Why I Stay

Friday I spoke on Sunstone’s “Why I Stay” panel. At the risk of condensing so brutally that I render my comments illogical, I share here a very brief summary in hopes of enticing you to add why you who stay in the church do stay. Reasons others go are familiar: leadership and policy issues (political issues, official barriers to serious scholarship, excommunications, etc.) and lack of intellectual or spiritual stimulation (read boredom), for example. I stay though I share many of the complaints of those who go.

Born of Lutheran and Presbyterian parents, I learned early that man is a mess, or, at best, a work in progress. Our family crest bears the motto “Think On.” From my father particularly, I learned never to let anyone else do my thinking for me. Consequently I expect my leaders, my fellow ward members and me to make many errors. I call with the author of Lamentations “You (God) have covered yourself with a cloud so that prayer should not pass through.” (3:44) and with the Psalmist: “Rouse Yourself, why do you sleep, O Lord?” (44:24-27) And because I believe God actually inspires even leaders far less than we hope, I am sometimes disappointed by Church policy and action but I am never disillusioned.

I stay because I believe in what I see as basic Gospel principles: the existence of God, free agency, eternal progression, a God independent of evil, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that Jesus is the Christ, that faith, hope and charity yield joy, that ordinances must be available to all if they are to be just and have eternal meaning, for example. I stay comfortable that God has sent me here to learn the truth and expects me to leave no stone unturned to find it. I stay, as Lowell Bennion once advised me, “To serve and bless and to be served and blessed” rather than with the expectation of learning history or scriptural exegesis, finding an encompassing social life or social justice, or shortcutting the hard work of developing the knowledge and spiritual depth necessary to develop and sustain a testimony. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised by my church experience but letting go of the expection allows me to concentrate on “serve and bless and be served and blessed.”

Why do you stay?

Comments

  1. In no small measure, I stay because of people like yourself. Thanks for the post, Molly.

  2. I have written elsewhere that one of the fundemental aspects of the Mormon narrative is to remain, to stay when others walk away. It has been that way from the beginning, though the details have changed.

    I stay because there I have had some experiences that I feel are real and these experiences affirm my faith in Jesus Christ and a belief in the restored gospel. The restored gospel is beautiful.

  3. Molly,

    “Serve and be served” is one of the answers I would give, too. But the next question is: “Why can I serve and be served inside the church better than outside of it?” I have an answer to that question that satisfies me, but I would be interested to know what you and others think.

  4. I like Peter’s answer to this question:

    67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
    68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life
    (John 6: 67-68)

  5. That’s interesting, J., because I see a fundamental aspect of the Mormon narrative as walking away, of leaving when others stay.

    When Mormons were persecuted in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, etc., the persecutors stayed and the Mormons left.

    When the Mormon missionaries go out and preach, most people stay with their old faith, but those who convert to Mormonism leave.

    When a group of friends has firmly decided to go to a strip club or get hammered at a bar, the Mormons in the group leave.

    I think my leaving the Mormon church was a very Mormon thing for me to do. I see Molly’s and others’ staying is a way of trying to stop the cycle, of trying to change the narrative of “good Mormons walk away from the wicked world” into one of staying and engaging.

  6. I left because Mormonism taught me about integrity. Integrity was more important to me than loyalty.

  7. I like Peter’s answer the best. “where else shall I go? This is where I find the words of eternal life. Why would I want anything less?”

  8. S. P. Bailey says:

    Personal spiritual experiences. A testimony of the restoration. Love and respect for my people and our history–brilliant individuals like Joseph Smith, my ancestors and living relations, people I saw join (at great personal cost) on my mission and so on. Enchantment with the big ideas of Mormonism: Zion, man’s relationship to God, eternal sociality and so forth.

    The idea serve and bless and be served and blessed doesn’t make me stay. But it sure improves my attitude most Sundays.

  9. You kidding? Being a member now is an opportunity to “be there at the ground level” in the formative moments of the first new “world religion” since Muhammad walked out of the desert hundreds of years ago.

    Why would I want to leave?

  10. Jothegrill says:

    The things I see the Mormon church doing for people I believe are good. I want to be a part of that.
    The church helps me be a better person and has helped me come to Christ.
    I believe.

