I grew up giving a greater than normal dedication to my Mormon faith, but after a disheartening experience in the temple on my way home from the mission field, I completely lost faith in God and my religion. Over the next decade and a half I slowly reconstructed it to where it is now. I fall somewhere between an agnostic humanist and having faith (but not knowing) that God spoke to Joseph Smith as he stated. Therefore, I don’t view the gospel like the majority of members do. I now have an outsider’s view that I didn’t have before. This reconstruction of my faith allows me to feel like I still have a connection with the divine. I can honestly say that I see God’s fingerprints often in the lives of the members and sometimes the leaders of my faith, making me love my Mormon life.
There are many positives that come with this outsider’s view while remaining in the church. For example, I feel that I take more of a personal responsibility for my faith as I do not leave it in the hands of my leaders anymore. That helps me feel this greater direct connection to the divine which I stated earlier. On the other hand, probably the biggest negative of my position and being public about it is the judgment and ostracization that I receive from other members for not quietly getting back in line or keeping my differing opinions to myself.
All of this turmoil brings a dilemma to the forefront of my consciousness that I’ve been wrestling with lately. That is the ever-present responsibility in Mormonism to share the gospel. I’m divided between wanting others to experience the good in Mormonism that I love and wanting to keep everyone away from what I see as the bad. There are many good things, such as all the teachings that have helped me become a better person, and the practices that help my people be known for strong integrity, family values and caring service. On the other hand, I don’t want to introduce my good, Christian friends to what I view as harmful cultural practices. Painful examples would include: hyper-focusing on modesty by putting capped sleeves on little girls or even great works of art, un-Christ-like responses to people for having different opinions on fairly insignificant acts like drinking caffeinated beverages, playing with face cards or taking the sacrament with your left hand.
If I could share my version of the gospel and take them to a place where it was practiced, I could easily, openly and excitedly share that gospel. How great would it be to be a part of a ward where I knew everyone loved each individual despite differences in styles of dress, views of Church history or even the different ways we each sin. It would almost be…like Zion! Unfortunately I am in the minority and I don’t know of a place where I can enjoy the “big tent” Gospel of Jesus Christ without those harsh judgments or upsetting cultural practices. If I did, I would cry with the voice of an angel from the rooftops to bring others into the fold of such a wonderful religion.
You may be in the minority, but you are definitely NOT alone–
I find myself wanting to share the Book of Mormon and my feelings/beliefs about Jesus Christ, in whom I believe with all my heart–
but I find myself being very concerned about:
–how humble people will be treated in my highly stratified very general authority-centered ward and . . .
–how will they respond to all the cultural untruths?
It is very difficult indeed. One thing I have decided to do is to let people know I am LDS and then let them talk about their own faith, whatever it is, if they have faith–
and build bridges. I appreciate the faith and truth in other people, and I find a LOT of it; in fact, many times non-LDS are more genuine than LDS people–
this gives me great hope–
Thank you for a very good essay.
In my opinion.
LDSDPR, Thanks! I have come around to doing the same thing for my version of sharing the gospel. It has been wonderful and I feel I connect more with others.
Come to Washington DC, friend. No ward is perfect, but I have to say (having lived in both the Inter-Mountain West and the east coast), I absolutely love the wards I have been in out here. Gospel Doctrine can actually be spiritually and intellectually stimulating. People are, in general, not very judgemental. It isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I’ve found so far in my lifetime of anecdotal experiences.
