Did anyone else experience feelings of guilt when you were thinking about leaving the church? I only joined the church a little less than a year ago, and I'm terrified of how hurt everyone in my ward will be about my decision to leave. But I've come across some new information that I can't really ignore about the practices of polygamy in the early church and the authenticity of the Book of Abraham, and everyone just tells me to have more faith and disregard it. WHAT am I supposed to do? I want to have faith, but not blind faith. (Although that is one of my favorite bands...) Any suggestions, folks?

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Hm. I've never heard of the band Blind Faith. What kind of music is it?

I would say the guilt and fear of hurting other people's feelings is the greatest impediment to leaving the church, truth notwithstanding. The guilt is terrible! I think many if not most Mormons live their lives in fear, putting all their doubts on a shelf in a closet in their mind, so that they don't have to consider the fact that the church is actually a big hoax, and so that they don't have to go against what their family and friends so adamantly believe. For me, the guilt was so great when I left the church that I would have panic attacks when I was around my mom or other Mormons. I would get short of breath and my head would start spinning. My hands would get sweaty. Its really scary!

All I can say is that, if you decide to leave, the hurt that other people feel is THEIR hurt, and not yours. You didn't hurt their feelings by leaving, they hurt themselves by letting their emotions be dependent upon your actions. That just isn't fair. Your life is yours to live the way you choose, and if other people don't like the way you choose to live your life, then screw them, you know what I mean? You've got to be yourself. What did Shakespeare write? "To thine own self be true". That is the key to happiness, not subservience to a faith.

I'm glad you've stumbled across some of the truths that the church tries to hide. Joseph Smith was over 30 when he married a 14 year old girl, and he sent men away on missions so that he could marry their wives while they were away. It's all there in the church geneology records, so don't take my word for it. And as far as polygamy goes, the church may claim that they don't practice it, but the temple marriage still adheres to D&C 132 verbage of the "everlasting covenant of marriage" which IS plural marriage. Basically, all temple marriages are polygamist marriages.

Anyway, you CAN have faith, but don't let anyone else to you what to have faith in. If you want to have faith in a God, that is just fine, but don't let the bible, or the Book of Mormon, or even your own parents tell you who or what that God is. If it's YOUR faith, it needs to be YOUR discovery.
Hey, Jonas. Thank you for your comments. I do absolutely believe in the bible, and I'm certain that God exists. I don't know if the Bible is infallible, but I grew up with it, and it's never taught me anything bad. And your mother is wonderful. She talks about you guys a lot, and she loves you. I grew up without a mother, so I can appreciate that. I only feel guilty because I made a commitment to the church. It was pushed on me by the missionaries and some of the members of my ward - perhaps before I was ready to make such a large commitment. And I think that up to a point, Joseph Smith did believe that he saw God and Jesus Christ, and maybe he even believed that he WAS given some golden tablets or something. It sounds like classic schizophrenia to me (illusions of grandeur and all that...), but his actions were not consistent with his teachings, and if the church he started WAS true, I think we should all be practicing polygamy right now. He painted a lovely picture of heaven, but I don't believe that he was a true prophet of God. I'm reading some books right now. One is "In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith." It's the closest I've come to an un-biased source. And the other is, "By his Own Hand Upon Papyrus" about the origins of the Book of Abraham. I highly recommend both texts.

On another note: I don't think you should be so hostile to your mother. I know that I'm not her kid and I don't see what goes on between you two, so I guess I shouldn't judge. I've just been avoiding everyone, and there's really no honor in that. But if she really believes that you're going to outer darkness for leaving the church and turning your back on God, I can understand why she, as your mother, would be pushing you so hard to come back. It's so sad. You're both in such difficult positions. I wish religion could just take a little vacation from all of our relationships. It's such a strain on all of them.

OH, and Blind Faith was Eric Clapton's first band. Right before Cream, I think. Listen to "Can't Find My Way Home," and "Presence of the Lord." It's awesome.
Before you feel too guilty "because you made a commitment", you should know that Missionaries are instructed to use this as a control tactic. They are instructed to get investigators to make a small commitment, and follow up with greater commitments. Then if they ever start to back out, put them on a guilt trip, "Don't you follow through on your commitments?". It's all very methodical, and THEY are the ones who should feel guilty for using mind-games to control people.
You are a fan of Clapton's early work? RESPECT! Wow. That's awesome. I didn't know that he even had a band before Cream. Sweet. I'm so stoked to check them out now. Are you into classic blues guitarists like Muddy Waters and Skip James, too? I've heard that Clapton got some of his stuff from listening to their early recordings.

