Pornography, Bankruptcy and Depression

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. . .

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Colossians 2:16-17, 20-23)

I’ve been thinking more about these verses. It’s been said that Utah has the highest rates per capita of internet and cable pornography, bankruptcy and use of psychotropic medication. I know that the LDS church is at least aware of the pornography problem and is trying to deal with it. The one time I visited a Priesthood session, the lesson was all about avoiding pornography. The discussion among the men then focused on how it was the “world’s” problem that we had to protect our children from. I know enough about pornography use in Evangelical churches to know that this was a lot of hot air to distract from the substance of the lesson (probably 4 out of 10 men in that class had looked up internet pornography within that week).

The problem with pornography and financial irresponsibility is that they are private or secret sins. They’re not the kind of things you can tell about a person by their public behavior. Usually you don’t know until a person becomes severely addicted to either one. It actually makes a lot of sense to me that a church that has such a huge focus on outward behavior over all else would find itself with an epidemic with pornography and bankruptcy. As Paul states regulations have an appearance of wisdom but they lack any real value in restraining sensual indulgences. Regulations get people to do the right thing when they are being watched, but when they’re alone they don’t have the character to exhibit integrity (doing the right thing when no one is watching).

Depression is by no means a sin, but it’s not the kind of thing we want our faith to produce. It’s a complex and highly personal problem. But in my experience one of the things that exacerbates depression is living a duplicitous life. Acting one way in public but feeling another way on the inside. Without the ability to be authentic, to admit that you aren’t perfect and are in sin, while being required to pretend everything is hunky-dory you can expect to find yourself in need of prozac at some point.

I’m more than happy to attend church with sinners. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of church I want to be a part of, a place where people openly can confess their sin and seek help and encouragement. Where grace and mercy are the response rather than judgment and condemnation. Their may be less “righteousness” expressed by the congregation but there will be far greater emotional health (and lets be honest every church is full of nothing but sinners).

If you think I’m just getting after Mormons on this one, you need to read a little bit more about my background here.

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31 thoughts on “Pornography, Bankruptcy and Depression

  1. Tim said: I’m more than happy to attend church with sinners. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of church I want to be a part of, a place where people openly can confess their sin and seek help and encouragement. Where grace and mercy are the response rather than judgment and condemnation. Their may be less “righteousness” expressed by the congregation but there will be far greater emotional health (and lets be honest every church is full of nothing but sinners).

    While the alleged ties between the LDS church and bankruptcy/depression/porn may be something other than what has been purported, I agree that judgmentalism is a serious problem in much of the LDS church. In person and (much more) online, I have come across people who have faced serious problems with it. I think it’s a common reason why people leave the church (although I have no data to back up that assertion).

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. I am fortunate to be in a ward where there isn’t a lot of condemnation. Some of our members have openly discussed in our priesthood group the struggles they have faced and are facing. We’re not all the way there yet, but many of us are working on it. And we have a stake president who’s aware of the judgmentalistic tendency among many LDS and has spoken about it many times, particularly in the way we deal with our youth. Not all young people will stay in the church, he realizes, but they don’t need to be shoved out by negative and judgmental attitudes either. In his words, “we’ll take them however we can get them,” because that’s what Jesus did.

    The problem was worse in a ward I used to live in. Unfortunately, my daughter chose not to finish seminary rather than deal with comments from the teacher about the way she dressed. Of course, the most self-righteous among the students were the ones who would use anti-gay slurs without batting an eye. (OK, here I am being judgmental…)

    One of the things that I like about the LDS church is that we do have high standards, and that we make a conscious effort to live Christlike lives. But, as Tim pointed out, there is all too often a flip side to that, and it’s not good. And, to uses a clilché, judgmentalism can become like a cancer, which is one of the reasons Jesus why condemned it and hypocrisy more than anything else, as least as far as what we know from the New Testament.

    I’m a little bit sensitive to this because my background is somewhat similar to Tim’s, although the evangelical church I grew up in was not as severe as his (close in some areas, though). I think that, in general, evangelical Protestantism has improved in this area since I was growing up (although there are plenty of negative trends in modern evangelicalism as well).

    Collectively, we Mormons do judge a lot based on things that aren’t all that important. And it’s not right. In theory, considering what we believe about the Atonement, we LDS should be the least judgmentalistic people around. But we’re not there yet.

    By the way, if you can get ahold of it, an excellent book on this subject is The Dangers of Growing Up In A Christian Home by Donald E. Sloat. It’s a book that every Christian, LDS or not, who has had to deal with judgmentalism growing up should read.

