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?
No, I didn't feel guilty at all when I left the church. I was born and raised in the church, and pretty much stayed with it until I was 50 years old. I guess I was pretty typical in that I just went along all those years, questioning certain things but buying what they told me about praying for answers, reading the scriptures, attending church and all that, and that if I did those things, I would get the answers I desired as well as a strong testimony of the gospel. But that never happened. But I hung in there for all those years. It wasn't until 2001 when I was preparing to go on a Mormon Church History Tour, and I decided to do some research so I would know more, that I really began to unearth the truth behind it all. And that was the beginning of the end for me.
Guilt? NO!! Resentment and anger? Yes!! Relieved to finally be away? OH, YEAH!!
Population went from the north to the south and genetics prove it. The Mormons teach incorrectly that it went from the south to the north. We have never found one single Baptism for the Dead font in the Middle East, and the golden plates were in Joe's mind.
I would like to stand and bear my testimony that Joseph Smith was not a Prophet and the Book of Mormon is not true. I prefer Aesops Fables. :)
I had tremendous guilt when I left. It lasted for a long time. I had to stay true to myself. I personally, could not stay a member of any church that hid its history. I remember after I learned about Good Old Brother Brigham's comments about blood atonement and other comments he made, when I was sitting in relief society listening to a lesson from the Brigham Young Manual. I became sick to my stomach and walked out into the hall way. I knew then, that I was on my way out. As I continued to learn more about the history, I left. But, just because I left, I still felt the guilt. I was very deep into Mormonism, served a mission, married in the temple. I attended the temple every week. I loved the temple. I thought I was closer to God in the temple than anywhere on earth. The church was my safety net. I took the covenants seriously. I thought I would be struck dead by god for attending another church. It is hard to erase the tapes that have been playing over and over in my mind for 20 years. It takes time, but, I have been able to free myself from psychologically from Mormonism. Stay true to yourself. Regardless of what others may say and do, stay true to yourself. Life is an exciting journey. I wish you well on your journey!
My perspective, I found that Mormonism inflicts guilt and fear upon anyone that will not perform or toe the party line. This is what cults do. I was raised in the church and for many years joined in the family repetition of "I know it's true, after fasting all day", "typical cult tactic". It took many years of research before the guilt evaporated. When I left the church, there were several members that acted as if I had called them ugly. Imagine that? I never said a bad word to anyone. Are they ugly? Mormons are beautiful people, the doctrine and brainwashing is awfull ugly. To sum it up, Mormonisms crowning glory is the manipulation of people. As of today, I'm still in the closet with some of my relatives. I've come to the conclusion, it's better to have them think I'm inactive than stare at a bunch of sour pusses at family reunions.
At first I did feel guilty, and afraid of what they would say. But I prepared and rehearsed my arguments carefully before I told anyone, and then told them in sequence depending on their involvement in my life. It worked very well; I told my husband first, and he was the primary one I needed all my arguments for. Once I'd gotten to a truce with him, I told my children. That was a little odd, but has turned out to be surprisingly uneventful. I hardly needed any of my arguments with them. They just wanted to know I would still be involved in their lives.
When I finally sent my letter, the bishop wanted to talk to me, and I was hankering to use my arguments on him so I gladly accepted. That was fun!!
My favorite thing he said: "How could you put your children at risk like this?"
I said, "In what way am I putting my children at risk? Do you think I am going to abandon my children just because I don't believe in god?"
He said something about me participating for the children, and I said, "I don't live for my children."
He was aghast: "What do you live for then?"
I said, "Myself, like everyone else on the planet should."
A couple of close friends had a few things to say. Not much, though. The one thing said to me by the few people who spoke to me about it was what I came to call the "hurt-Carrie theory." That's the one where they say you must have been sinning in order to lose your testimony. And I gladly pointed out to them the detrimental effects of a belief system that required me to be bad in order to resolve their inconsistencies.
Those were the only times I've ever needed any of my arguments. None of the ward members have ever said one word to me about leaving. Occasionally someone at church will tell my children to tell me they miss me. I always think, WTF? Can't be missing me too much. All they do is wave when they drive by, just like before. In a way, I hoped they would miss me, as a sort of last ditch wish that maybe every single last thing about being Mormon hadn't been fake. Alas.
The guilt is gone now, and I am happily living my only life.
The question seems to come down to What You Can Live With. I went through the guilt and came out the other side.
I am active in a liberal Protestant church and am finally doing well. But it came down to my sanity and my honor.
If you leave, just leave quietly and with love for the members. Don't become anti because then you are still tied to the church.
It was just a place you were at one time and now have moved on, just like a divorce.
Know that God loves you because you love him and not because you obeyed some crazy rules and said the right words.
