Here is one thing that bothers me about the church. Diffuse boundaries. I understand that the "reason" is that people are just concerned neighbors, or brothers and sisters, or priesthood leaders, also that they care about your welfare and well-being. I know that these are official reasons, but it seems to play into a culture of control and diffuse boundaries. What do I mean by that? Let me explain each in turn.
Culture of Control
There is a lot of behavioral control in the church. Now, let me preface this by saying that I do understand the official reasons. The church just wants to see people sticking within the rules so that they don't sin. If people can keep from sinning too much, they can be receptive to the holy ghost. The holy ghost will purify you and make you eligible for the celestial kingdom. Which is the end-goal of life. Never mind that the rules for what is sinful and what is not comes from the church itself. Never mind that the goal and the path are both created by the church. The whole situation is circular, the prerequisites, requirements, goals, and solutions all come from the church. Whether you buy into the circular logic or not is a different story, but you need to realize that this situation exists.
Back to control. The church has a lot of rules. The church has a lot of ways to try and enforce its rules. It starts before baptism even. "If you don't follow all of our rules, you can't join, you had a strong feeling, so you have to join now." A need is created ex nihilo. This need can only be satisfied by the church. To satisfy this need you have to follow the rules as exactly as possible. To make sure that you are following the rules exactly (and punishing yourself appropriately for any misstep) the church also subjects you to probing interviews (more on this later).
Now that this need has been created, and you already have subjected yourself to the rules in order to keep getting that need satisfied. This is accomplished through the sacrament every week. You need to be worthy to keep taking the sacrament. A minor slip and you don't take it for a week. The sacrament is also touted as the most sacred ordinance that happens outside the temple. Why? So that you have to keep coming back for more. Speaking of the temple, that is the last level of control. Now you not only have to have agreed to it once, and keep self-policing for ever more, now you need to tell the bishop and stake president every single time you slip up a little bit, just so that you can keep going to the temple. You also have to let him ask you probing questions about what might be wrong or sinful in your life to prevent you from going to the temple.
All of this is bought into and perpetuated by the general membership. This includes home and visiting teachers, elder's quorums and relief societies, bishoprics, high councils, sunday school presidencies, and any other person on the ward council or any other leadership group in the church. These are the people that will check up on you to make sure that you continue to perform your duties, keep a strong testimony, and lead a sin-free life.
This also includes tithing. The church has revealed that this must be 10% of your income, this lets you make the excruciating decision of whether or not this is before or after taxes, or on gifts, or any other nit-picky choice.
Now, you might say you don't absolutely have to follow the rules, but let me remind you that you are part of a group that has instilled in you an artificial need to keep coming back to them for more "spiritual nourishment." They have made sure that you believe that they are the only source of spiritual nourishment, and that you will never find enough on your own. So, they give you a need and the capacity to fulfill it, so nice of them. The only catch is that you have to do exactly as they tell you to in order to continue to be "happy."
Culture of Diffuse Boundaries
This brings me back to diffuse boundaries. Why is the church so invasive? Everything is everyone's business. You don't go to church? Someone will be assigned to contact you. Don't perform your calling perfectly? Bishop will ask you what's wrong. Don't do your home or visiting teaching? Don't worry, you will only have about two talks and three lessons this month reaming you for not having done it, or not having done it right.
Not only that, but the bishop and stake president also reserve the right to question you about everything and anything. This includes all of your behavior. Whether or not you are drinking alcohol, tea, or coffee; whether or not you are having sex or masturbating; what kind of underwear you are wearing and how; what you do all day on Sunday; who you associate with; and if you are paying the church enough money. This is all supposedly to help you keep on the track that you want to keep on, but it is invasive into every single aspect of your life. The weirdest part is that everybody is perfectly okay with this.
Boundaries are a natural part of human existence that the church completely ignores and disrespects. All of these things have less to do with your relationship to god and more to do with how closely tied you are to the church. The church will get you involved and do everything it can to keep you. It ignores the fact that your relationship to god is inherently personal and private and does not need to be dictated by any entity, this includes a church.
Control and boundaries violations do not fly in my book, not anymore. Nor should they in anyone's book. Yet members let this happen repeatedly to themselves in their lives.
Post a Comment