  11. Why?

    I can’t say exactly. There are the more ostensible reasons such as not being able to let go of the Book of Mormon and what-not. But I think the real reason is that there’s an inner-knowing of sorts. (for lack of a better way of putting it)

    There are times when I’m ready to ride off into the sunset–free of the cares that Korihor condemns. But then there’s that damned burr in my saddle…

  12. Thanks for this question–it’s one I’ve thought a lot about the past few years. There are a number of fundamental principles that I believe in and embrace (the atonement, free agency, etc.), but there are probably as many principles that don’t make sense to me as those that do.

    I stay because I have had profound spiritual experiences in this church, and turning my back on them would feel like a betrayal of my community, my God, and myself. I have a personal relationship with a God who is patient and understanding about my questions and concerns, and who desires me to work out my salvation in the context of this church. It is my faith and trust in His wisdom that is the main reason I stay.

  13. I really wanted to attend this session, but my big love for Big Love won out.

    I constantly have friends who have left the church ask me, “Why do you stay?” I ask myself the same thing all of the time. My answer is that I see Jesus’ and Joseph Smith’s messages as having the power to change the world. I continue to go and continue to stay in hope of helping others see how awesome and how revoultionary the gospel can be.

    But then again, after meetings each Sunday I ask myself if I really want to go again.

  14. Perhaps, I take a different approach to this. As I mentioned, our history is full of “appostates,” and I think that there are times when most if not all Mormon’s at some point or another has an opportunity, if not volition to leave.

    But, for me, I love going to church each week. Sure there are some characters that take some effort to love, and some meetings are less engaging, but it is no concerted effort for me to stay, and I think the bulk of the church members feel this way most of the time.

    Beijing, perhaps we like to see ourselves in our history, but I don’t think the leaving narrative is significant in the way you describe it. However, Molly’s question wasn’t why you left, but why you stayed.

  15. molly bennion says:

    Mark 1V, You make an interesting point. Of course you can serve and bless elsewhere. And as one who no longer has time for the useless meetings involved in Church service, sometimes more efficiently. Yet a church, ours or others, is uniquely organized to serve. I can get into a fellow church member’s home to serve a need because the church has learned about it and the member trusts me by association. That’s hard to replicate in other settings. Blessing too accompanies nonChurch aid. I am not one to see the hand of the Lord everywhere. No “find me a parking place” prayers here and only a few sacred spiritual experiences I couldn’t explain some other way (neurologically, for instance). But I have felt more promptings on Church errands than on any others.
    Geena, I have almost no loyalty to the church. I’m a convert. Bennion is my husband’s name; the heritage is his. As I explained in my Dialogue “Lament” this summer, I feel lots of the anger and betrayal of many who have left. I feel tremendous loneliness in the Church for I find so many who have traded blind obedience for the responsibility to personally seek truth vigorously, to leave no stone unturned as time and ability allow and so few who see life as I do. But loyalty plays no part. I am not afraid of losing a place in a community (I’m in Seattle, not SLC) or of anything the church could do to me. I just fear God and He and the church are not always in sync in my opinion. My birth family would be thrilled if I left the church. But I don’t because of the rationality and goodness of the gospel message. Sure, faith is required. I can’t prove the existence of God and I have only my tentative theories of the atonement but the combination of the whole of the gospel and a few spiritual confirmations which don’t read like hysteria or indigestion keep me here. You are so right: integrity is the center. My integrity keeps me here because I find the gospel true regardless of the flaws of the people who run or merely function within the church (people like me of course, people like everyone).

  16. I stay because I believe. My faith waxes and wanes but it’s always there.

  17. And when faith wanes, I have family, fellowship, duty, and inertia to anchor me.

  18. J. Stapley (14), pardon me for sullying Molly’s thread with a sincere compliment to those who stay from one who has left (5) and forgive me my failure to answer the right question. I will try to figure out on my own why my description of the narrative is not significant, since you have so kindly hinted that I should, um, leave.

  19. Geoff J

    That pretty much catches it.

  20. Beijing,
    I love it. You misinterpret what J is saying (you think he’s suggesting you leave) on a thread about why we stay. Hilarious.