Hey Gene, how did you get to that place of wanting to join any other religion? I'm having a lot of internal back and forth on this one, because it's hard for me to trust any of it anymore. I read different blogs and sites, and listen to Christian friends, and feel like the LDS religion kind of poisoned the proverbial well of religion for me. My DH in a sense is a NOM, (just figured that out today) and his argument to me in short is philosophical in nature, "This religion comes closest to my target." Yet, he still grills me as to what religion I'm going to tether myself to, and my reply is, "Why do I need any?" but I still feel like I need to fill that space with something. I don't know maybe it's just like learning any new habits, it feels foreign in the beginning.
I have a couple of questions to answer so I will just ramble through them.
When I talk about "anti" that is my Taoist training. Things are tied together. black and white, hot an cold.
There are two sides to the "Mormon" coin. when you pick up one side you pick up the other. I am tired of being jerked around by every GA who has had a bad day. I do not want to be jerked into negative emotion by the same guys. The Buddhists say that once you cross the river there is no reason to carry the boat.
When people ask, I help them to slide out. The tide is turning against the church and I am not looking for any more negative emotion than I already have.
I was active in the church (every church says, "The Church") for many years but always disliked some of the doctrine and the Catch 22 of, if you ask it means that you have sinned and that can be the only reason. Questions based on sin do not need to be answered.
I went through months of guilt, anger, doubt etc. Then one day I decided to be happy and to just say that the church did not work for me. I like the New Testament and so decided on a new stance. The only doctrine is LOVE. The Old Testament belongs to the Jews and they can have it. Paul does not like gays and women with short hair so he can have his opinions but if they are not based in love then I can ignore them. I missed meeting with other people on Sunday and so I searched the Internet for a church that accepted gays, blacks and ordained women. I found the Methodists and so I just started attending and really love it. They are so nice, do a lot of service and have music that is so much more fun.
I can meet with fellow believers listening to the negative doctrine, being guilt-tripped for not being perfect.
So it works for me, but only because they have no hangups or hatred.
Good reply Gene; I get it. It is different for each of us though; I'm still married to a Mormon so it is always front and center in my life. I have lost the association of 2 of my kids and their partners and 7 of my grandkids; good thing Mormons have big families:). I still have 3 kids who still associate with me and 5 grandchildren and one on the way.
For my sanity's sake, I had to continue discovering things about the Church so that I had 'proof' when it became necessary to defend my position.
In many other ways, I have found other things to fill my time that have nothing to do with the church; humanitarian work that I love. In fact I am one of the presenters at this year's Exmormon Foundation Conference and my topic is: Good Works in a Post Mormon World AND my member husband will be there supporting me and running the computer projector etc. If I had not become involved in the exmo community, he would not have come as far as he has. He has learned a lot. This has worked for me.
I am an advocate by nature; I'm passionate about my beliefs - that is why I was such a good Mormon.
I cannot resist asking .....with your surname you surely MUST have done the whole genealogy thing? ;-) - that was a fun part for me when I belonged to "the Church" - never cottoned onto anything further than the research part of it though (e.g. doing the work for the dead etc., never attended the temple either so maybe leaving was a lot easier for me)
Now having said that I so agree with you in what you say.
For me, personally I HAD to find something to replace my "loss"
I was very involved in RS and would lie if I said I did not enjoy my membership - it made me feel good about myself (albeit in my ignorance of things at the time).
When I 'found out things' and decided to leave, I was determined I was not going to turn into a bitter ex mormon. After writing my letter of resignation and all that followed, I spent many a Sunday visiting different churches. I also ended up with the Methodists because that was where I felt most comfortable.
Letting go of 26 years of 3 hour services was my biggest challenge initially - I sometimes even stayed for both the early AND the second service!!
Fortunately an opportunity arose where I could work with the children (interestingly enough no one wanted to know "where I had come from" and accepted me for who I was) and now 6 years down the line remember my "mormon days" with fondness, look back on it as a huge learning curve, because I did learn a lot of things other than the doctrine.
Some friends stuck by me and others took my leaving as betrayal but that is also OK.
I have come to realize that leaving "the church" is different for everybody and needed to do what was right for me because if I was unhappy surely those around me would be too.
Each person has to find their niche as an exmo that brings them to that which gives them peace of mind, otherwise you could end up very bitter and twisted and never moving forward.
It comes in various forms - be it serving in another church, humanitarian work or it may even be a fervent desire to open the eyes of those we see as "blinded" (provided we don't harm others along the way because I do believe in Karma)
I just love the words of the song "The Greatest Love of All" - it has a special meaning for me, particularly the part that says:
"I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity.........
To answer Sarah's question - I don't have an ounce of guilt - it was the right thing at the time and I have now and moved on - it is another season for me.
I hope everyone finds their place in the sun....it is out there but you wont find it lurking in the shadows .. Kindest regards.
Thank you so much for that. I didn't realize how many hangups I'm still working thru that that wasn't more obvious. I guess I am still having problems with trusting myself, so everything titled, "organized religion" is being swept into the untrustworthy dustpan. I am starting to miss some of the community type experience, but at the same time I am very ill and my energy is just not there in the mornings to go to a Sunday morning meeting. I think once I've got past my initial vacation period from it all I'll use your criteria to find a community that better fits me. :)