Marriage and Religion
Watch out! I'm very opinionated on this stuff. It is entirely opinion and I don't claim any of it to be fact - except for the obvious stuff. I am not looking to strike up a religious debate with anyone, though I will listen to a few statements in the spirit of being open-minded. You are not welcome to try to convert me to any religion or have me read any holy writings. I am not a fan of marriage and will not take any propositions for marriage or sex seriously.
If I Were to Start a Religion...
If I were to start a religion, I would require tithes. I would make everyone pay ten percent of their gross income and make hollow promises to them of blessings in return for their faith.
I would tell them that those who disobey me are going to a place of pain and anguish, where they are alone in the crowd.
I would tell them that those who obey are going to get rewarded here on earth and rewarded countless times over in the life to follow.
I would emphasize the pain of the disobedient and emphasize it some more until I'd scared the shit out of those who would listen until they had heard enough of the fear tactic, then I would emphasize the love and brilliance and reward for the righteous just to ensnare the rest that would have fallen away.
I would test the faith of my followers by making them sacrifice the most without threatening future returns. I would do this by telling them that those who partake in sexual activities are going to the hot place. Then I would know who my true followers are. But that would give me only one generation. Maybe I'd tell them that sexual behaviors out of marriage will earn you the hot place. I can't tell them not to have sex at all or else I would get no more tithe-paying babies out of the deal.
And crank out more babies so that I multiply those that are under my command.
Teach others that my words are the best so that they come under my command.
I would make people afraid of suicide so that they'll stick around and pay tithes.
I will glorify blind faith so that when people are confronted with other views, they will stand by my side no matter how convincing the other views are. I will even make them think I sent the other views as a test of their faith.
I will tell them that if they follow me they will be free to choose right and wrong, but I will punish the disbelievers disproportionate to their betrayal so that none of my conformist flock will stray.
Marriage is Obsolete
In the olden days when surviving required a man and a woman to work together no matter the costs and the man was dominant over the woman, the house had a tested and proved success rate. There was a leader and a follower and women stayed at home to raise the kids, to cook, to wash the clothes, to knit, and to do odd little things to bring in a little extra money on the side.
Nowadays women are equal to men. Neither wants to stay home, neither works at home for money, It works best when the man and the woman are a team, each watching the others back and going out of their way to pick up the slack without resentment - the chinese knew this and had match-makers to pair up a good team and then they had tons of kids because they could. A good team will be more successful than couple paired for love - though both is still an option. But it rarely works that way. The next best option if for there to be a dominant and a submissive like the olden days. After a few years, the submissive gets tired of being the submissive, but the dominant does not want to share power or switch to being the submissive. The submissive gets so sick of being the underdog that the marriage collapses. It doesn't have to be a marriage - it can be any serious relationship that lacks the proper teamwork.
Now that the shift has happened to where women have the same rights as men and they don't have to be the default submissive, suddenly the dynamic of marriage has changed. But the system did not account for this. Now a man and woman are not so dependent on each other for survival. The teamwork is not requisite to provide the next meal. In the olden days marriage was the final adventure for so many people. Now Hollywood and easy travel has shown them that there is a big world with so much opportunity. And with a weakened religious backing, marriage is thought of a more a trap to keep you from opportunity and adventure. Marriage is outdated.
Plus you can just weigh the pros and cons. Consider two options: A is that I can get married to the woman of my dreams, spend the rest of my life with her, share a car, share a house, have a couple kids. B is to not get married, share a house, share a car, have a couple kids. A means I get a tax discount and risk divorce, which means half the house goes to someone I'll no longer be sharing the house with, the car situation becomes a hastle, my retirement just got cut in half, and the split is probably very bitter and very expensive. Option B does not give me the discount, but makes the split easier and cheaper and we might even stay friends afterwords. If you can guarantee the same level of happiness and a hundred percent rate of staying with that person until you die, then go with A - you save on taxes. But since you just flat out don't know the certainty, I see no reason to choose A over B. B has no risks. You can love and trust each other just as much and make the same commitments if that's your thing. I will never consider A better than B. The risks simply aren't worth it.
P.S. The divorce rate in America right now is over 70 percent. Everyone is a hopeless romantic and think they are special and that they will work out. I am watching you with 70 percent certainty that it will not work out and that the tax discounts will be less than your divorce settlement, the dress, the rings, and the cake combined. Even if you are part of the 30 percent that are married until they die, less than half are happy together and rest would have been better off joining the 70.
There have been two marriages that I know of in my adult life that I have trust will last all the way. Three of my high school friends got married, two to each other and the third to a man I didn't know. The two that got married to each other can be serious and have a very good team system going and are willing to sacrifice everything to make sure the other is comfortable and happy. The third is very sweet and innocent and even though there is a level of seriousness, they will soon go through a time of testing where they'll realize it's not easy. I trust their level of devotion to each other to stick with it through the sticky spots. That's only two marriages that I have significant trust in. The rest I'd place 70 percent of my money on their failure.