  21. Mark Butler says:

    I’m with Geoff.

  22. I stay because I love the Church and just about everything about it. I snipe and snark on the rare occasion about inconsequential and unimportant things that cause me slight frustrations or aggravations. However, the Church has been such a huge part of my life and continues to be such a huge part of my life.

    I honestly can’t imagine myself NOT being a Mormon. To try and remove the Mormon out of me would be about the most radical psychological, emotional and spiritual surgery I could possibly imagine and whatever is actually “me” would probably go right out with it.

  23. I have strayed away before but not totally left. And through that experience I now have a comparison between what I thought would bring me happiness and what actually does bring me happiness. I often find myself at odds with my fellow church members on such matters as politics and social behavior but on the things of the spirit, the things I know are the most important, I confess my total agreement. These things have brought me more happiness and understanding than I could ever imagine. That is why I stay.

  24. I stay because even though I’m lazy and sometimes unmotivated and certainly don’t live up the the responsibility I feel I have as a member, I know that this is where Heavenly Father wants me to be, and I am sure that the church is His restored gospel on the earth. Pretty simple. I stay because I love Heavenly Father and it would break His heart if I left.

  25. I guess I dont get the big deal about staying or going. As Dr Phil would say, *Hows that working for ya?* Mormonism works for some and not for others. You dont have to die a Mormon if you were born one or even if you were converted long ago but are doubthng now. Sometimes hanging on is a weakness, not a strength.

  26. I stay because I remember praying to ask where I was suppose to be and this being the answer. I stay because each week by Saturday night I am at about my wits end and after Church on Sunday night I feel refreshed and renewed. I stay because I trust God.

  27. I stay because I hope it’s true.

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    Molly, sorry I missed your session. I too am a Big Love fan, so I had to go see that one. It can be maddening trying to navigate so many concurrent sessions, and several times I made what I call “game time decisions” on which one to attend.

    I stay because I have a testimony, albeit mine is complex rather than simple. I am a believer, as were many of my ancestors before me.

    I love the people and the community. I am immersed in the culture; it is who I am, like it or not.

    I like to sing and church gives me that opportunity. (My testimony is probably more mediated through music than anything else.)

    I like the rich intellectual life Mormons can have. The mistake many people make is thinking the church should provide this through official channels. That ain’t gonna happen, nor should it: most Mormons aren’t intellectuals. But where else can you go and participate in a Bloggernacle, Sunstone, Dialogue, BYU Studies, Mormon History Association, FARMS, FAIR, numerous other conferences, books, study groups, etc., with a fascinating history and theology that sustains such effort and interest? Mormonism is actually a great religion for those with an intellectual bent, as counterintuitive as that may seem at first blush.

  29. I honestly can’t imagine myself NOT being a Mormon. (#22)

    Interesting that you should mention that. In those times when I felt frustrated with, bitter at, even disenchanted with the Church, I could not bring myself to opt out of Mormonism for that very reason. Being Mormon constitutes much more than belonging to a church or believing in a religion, especially if you’ve grown up in it. It’s like an ethnicity. The values, family dynamics, and perspectives on life and humanity that I cherish come from Mormonism. I am who I am because of the Church. Even when spiritual crises have tempted me to abandon my faith, I could not do it, because it would mean leaving so much of who I am.

  30. Molly Bennion says:

    Lamonte and Carlton, special thanks.
    Kevin, What would we do without the CD’s?! I’m more than a little jealous you got to go to the Big Love session. Your praise of Mormon intellectual opportunities is an interesting perspective and one I hadn’t thought of in such a positive light. Thanks. Of course it only works as long as you aren’t penalized for your participation in the extracurricular activities of the faith. When the penalties and fear go away, I’ll know we all really believe in free agency, personal responsibility and the primacy of the search for truth. What a day that will be!

  31. David Park says:

    I hang on because the church was all I had for a while. My prayers were answered, my life was repeatedly spared by the Lord, and he made a pile of slope that once was a man back into a man of greatness in his eyes.
    When you lose everything and you want to die to end the pain and misery, that is when you look to heaven and say outloud, “I am yours. I have nothing of me left, do what you will with me! Kill me, preserve me, keep me in hell or raise me to heaven – I won’t resist. I am yours, Father.” And next thing you know, you have a wife, children where no children could come from, a future as a scholar, your health restored, and a great job and college fully paid for and house on the way.
    Why hang on? Because when you want to let go, the Church and God hold on to you.

