment of life is not a big, glowing, slightly fuzzy image like they show in church videos.

A good example of this happened a couple of years ago. I was 24 and living at home for a few months between undergrad and grad school. At the time, I no longer believed in the church, but was maintaining a façade simply for the sake of domiciliary peace. Well, my mother (although she insisted she was not snooping) found some porn on my laptop. I will spare everyone the details of dollops of guilt that were piled on me, except for this one revealing comment. She said to me “I thought that at least one of my sons was going to be pure,” meaning she had hoped for her sons to go into marriage having never seen a woman’s breast and that their first precious orgasm would be on their wedding night. It was clearly not enough that her oldest son, for instance, was temple married and extremely happy. He’d done things as a pre-missionary and this forever tainted everything after in her mind. He was no longer the church-approved husband, going over the threshold in a state of profound ignorance and holy purity, and in her mind this obviously forever stained his family. No Ensign covers for them!

The point of this story is not to say my mother doesn’t love us; she does very much. Rather, it is to show how the idea of an eternal family is in many ways more important to her than her actual family. What she wants is a family where every moment could be an Ensign cover. She cannot see past the fact that we are not this idealized family to realize that we are, by and large, happy, fulfilled, successful and well-adjusted individuals. The ideal of an eternal family keeps her from really knowing and accepting her real family.

Subject: Forever Families® are perfect, the members aren't.
Date: Sep 27 12:26
Author: Stray Mutt

Wait, that sounds familiar.

Subject: (F-BOMB) This article fresh from Church News, 9/27/2003 is quite ironic
Date: Sep 27 13:26
Author: Jezebel

and they seem not to have noticed anything is amiss.

Missionary moments: School assignment

On ... in the ... meetinghouse of the ... Stake, my mother, ..., my sisters ... and I, along with two friends, were baptized by Elders X and Y This marked the beginning of a modern-day pioneer legacy.

It all began when I was assigned to give a report in school
on any topic related to religion. I vividly remember feeling
discouraged over this seemingly simple assignment when a
newspaper article caught my eye. It was entitled, "Forever
families." When I read those two words, my heart began
pounding and my curiosity was overwhelming. These two words
sounded so familiar even though the phrase was foreign to me.

The article was written because the well-known Osmond
Brothers were in town for a concert. Forever families was a
concept taught in their religion. I knew I had found my topic.
But as I researched the "Mormons" in various library books,
I just wasn't satisfied. Mom suggested that I phone their
church and ask them if they would help out with my report.
Elders Z and W met me at my school. I will never forget the
glow they had as they walked towards me. I recognized them
although I had never seen a Mormon missionary in my life. [No kidding? They do look different don't they?]

They brought such a warm and beautiful feeling with them
which I now recognize as the Spirit. The elders actually
gave my report by showing "Meet the Mormons" and held a
question-and-answer period. [How convenient for you.]

I knew I had found something very beautiful and I wanted so
to share it with my family. We took the discussions, along
with two girls from my religion class, and we accepted the

After our baptism, our lives literally started over. We were
disowned by family members because of our decision, but the
light and joy the gospel brought to us far exceeded any and
all trials.
Although Mom has since passed away, she in her
great love for missionary work is undoubtedly sharing the
gospel on the other side. And so the legacy continues as our
sons are now serving as well as preparing to serve full-time
missions that they, too, may bring that same light that was
brought to us over 30 years ago.

— [a girl] xxx Idaho Stake

In other, plain words: F*CK THE FAMILY, WE PREFER THE CHURCH. So they preach "families forever", but in reality, they couldn't care less.

Subject: Absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt
Date: Sep 27 13:46
Author: Merilynn

I finally told my mother last week that I thank God I no longer believe in eternal families, because I'd sure as hell hate to think I'm stuck in this one (my extended family) for eternity.

They're all very, very truly brainwashed mormons, a fate I'm still not sure why I was lucky enough to be able to escape. They can all spout off the s@#t about how wonderful eternal families are. Yet we always did, and still do, nothing but backbite, slander and belittle each other, and when I think of it, that's the way it always was. My parents talk to each other with a "when am I going to be rid of you" attitude in their voices and the things they say to each other. Yet if you asked them, they can't wait to be together as a family for all eternity.

I think people just like being able to say the words "Forever Family," but really don't like the notion of what it would actually mean.

My children and I all getting out of the church has really been the catalyst in helping my immediate family start to heal from the damage the "forever families" theology reacked on us--from my marrying someone I wasn't compatible with just so I could get married in the holy temple of God and be a "forever family" to expecting my children to conform to certain rules to be accepted by their parents. I've made a lot of mistakes with my family but in learning what forgiveness is really all about, hopefully we'll be able to continue to grow close and accepting of each other. Hopefully we'll be able to just be loving, supportive and helpful to each other in this life and only have to worry about being part of the "Family of Man" for the eternities.

Subject: Thanks Perry Noid for a solid intelligent thread that
Date: Sep 27 16:40
Author: cricket

hits right at the core of the cult. My family of two parents and seven children are all alive, but four of us siblings are dead to our parents because we have officially resigned membership in their "Families Are Forever Cult."

Four of the siblings rarely if ever speak with the three siblings that are so busy in their ward callings and temple work they have forgotten that we exist.

My daughter is marrying in Feb in the SLC temple and me, the worthless ol' exmo patriarch gets to stand outside in a blizzard whilst his princess gets brainwashed and "sealed" inside of that family destroying edifice.

Oh what joy the gospel of Gordon brings. My ass! And Mormons just can't understand why the public in general thinks Mormons are oddballs.

(similar topics see also 213  Ruining My "Eternal Family"  and  234  Changing Rules? Temple Marriages  )


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