How long can one be the perfect hypocrite pretending to believe in the Mormon Church?
Subject: How long can one be the perfect hypocrite?
Date: Jan 14 16:07 2004
Author: Saul

I am a new poster. I have lurked for a long time, and have gained a lot of insight. I want to begin by thanking you for your contributions. I have a long story which I may post sometime, but just let me summarize where I am and ask for your help. I am a BIC member forty something years old, RM served in four bishoprics, HC YM Pres. GD Teacher, Stake Exec. Sec., and married to a fervent TBM. My own awakening occurred a number of years ago when I finally allowed myself to ask the question proposed by Moroni "if these things are NOT true". I am now so disgusted with the whole thing that it is difficult to continue on. I attend the temple weekly, teach primary, attend church, read scriptures with my family daily, the whole nine yards. Those rare times when I cautiously approached the subject with my wife of the church being a complete fraud have convinced me that she will never consider the possibility. She is disturbed by even the smallest hints of my disbelief, and she suspects that it runs deeper but we simply do not discuss it in any detail.
I had processed my thoughts and feelings and I had decided that my only course of action was to live my life as the perfect hypocrite. I lied (and enjoyed lying) to renew my temple recommend. I teach the manuals version of truth in my class. When my children have a question about the inconsistencies of the gospel or the church, I give them the proper faith promoting answer. I am not as good a hypocrite as this sounds however, because my kids see the contradictions, suspect I have a better answer than the one I am offering, and leave unsatisfied and even confused.
My question is this. Does anyone out there have any success living the role of pure hypocrite? It is becoming more difficult over time, and I feel like I have no other options. I refuse to be the source of turmoil in my marriage, and I want to limit my exposure to hypocrisy to a livable level, by getting released from callings and just going along for the sake of harmony. As I have lurked, I have gotten a sense for the range of possible responses from you, like Theo telling me to give the F-ing church the finger, or conformist telling me to slowly erode the blind faith of my wife with good sound reason, etc., but I am convinced that I am stuck in this mode for a very long time. I don't know what to expect from you, since this is my problem, but I would appreciate your insight. After seeing your responses to the pleas of others, I am convinced that the collective input is helpful.

Subject: After all, my name's Dimmesdale...
Date: Jan 14 16:12
Author: Dimmesdale
Mail Address:

Far too long I've been doing all the things you enumerated. Long enough that many of my children are grown. I FINALLY am making the move that I should have taken years ago. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed about it, only possibly ashamed and embarrassed that I didn't do it sooner.

I've just crossed the threshold to becoming "Dimmesdale no more," so I'll have to let you know how it's going in a day or so.

Good luck to you. Maybe taking it slowly is the best way, but don't take it as slowly as I did.

Subject: Run away with me, single exmo gal
Date: Jan 14 18:30
Author: exmo-woman
Mail Address:

Well, I guess that's not necessarily the solution you were looking for.

I personally can't live my life as a phony, and I can't stand others who are phony. So you likely won't like what I have to say.

I say hooey to any spouse or other family member that can't accept me for who I am and my beliefs. It is hard when kids are involved, but I still think it's important to stand up for one's real beliefs and feelings, not to go along with a corrupt game.

I imagine those who are in marriages with TBMs must find it incredibly hard to face up to the reality that either they can find a middle ground and respect each other's changes in life, or leave and move on to a new life altogether. But the hypocrisy route would not be an option for me.

Subject: I know how you feel
Date: Jan 14 16:33
Author: JUMBO
Mail Address:

My wife knows but still expects me to keep up appearances because of the kids and family. She is slipping in her testimony too but I don't think will ever leave because it will devastate her family.
You should be frank with your wife about your testimony and let the chips fall. Reassure her that you will continue to fulfill your obligations and commitments to her but she needs to know, it is now such a big part of who you are you definitely need to clue her in. If you tell her you will continue to attend and do everything asked of you the shock shouldn't be that bad and hopefully she will approach you with questions.
What state do you live in?
Good luck,

Subject: Can you turn down a calling and still hold on to your recommend?
Date: Jan 14 17:18
Author: Saul
Mail Address:

