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I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More on the Trinity

1 Thessalonians 5:21 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

I grew up believing the Trinity was false and man-made. In the last year, when I left the LDS church and decided to find Jesus the way the Bible talks about him, I've found the reality of the Trinity to be very different. I challenge all who see this, Christian or LDS, to read it carefully and investigate for themselves..

One of the first things I always believed was that the Trinity just didn't make sense. How could three people all be one? Well, let me ask this quest: how can you be three? Your are body, soul (mind, emotions, will), and spirit.

Its like a fire. You take three candles. You light one. You have fire. You use that fire to light the other two. You have three separate flames--but they're all still fire. Or its like time. You have past, present, and future--but its all time. Its like the sun. You get light, heat, and energy from it--but its all the sun. Another fire analogy--fire needs oxygen, fuel, and heat. If you remove any of them, you don't have a fire--but all three together make fire.

The second thing I've come to realize that the Council of Nicaea isn't what I was taught it was. I was always taught that it was a bunch of worldly, uninspired men who imposed their own doctrines without basis in the Word of God. First of all, this isn't historically true. The Council of Nicaea was convened because there were rampant heresies, particularly Arianism, that claimed that Jesus was not God, and many of these heresies even declared Jesus was not divine at all. The Council of Nicaea was convened to stamp out these heresies and establish truth. People like to argue that the word Trinity isn't in the Bible, and therefore the concept isn't there. First of all, words like monotheism aren't in the Bible either, but Christians and Jews are monotheistic. Its just a name for a concept that is in the Bible.

The big question is then to prove that the Trinity IS in the Bible.

First, before I list supporting verses, let's talk about a little bit of Hebrew both as the LDS understand it and as it really is. The LDS make two very important claims:
1) Jehovah (or YHWH, or Yahweh) is Jesus in the Old Testament.
2) Elohim is God's proper name.

In actuality, in Hebrew (which is a language, not a doctrine, so its not really negotiable):
1) Jehovah (or YHWH, or Yahweh) is God's proper name, and is translated LORD or GOD (all capitals).
2) Elohim is a title for God, and is translated as God (capitalized).

Let's look at these two in the context of a very well known verse:

Deuteronomy 6:4
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD"

The way this would be in Hebrew would be:
"Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah"

The way that the LDS would translate this would be:
"Hear, O Israel: Jesus our God is one Jesus."

Christians understand it the way it is written. I was surprised and had to completely change some parts of my thinking when reading the Old Testament because of this simple translational fact. I'd also like to add that the Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Hebrew manuscripts the Old Testament is translated from in these days is extremely, extremely accurate as compared to Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts older than Jesus.

Now let's look at some verses that support the Trinity. This is not an exhaustive list, but it proves that the men at the Council of Nicaea were not imposing doctrine without plenty of scriptural back-up.

John 14:4-7 (King James Version)

 "4And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
 5Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
 6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
 7If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him."

If you see Christ, you see the Father. That's like saying, "If you see me, you see me."

1 Timothy 3:16 (King James Version)

 "16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."

You notice how directly and obviously this is stated? "God was manifest in the flesh"! That seems pretty direct.

Isaiah 9:6 (King James Version)

" 6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

So Jesus is the child...and he is The mighty God and The everlasting Father.

Matthew 1:23 (King James Version)

 "23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

Emmanuel is one of Jesus' names...and it means "God with us." I don't think scriptures would lie about who he is in his own name.

John 1:1, 14 (King James Version)
 "1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
"14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

The Word is God and was made flesh...who might that flesh person be? It is Christ. Jesus is also identified as the Word elsewhere in the New Testament. I will list at least one verse below where he is.

John 12:44-45 (King James Version)

" 44Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
 45And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me."

Jesus once again says that if you see him, you see God.

John 10:30 (King James Version)

 "30I and my Father are one."

I'm pretty sure Jesus is saying that he and his Father are one...and I don't think he was meaning one in purpose.

Colossians 1:15-17 (King James Version)

 "15[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."

Compare to:
Genesis 1:1 (King James Version)
" 1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

So God created all things...and Jesus is the image of God, and Jesus created all things, and is before all things (in other words, he is in the beginning and before the beginning)...which would argue that Jesus is the creator, who is God.

John 20:28-29 (King James Version)

 "28And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God."

Instead of saying, "Thomas, I'm not God,"

"29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou has believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have yet believed."

Jesus acknowledged he was God and blesses Thomas for believing that, and blesses all those who never see him and believe it.

1 John 5:7 (King James Version)

 "7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

That's pretty clearly the Trinity right there. And again, it doesn't say one in purpose. Also, as I promised above, this is one of the places where Christ is called the Word.

John 4:24 (King James Version)

 "24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

God being a Spirit explains how these three separate beings can be one. They are all God as far as all being his Spirit. Jesus had the Spirit dwelling in him. God sends his Spirit to us. We, as believers, are therefore called the Body of Christ in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12:27-28) because the Spirit dwells in us, which also answers how we can be one with God and Christ even though we will never be God. Its beautiful to imagine such a oneness.

Revelation 1:8 (King James Version)

" 8 I (Jesus) am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."

Is not God the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the Almighty? Yet Jesus identifies himself as such.

And finally, one of my favorites, which must begin in Exodus:

Exodus 3:13-15 (King James Version)

 "13And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
 14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
 15And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."

God's name is "I AM." This became such a sacred name to the Jew that they were careful how they said the words "I am" so as to not imply that they were God because there is only one God.

And then comes Jesus...

John 8:52-59 (King James Version)

 "52Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
 53Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
 54Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
 55Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
 56Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
 57Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
 58Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
 59Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by."

Read this carefully. When the Jews challenged him on his claims of knowing Abraham and being greater than Abraham, Jesus says, very firmly and clearly, "Before Abraham was, I am." He used I AM very, very definitely and as an identification of himself. He called himself God, the great I AM! And this is why they took up stones to cast at him! They knew exactly what he was saying--that he is God.

God also makes it very clear that he is the only God, which means that there cannot even be a Godhead of three separate Gods, because that would mean there is more than one.

Isaiah 43:10 (King James Version)

 "10Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me."

Isaiah 44:6, 8 (King James Version)

 "6Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
 8Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."

To believe this, a Christian has to be completely monotheistic. To believe that there are three separate persons in the Godhead jeopardizes this belief into impossibility for a Christian.

 I hope this helps readers--family, friends, Christian, LDS, or whatever else--better understand the Trinity and why I now believe it to be a Biblical doctrine
(Thank you to Shawn McCraney on Heart of the Matter for many of the analogies and a large part of the list of verses)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crazy Love for God

Even when I was still LDS, if you'd asked me if I as a church member had a crazy love relationship with God, or if other LDS had an intimate and loving relationship with Him, I would have had to say no.

This isn't to say that the LDS don't love God at all, or that all who call themselves Christians are better at loving him. But the "you must do this to be good enough, and if you can do that you're going to move beyond being subject to God to being an equal with him" teachings of the church make it more difficult than I would have ever realized when I believed in it all.

The post above is a link to a video by author of "Crazy Love," Francis Chan. I read this book recently, am participating in a study of it at a local church, and plan to re-read it again soon. It has helped my relationship with God grow deeper and more beautiful than ever.

I find now that someone cannot call them self a true Christian, or honestly know they are saved from their sins, without having a true love relationship with God. It is all over the Bible:
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15
the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27) The second greatest it to love others.

I'm not sure how it could get much more obvious than that. If we love Christ, we keep his commandments, and he commands us to love.

Think about the person you love most in life. If you're happily married or in a very serious relationship, this is probably very easy. Can you imagine ever thinking about this person and going, "There has to be something better than this, something beyond just being with them"? Can you imagine looking at them and knowing you have all the love they can give you, and wanting more?

This is what people do to God every day. I remember thinking when I was LDS that there had to be more than just going to heaven and being with God forever. But I never thought of feeling that way about my future husband, nor do I feel that way about my husband now that I am married. Is that right? Should we love God less than we love our spouses, when the greatest commandment is to love him?