  2. Tim, I’d be careful about throwing around the bankruptcy/depression statistics. First off, Utah’s numbers really aren’t much different from those of any other state in the intermountain west. Secondly, the stats have all the hallmarks of being one-sided, lacking in nuance, non-explanatory, and easily subverted to propaganda and agendas.

    My feeling is that there are too many additional factors that could explain the stats.

    As far as bankruptcy, that really could be due to any number of things. For instance, it could be due to lax state laws regulating mortgage lending. It could simply be due to the boom-or-bust model of economy that afflicts most western states. It could be due to more permissive collection laws that allow collection agencies to harass debtors more severely.

    Then again, there may be the religious tie-in you are implying. But I’d note that the bankruptcy and depression rates don’t seem to be any different between Mormons and non-Mormons.

    More needs to be done here study-wise before Mormonism’s critics really have any right to start throwing these stats around as indicative of anything religious.

  3. “It actually makes a lot of sense to me that a church that has such a huge focus on outward behavior over all else….”

    And what church would that be? Oh, I get it! You’re talking about the LDS Church. Of course, you know that that accusation is completely wrong and necessarily irksome to your LDS readers (to say nothing of your non-LDS readers who value fair and accurate portrayals of others). Now, to get past that mistake to the substance of the post….

    I’m not sure what is your point (or points). I get what you say about bankruptcy and pornography—they are private sins. But I’m not sure I follow your logic about why they would be high in Utah. In fact, I believe that bankruptcy trends around the nation are pretty baffling to financial experts (e.g. why is MO high and TX low; why are NV and UT both high?).

    But maybe your real point was on the place of regulations in a church. As you say, Paul himself states that regulations do not have the power to change a person on the inside. I agree with that—just to be clear. But I think you go from that to saying that regulations aren’t valuable at all. I don’t think that is what Paul is saying.

    As for your paragraph on depression, I think your diagnosis oversimplifies a complex problem. Is it based on data from mental health professionals? Does it take into account trends from neighboring states which have small LDS populations?

    I’m not playing LDS apologist here: I used to live in Utah and I don’t want to live there again. There are problems with the culture that don’t sit well with me (consumerism, mostly). But I see the same problems in So. California—another place I don’t want to live.

  4. Depression is a medical condition. Not a weakness. The use of medication is appropriate. Would one deny insulin to a diabetic?

    Utah may have more issues with depression because of its northern location, and the effects of Seasonal Affective
    Disorder. Look at other nothern states and you will also see a large number of people on anti-depression meds.

    Porn is a worldwide problem, as are the economic issues

  5. Let me be absolutely clear that I don’t fault anyone for taking medication to treat depression. But I think we also need to recognize that there are elements of our environment that compound the problems of depression.

  6. Tim, I’d be careful about throwing around the bankruptcy/depression statistics. First off, Utah’s numbers really aren’t much different from those of any other state in the intermountain west. Secondly, the stats have all the hallmarks of being one-sided, lacking in nuance, non-explanatory, and easily subverted to propaganda and agendas.

    O how we’ll make this chorus swell,
    All is well! All is well!

  7. Tim could you pull up some numbers for us to compare?
    like bankruptcies by state, and same with depression?

    The porn thing, it’s not limited to any one group and is a worlwide problem.

  8. O how we’ll make this chorus swell,
    All is well! All is well!

    If there are problems in a church (any church), they should be acknowledged, not swept under the rug. And if valid statistics point to a problem, then so be it. Taking problems seriously is healthier in the long run than denial (but more difficult in the short run).

    The problem with the figures you mentioned in your original post is that (at least from what I’ve been able to find out when I came across similar information earlier) they may point to problems with the LDS church and/or its culture, or they may not. The closer I’ve examined them (and I’m talking about in the past, I haven’t taken the time today), the less I saw there. There just wasn’t enough there to draw many conclusions, just enough to be intriguing and point to the need for further study.

    That said, I think you had some valid points to make about the church subculture. It would be a shame for arguments about the statistics to get in the way of discussing some serious issues.

    If you can point to how your church (or churches you’re familiar with) have been able to encourage Christlike living without resorting to judgmentalism and guilt-tripping, that’s something we all could learn from. That would certainly be more useful than getting caught up in arguments over how “bad” Utah really is and why.