Hey guys, thanks for your input. I did not realize how many people share my particular problem.
Do any of you have recommends? It is important to my wife that we attend the temple, and I don't mind going since I sit there and internally comment stuff like "what a load of crap" or "Michael Ballam, you are such a smug jackass" or "Elohim, if you are so smart, why are you asking Adam where he is?", or "Does anybody walk up to all of the covenants made in the temple (no), and therefore, aren't all Mormons under Satan's power? When we get into the celestial room, my wife asks me if I learned anything new, and I usually answer something like " I was wondering what kind of power or priesthood Satan was referring to being emblemized on his apron" or "I was wondering why God never talks to Eve after her confession". It is fun in a warped sort of way.
ANYWAY, if I ask to be released from my calling, I am concerned that they will ask for my recommend and exacerbate my wife's view of where I am. Do any of you have a recommend with no calling? Being a hypocrite is such hazardous work.
By the way Greg in LA, I would like to talk but I am not quite ready to get too close to exposing myself. I am still under the illusion that hypocrisy demands isolation, and this forum seems to allow for that.

Thanks again

Subject: If you don't mind your boys going on missions...
Date: Jan 14 17:31
Author: dimmesdale
Mail Address:

and your children getting married in the temple and possibly having the same torment you are having (or possibly not), then I see no reason you can't just turn down callings and just be a marginal temple-going member. Particularly if you are in the SLC corridor area where there are many members in each ward and your service isn't as needed.

I've seen numerous people who don't have church callings who go to the temple regularly. Most of them are older, but some are not. You would have to pay your tithing, but that doesn't seem to be your problem.

My biggest problem was sitting through the lessons I didn't believe in, and trying to juggle lesson material in lessons I taught so I didn't teach something I didn't believe in. If you refused all callings, you wouldn't have the latter problem. You might manage to stomach sitting through classes. Maybe, maybe not. It doesn't get easier. Particularly if you are reading things on this board.

But, hey, I was wrong in the previous paragraph. My truly BIGGEST problem was realizing that in trying to make my spouse happy, and trying to hang in there so as not to make waves, etc., I was taking my CHILDREN down the same course. Mine got old enough for me to see how activity in the church was really damaging them. That's hard to live with.

Subject: Re: If you don't mind your boys going on missions...
Date: Jan 14 17:53
Author: Saul
Mail Address:

You are right Dimmesdale, I do have a problem with all of those other things (sitting through BS lessons), and my concern about my children is truly my biggest strain about hypocrisy. I have had two children serve missions with disastrous results and they are now temple married, never having resolved the absolute failure on the church's part, but assuming all of the responsibility for failure themselves. My younger boy is dutifully preparing for his attempt at a mission. As for tithing, I plan on gradually redefining what tithing means to something like "increase = the difference in savings account balance over the course of a year"; that way I will at least cut my tithing considerably, and I can support that definition ( I can already hear the response of 'do you want gross blessings or net blessings', to which I will respond, I want an increase in blessings)...
Your points illustrate the flaws in my approach, but I still think that retaining marital harmony to the degree possible is more important than saving your children from something they currently see as a good thing, and in fact does help them live decent lives, and keeps them busy. I am sure that your experience will prove my folly and I will have to admit sometime in the future that I repeated your mistakes by ignoring your wisdom. I will ponder the matter...

Subject: I just gotta say one thing -
Date: Jan 14 17:32
Author: Susan I/S

Please be kind to yourself. Everyone has to find their own way on their own time table :).

Subject: I've always found comfort in fiction
Date: Jan 14 17:51
Author: anon
Mail Address:

There is a book by Robert Olen Butler called "They Whisper".

Its about a man who stays married for the sake of his child even though his wife is quite insane.

Not saying your wife is insane, but your situation (along with many other's here) is similar.

Good luck.

Subject: Although not as perfect as a similar life
Date: Jan 14 18:11
Author: fc
Mail Address:

Saul (interesting handle BTW),
I am also in a similar situation. Although I don't fake it as well as you do. I do make occasional comments to my wife, like "I quit buying you Victoria Secret, when I realized you wear it more for other men (doctors) than you do for me". Where she knows I have doubts and can't stand the time being a good Mormon consumes. But we have never discussed it in any detail, as it is sure to lead no where good. Although she does not readily admit it, I see signs of not quite the best TBM (no Mormon art in the house, doesn't like going to the temple but goes because of pressure, etc.).
Anyway, to answer your question, I have turned down callings. In the last couple years, Ward Missionary Leader (or whatever they call it) and believe it or not High Council right to the SP's face. Reason, I am a very, very busy professional and feel I couldn't devote the time required to do the job to 100% which I would feel obligated to do without ignoring my family and other responsibities which are important to ME. (Yes I said it just that way with the emphasis on ME). I still get Temple recommends when needed for weddings, etc. Other then that pretty lax on the issue.

