Jul 09‍‍2014 - 5774 / 5775
 

I just read a blog article entitled, You Should Not Leave Mormonism for Any of These Five Reasons. The article is disturbing to me because the writer advances the stereotypical and shallow explanations for why people leave the LDS Church, and goes on to advise Mormons not to leave the Church for those reasons. I agree that members shouldn’t leave for the reasons listed, but I strongly disagree that those five reasons accurately characterize the majority of members who leave the Church. The five reasons given by blogger Greg Trimble are:

1. Being offended
2. Not understanding the doctrine
3. It’s just too hard
4. Anti-Mormon literature
5. Sin

If I was still Mormon I would be cheering Mr. Trimble on, nodding my head in unquestioning agreement, and declaring to myself (or to my family if I had read the article aloud to them during our daily devotional time); Yep. The Church is true. People fall away from the Church because they are weak or have shallow testimonies. You can’t fall out of bed if you are all the way in it. And thus I would have perpetuated the myths of apostasy, not out of maliciousness, but simply because I didn’t know any better. In fact, this is what I—as a LDS mom—taught my children, and that’s what was bandied about in an occasional Relief Society or Gospel Doctrine class.

One time I was teaching R.S. on the first Sunday of the month. We always left a little extra time at the end of the lesson for the ladies to share their testimonies. One woman stood up and said, “My cousin just left the Church, and now she’s just so bitter I can’t even talk to her. It’s amazing how people can leave the Church over trivial things. Please put her name on the prayer roll at the Temple.” She went on to elaborate on her cousin’s apostasy. The comments that followed were along these lines:

“People leave because they just can’t cut it. It’s too hard for them to live the gospel.”

“I know someone who was offended by something her visiting teacher said 20 years ago and she’s never been back to church since.”

“Well, my husband’s niece’s best friend’s sister started drinking beer and then left the Church. People just want to sin; that’s why they leave.”

“There’s an inactive sister on my visiting teaching route and she has a coffee maker right there on her kitchen counter!”

“If these people don’t want to live the gospel or be in the Church, I don’t know why they just don’t get their names removed!”

“They don’t get their names removed because deep inside they know the Church is true and they just want to cover all their bases.”

I’m sad to say that I was just as uninformed and misinformed as everyone else making those comments. Now I have a whole new perspective because I’m viewing things from the other side. I was a devout LDS woman serving in the capacity of Relief Society president when I left Mormonism.

I wasn’t offended by anyone. I had support and encouragement from fellow ward members. They treated me with respect and—for the most part—were loving and kind. There were a few people I got unfriendly vibes from over the years, but nothing I wouldn’t expect from any group I might belong to. The simple truth is that not everyone is going to like you, no matter how wonderful you are (or think you are).

I understood the doctrine very well (and perhaps better than most). I attended seminary in high school, took LDS Institute of Religion classes at the local college as an adult, went to BYU Education Week every other year, read the Book of Mormon cover to cover a few dozen times for personal study and during daily family study. People were always amazed at how much doctrine my children knew; in fact, their knowledge of the gospel exceeded that of many of their Primary, Sunday school, and Young Men/Young Women teachers. How did they know so much? Because their father and I taught them through daily home school lessons, family prayer, and scripture reading time.

“Living the gospel” wasn’t difficult. Was it challenging at times? Yes. It was challenging to raise ten children, get them ready for Church, and take them back and forth to youth activities. It was a commitment to hold regular Family Home Evenings, daily prayer and Scripture reading, and trying to lead by example. It required time and resources to magnify my callings, attend the temple regularly, prepare Primary and Relief Society lessons, hold Cub Scout Den meetings, and live for the Church so we could be an eternal family. I was weary at times, but not enough to throw in the towel! You don’t quit when the prize is eternal life for yourself, your spouse, and your children! Living the gospel was a no-brainer: “Gee, do I want to take up coffee or do I want to go to the Celestial Kingdom? Would I rather have a cold bottle of beer or would I rather live with all my posterity and Heavenly Father forever and ever?”

