We were just sitting there in our home in the beautiful jungles of Belize, Central America, talking about our many blessings, when the brethren from the Church knocked on our door. They'd come from our branch leadership and from as far away as El Salvador to challenge us about our membership in the Church. Ironically, the two senior missionaries in our area had just stopped by and left. They were grousing to us about all the problems they were facing in their labors caused by the horrid inefficiency of the Church in this small country. Problems that had forced them to ask for their early release from their missions so they could go home and lick their wounds. Problems that we had seen, as well, that had troubled us and, in part, forced our withdrawal of our allegiance to and interest in the Church.
The two brethren wanted to know why we had posted an inquiry at a well known polygamy site---Polygamy Now. Nothing could have caught us more by surprise. They had been sent by the mission president to check us out. Our first reaction, until we caught our breaths, was . . . did the Church really have a "gestapo" and "narcs" that were out there rifling through the dissident web sights, checking up on members who were in rebellion or, as with us, merely asking hard questions.
Accordingly, we told them, that we were too far down the road to enlightenment to ever return to their fold and function as fully enfranchised members, staunch members, as we had before, for many decades. "Please remove our names from the records of the Church," we told them, after the discussion had died. We were very upbeat and, interestingly, so were they. They could tell that we were not going to be persuaded by all the things we'd heard before, ad nauseum. And so the deed was done. There had been too many lies heaped on our heads. Too much revised history. Too much silliness in the name of salvation and survival on this planet. I had been branch president. My wife had been a youth leader and seminary teacher. The possibility that we might begin to influence others in ways contrary to the party line of the Church weighed heavy on the brethren's minds---which frankly we never would have done. One of the big problems of the Church is that everybody is always being a missionary. "Now that you have learned the truth, go an drag others into your persuasion"---that sort of thing. What they didn't know is that we weren't going to do that any more. No more missionary work. We weren't going to try to convince others that the Church wasn't true---which it is not. We were going to be content to live and let live. We had found the path we wanted to walk and that was sufficient. We were willing to give up family and friends (which we ultimately did) for the truth that we had found. Because the truth was sufficient in itself. And the happiness we've found is sufficient. And the amazing revelation that the spirit did not leave us because we had "rebelled" or apostatized, as the Church has always taught us that it would do, has led us into amazing discoveries---each bringing to us an element of happiness and adventure that has enriched our lives.
What an amazing discovery it was for us to discover that God is not a tyrant, but that he loves us in spite of the "human" ways we live our lives. God is in favor of enlightenment and experience, not obedience or control. I've since decided that no longer will I be able to worship any god that wants me to worship him. I mean, why would I want to do that? That person doesn't sound like a very nice person at all. The voice of the spirit has told us very clearly, almost daily if we engage in the conversation, that God does not operate by fear or guilt or shame---hallmarks of the Mormon Church (although they deny it) and hallmarks of Christianity, as it is understood in the world today. The real Christ was not that kind of person, and it is sometimes clear from the occasional truths that seep out between the lines in the Bible and the experiences of women and men. Otherwise what we read is usually fabulous fiction, and we don't have much to do with it any more. Although, we do like the nice people that may espouse the views of contemporary Christianity and the Mormon Church---when they will espouse us and give us the freedom to think what we will, without feeling they have to change us or beat us up. Otherwise we would be very lonely.
The Church, as you have discovered Brian, will do whatever it takes to protect the "good name" of the Church. If that means kicking out people like ourselves from spreading the good word, that's something they don't hesitate to do because of the potential for damages and losses. It really isn't anything new. Take for instance the parable of the tree being hewn down because it doesn't bring forth fruit. Well, the moment we stopped being followers and contributing our time, talents and our money, the church no longer had use for us. The truth is we no longer had use for the church and like a surgeon removed the bad limb our ourselves. Yes it hurt for a bit, but now I'm healed and recovered. I don't think I'll ever be fully recovered from the poison of mormonism, meaning I can't ever forget it. It's part of me and who I am. But I am no longer subject to it or it's so called authority.
Like yourself, the happiness we found outside of the mormon dogma has set us free. It's fantastic living an authentic life without pretending to be something different. For myself, I have peace without any concern for the existence of a god. What does matter is I exist. I can determine my path. I can learn from the examples of many different idealogies, philosophies and theologies. But in the end, I choose my path and live it the best way I know how. That's good enough for me.
Epicurus- Greek 341-269 BC
Is god willing to prevent evil but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God
Uhmm...could you be a little more clear on your own personal belief/non-belief about the existence of god. The reply above really has me scratching my head.
Would you also please clarify this:
"Because, in fact, we never really do get together. Even when people think they are agreeing on the questions they are asking, and on the answers they think they are finding, nothing could be further from the truth. It looks like each of us is pretty much alone in our quest, left to our own thoughts and conclusions. Agreement appears to be illusion. Agreement seems to elude us...because it's just not in the cards. There really is no common ground."
This is totally confusing to me. Makes no sense. Sounds rather random.
How do you decide whether a question is right? You claim to hear a voice in your head when you talk to God. How can you be sure it is the voice of God talking to you and not your own? I have to say that it sounds very much like the kind illusion I lived as a mormon and have since left behind.
Since the Bible is only a carefully preserved collection and mishmash of this and that, lectures, legends, myths,and so forth....all of this you've written here is of little value to me. Except as cultural novelty. Definitely there is truth in the Universe. Some things are consistent with natural law and some are not. But the Bible violates more common sense laws...and genuine laws of divinity...that it is hardly worth giving additional credence. At least not for me and mine. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. The Bible, for all of its words and wisdom, is as sophomoric as it gets where the religious truths of God are concerned. I don't know whose truths they are, but they are not the truths of the divine. The Bible is a blind alley that has waylaid vast numbers of innocent, hopeful human beings. Because of this, it is a cause for alarm and wariness and suspicion, rather than a road map to perfection.