I am very sorry to hear that you grew up without a Mother's love. That must be really hard sometimes. My mother has also suffered from not having any daughters (I think that's why she loves girls camp so much), and it is nice to know that she can "adopt" some of the young women at church. You're right that I shouldn't be so hard on her, but it's hard to reconcile the love I have for her, and the knowledge of the harm that Mormonism does to people, especially women. We are working hard on accepting each other as we are.

I like the idea of religion taking a vacation from our relationships. My hope is that all organized religion will take a permanent vacation from the entire world, and give people a chance to really come together, instead of all this infighting over who's god is better.
That guilt is the clincher for me. It'll be interesting to see what happens when we no longer live with my in-laws, and have such intense pressure hanging around.

For me, personally, there is an increasing difference between my public faith, and my private faith. For example, while there are things I love about the Plan of Salvation, I think that it is more merciful then Mormons make it out to be(three heavens...the least of which is like our lovely earth? sign me up!). On the other hand, I feel more whole worshiping both Heavenly Father and Mother together, which is, at least by modern Mormon standards...rather pagan.

Find what is true for you...let the rest take care of itself.
Just disregard it? How can you disregard the truth? Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I'm not sure, once you have gained the information you have, you can't undiscover that knowledge. You're supposed to just continue going to a place you now know is not what it purports itself to be, and simply keep paying your money? Pay, pray, and obey. It's not right.

Yes, there are people who will lay a huge guilt trip on you, and act all hurt because they've invested time and effort on you. But sadly, the truth is that once they realize that they can't dissuade you, you could well find those same people turning ugly. That's when their "if you're not with us, you're against us" mentality kicks in and they can get really nasty.

It's very sad, and I've read countless number of stories just like that. Then they wonder why ex-Mos seem to be so angry. Don't worry. They'll survive.

Just do what's right for you, whatever you decide that may be. You can't live your life for other people. One can only carry on a charade for so long, before it becomes exhausting, and they then revert back to who they truly are. To thine own self, be true, is my motto now.
Sarah, I knew leaving the church would be very difficult for my parents and sisters; if I experienced any guilt it was because I knew I would be causing pain to my family. I felt zero guilt over leaving the church as an organization. As far as I was concerned, the leadership of the church deserve the guilt for perpetuating the lies, not the members who find them out.

It would appear your "ward family" has been good to you, so feeling remorse or apprehension is understandable. Some of us have been treated rather nastily by members of our former ward, so your fears are not without grounds. Did they only show interest or concern for me because I was a member of their church, or do they truly care about me as a person? Leaving the church is a good way to find out who the true followers of Christ are. You may be in for a shock on this one.

My decision was that I had to be true to myself. I could no longer live a lie. The consequences have, of course, fallen on both sides. I live a more authentic, peaceful, happy life outside the Morg. On the other hand, relationships with family, some former friends, and coworkers range from strained to nearly hostile.

Others remain in the church to maintain peace within their families and among their friends and coworkers. I simply couldn't live my life that way, but I'm not about to judge someone who chooses the "middle way."

Nobody can make this decision but you, and allow me to add that you cannot live your life for other people or constantly stress over what people think of you. It is my experience that people will often think whatever they want to think in spite of what logic or reason or experience teaches them to the contrary.

Good luck and keep us posted.
"I do absolutely believe in the bible, and I'm certain that God exists. I don't know if the Bible is infallible, but I grew up with it, and it's never taught me anything bad."

Catholic priests grew up with the bible but some of them have done some really bad things and there is a huge list of bad things IN the bible along with some great wisdom. The writings are nothing more than the beliefs of a primitive people but not so primitive that they could not come up with a few good rules for governing their society. Then some smart people decided to promote their god by saying that HE gave them those rules so people MUST abide by them or else.

If you are CERTAIN that god exists then you know more than 99.99% of people. Nobody knows that God exists; nobody! You did not have any choice other than to believe in the God of the Jews probably because this is what has been taught to you ever since you were born. Our very language is faith based even. We swear on the bible in court; we say things are heavenly or life is hell. It has been programmed into us.

At first I felt guilty for even listening to others put the church down and I experienced the same kinds of feelings when I entertained thoughts about whether god was real. It just takes unfettering yourself from the beliefs of others and using logic, education and sound reasoning to come to an understanding of why we believe as we do. GUILT is a tactic used by all religions that use the bible.