Anti-Mormon literature did not cause me to lose my testimony. Official Church literature is what served the death-blow to Mormonism for me. I read a sermon by Brigham Young, who said,

Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands…There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man and woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants. (Discourse Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, March 16, 1856)

As disturbing as this was to me, it was certainly not the only thing that led to my leaving the Church. Reading Young’s sermon was the catalyst that spurred me on into further research and study. It wasn’t just one thing, but a boatload of problems, issues, and discrepencies that I discovered in my research. The final nail in Mormonism’s coffin—for me—was learning that of Joseph Smith’s 33 documented wives (and he may have had more), 11 of them were currently married. Seven of his wives were under 18, the youngest being 14. Not only was that outrageous to me and proved to me he was not a prophet of the Biblical God, but the fact that he lied about his marriages publicly and to his first wife, Emma was further proof he was a false prophet.

I didn’t leave the Church because of sin. I was sincere, humble, and always asking Heavenly Father for direction and guidance. Although I often fell short, I strove diligently to live the gospel, to keep the commandments, and to please the Lord. I was honest in my temple recommend interviews and was found worthy enough in the eyes of my Bishops and Stake Presidents to issue me Temple Recommends over the years.

My experiences in leaving the Church are not uncommon. In a survey to over 3,000 disaffected Mormons, John Dehlin, founder of MormonStories.org, found that only 4% had left the Church because they were offended or wanted to engage in behavior contrary to LDS values. 96% of respondents stopped believing in Mormonism due to:

  1. Historical issues
  2. Scientific issues
  3. Doctrinal and theological issues
  4. Socio-political and cultural issues
  5. Spiritual issues

A great majority of these people had served on missions (73% of the men), and held callings as bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents, Relief Society presidents, Primary and Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, and Elder’s and High Priest Quorum leaders. To accuse them of being offended ignorant lazy anti-Mormon sinners or dismiss them as being weak is uncharitable and hurtful. In the October 2013 General Conference of the Church, President Dieter Uchdorf cautioned members;

Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.

He further acknowledged that “there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question.” If a Mormon General Authority can extend understanding and compassion to disaffected and former Mormons, it affirms that it’s time for “rank and file” members to cease stereotyping them and consider the prospect that people can leave Mormonism for significant reasons.

 

  2 Responses to “Leaving Mormonism for Significant Reasons”

  1. Pearl Of Great Price
    34 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;

    Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
    Introduction of Book of Mormon

    So if that’s the case why can’t we find these teachings in the Book of Mormon ?

