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?
Thank you all for your advice - especially for the book recommendations. I'm looking for as many different well-researched perspectives as I can find. I appreciate your concern and your stories. I'm just trying to figure out how to tell my bishop, and all the other people who have fellowshipped me that I can't be a member anymore. I'm just trying to figure out what's right. Something has to be right. When I die, I look forward to being able to know for sure what that is. I'm not sure it's something we can know in this life -what the truth is about God and religion and all that. But I have to keep trying. I think that a fair and loving God can't hold me accountable for much more than that. At least outer darkness will be quiet if I'm wrong.
"Something has to be right."
"I have to keep trying."
You have already found what is right, and you don't even know it. Keep trying. Keep experimenting. That is what is right. No one knows everything. By continuing to learn and testing old theories and beliefs, we can slowly weed out those things that are wrong, and move closer to the correct information. This kind of scientific inquiry is not about giving you the right answers, it's about eliminating the obviously wrong answers, and finding what works best based on information that is presently available. For example: gravity is only a theory, but we continue to accept the principles of the law of gravity because it is presently the best explanation we have for why objects fall to the earth. Someday in the future scientists may develop a more accurate theory to explain this natural phenomenon.
Today, we have to look at the theories that are presently available and decide for ourselves which is the most likely scenario. Think about the creation of the earth, for example. To you, is it more likely that everything was created, basically as it is today, about 6,000 years ago, and that the entire creation took only 6 days, and that God formed man literally from the dust of the ground, and woman from one of his ribs; or is it more likely that the earth formed billions of years ago, and life slowly evolved over the space of hundreds of millions of years to reach the point we are today? Only you can decide what you believe here. Likewise, only you can determine how you plan to approach others to tell them what you believe. Some of us may give you advice on what worked or didn't work for us, but that may not be what is best in your situation.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. But when you raise questions or doubts to church leaders, pay close attention to how they respond. If these people truly have your best interest at heart, then they will want you to do what you think is right. If you want to learn more and try out different theories and philosophies, then they will encourage you to keep learning and growing. If the church were the truth, then these men would have nothing to be concerned about, because continued learning and experimentation will only lead you closer to the truth. And if you decided that the church wasn't right for you, then they would understand and accept your decision to choose your own path. BUT, if church leaders discourage you from expanding your study, and suggest that you just have faith in the church or the gospel, that "we don't have all the answers," or "God will reveal that to us someday," then you will know that the church really does have something to hide. If you tell them that you don't want to be a part of their church anymore, and they attempt to vilify you or suggest that you are sinning in some way, then you will know that the church really doesn't preach a gospel of truth and love. Instead it's a gospel of fear and guilt. They don't want you to choose your own path, nor do they care about you, only your obediance and money. So watch carefully how church members and leaders react to your choices.
I hope you make the decision that works best for you. Because only you can decide what is best for you.
Outer darkness won't be quiet honey, we will all be there with you. I think you are right - a fair and loving god would be proud of you for seeing through the nonsense. Other peoples' happiness is not inextricably woven into yours. You won't make them unhappy; you will make them doubt. As soon as they realize you are serious; they will move on to fellowshipping the new person who walks innocently through the doors.
If you go to the Exmormon foundation website they have a list of books that they sell and recommend. There are a lot of really good books out there. May I recommend Jim Whitefield's 3 volume set of books. They are so thoroughly researched and he is a speaker at the ExMormon Conference in Salt Lake City this year - the dates and information about booking are on the website.
Learning and growing are all essential to our lives; you would stagnate and become a fat home-maker with 9 kids acting as if you have had a frontal lobotomy if you didn't.
All the best; no guilt; nothing to be guilty about. If someone raped you and got found guilty and went to jail, you would not have to feel guilt. The same thing happened here; you were raped through their lies, you feel awful about it and you don't want to associate with people who rape you of your knowledge and tell you what to believe.
