My somewhat nontraditional view of the Church and the gospel makes some things easier. I don't have to try to find tortured doctrinal justifications for rather large mistakes in our past. I don't have to worry that I'm going to hell if I disagree with Gordon B. Hinckley's view of appropriate media. And, I can justify myself in some degree of sin.
There is one thing that's a lot harder because of that view.
I'm always touched by stories such as this
. It's tough to see people urgently trying to embrace the Church that I believe to be true and just being hurt by it. I can't understand this. Yeah, yeah, divine tests, time of probation, I know the standard answers. That doesn't make it easy to see or understand.
Now, if I were the standard Peter Priesthood, I'd have a nice, easy answer for people like Kiskilili. I could say "just keep coming to church and everything will be fine. It's all for your own good and as long as you never deviate from the path your leaders chart, you'll surely be saved in the celestial kingdom." Or, alternatively, I could say nothing and simply take satisfaction in towing the line, lamenting the souls that weren't tough enough. Most Peter and Molly types that I know would choose the first one while sincerely trying to understand the person in question.
The problem is, I don't think the Church is perfect. I think we have more truth than anyone else, but I also think we've got our share of "philosophies of men", cultural baggage, and human incompetence. Throw in my beliefs in progression between kingdoms and a more forgiving God than we generally assume and, well, it's tough for me to give the easy advice.
For me, the central point of the gospel is Jesus Christ and serving other people. If the Church is getting in the way of a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ and is not helping one to serve, I'm not sure that I can ask anyone to stay.
Indeed, I can say with relative certainty that I would have no qualms with telling a good person that is experiencing a tortured time in the Church to step back for a while. I wouldn't necessarily see any irreversible spiritual consequences for someone that chooses to leave (the God that I know isn't going to pronounce a never-ending curse on someone that picked the wrong church). I think there are lots of Baptists, Methodists, Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists, et cetera that would be better off Mormon. I also can conceive of Mormons that would be better off temporally and, yes, spiritually, were they to choose one of those other options.
But I still wouldn't be satisfied. At the end of the day, I stay because I think it's right. If I ever think the Church isn't God's organization, rest assured, I'm out. And, most fundamentally, I would have a difficult time advising anyone to move further from the things that have helped me so much in my life. None of those other religions helped me to understand Christ or his atonement. While all may be well-intentioned, Mormonism provided me with what I needed and with a good bit of truth that I'd never had before.
So, you know, I couldn't ever tell a person to just up and leave. I also can't tell a person to just stay like nothing happened. All I can do is say that I've found a way (or pieces of a way) to allow the gospel to change my life. If it's possible for me, it's possible for you too.
At the end of the day, that still sounds too empty for me.