Subject: My biggest concern .... is the kids... read on
Date: Jan 14 18:23
Author: fc
Mail Address:

My biggest concern as Dimmesdale voice is my kids. I feel like sitting my oldest down who is less than 2 years from a mission and saying something like, "David, I know you are planning on going on a mission in a couple of years. I think it would be wise that you study the church from all aspects and make sure that your testimony is 100% strong. Otherwise, you won't be effective and will be wasting your time and my money. There is much about the church doctrine and history you don't know, in fact there is a dark side to the church with some very disturbing things. The internet is a good source of information to learn without being spoon fed what the church wants you to know. I also want you to know that even though everyone expects you to go on a mission, it is your choice what you do with those two years of your life. You will be an adult and can make your own choice. I will place no pressure on you to go. I will love you know matter what you choose to do and respect and support your decision."

This way, I am not totally coming out of the closet to him, but letting him know there is an out if he wants it. I wish my Dad had told me something like that before my mission. I see in him (my dad) signs of doubt occasionally, but by and large, he is TBM. Unfortunately, right now, my wife does not feel the same way I do, so would not support this little speech.

The pressure on these kids is incredible, especially when he has grandparents who are in temple presidencies and patriarchs, etc. I only know of one inactive relative out of 100's. We are pioneer stock thru and thru.

Subject: fc, I spoke to my older son the way you are suggesting here...
Date: Jan 14 22:47
Author: dimmesdale
Mail Address:

and he still went on a mission, thinking I was simply a thoughtful, questioning, yet faithful Mormon.

I think it gave him MORE hope that he could go on a mission with doubts and live a wholly active Mormon life.

I don't think it's enough to tell them it's OK to question when you truly don't believe. I didn't believe when he was sent out. I told him time and again that he could come home any time, that there would be weird things on his mission, that he may have a bad mission president, that he could call home no matter what the rules were, etc.

But, I was going to church every week. I never told him I didn't believe.

That was dishonest of me, and I regret it!

When he came home and I finally had courage to tell him of my disbelief, I think it hurt him. He said, "I don't know why a person goes to church when they don't believe it." I think he was hurt and angry.

Subject: Hmm...I see what you mean.
Date: Jan 14 23:37
Author: fc
Mail Address:

I am just not ready to come out of the closet to my family yet. My wife and kids though do know that I get tired of too much church stuff. 3 hours on Sunday about kills me. I about barf when they mention that surprise stake priesthood meeting or fireside Sunday night. Church on Saturday (training meetings, etc.)...forget it. At least that is a sign. Like everyone says, I am just taking it slow, but will consider your experience as the time approaches. Thanks.

Subject: Whatever you choose for yourself is up to you.
Date: Jan 14 18:43
Author: Lilith
Mail Address:

But I find it unconscionable that you choose to teach children that which you do not believe. Perhaps you could find another calling.

Subject: I'm convinced my Dad has taken a similar approach, but longer-term...
Date: Jan 14 18:54
Author: Brian B.

He told my brother recently that there were benefits to being a member regardless of it being true or not. I may be wrong, but I can't credit this statement coming from a believer--only a disbeliever would have tipped this hand. Of course, he didn't tell me because I would've stuck his head in a vice and made him confessssssss.

As a sideways comeback to my dad's secret sentiments I would have told him that there are benefits to simply saying 'I don't know' and seeing what happens. They can't destroy you for doubting, and if they try, then they validate your test.

Subject: Strategy
Date: Jan 14 19:41
Author: RHHW

Saul, I decided to research on the internet why the 7th Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witness' churches were not true! I had friends that belonged to these churches and decided that I might try to convert them to the one true church - The Mormon Church!

Anyway, I decided that my friends would soon research on the internet why my church wasn't true! So, I decided to counter their research by researching what they would find on my LDS faith. It took all of about an hour and a half for me to realize that Mormonism was a hoax!