If you were to read the New Testament without any preconceptions, do you think you'd find church in the way that many people do church? The way you do church? The way that your religion is? Or do you think that you would find that you were supposed to love God and people as much as you can and that's all Christ truly asks of us?

Don't you want that sort of love relationship with God? Do you have it? I've found that its the most amazing thing you ever could have, and you can never get enough of it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Trinity

I once completely ascribed to the LDS notion that the Trinity just didn't make sense. How could one being be three? How could God just be a blob of Spirit or Light or something immaterial? Didn't that limit who and what he was? Why would he say we were made in his image if we weren't?

Well, amazingly, the Trinity can be correct--and it is Biblical--without flying in the face of those questions.

First of all, let's look at the simple reasoning that if there is only one God, then Jesus had to either be God or not be divine at all. Isaiah 43:10 and 44:6, 8 establish this very well. Notice how definite God is:
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God.
Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.

Now, if you accept there is only one God, then you have to ask if Jesus was divine. First of all, the heresy that he was not divine was originally called Arianism, and fighting that heresy is the reason that the doctrine of the Trinity was established so firmly. Also, how else could a human be perfect? We were sinful by nature: it is impossible for us to be completely perfect as creations with free will and a knowledge of good and evil which allows us to use that fee will to sin. Furthermore, a mere human couldn't break the bonds of death for everyone and take on the sins of the world for all.

There are many verses that support Jesus being God, including John 1:1,14 and the last few verses of John 8 (Christ identifies himself as "I am," as God does in the burning bush in Exodus), and many others.

It was not in God's physical image that we were made, but in his spiritual image. Before Joseph Smith tampered with the verse, John 4:24 read:
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

Furthermore, we are made up of multiple parts: just consider the separation of body and spirit upon our deaths. I've also been told that our soul is our third part, but I'm not educated upon that aspect, so I can only give so much. I can say, though, that it makes us very much like God indeed: God and our spirit are comparable, Jesus and our bodies are comparable, and the Holy Spirit and perhaps our souls are comparable. We are as triune in nature as God.

I would urge any curious LDS reader to study deeply in the scriptures on whether or not the Trinity is supported within the precious pages. And for those who would say it can't be doctrine because it isn't expressly said in the verses: remember, "monotheism" isn't expressly said either.

The Spirit

I ended up spending General Conference weekend in a Mormon household due to my grandpa's failing health. I mostly read or talked with my husband while my LDS family listened to the Conference, so I didn't hear much of it, but I did hear a few things that I couldn't help but think, "That is so Biblically incorrect!"

The one I was most moved by was the claim that you must be baptized before you can receive the Spirit. The Bible makes it clear that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone, and that the Spirit testifies in Christ and then dwells in you when you accept Christ. Baptism is not necessary to this--you can read my earlier post on baptism to emphasize and understand baptism's importance and Biblical meaning.

I also thought of the man on the cross beside Jesus, who Jesus promised would be in heaven with him despite the man's sins--I seriously doubt that the man had time to be baptized for those sins, yet he was saved at that moment.

There are many Biblical accounts of people who have no record of being baptized who have the Spirit--Pentecost being a mass experience of this, not to mention the apostles themselves.

Receiving the Spirit is so much more beautiful than a "You must do A to get B," especially considering that Jesus isn't going to deny someone his Spirit if the person accepts Jesus and isn't able to obtain baptism. My Jesus wouldn't, anyways, and I frankly don't want your Jesus if he's that unloving.

No, receiving the Spirit is part of the joy of finding Christ--it is truly becoming the Body of Christ, his Church, his Bride. Since it is Christ's Spirit (and God's Spirit, they being a trinity), you are now the body of his spirit upon accepting him as your Lord and Savior. You are part of his priesthood, his purpose, part of him. This is what it means when Jesus tells God that he and God are one and they will let us be one with them--we are all part of the same body, the same spirit--all a part of God.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Small Miracle

Last Tuesday, my sister-in-law, Brandi, hosted her second monthly Christian Ladies' Night. This is mostly just a night to get away from men, children, jobs, housekeeping, and whatever else might besiege us, and have some coffee (or my case, chai tea--yum!) with some friends with whom a faith is shared. The fellowship is great.

The big thing about this one, was that my mom was going to come. I was nervous and excited all at once. Brandi and I did a bit of fasting--I don't know how much she did, but I ate lightly for a day or two, as I have too many acid reflux problems to completely skip multiple meals--and a lot of praying. Our big question was whether Brandi should lead a specific discussion on a Biblical topic, or whether we should just let it go and see what happened. Despite my fear that just letting it go would result in nothing spiritual really happening, that's what we ended up both realizing would have to happen. Brandi felt strongly that just talking could lead to something great, and I couldn't think of any topic that wouldn't directly have some contradiction to Mom's faith, which I didn't want to do.

There we were, all talking and laughing and just enjoying talking about life, and one of the ladies just opened up. She talked about how her husband has grown from barely wanting to go near God to attending church and actually believing--and then she started talking about something that struck my heart with excitement and wonder at God's greatness. She started talking about crazy, passionate love for God. The kind of love and enthusiasm that you just don't see in Mormon worship--if it could even be called worship, most Sundays, aside from the hymns.

I had prayed and prayed for God to plant a seed of his love and truth in Mom's heart that night. Its not that Mom doesn't believe in God and love him--she does, within the confines of the Mormon religion's way of loving and believing in him. But I want her to know the God in the Bible that I've come to find crazy love for. God's greatness in guiding this woman to open up this sort of conversation was nothing short of a miracle. I don't know what my mom thought of it--I don't know if she's thought of it since. It was everything Brandi and I prayed for, though.

I know I never knew crazy love for God before turning to Biblical Christianity. Yes, I loved him. Yes, I believed in him. Yes, I was grateful for Christ. Any passion, though, was born of "I have the truth and I will stand with it" rather than "God, you are great and I love you and worship you with all I am." This was not unique to me--its a Mormon thing in general, I've noticed. There's no excitement, no exuberance in their love and belief for God.

Since then, I've learned what it is to be high on Jesus, to be a "Jesus freak," to be excited about learning God's word and giving him true praise and worship. I've learned what it is to want to be edified by his teachings, rather than just be taught lessons over and over or listen to awkward talks. I've learned what it is to raise my voice and give myself to music in his praise--and whether a quiet hymn or a loud and excited song, the music is always about him.

I don't know if and when my mom will ever read this. I don't know if she'll be Mormon, Christian, or what when she does. But I want her to know, when she does, that this sort of love for God is what it means to truly be a Christian.

More Like Falling In Love: by Jason Gray

Give me rules
I will break them
Give me lines
I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
To sweep me off my feet
It ought to be

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

Give me words
I'll misuse them
I'll misplace them
'Cause all religion ever made of me
Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free
It's gotta be

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

...It's like I'm falling in love, love, love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made
Me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What is there to lose?

I have a wonderful mother. She's as much of a friend as she is a parent, and she does pretty well at both. When in comes down to it, my whole family is a good family. Sure, my dad gets over protective, but I'm his oldest child and only daughter, its kinda a given. Sure, my brother can be annoying, but his a little brother, what else do I expect? I was always so happy to know that I'd be with them in eternity, when I was Mormon.

I think one of the most painful things said to me when I left the church was my mom's question: "You know we're going to lose you for eternity if you leave, right?"

My mom has said a few times that she's got nothing to lose by staying in the LDS Church. And I know that she feels that if she left, she might lose everything she holds dear in this world: her family.

I often wish, so badly, that I could just take her hand, look her in the eye, and say, "Mom, do you really believe God is so cruel that he would separate a loving family just because they didn't belong to a specific religion?"

And what would she have to lose then, if she understood that? If she understood that a loving God won't separate a family like that? He judges on your heart, not your religion, after all. But eternal, inseparable family is a huge draw in the Mormon church, and people will close their mind to so many things just so they won't lose that promise.