  9. Great points Eric,

    I intentionally didn’t cite the specific stats and went with the more vague “it’s been said” because I didn’t want to get into the value, accuracy or relevance of those stats. To be sure, all three problems can be found throughout the world. They aren’t specific to Utah or LDS. But it at least appears that Utah may have a higher than normal average for all three and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Utah’s culture is heavily influenced by the LDS church.

    One thing my church does to help people who are actively struggling with addictive sin is a Monday night program called “The Refuge”. It’s a confidential addiction recovery group run by lay people (with a pastor overseeing the whole thing). They cover everything, drugs, alcohol, abortion recovery, sexual identity, eating disorders and general codependency. People are allowed to come and admit their brokenness without consequence (the consequences are playing themselves out every where else in their lives) and then be encouraged to follow a plan out of addiction. Many Protestant churches have started programs like this, they are often called “Freedom in Recovery”.

    http://www.rockharbor.org/content/contentpage.aspx?pageid=149

    We also offer free classes on financial stewardship that come with personal financial mentors. There is a very popular program called Crown Ministries
    http://www.crown.org/

  10. Tim, comments 5 and 6 do not address the concerns raised.

    Eric, “The problem with the figures you mentioned in your original post is that they may point to problems with the LDS church and/or its culture, or they may not…. That said, I think you had some valid points to make about the church subculture.”

    Or does he? That is the question: are the problems part of the Church subculture or the Utah subculture? I don’t think Tim has the data to back up his (still implicit) claims, so I think he should retract the post.

    “That would certainly be more useful than getting caught up in arguments over how “bad” Utah really is and why.”

    But that is the whole point of the post: Utah is bad because of the LDS Church.

  11. Tim, I was typing #10 as you posted #9. I think your second paragraph (“I intentionally didn’t cite….”) is a textbook example of hearsay evidence.

    As for the programs on addiction and finances offered by your church, they sound great. The LDS Church recently began an addiction recovery program, developed with the assistance of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s open to addicts, friends of addicts, and spouses—members or not. At least in my area, it has been immediately helpful.

  12. Tim, I was typing #10 as you posted #9. I think your second paragraph (”I intentionally didn’t cite….”) is a textbook example of hearsay evidence.

    I think that’s a valid criticism of my post. I’m owning that I’m not relying on anything more than hearsay.

    Or does he? That is the question: are the problems part of the Church subculture or the Utah subculture? I don’t think Tim has the data to back up his (still implicit) claims, so I think he should retract the post.

    O how we’ll make this chorus swell,
    All is well! All is well!

  13. I imagine Mormons ought to be bothered that, at the very least, they don’t seem to be any better at financial stewardship and personal happiness than any other group.

    Tim, I’ve just heard this canard thrown out too often by people with very little to offer in the way of constructive criticism, but more just an axe to grind with Mormons generally, to simply let the bare assertion slide without any attempt at nuance.

    Is all well in Utah?

    I don’t think so. You’ll note I don’t live there any more. There’s a reason for that. But calling for both sides of the issue to be recognized is not crying “all is well.”

  14. Seth, “Mormons ought to be bothered that…they don’t seem to be….” Seem, seem, seem. That’s the problem with this whole post: it’s based on what “seems” to be the case only if we are totally unscientific. Obesity is epidemic in Missouri, Missouri has a lot of Protestants, therefore Protestantism correlates with obesity. It’s just silly.

    And it is a big problem too. Why? Because it gets people to fight the “cause” of the problem when in fact, that is not the cause. All that effort spent in the wrong direction! And it turns attention away from real “causes” to go chase phantoms. What better way is there to keep people mired in pornography and debt than to get them to fight the wrong battles? Oh, I know: to get them to fight against something that is actually helping them.

    Tim, repeating the chorus from that hymn is not a response. Rather it suggests:
    a) You do not want dialogue on your site
    b) You do not know what the hymn is about
    c) You know you are wrong and refuse to fess up
    d) Your computer is under the control of someone other than the rational, thoughtful, careful “Tim” who normally posts on this blog
    e) Some combination of a-d