Sarah - guilt is a tool to keep you compliant. It's worth acknowledging, but not paying too much attention to. I grew up in the church, served a mission, married in the temple, and baptized 2 of my 4 kids before admitting I didn't believe any more. I feel a LOT of guilt - about leaving, about taking so long to leave, and everything in between. But you have to do what's right for you - and no one in your ward can tell you what that is.
As far as what to tell the bishop - you don't have to say anything to him. You don't have to explain or justify yourself at all to them.
I did not feel guilty for leaving the church. I felt a little scared because of being taught for 20 years of my life about what happens to people when they leave the church (shudder). But, I took the "risk" anyway and I have been so happy with my decision that I have never looked back! It is understandable that you are feeling guilty (and I am assuming this because of your statement you made about being afraid of hurting the ward members for leaving) because likely they showed you kindness and camaraderie when you joined their fold. But, you do not need to feel guilty for thinking that you are being thankless for their kindnesses, nor do you need to feel guilty for leaving the church based on your gut feelings about church doctrine. Remember, that if indeed these people are your true friends, they will support you and be proud of you for being an intelligent, introspective, and thinking young woman for standing on her own two feet for knowing what truth looks like. Bravo to you for asking all the questions, and searching for all the answers. Any doctrine, if it is sound, does not need to be tucked away, hidden from view, or behind any shadow.
You seem to be sensitive to others feelings. This good but not when it stops your growth as a human being. Some wish to find truth and others only wish to find comfort in a theology. I was n the church for 40 plus years, 7 of which I served as a bishop. Objective research lead me to find the errors in the church and 6 years of studding the Bible in university has show that it is all the product of men for the purpose of controlling others. Many believed the words enough to die for it, but it does not make it true. If you wish to know more just reply to me.
My philosophy on guilt these days is this; "It;s somebody else's baggage, why should I carry it or pay the freight on it?"
Other people's hurt/fear/anger/disappointment is just that, other people's.
I have enough of my own baggage to carry, my soul is tired, I am not adding someone else's burden to my own.
That's just my $0.02 on guilt, your mileage may vary.
I hope things are going better for you today. Cast away the guilt and understand that it is, "a cult control mechanism". You should be mad! Be angry at the lies and ongoing deception of millions of people. Love the Mormon, not the church or the vipers in authority who shovel guilt.
there are times you have to follow your heart and times you have to follow your head.
Your heart is the part which shows you have compassion particularly for the people as you mention not wanting to hurt them and they are generally great people - and your concern is understandable, but if your head tells you that there are things that are unacceptable to you then you have to ask yourself if you can go on and live a lie pretending to 'believe' that which you say you cannot ignore. I was in a similar position and HAD to be "true to myself" above all else. Hope this helps.
For me the continuous cycle of guilt, shame, and fear was what prompted me to want a change. As I found out about the truth behind Joseph Smith and all of his antics, I was actually relieved to find out it wasn't true -I could be guilt free!!! Although , I am working my way out now I understand where some other guilt might be coming from. I went to Scouts, so my son could get his Webelos badge, and I felt some guilt over the hurt and shaking of faith that's to come to my friends in the Ward when I finally do break ties for good. For now I'm reading "Collapse of Belief," and taking it slow, weening them off of me and vice versa.
I didn't feel guilty about leaving. I was born into a Mormon family and baptized at 8. I guess I would describe the feeling I had as uncomfortable. They make it that way. It was tough telling my family, but I wanted to be honest. When I wrote my resignation letter, they told me they were going to send the bishopric over to my house, but never did.
I felt more guilt when I thought about the brainwashing of my children. I felt more guilt about talking my husband into getting baptized.
When I started researching on my own I found www.smithbusters.com. It started helping me see the ways of Joseph Smith that wasn't taught in church.
It's like a band-aid, you just gotta do it fast. Stop going to church, let them know how you feel, they've heard it before, and they will hear it again. You need to do what you feel is right or you won't be happy. Trust me. I started falling away at 20 years old and it wasn't until I was 28 that I walked away and age 29 that I wrote my letter. I feel much better now and wish I would have just 'jumped ship' when I first started to realize that things didn't add up. :)