But how could God say he is love if he separates those who love each other with some of the deepest bonds known on earth? I don't want to believe in that God, but I had to when I was Mormon, because that's what we were told: if your family isn't sealed to you, if your husband and children aren't sealed to you, you won't have them in heaven. It puts an individual under immense pressure to do everything right to be good enough for that God in order to get where they want to be: there's no grace in that. Grace is a gift, after all, not wages for work done.

I wish so badly I could show her how much she really is losing in that religion. All the falsehoods and twisted teachings aside, where is Christ? Where is salvation in him? Over a few months at church, how many lessons do you get on Christ? How thoroughly is he mentioned? If you're not learning the New Testament (and perhaps even if you are) its probably a lot less than you realized, once you pay attention. How can you be Christian if you barely learn of Christ?

You are losing Christ.

I thought, for the longest time, that if I left the religion, I'd be losing so much: prophets, revelations from leaders, scriptures and teachings beyond what others have. When I realized it was all false, that it was all just the falsehoods of a man seeking power, it was so easy to let go. It really only needed one false prophecy to show me that man was a false prophet: I found several.

And what did I gain shortly after leaving? I gained Christ! And more than that, I gained the love and peace of knowing God was always going to be in my heart. I realized that all everything was, all every Christian teaching ever has been, is love. God, Christ, any decent faith in the world, is about love and striving to be a better person in love.

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me...

You lose nothing.

I wish I could say that to my mom, to my whole family, and truly be heard.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I don't remember much from my last Sunday attending the Mormon church. I'd already decided to leave--I think it was the night before that I'd found the things that made me say "I can't belong to this church."

I do remember sitting in Sacrament meeting beside my fiance, now husband, with our shared knowledge that we sat in a church that was anything but the only true church, and opened up to the Bible Dictionary in my quad, and I looked up what it said about angels.

I've done little research about angels in the Christian understanding, but I knew, reading that, that it was not right. My husband found what it said absolutely ridiculous. We sat there in that little shared bubble of disbelief, basically ignoring the speakers.

Angels are important to me for a big reason, and yet they're such a small part of everything I've come to learn about.

I'd been on my path to leaving the church for a long time, though I hadn't even realized it for most of it and denied it for a while longer when it became more obvious there at the end, during the big arguments over godhood with my husband. My all-important prayer to try to bring my husband back into the church seemed to be missing something. Or rather, I knew I wasn't understanding part of the answer. Really, what God was saying to me was simple. "Yes, you can try to bring him back, and I'll use your attempt to show you that you are meant to be with him. But, when you've made that decision, I'm going to lead you out of the church." I just wasn't hearing the last part.

Then, late at night, talking on the phone with him, I don't even remember what about now, much of the same I think, my fiance said something that stopped my heart and changed everything. He mentioned angels.

The seed for this had been planted months before. I'd gone to church with a non-Mormon friend, and she started talking about angels. I didn't know a lot of what she was talking about, and she was surprised. I thought then that it would be interesting to learn more about angels and the differences between Christianity and Mormonism in the view of angels, but for some reason never did. But...I knew there was a difference, and I knew I didn't know why.

So when Steven made that simple comment, the specifics of which I don't even remember now, I realized I wanted to learn more about the differences. And right then, I decided to start my research.

Perhaps we have guardian angels, after all.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Title of the Blog

I don't think I've yet talked about the title of my blog--because that is definitely how I feel about leaving Mormonism: I escaped godhood.

Why do I feel this way about that teaching? Why is escaping godhood such a relief to me?

Well, for one, its such a prideful teaching. It brings deity down to our level. Even the Greeks, Romans, and similar societies with many gods never brought their gods down to the level of ever having been a mere man. Even Egyptians believed their pharaohs to be more than just men from birth, as far as I know. It is prideful to think that we can become divine to the point of being all-powerful, all-knowing, and forever perfect.

I remember when I was still Mormon wondering if the reason we don't use most of our brains is because that's what makes us gods. Its kind of like how sci-fi shows say that aliens can communicate telepathically or use other higher brain functions because they use more of their brains than we do. Because of the way I had been taught, I reduced God's omniscience, omnipotence, and all his greatness down to brain capacity.

Aside from the pride and lackluster of an imperfect man turned perfect god (in which case he was once not perfect, and in theory is capable of being imperfect again), I don't like the role it put me into.

My role as a woman? I would marry a priesthood holder and be sealed to him, have no power in God's name on earth except to provide bodies for more spirits, die, hopefully go to the Celestial Kingdom, eventually become a goddess...and make lots of spirit babies as my husband created a world for them by arranging matter into a planet, and then watch in unacknowledged silence as my children suffered and struggled through the world, knowing only a portion of them would ever come back to me, and that many would never know me in that life, because my husband and his prophets thought it "inappropriate to pray to the Heavenly Mother," (to quote Gordon B. Hinckley).

It sounds rather more like sexual slavery, or perhaps motherhood slavery, rather than goddess-hood. I wouldn't even get my own world, I'd get my husband's. Assuming he was good enough to become a god. If he wasn't, what then? Would I be assigned to some other man as one of his wives? Would I be forever doomed to live without having spirit children, languishing in one place for all of eternity as everyone else moved on?

And where does it all end? Where does it all begin? Having a birth, a beginning of being, implies a beginning and an end. At least a beginning, somewhere...yet Mormons never talk about a first God, or where he might have come from...the implication is often that its just a big continuous circle of eternity, but how could that be? Marriage is a forever commitment, at least to people who actually choose to commit, and it certainly is in Mormonism, yet there's a beginning to that, even if there's no end. Would a continuous line of gods and their wives not be different?

It is far easier to accept a single, truly eternal God with no beginning nor end--time never was until humans were, because we live lives that have a beginning. Is that necessarily in our comprehension? No. We're humans. We don't even use our whole brain capacity. But it makes a lot more sense than the Mormon view. And as a female, its a whole lot more fair to not be subject to my husband when it comes to my salvation and "exaltation" (which I no longer believe in)--my salvation should be between me and God alone, and should not rely on anyone else. If I went through my life alone with just a Bible, I'd be able to get to Christ. But in the Mormon religion, I wouldn't be able to become a Goddess.

And yet another reason is the arduous and often way too controlling requirements of attaining godhood. If you don't do A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,and K, and probably L, M, and N too, you won't get there. And since your a sinner and can't do A-N perfectly all the time, you have to just hope you repented well enough each time you slipped up so that you'll still be good enough when you die. Whereas in Christianity all you have to do is have faith. When you have faith, when you believe in something good, when you strive for goodness because of your faith, you have done enough. And the faith is the key. All the other things will fall into place because of the path of goodness you have chosen through faith. And right there, you've gotten everything you can ever hope to receive as an imperfect human--faith, grace, peace, and the promise of something better.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Before anything else, I want to establish that I do believe that baptism is a commandment in the Bible, and therefore should not be left out for one who is turning/has turned to Christ and wishes to be obedient to the commandments, as someone with real faith does.

I was shocked today when I found out that my sister-in-law (whose amazing: love you Brandi) had never connected baptism with repentance. Having grown up Mormon that was one of the biggest connections made with baptism. Baptism=washing away of sins.

Now, after a bit of study and my new perspective on things, I see baptism as not a requirement for salvation (as Mormons take it because of John 3:5), but rather as the physical symbol of the spiritual baptism, which is the only way to enter the kingdom of God. That's the big difference. Spiritual baptism comes when a person is first saved by faith. Physical baptism is a representation of this: we go through water (as in physical birth) to show a rebirth. But the actual baptism that saves is of the Spirit.

I wouldn't claim to be an expert on this, but I've learned to follow a general rule, which is that if there are many verses that say one thing (e.g. salvation is only through faith) and one verse that says something potentially contradictory (e.g. salvation comes through baptism) then the contradictory interpretation of the single verse is probably incorrect. So in this instance, the non-contradictory interpretation is that the baptism that saves is that of the spirit. The spirit is mentioned in the all-important John 3:5.