  32. I stay because, I knoe that Joseph Smith was and is a Prophet of God, that he restored the Church of Jesus Christ with authority from Jesus Christ. Authority, knowledge of that authority, and a testimony (the ability to testify or to be a witness of) that I know thse things are true. I know becuase God told me, he told me three times. My soul lept form my chest, I was full of joy!

    Where else would I find that? I have been to almost every denomination’s buildings, rea their scriptures and have not recived anything like that.

  33. Babes.

  34. And money.

  35. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 29 Do you believe that those who are inactive or off the books of the SLC-based Church have “abandoned” their faith in most cases?

    Do we assume that it’s an either/or (stay or go) proposition? I’m not so sure. There are some who stay active in the Church even though they don’t believe much of it (www.newordermormon.com), and others who leave Church activity for various reasons but still accept much of the message of the Restoration.

  36. I stay because I have seen a glimpse of how it should be. I hope I get to see it again at least once in my lifetime.

  37. MikeInWeHo (35)

    No, I don’t believe that those “who are inactive or off the books of the SLC-based Church” have abandoned their Church. In my previous post, I was merely discussing my own personal experiences.

    I don’t think there should be an “all or nothing” approach to activity and orthodoxy in the Church. As you suggest, it should not be considered a stay/go proposition. There should be room for diversity of thought and dissent in the Church; that is, those who disagree with some of what happens and some of what is taught in the Church (like myself) should be comfortable being active members, however unorthodox they may be.

    I also recognize, as you point out, that there are many who leave Church activity for various reasons but still believe in the Restored gospel.

    I really agree with the points you made. I apologize if it seemed like I was advocating some kind of a black-and-white, stay-or-go approach in my previous post. That really was not my intention in the least.

  38. This is my first visit to a blog since returning from Guatemala. How wonderful to have the first thing I read be by my friend Molly! I stay in the church because I believe that there is pure truth and goodness at the core of this religion. I often have to peel back the overgrowth of authority, the absurdities and horrors of our history, the redundancy of our Sunday School lessons, and the often silly beliefs of many who join me in the waters of Mormon in order to get at that core, but once I glimpse it anew, I find it stunningly beautiful. From time to time, I get to glimpse pure and undefiled religion in its Mormon robes. I did this during the past month. I had long talks with extremely poor Latter-day Saints who talked about their lives and their faith with such fervor and without any of the encumbrances I find in my Provo life. I am strengthened by people like Pablo Choc, who lost half of his family in the 1976 earthquake and yet remained loyal. He said simply, “I didn’t forget my promise.” That made me think about my own promise, which came down to my vow to comfort those who need comfort, mourn with those who mourn, and stand as a witness of Christ at all times and in all things and in all places. I find that as I seek pure religion within the framework I have chosen to stay in, the temple becomes a beautiful symbol of growth and equality–and maybe more because of people like Pablo, who helped translate the ceremony into Cakchiquel. I stay, ultimately, not just because I believe in the fundamental gospel (which, frankly, does not include some things many might consider fundamental), but because I love what the gospel does in the lives of those who choose not to forget their promises. I love the Latter-day Saint people. I may not agree with them politically, but I feel their yearnings just as I feel my own. I loved sitting in the poorest of dwellings and looking at the passport picture of Pablo Choc’s family–used when they went to the Mesa, Arizona temple to be sealed in 1964. (Most died in the quake twelve years later.) I love the radiance I see in the face of a newly returned missionary, such as one who joined us on our final flight home. I love the ideals of the gospel, the vision of mankind articulated in the King Follet Sermon, and the everpresent challenge to love more deeply and more purely. I have no problem accepting the fact that I will be adjusting my faith for the rest of my life, adding and subtracting, weeding and planting. This is simply growth. Or, as Lavina Fielding Anderson might say, it’s simply “tending the garden.” I intend to tend it for the rest of my days.

