Please post anonymously. If anyone wants to write me, feel free to forward their letter. [Refer to story #39] Thanks for the page, it's great.
I have enjoyed reading the accounts in this web page of others like me who have decided to leave Mormonism. Leaving Mormonism is a lonely path and it helps to share in the experiences of others. Like many, I prefer to remain anonymous. The rest of my family is "active" LDS and I still need to protect my relationships with them. My purpose in writing is to say something that will perhaps benefit someone else, just as I have benefited from reading other's accounts. Although our stories are different, the one thing that we all hold in common is a devotion to truth, even if it means significantly altering our lives, disrupting relationships and taking a plunge into the great, wide unknown.
For me, life as a Mormon was comfortable. All the answers to life's major questions were laid out before me. The path was well defined. There were callings that gave me a sense of importance and self worth. There was fellowship and a network of friends. There were activities and youth conferences. BYU was fun and exciting. There were happy Mormons in business, sports and entertainment and millions of others with whom I could identify. There's a language and cultural identity unique to Mormons that I shared. I even had spiritual experiences in Mormonism. My entire family identity and family history is tied up in Mormonism.
For me, life as a Mormon was also very uncomfortable. As a young boy, the New Testament quotes in the Book of Mormon troubled me. As a missionary in a foreign land and after much effort and prayer and fasting, I still hadn't received "the answer", the burning in the bosom. Deep in my heart I couldn't convince myself to believe in certain things (for example, that Adam was a Missourian) yet I still pushed on, testifying to others that this was God's work. No amount of faith or self talk convinced me internally that the strange Egyptian characters in the Pearl of Great Price really depicted Abraham (just one more in myriad of things weren't believable to me). I stuck with the church because I believed that eventually I would be able to answer these and other questions if I remained faithful. I was married in the temple, but the rituals remained strange and confusing. Somehow it just never all tied together for me. Internally it never felt quite right, yet I continued to live dualistically, ever the strong, active Mormon under the weight of so many doubts.
About 10 years ago, I decided to face these questions directly. I read many books about Mormonism and I prayed. God never rescued me from myself. He never told me Mormonism was true and he never told me to stop my search. In my search, I have moved back and forth between pain and exhilaration and hurt relationships, but the search has been worth it. The sense of integrity and wholeness that I now feel is worth any pain that I experienced. I will never again trade my intellectual freedom for anything. I haven't found the truth, but here are truths that I have learned:
o Truth is not profane. Truth stands alone. Search for it and seize it
where you find it. Don't let anyone accuse you of evil for questioning and
o God gave us a great tool, our brain. Use it fearlessly.
o The path to spirituality lies in "the hero's journey" you have to do it alone.
o Easy answers to hard questions are snake oil.
o Materialism and pride destroy the spirit (Does Mormonism grasp or shun pride and materiality? Did Joseph Smith exhibit more pride or humility? Was he more like Gandhi or Koresh?).
o Anger is the mind killer. Don't become bitter about your experience in Mormonism. Learn from it.
o Listen more, speak less.
o Don't judge others.
o Other religions are valid. They offer a deep well of wisdom.
Don't let anyone tell you that defining your own path to spirituality is wrong. We are not necessarily proud, intellectual, faithless, masturbating Korihors for leaving Mormonism. No one "hurt my feelings" as has been suggested by others as a reason for my leaving Mormonism. I'm a rational adult, I can deal with human failings. And yes, I am sinful (please show me a person in or outside of Mormonism who doesn't sin). I won't throw my income at Mormonism, but I'm capable of giving 10% of my income to the right cause. I don't "love money more than God" or truth. What I can no longer accept is intellectual suicide, period.
To my practicing Mormon friends and family who believe:
o That the Garden of Eden was in Missouri
o That God sanctioned polygamy
o That God sanctioned a racial policy and changed it
o That American Indians are brown Israelites
o That the papyrus were really translated by Joseph
o That Reformed Egyptian was a real language spoken in the New World
o That Jaredites came to the New World in submarine-like barges
o That Israelites traveled to the New World on three separate occasions
o That the LDS Temple ordinances of today were practiced by Adam, Noah, Moses and Jesus and that these rites preceded the Masonic rites they resemble.
o That there are logical reasons for Paul to be quoted in the Book of Mormon before he was born
o That the ancient Americans really prophesied; the birth of Christ in far greater detail than Isaiah, the voyage of Columbus, the pilgrims, the creation of the United States, the 3 witnesses, the restoration of the gospel by Joseph Smith and even foretold the lost manuscripts and devised a plan to remedy their loss (2000 years before Martin Harris lost them).
o That Mark Hofman's deceiving of "the Brethren" can be explained in light of modern-day revelation (refer to news pictures of Spencer Kimball and counselors examining forged documents with Mark Hofman at their side, years before he was arrested).
o That Gordon B. Hinckley represents God here on earth.
o That Christ drank grape juice not wine.
o That baptism for the dead is essential to salvation.
o That 9 million Mormons are right and 4.5 billion others are wrong.
To you the believer, I respect your belief in these things. Obviously, I'm a skeptic, however, I will never criticize or condemn you for your belief in these things. I find these things utterly unbelievable, but I will not mock your faith. I won't make fun of you, but I expect reciprocation. Please don't label me or judge me for choosing not to profess belief these things. I won't call you foolish, misled or deceived. Please don't call me foolish, misled or deceived.
I believe that a rational God would produce a rational religion. Mormonism is not rational to me. Why can't Mormonism if it is God's work be just a little more consistent or logical? The history and foundations of Mormonism now appear very mediocre to me. Couple that with a non-response to the Moroni challenge and I ended up as a non-believer. You may have received a witness. I didn't after years of trying. Please don't fault me for looking elsewhere. I don't believe that I had a choice in being born into Mormonism. Now I am making a choice.
Today, I still attend church periodically with my wife and children. The bishop, my friends and my family know where I stand. I don't hide my beliefs from anyone who asks. I don't allow home teachers in my home because I'm tired of being treated like a sick patient by them. Leaving Mormonism was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I have gained more confidence in myself by making this difficult step. I feel more clear headed and whole than at any other time in my life. Spirituality has a whole new meaning to me. I'm not even sure that God exists, but I believe he does. I see the world and people in a whole new way. I am less judgmental. I am free to worship and approach God in the manner that feels most right to me. I can consider the merits of the world's great religions (including Mormonism) and philosophers without guilt. I look forward to the years of learning and experience that lie ahead. I wish you all well.
"Shantih, Shantih, Shantih" TS Eliot