I felt compelled to post this to kind of stick up for my buddy a little bit. I'm not sticking up for mormons....only sticking up for a friend that happens to be a mormon. Some may say he is secretly trying to convert me, but he really is, just a friend that happens to be a mormon.
I am in no way endorsing mormons or have any desire to be one. The only way I would be a mormon is if the only other choice was jw. I have known him for 15 years now. MB (my buddy) is 52yrs old and raised as mormon (in Utah no less). He was a missionary overseas, but I don't remember where. He is an elder, has been for many years. He is also a bible school teacher. He is educated and has a masters in business admin.
In the 15 years I have known him he has never, ever, not even once, mentioned anything about religious beliefs or even brought up a scripture from the bible, other than to say that he was a mormon. Not until I went to him with a religious question. When I did, he didn't give me the answer I expected. He made me find the answer myself. He only directed me to the bible and gave me general info on where to find what I was looking for. His advice to me was to read it myself. If I was sincerely looking for answers, I would understand what was there. I think this was the best advice that he could have possibly given me.
Since then, (several months now) we have talked about all kinds of religious stuff. Always initiated by me though. The only time he brings it up is to ask me if I found what I was looking for. He never takes it any farther unless I pursue it.
He isn't your typical mormon. At least not what my perception of a typical mormon is. We are close enough that he even confides in me with some very deep and personal feelings. Including the excommunication of his wife and all of the events surrounding it. Not something a lot of people would be willing to open up about, especially siince this is happening right now....not a past event. I really feel for what he is going through. As he really does for me in my current situation.
Mb has even had run-ins with his mormon "superiors" because of disagreements over what is taught and believed (remember, he is an elder and teacher). He related an experience to me of the time he had such a disagreement with the bishop over a teaching that he was hauled before the mormon version of a judicial commitee. Even then, it got so bad that they ended up in front of the bishops "superiors". The end result was the issue was dropped. The reason being that although mb was not in line with mormon teaching on this subject he was in fact being truthful and what he taught did not undermine mormon beliefs. Even though they disagreed....the message was still the same.
The way he handles it now is kind of cool. He has a corner of the stage that is his. It's HIS corner. When he speaks from the podium or the center of the stage, it is mormon teachings. When he speaks from HIS corner, it is his personal feelings on the matter and they differ from traditional mormon views. When I ask him what he believes on a subject, if he has a differing opinion, he will ask me what I want....mormon viewpoint or his viewpoint.
I can ask him absolutely anything and can be very blunt about it. I even throw way off the wall stuff at him just to see what kind of response he gives me. I told him once that it seemed to me that god was more like satan and satan was more like god. God seems to like to slap the snot out of people whenever they didn't bow down to him yet satan is always willing to accept me with open arms, never judging, never condemning. Satan wants me to have ALL of the pleasures that I desire with no strings attached. Who sounds like more fun and loving? LOL He really liked that one. But, we sat down and had an intelligent discussion. He knows that I don't really believe this. I just use it as a learning tool. He actually likes my method...thinks it helps to give me a better understanding.
We were sitting in my office today and out of the blue I said, " ya' know mb....I hate to say this, but I really think that you have been brainwashed by the mormons....they're misleading you". For a split second he had a shocked look on his face. He then started laughing and we had a good discussion on the subject. He told me that I make talking about the bible fun.
I also asked him about shunning and he said NO. It is excommunication and shunning is not involved. For the excommunicated..no entry into the sacred temple, no partaking of the sacrament, no comments during bible school, no comments during any sermon or bible study. Communication and association is not affected. Mb even has a 15 yr old son who doesn't want to be a mormon and doesn't attend the church at all. According to mb...it is his decision and has no bearing on family or personal relationship. Mb has the crazy idea that shunning would only push him farther away.
Sorry to ramble, but I just felt the need to defend my buddy a little. He is just a very good friend that happens to be a mormon. His choice of religion doesn't matter. He is a friend that I care about and respect.
Thanks for listening.