John 3
5Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Some of the next verses are interesting, though.

6"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7"Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8"The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

However, physical baptism being required for salvation or not, the relationship with repentance was made so clear to me throughout my childhood. And even now, no longer being Mormon, the relationship is undeniable. When we are saved, we turn from our non-Christian ways and strive for goodness and obedience and self-betterment. Or at least that's what happens ideally: we all get stuck along the way. We're only human. No matter what, though, baptism is a rebirth. And what are we being reborn from? A fallen state. We, as humans, will always be cursed by the fall of Adam. Once we are saved, though, we have found the source of redemption--the cleansing of sins through faith. And this is what baptism represents. This is why I want to get re-baptized as a Christian. I want to show God, through obedience to this commandment, through the ritual washing away of sins, that I have truly come to him in spirit.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The First Visit (& Thoughts on Missions)

Just a few days ago, my husband and I got a knock on our door. An elder missionary couple, serving the church in their retirement, was standing there with smiles and the hope that we wouldn't slam the door in their faces. Being civilized and not having a problem with the people in the church, we not only didn't slam the door, we invited them in.

What somewhat bothered me off the bat was when they were walking in, looked at Steven, and asked if his last name was Grenier. Not our last name. And they were looking for "a guy by the last name of Grenier who was living with his girlfriend."

I was very pleased to tell them that we were not only married, but had been for six months. I didn't tell them that we'd never lived together as just boyfriend and girlfriend. We were already engaged. Its still not technically marriage, but we were committed to each other for life already.

Then they asked him how long he'd been a member, and were all pleased to hear that he was a fairly new member, and then the man looked at me and asked, "and did you know he was Mormon when you two got married? How'd you feel about that?"

"I was born Mormon," I informed him.

They were floored. And so was I. My records were in the local ward, I knew my bishop from my parents' town had transferred them as well as Steven's. Yet they had no idea that I was still technically Mormon as far as my records existing in the church, and had been such since birth.

They of course asked us if we were attending church, and we told them about our nondenominational Christian church attendance. They invited us to come to church, and thankfully then started talking about the ward, so instead of having to give them an answer, I was able to tell them that I'd been in that ward for four years in the past, and then they were interested in who I know who still goes there.

Overall, it was a pleasant conversation, other than being a little bothered by their initial misinformation and the short message they gave us at the end despite knowing that we knew all of what they were saying. We told them they could come back in a month. She said she may drop by with brownies sometime, which we weren't about to say no to. They can come over on occasion, we have no issue with that. They're a very nice couple, and all the more welcome for any dessert they come with.

A talk with my sister-in-law brought up a very good point about what they were doing, though. When someone leaves a church, coming to their house and asking them to come back is invading space and assuming that what they have isn't good enough. Sometimes they're right, what the person left the church for isn't good, but that doesn't make trying to get them back to the church right. And if this very pleasant, faithful couple asks why we left, they aren't going to like the answers, and chances are, they're still going to think that we should come back.

When I first started trying to share with other Mormons what I have found, someone who was talking about going on a mission soon (he may be on one now for all I know) freaked out at me, telling me I was messed up for trying to push my beliefs on other people. I wasn't just telling people. I was giving them the invitation to find out if they wanted to know. And this guy was about to go on a mission. How was what he was doing different, when you come down to it? But because he thinks he has the truth, and my findings are against that truth, what I was doing was "messed up," but a two-year mission was okay.

What's even more bothersome about this is the way missionaries often get converts. I watched the process with my husband, participated in it myself. Perhaps his leaving the church in only six months was my own fault, because I didn't try to hide things about the church: if it came up, then I'd talk about it. And what came up that got my husband so bothered was something that most Mormons don't learn about for months, if not years, after their conversation: becoming gods.

Missionaries are trained to talk about the restoration, necessitated by a universal apostasy that there's not really any historical context for; the preexistence and the plan of salvation, perhaps mentioning exaltation but not that that means becoming gods; temple marriage and eternal families and other eternal benefits exclusive to Mormon ordinances; the standards and values of the church and the requirements for temple attendance (including paying the church 10% of your income as a requirement instead of a choice); and the Book of Mormon being found and translated and being the "fullness of the Gospel," then asking the potential convert to only read and pray so that manifestation of truth is purely based on feelings, without a single mention of any support of its historical context or the fact that it doesn't actually contain the fullness of the Mormon gospel.

So this person feels the brotherhood of the church, sees the cleanness and high values and tight-knit families, feels welcomed and excited, and they're getting good feelings because of all these positive things (who wouldn't?), but they barely know what they really believe. They know all the happy feel-good things, which there are plenty of in the LDS community. But they don't know of the un-Christian, un-Biblical, unprovable things, and when they learn of some of them, they're too enmeshed and faithful to leave...or they leave and never want to come back, like my husband.

The rate of people being converted is definitely not to be laughed at. Missionaries are sent out to places that are often prime pickings and get many converts. But the amount of people who remain in the church by the end of their first year is much lower, and the church knows this. When my husband was first converted, I heard over and over about how holding to our values and getting to church often was very important, especially during the first year.

Perhaps if missionaries were trained to tell the whole story at the beginning--to mention becoming gods in their explanation of the plan of salvation, to talk about how Christ is just our elder brother and so is Satan, and Christ is not just a separate being from God, he's a second god, and all the other controversial things that Mormons do believe, they'd get far less converts, but a lot more people would stay after conversion.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Priesthood

As Mormons define it: the authority to act in the name of God.

Now that I look at just that definition, I cringe. Why would God deny his children the ability to act in his name just because they didn't have the Melchizedek or Aaronic priesthood--e.g., be a worthy male Mormon twelve or older.

A thorough look at Hebrews, especially chapter 7, tell us some simple things that show how wrong that is. 7:12 tells us that there is a change in the priesthood and the law. Well, when did the law change? When Christ changed it through his atonement. And so the priesthood changed as well. The same chapter, as well as chapter 5, also tell us that Christ is the high priest and the only one we'll ever need. One of the words used in the original Hebrew to describe Christ's priesthood actually is literally translated as "untransferable inviolate." Which means that only Christ holds the priesthood and it cannot be violated or changed. The reason that Christ's priesthood is described as being after the order of Melchizedek is because Christ, like Melchizedek, lives forever, and is not of the tribe of Aaron. Melchizedek, like so many other people and things of the Old Testament, was simply a symbol of Christ.

So what is the priesthood now? is what Mormons will ask me. Its beautiful, is what it is. The first chapter of Revelation tells us: "To him who loves us and has released us from our sins by his own blood--he has made us a kingdom of priests for his God and Father--to him be glory and power forever."

1 Peter 2:9-10 says "You are the chosen race, the royal priesthood, the consecrated nation, his own people, so that you may declare the virtues of him who has called you out of darkness into his wonderful light; you who were once no people, but are now God's people"

And Romans 12:4-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:27 tell us that we are the body of Christ.

No wonder we're a royal priesthood, a chosen race, a kingdom of priests! We are the body of Christ, because we have his Spirit residing within us! We have Christ's own priesthood and authority! As long as we are in line with his will, his Word, and his love, our faith is our authority! Our faith is our belief! This is why we do not need prophets of the sort of the Mormon church--we have both the prophets of the Bible and we have a direct link to God himself! And apostles? We have their testament in a beautiful book along with the prophets. Is it a coincidence that the Old Testament is the prophets, and the New Testament is the apostles? And every one of us can take time to learn God's word well enough to teach it and evangelize to others. We have all the requirements for being the true church, for having true authority, just by being Christians!

When I was Mormon, it was not that simple. I never saw a miracle done by the priesthood that couldn't either be explained by faith, natural causes, or, worst of all, by Satan's own deceptions. Perhaps that sounds cynical. But I have experienced blessings that only God's goodness in creating this world and setting it in motion in the way he wanted could have blessed me with, and there is no possible way that Satan did that, and I can't believe that this life is all for nothing, just a series of meaningless things that have come together to create this life.