  15. Ok, since we’re throwing around statistics here, I thought I’d mention one which pertains to my state, Oklahoma. Oklahoma has the highest divorce rate in the nation. I believe this is true because that’s what has been reported (I’ve watched, listened to and read the reports myself) on the tv news, radio, and newspapers here. Oklahoma is also in the Bible belt, and is loaded with Southern Baptists, Pentacostals, and other fundamentalist and Evangelical types. One of the tv channels here did an interview with a local Evangelical preacher. He seemed totally unfazed about the situation–certainly it didn’t have anything to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ! No one here would ever question the truth of the gospel just because we happen to be divorcing left and right in this state. It makes me laugh how, when the statistics go against Evangelical types, it’s almost always downplayed in the media and elsewhere. But whenever a bad statistic comes out of Utah—Evangelical types are all over it!
    And when it comes to the hymn, “Come, Come Ye Saints” there was a time in my life, after I had fled Evangelicalism, that I would meditate on that hymn, I would concentrate on the words, “How shall we think, to earn a great reward, if we now, shun the fight.” “Gird up your loins, fresh courage take, our God will never us forsake.” That’s what the Christian life is–a fight! One thing I’ve always appreciated about all the LDS wards I’ve attended is that they have all spoken very plainly about how doing the right thing is hard, and that “You may be the only one in your workplace or school who wants to do the right thing.” They emphasize doing the right thing, even when it is hard, even when you may suffer for it socially or in other ways. In my opinion, judgmentalism is a problem among the more traditional RLDS as well. It’s one of my faults too. 😦 It is hard, however, for me to try to adopt a more forgiving position towards some Evangelicals when I see and hear all the judgmentalism coming out of the Evangelical side towards the LDS AND the RLDS. Before I became born again, all my life I put up with garbage from Evangelicals and other fundamentalist types because I was RLDS.
    If a person is putting pressure on themselves–if they think that Jesus expects them to be perfect and earn their own salvation–then yes, they are probably going to have problems. But I believe there are Evangelicals who put this kind of pressure on themselves too. I also believe that there are Evangelical environments which are toxic, and which can produce depression in their members.

  16. Brian I’m not suggesting that people leave the LDS church so they can control their pornography problem. I’m saying that the LDS church is emphasizing the wrong thing if they actually want to help people.

    I think many Protestant churches are in the same boat and that’s why our obesity and divorce numbers are so appalling. We don’t make disciples. We make sure that people are “just” saved and nothing more. I’m willing to admit that we have a bunch of fat people who get divorced for the wrong reasons and speak about what we need to do to change that as often as I can in Protestant circles.

    One thing I know, simply telling people, “stop eating so much and don’t get divorced” does nothing to actually make them the kind of people who don’t need to be told.

    I’m quoting that hymn out of context because it seems to be the only complimentary response to a person who is sticking their fingers in their ears and chanting “na-na-na-na-na-na-im-not-listening”. (no matter how eloquently they may be doing it).

  17. I learned in my tax classes in college that Utah has some of the highest bankruptcy rates in the country, and some of the highest incidences of tax fraud. Is that inherent to Mormonism? Who knows?

    It seems to me that it’s a bigger deal when that kind of stuff is going on in Mormonism than in other churches because the Church prides itself on having such high standards. These high standards produce some great stuff–LDS teenagers are the most likely of religious teens to abstain from sex, and to say that it’s because of their religion. LDS teens are also more likely to say they believe in their religion than teens in other denominations. I think this is a tribute to the strong youth programs the church has.

    However, pornography and mismanaging of money are big problems in the LDS Church. First, pornography, at least, should keep you out of the temple (although not a specific temple question, I believe that one of the apostles said that at least 5 temple interview questions cover pornography). Which hurts the overall work and mission of the church. The Church has acknowledged that these are big issues by talking about them a lot in Conferences and church meetings. (Although I’m honestly not sure why these talks are usually addressed just to the men in Priesthood–there are women who suffer from pornography addiction as well.)
    The Church also has a pamphlet on handling money–which I’ve read multiple times. While I think that the advice given there is good, it could be better.

  18. Tim, “I’m saying that the LDS church is emphasizing the wrong thing if they actually want to help people.”

    Nonsense. You are throwing out statistics that you admittedly (#12) cannot correlate to actual problems in the LDS Church, and yet you go ahead and blame them on the LDS Church. You would be more responsible if you would try to find that out before launching an attack campaign against the wrong enemy.

    Don’t you see the irony of your statement? “…emphasizing the wrong thing…” You don’t know what the source of the problems in Utah actually are, but you jump ahead and start pointing your finger anyway. Anyone who doesn’t follow your faulty logic is “living in denial.” I’m not denying that there are problems in Utah, and I’m not suggesting that the LDS Church, it’s leaders, or members are perfect. But I am denying your “logic.”

    “I’m willing to admit that we have a bunch of fat people who get divorced for the wrong reasons and speak about what we need to do to change that as often as I can in Protestant circles.” But that’s not what you’re doing here against the LDS Church. No, with Protestants you say, “Folks, a lot of our members have problem X; what can we do to help them?”; whereas here you say, “A lot of Mormons have problem X, and clearly it’s due to a fault in their doctrine.” So don’t try to say that you’re playing even-steven.