  39. That is beautiful Marget. Thank you, and welcome back.

  40. When you lose everything and you want to die to end the pain and misery, that is when you look to heaven and say outloud, “I am yours. I have nothing of me left, do what you will with me! Kill me, preserve me, keep me in hell or raise me to heaven – I won’t resist. I am yours, Father.” And next thing you know, you have a wife, children where no children could come from, a future as a scholar, your health restored, and a great job and college fully paid for and house on the way.

    Gee, I’m ready for that …

  41. I particularly like Geoff J’s response.

    For my part, I stay because, deep down, I’m a pretty conventional Mormon. It’s not just to serve and be served, though belonging to a priesthood quorum and holding callings is a big part of it. I love the Book of Mormon, I love the lay priesthood and it’s ordinances, I even love general conference (yeah, I know; call me crazy…)

    Plus, I just can’t hold a grudge, which really precludes becoming disaffected in any serious way. I’ve stated forcefully elsewhere some of the disagreements that I have with LDS leaders (for example, Benson’s attack on scholarship or the defensive attitude about any kind of dissent), but deep down I kind of have to respect how far out on a limb they’re willing to go in defense of their beliefs.

    It’s easy to play the critic, to be sure. And it’s nice to be able to voice such criticism in forums where there’s a common assumption affirming the leaderships legitimacy.

    From our privileged perch of luxury in within a radically egalitarian nation, fault-finding is just too easy to be of any lasting value. It’s not like any of the grievances relate to the kind of abuse of authority that causes wars or even financial scandals. They’re just pushing through mortality and dealing with the burden of leadership as best they know how, and certainly doing a better job at it than I ever could. Seriously, would anyone want to belong to a religion where I was an executive authority?

  42. Aaron Brown says:

    DKL, you can be my Prophet anytime.

    Aaron B

  43. Kati Blackledge says:

    I stay because I realize what it took to get me to this place. Born to a woman not of LDS faith;she was a con artist, highly experimental and promiscuous. Adopted to a woman married to a non LDS man, not active in any way herself, she sent me to church at age 7, without her. I have a solid testimony that against all odds, my destiny is, was, and always will be to be a strong member of Christ’s church.

    Each Sunday I feel a witness of joy and peace that I am truly in the right place. I have never been happier. That said, I am a mom of two young ones, 6 & 7. They drive me crazy. I stay in the church because the gospel provides that inner joy that my kids suck out of me every time they fight and whine.

    I stay because I should. It is my duty to serve my fellow men and my honor and priveledge to sever the Lord.

    I hope this doesn’t sound preachy. It is my truth. I mean every word.

  44. Kati Blackledge says:

    Oh good heavens,

    …honor and priveledge to serve (not sever) the Lord.

    Now I mean every word! )-:

  45. From our privileged perch of luxury in within a radically egalitarian nation…

    But what about us Americans?

  46. Aaron B: DKL, you can be my Prophet anytime.

    Heretic!

  47. Antonio Parr says:

    I stay because I believe with all of my heart that this is where the Lord lead me when, as a young man, I prayed to know which Church I should join. I stay because of the depth of the personally authentic spiritual experiences that I had in the early years of my LDS Church membership, when, to quote the great Van Morrison, I felt “wondrous and lit up inside with a sense of everlasting life”. I stay because, usually in spite of its rituals, the Temple has been a conduit that has allowed me to awaken to the notion that God is real, and present. I stay because the very best of Mormonism is the very best that I have ever encountered (or even imagined). I stay because I believe that, notwithstanding its many, many problems, God is working actively with this movement. I stay in the hopes that my continued involvement will allow my children to experience the kind of extraordinary spritual experiences that I had a young man. I stay with part faith, part experience and part hope that somehow this Church is, after all, God’s kingdom on earth.

  48. Peter Garry says:

    I stay because I have never considered leaving. Understanding the “big plan” makes me realize that the plan is faith based and that there can never be any scientific proof to substantiate it. Were ‘proofs’ available, faith would be redundant, and we know who presented such a plan. Church leaders come and go, some better than others, but they are all good men and women trying to do their best. I try to help the cause not hinder it. (who knows, the church needs all the help it can get)

  49. I have stayed through a rocky six months of being a new member because every time I follow a commandment I don’t understand, I begin to understand it. Because I already believed (before joining) most of the restored principles. Because when I read the words of our Prophet, I feel comforted and loved.