I am a ex mormon who has left moromonism. I have a differant view that most orthodox believers in the lds church.and other non lds churches do not support at all. I am a post modernists at heart and my liberal personal pluralistic multicultural views of cherry picking my beliefs works for me in all paths and all churches including the lds church. I am totally alone in this because not many people like myself are ecumenical and open minded with a open heart.i no longer hold o to the one true church syndrome and i do not hold on to my way is the only way. I have let go of sectarian and exclusive attitudes. I believe and have a testimony of the gospel being true outside the lds church institution and its church leaders. I am a independant free thinker. I was a convert of the lds church. I am a born again evangelical christian and i embrace many elements of mormonsm that i pick and choose that works,for me.for me i reinterpret those elements of mormonism that i embrace in a whole differant perspective. I see and feel that the burning in the bosom mentioned in doc and cov 9:7-9 is for everyone on the earth. All of Gods children on the earth experience the testimony of the spirit of God in their hearts. The word of wisdom i still.embrace and i see the word of wisdom as a health code to keep healthy but i do not look at the word of wisdom as a commandment or burden anymore.to me there are differant levels of the word of wisdom for each person. It doesnt matter if some drink tea or some have a occasional drink its a matter of individual choice and conscience.for me its by the grace of God alone that i have no desire to drink or smoke or drink caffeine.i dont judge others,who do smoke or drink or party. I interact and mingle with others,rather they drink.or smoke or not. Sacred scriptures to me are not just limited to the book.of mormon doc and cov and,pearl of great price. I am open to other scriptures,that are sacred outside the walls of the lds,church.i as a ecumenicalists universalists who embraces certain elements of mormonism someday hope to form a independant group of open home fellowships meeting in the homes welcoming all lds members and ex lds members and non lds members and all LGBT brothers and sisters that are lds and non lds and ex,lds to feel safe and free to express,their feelings and experiences without judgment and condemnation. I realize there are many online groups and,groups physically out there but just the same i hope to form a local group in my area in san diego california where all could fellowship and enjoy the diversity of shareing and embracing one anothers truths. Afer all we are all brothers and sisters of a large family. Peace
I am open to the sealed portion of the finale testament of jesus,christ translated by christopher nemelka
After discovering the Book of mormon and the sealed portion that has been missing of the 116 manuscripts its wonderful that the lord has done another marevelous work and a wonder of bringing forth more light and truth. Its a blessing from the windows of heaven to have the Book of mormon and the sealed portion of the,finale testament of jesus,christ. The book of mormon and the sealed portion both go hand in hand together
You shouldn’t take the sacrament with your left hand? That’s a thing? Geeze…
PGH, yep. I’ve been looked down on and told so before for doing that 🙁
Thank you for your insightful and poignant perspective. It continues to clarify why I would simply DIE if I lived in Utah or any Mormon-intensive area. I’m from Ohio and then moved to southern California and I’m doing fine. I have a solid testimony and can look back in my life and see where the hand of God has preserved me and my loved ones. I joined at age 26 and since that time, my mother and brother have followed. I would never stop going to Church or other meetings, but I would certainly never be popular. My mouth would get me in trouble over and over and over. I don’t go for the judge-y, derisive, born-in-the-Church, pioneer-heritage-holier-than-thou- schtick I’ve seen in isolated cases. It goes over like a lead balloon. Testimonies are personal, private, and are customized. The Savior is for all, left-handed or not. Be well, my friend.
Have you tried the community of Christ church?
Nope, despite my irritations my tribe is Mormonism. If I were to leave I would likely go to a Universalist Unitarian Christian church, but despite the negative there are enough positives for me and my family to stay.
Thanks, you sound like a great person and someone who is very grounded in their beliefs! Cheers!
Oh this sums up so many of my feelings that I’ve been wrestling with. Thanks for sharing. It makes my path feel less lonely.
the savoir is for everyone at differant journeys and levels of spirituality. To me everyone has the power and gift to listen to the spirit of truth in their hearts. The spirit of truth and the spirit of God which is the light of christ that enlightens every one that comes to the world no matter who it is
What I wouldn’t do for a community like that. One where I could voice my beliefs without instantly being shunned. Maybe someday.
I feel like my ward in downtown Salt Lake up by the capitol was a ward like the one you described. Very non judgmental.
Yeah I never heard of that one either. For the record growing up my family never worried about taking the sacrament with either hand, worried about drinking caffeinated beverages, or playing with face cards. I never received any flack from anyone else and only heard whisperings through the grape vine the latter two were real concerns.
(although I should say now that I see caffeine as the likely culprit for the WoW and try to treat it like most christians treat alcohol= moderation)