Common Beliefs and Misconceptions of Mormons
I was born and raised Mormon. I studied it more than I studied in school for years. I went inactive (quit being Mormon) over four years ago and I think I still know the religion better than most Mormons do, not to sound all-intelligent or anything.
The most common question I get when I say I'm from Utah is "oh, are you Mormon?" The second most common question I get is "How many wives you got?" I kindly explain to them that I am not married, at which time they ask "Okay. So how many girlfriends you got?" Bastards will never learn.
Polygamy is a common misconception about Mormonism. This is one of my few defenses for them. Polygamy was done away with over a hundred years ago. Any Mormon that takes part in polygamy is immediately excommunicated. Mormons are not polygamists. Those who remain polygamists might still call themselves Mormons or Fundamentalist Mormons, but the mainstream Mormon Church will excommunicate them on the spot. Now I will go so far as to even defend the idea of polygamy a little. It was not a bunch of horny men out getting as much pussy as they could. It was a time when many of the men had been killed in battle, a time when women had much higher numbers in the church than men, and a time when women were not allowed to own property. Most of the polygamist marriages involved widows with children that could only be provided for if they joined a polygamist marriage. It was a means to survival, not a party. And since it was a means to survival, usually those who could provide best were chosen to be polygamist husbands. The man did not approach the woman. Instead, the bishop of the ward would approach the man and say something like "Hey, Brother Johnson. Mrs. Williams just lost her husband. She's not allowed to own her farm and her oldest son is only six years old. Could you marry her so that her son has a fatherly figure and that they have a stable household?" At which time the man said yes or no for whatever reasons he had. By the time polygamy was abolished in the church, the membership had grown to a high enough number that women didn't outnumber men by so much. Women had a much better chance of marrying someone who was single than they had fifty years before and feminism was taking hold and getting women more equality.
Mormonism is a branch of Christianity. The name Mormon is a key figure in the history, but is not the man the people worship. Mormons believe in three seperate entities that are considered gods: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is thought of as a team player sent to whisper the Lord's message in our ears and consciences. Jesus is team captain/coach and was sent here to lead and guide us and set an example. God the Father aka Heavenly Father is the owner of the team and is responsible for our creation and is the final and absolute authority on everything. Mormons worship Heavenly Father by standing by Jesus' example.
Mormons believe we are all children of Heavenly Father. He created our spirits and was responsible for the creation of our bodies to put our spirits into. We were sent to earth to test our faith and to find happiness. They even call it the Plan of Happiness, where everyone who participates properly will be happy forever.
Mormons are officially called members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or Latter-Day Saints - LDS for short) and get the nickname "Mormon" from the Book of Mormon. It is a supplement to the bible - another testament to stand by the bible and support the same concepts and teachings. It is a supposed record of a people that left Jerusalem and landed in the Americas and started a civilization in the Americas - what is essentially the indians. The man named Mormon was one of the descendents of these people from Jerusalem who compiled the record now known as the Book of Mormon - and he did this over fifteen hundred years ago. It was translated into English in the early 1800s and brought forth for the whole world to partake of. This book will bring a man closer to god than any other book out there. It is the most true book. Believe what you want. I'll tell you this: the emphasis was disproportionately placed on the Book of Mormon. They hounded you to read over and over the Book of Mormon, claiming that it gets better every time, yet I still don't know the names of most of the desciples in the New Testament.
I don't want to go into the details of Mormon beliefs. I just want to point out a few key things that seem not right to me. When the church was first organized, it was set up to emphasize free choice, love, peace, and happiness to the worthy. It was not set up to make people feel guilty for being human or use fear of hell as a tactic to put people in line. Unfortunately over the generations it has been perverted so that if you go to a Mormon church now, chances are you'll feel the guilt and the fear and the hate. Most of what made the original church beautiful is no longer there. Now it is just a bunch of people claiming their teachings are true, just like every other church.
A question I had when growing up is why don't Mormons use the cross as a symbol of their faith? Mormons don't wear crucifixes on their necklaces, don't have crucifixes in their houses, and don't put them anywhere in their church either. The reason for this is because Mormons believe the crucifix to be a symbol of Christ's death and they believe his resurrection was a far greater miracle than the sacrifice of his life.
What's up with the temples? Temples are a house of the lord where only the really righteous can go. Nowadays the definition of righteousness is so skewed that I can't stomach the idea of going into a temple even though they are incredibly beautiful and the attitude present in them is enough to humble most people. For example: tattoos are forbidden in Mormonism. A lady that was blinded in a car accident had her make-up tattooed to her face. Instead of making an exception for her extenuating circumstance, they barred her from the temple stating that everyone has their "trials and tribulations" that they must overcome with faith and obedience - a car accident and blindness was no excuse for disobedience.
