"I am a child of God
and He has sent me here.
Has given me an earthly home
with parents kind and dear..."
Does anyone else remember that children's hymn? I can remember singing it as young as three years old. I suppose I heard it at a younger age, given that I was born into the LDS church. The youngest of what would have been nine children, I was actually the only child "born" LDS. My parents had converted just a couple of years prior to my birth. So it's especially interesting that, of the surviving five children, I'm the only one who officially left (in Mormonism, nothing is finished unless the paperwork is done) and, to make it even more interesting, I am the only born-again Christian in my family.
Need I say that I kind of stick out at reunions?
So, how could a person go to being born LDS, complete with father's blessing; baptism; primary; seminary; YMMIA; Gospel Doctrine class; serving in the Relief Society presidency; patriarchal blessing; temple attendance; married to a member of the Bishopric; and winner of a Stake music contest that garnered a recommendation to audition for the Tabernacle Choir? How does this happen? I still have the letter from Spencer W. Kimballs' secretary sitting in my book of remembrance, thanking me for the poem I wrote and sent to "the prophet" as a dedicatory poem.
How does it happen that someone can be that devoted and then leave it all?
Let me state for the record that I still love the LDS people. I have family that are still LDS, some more devout than others; some LDS on paper only. Ultimately though, regardless of how much we love family, friends, and others, we have to be accountable for our own choices and, in my case, the choice to leave was supposed to be temporary.
It all began because of a simple discussion. I was trying to convince a lady I knew that the God of the Bible was the same as the God of the LDS church. I sincerely believed that! And the challenge seemed worth the taking.
In the past I had challenges to my LDS faith. Usually they were ludicrous things, based mainly on the other persons interpretation of bible passages or, and often this was the case, their misinterpretation of what the LDS church believed.
This time was different though. We were talking a doctrine of universality of deity and I was determined to show to my friend that she wouldn't be changing a core doctrine in accepting Mormonism, rather, she would be growing in knowledge about the Heavenly Father!
I set about it in a logical way. I took up my LDS concordance, the four "standard works" and a piece of legal paper. I made lines, dividing it by book, and set about to write down the various attributes of God as found in each text. Those of you who graduated LDS seminary know that we never did comparative studies of the books. We did basically a book-a-year break down. Even as adults, our studies never involved comparing books, rather, finding supportive passages per topic.
Why I did it this way, I will never know. Inspired? Maybe. But it made sense to look at the nature of God as portrayed in each book if, indeed, the goal was to prove that the God of the Bible was the same God as in the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and the D&C.
This wasn't a "day study" and actually took over a week, with many hours involved. My goal was to show consistency of teaching. In the end, however, I came across a problem: the God of the Bible was unique, while the God of the Pearl of Great Price shared deity with many other gods.
Of course, I had come to accept the concept of many gods existing. Even as a child, I believed in a Heavenly Father and Mother. And I knew, later on, that I could someday obtain deity. The Book of Abraham confirmed it to me. What I did not know- perhaps because I read the BOM more than the Bible- was that the God of the Bible not only had no "heavenly wife" he was also quite firm to say there were no other gods out there like him!
Hello! Wakey wakey! Something about this struck me. I tried to rationalize it. I even went to the Bishop with it. By this time, however, my husband had also posited another challenge: prove that what we did in the LDS Atlanta temple had anything to do with the temple of the Bible.
Where hubby was concerned, I went to the Bishop as well. I think back on it now and realize that the poor Bishop was being handed an impossible task. Like the "humbug" behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz, he was being asked to resolve a problem for which he really had no solution!
All the Bishop could do was tell my husband (yes, I dragged him in to the Bishop as well) to read the Book of Mormon and pray about whether or not it's true. Hubby cane from a devout, born-again Christian family and knew nothing of Mormonism until we met. He didn't study before joining. All he knew was that it made me happy and he liked the people. He declined to return to the temple and said no, he wasn't going to read the BOM. Instead, he said, I could do whatever I wanted to, but he wasn't going back to the LDS temple ever again.