It really prepares your mind for "critical thinking" if you first study the hoaxes that others have fallen for. Would it be possible for you to set up something like this for either your wife or children.

The biggest problem in showing someone the light is getting them to think unbiased and critically, . You can begin to do this by getting them to look at the mistakes others are making in the two churches I mentioned.

Good Luck

Subject: Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph.
Date: Jan 14 19:51
Author: Fly

He was a hypocrite for a pretty long time!

I'm sorry to hear of your situation; being treated like "the weaker companion" in a marriage is certainly not conducive to happiness.

I hope you can find some support & helpful advice here. : )

Subject: Re: You may want to rethink your wife's TBMness.....I think that she may be
Date: Jan 14 20:20
Author: what ever happened to...
Mail Address:

more concerned for her earthly security. Rocking the lds boat does very little to help maintain a woman's balance. If she feel 'safe' with your love and commitment to her, she may in time look at a few 'interesting' facts about lds history (polygamy for example).
My thinking is this:
1. Make sure she is secure emotionally with you.
2. When discovering lds facts together, counterbalance by showing you love HER, unconditionally.
3. Casually discuss things which always make a woman hesitate. Example, polygamy. Let her know that she is the only one you are interested in, and that a flaming sword wouldn't deter you from loving monogamously only her.
4. Support her and her beliefs without a personal attack. So many lds take a question about their 'church' as a personal attack.
5. Leave information around and available for her from the lds church's own history. There is enough to make anybody wonder!
6. Never say "She'll never open her eyes to the fraud."
7. Focus on other 'things to do' together away from lds functions.
I opened my eyes after 3 years. I held all the callings a woman could...including gospel doctrine instructor for several years. You can have success with her. Be patient and loving. If I can see it, she can too.

Our sons followed us also, after they became adults.
One thing....HOW can you sit through sessions without having a mental hernia?

Subject: There will likely come a time (minor cuss)
Date: Jan 14 20:06
Author: Wag

When living in the realm of double-think becomes more painful than having your wife boot you through the uprights. If that happens, then all hell is likely to break loose.

You might consider easing into it a little at a time over the next year or so. I've heard it suggested here in times past that if you drop a loaded question every now and then, you can at least get the spouse thinking about certain things. Or you can leave things laying around which are not necessarily blatant anti-mormonism but which raise some issues.

Good luck. I don't envy your position one bit.


Subject: I agree with the poster who suggested you quietly work on your mission age son.
Date: Jan 14 20:41
Author: Carolsue

He may eventually bring up some concerns with the two married brothers, and set them to thinking again. Slowly but surely the doubts may spread among other family members, and eventually set your wife to wondering, too.

Subject: You can be the perfect hypocrite until...
Date: Jan 14 21:01
Author: TLC can't be it anymore. None of our experiences here can be laid down over the top of your life and be a perfect fit. So in essence, we can share with you what we've been through or are currently going through and you might find comfort in knowing there are others like you out here. But our experiences can't determine the outcome of yours. You'll continue playing the game until you feel like you just can't play it anymore.

Mormonism doesn't leave us with any easy outs. Even for spouses who leave the church together, there are significant and often long-range ramifications. Just ask Steve and Mary Ann about that. Some of us lose our spouses as a result of being honest about our disbelief. And others of us, like Langdon, find ways to make it work against all odds.

Whatever anybody else has done, you have to do what you feel is best for your marriage and your children. And it sounds like you're doing exactly that. Nothing to criticize there. In the long run, the price you pay for living a lie is the chipping away at your integrity. That's not something for any of us to judge - it's about how long you can sustain that kind of a feeling. You'll know it when it becomes unbearable and that's when you'll be able to make the changes that you don't feel free to make now.

In the meantime, making the choice to go along to get along is something we all seem to do, whether in or out of Mormonism. Life seems to be one long series of quid pro quos - a succession of choices where we exchange one thing for another. As long as what you feel you're getting in exchange for pretending to be a believing Mormon is working for you, then you're within your integrity and there's nothing to regret.

I understand how trapped you must feel at times - I've been there and know how discouraging it can be. I also know that most of us aren't capable of just walking away from our spouses and children no matter how strong our disbelief. Hopefully somewhere in all of this you can find some comfort in knowing that you're doing what you feel is best for your family. There's a lot of honor in that choice. Not because it's the right thing to do, but because it's what you've chosen to do.