    Yes, it’s hard when people are hypocritical. It’s hard to learn awkward things about Joseph Smith. It’s hard to be part of a patriarchy. But these things are only hard when I neglect prayer, when I neglect the scriptures, when I try to use what little I have in my own feeble mind to comprehend it.

  50. I’ve got several reasons for staying after a crisis of faith made it seem like a good idea to leave. One reason I stayed was purely emotional. I’m so deeply rooted in the Mormon church that if I did leave, I’d feel angry and betrayed that I’d been cheated by Mormonism, and I can hold a grudge for a shockingly long time. I didn’t want to feel angry and betrayed for the rest of my life. So I had to make peace with being a Mormon, because I knew I’d never make peace with leaving Mormonism.

    That’s in addition to spiritual reasons and community reasons and family reasons that others have articulated so well. But my emotional weakness about holding grudges was a factor in deciding to stay a Mormon. I’d never forgive Mormonism if I left.

  51. I stay because I’m happier in the church than out of it. I stay because it means so very much to my husband. I stay because the reasons not to stay seem to diminish in importance every day. I stay because I am finding that things that were earth shattering a few years ago, now barely have the power to make me blink, and perhaps that means that I am gaining a little spiritual perspective. (One can dream.)

  52. Levi Peterson says:

    I stay because I like being with Mormons. Having started my life among Mormons, I intend to conclude it among them. Along the way, a few nonconformities help vent the tension that being with Mormons generates in me.

    Levi

  53. Recently me parents decided to have their names removed from the records of the church, for reasons that I’ll never want to accept nor understand. Prior to this day coming in my greater family’s life, I have spent many hours studying biographies, histories, web sites, ect… and regardless of the negative slant that is out there, I feel that the church is what it has always claimed to be. I stay because I being in the LDS church has made me who I am today & I like who I am today. The tenants of our relgion are good wholesome tenants that are worth living. I stay since I desire to raise my family in a similar way as I was raised.

    Most important, I stay because the church is true and the authority to act in God’s name (the priesthood) is held within our church.

  54. I stay in large part because of Spirit Fluid and Adam God. Like Kevin Barney, I find being a Mormon to be a tremendous amount of intellectual fun.

  55. 31,
    DP, thx for sharing your story.

    I stay because this restored gospel saved my life and then it healed my soul.

    I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell. – 2 Ne 33:6

  56. I stay because this restored gospel saved my life and then it healed my soul.

    Indeed, as it should for each and every one of us.

  57. Why I have really stayed in the church even though it appears that I left…

    Over a decade ago I became obsessed with a desire to better understand my religion and the history of my pioneer forefathers.

    I felt a need to understand all of the contradictions I saw in the church and it’s doctrines.

    I needed to know why Old Bishop Bunker (on my mothers side) challenged the Adam God Doctrine taught by my great great grandfather Brigham Young (on my fathers side) .

    I needed to know why President Young taught that God was always growing and learning …growing in knowledge and intelligence when Elder McConkie (the scriptures) taught that he was all knowing and that there was nothing that he did not know.

    I needed to know why I was being asked to swear by my neck in a ritual that had evolved from a secret blood oath even though such an ordinance has never been part of the gospel in any dispensation and since the scriptures teach that it entered the world via a secret covenant between Satan and Cain. .

    I began doing scriptural key word and key phrase searches in the four standard works. At the same time I became obsessed with LDS church history. I began spending 8-12 hours a day doing these searches as I lost all concept of time and my former reality.

    Before long I began to see things in the scriptures I had never seen before and I became alarmed and troubled at what I saw… but the more I learned the more I needed to know.

    My patriarchal blessing had told me that I “would not be afraid to learn the truth”… A statement that had previously seemed incongruent and absurd to me as I had always assumed that religious truth was always good news… always warm and fuzzy. What is there to be afraid of?

    Although the experience was painful in the sense that it threatened my religious and cultural paradigm, it ultimately resolved the confusion I had experienced as the things in the church and world around me began to make sense to me.

