I left the church more than a year ago. I was born and raised in a solid Mormon family, sealed in the temple to my husband. My husband currently works for BYU and we live in the heart of Utah Valley. I'd been struggling for some time with doubts and questions, but had suffered in silence. Our bishop had been pushing a missionary theme for a couple months and every member had been expected to report on their experiences in Sunday School, in Primary (I was in the primary presidency at the time), Sacrament meeting etc. I finally just snapped, and realized that I couldn't keep going to church, going through the motions if I simply didn't believe in it anymore. I was tired of feeling guilty for not being able to "share my testimony" and be a "member missionary."
I finally began to share my feelings with my husband. He was understanding, and very loving. He told me he supported me in whatever decision I came to in regards to church membership. He has read everything I've read, even more in terms of church history. He's not exactly an orthodox believer himself. But he has come to terms with his own questions and doubts about the church. Our conclusions have been very different. I could not reconcile my doubts and felt that I had to leave to preserve my personal integrity, and he is devoted to faith and the cultural legacy (no matter how fraught with problems) of our mormon ancestors. I respect his faith. We love each other deeply.
When I left the church my mother insisted that I would destroy my family. Our children, ages 9, 7, and 4, have taken the changes in our Sunday schedule in stride. Sometimes they come with me to a Christian church in the area and sometimes they go to church with my husband. I still struggle with thoughts that maybe my mom is right. I struggle to feel that I have not let my family down. I don't believe in the LDS church teachings anymore, but I am still plagued with guilt.
As I've read so many other's exit stories it seems that husband and wife or families have left together. Has anyone else had an experience like mine, and how did you deal with it?
Mine resulted in being divorced, being disowned by parents, questioned heavily by friends who...keep their distance nowadays, along with finding my own two feet and learning to live under my own strength and power. Also, welcome to LAM!
Hi Elizabeth! Welcome!
In my experience, guilt happens when I feel like I am doing something wrong. I did experience guilt in my investigation of the church, but the more I uncovered the truth, the more my guilt dissolved. Mormon doctrine, and the guilt associated there, evaporated when I became convinced it was all just a load of crap. I think my exit process was somewhat simplified by the fact that I was married to a non-member. I can imagine if my husband had been a member, it would have presented a quandary and possibly have been a source of guilt. Being true to oneself is definitely complicated when deeply connected to someone who remains a part of an adverse culture. It sounds like you have mutual respect. That, coupled with patience, is very valuable to working through the maze that you are in. Hang in there!
I am also a former temple worthy mormon, I also left the church when i realized it was based on lies, after and still researching thru their own records, their archives, their own prophets conflicted writings & scriptures, their contradicting book of mormon... I do believe in time your husband will come to the truth, you have planted a seed within him and he can't deny what is in front of him... keep praying and claiming him as a saved Godly man... Do not lose faith on that... When I first became saved, I was the only one within my family, I broke away from my mothers faith of the Catholic church, then was baptized in the lds faith, my sisters had all been baptized into the mormon faith, my mother was mortified to say the least... I was a teacher in relief society, i also taught one of the childrens classes part time, and I was a visiting teacher, while working 50 hour weeks and still my bishop wanted to give me more callings, which i refused... I barely had time for my children let alone myself... believing all that I was doing, my good works, would get me into heaven, I finally left the church, just before I was to be sealed to my husband... we were later divorced, not because of the church, he also left it... I spent years searching before I realized the true God was always there for me, I came to Jesus Christ 3 1/2 yrs ago, my youngest daughter 24, was saved 6 mo after me, my son 34 a year later and my 29 yr old daughter just this past May along with her husband and my 11 year old grandson... My 2 oldest didn't want anything to do with God at first and didn't believe the Bible was true... so I prayed and claimed them for God's Kingdom... and God started to move in their lives showing them things of the truth of His gospel... I believe your husband will come to believe in the real God, not the God of the mormons... my family who are a mix of Catholic and mormons do not understand my relationship with God, that we can have a real relationship with Him... There is a wedge between me and my family, I do have a relationship with my mother and one sister, but I do not hang or fellowship with them and I have had to chose my friends wisely, some of my close friends have been saved just because they have seen what God has done in my life... and others have dropped from my life, I do not judge anyone, but I do judge my situations of where I put myself, My children have done the same, they also have lost friends, but have chosen God over unbelievers...It is a hard rode when you feel your on it alone, but you are not... God is with you and if you place your faith in Him, He will put in your path those who are like minded... Your guilt is the enemy throwing those darts at you, trying to sway you that you have made a mistake... I'm sorry this is so long... I really wanted to reach out to you... I have ministered to former mormons, who have gone thru what you are going thru and what I have gone thru... I have pasted an article from "Into the Light Ministries... I put the link to their website at the top of the article.. I hope this helps you some with your guilt, and that you do not have to live with it... Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions or just want a Sister in Christ, I am here to fellowship with you, my email is email@example.com .... God Bless you Elizabeth, and know you have made the right choice in following our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth... Debra
“NOT BY WORKS of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5)
From Into the light Ministries
Are You Deceiving Yourself?