Subject: My dad has lived the lie for decades....
Date: Jan 14 23:13
Author: Higgins-Magee
Mail Address:

And at 69, he has zero passion left in life. He's definitely on the way out because he has nothing left for which to live.

The lie has chipped away at his integrity to the point where he hardly communicates on a substantive level with anyone.

That's the cost of living the lie.

Is it worth it?

No way.

Subject: It doesn't sound like
Date: Jan 14 23:27
Author: Saucie

you can be the perfect hypocrite for very much longer.
You seem to be a good person who loves his family and wants what's best for them, but what about you and what you want?
I know that when you have a spouse and children you have to sometimes put their welfare and interests before your own but you can't do it 100% of the time without paying a hefty price in terms of strong feelings of resentment and anger
towards them for the sacrifice you are making for them by sublimating your honesty for their sake without them even being aware of it.

I have no solutions for you. My husband was inactive for a long time before I realized the church was crap. I just
had faith that he would return someday but it never occurred
to me to leave him and break up my family because he didn't believe in what I believed in. Funny how things turn out.

People without integrity can pull a lie off for years and not feel any pain or regret about it, you sound like you have a lot of integrity so I doubt if you could lie to the people you love for a long time and not pay a price.

Good luck in figuring it all out.
Saucie :-)

Subject: Re: How long can one be the perfect hypocrite?
Date: Jan 14 23:55
Author: Mad

I think your wife may have more doubts than she lets you realize.
I am the youngest of 10 children - all of whom went on missions (including the girls) and were married in the temple. I haven't attended church in over 10 years and it has been hard on my family as they feel sorry for me. But, it has also put me in an interesting spot with all of them. All my brothers and sisters feel safe in sharing things with me that they have not said to others. I guess they see me as a neutral party. All my sisters (and some of my brothers) have told me about the doubts they have about the church - although I still cannot convince them it is not true. However, the interesting thing to me is how angry my sisters get with their husbands if their husbands ever dare mention they have doubts about the church - even though they secretly may be feeling the same way themselves. I think they get scared that if they admit to the same doubts - their whole life will unravel and it is difficult for them to feel safe, or secure in a world without the church. Mormons for some reason seem to think that the only reason they are where they are is because of their belief in the church. Therefore, there is the fear that if they no longer believe in the church they will become a drug addicted homeless person, losing everything they care about, and becoming someone they won't recognize in the years to come.
I think your wife has doubts too, you just need to find a way to make her feel safe in expressing her feelings about it. If there is some way to let her think it is her idea to question the church, she may not feel as betrayed when she finally learns (and she will) that you have been part of the church all these years just to keep your marriage intact.
I also think that you are putting an incredible amount of stress on yourself by having to live this way. I had a psychology professor at Ricks College years ago tell us that if we weren't going to live by the principles of the church, we might as well get out because of all the mental pain we would be causing for ourselves. I took it to heart - and I got out!

Subject: Being true to....?
Date: Jan 15 00:41
Author: Ken
Mail Address:

Saul, I read through everyone's ideas thus far, and they are all food for thought; I agree with most of it.
Someone wiser than I said, "To thine own self be true." When I expressed doubts about Mormonism to my wife, she was highly critical. I replied that if I found out the church were true, then I'd be back. (I never went back, and I'm still being true to myself.)
Someone here said he didn't envy you. But I think this can be a GREAT time for you! I can be the beginning of you being YOURSELF instead of being what someone or something else wants you to be.
Regarding your wife, there IS, in fact, a Mormon prophet I would suggest you should follow in one sense. Spencer Kimball said, "The truth can always be told with gentleness." (I wish HE had told the truth; but what he said in this case is right.) Only you will know the right way to tell the truth to your wife.
I see this solution as being not "selfish" but SELF-DIRECTED. So, why not ask yourself, "What does Saul really want?" And perhaps you can advise your family to do the same.
So, I wish you good luck. I think you're about to meet someone very important to your life - the real you.

Subject: ;Can you start by just not going to temple so often
Date: Jan 15 01:22
Author: I wish I could have done it
Mail Address:

To me, it's really Nazi to do that activity weekly. Also, take your wife on an overnight week-end getaway. Just to initially make a change in your pattern. Have fun on that Sunday, and make it a very special time for the two of you.


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