    Before long I began to trade in my testimony that the “church is true” for a testimony that “the gospel is true”.

    My Bishop one day gave me a very insightful if not prophetic warning;

    “You have gotten yourself into very deep waters…. everyone I have ever known that has searched as deeply as you have in the scriptures and Church History has either left the church or been kicked out of it”

    BINGO! What an inspired dude! That statement in and of itself was somewhat of a revelation to me and part of the answer I was looking for. Could the scriptures really be that evil and dangerous? Could they only serve a useful service if taken lightly and never studied for more than 5-30 minutes at a time under the tutelage of church leaders and church commentaries?

    After leaving the church within a few years after getting the prophetic warning from the Bish, I have continued to study and search.

    My love for the gospel is greater now than it has ever been! My testimony that Jesus is the Christ… My appreciation for the atonement…. My knowledge that Joseph Smith is the last and greatest prophet of the last dispensation… my love for the Book of Mormon… my love for all of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants (including those that have been transfigured by well meaning individuals)

    My understanding that blindness has come upon Israel until the fullness of times and until the gentiles repent…. Etc. has all grown.

    The truth is that I have left the church without really leaving it because I love the LDS people. They are what constitute the modern church and they are MY people.

    I now see why the church exists in the state that it is in and I realize that the current leaders have been given the “legal” right and mandate to testify of the name of Christ and publish his word in all the world…. Two things they do very well… Beyond that, it appears they have Carte Blanc to teach and do what they want. They can rule however they please for a predetermined period of time, and at the end of the “lease” the real Lord of the vineyard will return with his servant to make a settlement with them.

    I can only stand in awe of the incredible plan that God has for us and bask in the realization of how great my nothingness is and how his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not his thoughts!

    I love how the church works for some people. Everyone that is in it should be! I love how it doesn’t work for others. Everyone that has left it should be out of it. Everyone is on there own journey. Everyone has a different level of understanding. Those who are confused should be. Those who are functioning on borrowed light should be. Those who have found inner peace have found it for a reason.

    I cannot go to the building and participate in the rituals. I cannot put my hands on a persons head and pretend to hold the priesthood that Melchisedek held. I look forward to the time when, like Melchisedek, I will be able to command the elements and be caught up to zion but for now I must stand in awe of what God is doing and what he is about to do.

    My heart is with the Saints. I encourage and support them in taking the Book of Mormon to the world and in testifying of the name of Christ.

    I hope and pray that the lease is almost up and the blindness that has been put upon Israel is about to be taken off. Great things are going to happen.

    I don’t go to church and participate in the rituals but I love my fellow gentile Israelites and feel I am still part of the group. I look forward to the separation and gathering.

  58. wandering but not lost says:

    I stay in the church because my husband is a totally committed LDS priesthood holder. I love and respect him,and have chosen to support him by attending sacrament with him. I have said many prayers and read The Book of Mormon numerous times in the years since my conversion. I now know it is not the one true church on the earth. I don’t believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I do have a close relationship with my Heavenly Father,and feel His inspiration in my life each day. I do believe that the LDS church has many truths,very similar to many other churches. I cannot reconcile the actual historical facts of church history, and feel lied to and deceived by church authorities. And yet,I know that many good,honest mormon people find true hope and belief in the church context. The church is not for everyone,but many of it’s teachings apply to all. I keep going to church to avoid hurting family members. And do my best to serve others while keeping my integrity.

  59. After serving as a missionary for two years in Oregon and witnessing miracles happen in many people’s lives, I cannot deny the truth of what I have experienced. In addition to those miracles I can count the miracles that happened in my life before and after being a missionary as well. The gospel is true. I cannot deny it from a perspective of personal integrity.

  60. Do any of us ever really leave?

  61. I’m never really sure whether I stayed or left. I don’t go to church and haven’t for many years. I’m not good at religious experience. Experiences I thought were “spiritual” at key points in my life would have lead me down the path a friend took–she became the plural wife of an old seminary teacher. But I am Mormon in fundamental ways. I continue to follow the church in the lives of my children. I read and ponder the texts of the church, the stories of lives lived there. I’m fascinated by religion. Just don’t have talent for belief, which the church seems to value.

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