    As far as your “na-na-na-na-na-na-im-not-listening” remark—accusing me of doing that is not convincing. You’d have to show how I’m doing that. For example, you could show actual evidence that the LDS Church is the root of the problems in Utah, and then I could deny it, and then you’d have your evidence. On the other hand, I have accused you of using poor judgment and misusing data, and you have responded by saying, “Yup, I’m guilty, but I’m going to keep doing it anyway.”

    But if my “eloquent” responses to you (which, I’ll point out, are actual responses; i.e. I am actually reading and engaging with what you write) are not what you want, perhaps I should just quote, quote, and re-quote “Thou shalt not bear false witness”?

  19. Brian.

    I’m not engaging in a discussion about the stats because IT”S NOT THE POINT. If you want to say that the stats are all false and that Mormons have the opposite of a problem with bankruptcy, pornography and depression, have at it. You win.

    My point is not that the church has a problem with these issues. My point is to point out that Paul writes in your own scriptures that regulations have a false appearance of wisdom and have little value in restraining indulgences.

    If leadership in the LDS church is concerned about these issues in the life of the faithful, I think they can find a solution in the words of Paul. On the pornography issues alone, I think there is plenty of evidence both officially and unofficially that the brethren know there is a problem and are concerned about it.

  20. Tim,

    I usually find you easy to talk to. This is an exception. I think you are skipping over what I write, ignoring my valid criticisms (or acknowledging them, but ignoring their implications), painting my position to be completely the opposite of what I clearly state it to be, etc. In short, I think you’re being purposefully obtuse.

    But, like I said, I think this is the exception. And because of that, I wonder if maybe I seem the same to you; i.e. purposefully obtuse. In light of that, I think I’ll pull away from this discussion.

  21. Mormans have the same problems as anyone else. No body seems to really care if the Catholics or BAptists are having those problems, but people seem to expect from from Mormons.
    As for its notherness, I’ve lived there, with lots of snow and long winters. SAD is a problem.

  22. I’m still waiting to see the similarities

    as in “A discussion of differences and similarities between Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity”

    The differences are always talked about, but the similarities, now that is something I would love to see

  23. Onyx, don’t be dumb. Look at a map (with lines of latitude). In terms of the continental United States, Utah is roughly midway between north and south. Globally, All of the following states are located at roughly the same latitude (i.e. the same amount of “northerness”) as Utah:

    northern California
    most of Nevada
    Colorado
    Kansas
    much of Nebraska
    Missouri
    most of Illinois
    most of Indiana
    Ohio
    Kentucky
    Virginia
    West Virginia
    District of Columbia
    Maryland
    Delaware
    southern Pennsylvania
    New Jersey

    Since the length of daylight in the winter is entirely a function of latitude, all of those places should suffer worse SAD than Utah. Snow has nothing to do with SAD by the way- it’s the short days and long nights in the winter, not the presence or lack of snow.

    Furthermore, all of the following states are mostly or entirely north of Utah, which means they have longer, darker winters:

    Oregon
    Washington
    Idaho
    Montana
    Wyoming
    North Dakota
    South Dakota
    Minnesota
    Iowa
    Wisconsin
    Michigan
    New York
    Connecticut
    Rhode Island
    Vermont
    New Hampshire
    Maine
    Alaska

    Sorry, but you having lived there doesn’t change it’s latitude. Maybe you’re mixing up latitude and altitude, but high altitude doesn;t make a place “north,” and it has absolutely no effect on the length of daylight or the length of winter.

    Utah is at about the same amount of “northness” as Spain. That’s right, sunny Spain. You know where else? Italy. Also Greece. They’re just as far north as Utah is (roughly around 40 degrees latitude). Seriously, don’t be stupid.

  24. And because of that, I wonder if maybe I seem the same to you; i.e. purposefully obtuse. In light of that, I think I’ll pull away from this discussion.