    1. The plurality of Gods (Mormon Doctrine pp. 576, 577)
    2. The baptism for the dead done in holy temples (Mormon Doctrine pp. 72,73)
    3. Celestial marriage which no unworthy member or outsider can attend (Mormon Doctrine pp. 117, 118)
    4. Polygamy needed to become a God (Journal of Discourse, Vol. II p. 269)
    5. Blacks were cursed with a dark skin (Mormon Doctrine p. 109)
    6. You can become a God if you are worthy; celestial marriage required (Mormon Doctrine p. 118)
    7. We were all pre-existent spirits (Mormon Doctrine p. 589)
    8. God has a body of flesh and bones (Mormon Doctrine p. 289)
    9. We have a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father (Mormon Doctrine p. 516)
    10. There are three levels of heaven. To go to the highest kingdom, you must be a Mormon. Honorable persons go to the Terrestrial kingdom. The dishonest, liars, sorcerers, adulterers and whoremongers go to the Telestial kingdom. (Mormon Doctrine pp. 420, 421)
    11. God and his wife achieved a celestial marriage (Celestial Marriage Manual p. 1)
    12. Heavenly Father died just like Jesus (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 346)
    13. God was once just like us and progressed to godhood (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 345)
    14. God has a father and His Father has a Father, etc. (Mormon Doctrine p. 322)
    15. Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers (Mormon Doctrine p. 192)
    16. Jesus and Lucifer each had a plan to people the earth. Jesus’ plan was chosen and caused Lucifer to rebel and he and the angels that followed him were cast out of heaven. (Mormon Doctrine p. 193)
    17. God lives near a star called Kolob (Mormon Doctrine p. 428)
    18. Temple endowments are so sacred that you must be worthy to enter (Mormon Doctrine pp. 619, 620)
    19. Jesus was not able to keep his church together (History of the Church Vol. 6 pp. 408, 409)
    20. In the future, you will need Joseph Smith’s consent in order to enter the celestial kingdom (Journal of Discourse Vol. 7 p.289)
    21. Not everything you’ll need to know concerning salvation will be recorded in the Bible but there will be additional scriptures (Mormon Doctrine p. 83)”
    22. Jesus was Married and Practiced polygamy (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p.210).
    (Journal of Discourses, vol.2, p.82).
    (Journal of Discourses, vol.4, p.259).
    23. No eternal hell
    LDS Apostle John Widtsoe declared, “In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no hell. All will find a measure of salvation” (E. & R., p. 216). Yet, the B. of M. says, “The devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell and behold others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell” (II Nephi 28:21-22). Thus, the B. of M. explains where Mormonism got its doctrine of no hell!

    The B. of M. also says, “If ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked” (Alma 34:35).

    24. Animal sacrifice after Jesus’ blood was shed

    RESTORATION OF BLOOD SACRIFICES. We are living in the dispensation of the fulness of times into which all things are to be gathered, and all things are to be restored since the beginning. Even this earth is to be restored to the condition which prevailed before Adam’s transgression. 44 Now in the nature of things, the law of sacrifice will have to be restored, or all things which were decreed by the Lord would not be restored. It will be necessary, therefore, for the sons of Levi, who offered the blood sacrifices anciently in Israel, to offer such a sacrifice again to round out and complete this ordinance in this dispensation. Sacrifice by the shedding of blood was instituted in the days of Adam and of necessity will have to be restored. 45

    The sacrifice of animals will be done to complete the restoration when the temple spoken of is built; at the beginning of the millennium, or in the restoration, blood sacrifices will be performed long enough to complete the fulness of the restoration in this dispensation. Afterwards sacrifice will be of some other character.

    3 Nephi 9:19 Jesus was supposed to have said: “And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.”

    25. Atonement happened in Garden of Gethsemane

    The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints does not view the atonement of Christ in the biblical and historical Christian manner. Instead of the atonement occurring on the cross, Mormonism teaches that the atonement occurred primarily in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus shed His blood. Please consider the following quotes from a BYU professor and the Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie.
    •BYU professor Robert J. Matthews, who on page 282 of his book, A Bible! A Bible!, wrote, “It was in Gethsemane, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, that Jesus made his perfect atonement by the shedding of his blood-more so than on the cross.”
    •Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie, stated, “Where and under what circumstances was the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God made? Was it on the Cross of Calvary or in the Garden of Gethsemane? It is to the Cross of Christ that most Christians look when centering their attention upon the infinite and eternal atonement. And certainly the sacrifice of our Lord was completed when he was lifted up by men; also, that part of his life and suffering is more dramatic and, perhaps, more soul stirring. But in reality the pain and suffering, the triumph and grandeur, of the atonement took place primarily in Gethsemane,” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 1, p. 774, emphasis mine).
    26. Eternal Progression
    27. Maintaining genealogical records
    28. Mormons hold keys to the kingdom
    29 . Eternal Families
    30 . creation from matter and Ex Nihilo wrong

    Jacob 4:9 For behold, by the power of his a word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the dearth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?

    • Great references and insights! You’re right on track. These LDS doctrines you refer to are not in the Bible because they are false teachings; “the doctrines of men.”

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