And it's true: faithful Mormons will not watch R rated movies. I once walked into the house of a more open-minded family and could not understand why they had the Matrix in their movie collection. It simply made no sense. After I went inactive and watched a few, I realized that most movies that effectively change adults to be better people just happen to be rated R. Movies that are meant to make a difference usually involve violence and swearing and end up R. They will argue with you stating that "we're not supposed to watch R movies because they're violent" but then they will go rent the most violent PG-13 movie they can find. Walking down the mall you encounter more swearing and talk of sex than you will hear in any movie.
Mormons don't smoke or drink. They don't drink coffee. Most don't drink coffee or tea because they think caffeine is bad, even going so far as to avoid caffeinated beverages like Mountain Dew and keeping track of which brands of root beer are caffeinated - but they will eat chocolate until their teeth rot.
A few things Mormons teach are not even official church doctrine. Other official doctrines leave vast holes that when one fills in the gaps finds some strange things. They believe no invading army will ever reach the Missouri River where it crosses through the state of Missouri. Many believe that America and China will go to war and that China will invade and the war will last exactly a year and a day before America reaches complete victory. Many believe in trying strange and unproven medicines claiming they are old herbal medicines whose properties have been studied by people for centuries.
The thing that bothers me most about Mormons is that they are judgmental. They believe in what is taught to them by their leaders and only what is taught by their leaders - going so far as to set aside without consideration such concepts as evolution, bioethics, abortion, gay marriage, and even political parties. If Mr. Monson publicly stated that all good Mormons should vote for Hillary, she would win Utah by a crazy landslide. They accept without question (those who question are punished. Those who fill in the gaps without approval are punished.) and outside thought cannot sneak in under any circumstances. They will then avoid you at all costs and make sure their kids avoid you too - going to far as to being blatently rude because you believe something different or because you smoke or swear. They are the least accepting or tolerant people I have ever met. Right now, the only people I am that judgmental against or intollerant against are Mormons themselves.
Don't get me wrong, there are great people in every religion. I made friends with a bunch of Mormons in high school that I remain friends with even today. Even then, my group of high school friends is limited to about fifteen to twenty people out of a school of fifteen hundred students.
I personally feel sorry for those that are my age that believe. They do so without thinking about it and they will feel guilty for being human their entire lives. It will drag them down unless they embrace it, and even then they will be feeling guilt off and on their entire lives. Even if they decide to leave the church, most will have lingering questions like "what if" or "am I really a child of god?" People need something to hope for and they want it desperately to be the truth - so desperately that they will convince themselves what they're hoping for is the truth. Those in charge have bought into it and make sure to replace themselves with others who have boughten into it. It is faithful blind leading the faithful blind. There is an absence of solid proof everywhere, yet anyone who seeks proof is thought of as faithless.
I want to share an example of one of these gaps in faith that I was thought odd for filling in. Mormons believe that heaven will be where we can become gods ourselves. If we go to heaven, God will teach us how to create worlds of our own and populate them with our children, who will in turn worship us. As man is, God once was. As God is, man can potentially come. Someone even went so far as to tell me that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are creating worlds of their own even as we speak. This lead me to fill in a gap like so: if god was once a man and he went to his heaven and learned to be a god himself, doesn't that mean he had a god that he worshipped? A grandfather god, so to speak? And doesn't that mean he had brother and sister gods as well? Since he created us, that means he is the only god we are authorized to worship, but there are other gods out there. Even for asking these questions and postulating these ideas I was thought of as a source of bad information and people wouldn't listen to my arguments - even though they are very valid and logical arguments.
Another closed-minded debate I encountered was about evolution. The genetic variation in mankind does not support the idea of Adam and Eve being the only two humans at the beginning of time. If Adam and Eve were the only two humans and the entire human race sprang from their fertility and long life, then some changes have happened to the human genome since then. For example: hair ears is a gene that is on the y chromosome. That means that a man that has hairy ears will pass on the gene to all of his sons. If Adam had hairy ears, every man on the planet would have hairy ears. If Adam did not have hairy ears, no man on the planet should have hairy ears. But if you look at the population, there are a little of both groups. If Adam was colorblind, a third of the population would be colorblind. If Eve was colorblind then two-thirds of the population would be colorblind. However, those aren't the proportions. Change has taken place. It's undeniable using logic. Evolution has such a bad connotation in Mormonism that the mention of it will close the mind of most Mormons you talk to. I was once told God will change the genetic makeup of people for whatever reason - cursing Cain and his decendents with black skin as an example. THAT IS EVOLUTION. God used evolution as his tool. You can even tell a Mormon this and they will still disregard your entire argument. Mormons are for the most part closed-minded and judgmental. That is why I can't stand to be around them. That's why I got the hell out of Utah. Fuck that place!