I struggled with the priesthood for the while because I couldn't see how God could be so sexist. When it was in the Old Testament, only the men of the tribe of Levi could hold the priesthood. It was so specific that it was harder to call it sexist. It was for a specific purpose (sacrifice for sins, which was fulfilled in Christ, the ultimate and final sacrifice) and those people, because of their faithfulness at a crucial time, earned the right to the priesthood.

But the Mormon priesthood isn't like that. Its made in such a way that a woman can't even lay her hands on her child's head and heal him or her in the name of Christ, by the priesthood--but a man can. Why was I to be denied the rights that I had as a believer just because I was a woman? I finally got some "answer" because certain women in the temple are allowed to do certain priesthood ordinances for other women because gender separation in those things keeps the men from administering them. And they said that it was so sacred for a woman to hold the priesthood for those ordinances, and I liked hearing that. A good example of the pride that exists in the church, because of its exclusivity.

The answer wasn't actually satisfying, but it felt like God was telling me "don't worry, I know you're struggling with this."

How beautiful was the truth when I found it. How beautiful is the true answer. I cannot help but marvel at what I continue to learn, and how much Christ is easing the bitterness and pride left from my experiences and showing me the beauty of what he offers those who accept the one and only God of love and truth as their own.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Prayer

There are some days where it takes everything I have to not just scream at those who look at me and think "She's an apostate...she didn't turn out well enough..." My family...my old friends from church...they all see that I left, and don't see the joy in my life beyond that, not really.

My little brother has probably been one of the most difficult. On Father's Day two days ago, we were joking around with each other, and he playfully said he got scared whenever he turned out like me one way or another. I laughingly denied turning out badly, citing a good marriage and a decent job, among other things, and he gave me a look. And I just knew he was thinking that I'd left the church...and so he never wanted to be like his big sister. Not in that way. Not ever.

So I just pray, for myself and those in my position...God, grant me strength, and understanding, and patience, and love. Help them see through what they've been taught to see what's really there. And help me be the example so that when they finally see it, they will see joy and goodness, rather than just an apostate. Help me have the grace to stay strong, to know when its time to speak up and to know when to leave things alone. Help all of us who have found our way out, to testify with out lives that we have found better--that we didn't leave because we weren't good enough--that our little siblings can grow up to be like us without shame.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The God Problem

As far as I know, the LDS church is the only religion of note to have ever claimed that every can become gods. Not that everyone will, but that everyone can. If they haven't received the necessary ordinances in life, then there's still a chance in death through proxy ordinances.

This belief began with Joseph Smith. Its not taught very openly, and neither me or my brother learned of it until our teenage years despite being born into the church. Its a very important part of "The Plan of Salvation," yet Mormons don't usually tell prospective converts about that part. It's too...strange.

It came up between Steven and I within a few months of his conversion, though. I loved that part of Mormon doctrine, and thought it made so much sense. God made us in his image; he wants us to become like him. The son follows the footsteps of the father, the daughter of the mother.

Steven and I had many discussions about this, some of them tearful. Remember what I said about him being practical and having dedicated his faith to Biblical Christianity a while back? Well, this is where it came in.

The conversation I remember most vividly took place at my college. Steven was there with me for the school day, and we spent my free hours on a couch debating the issue, watching people go by.

Using the topical guide in the LDS scriptures, I had found a Bible verse where Jesus said "ye are gods." (I later found out that the way the LDS church portrays this scripture is way out of context.) Using that and the logic of growing up to become a parent like your parents, I debated with him endlessly.

Steven simplified it into something you'd see as a kid on Saturday morning. "Just imagine this," he said. "We're going to make this into a cartoon, okay? Imagine God in a lab, and he's got a petri dish that has our world in it, and he watches us through a magnifying glass. Then you die, and poof, you pop out of the petri dish. He goes, 'here you go!' and hands you a lab coat and a petri dish and tells you to make your own world. Did I get that about right?"

"In a simplified and ridiculous way, yes," I said in exasperation.

"Well, it is ridiculous!" he exclaimed, both amused and equally exasperated.

"No, its not. It makes sense," I returned to my argument. And off we went in circles about lab coats and divine inheritance.

When I left the church, I of course had to question this belief. A false prophet having taught it, I wasn't too optimistic that it would hold up.

Sure enough, upon a closer look, the Mormon "solution" to a non-human God and the question of where we come from and where we're going created more conundrums than it solved, and it completed contradicts the Bible. The Word is very clear about there being no other gods, besides ours. Not that ours is just "the only one we have anything to do with." He is the only true God.

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "...Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me" (Isaiah 43:10).
"This is what the LORD says -- ...I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God...Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one" (Isaiah 44:6,8).
"I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God" (Isaiah 45:5).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Lightened Burden

The Mormon church claims that all of their ordinances are necessary and all of their rules and "guidelines" are supposed to give a person freedom. Freedom from Satan, they say.

To an extent, their many rules are good. Obedient Mormons tend to be clean, modest, giving, kind, industrious, and virtuous. They tend to have longer life spans because of the Word of Wisdom. I'm sure the STD rate is also lower because of their Law of Chastity, which states that fornication and other sexual sins are next to murder and denying the Holy Ghost (or denying Christ when one knows of Him for a surety, such as from personal witness).

In general, its common for LDS people to be musically inclined and generally talented, boys often achieve their Eagle Scout award, women are good homemakers, and men good providers. It all seems very ideal.

But there are problems with this idealistic encouragement of being a model of high standards and accomplishments.

There is absolute micromanagement of members, to the point that people will follow a rule blindly just because it is given by the church. Here's a quick list off the top of my head of many of the things the church has rules and guidelines on for individuals:

Diet; apparel; tithing; piercing; dating; marriage (where and who sees it, etc); gender roles; recommended education; family life; birth control and reproductive responsibilities; appropriate music; appropriate movies; appropriate literature; sex (in and out of marriage); language; church involvement and responsibilities; emergency preparedness; church education; appropriate research on church matters; how to pray; missions for young men; tattoos; and general behavior. That's 23, with many things further regulated within an item.

Sure, all this creates the idyllic picture-perfect families and virtuous teenagers, modest and clean and well-behaved, helpful and prepared and a bit traditional. But why is it bad to have a second modest ear piercing for a woman? Why would God disapprove of that when its the heart he judges? Someone can be a virtuous, loving, good person and have three piercings, a tattoo, no kids despite being married, wear a bikini on the beach, and so on. I've known too many good, God-loving people who don't follow many of these to think that God requires all of that for a person to please him--to be worthy.

I know a mother and daughter, the daughter being a friend of mine, that have been absolutely inspiring to me as an example of abandoning religious legalism and focusing instead on personal responsibility, acceptance, understanding of consequences.

For instance, the mother made the daughter promise from a young age to tell her when she started having sex. My friend of course learned about STDs. She watched other peers go through sexual relationships as she grew up. The responsibility of when she engaged in the same thing was completely hers. My friend ended up waiting and making the decision with long thought and commitment, and she and her boyfriend--although the depth of their relationship makes that too light a term--have been together for a long time in a mature and dedicated relationship. They aren't married, so it is not the Christian standard, but its better than many do in this day and age.

While the daughter doesn't adhere to Mormon modesty standards, she also never flaunts herself in a promiscuous manner, instead purporting herself with dignity that shows an inner modesty and beauty at once. I once saw her and another friend wear the same outfit to an event once, it being only a little less revealing than a bikini. But while the other friend seemed flaunting and immodest, my friend was simply beautiful. Modesty and self-assurance are more important from the inside.

Personal responsibility makes one more understanding of why something is good or bad to do or be. For young people, having that level of personal responsibility accompanied by the understanding of why creates less need to rebel. There's a reason that teenagers with particularly strict parents tend to rebel or else who try to please their parents even if they don't understand why they're following some of the rules, and people with parents who don't give them personal responsibility often go off the good path. The church fits into the first category, in terms of how it treats its members and the reactions of the members.

