About Me

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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.

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.