Of all of the articles I have written over the years, this was by far the most difficult for me to put together. It has required of me more time spent in prayer and travailing before God, and more testing and trials in my own life than I would have ever imagined, for the subject matter is simple and the Bible is filled with scripture after scripture to confirm what I am going to be writing on. If I had to say why this was so difficult to write, it would have to be that the battle I have had to fight in the Spirit to get this out has been vicious because next to the sins of sexual immorality, it is my firm conviction that this one area is the Devil's greatest tool to pull people away from Christ; get them to compromise their beliefs and their faith and deceive themselves (often by using other scriptures taken out of context) into believing they aren't really doing anything wrong.
When we were kids we used to play a game called 'Follow the Leader.' The general idea was to choose someone to be the leader and then the rest of the kids would do whatever the leader did. If you did not follow the leader in everything, you were out. Whichever leader ended up having the most kids follow them in everything they did was the winner. There are a great many similarities between that game and our walk with God, although I must point out and emphasize strongly that a life lived for Christ is NOT in any way, shape or form a game (although there are many who profess Christ as their Savior and live their lives like it is some game we play.)
In our Christian life, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living and Almighty God, is our only leader and example and as such we are to follow and obey Him in all things. If we do not we will be out, for if we are not following Christ then we are following the Devil. As scripture says in Luke 11:23, (Jesus is speaking) "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me, scatters."
The main purpose and topic of this article has to do with fellowshipping with the ungodly, aligning yourself with those who are unsaved, those who do not walk with Christ, and uniting yourself to those who are unbelievers. In order for this article to be of any use to you at all you must ask yourself these questions:
Do I really believe that the Bible is the infallible, true Word of the Living and Almighty God and not just a good book to live by, or is it some spiritual metaphor I can pick and choose from when it suits me?
If I do believe it is the true Word of God am I living it, obeying it and following it to the very best of my ability in Christ?
If I am not, why not?
If you can truthfully answer these questions and you come to the conclusion that you do live your life for Christ, then you must understand that all of the commands and statutes set down for us by God are given for our good to protect us both from the schemes and snares of the Devil and to protect us from ourselves or our carnal nature, which is constantly at war with our spiritual nature.
Over the years as I have ministered to people on this subject I have probably heard every excuse and justification people can come up with to avoid dealing with this area in their own lives. It's hard to break away from friends and family who refuse the Gospel of Jesus Christ, yet oh-so-easy to come up with reasons why we don't. In Luke 18:29-30, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come." (Also in Matthew 19:29.) Now, Jesus is simply telling people here that nothing is as important as the Kingdom of God.
Be warned straight away that to many this is a hard teaching, but if you could only grasp the fullness of the revelation of God's plan and purpose for your life, you would find it easy to obey Him in this area, for as with all things, His commands are not burdensome to us. I will not beat around the bush or 'be nice' when it comes to this subject for it can mean the difference between your spending an eternity with Christ in heaven, or without Him in hell.
Let's talk about the Apostle Peter, one of the original 12 disciples of Christ and one who was very close to Him. He lived with Him, traveled with Him, heard all His teachings, and saw the miracles with his own eyes. Even Peter had his battle with denying Christ before man, (John 18:13-18 and John 18:25-27.) Peter denied Christ three times, just as Jesus said he would. Peter did this out of fear. After all, they were about to crucify Christ and were looking for those who were closest to Him. So, to avoid being noticed by the Roman Guard and out of fear for his own life Peter denied he knew Jesus. He was weak as we all are at times. But afterward Peter went out and wept bitterly in repentance, for in truth he loved his Lord with all his heart.
This is not what this article is about. This is about those who choose unsaved friends and family over Christ despite those scriptures which command otherwise. Let us leave Peter, who, as we all know became a mighty man of God who faithfully preached the Word of God in many places to scores of people until his own horrendous death, and go on to some of the excuses for not obeying this part of the Word of the Lord.
But how can I minister to them unless I fellowship with them? You must know there is a difference between fellowshipping with someone and ministering to him or her. The Bible is very clear about fellowshipping with the ungodly, (no matter if they are family or friends.) Let's go to 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the Living God." As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore come out from them and be separate," says the Lord, "touch no unclean thing and I will receive you, and you will be My sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty.