In terms of sin, the burden of follow these rules well enough is immense. Not following one rule well enough can be the cause of not receiving a temple marriage, not being able to take the sacrament, or even one's membership being put on the line, which puts their ability to reach the Celestial Kingdom on the line. In fact, all these rules and the human inability to perfectly follow all of them perfectly leaves most members unsure of making it to the Celestial Kingdom.

This being unsure--especially in times of being in the midst of or repenting from more grievous sins--is something I experienced often (no, I didn't engage in grievous sin often, but I felt the lack of surety often), and watched other people experience. "I hope I make it," I'd hear people say. They would profess their sincere faith in Christ, would fulfill their callings, would be great mothers or good children, would work hard and try hard, but because there's no way of knowing if perhaps something is going to go wrong later in life, if perhaps some mess-up or list of sins will be too much to overcome, they almost never say, "I know I'll see you in the Celestial Kingdom." "I hope," they say. "But I won't know until I get there." And I thought that was beautiful, that as long as they hoped that and kept trying--that as long as I kept hoping and trying--we all probably would. Because if we stopped hoping, stopped trying, that's when we wouldn't.

This is so different from what I found after leaving in Christianity, and different from many world faiths and religions. The only other one notable for requiring things to achieve salvation--and I'm not even completely sure the works are as much of a requirement as the most important of commandments--is Islam, which requires prayer and other such things of its members.

Its not hard to understand the Biblical standpoint, which is the one we'll look at as the LDS believe the Bible and I have become Christian.

The Bible makes it clear that salvation comes from faith, and faith leads to a desire to follow the commandments. Good works don't save someone, lest they boast. (Ephesians 2:9) Good works doesn't necessitate faith, but true faith does necessitate good works, and also the following of the more Christian-exclusive commandments.

One can also say that God instilled in us a natural understand of ethics, such as in killing, stealing, adultery, etc., and a natural desire to find love. So, to embrace God's goodness in oneself is to embrace the goodness that is God. It is that embracing, that choice to take God into one's life, that is salvation.

This burden of embracing goodness because of salvation, knowing that no amount of goodness will save but all amount of sincere faith will, is much lighter and far less judgmental than the Mormon way. Its more...Christlike.

One of the most un-Christlike rules of the church is the requirement to give 10% of income to the church in order to be worthy to attend the temple. Giving service, following all ten commandments completely (such as keeping the Sabbath day holy or honoring father and mother) are not absolute requirements, though the bishop isn't about to let you get away with murder, adultery, lawlessness, or open discord. But paying the church a part of your income is an absolute requirement to get into the temple to receive "saving ordinances."

If you type in "Saving Ordinances" in the search engine on LDS.org, it will come up with 1,886 results. The very first link includes this statement: "Speaking to his people on April 8, 1844, the Prophet Joseph said that the temple ordinances as he was giving them were so important that “without (them) we cannot obtain celestial thrones. But there must be a holy place prepared for that purpose.” (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:318–20.)" (Why We Build Temples, By Elder Mark E. Petersen, October 1980 Liahona)

So yes, the temple ordinances are required for salvation on a Celestial level in the Mormon Church, and you do have to pay the church to receive them if you want them while still alive. Otherwise, you have to wait until after death, and hope someone living does them for you, assuming your children or other immediate family or your will or some human oversight doesn't prevent this being done for you and therefore ending all possibility for achieving Celestial Glory.

No, the LDS requirements are a great burden, and very exclusive and controlling. The true Christ of the Bible doesn't say to us that all these things are required for salvation and surety. Instead, the message of the requirements for salvation are joyful, simple, and sure. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest...For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28, 30

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Apostate in a Member Home

"Satan has his claws in you and Steven," Mom lamented.

I remained silent. Its my favorite tactic when my parents are "discussing" something with me that I don't agree with them on. I'm pretty quiet when I know I'm in the wrong, too, but its a different sort of quiet. This is the blank-faced, let them talk because it won't change my mind, staring sort of silent.

"You know that we'll lose you for eternity if you leave?" she pressed.

I nodded. "Yes," I said quietly. I didn't believe that anymore, but I didn't feel like arguing about it. Like I said, let them talk because it won't change my mind.

The conversation with my parents wasn't fun. I mostly spoke when I absolutely had to. My father was the first Mormon I ever heard justify false prophecies with personal failing on the prophet's part. He clung to his testimony, saying that things against the church didn't matter because his testimony was too strong. He didn't--couldn't--acknowledge the Bible reference I had given about one false prophecy being enough to make a prophet false.

"You should go to Utah to live with Donny and Molly," Mom suggested, speaking of my aunt and uncle in Utah. He's a seminary teacher, she's a Molly-Mormon. They have five adorable, well-behaved children. I love that family, and they're very, very faithful. "If anyone can answer your questions, Donny can."

"That is such a good idea," Dad agreed. "You know, Lee, I think Mom was inspired to say that."

I had my doubts, but of course didn't say so.

"You could leave at the end of your quarter," Mom said, "And live there for a few months."

Since college had now been mentioned, Dad went further. "We could pay for you to go to Utah State for a semester," Dad offered. Donny and Molly live close to Logan, where the University is located. No housing costs.

This surprised me. Dad had been complaining about paying for community college, and was now offering to pay out of state tuition. I said as much.

"We've always said that we'll take care of whatever you need us to for college, wherever you want to go," he placated. I didn't bother to point out the inaccuracy of the statement.

"Then," Mom continued, hopeful, "You can have a summer wedding, when you get back, if you and Steven still want to get married at that point."

The "if" actually made them hopeful. They felt Steven's doubts had been a bad influence on me--that I hadn't been strong enough. They liked him otherwise, but I knew they would have preferred me to go to Utah, come back to the church, and find a good Mormon boy instead, to take me to the temple.

They asked me to think and pray about it. I said okay. I did what they asked...and didn't go to Utah. Bribery, no matter how "inspired," isn't my thing, and I was sure about my choice, so dealing with family trying to reconvert me for half a year wasn't appealing.

Things were tense at home after that. My brother acted like I'd lost all my values. I have friends that drink and such, and my own husband has his share of stories from high school. Many of these stories are amusing, and once upon a time my brother and I would laugh together about them, but suddenly I get "why are all your stories about drinking now?" as if I was suddenly a slutty party-er. The next day he put up a quote about temple marriage by Brigham Young right smack on the kitchen window. Everyone got upset when I tried moving it to his bedroom door, even though he'd "put it up for himself."

The final straw was when my mom got upset about me staying overnight at a friend's house with Steven one night. We'd stayed late and were tired, so I called and left a message for my mom letting her know i wasn't coming home and why. It was a half hour drive back. Steven and I stayed at our friend's. Being an adult and in college, notifying was all I was required to do by house rules.

I went to college the next morning, and had only fifteen minutes at home to change between classes and work. I came into my bedroom to find the dirty dishes on the floor, just because I hadn't been home to do them the night before. If I had been home and hadn't done the dishes, that wouldn't have happened. In all the years of my brother always "forgetting" to do the dishes and me sometimes spacing them, that had never happened.

Mom and i never discussed those dishes, but she did make it clear that she felt like I'd waited until after she was asleep to call about staying at our friend's house one purpose, so that she couldn't say no. Not that she could have said no, considering that I was no longer in high school or a minor. She said she felt I'd done it just to stay the night with Steven, and said I couldn't do that while living there.

She compared it to a smoker. She couldn't stop them from smoking, but they weren't allowed to do so in the house. But if they wanted to go to the end of the driveway or the field behind the backyard, they were more than welcome to. And the same applied to me and staying the night with Steven. I didn't quite get that, as it seemed to me I had gone to the figurative end of the driveway, and I had followed the house rules, but I didn't argue it with her. She told me I couldn't do it again while living there, no matter why I'd done it (because being very tired late at night on a school night wasn't a valid reason not to drive home, apparently).