    Indeed. I’ll agree to a “truce”. 🙂

  25. Tim,
    The post was intresting, and bias, as always. However, I think that Brian has raised substancial objections to your post. Moreover, Onyx has pointed out the problem with this blog. The name sounds good but its intentions are loaded –kind of like the sheep in wolf’s clothing analogy. Nontheless, the LDS’s church’s advisements about the damaging effects of pornography are an attempt, just like biblical advisements, to bring people to awareness, and, eventually, repentance. The focus here is persuade them to come to Christ and be clean in his grace and love. The LDS Church, from my observations, calls the cards like they are, they don’t fluff it up, or straw man the importance by a placating statements like, “God will forgive you, so don’t worry about it.” It is bigger than that, and the Lds church is well aware of that fact; that is why they have made such efforts to clean up the mess. Just as evangelist are attempting to do the same. We are all, every religion, in this together. Moreover, your stats humm…they are skewed. I recently completed my dissertation on Physiological States of Mind and the Correlations of Geographical/Cultural Locations, and I must say there are some disturbing facts that knocked my shoes off. For example, a study performed by Chicago University on divorce rates reviled Oklahoma, Iowa, and California as the states with the Highest divorce rates among the “conservative religious cultural backgrounds.” And states dealing with depression, the highest are Montana and Wisconsin that issue more anti-depressants per cap than tx, az, and Utah combined. So, I would be careful when throwing stats around to discredit your opponent (and why Mormonism is your opponent is direct call of hypocrisy if you ask me — but no one is, are they).

    This is a great point! –> “I’m willing to admit that we have a bunch of fat people who get divorced for the wrong reasons and speak about what we need to do to change that as often as I can in Protestant circles.” But that’s not what you’re doing here against the LDS Church. No, with Protestants you say, “Folks, a lot of our members have problem X; what can we do to help them?”; whereas here you say, “A lot of Mormons have problem X, and clearly it’s due to a fault in their doctrine.” So don’t try to say that you’re playing even-steven. This statement, Brian, is what occurs almost consecutively here on this blog. It is unfortunate. A interesting insight is that few Mormons, from my understanding, engage in such ad hominum, and false persecutions like the evangelist do. Wasn’t it Christ that said, “Blessed are peacemakers?” I think its ok to compare and contrast –that is scholarly, but to criticize and blast a group o people when the attacker himself is on the same ground is terms for dismissal.

    Nevertheless, it is true that everywhere in the world there are problems! We are to follow God and because he loves us, we live! So, lets focus on living and improving and not quarreling over foolish and false accusations!

  26. After reading these comments here are my observations. Tim’s initial comment was well intentioned, i.e. bringing up a cogent point about human nature and fixed devotion to rules vs. cultivating the spiritual character that yields good and healthy behavior.

    However, it seems obtuse to make that point in connection with Mormons and pornography, bankruptcy and depression. Tim makes the same mistake that many mormons make all the time, assuming that because they believe a certain way, and that way happens to be “truer” than what others believe that they can escape the struggles that the less enlightened go through.

    This general attitude is pervasive and it is a very sophisticated conceit of all those who think they are right. Paul’s comments themselves may be reflective of this conceit. The irony is that you hear the same fallacious argument from all who think they are right: Republicans, Communists, Nazis, Americans, Europeans, Muslims, Mormons, Pentecostals, Catholics. The argument amounts to saying that because we have the truth

    Generally people are the same, they want the same things, they like the same things, they generally have the same problems. History tells us that the “Christian” nations can be just as diabolical, genocidal and horrible as those darn pagans, muslims and hindus and they are often more efficient at killing and oppressing their victims .

    The fact that there is some significantly significant correlation between depression and living in Utah could mean a ton of things but it takes real conceit to attribute it to the slight difference in doctrine that exists between Mormons and Evangelicals. (My theory is that Mormons are more likely to ask for medication or go online to watch porn rather, or get some “retail therapy” than have a few beers to “take the edge off”, making them just like everybody else just with a different choice of drug.

    People are People. The difference in behavior that Jesus talks about in the sermon on the mount would not be recognizable in most of the people you see in any churches, By my reading the revolutionary nature of what Jesus said there would show up as a sore thumb, a clear peculiarity, a glaring difference between most of what we think to be “normal” not a 5-10% difference in the bankruptcy rate.

    The fact that some who think of themselves as Christians may feel better about themselves because they see others who don’t have the truth who struggle with human problems and failings at rates marginally higher then they do have really missed the point and have already looked far too short of the mark.

  27. Maybe Utah’s stats are bad because there are so many mormons. Maybe the nonmembers have an abundance of problems because they see how fantastic the mormons are. The problem may be the 30% who are not members.

    I’m sure there are a bunch of explanations we can make up to explain the facts. It would be nice to have some rigor though.

  28. Jared, good point. I know I’ve only ever been happy when I’m broke and looking at porn. 🙂

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