But what will my friends and family think if I just cut myself off from them? The answer to that can be found in 1 Peter 4:1-5. "Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with this same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans (unbelievers) do - living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not join with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you." Could this possibly be what you are afraid of? What they might think about you or say to or about you? If so, you better think more of what the Lord will say when you stand before Him to give account on that Day.
Ask yourself why it so important to be with your unsaved relatives and friends? What is it that draws you to them and away from Christ? If you can answer those questions truthfully you might find some things out about yourself that you don't really want to know, but if you truly love Jesus you need to know and deal with those things. If you are afraid of offending them, you might for the cross of Christ is offensive to some. If you are afraid they might not like you any more, they might not, but it was not them who loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son to die for you that you might be free from sin. In Luke 9:23-26 Jesus says, "If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Glory and in the Glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
When you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you gave your life to Him. All of your life, not just the parts you were unhappy with. You cannot live for Jesus only when it's convenient and only in secret. I've got a newsflash for you; there are no part time jobs in the Kingdom of God. Either you commit your whole life to Him or you have committed nothing.
Why does God insist we not be friends with the unbelievers - no matter who they are? Read James 4:4 which says, "don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." Then in 1 Corinthians 15:33 scripture says, "Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character..."
From Genesis to Revelation scripture warns us against involving ourselves with those who 'walk in darkness'. Yes, by all means, we are to do all we can to minister the Word of Truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, but if you do not separate yourself from them, if you keep on involving yourself in the same things they are involved with, how will they know there is a difference between the kind of life they are living without Christ and the life they can live with Him?
Take the time to read and study the following scriptures and you will gain more insight into this whole area of separation. By the way, I am not talking in this article about those of you who have unsaved spouses, for scripture has other things to say about your situation. Anyway as I said, check out these scriptures: Exodus 23:2 - "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong." Proverbs 4:14 - "Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men." Proverbs 24:1 - "Do not envy wicked men. Do not desire their company." Also: Psalms 1:1-2, 1 Corinthians 5:11, Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:50, Proverbs 1:10, Romans 6:13, Ephesians 6:13, and 2 Peter 3:17. Don't just read them; study them. Then see if your life measures up to the Word of God. Remember, it was Christ who hung on that cross and died for you so you could be free from sin and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. You will go one way or the other for there is only Heaven or Hell. You must decide what is more important to you. Only God knows the thoughts and attitudes of your heart. Are you right with Him?
I am SO happy to hear that you and your husband are supporting each other. How hard it has to be to leave the church in Utah where the scorn and scrutiny are so real.
I left the church while I was married to my ex-husband. He had joined the church to get married but he completely stopped the charade once we got sealed in the temple. He is bipolar and its all a game.
My current DH and I met on a mormon singles website but neither of us are dedicated. Since marrying him I have had my name removed from the records of the church and I am free. He still believes that the LDS church is the truest church on the earth. When I ask him why he doesn't attend if he believes it to be true, he says he just doesn't believe in organized religion at all. He lives a good life but not a mormon life by any means.
As for your struggle in the idea you are ruining your family, remember we have had mormon doctrine pounded into our heads our whole life, that is all we know. To consciencely (sp?) think otherwise is a HUGE challenge and it is bound to be fraught with guilt and doubt.
I had to deal with guilt many years ago and here is what I came up with; guilt is a feeling that arises when we are not doing the best we know we can. You ARE doing the best you can with what you have so you have no reason to feel guilty! Guilt is a waste of time and energy.
Welcome to freedom and don't lose hope. The exit process can be very painful as we are basically denouncing everything we know to be real, no small thing!!
I told my wife about a year ago that I no longer believe. My wife at first was extremely upset, but within a few days we had a nice long talk. She also isn't an orthodox Mormon she just says she "follows the spirit", and also knows about JS and BY at least enough that it bothers her. At first my wife was taking my kids every week, except I would stay home with autistic son. It didn't last too long and now she has gone completely inactive. We enjoy our weekends as a family. I support her whatever her decision is, and she supports me as well.
My Mom also told me I was destroying my eternal family, and I let her know I don't believe the LDS anymore along with the fact we won't all be broken apart because of it. I cannot believe God would keep his families apart, and believe we will be judged on our character not our attendance or tithes.
You definitely have an added component with your husband working at BYU. He has to be a temple recommend holder to work there. Maybe one day if he moves on to another job he may join you. I came to terms with my wife may never leave the church like I have, but it is her choice and as long as we put our relationship above our religious beliefs we will be okay. It's nice to know others have similar stories and thanks for sharing your story.