I had been trying to avoid moving in with Steven before marriage--not that we'd been sinless, but I was taking the first steps to becoming a Christian and certainly didn't want to give the Mormons I knew ammo against me. I was done, though, I couldn't deal with anymore. I left my parents' house, Steven and I found an apartment, and we moved our wedding date up since we no longer had to wait for a temple wedding. (He'd been baptized in late March '09, so we had put the original date for mid-April of '10, we moved it to the beginning of January '10). I was out of there, and could start my own life.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What False Prophecies?

For the curious and those who seek with an open mind, I'll talk about the false prophecy that I find most striking, mostly because it can be proven using only the standard works in the LDS canon.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:1-5
1: Establishes that this is a revelation to Joseph Smith and six other elders.
2: Establishes that this is the word of the Lord concerning the last days, the gathering of the saints, and the city of New Jerusalem.
3: Establishes that the "city shall be built" at the temple lot in Far West.

4: Establishes that "the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place."
5: Establishes that the temple will be built there within that generation.

Does the prophecy refer to a different generation than the one living then? No. Doctrine and Covenents 115:7-12 makes it clear that the Lord wanted it built by the people alive at that time, as it specifies Far West as a holy and consecrated land, commands them (the people alive) to build a house (temple) for him, and says to "let the beginning be made on the fourth day of July next," and "from that time forth labor diligently until it shall be finished." This is directed towards the people alive then, even specifying a date.

Could the persecution that the early Mormons experienced thwart/change God's plans? No. A Mo
rmon should remember 1 Nephi 3:7. All people should consider the long history of God's peoples triumphing through persecution, not leaving a prophecy unfulfilled, often despite great odds.

And the kicker? Revelations 21 renders the prophecy false in comparison to Biblical prophecy. The first verse establishes that there is a new heaven and new earth, for the old ones had passed away, and there will be no more sea--e.g., no continents. Its rather difficult for something to exist in a place that no longer exists, such as Missouri, or even America.
And then verse two says that New Jerusalem will descend from heaven, already prepared, rather than be built here on earth.

Verse twenty-two is probably the most telling. "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." So why would the Lord ask for a temple to be built for the New Jerusalem, when there will be no temple? He wouldn't. He doesn't need to.

No temple exists in Far West as of today, long after the generation of the 1830s passed away.

I've heard many Mormons try to justify this by saying that Joseph Smith was just a fallibl
e man and made mistakes. God doesn't make mistakes, however, and won't let people be misguided in his name. A thorough search of the references about false prophets in the topical guide will show a member that God has made that clear.

Joseph Smith, based on all this, was a false prophet.

It Began With a Prayer

Leaving the church went rather quickly for me. My husband, then fiance, had been having issues with the church. Raised in a Christian (though not devout) home and having embraced Christianity on his own as a teenager, the Bible was the ultimate source of God's authority for him. He's very logical- and practical-minded. After six months of being a member, he was having major issues with things within the church that conflicted with all of that.

It was late September through mid-October of last year, and I was sure that h
e would come to see the truth of the religion, or we'd break up. Feeling so strongly about being sealed for eternity, it was hard to have a middle ground. This wasn't easy, because there was no denying that I was sure that he was supposed to be my husband, that I loved him more than enough to share my whole life with him, so those weeks were hardly pleasant. So, I turned to prayer.

I thought the prayer was going to lead things to end with me in the Mormon church still, no matter where Steven ended up, though I hoped it would lead him to stay with me and stay in the church. But I felt like I was missing something, like God was trying to tell me something. So, I started looking out for what He was trying to tell me.

Within days, everything changed.

Steven and I were discussing religion one late night, the 18th of October or so. He said something about angels. I don't know why it hit me so hard, but it struck me that the LDS teaching of angels is different from the rest of Christianity, and I suddenly wanted to know why. Not necessarily about the angels, though I did give that subject a cursory look-over. No, the reason why the LDS church was different than the rest of Christianity, and what made it more correct, was suddenly very important to me. Soon enough, the validity of Joseph Smith as a prophet became important, and I delved into that subject.

I quickly came across lists of false prophecies online, although the site that decided me listed mostly prophecies from Doctrine and Covenants. (http://www.exmormon.org/prophet.htm) I opened my scriptures, and there they were. False prophecies, with no good explanations for far too many of them.

I'm not one to try to explain away or justify things, especially if things seem pretty obvious. I've never liked the idea of blind faith. One false prophecy renders a prophet false. Logic and organization are some of the Lord's hallmarks, and false prophets don't fit into that. And I was looking at far more than just one false prophecy.

Joseph Smith made false prophecies from very early on. How was I supposed to believe he'd ever been a true prophet? Further research merely confirmed those doubts.

In just a few hours of research, I was ready to leave my faith behind. Within only two days, I was completely sure that I was out.

The Hypocrisy of Sin

One of the most hypocritical parts of the church is their treatment of apostates verses their treatment of unworthy members. On the one hand, some people--men in particular--are protected in their sins. I myself have known to rapists to go through the temple, one of them being my abusive ex boyfriend. When I reported that I knew of him having raped (by coercion rather than force) and sexually assaulted at least two or three young women, the church didn't even put his membership in question. He has not, at this time, answered for his sins, legally or within the church.

While knowledgeably protecting sex offenders and abusers isn't exactly widespread, it happens. And even more often, "unworthy" men and women attend the temple and hold good standing in their ward by lying to their bishops. Sometimes the bishops that are supposed to determine worthiness have an inkling of a member's unworthiness, sometimes they have no clue. But the member lies to the leader, and off they go to the most sacred of places in the LDS religion.

Why is this a problem? We all know that people lie all the time, and most people can't tell they're being lied to 100% of the time. Covering up illegal acts is obvious, but its also more to be put on the shoulders of the individuals, and a small part on the people who allowed the male-dominated authoritarianism of the church to go a step too far. The real problem lies instead in the claims of the leadership in the discerning power of bishops and other leaders.

It is a bishop's sacred duty and ability to determine worthiness, and to protect sacred ordinances and places from unworthiness, subsequently helping an individual under the burden of grievous sin to repent and become worthy. They are supposed to have inspired spiritual guidance and discernment. A search of conference talks on LDS.org shows this quite clearly. Yet hundreds lie on a regular basis and go to temples and missions when not worthy. The leaders were wrong about this apparent spiritual gift to protect the Lord's most sacred and important requirements.

In the cases where a bishop or other leader is aware of "unworthiness" on the part of a member, they are supposed to protect the member's privacy and secrecy, except in cases where they are obliged to report to law enforcement, or share with other local leaders because the person's membership is at stake and a Council is required.

And yet, when someone leaves the church and becomes "apostate," the lines blur and hypocri
sy begins.

When a person comes into the church, people get excited for the new member. Often, people outside the church aren't happy with the new member's choice. During the brief time my husband was a member, his family was scared for him and unhappy with his decision, and it caused tension between all of us. They had done research, and as Christians, could not approve of some of the teachings of the church.

The supportive LDS are of course very much against this behavior. The convert is happy and isn't getting into illegal things or anything. They still believe in Christ, the members say, so what's so wrong about joining a new religion?

Yet when someone leaves the church, even if they leave and become Christian (or stay Christian, as the LDS would put it), there are many within the church who react in the same way they condemned. My family did that--disapproved of the reactions of my husband's family, and then made me feel unwelcome in their home when i left. I lost a friend, my family told me they were losing me for eternity and treated me like I was just off-track and would come back, and on and on. Sometimes people are disowned. Sometimes they're excommunicated.

But perhaps the worst part is that most LDS can't accept that the apostate left for a logical, reasonable, sensible rationale. It has to be a problem with the person, not the church. Its a common thing for people to fight their doubts simply because they're convinced that the church has to be right, and its them that's wrong.