I remember the night I first realized something was terribly wrong. I called Cheryl and told her what I had discovered and what happened (or didn't happen) with the Bishop. I told Cheryl that there was an inconsistency with the nature of God; how the BOM was close to the Bible (or at least didn't contradict it), but the multiple gods thing got me. Why didn't the Bible teach that there were many gods?
Her rationale was interesting (I paraphrase):
"Let's see. The Bible says there is only one God and nobody else gets his position. The BOM doesn't disagree. The Pearl of Great Price disagrees with the other two. The bible is 66 books, written over thousands of years, with 40 authors, and it agrees all the way through. But you have the Book of Mormon, and other books, all written byone man and he couldn't get the nature of God right?"
This began a spiral of study. I got ahold of everything I could. I managed to find a copy of Fawn Brodie's "No Man Knows My History". I was surprised at what I read. Finally I called Dad and told him about my doubts and questions. He advised me not to be a hypocrite and decide if I would stay and believe, or leave and resolve. "You can always come back" he said.
The thought of leaving terrified me. But I knew I had to avoid being a hypocrite. I felt it was better, not only for me, but for the LDS church. But something else had to be done as well. What about the children? We called a family meeting. By this time, my husband was attending a Baptist church and taking the children as well. I wasn't going right away. Eventually I began going, though, just to keep peace.
The family meeting revealed that the older children were not happy. "They sing about Joseph Smith but do not sing much about Jesus," complained the next to oldest child.
We voted and decided to leave. At the time, I had no idea how to get out. There were no organizations like this one but I remembered a book we were told not to read. It ws called The Godmakers. I remember the day I went to the Christian bookstore in town. I had seen the book on the shelves when I went to buy background music cassettes. But I also know it was deemed "Off Limits" by the leadership of the church. I used to walk as far away from it as possible. This day, however, I decided to buy it.
Now, you're going to find me silly, but I was actually breaking a sweat buying this book! As I left and drove home, a car almost hit me! I had taken off my garments the night before (I felt unworthy to wear them, knowing what I was going to do). Shaken by the near accident, I called Cheryl, crying that the Heavenly Father had taken away protection because I removed my garments and bought the book.
"Did a car hit you?" She asked.
"No," I said.
"No protection, huh?" She replied.
You're not thinking clearly when you're in panic mode.
I made it home and looked through the book. In the back was a "sample" resignation letter. By this time, hubby was more than happy to use it and, being a devoted wife (still thinking like a Mormon) I followed his lead.
It took two weeks but the president of the Elders Quorum came by one day with a letter (I call it our summons) to appear before a High Council Court and that a decision would be made then as to our request to remove ours and our children's names from the rolls of the church. During this encounter, the Elders Quorum president asked me if I was okay. He was genuinely concerned. And then he offered me a "deal" so to speak: that if I stayed in the LDS church, he could have me sealed to him for time and eternity.
Nevermind that his wife was a friend and that I love my husband more than life. But to offer this? I smiled, closed the door, and threw up.
I didn't go to Kangaroo Court. Instead, I went to church with my husband and children. When the people at the Baptist church heard what was going on that night, they didn't laugh or mock. They supported and prayed and hugged on me, offering strength and consolation.
What happened afterwards would test my metal. A little while later we recieved confirmation that the court convened and decided to meet our request for removal from the rolls. Rather cheeky, now that I think about it. What else could they do?
Apparently it was announced because at this point we saw the ramifications in action. I called one of the ladies in the Ward to ask her about something, a recipe I think, and she told me to not call her home. I took my mentally challenged son to t-ball practice and the LDS Moms there moved away from me in the bleachers. The children who went to school with mine avoided talking to my kids and one even said she was told not to talk to the children of "adulterers".
We had been accused of spiritual adultery.
