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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, 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.


  1. Each person must find their own way. Blindly accepting one person's or group's understanding of faith and God serves no one well. I'm glad to see you on your own journey of discovery... you will be much stronger for it.

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