When someone else in my ward began having doubts (before even knowing I'd left), our bishop told her that I'd left because of "morality issues" and that I'd justified it with "alleged false prophecies." Moralities issues were not my reason for leaving, and the bishop certainly hadn't been told by me that there were any. Whether or not it was true, whether or not I told him or someone else did, he would never have had the right to say that to her, for his promises of privacy if nothing else.

But because I moved in with my fiance a few weeks after leaving, the whole ward assumed it was a "morality issue." It didn't matter that I moved the wedding up by more than four months so that we wouldn't live together outside of legal marriage for too long. It didn't matter that the only reason we weren't already married was because we had put out the date for a temple marriage. And it doesn't matter that I'm now five months married and therefore would no longer have the morality issues implied anymore, and yet neither of us have any desire to return now.

No, it has to be the fault of the person, and nobody reacts in the way that they think non-members should react when someone joins the church. Its hypocritical. But if they acknowledged that the person deserved to be treated with complete and unbounded respect for their choice, if they acknowledged that maybe it is for a logical reason and not for a shortcoming on the individual's part, then they would also have to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the person might be right in leaving the religion.

Logic and facts have little place in LDS teaching for this reason. Its all based on spiritual experience, feelings, and trust that the church is always right.

Monday, June 7, 2010


I have been in two abusive relationships in my life. One was with a man--a controlling, manipulative, lying man. There's no need to go into the details of that. The second was with a religion--a controlling, manipulative, lying religion.

I didn't always see the LDS religion that way. As it stands, many of the leaders at least on the lower levels, and I'm sure many of the higher-ups, are not purposely leading the church to emotionally abuse and deceive people probably far more thoroughly than most abusive people do.

Though I left the church months ago, it was this realization of the abuse--of the betrayal--that caused me to create this blog. I had done a decent amount of research, read a few books, talked with Mormons and non-Mormons alike, had verified sources, and all of that. I had realized that the Mormon church is one of the best brainwashing institutions in America, next to the military and a few other similar organizations (that is nothing against the military, but a certain amount of brainwashing is required to break someone down and build them into a soldier that can kill for their country and follow orders in battle). But it goes much deeper than that, to manipulation and control, founded on far too many lies.

I suppose, for many LDS and former LDS, myself included, the hardest thing to face is the realization that we have undergone this brainwashing, this being fed misinformation. For someone like me, who was born into it, the knowledge that those primary songs and hymns, while perhaps written by devout and sincere members, instill subconscious acceptance in ways that only music can do.

I remember, as a child, attending a birthday party of a Christian friend. All the children there were of Christian families, so it was appropriate to play a game of name as many prophets as you could. I named Nephi, and my friend's father looked at me with something akin to sadness and said, "No, Nephi isn't a prophet," and turned to the next kid for their answer. I couldn't understand why he'd said that. Since when was Nephi not a prophet? That was all I'd ever been taught, after all. He's probably the most talked about figure in the Mormon church, next to Joseph Smith and Christ. How was I to understand at that age that only a relatively small portion of the world accept Nephi as a prophet?

Its no coincidence that the same structured lessons are given over and over through the years, and less controversial topics are rarely touched on, except in the most spiritual moments. We are told what we believe, and then given guidelines on how we are to express our personal convictions, in the form of testimonies. And its no coincidence that testimonies are shared at least once a month--the fellowship and the knowledge that "I can be that sure, too," is a very strong emotion.

Testimonies become so strong, so ingrained, the "truths" taught repeatedly accepted and held to as infallible, and people lose sight of objectivity. People will say "I have a testimony, so I know its true." "Good things have come of my membership, so I know its true." Yet anyone with strong convictions in something will say the same thing, whether the belief is relatively harmless--such as a quiet, virtuous, non-controlling, non-judgmental Christian or Buddhist or something similar--or something dangerous--such as a suicide bomber or K.K.K. member. So testimony is not acceptable claims for truth, yet the LDS cling to it when all else fails them.

So what is a person to believe, then? On a realistic and unbiased, socially-friendly basis, anything that doesn't harm others tends to go. I also believe its a pretty good idea to avoid believing in lies if the lies have been proven. Proof can be objective, to a point, but some things are just true, or they aren't. If something is translated into a book of scripture written thousands of years ago, and the language is translatable and therefore the source can be read correctly and established to be such, then its a book of scripture. But if its not, well, its just not.

So what does an LDS person have to do to be objective? Well, they have to quiet their testimony, for one. This does not exclude the Spirit: it simply brings objectivity into the picture, by excluding emotions that have no basis in reasonable decision making. Translation: if you find a verifiable, true, sound fact, and your feelings are against it, you're probably the one that's wrong, because feelings are objective, and truth isn't. Only the way we perceive truth is objective.

When I looked objectively at the relationship between church and members, I truly saw things that, in relationships between couples, leave people battered emotionally, and sometimes even physically, every day.

I saw control. An apostle said, on the PBS special "The Mormons," that its wrong to question church leaders. Whether or not they're right or wrong, its just wrong to question them, he said. There are no checks and balances within the church, not on the leaders, except by other leaders on high enough levels, who in general don't disagree with each other publicly. This leaves no room for individuals to have their say, nor even for groups of people who all feel the same way. They are the priesthood at its highest level, and therefore beyond reproach from the masses, for God leads them.

On a home level, the man is the head of the household. Often, this works, as it tends to be the natural role. But the Mormon Church takes it a little farther than natural inborn gender roles would. Instead of the natural bread-winner father and nurturing mother, who together create an equal partnership, the priesthood comes into play. Some households and schisms within the Mormon church(es) go to the point that the man is the absolute and complete authority, and the women are there for childbearing, raising children, and keeping a nice house, and little more, no matter the actual relationship between man and wife. No matter what, men are the leadership, and women are to submit to their judgment in the end, especially in spiritual matters--and Mormons can see just about anything as spiritual.

As such, men tend to exhibit dominating, often unreasonably authoritative personalities. Whether or not one realizes it, it takes very little to step over the edge to becoming like that--a refusal to explain why you made a rule to a teenager who needs reasonable guidance far more than rules that he or she doesn't understand, or to a wife who wants something the husband doesn't. And a man with the priesthood is always the spiritual head, at least figuratively.

This leads the women to be often controlling and manipulative in a very good-wifey, behind-the scenes way. Tasks are taken to hand brusquely and with a great amount of control on part of the woman in charge. Things get done well this way, true, but toes get stepped on. A husband makes a decision that his wife doesn't agree with, so the wife manipulates him into thinking her way, instead, even if her way isn't completely reasonable.

My own home, and unfortunately I myself, are examples of this. My father was the head of the household. Bless her heart, but my mother sometimes would feel one way about something, and when my father took an assertive stand on the other end of the spectrum, she would quietly go with him. When I was older and well into needed to understand why I was doing something, my father would simply say "because I said so," and call it back talking if I asked him to explain why, no matter how politely or calmly I might ask, and there were times that he made my brother and I do things just for control--like when I was eighteen and he made me go to bed at 10:00pm on a friday night Halloween. Some of it was just because I was the oldest child and a daughter--Daddy's little girl--but some of it was the authoritative way he was raised and the way the church makes fathers and priesthood holders think they have the right and responsibility to be.

I myself have found my weakness in emotional outbursts when I don't necessarily get what I want, or sometimes for no reasons at all. Being LDS is largely based on emotions--"I got a good feeling about the Book of Mormon," "I feel strongly about doing this," etc. As such, emotions and reason are hard to separate, and women, naturally emotional already, often exhibit this to manipulate others into giving them what they want, or into making someone else feel bad about something hurtful.

And then of course, there are the lies from high up. Who knows how many of the leaders knowingly perpetuate them, but no matter if one believes or doesn't believe, its hard to deny that the LDS leaders cover up and hide away many facts that would be quite interesting for the membership at large to know. One just has to do a little research.

An emotional abusive relationship? I certainly think so. Emotional manipulation, brainwashing, hiding things, controlling people and making them think its for their own good--its all there.