I didn't expect my children to have to pay for this. And at first, I admit, I was very angry and hurt. But I had to admit, were the situation reversed, I would do the same. That's how it ran back then.
The leaving was difficult. I loved being LDS. It was my identity. And even with the doctrines that hurt, the LDS church was my one sanctuary. Leaving it thrust me into a world I knew little about and into a spiritual journey I never expected but which eventually led me to the Cross of Christ.
I can never thank Cheryl and my Mom in law and those members of the first Christian church I ever joined, for their patience, kindness and love. But my gratitude runs long and deep.
thanks micah, oh. I have to tell you this...its funny.
My first taking the Lords Supper in a christian church. I did okay with the little cracker (an oyster cracker if I recall), but then the wine in a teeny cup came around. I sat there, and looked at it, even after they read the scripture to go with it; I just kept looking! Finally, an elderly lady with a thick southern accent leaned forward from the pew behind me and whispered: "you can drink it, honey, its Welches!"
A Word of Wisdom flashback moment! haha
The indoctrination starts at a very early age. Is it any wonder we can easily recall the things that were so often repeated. Even to this day I can still clearly recite the temple endowment ritual. The conditioning runs very deep, much like brand advertising. Except in the case of the mormon church it is branding members loyalty and faith to the corporation.
I find that most "born-again" Christians stick out like sore thumbs, only because of my own experience where they are as exhuberant, if not more so than mormons, in their proselytizing. If you are happy on your path, good for you, but let me be happy on my path too. I found out after leaving mormonism that just because somebody's on a different path than me, doesn't mean they're lost. Please don't feel sorry, sad or whatever you might believe you feel for the welfare of my soul.
Because of my honesty and integrity to truth, I too could no longer remain a member and had to make it "official" by formal resignation. That whole administrative action is a farce too! We'll never ever by removed from the records of the church.
It's not surprising that members of the church who are true believing will shun those who leave. It didn't surprise me one bit to have a a majority of so-called friends from church immediately drop all contact. Those relationships were not genuine or sincere. It's very hypocritcal of them to declare their faith in Christ and then to treat their fellowman with such disdain. It's fear that drives their actions based on the dogma of the leaders to keep the members from being exposed to potentially damaging information (the truth) that would lead them away too.
When I left the church, I threw away what I view are religious crutches. Like yourself, I'm grateful that I was not alone when I left and was supported and encouraged by true friends with patience, kindness and love.
Sweetie, I believe that people decide these things for themselves. I share my faith within the context of my story. But it isnt my job to get people to believe as I do. That's their choice. Interesting though, you're assuming how I feel? I honestly hadn't thought about the condition of your soul in particular.
I went for 15 years without any real communication with my family other than "necessary." It wasn't easy- and there were many returned Christmas cards. But I couldn't be angry. Were the situation reversed I may well have done the same.
That was hard to admit, actually. Once I realized though, that were I in their shoes I may have done the same, it made it much easier to shed the pain.
As a mormon, I probably mocked born again christians more than anything else. I saw them as freaks. Of course, some gave me some darn good reason for it! lol
Like this one gal, pregnant by her boyfriend, swore she saw demons at the foot of her bed and insisted God told her to drink lots of hyssop tea. Now, do you know what hyssop does? It's a potent and natural diarretic. And very toxic during pregnancy.
I warned her to stop it. She declared my LDS self of the "devil" and miscarried her baby a month later.
Those things, and many others, were one reason I felt that "born again" christians were wacky tobaccy.
Then again, at 55, I have learned that there's no hungry squirrels in any given group of people-because the moment you get a group together you always get your share of nuts! LOL
david believe me-- Ive had much worse levied at me lol and that only for being a redhead! hahaha :)
I respect boundaries and you're right to have them, as am I. Besides, I am not the one who saves. That's not in my job description. But If I can give comfort, a giggle, and a good hug and insight, thats workable :) TC David, and I am glad to see you're out.