Do not be afraid to open up your mind; nothing bad happens. I love the fact that now I believe that life and choices are up to me - I don't have someone up in the sky watching or listening to me 24/7. The guilt is gone and I say what I feel needs to be said.

Good luck; you are NOT treading where no man has trod before; you are in very crowded waters.
My personal input would be just to follow your own personal conscience. Your spiritual life is between you and God (or whatever you call your Higher Power).
I don't feel guilty anymore, since I left 3 years ago. Today I am feeling way MUCH more as an atheist.

When I was thinking of leaving more than 10 years ago, I just kept it all bottled up. 2 people I knew from years ago, helped me (directed to certain website), I printed the exiting letter and thought about it. I finally got the nerve to do it and sent in my paper work.

My family still bugs me about the church, but I give them a short blunt answer.
As a general rule, I tend not to trust people who say they are "certain that God exists." Those who do so are relying on something other than physical evidence to support their claims. If people say they know their god based on a confirmation of the spirit, I like to examine how they came to that conclusion. I find that people's feelings are always subject to their own interpretations, and that they almost always believe what they claim before their good feelings confirm that claim.

We humans generally manufacture good feelings about those beliefs we already espouse. For example, if I were to read the Book of Mormon and believe what it says, then I will naturally feel good about it. When I read the promise made in Moroni 10:3-5 (the last chapter of the last book within the Book of Mormon), I will naturally expect to receive that sensation that comes from “the power of the Holy Ghost.” If I don’t believe what is written on its pages, then I won’t feel good about it.

The whole matter comes down to simply projecting our own personal views on God. People who believe in a supreme deity (basically the vast majority of us) tend to believe that our own personal views match what that being believes or wants of us. We are, in reality, defining God; which perhaps explains why there could be hundreds of different religious belief systems in the world, yet almost everyone is "certain" that there is only one "true" god.

Susan B. Anthony said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” I have seen examples of this exact perspective demonstrated by many others, as they live out their own existence.

“What if God told you to leave your family and become a Catholic?” I once asked my sister.

She responded that this kind of request would never happen. God would not ask her to do something like that. If she thinks what she believes, and the way she is presently living her life, already conforms to God’s commands, then obviously there would be no need for that kind of request. Most people are too afraid to ever admit that their views may be wrong. Since she does not believe in Catholicism, why would God?

Andy Coghlan writes in a November, 2009, issue of NewScientist, “Believers subconsciously endow God with their own beliefs on controversial issues.”

A group of researchers from the University of Chicago, “started by asking volunteers who said they believe in God to give their own views on controversial topics, such as abortion and the death penalty. They also asked what the volunteers thought were the views of God, average Americans and public figures such as Bill Gates. Volunteers' own beliefs corresponded most strongly with those they attributed to God.

“Next, the team asked another group of volunteers to undertake tasks designed to soften their existing views, such as preparing speeches on the death penalty in which they had to take the opposite view to their own. They found that this led to shifts in the beliefs attributed to God, but not in those attributed to other people.”

I suppose one could reasonably substitute the Book of Mormon and the church, in general, for the topics discussed in the university study. If a person is inclined to believe what is presented, they will naturally assume that it came from God. If they don’t believe what is taught, then obviously those things must have come from elsewhere.

Since you appear to enjoy reading, and have no problem examining some claims of religious beliefs, what would you have against reading more, and examining all the claims of religious belief, as you have done with Mormonism? I would just offer a handful of additional resources that you may find interesting. On the subject of the origins of the Bible I highly recommend: The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman; as well as Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman. Both discuss the Old Testament in depth. For the New Testament I would suggest: Who Wrote the New Testament by Burton Mack; and The Christ Conspiracy by Acharya Sanning. On the subject of God's existence I recommend The Evolution of God by Robert Wright; and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
Another book, one which I am currently reading and love, is Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson, by Jennifer Michael Hecht. This book will give you an idea of how doubters have struggled with your issue almost from the beginning of the written word. Many have paid a high price, but it is only through the doubters that any real progress is made in our ability to get a handle on reality. It seems that humans are "hard wired" to believe in something and we will go through all sorts of mental calisthenics to justify what we emotionally respond to because it makes us feel better. Learning new truths, for me, has often been painful in the beginning but has always opened new horizons in my mind that have made it worthwhile.

I wish you the best of luck on your journey. You are in good hands here.

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